Archive for the ‘Football in Germany’ Category

That’s The Way I Like It
Rot-Weiss Oberhausen 3-0 Arminia Bielefeld (19:11:10)
FC St Pauli 1-1 Wolfsburg (21:11:10)
Andy Hudson and Ed Barrett continue their European Football Weekend in Germany by popping into a game at Oberhausen coupled with a trip to see the Rebels Choice, FC St Pauli. Pull up a chair as we enter Huddo’s world:
Saturday evening and after Bochum we arrived back in Dortmund in time to watch Leverkusen v Bayern. At last, the first part of the weekend that hadn’t seen me rushing about. I had arrived at Weeze airport on Friday afternoon and knew that if I was quick then I’d make the Rot-Weiss Oberhausen match. A snap decision to jump off the bus in Duisburg was rewarded with a 5 minute train ride to Oberhausen instead of the 25 minute journey if I’d remained sitting to the next stop in Essen. With time against me and no research being undertaken other than a quick Twitter message to our EFW Editor, I bypassed the fans drinking outside of the train station and jumped into a taxi enquiring “fussball stadion bitte” of the driver who struggled to understand my accent.
Jumping out at the Niederrheinstadion I bought my ticket (only €9.50 for a German Bundesliga.2 team; when will English clubs halt their greedy ticket pricing policy?), entered the stadium, grabbed a beer and took my place on the terracing behind the goal just in time to hear “Who Let The Dogs Out?” accompanied by the club mascot, an oversized mutt, lapping up a lap of honour. The Oberhausen and Arminia Bielefeld players emerged from the tunnel and the home Ultra’ group turned their section into a blanket of red with their flares. Unfortunately for me, this appeared to be merely a flirtation with a great atmosphere. The stadium is quite old school in English terms apart from one thing: an athletics track which runs around the pitch, which in German terms makes it very old school as many stadiums have since removed the offending athletics aid. Any singing from either set of fans failed to make it across the lanes and despite the efforts of two drunken fans in front of me, who continuously tried to start singing but failed to co-ordinate their songs together, the noise remained on the wrong side of quiet for me. Even as the home side took the lead, after only two minutes, the celebrations were slightly muted despite the goal being cleverly worked and hammered in from just outside of the box. Oberhausen piled on the pressure against a very poor Bielefeld team and had a two goal cushion after twenty minutes when the Bielefeld defence decided that they couldn’t be bothered with any of that marking malarkey and allowed a free header in the six yard box.
Flares: yes. Flags: yes. Terracing: yes, yes. Athletics track: oh.

Fussball bitte
Grabbing another beer from the stall just behind me, and politely accepting another cigarette from the steaming-drunk guy on my left, I settled for the second half which continued with Oberhausen well on top. Their danger man, the once highly rated Nigerian Moses Lamidi, captured a well deserved third goal with minutes remaining, catching the static away defence out of position again to roll the ball across the ‘keeper into the net. One person missed this goal. A few minutes earlier I heard raised voices at the beer stand and two guys were arguing over who was first in the queue. Both then got served at the same time, off two different girls, and proceeded to throw their beer over the other and follow up with a few punches. The watching Polizei were straight in and after fending off advances from friends of the protagonists they deposited one back on the terraces and the other outside the stadium.
Bielefeld were involved in the 1971 Bundesliga bribery scandal; they might have to summon the ‘spirit’ of that season if they are to avoid relegation this year. Oberhausen, seemingly the brother of Cliftonville FC if their club badge and kit is anything to go by, could start looking up the table and not down after this performance. My immediate future was in a Dortmund pub, which is where we also headed after the Bochum match on Saturday before joining some of Ed’s friends at a party.
Who could get bored of this wonderful old scoreboard though? If only the individual bulbs lit up to to reveal a players face (imagine that – Ed.).

There is a God.
Knowing that we had to catch a train at 7am on Sunday in order to meet up with the Sankt Pauli Mafia fans’ coach, we really should have started drinking a little later on Saturday evening. But then we would have looked out of place when everyone was chucking back bottle after bottle of pilsner lager. I went as Eddie Murphy by virtue of that being the first name appearing in my head when I was asked what my fancy dress was supposed to be (I turned up in a grey hoody and a leather jacket alongside Ed who is obviously well versed in wearing fancy dress and arrived as The Dude from The Big Lebowski). After a long discussion with He-Man about Borussia Dortmund, and a promise to go to a future match with him, we staggered off some time after 6am for the long journey north to Hamburg.
Being both drunk and tired the journey was arduous. Even with bottles of beer available for €1 I found drinking them to be difficult and I wasn’t alone with my slow drinking. I’ve travelled on supporter club coaches in England before and the mantra is smuggle as much beer on as you can, drink it as quickly as you can and then dump the evidence as soon as possible. With such a relaxed vibe onboard, and talk of politics and football, the drinking took a back seat all round with the only activity completed with any speed being a smoke whenever the coach stopped anywhere.
We arrived at Millerntor with just over two hours to go until kick-off. I had expected to be heading straight to a bar like my previous pre-match St Pauli experience but today was different. The St Pauli fans are a special bunch, as most German fans are, and with their promotion to the Bundesliga, coupled with a relatively low stadium capacity of around 24,000, a new problem has been presented: ticket touts exploiting the normal fan in order to make some cash. Tickets are at a premium in Hamburg and everyone is eager to watch the boys in brown. Why should others make money off these fans? A demonstration against the touts was organised and this seemed a much better use of my time than getting destroying my newly acquired soberness in the Jolly Roger. With a stack of pre-prepared signs provided, one side displaying ‘tickets for sale’ and the other displaying ‘I need a ticket’, we set off through the funfair that sits alongside the stadium and headed for the touts’ favoured stamping ground. Leaflets were distributed to passers-by and cars navigating through the throng found leaflets attached to their back windscreen wipers. I never did see any touts before the match but I was assured that they would have been there; too embarrassed to pop their heads up and exploit the fan who just wanted to watch some football.
Our tickets were in the area popular with the Ultra’ Sankt Pauli, behind the goal in the Südkurve. In order to get a decent spot you have to get in early and so we made our way in an hour before kick-off and entered the already packed section of terracing. The Capos started just before the teams emerged for the start of the match, their megaphones gently directing the enthusiastic crowd towards another song. Any individual let-up in singing was noticed by our Capo who would fix an encouraging stare on that person and drive them into a roar. As I pogoed around the terraces, focused on any German songs so that I didn’t let down any of my neighbours with a lack of noise, I found my throat begin to strain under the vocal pressure. But I didn’t care – standing on that piece of concrete I had proper football. The flags lapped across the top of my head; arms on either side linked mine; the songs came, varied and quickly; the whole stadium was singing; and then Markus Thorandt scored for FC St Pauli from a corner. We went wild.
A quick snap, and then a pogo and a hundred songs and our work here is done.

