Thursday 26 February 2009

U.R. Namur; Namur, Belgium

Union Royale Namur are my Belgian team! Why? Well first & foremost two good friends of mine, Nicolas & his fiancee Danuta, are from there. As a result there is now a larger friendship between their supporters' & Dulwich Hamlet. I first met Nicolas when we were invited to a Supporters' Tournament staged by the fans of RFC Liege, back in May 2005. From little acorns...

Nicolas is also the main man in the Belgian branch of the Paris Saint Germain Supporters' Club.

I have stayed with them on a number of occasions, and regularly meet up with them in London, when they pop over. I could go on, but I'll stick to Namur! These photos are from the beginning of 2008, when our Supporters' Team played theirs, and we supported UR Namur in the evening. A wonderful weekend, that will long live in the memory!

Namur are currently in the Belgian Second Division, they were promoted a couple of seasons ago, staying up last year in the promotion/relegation play offs. This season is another struggle against the drop, fingers crossed... ;-)

This isn't the best ground in Belgium, not by a long chalk. It's very much a 'plonk something here, add another bit there' sort of ground. But I like it! Apparently it has the nickname of the 'Lego Stadium' because of this!

I am going to take you round the ground from the turnstiles in the corner, & head clockwise.
This is the stand and terrace behind the goal. The main 'Namur Boys' congregate up in the seats at the other end of the stand as we're looking at it.

Past the stand there's no expense spared on some of the toilet facilities!

Moving on down the side and there's a covered terrace. This is a home area.

From here we look over the pitch, and you can see a small, 'temporary' stand to the left, with the clubhouse area, and changing rooms further along.

From the side terrace we look back behind the goal.

The covered terrace runs the whole way down the side, almost. It is 'split' in the middle by this small stand, which-I am guessing-used to be the main seating area, until the new development behind the goal.

The covered terrace continues past it, to the corner. This is the section for away fans.

There is just open hard standing behind the goal, which large advertising hoardings behind. For some reason I never snapped the area behind the goal. Sorry!
But from right behind the goal we look back to the main home end.

This is the small stand along the side, apparently they needed these extra seats to get the ground up to Second Division standard.

A similar picture, but with the club buildings in shot more. This includes an executive area, where there is a pre-match dining area for VIP spectators. We all paid for this, and it was a real treat.

Set back, behind the small stand, is the club war memorial.

Fading names, but never forgotten.

Inside the building we just saw was the pre-match sponsors area, where we had the three course diiner. This was the main course. It was delicious!

Dulwich Hamlet Supporters' on tour!

And more of us, sitting with some of them! In the middle of the meal a man who spoke no English came over & shook all of our hands individually. It was explained to us that it was the Namur club president, taking time out from his meal, to thank us all for coming over to support them! A wonderful gesture.

This snap doesn't do the scene justice. It's the ceremonial kick off, before the match. On the pitch are a Namur fan, and Andy & Larry, who had co-managed our Supporters' Team for a few years, & were standing down after this match. We still haven't been able to shut them up, as they both claim to have 'played' in a Belgian Second Division match! ;-)

As VIP ticket holders we had complimentary coffee & biscuits at half time!

Just in case the locals didn't know we were in town!

And one of the home banners. We were honoured to be made welcome in the heart of their Kop!

Which is where I took this last photo from.

Allez Namur!

Wednesday 25 February 2009

UR Namur training ground; Namur, Belgium

I am not sure of the actual name of this small ground, it was dark and raining when I took these photos, so it will be very difficult to make much out in them, with the poor quality of my old 'digital box brownie'. On a future trip I hope to take some daylight photos, if I ever get round to it I'll let you know!

There is a small bit of terracing here, with a covered stand in front of the glass fronted clubhouse behind, on the halfway line.

Here is a closer look.

And another attempt from in front of it.

Behind the goal are a couple of steps of terracing, made from scaffolding supports & wood.

A look at the goalmouth, trying to show how bad the weather was.

Along the far side was a small area of cover.

A shot of one of the dugouts.

Some of the Namur playing training under the lights.

In the corner were three pillars, presumably once used to hold up a scoreboard, or something similar.

A punctured football lies in the back of the goal.

Look at the state of that goalmouth!

I realise these snaps were rather poor, and not really worth publishing, but since I had them I thought they were slightly better than none at all!

Tuesday 24 February 2009

AFC Tubize; Tubize, Belgium

I was going to Belgium early in 2008 for the Dulwich Hamlet Supporters' Team match against our counterparts from UR Namur. I crossed the Channel a few days earlier as Namur had an away match at AFC Tubize on the Wednesday, which was a creditable draw. Namur stayed up on the play-offs, whilst Tubize were promoted to the Belgian First Division. The ground itself is an easy fifteen minute stroll from the train station, but as for the town itself...well I don't think they get many tourists! Not much to see, I ended up on a 'busmans holiday' wandering around the local library! ;-)

I was with the visitors today, though the segregation wasn't really enforced at the match, though it was in place.

It was easy to find the ground with these signs, also-as a personal 'bonus' for me-the local cemetery, as I like to visit burial grounds & photograph them.

This is the sign just outside the ground.

And here are some of the turnstiles.

I got to the ground a few hours before the game, while it was still daylight, so I could get some decent-ish pictures. This is the open area behind the goal, from outside the ground, next to the main stand. The buildings behind are the bar & refreshment areas.

Here are the ticket windows from behind that goal, in the car park.

Another sign welcoming me I presume!

The main stand is down one side, this is to the right of the goal where the open end is, which we just saw.

And a view of it from the other side.

The opposite side is open, with this covered terrace in the middle. Note the fence down the middle, this is for segregation, the away fans being in the far section of this picture.

From the back of the terracing we look to our left, there is no spectators area behind this goal, just a huge wall of advetising boards.

From the terrace we are directly opposite the main stand.

Walking on past the terracing, there is just hard standing.

Here we are back down the 'bar end', open behind the goal, no terracing.

Now at the game, here are some of the travelling fans from Namur.

The players come over to thank us for the support!

Allez Namur!