Amsterdam with the Ex-socs

DSCF0469-exsocs-teamraika.jpg It was a difficult match we had just finished. We had lost 4-6 after a fiery match and, even worse, three of our players had been injured. Franz, our goalkeeper, had broken his finger, Sepp torn his muscle badly, and Horst, worst of all, had broken his colarbone. It was hot when I entered the changing rooms and the over-blown emotion was still there. You could feel it on your skin. Heated discussions were going on and the atmosphere was aggressive. After having shed my boots, I headed for the shower to cool myself off and get a little distance between myself and the heat of the previous match.
It is like shifting a gear: when I enter the pitch, I am in soccer-mode. I cannot escape it; it has been installed over so many years of ambition, competition and struggle on the pitch. Sometimes it scares me. Still I see my games with the Ex-socs as a way of coming to terms with this over-the-tops soccer-mode. It is getting better gradually. What helps a lot is that we do not play for points any more, that we do not participate in a league with other teams. It’s just friendlys we play and most of all it is about meeting each other, playing a game and enjoying a few beers afterwards.
DSCF0471-exsocs-teams.jpg Since at that time our team had seen a development towards a more agressive and ambitious stance, which, as it were, took its toll, I felt that it was time to introduce, yet again, a more social and laid-back approach. I hadn’t planned it, it was just following an instinct.
“What about going to Amsterdam for a friendly there?“ I shouted into the room. No reaction. “Hey, listen, I know two guys there who play in a team the strength of ours. I could arrange a match. And Amsterdam is a superb city.“ Some began to cock their ears and started to ask question.
DSCF0347-exsocs-heineken7.jpg DSCF0384-exsocs-abenddo.jpg DSCF0470-exsocs-strikers.jpg DSCF0412-exsocs-benrichchri.jpg DSCF0491-exsocs-gewaltwuzl.jpg A week later we played our last match of the season. There I started to promote my idea again and started to collect phone numbers and email-adresses. Within a month from there, 14 Ex-socs had agreed to come along. Before Christmas three more had followed suit and by January 10, 2007, 19 people had paid an advance on the flight and hotel and we had had the plane tickets booked.
On June 7, 2007 we met at 05.15 a.m. at the airport in Graz. None had quit and thus 19 friends from Gabersdorf embarked on a journey to the grand city of Amsterdam. Historically, it was a quiet start as compared to previous trips of people from Gabersdorf.
Nevertheless the atmosphere was laid-back and cool. We took some drinks at the bar before boarding the plane to Vienna from where we flew on to Amsterdam. Amsterdam, quite unexpectedly, awaited us with hot, humid weather, which was only a nuisance to those that had forgotten their shorts. Thus the scene was set for a perfect and relaxed holiday.
Besides exploring Amsterdam, an adventure by its own standards, we also played a memorable match against the team of my friends Rich and Ben. Despite the friendship, it was a tough match, in which both teams did all to win and even more not to lose. Appropriately, we drew 1-1 and celebrated this grand match in the club house with a couple of quite many beers.

It’s more than three weeks now since we returned from Amsterdam. I think, there we have experienced a certain spirit, despite the inevitable friction which pops up in certain moments, one that will long be remembered. For we not only held together tightly on the pitch in our match but did so on the whole trip. For me it is proof of the good spirit of the people, of the team as a whole. Above all, it proved that there is a more important mission to the Ex-socs than playing and winning games – and I, myself, appear to be the best example to keep that in mind: It is an exercise in acceptance and communion, in integration, friendship, discipline, in respect for one another and, last not least, in relegating one’s own vanity in favour of the group. It was great coming with you to Amsterdam, Ex-socs, thanks for the lesson.

Here is a link to the picture gallery of our trip.