My Trip To Holland

Having got back from Amsterdam just over a week ago, I thought it was time to write about how my trip to the Dutch capital panned out.

I’d never been to Holland before, so I was genuinely excited to visit a country that seemingly had no laws, and was supposedly always high on football, or any other recreational drugs that you could pick up in any random street.

I had to decided to don my Hungary shirt for the flight, so initially in East Midlands airport I was getting a few people staring at me in the terminal. Standing at 6ft, underweight, blonde hair and looking about 16, I don’t think anyone would have mistaken me for a Hungarian ultra, but people seemed to be perplexed for why a young British national was to board a plane to Amsterdam to watch Hungary vs Holland, in a game they knew was to be as one-sided as a circle.

However when I landed in Amsterdam, people seemed to be lot kinder (or more patronising, whatever way you look at it). People were smiling, laughing (probably because I fell asleep on the train and ended up in Almere) and seemed to be excited that some Hungarians had actually ventured over for the game – following the 4-0 mauling just 4 days earlier.

After finally making it into Amsterdam, it seemed sort of surreal. The first thing I noticed (and later annoyed me) was the amount of bikes in Amsterdam. Seriously?! Can’t you just use the trams, there’s enough of them. Then people were stopping me in the street every 10 minutes asking me for photo’s, asking me if there could be a chance of double figures and one guy even asked me for €20. Do they think Hungarians are rich?! Then I thought I saw Royston Drenthe. I asked him if he was. He wasn’t. I walked off. Red faced, and VERY embarrassed.

I wandered around the city centre for a bit longer, taking it all in (most of it being the fumes from the coffee shops), before heading to my hotel in the Western part of Amsterdam. While just outside my hotel, I decided to get my flag out my bag and tie it round my neck then headed into a local ‘Lidl’ to get some crisps and coke before someone asked me if I worked there, first in Dutch then in English. Another surreal moment, and there would be plenty more to come.

After taking a two hour nap, in my hotel I headed to meet my two buddies, Sanyi and John who sorted my ticket for the big game. We headed to a Brazilian restaurant, which was amazing before going to the stadium.

We arrived about an hour and a half before kickoff and what struck me at first was how busy the streets were outside the stadium, even when the start of the game was so far away. Being a Man Utd season ticket holder, the streets are never that packed, as most people seem to get into the ground just before, or just after kick off. That is one of a number of things that annoy me about English football. People are more bothered about getting a few more drinks in, rather than see the first few minutes of the game, and build up an atmosphere.

Anyway, back to Holland. The stadium was fantastic, probably the 2nd best stadium I’d ever visited, there even seemed to be a car park under the ground, but I didn’t investigate further. We then headed up the steps, right to the top tier – which took forever, and certainly took the air out of your lungs.

Sanyi then bought a (non-alcoholic) beer (that’s all they sold!), and we headed to our seats. Ah, well I say seats. Everyone had decided to sit where they like, so because we only got into the ground AN HOUR before kickoff, we had to stand. And yep, we were standing with the ultras. I didn’t mind this. I like singing, I like jumping, I like clapping, and I like going mental hugging every person I can possibly see in sight of me, when my team score. It’s just, 1. I didn’t expect a goal and 2. I didn’t expect a great atmosphere with the Hungary fans as I expected it to be 3-0 to Holland after 15 minutes.

Just before kickoff there was a special tribute to Giovanni Van Bronkhorst followed the national anthems – which was observed impeccably by both sets of fans.

After 15 minutes or so, Hungary were doing fairly well, but then disaster struck as Van Persie scored from a corner, unmarked. I was happy with the start. We weren’t 3-0 down, and we’d lasted 8 minutes longer than we did in Budapest the Friday before. The Hungary fans were still singing throughout the first half, and no more goals were scored – incredibly.

Half-time entertainment wasn’t up to much. Three men trying to hit the cross bar from the edge of the area with 5 attempts. They all failed.

Then the second half, and what a second half. Egervari made one change, taking off the defensive Pinter, and brought on the more creative Koman. Just one minute later, another surreal moment. Dzsudzsak takes a short corner to Rudolf who beats a couple of men before taking a hopeful shot from the area which cannons off two defenders into the corner of the net. Cue pandemonium. I was jumping around like a cricket (do they jump? Think so). It was insane. No-one could believe it. The familiar chorus of ‘Ria Ria Hungaria’ rang out from the travelling Magyar fans which it had whenever Hungary had got forward.

However the surreal moments of the trip weren’t finished. Just 3 minutes later, Hungary struck again. Dzsudzsak whipped in a hopeful cross and Gera powered a volley past the helpless Michel Vorm. It was mayhem. People were crying (not literally), screaming and leaping all over the place. It was literally a dream.

With Hungarians being statistically the most pessimistic people in the World, we knew it wouldn’t last. And it didn’t. Two goals, the first from Sneijder, then followed 10 minutes later from Van Nistelrooy made us realise we weren’t in a dream. It wasn’t a nightmare though, and I think at that point any Magyar in that stadium would have taken that result before the game.

But incredibly, the Hungarian scoring was not finished. Dzsudzsak (again), set Gera free, and the Hungarian captain again dispatched the chance to make it 3-3. Again havoc wreaked out through the Magyar fans.

Unfortunately it didn’t end that way. A late brace from Dirk Kuyt ended any hope of Hungary scraping a draw against the World Cup runners up but the performance from the Hungarian boys was outstanding and left me leaving the stadium absolutely buzzing. I wasn’t even that bothered that we didn’t hold on. Of course a draw would have done nicely, and put us in a good position to claim 2nd place, but the display that they produced was fantastic, and they’ll gain so much confidence from it, which will certainly stand them in good stead for the upcoming qualifiers.

The only blemish of the night was when Eliah came on, there was a bit of racist chanting. Only 15 or so, and some people did respond very angrily to it, but in the 21st century, you expect that sort of thing to have petered out within football fans.

I was again being patronised by the Dutch fans as I went back to the hotel, “Oh, you did really well”, “You did better than last time” and a lot of “Balazs Dzsudzsak”. Yeah, just leave me alone please, I’m tired.

That night I watched the highlights of the game at the hotel on BBC World, and it really did make me smile and realise what a performance that was from the boys. Without our best centre mid and our top striker and to score 3 goals in Amsterdam. Incredible.

The next day I was so tired (I’m very lazy as you might have noticed), I just strolled around the city before eventually going to a bar to watch India beat Pakistan in the cricket, paying €5 for a Heineken! Then headed to the airport to end my first Hungarian away trip, and what a trip it was!

You can view my pictures of the trip on my facebook page and you can follow me on twitter at @hungariafootbal