The hand of God.
Wolfsburg, under Steve McClaren, haven’t set the Bundesliga alight this year, despite having one of the world’s most sought after forwards in Edin Dzeko. They were unimaginative and lacked any spark for vast periods of the match. They equalised after 54 minutes when Dzeko, receiving a pass from ex-Werder and Juve player Diego, scored from close-range with his only clear chance of the day. The Bosnian superstar said afterwards that the team “have higher ambitions, we have 15 points from 13 games. We will have to fight on” and McClaren will surely hope that he can motivate his players to perform much better if they are to avoid a lower table finish this season.
The St Pauli crowd sensed that they were more likely to grab a winner than the visitors and the noise increased during the final quarter of the game. Fabian Boll, perhaps the only player in one of Europe’s elite leagues who combines a playing career with a job as a police officer, almost scored a St Pauli winner but amidst a huge “ooooooh” from the crowd the ‘keeper grabbed the ball at the second opportunity. Afterwards we made our way back to the coach and caught up with the main organiser of Football Supporters Europe who summed up the mood of everyone onboard when she asked “we should have won that; how didn’t we win that?”. A film dubbed in German was playing loudly on the bus as we headed back to the Ruhr and I struggled to sleep due to one song playing over-and-over in my head: “’cause we support Sankt Pauli, Sankt Pauli, Sankt Pauli and that’s the way we like it, we like it, we like it”.
We follow.
You can follow Ed, Andy and European Football Weekends on Twitter.
Read more of Andy’s work on the excellent Gannin’ Away blog.

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Die Unabsteigbaren (The Unrelegatables), oh.
Bochum 1-4 FC Ingolstadt (20/11/10)
EFW regular Andy Hudson spent last weekend with Ed Barrett immersing themselves in some German ultra culture. Ed – from the FCUM A.D. blog – kicks us off with a trip to VfL Bochum, who, it would be fair to say, are at a low ebb:
Saturday and my first match of the weekend, my friend Andy’s second, and still feeling pretty sleepy, we caught the train down to Bochum. The Ruhrpott, for those who haven’t been, has (or had) the industry of the North East (steel and coal) but the footballing make up of North West England i.e. a football club steeped in history, everywhere you turn. This of course brings its problems, as just like say Blackburn Rovers or Wigan Athletic might have to compete with Manchester United or Liverpool for fans, clubs such as VfL Bochum or RW Essen also struggle with their bigger rivals pinching fans from within their own town boundaries. The issue was highlighted when I spotted a couple of fans in blue and white on our train. Great I thought, now we can simply follow them to the ground. Who needs research or a smart phone! However, on closer inspection the fans were wearing Schalke badges and would be staying on a few extra stops to make the match later on that day in Gelsenkirchen.
After a quick stop at the Bakery to pick up much needed supplies of water, food and strong black coffee, we continued on our extremely smooth, journey with public transport with the tram to the ground. A moment to stop in wonderment at a public transport system given proper investment. We travelled from Dortmund to Bochum, then got on Bochums tram system (a tram system for a population of less than 400k!), all of which ran regularly and, had we been organised enough to buy the tickets in advance, this would all have been included for the price of our €11 match ticket!
The tram eventually spat us and another hundred or so Bochum fans out onto the roadside and we were immediately presented with the Ruhrstadion. Or, in line with the sponsorship of most ground names in Germany, as its now called, The REWIRPOWER Stadium. The ground is a wonderful structure inside and out. There are no glass facades, no escalators to executive lounges, it’s an angular Eastern European looking structure from the outside , somehow creating beauty from concrete. Inside its 3 quarters seated, has around 4 VIP boxes and then one big terrace behind the goal. It would appear lack of recent success does have some upsides, as your stadium remains unmeddled with!
Having polished off our food and coffee, we took a little wander around. As with most Ultra’ groups in German football, Ultras Bochum have made their own little additions to the ground with various examples of street-art dotted around the place from sprayed stencils to home made stickers. Perhaps this was why, having paid in on the gate, the security were wise to my game and took so many of my own English team’s ones off me. Damn!
Collecting a beer which I gingerly sipped at for about 40 minutes thereafter, we climbed up the steps onto the home terrace. The angle of the terrace, older style crush barriers and low roof caused immediate excitement. Relegation to the 2nd division and the success of neighbouring BVB Dortmund and Schalke 04, means the 9k or so fans who attended had no hope of filling the 31k capacity ground. This meant that even arriving relatively late by German standards, a mere 30 minutes before kick off, we found our way up the steps and to plenty of space towards the back of the terrace with great ease.
Angular terrace + beer = cheesy grin.

