Archive for the ‘Rot-Weiss Oberhausen’ 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”.
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Old school floodlights – tick.

Alemania Aachen v Kaiserslautern.

A small drop of rain at Aachen.

Nick (left) and I at Rott-Weiss Oberhausen.

An oversized flag makes an appearance at VVV Venlo.

Rot-Weiss Oberhausen 3-2 SV Babelsburg 03 (10:11:07)

VVV Venlo 2-0 Sparta Rotterdam (10:11:07)

Alemannia Aachen 2-1 1. FC Kaiserslautern (11:11:07)

The North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany may be synonymous for being an industrial sprawl but for us it pretty much represents the equivalent of footballing heaven. It’s a region simply chock-a-block with teams and on any given weekend you can easily catch a game or three. Having previously been there to visit the bright lights of Borussia Dortmund, Schalke 04, VfL Bochum, MSV Duisburg and Cologne, we were keen to pay a visit to some of the areas lesser known teams.

Also on this trip we were attempting to do what possibly many others had done before but we had only dreamt of doing; two games in one day, in two different countries. To do this means commitment and by that I mean a 04:50 journey departure time from Hove to Cologne. No pain no gain eh!?

Now between you and I, a month or so ago, I didn’t know the city of Oberhausen or its team Rot-Weiss Oberhausen from a hole in the ground. You can keep your Eiffel Tower; say no to the Statue of Liberty and turn a blind eye to the pyramids because the main attraction in Oberhausen is (no giggling at the back) a gasometer. I know what you’re probably thinking; did I have enough film in my camera!?

Our pre-match consisted of several pints of Gruben Gold, ‘gold’ being the operative word and a small mountain of pork, sauerkraut and brockwursts. With that little lot consumed with vigour we were off to the match – a Regionalliga Nord affair which is the third tier of football in Germany.

The stadium at Oberhausen had two curved open terraces at either end. One of which sported a magnificent giant electronic scoreboard. There were two single tiered seated stands running along side the pitch. One of which contained the RWO ultras and the vocal element of home fans which we were in. Opposite stood a stand containing coughing policemen who were trying to avoid the smoke filling through the stand caused by flares let off by the travelling Babelsburg fans – more of them later.

On a pitch fit only for farming there were enough errors in the game to fill an Own Goals and Gaffes DVD – presented possibly by James Nesbitt. It made for wonderful entertainment. There was a sending off, terrible defending, woeful goalkeeping and five goals and all this for £6. Outstanding value in anyone’s book surely!?

The travelling Babelsburg ultras were a strange bunch. They were few in number but that didn’t stop some of them lighting flares, engaging in frenetic flag waving and at one stage – trying to break out of their section in a comedy attempt at getting at the home fans. They were very animated and yet, when their team scored they didn’t really seem to give a monkeys.

On the bus back to the station, fans of Swap Shop might like to note that my Brighton badge was swapped by a friendly local for a novelty RWO one complete with flashing lights. From Oberhausen we were now off for our second game of the day over the border in Holland in the city of Venlo.

We were wondering how we’d know when we had crossed the border from Germany into Holland. Was there to be any passport control or at the very least a big sign, or would we just notice the change of scenery perhaps. As it was we knew we were in Holland when all the passengers on the trains’ mobile phones went off and roaming texts welcoming us to the Netherlands were received.

Upon arrival at the Seacon Stadium – De Koel we made our way to the plush new offices to collect our tickets and then somehow found ourselves in the players bar. It was very posh, lined with pennants and served very bland beer. I’m not sure we should have been in there and those thoughts were confirmed when suddenly I was standing next to the match referee and his officials. Nobody seemed to mind however so we helped ourselves to some free programmes and a couple more bland beers.

From the salubrious surroundings of the players bar we then headed to the supporters bar. This place was filled with smoke and packed to the rafters. It was like walking into a packet of 20 Benson and Hedges. Holland seems to be one of those countries whereby smoking is compulsory and taught in schools.

For 25 euros our seats were near enough the best in the house. This was an Eredivisie match which is the Dutch equivalent of the Premier League. We were situated near to the half way line, seated in the front row of a single tiered stand running the length of the pitch.

A couple of banners draped around the stands caught our collective eyes just prior to kick off. From the fairly mundane ‘Come on VVV its show time’ to the rather extraordinary ‘Benders Venlo’ – draw your own conclusions.

VVV won the match 2-0 sending Sparta Rotterdam to the bottom of the league in the process. There were two very clear candidates for my man of the match award. Firstly, step forwards VVV Venlo full back Mike Mampuya – who overcame the handicap of a terrible hairdo to produce a match winning performance. He was just pipped to the post however by my good friend, the aforementioned referee. Pieter ‘Vinkers’ Vink who lit up the match with a series of wonderfully elaborate hand signals coupled with some fancy footwork – think Billy Bowden meets Wayne Sleep and I’m sure you’ll agree – we have our winner.

We awoke on Sunday at our base in Cologne to find the city in full on party mode – at 10am! Thousands upon thousands of people had taken to the streets in fancy dress and were already consuming staggering amounts of alcohol. We had arrived in the middle of the 11:11 Cologne Carnival which marks the beginning of the “fifth season of the year”. Evidently, anyone who is not a fool at carnival is foolish for the rest of the year.

Thirsty for more action we headed to Aachen close to the Belgian and Dutch borders for our third game of the weekend. To me this day represented all that football is and should be about. We were met by fan representatives of Alemannia Aachen outside the stadium who afforded us the warmest of welcomes, showering us with gifts as we chatted and sunk a few nice cold beers.

Inside the ground the tannoy was belting out club anthems which were being sung with great gusto. Fans were waving flags, scarves anything they could lay their hands on and this was an hour before kick off. The stadium was the very essence of ‘old skool’ with three steep banks of terracing and a rare old atmosphere to boot. Kaiserslautern had brought 2,000 fans with them who were giving it their all in the corner. There were smiling faces all round though and not a hint of trouble.

The match was a cracking end to end encounter refereed by a lady who commanded maximum respect. The raucous atmosphere spurred Aachen onto a 2-1 victory in conditions that ranged from bright sunshine to a ten minute hailstorm in the second half. It was a splendid advert for the Bundesliga 2 and safe to say we’ll be returning to that particular division for more of the same.

Back in Cologne the revellers had moved in off the streets to occupy every nook and cranny of every bar in the city. They were dancing on the tables and chairs and singing themselves hoarse. Sadly for us, it was time to leave them to it and head back home. Carlsberg don’t do European football weekends………..

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