The Mersey Hot Shots, a Berkeley club soccer team, recently made the journey to Europe to take part in two of the world’s biggest soccer tournaments. The players kept a diary of their travels and experiences. The conclusion of the diary:
After dancing all night at the disco, we emerged from our rooms rather tired and groggy. I think everyone wishes that we could stay here in Denmark another day, rather than keep traveling. From the ferry terminal we were taken to the Seacrest Hotel in Whitley Bay, England. The place is a little funky but very cute, and the people are extremely good to us.At the beach, the water was chilly but after running around in a scrimmage, some of the girls took a little swim. I think we’re all relaxed and have high hopes for the Newcastle Tournament.
We walked to the train station to go touring in Edinburgh, Scotland. Three other American teams went as well. Our tour guide showed us beautiful buildings. After the tour, we went to the shops and ate lunch. The weather began to change from being foggy and chilly to rain. When we got back to Whitley Bay, dinner was being served just for us. It was the best dinner!
Today was our first game at the Newcastle Tournament. We won 2-1 even though everyone on the sidelines was cheering against us. We are the only American girls team here and they all want to beat us. It was nice to go back to our beloved Seacrest Hotel where they congratulated us and we sat down to a delicious dinner made by Karen. Dennis and Karen are the owners of the Seacrest and they’re like our parents here in Whitley Bay.
We had our worst game in terms of sportsman-like conduct. At one point in the game, a girl was hurt and the game was stopped for around 15 minutes. At the same time, it was a triumph because we won after being down 1-0 and then again 2-1. Well, so far we have kept up the expectations of Dennis since he said that every year the winning team stays in his hotel. I hope we can keep this up!
Stephanie de Sousa
Most of us woke up this morning grumpy and uninterested in visiting the Newcastle United Football Stadium, but once we got a view of the field, we became bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. The grass was immaculate and the brightest shade of green. I guess seeing a professional footballers’ workplace gave us some inspiration to kick some English ass.
As goalie, I can see what’s going on in the whole field. What I saw in today’s game would flabbergast you. Our opponents kicked, pulled, pushed, scratched, and swore the whole first half. Unfortunately, I got to experience that in the second half because I moved to my old position as forward. Fortunately, I scored twice, and our back-up goalie, Grace, saved a penalty kick! Overall the game was an interesting experience and I hobbled home and took some Advil.
Our first game wasn’t until 2:40 so we had the entire morning to relax and prepare for the game. Since it was the semi-finals, there were lots of people watching the game. The other team scored a lucky goal in the first half and that was the only goal of the game. We played very hard and controlled most of the game; we just couldn’t get a goal. It was very disappointing. The people who worked at the hotel came to watch and support us, too.
We had dinner at the hotel, then went to a birthday party for the coach of the Idaho team who were staying in a nearby hotel. Karen baked us two huge chocolate chip cookies that said “Mersey Hot Shots” in frosting on them.
Today we left Newcastle for the long-awaited London. We woke up and ate our last breakfast with our favorite server Michael. Isn’t he just adorable? After loading all our stuff onto the bus, we were ready to take the eight-hour bus ride to London with the Idaho boys’ team.
After a long drive, we arrived in London and, boy, were we happy to get there.
After breakfast, we set out on our tour. We boarded the underground towards Buckingham Palace to see the once-every-other-day changing of the guard. We walked through St. James Park towards Westminster Abbey. Then we made our way to the House of Parliament and the Thames River. It was beautiful. We walked towards St. James Palace and past Tony Blair’s residence. Some of the girls took pictures with a very solemn guard. We made our way to Harrod’s by double-decker bus, then we went to Oxford Street. I have never been so overwhelmed by shopping.
Oxford Street: A shopping mecca for women and men alike. As our tour guide said, “You could easily shop for days on this street alone.” And we might have done just that if it weren’t for our departure the next morning. As it was, most of the team shopped all day. I’d say the only setback we had today was the realization that we were no longer in our cozy B&B in Seacrest. No warm dinners would be waiting for us after a long, hard day of shopping. Poor us.
Today has been very frustrating. We all awoke early, preparing ourselves for the last leg of our trip. Lines were long and tensions high, everyone was exhausted. We arrived at Gatwick Airport with only a short time before our flight to Minneapolis and from there to SFO. At the gate we received the news that our flight was delayed for 45 minutes. Then, we were informed to our disbelief that our flight was delayed 24 hours. Northwest put up the entire flight in hotels with free meals and breakfast vouchers. We were happily surprised when we found the hotel to be comfortable. We each had our own very spacious room, there was a swimming pool, gym, and the food was delicious. Although we haven’t forgiven Northwest, the hotel helped a lot, and we’ll try to put the morning behind us.
We eventually caught our return flight and everyone arrived home safe and sound, where we were met at the airport by parents and friends. Being a part of the Dana Cup was amazing because we interacted with teams from all over the world, which gave us a sense of belonging to a global soccer community. People were nice and very approachable and the tournament was well organized and ran smoothly. The Hot Shots conducted themselves very admirably throughout the trip whether under competitive pressure or while traveling. Overall, it was a wonderful trip and a great experience. Many thanks to coach/chaperone Laura VanWart.
Steven Morrison, Coach