Art. Or is it?

Block A give us a song, Block A, Block A give us a song.
In terms of fans, I was disappointed to witness a Ruhrpott based club with so few “kutten” (the jeans jackets covered in badges, still so popular in the region). Instead we had a relatively boisterous seated section to our left (Block A), the seemingly Italian-style orientated Ultras Bochum below us, a few normal fans around us and then a little corner of about 10 fans perched up behind the corner flag and a rather dubious looking banner. Ive always wondered about this corner, as whenever I see it on television, it always appears to be a banner with the sort of straight winged bird you’d expect on a German WWII uniform. On closer inspection there was a little curl to the wings, suggesting that perhaps that Bochum don’t have any knuckledraggers present.
After a small amount of soft-rock, including a club anthem written by famous German pop singer Herbert Grönemeyer, the match kicked off. Having a vested interest, my eyes were however on the Ultras below us rather than “World Cup Star” Jong Tae-se (his appearance on the team sheet had to be pointed out by Andy, who had bothered to watch the World Cup). Bochum probably have a hundred or so ultras. Their main logo is a cartoon chap wearing a bar-scarf, a sort of cross between the Ultra’ Sankt Pauli cartoon figure often featured on stickers and the main logo of Ultras Tito of Sampdoria. A good mix of large flags, were accompanied by one “capo” who was conducting the group. He did this without the usual megaphone and with no help from his mate on the fence, who just sat there with his hood over his head. On the pitch, a truly wretched Bochum went a goal down and unrest started to trickle in to the atmosphere. The lad on the fence, began to pull on the net between him and the goal making the masts holding it swing violently. No steward came across to ask him to get down.
A second goal came for Ingolstadt (the opponents for the afternoon) and something bizarre happened, the home fans cheered it! This was probably just as well, as approximately 20 Ingolstadt fans had bothered to make the journey, and despite two rather animated teenagers, they needed Bochums ironic cheers to help register the goal vocally.
Cheers of irony roll out across the stadium*. *Use your imagination dear reader.
Time passed by and with a backdrop of abuse, a few of the Bochum players began to wake up and make a bit of effort. Midway through the second half, Tae-se pulled a scrappy goal back for the home side. Belief started to return and Bochum had a couple more chances to get an equaliser. This however did not save them from a chorus of boos as the halftime whistle came.
In the second half Bochum started brightly and would have deservedly made it 2-2 about 10 minutes in when they forced the Ingolstadt keeper into a full stretch save. That was however as close as they came. A breakaway goal on 60 minutes for Ingolstadt finished off the fightback and produced more ironic cheers. The Bochum ultras who had been the only ones left singing and waving their flags, now stopped and for the remainder of the game all that was witnessed was sadness at the plight of their side and anger towards its management.
The lad on the fence had now been joined by a further 3, all of whom were pulling on the net in front of them. A further goal went in for the away side, which was met with an almighty roar from the home side as if it were their own goal. Some fans began making their way to the exit, some even making the detour to throw their scarf onto the pitch in disgust. Every Ingolstadt pass was ole’d, whilst chants such as “Wir haben die Schnauze voll” (We’ve had it up to here!), “Wir sind Bochumer, wer seid Ihr” (We are Bochumers, who are you?) and “AB-STEIG-ER!” (Relegation fodder!”) were directed at the pitch and directors box. I cant stand the booing of your own team, but it was quite painful standing there watching so many people sad and angry, their week ruined by the lack of effort of a team and seeming misdirection of a club.
Ingolstadt? They’ve got the power.
The match came to a close. The Ingolstadt team climbed up the fence in front of the away block to thank their fans. They were also applauded off by the Bochum fans. A few of the Bochum team ventured bravely to the home end to convey apologies and thank the fans, but were greeted with only abuse. They returned to the dressing room, replaced by stewards and truncheon bearing police, no doubt fearful of a repeat of last seasons pitch invasion.
We made our way outside. A group of Bochum fans and visiting fans from Bayern Munich (they have a friendship with Bochum and were playing nearby in Leverkusen later that day) had congregated and were getting ready to march back into town. A few bangers were thrown, meaning the police in attendance reached for their cameras. A march back to the city centre followed. Roads were closed, police vans milled around, further officers on foot ran alongside and filming frantically. It’s a familiar scene on a matchday in Germany, where an often mutual hatred between many fans and the police is stronger than perhaps in England. Fearing being kettled, myself and Andy, slipped off the back of the group and headed for the train station, thankful to have witnessed the match as mere neutrals.
A sign of the times at the Ruhrstadion.
You can follow Ed, Andy and European Football Weekends on Twitter.
For more of Ed’s work, head to his FCUM A.D. blog.
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Fußball Kommt Nach Hause*

Karlsruher SC 1-1 FC Erzebirge Aue (12:11:10)
FC Köln 0-4 Borussia Mönchengladbach (13:11:10)

by Garreth Cummins

In the latest instalment of ‘readers lives’, Garreth Cummins talks us through his European Football Weekend in Germany. Garreth – a Liverpool supporter – works for the Football Supporters’ Federation (FSF) as an International Officer:

Three travelling companions and I eschewed our usual weekend spot, which would have seen us on the away terrace of one of our least-favourite Premier League grounds this weekend past, to head to Germany. For us, the excuse of avoiding a disliked away trip coupled by paying a visit to our friend Al, who is spending the year working in Germany, and sampling some of their world-renowned fan-friendly experience was too good to turn down.

