ON THE WAY TO THE MATCH
Written by Bert Plomp
Football has always been my favorite sport. Unfortunately, some so-called football fans, namely the hooligans, regularly spoil the image of this sport. These lunatics only come to the stadium to cause trouble, seeking attention to fill their empty egos with false content. They intimidate others with loudmouthed behavior and fights.
We just can’t seem to get rid of these barbarians. This is partly because many other football fans are not genuine supporters of the club but quick consumers. A consumer who, amid all other entertainment, quickly visits the stadium on the weekend. Once in the football arena, they want maximum satisfaction. They want to see many goals and get worked up over wrong decisions by the referees. Meanwhile, they expect a comfortable seat and to be served promptly.
Even before the final whistle has blown, they rush to the exit and head towards the next attraction.
Among such supporters, there are usually no courageous people who are willing to correct potential troublemakers.
When I used to be in the stands of DOS, Elinkwijk, or VELOX, I stayed in one of the safest places in Utrecht.
As a youngster, you made sure not to engage in any form of aggression in the stadium. There were always numerous bystanders ready to give you a wallop if you did.
Where young people were once corrected by adults, rightly or wrongly, it is now often adults who are inviting reprimands.
A weekend of football, in the middle of the last century, meant for me and many other young people the culmination of a whole week dedicated to this sport. Playing football, you journeyed towards the weekend, towards the highlight of the football week, attending a match of your favorite club on Sunday afternoon. Of course, you didn’t set out for the field before enjoying a warm meal. Cozy at home, when the whole family gathered harmoniously around the steaming pots on the table.
On Sundays, those pots at my home were consistently filled with boiled potatoes, Brussels sprouts, stewed meat, and greasy gravy. Certainly not a meal that would make my salivary glands activate.
The stewed meat was so tough that it couldn’t be chewed small. Even with a young, razor-sharp set of teeth, there was no beginning to it. A wolf would have bitten its teeth off on it.
If I saw the first supporters from my neighborhood walking down the street from the dining table, I swallowed, with true daring, such a whole piece of tough meat at once. Just to get it over with, as the start of the match was imminent.
When VELOX played a home game on Koningsweg or DOS in Galgenwaard, an enormous crowd filled the streets leading to the football field.
For VELOX, the hustle and bustle began in the vicinity of Ledig Erf. Subsequently, Gansstraat and Koningsweg filled up, and finally, the entire crowd gathered around the field in a friendly ambiance.
During such a match, a player would occasionally hand out a ‘cookie.’ However, never a kick that led to a request for disability benefits. Nowadays, things are quite different.
A sissy-like dive or an infantile act after scoring a goal were absolutely forbidden. The men on the field just felt too tough for such sissy behavior.
After the match, many supporters gathered in the club canteen, and, while enjoying a beer and a cigarette, they chatted with the players.
A part of the supporters would hurry, immediately after the referee had blown the final whistle, to a cigar shop on Twijnstraat. Around five o’clock in the afternoon, the cigar seller made his appearance in the window there.
Standing among his tobacco products, this tobacco dealer announced the results of all football matches played that afternoon with great showmanship. With a piece of chalk, he inscribed the results on a large blackboard. This writing alternately elicited cheers and boos from outside the window.
Not infrequently, when a competing team had won, angry knocking on the shop window occurred out of dissatisfaction. As if the cigar seller were personally responsible for the undesirable result.
Based on the presented results, everyone could check their pool form, freshly from the press. Although the father of a friend of mine had once won a small fortune with the football pool, the pool forms were massively torn up after this check in Twijnstraat.
Someone once had every reason to knock on the shop window. The cigar seller had erased an earlier result with his eraser and replaced it with the correct result. Instead of eleven correct crosses, the angry man now had only ten right. He could tear up his form too. That was true football experience.
When The Beatles and The Rolling Stones began their rise in the early sixties, I was away from football for quite some time. From the very beginning, I let my hair grow down to my collar. They became my new idols. First, I sought matching clothing in the style of The Beatles. A bit later, when I appreciated The Rolling Stones more, a rougher outlook.