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A bar too far, Holland, April 2000

The Holland trip in April 2000 was a first for a number of reasons - it was the first trip The Wee Man came on, the first time we met the Notts Scots, and also the first time Rich and Paul wore kilts. From France '98 onwards it had been a case of "do I buy a kilt, or do I go on a trip?" - I had said if we didn't qualify for Euro 2000 I would buy one, so I had to go and put my money where my mouth is!

We went to Holland by train and ferry, and left Brighton very early on the Tuesday morning, meeting up with Allan and David in Amsterdam ahead of a night out. The Amsterdam nightlife brought a mixed reaction from our group, as although we were out for ages, we didn't seem to drink that much. We were all disappointed that the city failed to live up to its 24-hour reputation ("just at weekends", apparently - it's no Prague!).

The next afternoon, it was off to Arnhem by train, and the mayhem of Arnhem's main square, where there must have been at least 4,000 Dutch and Scottish fans drinking and joking together. We got there too late to get a comfortable spot, so we settled in a quieter bar round the corner. The game itself was a wee bit surreal - played at the impressive Gelredome, home to Vitesse Arnhem, the stadium features a retractable pitch and roof, and was played with the roof shut. Due to the boxy nature of the ground, it was like being in a sports hall.

The game finished 0-0, with Sullivan in inspired form - along with the defence, he kept the likes of Overmars, Bergkamp, Kluivert and Hasselbaink at bay. Due to the closed roof and the very 'smoky' atmosphere inside the ground, I reckon the fans contributed to the goalless draw, as the players were all too mellow to bother running too much, and at full time they all went to the garage for a Mars Bar and a strawberry milkshake.

 Back to Amsterdam - and an early night for Paul ("I've got glandular fever") Allison, as the rest of the group spectacularly failed to find a late-night drinking den (they missed my beer-sniffing skills). The next day it was off to Ajax's Arena for a wee nose round and the guided tour, and a far more civilised night out before the train/boat home.

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Holland '00 Gallery
We hate England more than you (2), Ireland, May 2000

The decision to play away in Dublin immediately after a Bank Holiday weekend was an inspired one, and Rich and I set off by plane on the Saturday morning, meeting Clarkston Chris at Dublin airport, and Welsh Steve (who came by boat from Wales) in the town on the Saturday night. Due to work, Steve was only on board until the Monday morning.

On the Saturday night the town was full of English stag and hen parties, and failed to live up to expectations. One moment of light relief came when Chris came back from lavvies visibly shaken - when asked what was wrong he explained that he had been set upon by a hen party and his novelty "Shaun The Sheep" g-string had been snatched - one of his assailants was wearing it around her neck as a trophy!

The following day, Steve, being Welsh, persuaded us to go to the Ireland v Barbarians rugby match at Landsdowne Road. Never understood it, never will (Jonah Lomu at left-back will never work). At the end everyone was practically encouraged to go on the pitch - we made our way for the corner bar for a pint and a photo opportunity. Later on we bumped into a foul-mouthed Maryhill lass (is there any other kind of Maryhill lass?) living in Dublin who was having a row with her boyfriend and wanted to involve us. After a Smirnoff Ice session in Major Tom's nightclub it was back to the hotel.

And it was at the hotel where Paul (glandular fever, remember) was to stay for the entire next day, whilst Rich had spent his one and only night there out of four, having become "acquainted" with a local. Another Major Tom's session followed for the rest, with the Clarkston Branch now in full attendance. 

The day of the game involved a massive session with the Notts Scots and several hundred others in Olivers bar. Clydebank Chris (NTA) was to find himself filmed for a BBC documentary whilst dancing on a table, leading the singing (and the bastard hasn't shut up about it since!). A chance meeting with Robbie Jenkins in a pub halfway to the ground followed, and despite losing an early goal, the team performed exceptionally well to win 2-1. Back off to Temple Bar, where the festivities finished a wee bit earlier than hoped as all the clubs were full.

A great end to the season, and time to look forward to the World Cup qualifiers. Next stop Latvia.

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Ireland '00 Gallery


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