Bachelor party, sheep, beaches, drunken escapades, strippers and the beautiful city of Cardiff.
Ddymuno pawb! No I am not still intoxicated from my eventful bachelor weekend in Cardiff, Wales. That meant ‘hello everyone’ in Welsh or at least so I believe. (apologies to any Welsh reading this and being offended) What a language right?! And there I was thinking Dutch was already a stupendously weird and difficult language. And that is coming from a Dutchman! In this first travel section I wish to cover my three day trip to Cardiff, covering the cities of Cardiff, Swansea and the Gower peninsula. I will try and refrain from making any sheep jokes.
First and foremost I would like to point out that the Welsh are kind tourist and customer friendly people, maybe some of you are thinking which Wales did he go to, but to me that was one thing that was stuck in my mind. Back home it’s hard to find a smile on a person’s face or get more out of store staff than the usual, what are you looking for?
Cardiff is a vibrant city that did not give me the feeling of getting lost in a major metropolis. It felt more like a large town. Made you feel like Daffyd Thomas could pop out any moment and tell you he really is the ‘only gay in the village’. (Little Britain pun)
And to be honest one thing that in general really sets the United Kingdom apart from my home country the Netherlands, is the social side and attitude of the people. I love how approachable and talkative most British are. I could walk into a pub and have a drink with complete strangers and practically leave the pub as friends. However back home you get treated as if I am dressed as a Nazi and walk into a synagogue. Over here, when you walk into a pub you first receive some angry faces looking at you, and if you think you can go talk to someone or become mates, well forget about it, they would rather push you back out the door. Now of course this is not everyone I am talking about, let’s be realistic, however generally the Dutch have an odd anti-social approach that bums me out a lot! I lived in the UK for almost 8 years and just miss the British attitude. Except for the whining about the weather.
Anyway back to Cardiff, where I happened to be for a bachelor weekend, as my best mate is getting married next month. Once in the town centre there is so much to see and do and especially ‘eat’!! We had dinner at the Smoke Haus, which was like an American meat feast all over. There were 6 of us and we ate a variety of chicken wings, spare ribs, and massive burgers. If you ever happen to go there then you should definitely try the Southern Comfort, its a burger, not the drink.
This burger was tremendous in taste but difficult to eat. It is a tower of delight that does not fit in your mouth properly. It was a proper dismantling project to get through the bun, thick fried chicken filet, bacon, onion, salad and cheese. Can you imagine there is a double burger version of this you can order as well?!! Bloody mental I tell you.
Cardiff has a bustling city centre with plenty of pubs, restaurants and clubs to go nuts in.
One of my favourites and also one of the activities of the bachelor trip was the visit to the Bierkeller. If you have ever been to the October Fest in Munich, Germany then you already had the taste of what you can expect at the Bierkeller. Consider it a British October Fest in miniature.
Imagine a relatively small stage in the back and in front a few rows of long wooden tables. I suggest reserving before coming here as especially in the weekends its jam-packed. Depending on the package you purchase you will receive what they call a ‘Stein’. One litre of beer and delight. Then around 9pm the Oompah band comes on stage and really gets the party going with catchy melodic German songs that will not leave you sitting still I tell you. We had a blast and anyone visiting Cardiff should spend 2 hours drinking and feasting at the Bierkeller.
The Gower Peninsula “Three Cliffs Bay”
Just over an hour’s drive from Cardiff after passing through the quaint coastal city of Swansea you get into the greenish heaven of the Gower Peninsula. Miles of green countryside ranging from hills to fields and forests. One of the places I visited for a walk was Three Cliffs Bay. After having parked up at the top of the hill at a camping site I walked down and when I say down, well the word steep does not do it justice. I however did not realise this until I had to walk back up. It was 25 degrees and well after getting back up the hill I was drenched in sweat. More importantly it was well worth it, below you see two impressions of Three Cliffs Bay and I wish had brought my swimming gear. Such tranquility and beauty.
In general driving through Wales does not get more picturesque, however what I did not find so relaxing were some of the winding roads on the Gower Peninsula. If you do not adequately know the width of your car you might find yourself coming home without side mirrors. It made you think twice about looking out the window because before you knew it there would be a 90 degrees bend coming up and the rear bumper of the car in front of you would be stuck on your front bumper. I am not Lewis Hamilton but I can tell you I made it out unscathed, which was a good thing considering I was driving a rental car.
