Hope in Holland: Train-ed athlete

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IT’S pre-season for everyone,” I reminded a friend at Sunday’s game against Telstar when he questioned the pedantic nature of the referee.

The man in black had earlier booked three players (all legitimate yellows I may add, Jack Baldwin and Peter Hartley certainly weren’t holding back) and he’d kept strictly to the rules of time-keeping throughout.

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

But then, I put it to my friend, the whistler does have to get into good practice himself ahead of the new season, and so, too, do us reporters.

And in this multi-platform era that is the footballing equivalent of taking free-kicks, corner-kicks, penalty-kicks and even goal-kicks!

If I wasn’t typing I was talking, and if I wasn’t Tweeting I was texting.

I then attempted to film a one-man Frank and Hopeful (our online video blog), much to the bemusement of some onlookers – even in Amsterdam some things just look too weird.

But my biggest pre-season workout came in the wake of Sunday’s match. While interviewing Neale Cooper I noticed the time of my hourly train was fast approaching.

Thankfully, Neale being a little under the weather, he wasn’t in his usual, free-flowing, talkative mood and I didn’t want to engage in lengthy dialogue either, health and that impending carriage my chief motivations.

And so, from our position on the halfway line, I began my pursuit of the 21.17 to Amsterdam Centraal.

I’m sure the small gathering of fans who remained in the pitchside bar thought I was an unused sub setting off on a post-game shuttle – they even afforded me a sarcastic cheer to send me on my way.

Within seconds I’d exited the ground and was bolting through the sleepy streets of Heiloo on a sedate Sunday evening.

With my laptop in hand I wouldn’t have been surprised if the Dutch politie had given chase. They didn’t, thankfully.

Anyway, pounds lighter but Euros richer having avoided a taxi, I shot across the tracks and into the station at 21.16, mission complete. Now my Dutch has never got much past Seedorf and Sneijder, but I recognise the word “laat” when I hear it.

And so, having set what was surely a new Heiloo land-speed record (nothing happens quickly around there it seems), I soon realised it was all in vain.

And the biggest blow of all?

The beer-laden Poolies who had earlier mocked my hasty departure happened to saunter into the station some 20 minutes later, just in time to make my train!

There’s a moral in there somewhere, but I haven’t got a clue what it is ....

● FINALLY, just a quick weather update.

It’s raining and it has been all day.

And it’s forecast for yet more rain tomorrow.

As you’ve noticed this column has been kindly brought to you in association with DFDS Seaways – I wonder if the ferry home will pick me up from outside my hotel.