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Archive for the ‘VfL Wolfsburg’ 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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VfL Wolfsburg 4-0 1899 Hoffenheim (02:05:09)

– click photos to enlarge image –

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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