Continuing on the topic of driving, I come from a country where there are many speed camera’s and speed check zones but lord almighty Wales is on a different level when it comes to that!!
You do not even have time to fart before you already find yourself in the next speed check zone. Funnily enough the lady at the rental car company specifically warned me for these. I still cannot believe I got a rental car (Toyota C-HR) for 44 gbp for three days!! Even the lady from Enterprise asked me how I got that bargain deal.
Go see it!
A few years ago I spent some days in the North of Wales which is just as green, a bit more mountainous and a beautiful piece of nature to travel through.
I can only suggest Wales as a holiday destination or even a 3-4 day trip.
So to finish I would like to say ‘siarad yn fuan’ or speak soon folks!
Here is me opening up about my footie shirt collecting addiction and attempting to explain: why?
My wife, ex-girlfriends and especially my parents have never failed to reiterate their frustration, confusion and sheer lack of comprehension towards my football shirt collecting passion (uhm..addiction). Again for my American friends, this is soccer not American football. So as my wife and parents have asked for so many years: why? Seriously why? Well let me try and answer the ‘why’ and allow me to expose you to the artistic yet stupendous world of funky coloured shirts with numbers and silly names on the back.
Being born in Rotterdam, the home of Feyenoord, was no obstacle for my dad who made it very clear from an early age that there is only one club to support, Ajax Amsterdam. So the above was my first shirt of many, so damn many shirts. I must have been around 7 or 8 years old and at that age you then do not wish to wear anything else but that shirt. Showing off to your mates and all that usual kids stuff. I remember that at a later stage I even had my name Marcel and the number 11 printed on the back. I was only a kid, now I would have definitely not put my own first name on there (pfff.
I grew up in various countries like Gabon, Scotland, Holland and England and spent many holidays abroad where I somehow seem to focus on finding shops that sold football shirts. It was like a hunter seeking out animals to kill, my hunt as a piece of fabric.
Now my parents at first thought that this was going to get a bit too expensive and tried to sway me towards the fake shirts sold at the local markets. I know, how could they! Especially in Spain, where we frequently went on holiday, there is just an abundance of fake shirts sold at markets for only a fraction of the cost that an authentic kit would cost.
However paying 20 euro’s for a fake shirt instead of 60 or 70 back then for an authentic kit was a trick that my parents did not manage to brainwash me with for too long. Bless them for trying, but this addicted mind would not budge.
I remember vividly the fake away shirt of Bayern Munich from 1998 bought on a Spanish market, I believe on the island of Gran Canaria. My mother is a renowned and feared haggler for the lowest prices at markets. I can still hear some cries in the far distance.
She would always start at half the price, then after re-emphasising three times she would not budge, the market vendor would remain firm and deny the sale, upon which my mother would then start walking away with great drama and 9 out of 10 times the vendor coming after her saying he would agree anyway.
Yeah she would have made an interesting interrogator in a different lifetime.
Real vs Fake
For those of you wondering what the difference is between an authentic kit and a fake (market) version, well I know there are more important things in life but that difference is very simple: the kit maker’s logo. Although I have to add a side note there. Back in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s that was the case. Most shirts were missing the Nike, Adidas or Puma logo’s and often even had the wrong sponsor names.
See below for example.
However I have noticed many places have actually upped their game in counterfeit shirts which are much harder to distinguish nowadays.
For example this shirt:
Subtle differences in color and material used. So what to do about this folks?
Well also that answer is very simple. If you want an authentic kit then do not go to the markets but visit the football club official store often at the stadium, go to retailers like Intersport, Nike, Adidas, Puma and of course you will be paying full price, however you at least know you are wearing the real deal.
On the other hand if you do not care then save yourself some money and go to those horrible markets and try and avoid my mother.
You know how artsy people would go to a museum or gallery and stare at a piece of art for hours and admire the sheer beauty of its design? Well often I do not understand those people when I see some of the paintings they’re looking at, but I have to tell you all that for me football kits are…art.
Every season I get excited about which new designs are being released and most importantly which ones from my own club, Arsenal.
Over my lifetime I have owned over 100 authentic kits. A lot I sold on eBay and others I kept for memory’ sake. And I am sure you must be wondering why on earth I need that many kits, well call me crazy or a hoarder, but its like I mentioned earlier, collecting art.
