Dutch Jambo: Peter de Vries
I thought it was a good idea to do some interviews with Dutch Jambos about their passion for Heart of Midlothian. Of course there aren’t many, but I have found two of them. The first one is Peter de Vries. It seems like I’ve made this person up as his name contains parts of two former Hearts players from The Netherlands: Peter van de Ven and Mark de Vries. But Peter de Vries exists. He is 44 years old and from Rotterdam. For the last ten years he has followed Hearts and they’re his favourite foreign club.
“I’m from Rotterdam, so my team is Feyenoord. I was born next to De Kuip in the year Feyenoord won the European Cup against Celtic. When I was six I saw my first game and I’ve been hooked on football since then. My love for Hearts came much later. I always had a fascination with Scotland. The landscape, the people, the long battles with England, the hard weather conditions and the history of the nation. At the beginning of the 90’s I’d met a girl from Aberdeen when I was on holiday in Spain. A few weeks later I sat on the plane to Scotland and I stayed there for a week. She was a few years older than me and worked for the BBC. Sadly, I couldn’t make it to an Aberdeen game, but she asked he sports colleagues to arrrange a Christmas card for me. It was signed by the entire Aberdeen squad, who had a lot of Dutch players at that time: Theo Snelders, Theo ten Caat, Hans Gillhaus and Peter van de Ven. But the highlight of the week was our visit to Edinburgh. I had never seen such a beautiful city. I was completely hooked.
Although I loved my time in Scotland, it took me about ten years to visit the country again. Then I went to Edinburgh with Jeff, one of my best mates, for a weekend. We didn’t see any football. That was the next time I went. Believe it or not, but it was a game at Easter Road. But it was a bit boring. The atmosphere and passion at Hibs was very poor and I didn’t like it at all. Later I’d read in the newspaper that Hearts had bought Mark de Vries and that he had scored four times against Hibs in his first game. Immediately I decided that the next time I went toEdinburgh, I had to go to Tynecastle. That first game was in December 2004. I went with Remco, also one of my best mates; although Remco wasn’t into football that much he agreed to go with me. It was a cold, crispy day and we had a perfect spot in the Wheatfield Stand. Although Hearts lost two nil against Motherwell, we where thrilled. The passion on the stands and the battle on the pitch was brillant to watch. That evening we met Mark de Vries in the city by coincidence. It was a great night never to be forget. We had great fun and it was a good laugh.
If Hibs was boring as hell, Hearts was great. Since that day, they had an extra fan. Everything about that club is good: the ground, the streets around Tynecastle, the pubs, the fans, the fighting spirit. And don’t forget “The Hearts Song”. You feel the history and football. Another thing which is great about Hearts is that the home and away fans can walk next to eachother without fighting and in the meantime the life in Gorgie goes on. People go to the barber, do their shopping and it isn’t a problem. A big difference with football in The Netherlands. Everytime I go to Hearts it’s a privilege to be there.
For me the perfect Hearts weekender starts at Friday morning with a flight to Edinburgh, eating a good lunch there and then some pints. Nowadays I love to go to the Tigerlily in George Street. A nice hotel with a good pub, great food and very cosy. After a boozy night, I’ll eat a Full Scottish Breakfast to fix myself. After that I go to Gorgie for a few beers and talk to other fans. Most of them like it when I tell them I’m from The Netherlands. Then it’s time for the match and after that back to the hotel for a good dinner and the pub. Sunday is a perfect day to sit in the pub and watch some football or rugby. It’s always a shame to have to go back.
In all those years I have seen some great matches, but the first one against Motherwell is still my favourite because it’s the reason why I support Hearts. The most special one was with my father. It was the first time we went away on a weekender. We went to Hearts v Aberdeen. I remember he told me, suprised,: “They don’t play with a midfield”. And that was true. The Jambos had five players at the back and five at the front and hoofed the ball all the time. Great to watch, because you don’t see that in The Netherlands. Another special match was Hearts v Celtic in 2006. It was the first time me and Simone, who is now my wife, went away for a weekend. Of course it was Edinburgh. She even thought it was a good idea to go to Tynecastle, so you’ll understand I’m still very happy with her.
I have never been to an away game with Hearts. Except the games at Tynecastle I haven’t seen many games at all. I went once to Celtic, have seen Falkirk v Motherwell with Tim Krul in goals for the Bairns and that first game at Easter Road. I’m happy at Tynecastle, so I don’t know if I will ever do an away game. But there is still one thing on my list: an Edinburgh derby. After all those years I have never seen any. I’m a bit ashamed about it, because I claim to be a Jambo. The problem is that I can’t go every weekend and have to arrange them quite early. Maybe this season, but nowadays I live in Shanghai so it’s even harder.
I love Hearts, but also the city of Edinburgh. It’s the foreign city I’ve visited the most and I’m never bored of it. Especially the Old Town. I love the easygoing atmosphere, the castle, the history and the people. It’s great to experience Hogmanay. I’m a bit jealous that you will stay in Edinburgh for a year. I’m sure you will love it. I wish you and Hearts very much luck. It would be great if Hearts could achive promotion. A club like Hearts deserves to be at the highest level. I really hope I can see them at least one time this seson. It will propably be in the winter and I hope to drink a pint with you.”