After landing in Munich we headed first west to Karlsruhe to watch the home team, currently languishing near the foot of Bundesliga 2, entertain high-flying Erzgebirge Aue on the Friday evening. For some of our band the highlight of the trip was to be the following day’s trip to Köln for the Rhein Derby against hated neighbours Borussia Mönchengladbach, but for my money (all €11 odd of it), the Karlsruhe game was the pick of the weekend’s action. Standing tickets? Beer in the ground? Walking to the stadium from the city centre? Some misguided sense of obscure, non-top flight cachet? Former Intertoto Cup Winners? It had it all.
Friday night at the Wildparkstadion. What’s not to like?
We positioned ourselves on the north terrace, just to the side of the main band of KSC ultras, the majority of whom had the protection of the roof that we sadly did not – still, it’s not proper standing on an open terrace unless you get a little bit wet, is it? They provided much of the entertainment in a very poor first half, aside from one of the more bizarre goals we’re likely to see all season – the visitors opened the scoring from the edge of the box early on, after a block tackle from the home centre half rebounded in off the advancing centre forward and flew past the keeper. Their fans reacted in the only way possible – hurling their plastic beer containers over the perimeter fence and onto the running track in disgust. No small act of defiance when it means you lose your €1 deposit.
Karlsruhe’s opponents Erzgebirge Aue [Urts-gi-burger Owa] surely ranks as the most German sounding team of all-time?
Karlsruhe’s equaliser, when it eventually came some time into the second half, was a 20-yarder of real class: the only recognisable name on the teamsheet (to us, anyway) Alexander Iashvili driving home a half volley from the edge of the box with the outside of his right foot. More beer cups rained down on the track – it appears that any extreme of emotion is enough to bring a Karlsruher to flagrant disregard for his or her deposit. Were it not for the referee bottling a late penalty decision, Karlsruhe would have taken their first win in 5 at home, and the stewards would’ve been even more handsomely rewarded for their night’s work stood out on the running track.
KSC Fan-tastic
Warmed by our new found love of KSC and their flag-waving fanatics (that, and the excellent Feuerwurst on offer at the Wildparkstadion), we absented ourselves to a downtown hostelry. In finding a table in the packed post-match throng, Al introduced us to a fellow Köln supporter, Marius, who had the misfortune to be missing the biggest game of the season the following day owing to a lack of funds. His friends had offered him a ticket, but just before payday he couldn’t afford both the ticket and to travel the few hundred kilometres north. A quick whip-round later, and Marius was frantically on the phone to his friend to ensure the offer of a ticket still stood. For a small price each we’d nabbed ourselves a personal guide to Köln, which we thought was excellent value, and a rather friendly gesture to boot.
Travelling at over 300 km/h with a hangover doesn’t sound like the best of experiences, but the excellent German ICE train sped the six of us to Köln early (too early for my liking) the following morning. Marius negotiated us through the city’s S-Bahn system, arriving at the ground a few hours ahead of kick-off to sample the atmosphere. Despite being early, the tram to the ground was packed, and rocking with a number of derby day songs as we made our way to the Rhein Energie Stadion. My personal favourite (and fast becoming my favourite football chant of any side anywhere) was the rather choice ‘Gladbach pigs, Gladbach pigs, Gladbach pigs; we’ll fuck you all up the arse, you wankers’.
It doesn’t rhyme in German, either, for the record, but it still gets the point across.
The welcoming committee at the Rhineland derby.
Our greeting at our matchday pub of choice, around 500 yards from the ground was not what we could call warm – the police were out in force, and pointed out to Marius that were he to cross the road as he was requesting, to get to another pub, that they would arrest him. That being the case, we decided where we were was probably alright for now. So we drank our Kölsch, and marvelled at the passing effigies of horses being hanged on mocked up 6 foot tall gallows that we were assured by our hosts were perfectly normal for derby day am Rhein.
Relax – it’s derby day. This is all perfectly normal, apparently.
Soon after, the presence of the police was both expanded, and explained. The first of 4 trams of visiting fans was being escorted up the main road, and past our drinking den, accompanied by at least 20 police vans. It was as they reached the pub that we heard the first firecrackers explode, and saw the first of the number of fans who’d gathered at the front of the pub returning towards us with their eyes streaming from the tear-gas. The Köln fans’ efforts were repeated a subsequent 3 times, and only some time after the final tram had passed (and not long before kick-off) we were allowed to make our way to the stadium.
Unfortunately our band of five were split into three separate areas of the ground, and although I drew the shorter straw of being on my own (my half-time conversation with my neighbour was interesting, albeit brief) that didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the whole experience. If you think that You’ll Never Walk Alone is a great pre-match anthem, you want to try taking in the full 6 verses and choruses of De Höhner – the words are up on the big screens for tourists such as ourselves, even if they do make it slightly difficult by putting them up in the Kölsch dialect rather than in German (although I suppose if you don’t speak German the fact they are in a dialect rather than ‘normal’ German is probably lost on you anyway).
Flares are still trendy in Germany.
The impressive pre-match rendition, alongside the flares and smoke-bombs in the away end sadly gave way to something of a tepid first half, not helped by the deluge in the days preceding the game which led to players sliding all over, and the ball stopping mid-dribble and mid-pass in puddles on the pitch. The second half, however, was as surprising as the first had been uninspiring – Gladbach, much to Marius’ doubtless chagrin, and that of the majority of those in attendance, ended up worthy 4-0 winners, largely courtesy of Köln’s very accommodating (or abject) defence.
By the time we met up on the tram afterwards, we think Marius was silently cursing our generous act in getting him to the game. He probably wished he’d stayed at home, and when we saw our team’s performance that evening in a Köln bar we were glad we hadn’t.
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(*Football’s Coming Home)
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Kick in the Polloks
Rot-Weiss Essen 1-1 Preußen Münster (24:10:09)

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We had to deal with a swift blow to the body two weeks prior to this trip. A combination of NAC Breda, RKC Waalwijk, safety liaison officers and the Dutch police held a meeting in which they concluded that we (32 members of EFW) were a security threat. Therefore they somewhat laughably decided to deny us tickets for the NAC v RKC match that we’d been planning on attending.