So in this section of The Shirt CollectorI will be covering what I look for in shirts, my all time favourites and how I can be such a traitor and wear the shirts of my rivals etc.. So stay tuned for more fabric lunacy!
Instagram, what a joy and curse all moulded into one awkwardly popular app. No other place on earth brings together the most insecure-selfie-loving-idiots on this world as Instagram does. Just for the record: “I also use Instagram”. Let us discuss. (evil laugh)
I am pretty sure you know trolls, although in this case I am not hinting at your grandmother, ex-girlfriend or those silly little dolls.
Trolling, or in other words the art of deliberately and secretly pissing people off or mocking them to suicidal madness. You probably have seen it or are a troll yourself because your mother never cuddled you enough and did not tell you enough how special you are. So instead you reside to online bullying because someone else actually looks better than you or has a better life!
Has the world descended into utter madness? Leaving out Bill Cosby, Donald Trump and Harvey Weinstein, I would like to point my attention to the current generation of teenagers and adolescents. According to bullyingstatistics.org :
Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, resulting in about 4,400 deaths per year, according to the CDC. For every suicide among young people, there are at least 100 suicide attempts. Over 14 percent of high school students have considered suicide, and almost 7 percent have attempted it.
Bully victims are between 2 to 9 times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims, according to studies by Yale University
A study in Britain found that at least half of suicides among young people are related to bullying
10 to 14 year old girls may be at even higher risk for suicide, according to the study above
Shocking!! I mean imagining a 14 year old girl committing suicide because of social media posts and comments is just downright sad. To get cyber bullied so badly you want to take your own life is downright ridiculous and a massive tragedy. We are our own worst enemy. A very common conclusion however is that the bully is often more insecure and confused than the bully victim, which is daft when you think of it. Pestering, discriminating, bullying someone because you do not have the courage to get off your phone and socialise with real people or due to the fact that you hate your body or the fact that your parents named you something like North, Saint or Dick. (suck on that Kanye!)
I went through most of my secondary school life being called the Nazi or Crout, because I am half German. I know so original. Not even Dolf or Obersturmbannführer, pretty disappointing really. I had Eminem, Rammstein and football getting me through those days.
Back in those days MSN was hot and took up most of my spare time, but bullying was not even a fraction of what it is today. We now live in a sad world where imperfections, flaws, insecurities are laid bare on a daily basis. Imagine a post on instagram of a pretty girl in a bikini, well here some eye catching quotes that really stand out to me:
– “Have you seen the cellulite on that whale?!”
– “I struggled to wank to this one”
– “I would not take a picture of myself with those stretch-marks!”
– “Stop holding your breath fatty”
– “You fit right in with the other Auschwitz folks with those skinny legs, hurry up the train is leaving”
Funnily enough all women suffer from cellulite, even men, and the commenter of this comment probably does not wear skirts because she is so appalled of her own cellulite. Let me tell you one thing, you are the biggest coward, lowlife piece of shit of a person if you dare criticise and bully other people’s posts on social media. I am sure you would not enjoy your comments aimed back at you in your posts, right?
Apparently Instagram has been working on an AI to automatically block offensive comments in posts and is working hard at reducing cyber bullying. It is the least they can do with all that technology laying around nowadays.
Folks, please please please stop posting your food/meals/dishes as an Instagram post. Period. I would rather get roofied by Bill Cosby than look at another food post. There might be 0.2% of all Instagrammers that will be interested in your food or what you cooked yesterday, so please for the overwhelming rest of us, write a blog on food, but stop posting food on social media! Nobody cares. Moving on.
Another picture of Cara Delevingne or Doutzen Kroes posted on Instagram and 10 million teenage girls start puking out their food on a daily basis just to look so beautifully skinny. Well let me tell you something girls, you are perfect and beautiful as you are, there is nothing beautiful about weighing 40 kg and overall being very unhealthy. Then we have the filters that make the whole situation even worse. Adding filters to make sure you look less pale, fat or cover up your stretch-marks and cellulite just adds injury to insult. The fact that you then have to use the hashtag ‘nofilter’ to show it is a real untouched picture just shows how bizarre this phenomenon has become! Just remember, whatever comment you receive, that person is unhappy, insecure and sad. However that person deserves none of your sympathy. Respect should be a two way street, those bullies however do not understand that.
