|Western Isles outfit go Dutch|
Team: Uist & Barra U16 JFC (Western Isles). Destination: Valkenburg in Holland and after a night's stay in Edinburgh, we flew direct to Cologne/Bonn where our Private Coach and Driver met us at the airport and took us to Valkenburg Holiday Park which was only an hours drive away.
We were met at the Holiday Park by very pleasant staff who gave us our 5 sets of bungalow keys and after checking in we explored the beautiful sights that Valkenburg had to offer along with a few 'juice' stops along the way!
The following day we were due to play our opening tour match against BVV Caterpillar who were an U17 side and were top of their respective league in the area and who no doubt would provide us with a very stiff examination. We left for Hertogenbosch in plenty time with our driver picking us up around 3.30pm for a 2 hour journey, with our kick off scheduled for 6.30pm. When we arrived at the Sportpark De Vliert we were delighted to find that we were playing at a stadium that could hold 10,000 and had not only 2 imposing stands but an excellent grass surface which would have put Hampden Park to shame, with surrounding practise pitches in abudance!
Our party consisting of 18 boys and 6 adults trooped into the reception area and were met by the local Sportpark Manager who greeted us rather confusingly, with a welcome of 'what can we do for you lads'?? This I can tell you was not the welcome we had imagined and straight away the alarm bells started ringing and of course our reply was 'we are here to play BVV Caterpillar as confirmed in our schedule'!! The Manager checked the booking system immediately and to our horror he confirmed that we were booked in for Monday 4th April at 1830pm and NOT 2nd April at 1830pm as confirmed by Sports Tours who arranged the trip over the past 12 months! We were horrified, angry, gutted, plus a lot more words that I cannot print and with it being a weekend the Sports Tours offices were closed and we had to chance of contact with them until Monday, which was our day of departure but we did leave a rather nice voicemail message along with an even better email message but this really was not what we had planned. Kids devastated, adults confused and angry stayed around and used one of the practise pitches until we decided to depart back for Valkenburg, stopping on the way to feed the hungry party.
The following day was a mixture of trepidation and excitement as we were due to play our 2nd game against, VS Tongelre from Eindhoven who again were an U17 team and supposedly of a higher standard than BVV Caterpillar but we were ready for this game I can tell you. The game itself was at the Burg Van Engeland Sportpark in Eindhoven and once again we were greeted most pleasantly, and what I will say is the Dutch are fabulous people, very warming and charming! We kicked off at 1130am on the Sunday with the weather once again warm and sunny apart from a couple of warm showers and although VS Tongelre were bigger than our boys, we showed them that we can play football in the islands and with a 3-0 scoreline in our favour and after hitting woodwork on at least 5 occasions, we finished the game on a very happy note. Scorers were Neil Sinclair with a brace and Deege Wilson, our Barraichs in the party who are so important to the team.
Overall, a fantastic trip, everyone had a time to remember and of course I cannot print everything we got up to, but the kids as always were a credit to themselves, parents and schools and excellent ambassadors and the adults weren't too bad either! The main thing was that we all enjoyed ourselves and we got everyone home safely, with no hitches along the way!
Loads of thank you's to get through starting with Peter Carlin (legend) Councillor, Martin Taylor Councillor, Gerry MacLeod Councillor, Donald Manford Councillor, Farrans Civil Engineering, Qinetiq and Joan MacIsaac, LA Travel our Coach Hirer in Glasgow, Premier Inn Edinburgh Airport, Benbecula Community Council, Daliburgh Cooperative, Srachan and Son, George MacAulay and Angus MacPhee, Sue MacDonald and the Ladies of Eriskay (Coffee Morning), Liniclate School and Staff for allowing Team Meetings during lunchtimes and of course our TWO Sponsors Graham MacLeod of Graham MacLeod Driver Training and Stuart Menzies and Chrissie MacAulay of Menzies Private Hire.
Also, the adults who assisted me.....Willie MacAulay, Stuart Menzies, Matthew MacDonald, Ross Sutherland and Jamie MacDonald, who's help was invaluable as always although Mr MacAulay did bottle out of his radio interview with Radio Nan Gaidheall on the Saturday morning due to a dose of the trots and left it all to poor Ali MacDonald who conducted himself with aplomb.
Next year it's Spain and a 6 day Tournament in July in the Costa Del Sol and we hope to take along some of our Lewis and Harris friends and adults who have already expressed a keen interest. Organisation is already underway. Until next year...