So, thinking quickly, I decided to book up a coach and try and tackle the problem head on. Firstly, we’d travel to Essen in Germany and then onto Arnhem in the Netherlands for two games in one day in two different countries. Quite why I didn’t do that in the first place, I’ll never know. Especially as Rot-Weiss Essen appeared to tick every box going when it comes to the football FAN experience.

Appropriately enough – as we left from Tilburg – our coach driver for the day was named King William. William in that that was his name and King in that he’d stocked the coach full of cold beer for the day. We’d not had much sleep from the previous nights shenanigans, so it was a fine effort that we only departed 10 minutes later than the advertised 10am – club fine for Andy Walker.

The Belgian lads were the first to tuck into the onboard entertainment (beer) and the rest of the coach swiftly followed suit. King William was in for a bumper pay day.

En route to Essen. We won’t be pulling off just yet, 56k to go lads.

I’d arranged to meet up with Roland Sauskat in Essen. He works for the AWO FAN-Projekt and as soon as he boarded our coach became my instant hero for a number of reasons. BISH: he handed over a bag full of RWE memorabilia (thanks mate) and BOSH: as we pulled up at the ground we were met by around twelve van loads of riot police and…..erm Roland….pal…this wasn’t in the script.

As legends do, Roland took this all in his stride. Like Obi-Wan Kenobi he cast a Jedi spell on the police with a waving of his fingers “These are not the hooligans you are looking for, they can go about their business, move along…move along”. And, with that, we were escorted through the police cordon at a rate of knots. Our coach went one way (to a safe parking spot) and we went the other (to the pub in the ground, above the club shop). And relax.

Roland ‘Obi-Wan KenobiSauskat and I.

That’s Christmas presents sorted.

Inside the FAN-bar. Our barmaid for the day.

Despite being effectively a regional match in the German Fourth Division this had a big game feel to it. There is some history between the two teams. On the last matchday of the 2001/02 season, Essen played away in Münster. Some RWE supporters paid a visit to the local museum and somehow managed to waltz off with the city’s famous sword. Just to rub it in they stuck it up for sale on a fan forum which alerted both the police and the press. Naughty but nice.

Back in the pre-match pub the 32 of us mixed with the locals and enjoyed the rather splendid service (nod to the lady delivering us beer at regular intervals). We heard about the RWE friendship with Werder Bremen and the rivalry with Sch*lke 04, Rot-Weiss Oberhausen and far too many others to mention.

Sadly – upon entering the ground – the first thing I had to report was the fact that there had been a robbery. Someone had stolen one of the stands and (more alarmingly) one of the floodlights – the first ever floodies in Germany no less. Not to worry though, the three stands that remained were rocking. The party was in full swing helped by a tremendous away following from Münster. The crowd of 10,022 was comfortably the biggest of the season. Pleasingly, topping the 10k mark by virtue of 32 members of the EFW team present.

Essen’s current ‘Roy of the Rovers’ is Sascha Mölders. With seven goals in his last eight games he was the man and it was also he who was stoking up the atmosphere by winding up the vociferous home support. It has to be said he spent more time doing that than showing us his skills during a tepid first half performance. Cometh the hour though and cometh the Mölders as they (probably don’t) say in these parts. Just after half time he notched the opening goal, sending the George Michael Stadium into raptures. That and a bout of spontaneous mooning to the fairly unhappy away contingent.

Deep into injury time and with Big Deaks cajoled into helping the ultras with their large flag display – Essen were delivered a swift kick to the Polloks. Wojciech Pollok who’d not long been on as a sub, popped in a 93rd equaliser for Münster with the very last kick of the game – ouch! You’d have thought they’d won the World Cup Final itself they way they celebrated. We’d all have done the same though and no mistake.

The George Michael Stadium (journalistic licence, tick – Ed).

Münster to the left, Essen to the right, here I am stuck in the middle with you.

Right then, shot anyone!? I think there is something missing in their wall…

….that’s Wissing, not missing you fool. Click to enlarge (very weak) gag.

24 beers please bartender.

Don’t mind if I do.

We returned to the EFW coach and thanked Roland and Essen for their splendid hospitality. Rot-Weiss Essen had ticked every box going: Huge banks of terracing (check), cheap as chips for a match ticket (8 Euros – check), no ban on beer (check), in fact – people walking around with jetpacks of beer in stadium (checkity-check), friendly welcome for EFW (check), brilliant atmosphere from both sets of fans (checkitycheckity-check-check-check). Full house.

When they’ve built their new stadium in a couple of years time – European Football Weekends will be returning to Essen. If you are thinking of going to a game in Germany you could do much worse. As for the now, we were off to Arnhem for our second game of the day. To be continued…………

Ultra Big Deaks.

Crafty fag for security.

The oldest in Germany.

Impressive away support.

EFW on tour.

And finally….some action.

For more photos from the day CLICK ME

For a fantastic video of our trip CLICK ME

Also on this trip

FC Den Bosch v Fortuna Sittard
Vitesse Arnhem v Heracles Alemlo
Willem II v Heerenveen

Still want more? Then head to the European Football Weekends Facebook Group.

