The happy world of Haribo

It doesn’t matter what the country is, the cup is full of stories of wonder, awe and inspiration. David beating Goliath, George slaying The Dragon and *that* goal by Ronnie Radford, Ricki Villa and Trevor Brooking. In France there was the story of Calais taking Nantes to extra time in the 2000 final, in England we of course had 4th tier Chesterfield coming within a poor David Ellerey decision of a Wembley date with Chelsea and of course in Spain back in 1980, Real Madrid beat their second team Castilla in the final.

This season in Germany the hopes of the nation on an upset laid at the opponents of the two sides from Munich. In the red corner, German superbeings Bayern München were due to take on Regensburg whilst the “people’s club” 1860 were drawn to play against FC Hannef 05. The tiny club from a few miles outside the former West German capital Bonn, the town that gave (and continues to give) us Haribo. Named after the founder HAns RIegel and the town BOnn, the gummy sweets are a worldwide sensation. Today they produce a mere 80 million sweets per day in their 13 worldwide factories, enough to keep my kids happy. That reason alone was sure to bring the visiting fans to town, let alone the fact that Gummy Bears can be used as currency n the shops here.

With hordes of Bavarians preparing to descend on Hannef, it was a wise decision to move the game to SC Bonners 10,000 capacity stadium. It was here back in May that Hannef won the Middle Rhine Cup and thus gained a pass into the DFB Pokal. This would be the biggest game in the club’s history. Continue reading

The Hangover part 3

Today was a day for sunglasses. Not that I would say it was a late (late, late) night in the fleshpots of downtown Düsseldorf, nor the fact that temperatures were going to hit the big 4-0 later on. The main reason was that we were heading westwards to the town of Aachen, where the New Tivoli was our venue. The new home of Alemannia Aachen is one of the finest new-style stadiums in Germany (and there a quite a few), but its most notable feature is its yellow seats. Bright yellow seats…..nearly 25,000 of them.

Our journey had the word problem written all over it. A train ride from Düsseldorf to Aachen, skirting close to the Dutch border doesn’t sound like anymore difficult than a normal daily commute (well, setting aside the fact that I have to negotiate the joys of service SouthEastern-style). But add in the fact that our journey would take us via Mönchengladbach and you have a receipe for carnage. Borussia Mönchengladbach would be making the 30 minute journey to Aachen for their first game of the new season, a season where optimism hasn’t been as high for well over a decade. Continue reading

Velbert underground

Things have been a bit hectic here at TBIR Towers recently.  Real work (gasp!) has sort of intruded on the mirth and mayhem that goes with reporting from around the world.  So by the time you read this I am sure you will already be familiar with the fact that SSVg Velbert lost at home to SC Verl in the Regionaliga West last Friday night.  After all, the game is hardly off Sky Sports news, and ESPN’s extended highlights are dragging a bit too now.

Well that’s lost half of my usual 10 readers, so for you other 5 who obviously live on Mars (or in Azerbaijan  “Yenə Hello – I gün tutmaq əla ümid edirik. Mən dəniz Bass özümü bir az sevgi”) I will aim to describe events from last week in as few words as possible, painting a picture instead of life in the German non leagues.  To organise such a complex trip you need to call on the German non league footballing equivalent of the A-Team.  Danny Last, Kenny Legg and Michael Stoffl.  In true A-Team style, Danny is “Bad Attitude” Baracus due to his loathing of flying and his love of a glass of milk before bedtime, Kenny is “The Face”, a man who can get a waitresses attention in the blink of an eye, and Stoffers is just Stoffers.

Kenny is obviously famed for his award-nominated blog, Adventures in Tin Pot but has recently relocated to Germany.  We are bound by the official secrets act as to the exact nature of his job but we understand he came within an inch of being in THAT scene from the Olympic Opening Ceremony when Daniel Craig was umming and aarring about his dislike for corgis.  A new habitat hasn’t stopped Kenny’s eye for a non league ground or some club-endorsed slippers, and so he ha cunningly rebranded in true Marathon/Snickers style to “Das Adventures in TinPot” (just click on the link at start of the paragraph, the PR team haven’t quite finished the rebranding work). Continue reading

All’s square in love, war and Leverkusen

Aldershot or Leverkusen?  Hampshire or NordRhein Westfalon?  The Recreation Ground or the BayerArena?  Questions we all ask ourselves.  But how many of us who choose the latter answers?  Hands up the Daggers Diary team.  Brian Parish reports on a Saturday well spent in Germany.

Let me ask you a question. How long do you reckon it takes to organise one of these trips? Our February jaunt to four different countries was about ten months from the original idea to actually going, while the regular trips to Spain are normally around three to four months from start to finish.

I only bring this up, as on Maundy Thursday, I was sitting in work, minding my own business when Dagenham Dan phoned up, saying that Neil had been on the phone, asking what was occurring the following weekend. Now, with the Daggers playing away at Aldershot, we had already made alternative arrangements to visit Southend Manor in the Essex Senior League. However, Neil’s idea was to go slightly further than the Essex coast. At this point, my thoughts instantly turned to how much this was going to cost, without even considering where we were going. The plan, as it transpired, was to go to Leverkusen.

Remember, this was late on the Thursday afternoon. By Friday lunchtime, as we were sitting in the club house prior to the Daggers game against Burton, all the bookings were done and sorted, and we were on our way. Apparently, Neil would have done it sooner, had he not been going out on the Thursday night.