Plus size models
That brings me to a development over the past few years that has put a smile on my face. The growing popularity of plus sized models. Now I know there is curvy and CURVY and then obese but the fact that more and more plus sized models are daring to post their bodies and get contracted as a model is encouraging. Women like Demi Rose and Iskra Lawrence are strong advocates for the plus sized thinking and I can only applaud that.
After all I do prefer a bit of cushion for the pushin’. In case my dear wife reads this, I love your cushion babe, no worries there. 🙂
So let us do what Instagram allows us to do at its best, share beautiful pictures of locations, animals, happy people, cars, beautiful men and women, buildings, not so beautiful men and women. BUT leave out the bullish comments and post motivating and positive feedback. Treat others the way you wish to be treated. Amen!
I know you must be thinking why I got to 16 days left back in September 2017 and then fell off the edge of the earth. Or so it seemed. Did he get married after all? Did she say no? Someone make a runner? Was he gay after all? Or did he say the wrong name? (Ross)
As you know (if you read the previous posts) it was a hectic and emotional rollercoaster leading up to our wedding day and I felt it was time to catch a break from everything and focus on my work and wife for a few months. Now we are in May 2018 and I want to show the world what came out of our plans and ideas on that memorable day, the 13th of October 2017.
The day before…
Thursday, 12th of October 2017, the Hague, the Netherlands, noon.
One of my best friends and best man Rasta (yes, you remember his private name from my previous post 16 days to go) came with his fiancee Miss B to spend some time with me the day before the big day. And as my wife-to-be Ragna had already gone off to the hotel with her maid of honour, it seemed fitting I would not spend my last day as an unmarried man alone.
Rasta, Miss B (who live in Britain) and I took the opportunity to go for a windy stroll along the beach here in Scheveningen, the Hague. It was actually pretty chilly around 12 degrees and I was clinging on to the weather forecast for the next day that predicted sunshine and about 18 degrees celsius.
After a nice lunch I was starting to slowly get the wedding jitters and I am glad I had my favourite people around that evening. Later that day my other best man Caesar joined us and together we came up with a funny activity for the ceremony involving the Bee Gee’s..
I must have scraped a few hours sleep together and before I knew it Caesar, Miss B and Rasta were in my living room dressed up and ready to go! About 10am my mate Caesar mentioned to me that my wife to be had left a little surprise in hidden at home. So after some hide and seek I found a box with inside two pictures and the text ‘see you soon’ written on one. You probably think what is so special about two pictures?
Well have you ever heard of a ‘boudoir’ shoot? Let me tell you my tailored suit was not designed to deal with a raging boner.
These two pictures showed a very scarcely dressed (if dressed at all) Ragna. Beautiful and surprising, as I would never have dreamt that she even dared to do such a photo shoot. Of course those pictures are strictly for my eyes only, sorry lads (and some gals).
What I can say is that the next day I got to see almost 50 x-rated pictures which make for good reading material on a lonely evening.
Going to the meetup location…
At noon everybody except for my bride and her two maids of honour were to convene at the Bierkade in the Hague. Here I had arranged a boat to take us through the local canals straight to our wedding location. It was great to see our 25 guests all dressed up so uniquely and fashionably get together on this momentous day. As you can imagine my nerves we now starting to take over and I did not really know what to do with myself. Mostly that leads to either talking or eating. After a half an hour or so the boat was ready and we all made our way over to the dockside. The boatsman was so kind to explain the history of our amazing city the Hague. Our destination for the wedding was the beautiful Huygens Hofwijck in Voorburg.
Arriving at the wedding location…
Exactly on time we arrived and docked at the above location Huygens Hofwijck. Originally the private estate of Constantijn Huygens 1687, now turned into a museum together with its picturesque gardens. And luckily for us a wedding location.
Before I proceed, I wish to express a special thanks to our photographer Steve Young for providing us with perfect pictures and being such a relaxed photographer to work with. And maybe also a double special special thanks to Steve for the boudoir shoot! (wink)
So there we were, the majority of the guests and I had docked at the location and started walking around the pond, where we had hung up signs like the top cover picture in this post, to guide everyone to the building where the ceremony would take place. Last but not least once everyone was seated my two best men and I made our ascent up the stairs towards the entrance of the building.
To this moment I still had not seen my bride who was hidden in a room in the same building as the ceremony. I also still had no clue as to what her dress was going to look like. And that moment was maybe THE moment I was looking forward to the most!
