Wednesday, 8 September 1999

A v Poland (Warsaw) 8.9.1999

That was the week that was – Part 1 (Saturday 7th August to Sunday 15th August)

What a brilliant eight days!! It all started on Saturday the 7th August and the small matter of the return from exile and the first league game back in Sussex. A rather dull match, no atmosphere a poor team performance and then several dull hours back in the Lord Nelson after the game!!! What can you say about that day, other than brilliant. It was rounded of nicely by Adams, Corkey and Nick Rowe popping into the Lord Nelson for a few beers. The pub was also frequented by Ralph ‘Star Wars’ Brown and Mark ‘Fast Show’ Williams. For those that watch the Fast Show Mark did his famous ‘Jessie’ impression, he stood up and announced “Today I have mostly been watching a massacre”

I was unable to make the Fans and DJs night at the Paradox but I believe over £800 was raised, another excellent effort by that other lot Scars and Stripes. My next venture for the sporting week in Sussex was the Sussex v Zumerzet day night match at Hove on the Tuesday evening. A full house, but a disappointing batting display lead to only the second National League Division 2 defeat and also meant Zumerzet took over the top spot from Sussex.

On the Wednesday it was the first taste of Withdean under floodlights. A good battling display by the Albion, but a horrible own goal and then a breakaway goal by Gillingham gave them an unfair 2-0 advantage to take back to deepest dark Kent.

On Thursday it was back to the county ground for yet another day night game, this time between Sussex and Surrey. Another full house of 4,200, at least it was warm and sunny for this one. There line up read like an England XI so we new a victory was probable. They included Mark Butcher, Alec Stewart, Adam and Ben Hollioke, Graeme Thorpe, Ian Salisbury, Doug Brown. (Do they have any players that haven’t played for England). Sussex included Billy Taylor picked up from local league Cricket and he knocked the stumps out the ground three times and helped bowl Surrey out for just 148. Sussex eased to victory and the highlight of the day was watching Chris Adams who cant get a place in the England team take apart Adam Hollioke (An Ozzy who has played for England several times). He dispatched 4 of Hollioke’s first 6 balls to the boundary. He was out for 51 but Sussex won by 7 wickets with more than 8 overs to spare. Only 2 more wins are required to see Sussex promoted to Division 1.

Saturday was more sport but this time it was up to London and the visit to Leyton Orient. We headed for Stepney Green and started in the ‘Full Moon’ Weatherspoons pub. It was clear by the number of Albion fans drinking at 11.30am that we would have a few thousand at the match. At Midday we headed for our meeting point ‘The Old Globe just a few yards from Stepney Green tube station. The pub slowly filled up with Albion fans and anticipation of at last winning again at Orient was building up. The lads from Scars and Stripes turned up, loads from the A21 club and of course the Drunkards, sorry Seagulls over London helped fill the place up. We headed off around 2.15 and it was clear from the queues outside that the terrace would be packed. The kick off was delayed by 10 minutes to get 3,500 Albion fans in. The team once again showed that we will not be a push over like last season. Oatway and Rodgers in midfield are awesome.

After the game we returned to The Old Globe and celebrated the night away. Albion fans drank and sang for hours, we eventually left just before closing time and caught the 23.32 back to Hove.
Getting up Sunday morning for a BHA United friendly was hard work. Several of the team were suffering from the night before but we still ran out 3-2 winners.

What a week

That was the week that was – Part 2 (Friday 3rd September to Sunday 12th September)

The next great sporting week for me (and the last one this year – thank god I can hear my liver shouting!!)

This one started on Friday 3rd September and involved a leaving do at work and copious amounts of bottles of Beck’s. Got up Saturday morning feeling slightly delicate. We were on our way to Wembley for the England massacre of Luxembourg. We met up with various people at The George outside Euston station and as it was hot and sunny spent most of the morning sitting outside talking and drinking. For once England performed and easily demolished Luxembourg. We left a few minutes early as we were heading straight down to Plymouth for Saturday night entertainment and missed Owens brilliant goal. Also pissed of my mate who had £5 at 6/1 on 5-0.

We arrived in Plymouth around 9pm , dumped our bags in the B&B about 100 yards from the station and hit the town. We drank around the Barbican area which was buzzing. We found a kebab shop some time in the early hours and then waited about an hour for a taxi. Thank god we didn’t have an early start the next day. We left the B&B around 10am and finished off the cans we had on a street corner. We must have looked rough as a local tramp came over and whispered that he could get us into a pub which opened early, but back door only! To add to the embarrassment the Albion team appeared from there Hotel for a morning stroll. It was time to head off and find a pub. We eventually ended up in the Penycomequick and met some of the Plymouth lads attempting a boycott of the side stand at Plymouth, which in the end failed miserably. The match was a cracker and we headed home happy with the point.

