Posted: 8/3/2008


     For my final Swiss League match I shoot down to The French region, and my train conductor gives me a great tip. "Go to the Land of Three Lakes, Stop at Bern, change to Merton and take the 3 lakes ferry and canal to Yverdon," he says. "You will see nice villages, 2 lakes, vineyards, and a relaxing time". He was SPOT ON!! 

     I arrive at the tiny Merton(Morat in French) Bahnhof and walk into the small medieval village in the 'vegetable garden of Switzerland'. I go to the little tourist office for some lake ferry times and stroll up and down the main street which is well preserved, as are the town walls and turrets. or www.murtentourismus.chCharles the Bold of Burgundy was defeated by the Swiss forces here. The station has lots of cyclists, since you can rent a bike at any Swiss station and leave it at another, and Swiss Rail will also transport your bags ahead to your final destination of the day.

     The town is full of cafes and the speciality is Gateau du Vully, a local cream cake. There are lots of famous wines in the region on the slopes and a neat little resort with horse riding trails, beach volleyball, cycling. hot air balloons in the distance and golf. I walk down the steep streets and find that the ferry is leaving in 5 minutes,free with rail passes. Its a 2 hour relaxing jouney, first on Lake Morat(the French name) and then through the Canal Du La Broye that connects it to Lake Neuchatel. There are canoeists, speed boaters, wake boarders and teenagers jumping off the high swing bridge. Lots of joggers, cyclists and campers. There are fields of sunflowers and very contented cows. Did you know that one happy cow consumes 100kg of grass a day and 85 litres of water that produces 25 litres of milk? There are some famous cheeses in the area including Gruyere.

     Anglers are trying to catch pike and perch and the nearby fertile former marshlands have famous asparagus, rhubarb, and on the hills are many caves or vineyard headquarters, with free wine tasting. We finally leave the canal and cross the wide Lake Neuchatel and stop at the city of the same name, with an imposing stadium of FC Xamas Neutchatel, Stade de la Maladiere,with glittering glass and steel at lakeside. Instead of the local bus I almost have a heart attack on a 40 minute walk through town and up the very steep hill to La Gare. Finally 20 minutes by train to Yverdon-Les-Bains, where thankfully the stadium, Stade Municipal is just under the tracks and 400 metres away.

      Yverdon Sport vs Stade Nyonnais is my 4th and final Swiss League match in four scenic packed days.  The home team react to the drums of their fan section and produce a dazzling display of attacking football. Superb goals by Diego Buchel, 23 mins, Edo, 34th minute and Pascal Oppliger 75 minute make it 3-0 for 'La troupe de Vittorio Bevilacqua', the Yverdon Sport manager. I am in the main stand, made of wood and the fans are smoking, as are some reporters in the press box. There is a pleasant club cafe serving beer. wines and coffee. Lots of families with young kids and babies in strollers make up the crowd of about 1,300.

     Although a second tier league match, for the fourth match in a row, the officiating is superb, and this time another FIFA referee, Monsieur Kever, the third in four matches. At my first match in Bellinzona, I neglected to mention that female FIFA referee Nicole Petignat was also in charge of the 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup Final, USA v China at the Rose Bowl, won as you might remember on penalties by the hosts. Also AC Bellinzona got through their first round of the UEFA Cup against Ararat Yerevan of Armenia( 4-1 on aggregate),and now meet Dnipro-Dnipropetrovsk of Ukraine home and away in the 2nd Round.