Our regular German traveller Kevin Morris was off again a few weeks ago to watch games in Dusseldorf and Frankfurt. Here’s his latest tale.
“It was back to Germany again last week, my 4th trip this year and again, it was a great visit. Friday was Fortuna Dusseldorf v Energie Cottbus in the Bundesliga equivalent of the Championship. A cheapo Ryanair special saw 3 of us arriving in Dusseldorf early on Friday morning. Weeze airport is not too close to Düsseldorf but it is a straight forward journey and given the time we arrived in Germany, we had a fair bit of time to play with. From the airport there was a 10 min bus ride to the nearest train station followed by an hours train journey into Dusseldorf. Neither journey was particularly cheap (4 Euros for the bus and 14 Euros for the train), public transport does seem expensive at present. Once in Dusseldorf, we had to collect our match tickets from the Tourist Information office which seemed to be in completely the opposite direct to that which the sign posts were pointing and then onto the hotel. Düsseldorf is a great City; it is full of bars and restaurants so we spent a pleasant afternoon by the Rheine having a few beers before going on to the game.
We took the easy route and got a taxi but there is a metro line and a station right next to the ground. Match tickets were booked on Fortuna’s website but they wouldn’t deliver the tickets to England. We paid £16 for a seat in the lower tier, along the side, about level with the penalty spot. The ground is impressive, it is a two tier symmetrical stadium, the concourse was remarkably clean and you could walk almost around the entire stadium with the exception of the blocked access for the visitors’ enclosure. A tabloid newspaper sized programme was available inside the stadium only and this cost 1Euro.
The 1st half of the game wasn’t the best, the highlight being the good looking female referee. It livened up in the 2nd half when the visitors took the lead. Fortuna hit back with two goals and the referee, somewhat debatably, disallowed an injury time equaliser for Cottbus.
The support for the home team was pretty impressive, especially in the 2nd half. The supporters around us made us feel welcome and we made full use of being allowed to have a beer in your seat. I find this much more civilised than rushing a pint at 230pm as we would do back home. After the game it was back into the city for more beers, it really is a superb place, especially around the Altstadt (Old Town).
On Saturday morning we took the train to Frankfurt for Eintracht v Borussia Monchengladbach. The train took just under 90 mins and cost approx £20. Frankfurt Station isn’t my favourite place in the world; the area is seedy and populated by beggars or drunks. We got the tram over to the Cathedral and had a few beers around here. Tram line 21 will take you directly to the stadium and they seem to run a stadium special on line 20, I’ve no idea where this starts from but you could pick it up around the church and the train station. The journey to the stadium takes around 15 mins. If there are more than 2 of you travelling, it is cheaper to buy a group travel card which allows up to 5 people to travel on the one ticket. Having a beer in public seems to be common in Germany (and is to be encouraged!) so you will see blokes carrying crates of lager on to the tram or metro on the way to the game, most unlike the London Underground.
The game wasn’t a sell out and Eintracht will post your tickets to the UK. The ground is unique in that once you get through the turnstile; there is still a 10 minute walk to the stadium as it appears to be located in the middle of a forest/park. A UK style programme was available outside of the ground (but inside of the entrance) for 2 Euro; there were also a couple of fanzine sellers. The stadium is superb and for 40 Euros I had an upper tier seat over looking the halfway line. In Germany they don’t seem too worried about segregation so I was surrounded by Borussia fans unfortunately, not all of them managed to remain silent for the one minutes silence for Enke. The atmosphere after this unfortunate incident was superb but again, the football in the first half was severely lacking in quality. The 2nd half livened up considerably, Borussia were 2-1 winners.
The highlight of the trip was the sausage stall who was offering ½ metre long sausages, my idea of heaven.
After the game there was time for a couple of more beers and a bite to eat before the journey home started. In my haste to get a decent fare, I’d booked a late night return from Frankfurt with Ryanair and it was only in the days leading up to the trip that I spotted my mistake. Frankfurt Hahn airport is bloody miles from Frankfurt and it has no train station. Ryanair do lay on an hourly bus service for 12Euros but the journey takes 90mins. Apparently there are 3 other airports closer to Frankfurt than the one Ryanair use. In their defence, I don’t ever recall having a bad Ryanair experience. The flight home arrived at 1130pm and the following day it was off to WHL for Spurs v Wigan….which is a tale in its own right”