Nurnberg is one of my favourite places in Europe. It has so much history, so many fantastic buildings and loads of decent bars. In terms of football it has a passionately supported team who play in one of the most unique stadiums in Germany. It also has some fond memories for me including the World Cup match in June 2006 when England struggled to over come a very weak Trinidad and Tobago team. On that very hot day my travelling companion was Football Jo (it also includes George the Greek and two unnamed England fans that Jo has picked up in the hotel in Munich and invited them into the Merc for the 2 hour drive north), and whilst enjoying the atmosphere in the main town square we planned to come back to see the culture without the vomit, sunburnt beer bellies and “No Surrender” chants at a later point.
So 15 months later we headed back to Nuremburg, with CMF to keep us (well me) company. We had a rough plan, in which football initially did not play a part. It was to be a weekend of culture, fine food, lots of German beer, and an opportunity for Football Jo to add to her collection of “alternative” DVD’s (for more information on her unusual hobby see March 2008’s post on “Football, Goulash and the Rivers of Piss”). The two things that changed our plans were 1) The amazing weather, and 2) The prospect of a new stadium within a 10 minute train ride and a convenient time.
We arrived early on the Saturday morning, having deposited the little Fuller’s at their Grandparents up north. A two day trip in not quite enough for them to start forgetting what electric lights, knives and forks and computers are but it is a close thing and we have to spend the journey home re-training them on saying words like “Bath, Bus and Roll” instead of “Baath, Bous and Cob”. The sun was already shining at 9am so we decided to head direct for the centre of the action with an early morning tipple in the market square that was so packed in June 2006. Jo had two things on her shopping list – clothes peg porn (as it reads) and bed socks. As the former wasn’t really on show in the market square, we spent a futile 30 minutes looking for the latter, whilst she browsed in amazement at some of the stalls – “Ohh look, they sell dish clothes”…”wow, look at this stall selling batteries”….as I have said before she doesn’t get out of the community care much.
We headed down to one of the best museums in Europe in my opinion, and also the one with the longest name – The Dokuzentrum Reichsparteitagsgelande Fazination und Gewalt. Basically if you have ever wondered about how the Nazi party went from being basically a trade union with no power, to the world’s most destructive force in little more than 10 years then this is the place to come. It is spread over two floors of a new building constructed within the biggest remaining Nazi building – a construction that was to be twice the size of the Coliseum in Rome. It traces the roots of the Nazi foundations from 1933, through the war and the collapse in 1945 through film, pictures and a self guided audio trail. It is located within the old parade grounds area to the south of the city centre, and is a great base for exploring some of the other remnants of the Nazi empire including the platforms where Hitler and go used to preach their messages of hate to 100,000 soldiers, the monument to the dead and the foundations of the Nazi Stadium, a much structure that was to hold 400,000 when complete. The whole area is surreal to visit. On a later Summer’s day with blue sky all above, and families enjoying picnics, boating on the lake and rollerblading it was hard to believe that some of the worst acts of human barbarity had been planned on this very ground. The original plan of making Nuremburg the most famous city in the whole world came within a few years of being reality. After a few hours of exploring we headed back into the city centre for some more traditional entertainment.
The weekend was also hosting some of the key games in the Rugby World Cup, so with West Ham’s early season defeat to Arsenal already secured we headed for the sanctuary of the nearest Irish bar for some oval ball action. Having seen Scotland narrowly fail to lose to Italy we lined up the Guinness for a few hours of Welsh humiliation at the hands of the Fijians. And sure enough they failed to disappoint as they took every chance in the book to throw away the game 38-34 to the south Islanders. With a few pints of Irish’s finest inside us, we decided to head back to the hotel for a quick change, and a quick session before we headed out for food. The night was drawing in, and the shops were closing. As on Sunday’s in Germany shops do not open, Jo was very disheartened that she had not managed to find her socks or her porn. We walked back towards the hotel when all of a sudden on the horizon appeared one of Germany’s most well known brands. Beate Uhse is as famous in Germany as Primark and Burtons are in the UK, except their wares are a little more of an adult nature. Ann Summers is positively conservative compared to these shops, and so it was with glee that Football Jo ran into the shop like a child entering Willy Wonka’s Chocolate factory for the first time. As I have already explained dear reader, the usual hardcore stuff featuring some of the most stunning porn stars in the world enjoying life in all sorts of places, positions and scenarios doesn’t actually appeal to her. Amusement was had by two of the three of our party at the series of “Bridget the Midget” DVD’s, but it was the titles such as “Debbie does Dallas all at once”, “Court Marshalled” and “Nipple Pegfest” that attracted her attention. With a few new titles secured for her collection, her weekend was complete and so we headed back towards the hotel.