As you can see in the above picture I had asked my two best men to wear grey suits while additionally matching my tie colour. I was dressed in a tailor made three piece suit, big thanks to Desiré and Erik from Dutch Spirit for the creation of this majestic suit!!
The ceremony…She said ‘YES’!
Can you feel the suspense yet? There I stood in the doorway ready for the music to start. Say what? Music? Remember my comment earlier from the night before? The fun activity? Well Ragna and I have always said that some things we do not mind doing traditional but a lot we wish to improvise and have a little fun with. Fun part 1.
Together with Rasta and Caesar we had practised a little choreography for our entry to the ceremony. I had chosen the song Night Fever by the Bee Gees. But that was not all. With our backs turned to the guests we turned one by one when the music started and one by one started walking forward, not walking but grooving/dancing forward to the altar. First Rasta, then Caesar and lastly myself. The effect was that everybody laughed and the whole atmosphere was just a tad more relaxed.
After that boogie my two best men sat down and I was stood at the altar for which seemed an eternity waiting for my bride to come in. The song Warmness On The Soul by Avenged Sevenfold , by Ragna’s favourite band started playing in the background and after a long 4 minute wait Ragna entered the room with her mother accompanying her as they walked down the rather short aisle. In full glory her beautiful dress and amazing hair doo.
As you can tell from the pictures I was in awe and also did not know what to do with my hands or what face to pull (idiot). My God she looked stunning and to be honest I was not that far off with my guess about what her dress would look like. Remember my post Mr Wedding Planner: 136 days to go ? Take a look again at my guess No. 2 Lady Marmalade, that is not far off right?!! Either way it was a majestic dress and my bride looked magical from her hair down to her shoes.
The ceremony was led by the ever so charming Mrs Hutzezon who even did parts in English due to the large English contingent of guests.
I already mentioned that we liked to mix things up and do some unconventional things during the wedding. So here came another one, my rap. Oh dear, no he did not! Yep! Well, I have been a life long hip hop and especially Eminem fan so I thought I would surprise my bride-to-be. I had practiced for weeks on my personal rendition of Eminem’s The Real Slim Shady, except I had completely re-written it and called it the The Real Groom. The funny thing was that I had agreed with Mrs Hutzezon that at the end of the ceremony she would say will the Real Groom please stand up, which caused for a lot of confusion and smiles.
Now I can tell you one thing, this song is quick and in all my practise sessions I had not once managed to get my breathing and speed right. But of course it was my wedding day and Friday the 13th so what happened? Well the song went flawlessly and I did not make one mistake to my own disbelief.
Considering it was Friday the 13th something had to go wrong, it was only a small mishap but Ragna’s made of honour dropped the rings as she wanted to hand them over, ha thankfully they did not roll too far and could be saved.
So there we were, married!! What a feeling and relief! And it was also at that very moment that it felt like all those emotions, frustrations and stress came undone and that was a revitalising feeling to say the least. A proper new beginning.
As the ceremony finished all the guests left the room first and moved outside onto the little bridge while holding these little bubble-blowers. So as we made our way outside we were greeted by our guests and a rainbow of bubbles.
Nobody tripped or fell and as we moved ourselves through the wave of bubbles, we ventured on into the gardens for cake and drinks!
Cake and photoshoot…
The slightly strong wind had gone and now even the sun occasionally popped out and provided us with a very comfortable temperature and scenery. Now going back to one of my previous posts of Mr Wedding Planner I already mentioned that we had also done something a little unconventional with the wedding cake. This multi-flavoured design of wonder was standing in the gardens of Huygens Hofwijck with a little area of wedding tents. Here we had setup tables, drinks, bites to eat and the cake.
First up I would like to thank local caterer Patrick from Dish Catering for providing the lovely setup, drinks, food, tents and service. Secondly I would like to thank Sue from Sue’s Cake Creations for the amazing wedding cake, which you can see below! A piece of art!
As you can tell one side the cake was a very conventional design but as soon as you turned it around you saw a stark contrast with these awesome Superman and Wonder Woman designs. And let me tell you the taste..hmmm it was mindbogglingly delicious! Thanks Sue!
In the meantime there were bites and drinks and the bride and I started doing our photoshoot. We wanted it to be a cosy and tight knit shoot so we also got all our guests involved in the pictures, that led to some absolutely hilarious pictures, more of which you can see at the end of this post in the slideshow.