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VfL Wolfsburg 4-0 1899 Hoffenheim (02:05:09)

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VFL Wolfsburg have been on the European Football Weekends radar ever since 1998. For five glorious years until 2003, The Wolves (Die Wölfe) of Wolfsburg were managed by Wolfgang Wolf. To coin an overused EFW catchphrase: ‘What is not to like?’

These two teams very much divide opinion in Germany. When Hoffenheim used to meet up in the year 2000, they did so whilst kicking their heels in the fifth division. During an eight year period, the team – from the tiny town of Sinsheim in Southwestern Germany – flew up the divisions, until landing in the Bundesliga in 2008. Was it due to good fortune and tremendous skills, or because they’d become the toy of cash rich software mugal Dietmar Hopp!?

Similar criticism is often aimed at VfL Wolfsburg. For Dietmar Hopp read Volkswagen. In Germany, football clubs aren’t allowed to be owned by one individual or company. VfL swerve this ruling because they grew out of a multi-sports club for Volkswagen workers. So fans of other clubs are angry at these two. Many don’t want to see German football go down the same path as England – whereby rich chaps can come in a take over a club at the drop of a cowboy hat.

Anyway, that’s hardly scratched the surface of an enormous debate about jealously and morality in German football. Rather than on these pages, that’s probably all best discussed over a few beers. Talking of beer (loving that link – Ed.), that’s exactly what 16 (sixteen) members of the EFW team had in mind as we exited our train from Berlin to Wolfsburg for this match.

Frankly, being 16 English lads, and without any teams colours on (almost unheard of in Germany) we couldn’t have stood out more if we’d all been dressed in furry wolf outfits [mental note to self: order furry wolf outfits for next visit]. As such we were picked up by the police and escorted to the ground in – I might add – a very amicable way.

Our first sniff of the Volkswagen Arena.

Luckily, our alcoholic prayers were answered in the form of the official VfL fanclub. We’d been invited by them, and in particular Benny the Barman to come and enjoy some pre-match beers in their own ‘Nordkurvensaal’ pub built within the stadium. The WOBTRAS are a non violent organisation who don’t go in for the traditional flag stealing of other ultra groups. They just stand for bringing noise and colour into the ground, and for filling occasional English visitors full of beer.

We sunk a few Wittingers which were going down swimmingly until we noticed the locals drinking Stackmann’s – complete with novelty bendy glass. Red rag to a bull indeed, and so we helped ourselves to a few of those as well.

Stack’em up. Stackmann’s beer in novelty bendy glass (yes please -Ed).

Our match tickets set us back a grand total of €11 each! VfL Wolfsburg are – at the time of typing this nonsense – top of of the Bundesliga. I’m not being funny but I got my €11 worth the nano-second I marched through the turnstiles and saw some tremendous headwear on show. One lady was sporting a hat that can best be described as a football pitch with a game of footy taking place on it:

This chap (below) must have been absolutely gutted because up until she (above) showed up, he’d had one hand firmly planted on the EFW ‘hat of the day’ trophy:

Inside the ground, and aside from ladies wearing football pitch hats – the other noteworthy point was the fact that an airship was circling around the pitch mental note to self, order furry wolf outfits for next visit [mental note to self: place order for EFW airship].

Click photo to enlarge and you might just notice the lesser seen airship in top left hand corner.

Along with the lesser seen airship was the lesser seen – in English grounds anyway – chap with a jetpack full of 5% beer. He kept a very keen eye on the EFW team, and at the slightest thought that one of us was in need of a light refreshment, he was swinging a fast shoe over to us for a refill.

Always good to see ‘Jetpack beerman’ doing his rounds.

We were situated in the Nord Kurve (terracing). Before you get all misty eyed about the terracing, it actually wasn’t all that great. They’d just folded the seats back, and as such you could forget surging down the terrace like the old days. Probably a good thing though and fans of health, and indeed safety would have been delighted.

One thing that I have no doubt about in my mind is that they simply must teach flag waving in German schools. Everyone knows that one must wave a flag in a ‘figure of eight’ motion but rarely have I seen it pulled off with such aplomb as in German football stadia. VfL Wolfsburg was no exception. Clearly the education system in Wolfsburg is working wonders. Full marks to them.

Our part of the stadium was the most atmospheric. Songs such as ‘No One Likes Us – We Don’t Care’ and of course the mandatory version of ‘Moonlight Shadow’ were belted out whilst the rest of the stadium clapped along to the rhythm. The other thing I liked (you enjoyed yourself then? – Ed.) was the fact that the Wolfsburg badge was incorporated both within the actual nets of the goals [mental note to self: order set of EFW nets] and in the press box area. It’s the little touches that please me.

Hoffenheim’s Sejad Salihovic takes a corner. If you click on this photo to enlarge you’ll see the Hoffers away support in the opposite corner. They didn’t fill it.

It’s team colours o’clock in Germany.

We’re the Nordkurve Wolfsburg boys.

Come in No.23 – 19 goal hero Grafite.

Hands up which Wölfi wants to sign up for the EFW team!?

That’s about it then. What? Sorry? Oh, the game! Well, the first half stank. News had leaked out just prior to this match that Wolfsburg gaffer Felix Magath had signed a post season agreement with Schalke 04. He was roundly booed and ridiculed for doing so. This probably had an effect on the team for the first half anyway. In the 2nd VfL took command. It was no surprise that the eventual architects of Hoffers downfall were the prolific pairing of Grafite (23 goals this season) and Dzeko (19). Dzeko helped himself to a hatrick, mostly supplied by Grafite assists, and then Graffers notched a penalty late doors to give the scoreline a healthy looking glow at 4-0.

