They lined up to gleefully to shake every supporters’

## ## Leicester City fans really have got that Leuven feeling

One hundred fans make the trip to Belgium to watch sister club and Rob Tanner went with themSign up to FREE email alerts from LeicestershireLive Weekday Leicester City FCSubscribeWhen you subscribe we will use the information you provide to send you these newsletters. Sometimes they’ll include recommendations for other related newsletters or services we offer. OurPrivacy Noticeexplains more about how we use your data, and your rights. You can unsubscribe at any time.Thank you for subscribingWe have more newslettersShow meSee ourprivacy notice”Stand up if you love Leuven,” sang the 100 hardy Leicester City fans, clustered together in the upper tier of the new stand at the King Power at Den Dreef Stadium.Of course, they didn’t mean it literally. Until King Power, owners of their truly beloved City, took over the small Belgian second division club in May they probably had never heard of OH Leuven.Although they had probably heard of Leuven because of its association with Stella Artois beer (the city’s name used to be on every tin), the likelihood was they had to look up the ancient and picturesque city, capital of the province of Flemish Brabant, using Google Maps.However, their public expression of kinship with the fans of City’s newly adopted little sibling club was genuine and was lapped up by the Leuven fans, who all stood, as instructed, and applauded their new English friends.Leicester City fans on their trip to sister club OH Leuven in Belgium. Photo by Pumb Images/GettyIt is not often that English football supporters are received with such genuine warmth and gracious hospitality in parts of Europe. It is also ironic that just 16 miles to the west is Brussels, the home of the European Union, from which the UK is in heated talks over a political divorce.Regardless, the Leuven fans loved the fact that a small battalion of the Blue Army, who are now linked to their club through the King Power empire, had travelled for 10 hours, after a 5am start, on coaches and a ferry to join them in cheering on the Whites.Of course, King Power isn’t the only link. City fan Richard Purser said the reason he had taken the 20 hour round trip, with just another 20 hour stay in the city sandwiched between the epic journeys, was because he also wanted to show appreciation to former City boss Nigel Pearson, the man who had guided City from League One to the Premier League before his shock departure in the summer after keeping City in the Premier League.Former Leicester City boss Nigel Pearson on the touchline at OH Leuven in Belgium. Photo by Plumb ImagesHe also wanted to see how young City centre back Elliot Moore, who is on loan at Leuven, was getting on.But for most it was the chance, during an international weekend, to enjoy a free trip the entire cost of the trip was subsidised by City’s owners to watch some football in a beautiful European setting and savour the hospitality of the Leuven fans.Around 400 City fans had entered the ballot to be picked to go on the trip but the 100 selected at random gathered outside the King Power Stadium on a cold Sunday morning to begin the journey.”Has everyone got their passports?” Jim Donnelly, the club’s Supporter Liaison officer asked the first coach.There is always one, isn’t there? Unfortunately, on this occasion it was the driver of coach two who had forgotten his.The other minor glitch was that the original plan to take the Channel Tunnel had to be abandoned because of major delays, something to do with ball bearings, so the ferry at Dover was the new route.Former Leicester City boss Nigel Pearson in the dug out at OH Leuven in Belgium. Photo by Plumb ImagesIn actual fact it proved to be a fitting diversion as the clock struck 11am on Remembrance Sunday with the ferry in middle of the English Channel, with the famous white cliffs of Dover in view on one side and the port of Calais, just down from Dunkirk, the scene of one of the Second World War’s most remarkable acts, in sight on the other side.Eventually, after miles and miles of driving through incredibly flat and rural Belgian scenery, and with the cacophony of snores from weary travellers drowning out the continual hum of the coach engine, the City procession arrived in Leuven to be greeted by a contingent of the OHL supporters club.They lined up to gleefully to shake every supporters’ hand as they stepped from the coaches and then waited as their guests checked in before walking them through Leuven to the stadium, a small ground situated amongst the forest area of the south of the city.The travellers were in need of refreshment, and not surprisingly there was no shortage of bars around the ground. Beer is part of life in Belgium and a great source of pride. Fans can sit with trays of cups full of the local brew in the stand during the ground, which stunned the City fans who are used to stadium prohibition outside the concourse.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create your website at WordPress.com
Get started
%d bloggers like this: