Football: Wish you were here: You'd love the footy

Bordeaux: Bon viveurs a la Brum Adam Szreter sees the region's most famous product fail to tempt Midland palates
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The Independent Online
A visit to the birthplace of vintage claret for Aston Villa's claret and blue army could be seen as something of a trip home from home, but if you think Brummies were about to break a habit of a lifetime and forsake beer for wine, think again - unless, that is, you count "conker wine".

Around 800 or so supporters made the trip from Birmingham, either by plane or coach. Most arrived the day before the match, but day-trips to the local vineyards and chateaux were not high on the agenda. A bee-line for the promisingly named Bar Dick Turpin, or the even more alluring Blarney Stone was rather more the order of the day.

Some ventured further afield, to the Connemara or the Florian, close to the Place Pey-Berland in down-town Bordeaux, but although the bar names were more exotic, it was strictly Guinness, Kilkenny or Fosters when it came to "consommations".

Jeff and his posse from Northfield in Birmingham had come on one of the official supporters club coaches, and they at least did sample some wine - of a sort.

"Tell 'im about the conker woyne," said Jeff's mate.

"We've bin on the conker woyne," said Jeff. "They'll 'ear about that on the Holte End they will."

Excuse me? Is this a local wine? Seeing a fellow-Brummie in trouble, Jeff decided to help out. "We found some conkers on the floor and put 'em in a bag, then when we got to the bar for breakfast somebody put a tray of olives down; so we put the conkers in an ashtray as if we were eating 'em for breakfast. Before we knew where we were, there's about 30 people sitting round us and suddenly it's conker wine and conker pate and all sorts."

Strong stuff, evidently.

I'd caught up with Jeff and Co outside the ground about an hour and a half before kick-off, by which time they were not best pleased. "We've 'ad a good time for two days," said Jeff, "we've 'ad no problems, we've enjoyed all the local company, but we've been dropped off the coach just now, the police have shoved us in the park opposite, waited for the coach to leave, searched us and herded us across 'ere."

"Treated us like cattle," added his colleague.

"And now we're not allowed to move from 'ere," said Jeff again. "We're with the official supporters' trip, and all the people who've come across without tickets are still wandering about the town.

"We've had a great time apart from the last half an hour."

"Yeah, wonderful place, women are gorgeous, beer's lovely, but the police are treating us like animals," said his friend.

"Really, we think that if this is what's going to happen next year at the World Cup, they are going to have big problems," Jeff added.

With that they were herded into the Parc Lescure itself, there to occupy a tiny corner of the ground, well away from the Bordeaux "Ultras" standing on the South Bank, or "Tribune Sud" as they say south of Boulogne.

The first half gave Jeff and the rest little to shout about as the Villa goal came under repeated threat from Les Girondins. But as the match wore on, and the Bordeaux players wore themselves out, a few choruses of "Holte Enders in the Skyee" (to the tune of "Ghostriders in the Sky") could be heard above the infernal din of the man with the big bass drum at the other end of the ground.

The match eventually finished goalless, which Villa and their fans would have been well pleased with.

Jeff, meanwhile, was last seen picking up conkers in the park across the road before the start of the long journey back through the night.