12-15 September 2008
The Videos are in .AVI or .MOV format and can be viewed with either Windows Media Player or RealPlayer. Don't forget to turn on your speakers -
but some videos are pictures only!
The Mighty Harwell (a.k.a. JET FC)
Alan Potter – tour virgin and non-player who stayed for free on account of his advanced age
Chris Hoy – officially a non-player on account of his youthful good looks
Dave Cookson - the captain leading his band of heroes
Nigel King - non-player having destroying his knee at Ispra 2007.
Team selection was a seriously limited due to injuries and the 33 year average age limit for this veteran 7-a-side tournament.
Eurostar: what could be simpler? Wave the Eurostar tickets at Didcot and get a cheap ticket to St Pancras (Dan's idea). Then a relaxing journey to Brussels, some beer and cards, get a connection to Mol using the unlimited rail travel in Belgium. Arrive at the SunParks resort (where we stayed on the 1999 and 2000 tours) at about 3 pm.
A quick swim, eat, drink, bit of karting, play some football, pick up a big trophy, have some beers in Brussels and return home. A whole lot less stressful than an early hours start, cramped flight and killing time in an airport.
The tour started off with a disaster.
A fire in the Channel Tunnel was reported late Thursday afternoon. The helpful helpline recommended calling the helpline later. A long search for alternative routes to Belgium on the Internet was fruitless. The plan was consequently tweaked - join the chaos at St Pancras and perhaps head for Dover.
Still without information, JET travelled to St Pancras with hope fading fast of ever reaching Belgium.
The TV cameras were expecting bedlam but we were outnumbered by the staff.
Apparently most passengers were already stranded at Paris Gare d Nord.
The few like us who bothered turning up were advised to make their own way to a Dover ferry - as if telling us to leave the station and become someone's problem was really helpful. What we needed was a miracle. Up stepped Ian.
Ian got on the blower and dialled T for Tosser Rosso.
The first tour since Belgium 1999 without Tom Stuart and now we needed British Airways more than ever. A few thousand on Tom's credit card later and we were booked on a flight to Amsterdam - over the channel but still a long way from Mol. Ian had even downloaded train details for Amsterdam to Belgium. Dan wanted a single ticket because of his meeting in Brussels and this somehow led to another £10 shared between everyone.
A quick two tubes to London City Airport, just follow the signs, who could possibly get off at the wrong station?
Dave Butler was now this close to giving up all hope of seeing Belgium.
London City Airport may be small but at least it had a bar. Undaunted, even the delayed flight to Amsterdam was now seen as a drinking opportunity.
JET finally boarded the plane 40 minutes late after the Captain gave up waiting for our in-flight food and then the landing in Amsterdam was another 10 minutes late.
Next problem: how to get from Amsterdam to Mol making the best use of our free Belgium train travel? The Dutch travel office was willing to sell us return tickets to Brussels but not so keen on dropping us off on the border. A few more beers and we had forgotten this additional travelling expense.
And then we had another beer wherever we could find room.
Arrived at Antwerp train station at the lowest of four track levels presumable after passing under the river.
Let’s go upstairs and get some food.
While the rest of us were content on taking the escalators, Bob spotted a shortcut up the empty down escalator. "Do you think you can make it?" he challenged Chris. "Yes" was the reply as he threw his bag to Bob. Chris, who once sprinted for his county (Rutland), bounded to the top. Bob now saddled with two bags and a gallon of beer did his best to clomp upwards. He staggered to a halt just before the plateau, scrambled on all fours at the feet of bemused commuters and then sank ignominiously from view. Unfortunately the CCTV was blurred but this is the scene and this is Bob's wounded knee.
One more train trip to go and another beer, plus several beers.
Ian now felt sick as parrot and some teasing the local talent.
We even managed to sweet talk the conductress from not throwing us off the train when a little beer was split.
In the meantime, the Europeans were busy holding the delegates meeting without JET and holding the football draw hosted by Henry.
The main evening event was kicked off by Gunther Herdam with Henry showing off the squashed trophy.
JET finally piled off the train, jumped on the waiting coach, checked in and then arrived at 9 pm only 6 hours late. First priority was some grub with some more beers.
Tuck in lads, there's plenty to eat.
But there's even a limit to how much the boys from JET can drink in a day.
Although we had made an unexpected detour and made every effort to arrive in time for the food, the Hungarians and ISPRA arrived even later.
JET were eager to start the football being fully alert and fighting fit.
Only a few formalities remained like saluting the EU flag, stopping the goals from collapsing and negotiating the rules with non-English speaking refs forced to play on dinky pitches.
