Valentine’s Day – From Belgium to Broadfield and not a chocolate in sight….
It’s Valentine’s Day on a Saturday, so what do you decide to do? Take your other half for a romantic day out? Not if you’re a Belgian Crawley Town fan you don’t! Tony Kerkhove, Bart Plasman and Tom Termote planned a trip to watch the Reds on the most romantic day of the year. Some might think that’s slightly mad considering some of the recent results but that didn’t put off our Belgian friends. After Tuesday’s heavy 5-0 defeat to Doncaster, they could be forgiven for postponing the trip. Luckily, that wasn’t the case and they left Belgium, with their Belgian/Crawley flag packed, for the near on 4 hour drive to Crawley on Saturday morning. We met Tony, Bart and Tom at the CTSA Cabin when they arrived after they’d had a stroll around town and an “awarding winning pie” for lunch at the Black Swan, in Pease Pottage. It turned out that they’d had a shorter journey than most Barnsley fans! We found out from Tony that the first game he came to watch was back in August 2009 against Forest Green Rovers, which we won 3-1. Since then, various members of the Belgian Fans’ group have managed to travel to another 12 games and, over the years, 17 people from their fans’ group have made the trip to watch Crawley Town. No one knew what to expect from the day but even the most optimistic fan could not have predicted what was about to happen after they arrived!
The guys took up their seats in the West Stand, with their flag, and what a game to witness! 5-1, the biggest win at the Checkatrade.com Stadium, since joining the Football League.
Needless to say the lads were extremely happy when they came to see us at the end of the game, as can be seen below!
That score line made their even quicker 3 ½ hour journey home a very pleasant one and we hope to see the lads back again (preferably as soon as possible) as they certainly seemed to bring some Belgian luck with them……
We, subsequently, caught up with Tony to ask him how his passion for watching the Reds began and it seems fate just took him off the wrong exit at the M23, Pease Pottage roundabout!
Tony explains: “The first time we came over to Crawley Town FC, there were only the two of us. My friend Mathias and me. We had to go to Cottesmore School to deliver all the supplies to organise an English Language course for Belgian Kids during the Summer Holiday. We took a wrong turn at the Pease Pottage exit and drove around the ‘Big Football Roundabout’ before heading in the right direction. Since we had nothing to do that night, we decided to come and watch a football game in what we would call ‘the Fifth Division’. We were three pounds short in cash to enter and a friendly guy picked two pounds out of his pocket and said: You enter guys, and enjoy the evening. It was a very nice experience and we would do the trip again. And we have done it time and time again”.
We’re sure that must be one of the most unusual reasons to start following CTFC, but we’re glad they did!
If you want to see more about our Belgian friends, Tony runs a Facebook page – Belgian FanClub of Crawley Town. https://www.facebook.com/BelgianCrawleyfans