I personally loved the fact that everybody could get their picture taken and mix with other guests as they pleased. I have to say my mother behaved and Steve the photographer was very patient during this stressful exercise haha!
I almost forgot but my wife had some really cool activities prepared which I want to share with you, maybe you will consider doing it as well for your wedding.
We had bought an old school polaroid camera and made everyone take at least one picture. All those pictures are now on a big poster here at home.
We also had this board with a drawn tree and some paint where every guest could leave his fingerprint on the tree. My wife had also ordered these business card style cards which all of our guests were asked to fill in. Information about what was your favourite event of the wedding to what your connection to the wedding couple is etc… Now we have a pile of cards with wonderful messages from our guests. A great idea that was!
Before we knew it 2,5 hours had passed by and amidst the setting sun we were getting ready for part 3 of the wedding day: transport to our dinner location.
Off to the dinner location…
Dealing with a moderate group of 25 people it made it more doable to get everyone in two cars. Cars you say? You must be kidding right? No, not just any type of car.
We got a mega Hummer and Lincoln stretch to take all of us across the city to our dinner location.
Inside these monstrous means of transportationthe party was going strong, my now wife and I were in the smaller Lincoln where there definitely was no shortage in booze!
So from Voorburg we drove for about 45 minutes to our last destination: ‘t Goude Hooft in the old centre of the Hague.
Officially the oldest inn in the region dating back to as early as the year 1423. A beautiful monument that would be the location for our dinner.
Now I know that most weddings will have a perfectly planned seating arrangement and plan. We did as well, but in a slightly different manner than you would expect.
We intentionally mixed everyone up spread over three big tables. We cleverly thought about who would match with who even though they themselves would probably have never thought of sitting next to that specific person if were down to free choice.
Ragna and I moved from table to table after every course so we had at least sat with everyone for a bit. Now my sister Cecile did the tremendous job of being our master of ceremony and leading this wonderful day, which has to be said she did so perfectly. Literally nothing went wrong. After every course during dinner she had arranged neatly timed speeches including our own. Yes, with a relatively small group of 25 we wanted to individually (roast) tell everyone what they mean to us and how grateful we are for their attendance. We did this in a humor filled roast type manner. Plenty of laughter, for sure.
What stood out to me were the speeches by my two best men, Rasta and Caesar. A deeply meaningful, emotional and beautiful set of speeches. Thank you once again!
Hanky panky in the suite…
This brought us to the culmination of the day, the bridal suite and the hanky panky wedding night as they say. The suite was absolutely stunning, two floors, a massive jacuzzi and king size bed and breakfast in bed the next day. For what happened that day I will leave to the imagination of the likes of Jenna Jameson and Ron Jeremy… It was like the boudoir shoot had come to life. What I can say is that my wife was steaming drunk and as soon as our heads hit our pillows we were nodding off into la-la-land.
The day after…
Now set aside the wonderful breakfast and lovely room, being hungover is a slightly less comforting feeling after such a wonderful day. So with our heavy heads we got into our taxi home and after staring out of the window silently for a while my wife turned to me.
She was holding her hand in front of her mouth and her eyes basically screamed: OOH SHIT!!! I did not have time to think because the next moment she had vomited all over me. Fortunately for the very helpful and considerate taxi driver none of the puke had gone onto his seats, no, it was all on my of course.
That absolutely rank smell of puke did however make me reminisce to those good old student days all those years ago. Let’s just say we were glad to be home and being able to get another shower. The next day we were back to 100% and were lucky enough that our photographer Steve had worked through the night to deliver our pictures already. Amazing! Writing this post has made me all nostalgic again, thinking back to this amazing day.
6 Months on…
I can safely say we are now 6 months married and still very happy together. I also wish all of you newly engaged couples the perfect day as we had it and that you may find peace and happiness together in this world full of backstabbing, selfish and hurtful people. Last but not least on behalf of Ragna and myself, I wish to thank all of guests for their attendance, great attitude, the gifts and overall influence on making this a perfect day!
As promised a few more pictures in a slideshow of that perfect day, Friday the 13th of October, 2017.
Football is my passion, it has been ever since I started playing it from a very young age. And when I say football, I do not mean American Football, no I mean soccer, which I will keep referring to as football. I am also a lifelong Arsenal and Ajax Amsterdam fan. But one thing I never imagined was ending up as a referee, and enjoying it!
