Tours 8 of 9

8. Tour to Romania 1996

In 1996, Vandals undertook a landmark tour, being one of the first foreign clubs to visit, newly liberated Romania. A very early start at the club with Champagne to get the day going was followed by a serious drinking session at Gatwick starting at 7am. By 8am, the tour virgins were getting into the swing of things by lying on the terminal floor whilst shop assistants displayed their ability to surf (on the virgins)! Taxiing out to the runway the pilot advised the passengers that a rousing rendition of 'Leaving on a jet plane' was unlikely to help us take off and with that order was restored.

Arriving in a very hot and sunny Bucharest, the team immediately ingratiated themselves by handing out beer to AK47 weilding, airport security men so they could pose with us for a team photo! Off to the hotel and a relaxing afternoon around the pool followed by a quiet evening of contemplation at first the Lucky Bar and then The Irish Pub..... (there's always an Irish pub, wherever you go!)

The following day, saw relaxation and sight seeing, although the Revolution had been so recent that most buildings still had bullet holes everywhere above 20 feet! Meeting in a bar late morning for Tour Court saw assorted fines meted out for offences including "wearing socks under sandals" - Fine - a beer to be drunk through one of the offending socks and so on. Afternoon saw full contact pool rugby at the hotel in the blazing sun before a coach ride to a stadium for a 6pm kick off against local 'amateur side'-Sporting Studentil. (Amateur in that only three of their players were internationals!)

With a large local crowd in the stands, TV cameras and the temperature in the 90's, non-playing tour Captain Spud, helped things along by giving the opposition some motivational coaching before the kick off - Walking out to the centre spot, getting naked and performing a solo Haka was obviously all the home side needed to get them ready to teach us a lesson. In the first scrummage all that could be heard was the home side calling 'attention..... HUT!' Before Vandals found themselves 20 yards back down the park. A lot of points later Sporting must have been thinking of employing Spud for his pre-match motivational technique.

Later that evening the home side hosted a meal at the Military Academy in Bucharest. With numerous bottles of assorted spirits doing the rounds before the meal (Neat Gin - an excellent aperitif!) Vandals were soon back on form, singing songs and encouraging bad behaviour from the locals. Spud again performed his solo Haka after smashing a dinner plate on his own head much to the delight of our hosts who responded with their manager (The Chief of Police's son) performing all sorts of shennanigins... (see photos). Forced into competition our hosts then opened up with a barrage of songs at full volume. They may have been louder but when it came to 'Singing in the Rain' they were left speechless. Having been fined £5 for all the damage caused!!! We left the dining area to discover a Gypsy wedding in full flow. It seemed rude not to join in so with Vandals performing a conga through the reception to a live band, kidnapping the Bride and Groom and leaving again all in about 5 minutes the evening was well under way.

Now it was off to 'Club A', a student night club with a 75p entry fee. With the older touring party members allowed in as our "Proffessori", the drink really began flowing. Gareth Owen in particular deserves mention with his 2 litre bottle of Scandipops Vodka doing the rounds and half pints of gin (and a splash of tonic) being popular drinks.

A very late start the next morning brought a day of leisure. Lunch at an 'interesting' retaraunt saw an impromptu tour Court when Max English was required to eat a whole bowl of pickles for 'Falling in love on tour'. Come evening and it was clear that the side needed some serious perking up. En route for a drink we bumped into our new found police friends who were delighted to be taken out to eat at McDonalds (remember this was just after the fall of communism). Having plied them with food they marched outside, stopped the first cab unlucky enough to be driving past and demanded that more cabs be provided for their new friends ... Immediately it was back to the Lucky Bar for eight bottles of Vodka and 2 litres of Coke shared out between 20 players over the next 40 minutes. With everyone now ready to go again another quiet cultural evening ensued!

We returned to the UK the following day somewhat the worse for wear. One outcome from this tour was that Max English having met Daniella, a local girl, resulted in them getting married 2 years later with some of the touring party returning to Bucharest for a slightly quieter weekend!