The rain had soften the ground so much that the rusty goal frames and nets could not be secured, the pitches were reduced so much that goal kicks were shots on goal and the penalty areas had not been marked.
Time for a quick team photo, meet some old friends and other Belgoprocess clowns, the much-feared Russians and Markus's Karlsruhe team.
The first match was against Karlsruhe (1) who were quickly dispatched 7-1 with Markus and Geoff making outstanding performances. The sell-out crowd was entertained by the local brass ensemble.
Geel (2) were beaten next 6-2 with Cookie bagging goals galore. Cookie lead his band of heroes away to contemplate the next game.
UJV Rez were a harder nut to crack with Harwell being defeated 3-5. This still left JET 2nd in the group and qualified for the 1st to 8th place knock out tournament. The elderly Russians and the usual winners Ispra appeared to be the teams to beat.
Karting was laid on as extra entertainment. Indoor karting was a bit of a laugh for twelve of the JET team.
Cookie on the other hand had driven his twin brother's kart, looked up the Belgium track layout on the Internet and dreamt about taking the optimum racing line. Only Markus Schumacher was keener.
While Markus came prepared, we tied ourselves in knots in borrowed overalls and had to wear silly hairnets.
We started with practice and qualification sessions with the fastest laps determining the starting positions in final three pool races. The final race was simply determined by the first over the line. Cookie made steady progress and overtook Markus. No one could match Manuel who drove one handed and eventually slipped past Dave C on the penultimate lap. Ian, Bob, Geraint and Jon battled it out in Pool B. Although Geraint had a faster lap than Bob, he failed to complete the full set of laps. Dave B, Richard, Chris, Joe, Nigel, Alan and Geoff competed in Pool C. Geoff also had a fast lap but was T-boned by the two girls and was unfairly handicapped by the additional payload.
Dave Butler received his well-deserved victor's medal and took a minor position on the winner’s rostrum.
Dave B promised to never play football again now that he has a winner's medal.
Back to SunParks for some more food, moor beers (red wine for Geoff) and the falling off the stage competition.
We did our best to join in the bizarre napkin waving with whatever came to hand.
Markus did his 70s porn star impression.
Joe was all hyped up and appeared in the most unexpected places. If only he was that good in front of goals.
This was the make or break day. JET had to beat the Russians. The game was well fought but JET succumbed 2-0 with Richard testing the keeper and Geoff making a diving save with his nose. Where did it all go wrong? The only consolation was the Russian vodka which Geoff's Mrs later quaffed.
Now that we had blown the top spot, it was time to bring on the young precocious talent that is Chris Hoy.
The 5th to 8th play-off was against Nuclea (1) and we lost 2 - 1.
The 7th-8th play-off was a return match against UJV Rez which we lost 5-4 securing 8th place.
There was a post-match photo with Rez and some time to drown our sorrows.
The competition now consisted of some comical moments and desperate selections (some teams receive large subsidies for their kit).
KFKI Budapest (2) went on to beat the Russians MEPhi 4-2 in the final. The geriatric Russian were the darlings of the crowd at Ispra 2007 but their recent away win in Georgia and then bringing an annoying brat with an airhorn on tour had soured relations somewhat.
Markus claimed the trophy for last place while Dave C contemplated what might have been and Geoff went off to get some karting tips.
After a swim in the Aquafun, we were all awarded a medal, some Belgium chocolates and spirits and returned to what JET does best.
The Europeans persisted with their strange antics and table top posing.
We continued to drink beer and admire the waitresses.
The noise and merriment became too much so we played a machine, had a quiet drink in the chalet and watched the elderly retire to bed.
We were all glad to see the last of the cramped bedrooms with the badly placed beam.
The Eurotunnel was still blocked or half blocked or whatever, so we returned the way we came.
The coach dropped us off at Mol station where we chilled a while and Dave C broke his man-of-the tour trophy.
The Football Results
JET FC finished 8th out of 16.
Team of the Tournament: Belgoprocess
Danny explained this unexpected award by claiming he "f**ked Henry”.
Fraternising with Rose the organiser is a more plausible explanation.
The Belgium 2008 tour started the day after the Channel Tunnel fire. On Sunday 14th September JET were knocked out the cup by the Russians. On Monday 15th September Dave broke his trophy and Lehmam Brothers filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection holding $600 billion in assets. We never had problems when Ed Apps came on tour.
There are plenty more Belgium 2008 tour photos and videos
Contact me Geoff.Broughton@hotmail.co.uk