Often Partisan

The Brugge Experience

Brugge (as the locals call it) is a fine place. Anywhere that has that much chocolate, beer, and chips has to be pretty awesome. Here is my Brugge experience.

I was lucky enough to be able to go on the Wednesday morning, so it was up at early doors and into the IPFmobile for the jaunt down to the Eurotunnel. I’m not good with confined spaces, and I’ll confess I was just a tad nervous about going under the English channel, but as it turned out it was the easiest way to get to France; in just five hours from leaving the shire we had rolled up at our hotel in the backstreets of Brugge.

We decided it was a lucky omen when we saw that the TV in our room was made by “Bluesky” – obviously someone knew the Bluenoses were coming!

Brugge is a beautiful city, and we took in a bit of the sights before we settled down to some serious drinking. Part of the whole experience of seeing Blues abroad is the almost surrealness of walking around a foreign city and yet bumping into bluenoses around every corner. It was evident that a fair few were making a proper trip of it, and as we reached the Markt (the main Market Square), we could already hear the refrains of “Shit on the Villa” coming from the bars behind it.

One of the things I tried to do was to sample the local cuisine; I hadn’t had the time or the money to really do things properly in Maribor and I wanted to make up for that with finding something good. I’d read the info given by Bluewurst on SHA and thus wanted to sample the local stew, which is called Vlaamse stoofkarbonaden in Dutch. Imagine a beef stew, without any vegetables, in a thick gravy with added beer. Throw in a generous helping of the wonderful Belgian fries (double fried for extra tastiness), and you’ve got yourself a hearty meal. I’m afraid my pic doesn’t do it justice.


And then there was the beer. Oh, the beer. We were lucky enough to find a nice cosy little bar in a backstreet behind our hotel that had a fine selection – and as is common with central Brugge, they were all Cercle Brugge fans. Naturally, as a team coming up against their huge rivals, they were keen for us to win and thus they were very happy to meet some bluenoses. Despite some requests for an article specifically about the beer, I won’t bore you with all the details. Needless to say I drank a fair bit of differing types – all of them with the common theme of a) being delicious and b) being very alcoholic. I’m not sure how anyone gets anything done in Belgium to be honest.

I was quite amazed I woke up on Thursday morning without any kind of hangover; actually, after the amount of crazily alcoholic beer I’d drank I was quite happy I’d managed to wake up at all. Although it had rained a bit the night before the morning was bright and cheery, and as we walked up to Markt there was an almost palpable sense of something big happening that day. It would appear that the locals were a little worried about the Brummie invasion; a lady in a chocolate shop asked us how many were coming over – and then how many of them were hooligans. The local newspapers had done nothing to quell those fears either, printing a story about the “Zulu Warriors” coming to Brugge and accompanying it with pictures from the Villa game last season.

(please note, it’s not my flag – I wish it was though. Credit to Ross and the boys)

They needn’t have worried. Whilst the crowd in Markt was undoubtedly noisy and boisterous, there was absolutely no malice. People were happy to stand around, drinking in the sights and the local beer, avoiding the footballs being kicked around and singing songs. Flags went up around the square quickly; I’m disappointed I missed the flag that got flown from the cathedral tower but it was good to see a good variety of differing flags out there. It was also good to see the Blues staff out and mingling with the fans – I managed to talk to Sarah Gould, Andy Walker and Chris Kershaw in Markt and ran into Mike Wiseman and Julia Shelton touring the city later. I’m going to take a second to say just how much a credit to the club that these people are, because they’re prepared to shake fan’s hands, talk to people and make them feel like that the club do care about them. Without staff like the ones we have Blues would be in a much worse position and I think we’re very lucky to have them.

After a few more beers and meeting a few more fans, it was time to walk down to Minnewater Park near the ring road and to catch the bus to the ground. The buses were a bit of a pig to find, and they weren’t the smoothest of transfers; our driver managed to get lost and had to do a three point turn, go through a housing estate, a field with cows in it and then finally around some barricades and the wrong way down a one way road to get us to our destination. Needless to say, the fans on board weren’t too impressed and serenaded the driver with “We don’t know where we’re going”.

Security checks seemed to be a bit haphazard. I was asked for my photo ID and my ticket, but I’m told that later on people managed to get in without either – I think as time progressed either the locals got bored or were worried that they wouldn’t get everyone in. The ground itself was a bit grey, a bit concrete and a lot utilitarian. As both Cercle and Club Brugge share the stadium the seats were in neutral colours, and as is common in Europe there were fences and netting to stop people acting like morons. My seat was on the very back row, and as the banking was quite steep we were still pretty close to the action – however it did make the idea of going up and down the stairs a little worrying, especially as I’d had a bit to drink.

I can’t do the game any more justice than the other reports that are out there. All I can say is that before the game I said something about us coming from behind to win, and at half time I told anyone who’d listen Chris Wood would come on and score the winner. I wish I’d managed to put some on at the bookies to back up my precognition. The crowd were magnificent – I’m sure we must have sounded loud cos we were deafening in the ground. I also think that by applauding the memory of the Brugge player that had died, we’ve probably won a few friends in Belgium. Every Club Brugge fan I spoke to on the long walk back was complimentary about how loud our fans were, and I saw a fair few scarves being swapped and invites to pubs in Birmingham for the return game.