Thankfully, the EFW team had all remembered to pack their collective drinking boots, and so we wore them out on a night on the town back in Berlin after the match. Yet again, Germany had come up trumps with a winning combination of football and beer – done to perfection. Prost!

EFW on the pitch again.

Danny and his mate celebrate Bayern Munich humiliation.

Post match celebrations for the EFW team

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FC Hansa Rostock 5-1 Kaiserslautern (01:05:09)

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So here is the deal: 16 English lads travel out to Berlin for a weekend of mirth and hilarity. 5 of whom are addicted to European Football Weekends and as such decide to travel a day early in the hope of catching a game on the Friday evening. EFW member Christian Mrosk says his club FC Hansa Rostock are at home to FC Kaiserslautern in an all important ‘top v bottom’ encounter and before you can say ‘nice floodlights’ we – Fordy, Greeno, Nick, Big Deaks and I – were sitting on the train from Berlin to Rostock to meet Christian for a pre-match beer. Happy days no!?.

The train journey 2 and a bit hours into the north of Germany was wonderfully scenic. We’d procured ourselves ‘Lander’ train tickets which meant the five of us only paid around £10 each. German trains – or mobile pubs as we like to call them – are a wonderful beast. They’re cheap, efficient and on this occasion contained a crate of 20 cold beers to enjoy en route.

All was peace and love until the train pulled into Neustrelitz. Here a large group of German police officers dressed in green stormtrooper outfits and ridiculously over sized helmets along with – for the want of a better phrase – a mob of Rostock lads joined the train. Our new friends Bernd and Martina (whom we’d met three minutes earlier) assured us everything was hunky dory and so it proved. Onto Rostock everybody, hey ho, let’s go.

We arrived in very good time for the match and so headed through the City on a tram up to the Brauhaus Trotzenburg next to the zoo. With it being hotter than Greece, more cold beers were called for. We were in the correct place for doing just this as the pub brewed many of its own beers which were rather splendid. We met up with Christian who turned out (as usual) to be a top chap and he joined us as we made our way to the big match live.

En route to the ground, we saw a group of BFC Dynamo fans heading into the woods dressed in their own club colours. Christian told us that this was probably to met up with some FC Hansa fans for a ‘bit of a chat’. All a bit unsavoury, rather like the mackerel rolls that were on offer at the stadium. No thanks Maureen.

Nick delighted with his newly purchased FC Hansa Rostock bunting.

Greeno, Danny, Fordy, Christian, Big Deaks and Nick.

Thumbs up for the floodlights.

Every scarf a winner.

Blue skies and happy days in Rostock.

Inside the ground a huge atmosphere was building. Unusually, in recent times anyway, FC Hansa had sold all 27,000 tickets for this match. This was up 10,000 on their last few home games. There were four bits of terracing in each corner, one of which housed the 800 or so away fans. Hansa Rostock were deep in relegation trouble and needed a win big time, whilst Kaiserslautern required the points in their quest for automatic promotion back to the Bundesliga.

With FA Cup Final type hysteria in the stands the game kicked off. Then the goals starting coming and happily kept coming. Mario started things off by ‘Fillinger‘ his boots – or in this instance his head – twice with the opening two goals for Hansa. Nothing funny in the fact that AmeDICK replied with a quickie for the away side or that they also had another player called DICK who picked up a yellow card later in proceedings.

In the second half Hansa scored two more headed goals and another standard one with the boot. So that was four headed goals in a row for them which we decided was a world record. In between the goals, Greeno was relentless in his pursuit to get us all drunk and made countless trips to the bar. With this being Germany, of course you’re allowed to drink in your seat. In fact they encourage you to do so.

Danny and Deaks.

Fordy and ‘relentless’ Greeno.

The goals start to fly in. EFW team (Danny and Nick) mildly pleased with events.

Team photo (tick).

Hansa cross Europe. Smiling faces all round as the EFW brand reaches Rostock.

The travelling fans sang their hearts out and waved their flags for 90 minutes despite being on the end of an absolute thumping. That’s the difference in Germany. Pretty much everyone in the stands gives it their all for 90 minutes and treats every game as if it’s their last. And with a sausage to roll ratio of 2.7 in our favour – really, what’s not to like!?

With a spring very much in our step we headed back to Rostock station feeling rather pleased with ourselves. An EFW logo was planted on the train station signage for good measure and fears of overbeering proved unfounded as we purchased another crate of 20 for the journey home to Berlin. A train journey late into the night with happy, singing German fans wanting to befriend you isn’t a bad way to spend an evening. Also, you know it’s been a good night out when you wake up the next morning still wearing your newly acquiredHANSA FOREVER’ scarf which someone gave you on said train. Good old Germany. It ticks every box, every time. Prost!

Splendidly placed logo back at the station.

Thirsty old work this getting the train business.

Martina, Bernd and friend happy as Larry!

More new mates on the train home.

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The Allianz Arena from the ouside. Art or is it!?
Me (left) and Nick. Dortmund til we die!

Inside the Allianz Arena – large beer hall just out of shot.

The most impressive stadium ever* (*from the outside)

Generali Sportpark home to Spvgg Unterhaching.

The home fans trying their best at Unterhaching.

Nick and Big Deaks in drinking beer shock.

Inside the Olympic Stadium with predictable results.

Nice views from the Olympiaturm anyone!?

Friday night in Ingolstadt and we couldn’t be happier. (L-R Big Deaks, me and Nick)

FC Ingolstadt 04 1-1 Karlsruher SC II (11:04:08)

Spvgg Unterhaching 1-1 Wacker Burghausen (12:04:08)

Bayern Munich 5-0 Borussia Dortmund (13:04:08)

Germany is synonymous with many things but for me and my mates, the two things it does best are both football and beer. This is why we keep coming back for more.

