Ispra, Italy 8-11 June 2007
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The Mighty Harwell (a.k.a. JET FC)
* Tour virgins
We tucked into a Gatwick breakfast.
Tom Hazeldine was already on his way home to collect his passport.
Our first Italian beers were slotted at Milan airport while waiting for Tom Stuart's BA executive jet. There was some panic when he landed late at the other terminal but our Italian guides quickly located the Tosser Rosso.
The JET Team took lunch at Ispra where FBH was caught hogging the chips.
Bob tried to bribe the Russians with our tour whisky. Unfortunately it was the other Russian team that we would play.
Nigel admired the tremendous view from his balcony.
The afternoon was spent taking a cooling dip in Lake Maggiore.
A quick scan around the beach (no sound) showed there was still no sign of Tom Hazeldine.
While some children played on a Pedelo, Gavin modelled his new mini-codpiece.
Our veteran tourist knew the dangers of mixing alcohol and water and checked that everything was in place.
All present and correct.
A few beers at the lakeside cafe followed the swim.
Paul Nixon arrived after travelling from Ferrari where he worked.
All the excitement and excessive beer was just too much for one venerable gentleman.
Geoff and Dave Cookson attended the high-level series of Team Leaders Meetings where really important things were discussed.
Back to the hotel for some more high jinx.
JET prepared themselves for the forthcoming matches by a display of synchronised indifference.
Some particularly ugly cajoling finally roused the players from their stupor.
JET had spectacular success against Grenoble (1-0), hard tackles against Belgoprocess (1-1) and maintained form against Budapest (1-1).
A packed lunch renewed our strength.
After the coach left without a cramped Sick Gibbons (the poor chap was all tuckered out after his first day), we returned to the hotel and had some more light refreshments.
Some took the opportunity to catch up on some sleep after their longer than expected journey.
Saturday afternoon was the much anticipated boat trip on Lake Maggiore. If only the Italians had remembered to load the beers! All aboard the good ship Teetotal.
There were fine views to port, fine views to starboard, fine views astern and fine views abreast.
Bob discussed with Markus the chances of swimming to the nearest bar but fatigue finally caught up and he lost consciousness.
Markus put on a brave face and took some photos for the family.
Oh joy! Dave Butler spied something interesting on the far shore but Ian's patience had long expired.
There is only so long an Englishman can go without beer! Abandon ship!
Geoff had paid good money for the privilege to be crammed on board with hundreds of beer-crazed footballers and was determined to endure the remainder of the voyage in peaceful tranquillity.
The evening festivities took place on the Ispra patio where Bob and Ian helped a hapless Johnny Foreigner feel small.
After a brief fight at the beach party, the fun moved to the hotel where the world-weary retired to bed.
While the matches continued to enthral the crowd, Richard played with some brown goo he discovered under the seat. Jon just could not contain his excitement.
JET battled their way to the Quarter Final against UJV - Rez from Prague. A series of videos were taken showing the spectacle of the line-up and the high drama of the penalty shoot-out.
Both goalkeepers displayed feats of dazzling ineptitude with only Bob's effort being saved. With JET desperately running out of players, Geoff was in real danger of taking the next penalty when the contest was finally resolved.
JET went on to be defeated in the Semi-Final by the Moscow Pensioners in a more decisive penalty shoot-out. Only Dave Cookson and Chris Hoy disgraced themselves.
We embraced the Italian B team before the 3rd/4th Final shortly after taking the piss out of the bare-chested, micro-shorted Italian poser who watched the crowd ignoring him.
During the match, Ian sped on to the pitch to treat a prostrate Italian with a litre of chilled water down his sock. Instant revival. JET lost one nil.
The Ispra v Moscow Final was eagerly awaited with the partisan crowd getting behind the Russian trophy wives against our generous Italian hosts.
The superannuated Muscovites held the Italians to a 0-0 draw. After another laborious penalty shoot-out, the Italians predictably won for the third time in succession. Ispra had entered two teams and filled them with some local talent but this had nothing to do with the result.
We returned to the hotel and said a fond farewell to Paul Nixon who had to polish his wing nuts.
At the final evening meal, the Italian hosts thought the rowdy English would be safer indoors so we simply moved the place settings to the patio for the third time.
Markus wondered how his well-oiled German football machine finishing a lowly10th, while Justin's expression had nothing to do with Gavin.
JET was awarded the fourth place cup and and commemorative medals while we sang the crowd pleasing "You'll never walk alone".
Back at hotel Gary made friends with our Dutch guide Benvenida (which is welcome in Portuguese). As a professional guide, she had drawn directions to the nearest red-light area for the Russians and was prepared to do some research for us.
Meanwhile, the rest of the team were testing the laws of physics.
The last morning was spent on the beach with some food.
Our glorious Italian weather was the only dry period before and after for some weeks. The lakeside setting could not be bettered.
Our Italia 2007 tour wound down with Bob playing hide the Dick with Richard, followed by Bob's dull educational DVD in the minibus and Jon leaving his mobile phone on the plane.
The JET Player of the Tournament and Top Scorer trophies were awarded to Nick Simmons, a tour virgin drafted in at the last minute to bolster the team.
JET FC finished 4th out of 16.
Jet finished second with 5 points. Belgoprocess were top.
Third / Fourth Final
Fair Play Cup: FS - Dresden Rossendorf
Geoff - Many thanks for organising another superb tour!
A great trip - although think we need to re-acquaint ourselves with some of the seedier aspects next time!
Has anyone seen Tom H's passport, Jon's mobile and where's my bottle of white wine?
Geoff Broughton after downing both his bottles of Limoncello.
The pleasure was ours!
Keep on the strength, recruit the right players (I guess those who can drink and play well all the same, and maybe have some other extra qualities, not to be mentioned in writing!!)
Kind regards, Benvenida Franken who seemed to recognise the attributes of a great JET tour.
Have to prepare my suitcase: leave tomorrow after work for 4 days to Holland: would you like to come and find me in Amsterdam?
Contact me Geoff.Broughton@hotmail.co.uk