The city is surrounded by old walls with wooden fortifications on top,giving the appearance of a citadel. We walked along the old walls for a while before we came to the road behind the hotel. And here we received our first shock of the day, for this was the red light district in the city. That in itself is not a problem. The issue was the “quality” of the goods on display. Hanging out of the windows (like Amsterdam but al fresco) were some of the oldest and roughest looking women you would ever want to meet. Most men’s taste drastically reduces over the course of an evening, and we have been known in jest to judge ladies on a scale of pints – for instance Keeley Hazell would be a half pinter, Charlotte Church a two pinter, Sian Lloyd a six pinter and Emma Riley (her of Emmerdale and You’ve been Framed fame) a fifteen pinter. These women would definitely be in the double figure mark. It also appeared that the towels that they draped outside their windows seemed to signify something. To us a red towel seemed to signify false teeth, blue false teeth and wig and yellow false teeth, wig and new hip joint. However, what was even more shocking was that it appeared that many had customers, based on the windows being closed. This was 7pm – so unless these Germans had been on the sauce all day, they obviously had so little confidence on scoring on a night out or simply had some strange taste in women. It takes all sorts obviously but to have such a concentration of such Rooney-esque talent all in one place must either be a huge tourist draw, or the equivilant of a rest house for old prostitutes from all over Europe.
Dinner was a very cozy affair. We found a guesthouse around the corner from the hotel that was rammed at 8pm,and with a menu offering home cooked food and some decent German wines, we headed on in and shared a table with a German family. Now, everyone nows that all Germans can understand English, yet only 1% of the English can understand German. Poor Jo had difficulty getting her head around this and launched into a graphic description at the table about the new DVD’s she had bought, and having watched one pre-dinner on her laptop, how good it was compared to some of the others she has bought in Amsterdam a few weeks previous (including the wonderfully named Dickie Dogg – think Emma Riley meeting Shep). Obviously Mr and Mrs Ballack, and the little Michael’s could understand every single word, plus a few new ones judging by the colour of Frau Ballack, and I have never seen a family eat their 3 courses so quickly before departing.
After a couple of nightcaps, Jo wanted another wander around the houses so to speak to see who was buying and selling. No real change there as knitting had been replaced by whoring as the favourite Saturday night activity for the Derby and Joan club. There was a distinct lack of punters willing to get any value adds so we beat a hasty retreat to the hotel Jakobsmarkt. Our room was a strange affair. A 70’s style living room, with a kitchen, and then a stairway up to a huge bedroom in the attic and a massive long thin bathroom. Perfect for us to “explore” although poor Football Jo had to make do with her single bed in a cupboard for the same price.
Sunday brought another stunning day. Indian summer temperatures were perfect for a quiet stroll around the city. Jo wanted to see what windows were still open at 10am on Sunday and sure enough the old ladies who had probably been up since 4am, been to the shops, cleaned the house and cooked Sunday lunch, were open for business. We headed off for a wander around the old town, which as I have mentioned before is stunning. Old fashion mill houses hug the river throughout the centre, and little pubs, restaurants and cafes made a wonderful setting for a lazy Sunday morning. As if by magic I had found out that 2nd division Fuerth were at home at 2pm. Fuerth is a suburb of Nuremburg and being only a 10 minute S-Bahn trip down the road it would have been rude to have come so far and not go to the match.
It was carnival time in the region and so when we reached Fuerth the centre was in party mood. German football fans love their beer and the Fuerth fans were tucking into the beer and the fantastic Nurnberg sausages (amazing if you can find them – served in a portion of 5 in a bun with mustard), enjoying the day. The team were on the fringes of the promotion places after a good start to the season and had a reputation as a friendly club, and certainly based on the fans who willingly came over and started chatting to us the reputation was deserved.
We headed up to the stadium, secured our tickets and took in what we thought was the shade. Here my brilliant understanding of German let us down again as we could not have been more in the very hot Sunday sunshine if we tried. Beer was on the agenda to cool us down, and having a sensible set of rules we could drink as much as we wanted in the seats, as long as we paid our 1 Euro deposit for the plastic cups.
Carls Zeiss Jena are one of the most notable ex-East German teams, having played many a season in the UEFA Cup in the dark days of the 70’s and 80’s. They are named after the famous scientist who developed some of the best optical lenses which are today heavily used by the military as well as in some of the top of the range SLR cameras. They were struggling at the foot of the table early in the season but still brought a fair away following on such a beautiful day and were in fine voice. The stadium was not dissimilar to a lower league English one – with one main stand set apart from essentially three temporary stadiums. The Playmobil name came about from the company who are based close by and not the actual material used to built the stadium unfortunately.
The teams emerged to a generous welcome from the fans, none more so that a massive fat bloke who was waving one of the biggest flags you will see who had obviously taken his share of beer and sausages, along with a few other peoples as well. The heat was obviously a factor for the teams as they struggled to put any decent moves together in the opening exchanges. It wasn’t until the 20th minute that we saw the first real shot on goal, and even then it was one that Jonny Wilkinson would have been proud of.
After a goal less first half, the second half started with Fuerth stepping the play up a gear. Eventually they found a way through with a corner that eluded everyone, including the Jena goalkeeper at the near post and went directly in. Despite equalising within 10 minutes, it was always going to be the home teams game and so it was no surprise when the winner came on the 75th minute mark with a swift move up the field and a crisp finish from 12 yards by the impressive Fuerth captain.