We have become firm friends with members of ‘The Unity’ who are the ultras group that follow Borussia Dortmund. We first met during my stag do when we were in the away end as Dortmund beat their old enemy Schalke 04 in Gelsenkirken for the first time in umpty thrumpty years and since then we always try and include a Dortmund match on our travels.

Initially on the Friday of this trip we were due to attend the Augsburg v FSV Mainz 05 match which kicked off at 18:00. The fact that we were flying out from the new Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport put pay to this cunning plan. A not entirely unpredictable delay to our flight meant that we missed the kick off.

Years of attending European football weekends has stood us in good stead however and we had a back up plan which was to attend FC Ingolstadt 04 v Karlsruher SC II which kicked off at the later time of 19:30.

Ingolstadt is located on the banks of the Danube River and lies around a 30 minute train ride north of Munich. It is also home to the Audi HQ which is why their sorry excuse for a football ground is smothered with the Audi logo.

It was a balmy evening in Germany when the match kicked off. We were relaxing on the terrace with a few nice cold beers and trying to enjoy the turgid football on offer. Ingolstadt 04 are top of the Regionalliga Sud in the third tier of German football but lord only knows how.

As the match – which finished 1-1 – drew to a close the most almighty storm passed over the ground. Thunder and lightning, very, very frightening. We dashed over to a nearby garage for cover, brought a few beers inside for our journey back and hitched a lift back to the station for the journey back to Munich.

The trouble with football in Germany is that it’s very easy to find yourself fairly drunk at the drop of a hat. You don’t get served watered down Fosters inside the stadiums. Instead you get quality premium beer and with this being Friday night, we were understandably a bit giggly, in a fine mood and the beers were flowing very freely indeed.

Upon our return to Munich we headed to a pub which had a couple of replica world cup trophies in a cabinet on the wall. Believe it or not we ended up singing “Da ya think I’m sexy?” with Rod Stewart in this pub! It was a mad night and quite frankly it was a brilliant one.

The next morning we headed to Unterhaching which is the second largest municipality in the district of Munich. Unterhaching is probably most famous for either its football team ‘Spvgg Unterhaching’ (who we were about to see) or the fact they have a very successful bob-sledding team, which is why there is a bob sleigh on the football teams club badge.

There is a brilliant set up outside the stadium at Unterhaching. It’s cut off from the town but this doesn’t matter as they have a large area to consume beer and food and soak up the pre-match atmosphere. As per usual we couldn’t help ourselves and down the hatch went some aforementioned beer (Lowenbrau – ouch) and food like it was going out of fashion.

This was another match in the Regionalliga Sud and again the quality of football on offer didn’t amount to much. At times like these it’s very for me to perform the ol’ switcharoo and start looking at the fans instead of the game.

Both Spvgg Unterhaching and visitors Wacker Burghausen had small but loud and active sets of ultras. They created noise, jumped about, let of flares, backed their team and provided a wonderful alternative to watching the football.

The game was 0-0 up until the last 5 minutes. Then both teams scored and a red card was issued. All and in fact the only action of the match crammed into the last few minutes. Enough to leave us thinking we’d seen the best game ever and certainly enough to give us a spring in our steps as we headed back into Munich for a night on the beer.

We met up with our friends from Dortmund back in town and they gave us our tickets (thanks chaps!) for the game the following day against Bayern Munich. We then rolled back the years and engaged in what can only be described ‘brilliant night out’ in which at 2am we found ourselves in a bar singing traditional German songs in our newly discovered fluent German language.

What better way of a Sunday morning to rid ourselves of a bit of ‘tiredness’ than to visit the Olympic Stadium in Munich, home to last good performance by an England team in 2001. For 2 euros we were allowed inside the stadium and have a good old reminisce which we certainly did.

Just outside the stadium stands the Olympiaturm – a huge tower which dominates the Munich skyline. We went up to the top of said tower where we were afforded wonderful views of Munich (e.g. The Olympic Stadium and Allianz Arena) and the Alps.

After this we headed to the north of the city to the Allianz Arena – home to both Bayern and 1860 Munich. From the outside the stadium is the most impressive I’ve ever seen. On the inside it’s nice but really just like any other modern stadium of its size. It is occasionally nicknamed Schlauchboot (“inflatable boat”) in Germany.

I was amazed at the lack of security outside the stadium. We had tickets in the away end but there weren’t separate turnstiles and we were allowed to wonder all around the stadium before taking our seats. A huge amount of beer was being consumed by all but there wasn’t a hint of trouble.

Bayern Munich won the game 5-0. They had it wrapped up inside the first 22 minutes, scoring four quite outstanding goals in the process. In Luca Toni, Bayern have the best finisher in Europe at the moment – he really is different gravy.

There is a small amount of terracing behind one of the goals inside the Allianz Arena. This is where all the support and noise comes from the home fans. Why they don’t extend this and rip out a few seats I will never know. In fact I do know, they’d rather have a few extra quid than a better atmosphere.

As mentioned we were in with the Dortmund supporters and you would have thought being five goals down would dampen the fans spirits – not a bit of it. They sang for 90 minutes as did we. No goals!? It didn’t matter, after a while they decided to start randomly celebrating goals anyway. All brilliant fun, they don’t come much better than The Unity when it comes to fan support.

If you could dream up a better of way of letting a crowd of 69,000 die down than by attending a large beer hall built into one of the stands serving up quality beer in glasses not plastic then please let me know about it. That’s what we did before returning to the city and enjoying our last few beers of the weekend.

I started this piece by explaining that for us Germany does football and beer best. I hope by reading this you’ll have just a flavour as to the reasons why. Good old life!

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