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What’s it really like to make a 235 mile trip each way for home games.

By Walter Broeckx

Last weekend saw Carine and myself once again on the way to London. Not just to see the Arsenal play against Everton (which meant the result would never be in doubt) but to see other things as well. And to see a part of Arsenal not many of us will ever have the opportunity to see.

As I am the chairman of the official Arsenal Belgium supporters club I get a few privileges from time to time.  Because I was one of the lucky 30 or so chairmen of supporters’ clubs to have the honour and chance to visit London Colney and get a view behind the scenes. But I will bring you more about that in a separate article. But I can tell you now it really was amazing to see.

As I had to be at the Emirates before 9.00 am in the morning the only option we had was to go to London on Saturday to make it London weekend for both of us.

But it was a weekend in which Murphy’s law took over ….. It all started well at my son’s house where we stay during his holiday to take care of their cats. Dry but cool weather. All went smooth up to Calais. When we entered the shuttle station no indication of any problem. Only when we saw the screens at the station we saw that our train wasn’t indicated. And we saw the first signs of problems.

One of the shuttle trains had stopped in the tunnel and now only one tunnel was in use. First the sign said a delay of one hour was to be expected. And then it became two hours of waiting as both the high speeds trains and the shuttles going both ways had to go through the same tunnel.

Oh well those things can happen and as the London Colney tour was only the next day no real stress. We had tickets for Windsor Castle on Saturday but all my navigation devices estimated the travel time from Folkestone Windsor castle at around 2 hours at the most we should have been there around 1 o’clock even with the 2 hours delay.

So we even took the time to take a pause at Maidstone to eat a snack and use the toilet before we continued to Windsor Castle. Road works from Folkestone up to as far as you can see made us ride at slower speed than usual but still no problems. But then my navigation system urged me to leave the main road as there were big problems ahead. After a quick check we had to drive 30 km off the main road to Windsor. “Why not?” we thought. Wrong decision. Even with all the delays on the high I don’t know if we would have taken more time than we did on that road.

Every little town between the moment we left the highway up to Windsor had their own private road works with one traffic red lights stopping traffic very effectively. With an estimated time of arriving at 13.00 we were still trying near to Windsor at 15.00. And knowing that the last visitors were only allowed till 16.00 the first nerves came. To make a long trip short we managed to get in Windsor Castle around 15.45.

We ran through the chapel that was closing in 5 minutes. We then ran through the state apartment as quickly as was possible. So we could only half enjoy the experience.  But on a personal Flemish note I never felt prouder about my compatriots Rubens and Van Dijck than I did at Windsor Castle. I know they were and still are famous but seeing their many pictures taking up such a prominent place in Windsor Castle made me, as a man from Antwerp, very proud. Both painters have a very deep association with Antwerp, city I call home.

The drive from Winsdor to our hotel near Camden Lock was the same as our trip to Windsor. In pouring rain and with the traffic standing still most of the time.  But the hotel was nice next to the water so it was worth the trouble. We then wanted to eat something at the hotel.   My wife took a vegetarian curry and I took the grilled salmon. It took a while to be prepared but in the end it was worth it. We then went to bed and … oh no you are not interested in that. But it took a while but it was…. OK I will Tony stop it here but I was only making a joke.

At 7.00 Sunday morning Carine and I were in the breakfast room. An English breakfast as is mandatory when I am in England and then up to my room to get my coat and grab my camera and oyster pass and then off to the underground. Well that was what I thought. I came to our room with my key card and the light turned red. Okay that happened also when we arrived and they re-programmed the card and then it worked. But not this morning. With the clock ticking the re-programmed cards didn’t work. Still red lights.

Back to the lobby. Oh there will be a problem with the batteries in the door the staff member told me. I will call someone to have them replaced.  I have to leave the hotel at 8.00 I told him and explained I had to be on the bus that was leaving to visit the training ground and that this was a once in a lifetime occasion.  The nice and friendly man then turned himself from desk manager in to a specialist in repairing doors and replacing batteries. After a few attempts he managed to open the door and I could leave the hotel at…8.00. Thanks again mate!

About London Colney I will you in other articles but it was worth the trouble and nerves.