Throughout my youth I played as a central defender, being tall and lanky and as I got older moved up to midfield and eventually a striker, even ending my last season as league topscorer with 23 goals and league champion. That was at 17 years old, since then the decline set in. (who loves the pie!)
I went from being tall and lanky to being tall and broad, to tall and overweight. All those years studying and partying were detrimental to my body let’s just say. I started lifting weights and although I am still overweight, I at least do not look like the Michelin man running across the pitch. As I am getting married in October I decided to try and drastically change my diet and eating habits and get proper fit and ready for next season and the wedding. Damn you carbohydrates, sugars and McDonalds! I’m loving it!
You And Refereeing?
So after studying and then getting used to 9-5 working life I wanted to be involved with football again, but I knew I was not going to cut it as a player anymore especially with my injury record. So I came up with the idea of becoming a referee. Nuts right? That’s what everybody around me still says to this day. As I live in The Hague (Holland) which has tons of football clubs it didnt seem so hard to find one that would like another referee at their club. I managed to find a quality amateur club in the city called SVV Scheveningen who’s first team play second division on the highest amateur level and were desperate to add another referee to their ranks.
Very quickly I found my feet and started refereeing the youth varying from 12 year old boys and girls to adults. The club was nice enough to pay for my official refereeing license with the Dutch Football Association and as such since a year I am an officially licensed referee at club level. And I say club level because I do not go around traveling to other clubs to referee matches, I only referee all the matches at my own club, just like 6 others in our refereeing squad. I love the banter and community feeling the club provides.
Apologies for the long introduction but there I was, 6ft4, 255 pounds brick shithouse running across the pitch on a saturday, unpaid, yes for fun.
Funnily enough my expression, build and authority started creating a bit of a name and I pride myself nowadays on being a no-nonsense referee who does not like being spoken to too much by players.
Supporting Parents (ahum)
Which brings me to the other element which is not on the pitch but around the pitch, the parents. Listen, I may not have children yet, but as a referee I do have some sort of an educative almost parenting role let alone responsibility. Especially when you are dealing with young teenagers. Educating them on the game of football but also about respect and social skills.
But the fact that I do not have children yet and hence might not know how to act around children does not give a lot of you parents the right to act like disrespectful mindless bastards! Let me tell you what happened.
A few weeks ago I was refereeing a game with 14 year olds, the match went calmly and fair, until one player accidentally got hit in the face by a trailing arm and I have to say he barely touched him (no damage was done except to his ego). That was not even the big issue, that came shortly after when the father, of the boy who was hit by the arm, came running on to the pitch and wanted to punch/attack the other boy! The father angrily suggested that the other boy punched his son on purpose and that I (as referee) did not see this. Hence after I almost wrestle the man away from the kid and send him off the pitch, his son then starts retaliating to the boy who supposedly hit him by grabbing him by the throat, upon which I sent both players off the pitch for 10 minutes with a yellow card. (yes in the youth this is a rule) Once the supposed victim saw the yellow card, his mother then started swearing at me in the kind of way that would make Gordon Ramsay seem cute and innocent.
It baffles me to this day, that parents can lose it completely and even attempt to hurt a minor all over a simple amateur football match.
As you can imagine this was not the end of it and at the end of the match not one single player of the home team or the coaches shook my hand and hence I left the pitch with my head held high putting the imaginary middle finger up to them. I knew I had just refereed the match in proper and professional manner, but for the rest of the weekend it does leave you with a sour taste in your mouth. The club afterwards punished the coach and let’s just say it was not the first time this guy was causing havoc on a football pitch.
And remember kids, parents, whoever, the referee is doing it for fun and voluntarily and is not out to screw you or your kids. Have some respect and be a better role model for your kids!
For this column called ‘Red Carded’ I have created a rating of severity from 1 to 5 in the shape of a red card giving ex-referee Pierluigi Collina. For this week’s aggressive father I give four Collina’s:
“What happens in Manchester, stays in Manchester”, said uhm… no-one, well maybe my mates and I.
It’s one of those famous quotes right, however my bachelor party did not turn out into some Hangover movie where we wake up with a tiger in the hotel room.
Would have been rather awesome though, right Shere-Khan?!
I had the pleasure of spending my bachelor weekend in Manchester, a nostalgic place for me where I spent some amazing time during my studies almost 9 years ago.
