- 23 Jun 08, 11:10 AM
Grindelwald - 1,751 miles travelled
After the Netherlands had breezed through the Group of Death at Euro 2008, Dutch fan Will Henke and his travelling companions promptly booked an apartment in Vienna for the final week of this magnificent tournament.
Henke saves all year so that he can follow the oranje at major tournaments. It is prudent planning - and just as well because the cost of following your team is no laughing matter.
The 49-year-old from Heemskerk estimates that his trip to Switzerland has cost him 1000 Euros per week, plus tickets.
Everything works in Switzerland and runs on time, but it is far from a cheap country to visit, so it is testimony to the Dutch - and many other nations - that they turned up in great number.
"This is our holiday and a big part of our life," said Henke. "You might call it our hobby and I have already started saving for the World Cup in South Africa."
Henke and five others had rented a cottage in a ski resort close to Berne for the group games and combined the business of watching their team with days spent engaged in more typical tourist pursuits. Their website is so up to date that I imagine a large chunk of their holiday is also spent at a computer.
But on matchday, Henke - who is also the group's drummer, protective tape on his hands testifying to the rigours of his efforts - and his friends are strictly business.
And he has a very definite idea of his day should unfold.
8am - Wake up, eat breakfast.
10am - Head into the city centre
11am - First beer of the day. Drinking, banging drum, singing and more drinking and drum-banging follows for the next nine hours.
8.45pm - Watch match.
10.45pm - Sing and drink again until the call of bed can no longer be resisted.
Many of the other supporters who flooded Basel for the game against Russia on Saturday had been acting more spontaneously.
Remon had left Amsterdam at midnight on Friday after a few drinks in his local pub. A carload drove for almost seven hours to Mulhouse in nearby France and, having snatched a couple of hours sleep, Remon was in a pub just off Barlusserplatz in Basel desperately trying to work out how to extract his change from a cigarette machine.
There seemed to be more Dutch fans without tickets than with, and it was a terrible shame to see so many empty seats in the St Jakob-Patk Stadium.
Tickets were reportedly exchanging hands for 800 Euros outside the ground, while ticket touts are said to have made handsome profits during the tournament.
Many of the Dutch who had travelled from the Netherlands had done so knowing their chances of purchasing a ticket at anything other than an astronomical price were next to zero, but they appeared happy enough to be part of a great party.
The Swiss seem to have developed a real soft spot for the men and women in oranje, while the full page advert taken out in the main newspapers in Berne by Dutch supporters thanking their host city for their hospitality tells its own story.
Such a shame that the Austrians will not get to experience for themselves the joyous Dutch in finest Euro pop party mode.
As for Henke, he may have cancelled his reservation in Vienna, but, with his 50th birthday coming up next week, it won't be long before the partying starts all over again.
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