As was the match.  Yes we had trouble but we got there in the end and it was worth it. I knew before kick off that if the match would match our weekend it would take us a long time to get really going but then the reward would be big. And so it turned out! Cech saving us a few times (Emery knows…. ) and then one moment of brilliance of Lacazette putting us all on our feet to celebrate a real beauty.

I found out the second goal was offside. That will teach Riley to delay the introducing of the VAR for this season.  I must say I feel sorry for the Everton supporters who should only have lost 0-1 (and a handball penalty that Moss didn’t give but I will not be to harsh on that non decision). But I couldn’t be bothered that much to be honest. It was the PGMO who didn’t want to know about VAR so they should be attacked. Not Arsenal.

I wonder if just as with the Koscielny handball that made the PGMO change the handball rules they now will use this moment to get the VAR introduced from next season, without any further delay. To be honest I wouldn’t mind a few more errors from assistants in Arsenal’s favour this season. We are still due a lot of errors from the last 10 years before we come even close to being even.

Arsenal v Brentford: the things you don’t need to know, like the fact they keep beating us.

The problem of empty spaces and wild claims made by a fans group

Arsenal v Everton: are the officials failing as the media say, or is the media itself under a spell?

 

 

13 comments to What’s it really like to make a 235 mile trip each way for home games.

  • Don’t be too hard on your satnav Walter. I use AA route planner to prepare for all of my away games and for my visits to dance clubs around the country and it is normally very accurate. It says 1 hour 45 min for the journey from Folkestone to Windsor.

    http://www.theaa.com/route-planner/index.jsp

  • nicky

    Walter,
    Your report was as fascinating as ever.
    I was interested in your dashing about in Windsor Castle, in particular the effect it all had on the fragrant Carine. Is she back to full health and strength again? 😉

  • WalterBroeckx

    Nicky, thanks for asking.
    She can run around again just like I can.
    The recovery is amazing. One year ago still sitting in a wheelchair most of the time to now having the wheelchair parked in the garage catching dust.
    The treatment she started over one year ago has completely turned it around. If I ever have seen a miracle in with my own eyes, this is the one.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Come to think of it how quickly I get used to Carine being almost back to normal.
    As Tony said she is a miracle woman. Well the doctor who made that treatment is the miracle worker of course but she has to swallow all the medicines (and believe me she takes a lot of them…)
    We lost more than 10 years with her disease but now we are completely enjoying live again. And just walking around with her and next to her makes life good.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Maybe a good moment to thank all of you who have supported us in those years and who have wished us well.

  • porter

    The wonders of Britain’s roads ! Always the cries that there is not enough time or money to do the job properly. At a recent car component conference Britain was named as the busiest part of western Europe for steering and suspension products.I am not surpised , our roads are a disgrace.
    I too travel a round trip of 250 miles plus to games and have to do so by car due the vagaries of the transport system . Maybe when we get “” control “” of our finances we can get the sort of roads I encounter throughout mainland Europe in the future.

  • Nitram

    Porter

    “Maybe when we get “” control “” of our finances we can get the sort of roads I encounter throughout mainland Europe”

    Along with all those hospitals that are going to be built.

    And the electrification and modernisation of our Victorian railways we keep being promised.

    And the return of our industrial past such as the coal mining and shipbuilding industries.

    And the dismantling of the ‘gig’ economy and zero hours contracts.

    Because all those things are the fault of the EU of course.

    Cant wait.

  • nicky

    Walter,
    There are recoveries from severe ailments which defy logic, going on all over our World.
    In many instances, one cannot easily dismiss the power of prayer.
    Both Carine and you will know what I mean.

  • Gord

    Nice to read your report Walter.

    Tony, the CSS gremlins are back again today.

  • Nitram

    Gord

    Are you refering to the problem of it comming up in mobile configeration?

    It’s not methen?

  • william dodd

    walter i fly from belfast now when my sons came with me before they were marrted we travelled from belfast to sranraer scotland then the overnight bus to london retuning home after the match arriving home lunch time sunday.

  • Gord

    Nitram

    It’s not you. I am thinking it is gremlins, but maybe it is hobbits, snakes, grasshoppers or something else.

  • Nitram

    Gord

    Thanks.

    Personally I blame Mike Riley, but maybe that’s just me !

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