"147 different beers. Complimentary bowl of gouda with each round. Eight hours until kick off. I can't see what can possibly go wrong."
|Club Brugge 3-0 Aalborg BK. Jan Breydel Stadion.|
The one that did catch the eye was "Bruges is a city that takes beer very seriously". How seriously I wondered? Well, put it this way - it doesn't get much more serious than pubs dispensing with a food menu in favour of a beer one. Now that is my sort of seriousness.
|Jan Breydel Statue - lucky man to have a statue AND a ground|
named after him
|And they say Christmas comes early in England -|
just the ten months to go for the people of Bruges....
|La Garre - 147 beers and complimenaty gouda = heaven|
|In the morning, I'm making waffles|
They were gathered in the least Brugesy pub you could find which went by the original name of La Pub. Incredibly, we managed to stumble across a set of fans who had recently become besotted by darts ever since seeing Jan Molby defeating Eric Bristow in a charity game the week previously.
|Aalborg on Tour - with our fellow darts fanatics|
Now there was just one problem with this march. The stadium happens to be an absolute hike out of the town and by now the rain had begun to lash down in biblical proportions. When the masses were letting off flares and having a good sing song on the steps of the Provincial Court this didn't seem like such a problem. Nor was it when fireworks and firecrackers were going off still five minutes into the walk. Around ten minutes in though and we were freezing cold and soaking wet so did what all good Englishman do in those circumstances - snuck off to find yet another pub to "dry off" in.
|Aalborg fans gather on the steps to the Provincial Court....|
That resulted in our arrival at Jan Breydel Stadion coming via the not-so-ultra means of a bus which thankfully did give more time to sink some beers in the excellent Den Compt Ir outside the ground - so excellent in fact, that we ended up missing the first 10 minutes of the game and returning to said venue for 90 minutes afterwards.
Not that missing the start really mattered. Club Brugge had won the first leg of the tie in Denmark the week previously 3-1 and so were pretty much guaranteed their spot in the last 16 barring some sort of major cock up along the line of the entire squad trying all 147 pints in La Garre pre game. Being the glory hunters we are, as a result the decision was taken to join the home fans despite our honorary membership of the Aalborg supporters club to revel in the inevitable victory.
|Jan Breydel Stadion|
|Jan Breydel Stadion|
|Bonus points for this floodlight arrangement|
We took in the first half from a stand down one side which was not serving beer before switching to the end behind the goal for the second. It would be easy to say this was because that was where the Brugge fanatics were gathered, singing songs and going crazy for their side but you'd soon realise what a bare faced lie that was when it was revealed that this was in fact the end - the only end in the ground, seemingly - selling beer.
|Handbags at dawn|
|Brugge is wonderful!|
You'd have thought that in a city that bills itself as being a romantic hotspot they would love a bit of Phil. And we were certainly feeling the love back at the hotel bar when we bumped into - you guessed it - our fellow Aalborg fans who, irony of ironies, were staying in the same place.
|Familar faces back at the hotel for our 5am drinking session...|
just what was NOT needed
Club Brugge: Matthew Ryan, Davy de Fauw, Oscar Duarte, Thomas Meunier (Laurens de Bock), Brandon Mechele, Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo 1, Timmy Simons, Victor Vazquez 1 (Franciso Silva), Lior Refaelov, Ruud Vormer, Obbi Oulare 1.
Aalborg BK: Nicolai Larsen, Patrick Kristensen, Kenneth Emil Petersen, Rasmus Thelander, Thomas Enevoldsen (Anders Jacobsen), Rasmus Wurtz (Thomas Augustinussen), Kasper Risgard, Nicolaj Thomsen, Andreas Bruhn, Nicklas Helenius, Henrik Dalsgaard.