Hope in Holland: Dear Brenda...

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“Dearest Brenda, we are now at sea.”

If those seven words were good enough to introduce Auf Wiedersehen Pet back in 1982 then they’re a good enough way to kick off Hope in Holland some 30 years on.

By Craig Hope - email craig.hope@northeast-press.co.uk

It is apt as well I feel that the originator of those very words was none other than my namesake, Neville Hope, the wet-behind-the-ears young Geordie.

Some may argue the similarities between myself and Nev do not end with our surname.

Sadly, though, as I set sail for Holland today, I won’t have Oz and Dennis to keep me entertained.

Instead, I’m on my lonesome and writing this column is actually the most company I’ve had for a couple of hours now.

As of yet I haven’t spotted any of the Pools lads, made to take the ferry having missed the team flight for one reason or another.

The same cannot be said of 12 months ago.

Now at the time I was sworn to secrecy, the player in question embarrassed at his predicament – he’d sent his passport in the early shipment of kit and had to wait for an express delivery to return it from Holland.

I agreed to keep quiet, after all, he’d been good company on the journey to Amsterdam.

But all Official Secrets Acts have their expiry date and I’ve deemed that today is it.

Now I won’t out the lad directly, but what I will say is that his first name rhymes with heaven and he actually looks a little bit like Neville Hope …

I was up at Maiden Castle this week to see Neale Cooper and James Poole – both were looking forward to the Holland getaway, not least to escape the miserable weather back home in the North-East.

So imagine the reaction of the Pools boys when they touched down in Amsterdam yesterday to be greeted by torrential rain.

Within minutes the players were expressing their angst via Twitter, Ritchie Humphreys and Simon Walton both quick to deliver their gloomy forecast.

One of the players told me that he’d packed his Speedos in anticipation of some fairer weather – and knowing Peter “Poster Boy” Hartley I don’t think he was joking either …

One of the bonuses of the rain is that I should at least avoid a repeat of the misfortune which befell me last year.

I don’t know if you’ll recall (one fan did remind me of it this week), but 12 months ago, attempting to take a shortcut after the first friendly match in Heiloo, I plunged waist-high into a swamp.

In mitigation, the unrelenting sunshine and thick constitution of what later transpired to be spawn had given the impression of a dried-out riverbed.

It wasn’t.

And only when I bound down the embankment did I notice the slightest ripple on the surface – it was too late.

Within a split-second my lower half was submerged, much to the hilarity of a group of local teenagers nearby.

I did, motivated by shame, wade through the sludge, as if it had been my preferred route all along.

This time, though, the rain should safeguard against a repeat performance, kindly demonstrating what is land and what is liquid.

We’re back at the same venue on Wednesday, and I shall certainly be walking the extra 50 yards to the bridge crossing, it’s there for a reason after all.

Anyway, that’s it for now, I’m off to see if I can spot any shame-faced Pools players making the belated journey to the Netherlands.

And so, in the words of my fellow Geordie, “Yours, until the next point of interest, Nev”.