On the Monday night it was up to the Oval and the return match between Sussex v Surrey day/night game. The Sussex fans were in good numbers and voice and the beer flowed as we heard Zumerzet had lost to Glamorgan and a win would put Sussex back to top of the league. The match was very one sided and the Surrey XI containing 7 or 8 England players lost to Sussex by 9 wickets.

On Tuesday it was up at 4.30am and off to Manchester airport for our flight to Poland. As we queued up to board the plane there seamed a lack of passengers, that was until you got on and it was only three seats across. A bloody 54 seater for a flight to Poland. Trevor Brooking and loads of press filled the first class seats and England fans the rest of the plane. We arrived in Warsaw lunch time Tuesday and the fun began.

Some lads on the plane had arranged a coach to the U21 game so we jumped on board. We arrived just before half time to find several England fans stranded outside. The Police had used a Breathalyzer and anyone above 5mg was not allowed in. As we were in a coach they escorted the coach inside and we all got in for nothing. We joined the other 50 or so England fans and promptly saw all four goals, unfortunately 3 scored by Poland. It was the first goals they had conceded in the qualifying stages!

We arrived back in Warsaw around 8pm and headed back to the room that had already been booked. We arrived just as a riot started in the Old Town. There were loads of Polish skinheads who had apparently attacked England fans drinking in a bar. There were dozens of cars, riot vans, motorbikes. General chaos. Apart from being threatened by some skin head by the entrance to the hotel we got in unscathed and had a birds eye view of what was happening and very happy to be inside and safe. We took a wander later on and found a bar selling food so settled down for food and drink until it closed. We then headed to the Irish bar and had a drink with a large number of the U21 squad (drinking those small 1litre beers!!!)

Wednesday and match day. Once again the atmosphere was tense. We stuck to Hotel bars, the first was the one entertaining the Polish team. We met up with a few Rochdale lads and headed for the Marriott hotel which had a massive bar. It was soon full of 2/300 England fans but rumors grew to the Poles planning to ambush the place later on. We left after a couple of hours and headed for the Sheraton, which turned out to be the England team base. At the bar was Deadly Doug Ellis. He was quizzed about Gareth Barry but his only answer is that it is a footballing decision. He said they had offered Brighton £400k in the summer up front to cancel out the Barry and Standing issues. Dick Knight turned it down. We soon got talking to another FA Official who was pretty chatty. He found out we were heading back to the Marriott as the Sheraton was a bit quiet. As we were just about to leave he called us back and informed us it had just ‘gone off’ at the Marriott. We settled back into the Sheraton bar and saw the England team depart for the ground. Beckham signed hundreds of autographs, in fact every player signed for the poles waiting and most posed for pictures with some lucky youngster (3/4 year old) – what a great souvenir that will be when he grows up. We ordered a taxi and true to form were dropped at the Polish end of the ground. There were groups of poles hanging about and it all looked very dicey. Luckily a few more England turned up from the way the Police had sent us and told us the England entrance was the other way. We followed and after passing through a park (later on two England fans were stabbed in the same place) we finally reached the safety of the away terrace. The away end was crap – Portaloos, crumbling terrace and an 18foot fence for the 1,900 England fans. Delightful. The atmosphere in the ground was very very hostile. I won’t say much about the game as you would all have seen it. Early in the second half the Polish fans started launching flares into the England fans.

or try this one as various videos get removed over the years

By the time the fifth one had exploded in the England end, the fans went mental. They pulled down two security fences and all hell broke lose. The Poles ran and it luckily pushed them far enough away to keep them out of range for throwing chairs, stones and bottles. It was all pretty hairy, thank god the England fans had driven the Polish fans back or I dread to think what may have happened. After the game we managed a quick escape on a coach of one of the travel companies and caught a taxi back to out apartments. As soon as the taxis left us a police car and a riot van turned up. They demanded ID from us. We had to ring a bell to get into the accommodation and if the women hadn’t answered the door within a few minutes I think we would have found ourselves in the cells for no reason. She had a long talk with the Police before ushering us in and firmly locking the door on the police. Safety. Fweeeeew. I hate these old Eastern Block visits at times.

On the Thursday things had calmed down and we were able to wander around the rebuilt old town and visit a few of the cheaper local bars. Its was the best day and made it worth going. We ended up in a different Irish bar until the early hours before heading back. On the Friday we headed to the airport mid- morning and flew back to Manchester. We met up with the Seagulls over London in Bradford for a night out including a curry in Lumb Lane (if you watched Band of Gold on ITV you would know what is was like!). On Saturday we made the short hop to Halifax in time to watch the Man Utd v Liverpool match and then watched the Albion collapse in the 90th minute. Hart missed a sitter and they went straight up the other end and scored the winner. The 450 or so Albion fans left in silence.

Sunday was spent in bed!

Mark R

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