There were rumours doing the rounds that all the bars in town were shut post-game; thankfully, it wasn’t the case and we managed to get back to our “local” to celebrate with a few beers, a sing song and wide grins on our faces. By now the alcohol was getting to me, and I’m ashamed I only managed to get a blurry pic of some of the Often Partisan readership who were in the pub with me – sorry guys, but I tried my hardest.

It was with a heavy heart we left on Friday, but once again I’m proud to be a bluenose and once again I’m proud of the team. By my reckoning, a win and a draw against Maribor and Brugge at home and we should qualify; two wins should guarantee it. Then comes the Champions League failures and the prospect of some huge ties. Bring. It. On.

 

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23 Responses to “The Brugge Experience”

  • Mr Blue Sky says:

    Brilliant!

  • maurice alters says:

    Brilliant blog please blues fans make me even more proud to be a brummy on the return leg,

  • zublue says:

    Great stuff almajir, ive Just got back, missed my flight, lost half my luggage & don’t know where I am or what my middle name is but what I do know is on that form our fans are the best in the country, hughton should be knighted and I can only pull ugly women kro!

  • Jon Herrador says:

    Brilliant round up almajir and exactly what every Blues Nose feels about the occasion.Onto Bristol and lets get cooking in the league…KRO

  • blue says:

    great blog almajir, don’t know if you’ve seen what you looked and sounded like to the opposition,
    it brings a tear to the eye and a lump in the throat http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-9lIIYZrZWg

    KRO

  • Darren Low says:

    glasgow rangers fan here.worked down in brum for a while at colmore row,love it.just a quick one here: Did you hear about any trouble between yourselves and celtic fans in dover when you were accross in belgium.dunno if its just a rumour up here but the story goes that celtic fans were singing ira and republican songs and were ambushed by a group of blues fans.If so well done,its about time the teams up here started taking the same reaction.

    • almajir says:

      I heard nothing about that.

      Aside from that, I don’t like sectarian singing from either side personally.

    • john says:

      From a worker on the Ferry, he mentioned the blues fans were tremendous and the Celtic fans acted like animals, but I’m unaware of any clashes.

    • TomBCFC says:

      blues fan had his ear bitten off by a celtic fan at the port.

  • Dan says:

    I would have loved to go :/ Anyways. Big win :)

  • Rich says:

    Great chorus on the walk back through Markt of ‘I wanna stay here, I wanna stay here, Small Heath’s a shithole, I wanna stay here!’

  • chris says:

    it would be great if we could arrange some kind of meet up or welcome for the Bruge fans on Nov 3rd around the ground or in the city centre.
    Council could organise something surely? except a civic reception of course!!
    shame the german xmas market doesn’t open till Nov 17th

  • onlyme says:

    The City of Brugge and its fans treated us very well indeed, I just hope we can return the favour, I hope we can also again clap at the 23rd minuite for the Brugge fans, that was absolute class from the blues fans, one of the proudest nights of my life……I could really take to this european lark…………..KRO.

  • Kevin says:

    We must circulate news & try to clap the 23rd min @ Stan Drews KRO!

  • pedantic pete says:

    Thanks for the blog. For those of us who couldn’t go, it was a great summary and helped for us to share the experience.

    It’s great to know that Blues fans can present a positive image of the club when visiting foreign climes. Good for the club and the country.

  • Too Blue says:

    completely unforgettable trip and atmosphere – and I didn’t even get a ticket for the game! Must have been mind blowing in the stadium!

  • Connblue says:

    Great piece. Often partisan is my go to site now.

  • denis thwaites says:

    47 years of supporting BCFC and 2011 is proving to be the most eventful year ever. Having witnessed Wembley and then Bruges I feel immensely proud and honoured to be a Blues fan right now. I got back last night having spent three days in a wonderful place mingling with so many proud Brummies. As Aljamir said how can you not enjoy a place that specialises in Beer, chocs and chips although i did get fooled by having a few pints at the ground which i later realised was non alcoholic (i know “Muppett”). Watched the whole thing again on ESPN classic last night. Thought in the first few minutes we were in for a hiding but thereafter we were really impressive and we are now seeing attractive football rather than the dross we witnessed under Bruce and the ginger Tw*t. Think Myhill handled crosses superbly and.Murphy was a different player. Even N’daw looked as though he could do a job for us. CH has worked wonders. The 12th man though was the support that came from the South Stand (Absolutely Immense!!!)

  • yvonne farren says:

    it was the most amazing away game i have been and thats alot over 40 years a blue a big thank you to the people of brugge there willingness to say well done with our win hope when they come over to our ground we show them the same respect kro

  • Poppa999 says:

    Did anyone see the Blues guy get hit by a bus on the way to the ground? He said he had broken a couple of ribs when I spoke to him yesterday. There was a woman driving the bus and the policeman on a motorbike told her to ‘get on’. The Blues fan was so dazed he never got a number or anything.

  • Aussiebrum says:

    Fantastic blog today – so wish I were there.

  • Bummie in south africa says:

    well done to all involved, you made BCFC and fans all over the world proud, i watched it on the tele in s/a, would have loved to be there.


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