Damn, I am getting old quickly!
It however did not start as I would have liked or with the correct amount of people and considering the size of the group that was disappointing at first, but the result showed that the amount of friends does not matter at all. More on that in a bit.
Bachelor parties mostly get associated with large groups of 10-15 pissed up drunken lads who at some point in the night cannot distinguish men from women anymore….that can lead to some awkward surprises at the hotel room. And maybe some of you bachelors actually do have 10 or 15 best friends that you would wish to share your stag do with. I, on the other hand, do not have 10 or 15 best friends, and I am glad I do not.
I have met a lot of people in my life, through studying, travel, work and sports and along the way lost a lot of friends.
Or at least that is what I thought they were.
I am far from perfect but at least am man enough to admit when I am wrong. That cannot be said about a lot of people who do not handle honesty and self-reflection very well.
So for my bachelor party I had set out to rummage through the bustling nightlife of Manchester with a group of 6 lads. Two of them are my best men at the wedding, (to protect their privacy I will call them Rasta and Caesar). Unfortunately three other mates could not make it, but as I mentioned I do not need a large group to enjoy myself. (No I am not referring to orgies)
Rasta and Caesar, two of my closest mates and crazy in their own unique ways have given me a weekend to remember and made it a fun and special time. Apart from the ending where our flight home was cancelled, but hey, shit happens.
I want to thank all the lads again for the organisation and planning of this great weekend and will treasure this memory.
Fun, Fun, Fun
After arriving by plane and checking into the hotel we immediately drove to activity number one: karting! With the help of some polo shirts customised to me as The Groom with nr 69, Rasta as Bundilero, nr 21 and Caesar as Young Caesar, nr 57. So you probably are wondering why the rather random numbers on the back? They are sex positions…yeah..nuff said!
Oh yes I love karting, racing, competition, love it all! My mate Rasta was apparently Michael Schumacher’s long lost son, as he outraced us all with ease. As all go-karts have the same amount of power, I noticed that apart from my only average driving skills, my weight was also not helping me. Oh well at least I came 2nd in the first heat.
After a good hour of sweaty, intense racing we made our way back to the hotel for a shower, shit and shave, some a powernap..ahum..not me.
And onto the evening, where we had an amazing dinner at TGI Fridays. I love burgers, American food in general, and the warrior burger there was just too much for me to finish. That does not really ever happen, me not finishing my plate. Ha! And you can always raise my spirits with good food.
With a full stomach, beer-filled bladder we were nearing midnight almost and ready to twerk, robot-dance the night away. Or at least whatever happened during that midnight blur………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. More importantly I do know I woke up in my own bed, without a man, dog, inflatable doll, transvestite or woman next to me…pheeww…!
The next morning after a refreshing dose of Red Bull and fatty English breakfast the three of us moved to our next activity, which was one I had always wanted to do: An Escape Room.
Created in the theme of the Exorcist, and considering I am a pussy when it comes to horror, I knew this was going to be an adrenaline pumping experience. We had 1 hour to get out of the almost pitch dark room, using clues with the help of a few candles. A thoroughly exciting and thrilling experience, where I found myself looking over my shoulder a few too many times, thinking something would secretly creep up behind me…hahah…such a wuss I know!
Unfortunately we only managed to get 80% of the clues and did not get out on time, however the experience was bloody exciting and we also now know my other best man Caesar is the new Sherlock Holmes in the making. He could damn well find a needle in a haystack.
Funnily enough our next activity was barely 2 streets away: Pool. Not a swimming pool, but playing pool (billiard) another sport I love doing but never get round to playing. For a few hours we played with sometimes embarrassingly amateurish shots until we clearly concluded that none of us were ever going to be able to make a living out of this sport. And after some cheap grub and many unintended trick shots it was almost 16:00 o’clock and time to drop Rasta off at the station and Caesar and myself to make our way to the airport.
Just over two weeks to go…
And now my fiancee and I are intensely counting down the days to our wedding day, October 13th! It is so close now and I am seriously suffering from wedding jitters and cannot wait to actually wake up on the morning of the 13th!
Considering the fact that I still have not received my tailored suit, which only adds to the nerves, I am hoping no last minute issues arise.
Next week I will hopefully have my suit and will check back in with you guys again then.
A massive thanks to the lads again, I cannot wait to have you by my side at the wedding!