HOPE IN HOLLAND: Haarlem: It’s top of the pops


I WASN’T really a fan of Euro-Pop.

Until yesterday, I wasn’t really a fan of Haarlem.

But then, beneath the sun, the two collided – right outside of my horror-tel window.

At first I was annoyed, I was transcribing some Colin Cooper quotes at the time, something about the latest injury news.

However, it soon became clear the music was not going to stop – it still hasn’t, in fact.

There are EU guidelines on drinking, gambling and just about everything else you can throw legislation at, but when it comes to Euro-Pop, all such restrictions are relaxed.

As the pictorial evidence confirms, it is a Pop-ular pursuit.

And so, adopting the ‘When in Haarlem’ philosophy, I joined the masses.

Okay, I wasn’t in the mix, so to speak, but I got close enough to find my foot involuntarily tapping to the electro-infused beat.

All the while, however, I had my laptop for company, it’s kind of like a comfort blanket when you’re on your own in foreign climes.

As a result, amid the dance-induced euphoria, sizzling sunshine and free-flowing alcohol, I guess I was the only person whose chief concern was James Poole’s hamstring …

SPEAKING of hamstrings, mine enjoyed their annual pre-season workout on Thursday night.

Departing from Heiloo at 21.59, the train back to Harlaam was, if anything, a little late for a game which would have been wrapped up at no later than 20.55.

But that is a scenario which unfolds in a perfect world.

Waiting for footballers and managers has never been the setting for such utopia.

Colin Cooper eventually emerged at 21.30, or T minus 29.

Conscious that I needed two days worth of copy and ever the professional, I decided to take the hit should the interview over-run.

Ha – as if I’d dare try to squeeze a 30km taxi fare through expenses.

No, Coops would have to be quick.

Our first topic of discussion was pace – apt.

Our breakneck beginning, however, soon slowed.

I could almost hear the train in the distance.

One question about 18-year-old Brad Walker felt as if it took the equivalent to answer.

That wasn’t Colin’s fault, of course, he was talking highly of a talented, young player.

The train driver, however, would not take account of such tribute.

Eventually, we wrapped up at 21.42.

Less than 20 minutes to make the station – 2km away.

July is surely far too early a juncture for such a test of speed and stamina, of which I boast neither.

Handicapped by a heavily-laden laptop bag, I set off on my time trial.

Ditching 500ml of water and a can of beer en route, I actually surprised myself, whistling into the station at 21.55.

The news which awaited, however, was somewhat bittersweet - the train had been delayed.

How far back to that beer ….