With the sun still shining we made our way on foot back to the station, picked up our bags and headed off to the airport back to reality. CMF and myself happy to have spent some quality time together in a beautiful city in the sunshine,Football Jo happy in the fact she had got some more deviant porn. Well, you can’t please everyone – she still didn’t get her bed socks.
About the Playmobil Stadion
The stadium is a typical German affair, with one single terrace, the North stand, and three separate seated stands. The main stand is a tall affair, similar to the main stand at Lincoln City’s Sincil Bank which only covers a third of the length of the pitch. On the opposite side of the stadium is a covered single tier structure which is raised around 6 foot above the pitch from row one meaning that views are very good. Behind the south stand there is a narrow but tall temporary stand that is home to the away fans, next to a open seated area that wraps around to nearly join the main stand.
The stadium looks and feels like a lower division stadium with the impression that stands have been added on a piecemeal basis. There are plenty of refreshment bars around the outside of the stadium, as well as a covered area behind the main stadium which doubles up as a stage area for some after the match partying. There is a big screen above the south stand that replays goals scored by the home team only.
Who plays there?
The Playmobil Stadion is home to the fiercely proud SpVgg Greuther Fürth who currently play in the Bundesliga 2. They were formed in 1930, although the current club came into existence in 1996 after a merger between SpVgg Fürth and TSV Vestenbergsgreuth. Whilst their success more recently has been very modest, they were one of the teams that shaped early German football – winning the national championships in 1914, 1926 and 1929.
However, after the war the team slipped down the leagues and were firmly rooted in the 3rd tier of German football come the formation of the Bundesliga in 1963. Since then they have yet to grace the top division, although in the past two seasons they have finished 4th and 5th. They have a fierce rivalry with local neighbours 1.FC Nürnberg that has been known to boil over both on and off the pitch.
How to get there
The Playmobil Stadion is located less than a mile from the town centre of Fürth, and around 5 miles from Nuremberg. The nearest station to the stadium is Rathaus on U1 line, some 10 stops from Nuremberg Hauptbahnhof. When you exit the stadium you can either walk the 15 minutes or so to the stadium, or catch one of the regular shuttle buses that wait outside the stadium and take around 5 minute to drop you on the west of the stadium. If you do want to walk then come out of the station and turn left, following the road downhill. When you reach the river, turn right across the bridge and follow the main road for 500 yards. At this junction turn left and head up the hill. The stadium is around 400 yards on your right hand side.
Getting a ticket
There is no issues in getting tickets to watch games at the Playmobil Stadion at the gate. The main ticket office is outside the main stand on the west side of the stadium. Tickets range in price from €21 in the main covered stand to €14 for a place on the north terrace. During the winter months when temperatures plummet making watch a game on either the open terrace or the open seating in the south stand very uncomfortable. A good bet for the neutrals is the covered seats in blocks G or H which cost €19. The official website does have an online facility, but you will have to pick tickets up on the day of the game from the ticket office.
Fürth is really a suburb of Nuremberg, and is connected to the main city via the U1 line which links the two in less than 15 minutes. A one day travel card for €3.60 allows unlimited transport in both areas. Local buses supplement the U-Bahn network, which basically runs through four stops in the town – Hauptbahnhof to the Klinikum.
Local Hotels & Bars
Whilst many people will simply by-pass the centre of Fürth coming to and from football at the Playmobil Stadion, it does have more than enough places to sleep, eat and drink to not be missed. The Tourist information centre can be contacted on +49 911 974 1206 if you need any further assistance.
NH Hotel Fürth – Königstrasse 140
Tel: +49 911 74040 http://www.nh-hotels.com
NH Hotel Forsthaus Fürth – Zum Bogelsang 20
Tel: +49 911 779880 http://www.bh-hotels.com
Parkhotel Fürth – Rudolf-Breitscheid Strasse 15
Tel: +49 911 776 666 http://www.parkhotel-fuerth.de
In terms of places to eat, the town centre has a number of Bratwuerst stands along Fuerther Freiheit and in the pedestrian area. One of the local delicacies is Leberkäs Semmel which is similar to meat loaf in a roll. Other restaurants include:-
Zum Tannenbaum – Rathaus
Asia Küche – Hauptbahnhof platz
Our Place – Behind Rathaus U-Bahn stop
There are a number of bars that are dedicated to the football club around the stadium which are more than welcoming to neutral fans. Alternatively there are numerous decent bars around the Hauptbahnhof including:-
Las Palmeras – Near U-Bahn station Stadtgrenze
Stara Chata – Angerstrasse
Nearest Airport – Nuremberg Airport (NUE)
Telephone: +49 911 93700
The small airport is located 7km north of the city. It is mainly used as a base for regional German airlines. It has two terminals with basic services including duty free shops, 2 restaurants, numerous bars and an observation deck. The airport has seen little expansion since it opened fifty years ago. Last year the airport handled over 3 million passengers. Currently the airport can only be reached by Air Berlin from the UK. U-Bahn line 1 runs directly from outside the terminal to the city centre in less than 15 minutes and costs €1.30 single or €3.60 for a day ticket.