|Excelsior 0-2 PEC Zwolle. Stadion Woudestein. Friday 21/11/16|
Man's life is falling apart. Man considers suicide. Man smokes marijuana. Man has vision of Eric Cantona. Eric Cantona guides man through the rest of the film to a happy ending. Day two of our Rotterdam trip could have been the sequel to this - Looking for Danny.
The Danny in question was Dutch midfielder Danny Holla and although there was no suicide, midlife crisis or weed involved, we were on a mission to find him. Why Danny Holla? Because he’d spent two years at Brighton and Hove Albion. Until the last five years or so, Brighton were pretty rubbish and so it was rare for a player to leave the Albion and head for foreign lands. They were more likely to be heading for non league. We’re still not used to this whole supporting a good team thing and so once Holla was released and we got wind of the fact he had signed for PEC Zwolle, taking in their Eredivisie visit to Excelsior was a no-brainer.
|The International Criminal Court - about as far as sightseeing in The Hague went|
|Beer in The Hague|
Although sad not to have made it to one of the grounds where Holla used to play his trade, there were two positives to this. One was that Den Haag wear an absolutely brilliant combination of yellow and green stripes as a home kit, which would almost certainly have led to an obscene an amount of money being spent on merchandise. The second was that by not visiting, we have full justification to go back for a Den Haag game at some point in the future.
Back in Rotterdam, we decided to chance the 30 minute walk from the centre to Stadion Woudestein which meant that the walk soon turned into a near two hour trek as we decided to stop at five different bars along the way. The best of these was Cafe Hoekzight, a bar with lots (about eight) of supporters heading to the evening's big game as well as a huge poster of a naked lady inside the gents toilets. Only in the Netherlands.
|More Rotterdam floodlight porn|
It turned out that it wasn't just Danny Holla we would be paying homage to on this trip either. Excelsior was the club that produced Robin van Persie and to say they are proud of it is something of an understatement. We would be positioned for the evening behind the goal in the RVP Stand and in the supporters bar there was an entire wall dedicated to the former Arsenal and Manchester United man.
|The Robin van Persie tribute wall in the Excelsior supporters bar|
|Just in case you didn't realise Robin van Persie was a product of|
Excelsior's youth system...
|Don't fancy leaving the bar? Just stand on the porch at the front of it to watch the game|
The RVP Stand was raised above the pitch and was a curious mixture of seats with a block of terracing in the middle. At the other end the PEC Zwolle fans had gathered, a remarkably large number for a Friday night round trip which at 180 miles is one of the longest in the Eredivisie given they came into the game bottom of the table. The Holla effect perhaps?
|The RVP Stand|
|What a fantastic little venue for a game of football|
|Crepes in a football ground is the best idea so far in the 21st century|
|Some kids have a kick about on the pitch - you don't get that post game at Old Trafford|
|Free food...but what is it?|
“You've come from Brighton?” Mr Holla expressed with a look and tone of bewilderment, clearly torn between admiration for the cause and concern that we should be in a secure mental facility somewhere. He was kind enough to chew the fat for five minutes, expressing disbelief that Brighton didn't win promotion to the Premier League last season (we missed out by two goals) and that he hoped it happened this time around. The feeling was mutual, we told Danny - we hope you and Zwolle can stay up.
|The trip is justified as we succeed in meeting Danny Holla|
As for us, we headed back to the Excelsior fan bar until we were eventually kicked out, catching a tram back to the city centres Cool District to party the night away. The next morning it was a 9am flight from Rotterdam to Manchester and onwards to Wigan, where Brighton picked up a 1-0 win to go second in the Championship.
Looks like both Zwolle and Brighton could get what we hope for by the end of the season. In which case, keep your eyes peeled for Looking for Danny Part 2 next season.
Excelsior: Tom Muyters, Henrico Drost, Jurgen Mattheij, Khalid Karami, Leeroy Owusu, Kevin Vermeulen (Danilo Pantic), Luigi Bruins, Ryan Koolwijk (Nigel Hasselbaink), Alfredo Kulembe Ribeiro, Mike van Duinen, Stanley Elbers (Anouar Hadouir).
PEC Zwolle: Mickey van der Hart, Bart Schenkeveld, Bram van Polen, Calvin Verdonk, Django Warmerdam 1, Ted Van De Pavert, Danny Holla, Mustafa Saymak(Ryan Jared Thomas), Kingsley Ehizibue, Queensy Menig 1 (Annas Achahbar), Youness Mokhtar (Thanasis Karagounis).