So, having thought that the passports were now locked away for the remainder of the season, three of us (which would be Dagenham Dan, Liam and I) set out from Thurrock at 4am on the Saturday morning, on our way to meet Neil at Folkestone services, and our scheduled train crossing at 6.20am. Given the choice of Aldershot, Southend Manor or Leverkusen, I think we all know what we would have chosen. Continue reading

One night in Munich and the world’s your oyster

“One night in Bangkok and the world’s your oyster. The bars are temples but the pearls ain’t free. You’ll find a god in every golden cloister, and if you’re lucky then the god’s a she”

The setting wasn’t Thailand, but Munich. The bars weren’t temples but Brauhäus’s and the pearls had taken on a strange sausage shape. The god in question was of course football. I am sure that was what Tim Rice meant when he wrote this song for the musical Chess back in 1984. How was he to know that nearly 30 years later that would be the song spinning around my head as I sat on the S3 train heading towards Fasenenpark in the southern suburbs of München, capital of Bavaria.

Work had seen me having to spend a few days in the home of BMW, Siemens and Allianz in the world’s most livable city according to Monocle. It was certainly up there with my favourites – the architecture, the beer, the food, the people, the nude sunbathing in the Englischer Garten as well as the football. Some of my best EFW’s had been in Germany and it was in the outskirts of Munich where I had been based during the 2006 World Cup with Football Jo (bit of gossip here but she’s only gone ad bagged a new boyfriend 17 years her junior!!!). I had seen games in the new Allianz Arena, without a doubt one of the finest stadiums ever built as well as some great games at the old Olympiastadion, including Lothar Mattäus’s last game for Bayern against Real Madrid in the Champions League back in 2000. But there was one club I had never had a chance to see in the city and that was the plucky upstarts in the south of the city SpVgg Unterhaching.

Spielvereinigung Unterhaching to give them their full name are currently plying their trade in the third tier of German football, but for a couple of seasons at the turn of the last millennium they were the talk of the Bundesliga for basically punching above their weight and giving a couple of teams the footballing equivalent of a bloody nose.

I had nearly made a game at the Generali Sportpark twice before. Back in 2000 when I was in Munich with my mate Pete. It was our first trip to Munich and we had taken in all of the sights and sites – Hofbräuhus, Augustiner Keller, Hackerhaus, etc – before we decided to take in a game. As luck would have it Underhaching were at home on our final evening so we set out from our hotel close to the central station. We walked down a road and mesmerised by the flashing neon signs for “Sexyland”. Apparently, according to an English chap standing outside, this was the Alton Towers of sin with rides for all shapes and sizes. Football or Sexyland. That was the choice facing us to Brits. Actually there was a third choice, and that was the Augustiner Bräustuben just 100 yards away. We would go there to flip a beer mat and decide what to do and if necessary down some Dutch courage. Our one turned into five or six, mainly thanks to the outfits of the waitresses and the band who had us up on the benches in no time, rolling up our trousers to make pretend leiderhosen and tying our hair in pigtails. I do not know to this day which one I regret missing most. Continue reading

Over the Berlin Wall

A big welcome to these pages for Michael Miles who recent traveled to Berlin to see Hertha beat FC Köln.

This was my first visit to the Olympiastadion to see Hertha BSC (Berliner Sport-Club) since 2003. On that occasion I sat with about 40,000 other shivering souls marvelling at how the Germans could continue to put on a football match while much of the stadium was a building site preparatory to the 2006 World Cup.

Over four years the whole of the inside of the stadium was demolished and replaced, literally piece by piece. The redevelopment work included the removal of every limestone block to be cleaned, and then replaced, a task compared to completing a huge jigsaw puzzle. The colour of the running track which runs around the pitch (the stadium is a regular venue for athletics events) was changed to blue to match Hertha’s colours.

Thoughts drifted toward our own beloved “stadium of legends”, Wembley. That had closed in October 2000, with a new stadium due to open in 2003. With all the disputes and wrangling, the old Wembley was not even demolished until 2003, and as many a travelling fan can testify, did not properly open for business until the 2007 FA Cup Final. Continue reading

My name is Stuart and I am an addict

I didn’t realise I had a problem until I was confronted with it.  The problem was storage.  I had run out of room for my football socks.  Come on admit it, we all have a few pairs don’t we?  Some people collect shirts, others collect programmes (I have a few of those myself) whereas some individuals I wont mention (Dagenham + Dan is a clue) have to keep their match tickets in pristine condition.  Those things do nothing for me.  To me, I express my love of the game with football socks.

CMF says this is a “Syndrome”.  It is obsessive compulsive.  Just because I like socks and never throw a pair away does not make me a bad person.  I never complain about her collection of Marc Dorcel DVD’s so why should she make me feel bad about my collection?  After all I get enjoyment from wearing my socks (and yes I also don’t mind sharing her “hobby” as well”). Sometimes we even swap items in our collections, but that is another story completely.

It all started out of necessity.  I went to a Wasps rugby game, that is how long ago it was – they didn’t have the London bit in their name, despite the fact they played in London, as opposed to now where they are called London Wasps despite playing in Buckinghamshire. It was raining, my shoes had a hole in and my feet got very wet.  I needed to get some new socks and so I went and bought a pair of rugby socks from the club shop.

That was back in 1998 and I still have that pair of black and gold socks today.  After that I was hooked.  It was the comfort, the almost rebellious sign against the system.  I wore purple Fiorentina socks on business meetings.  When people said things like “nice socks” I would launch into the tale of who they belonged to and where I got them.  I wore a pair of olive and chocolate Kappa Werder Bremen socks to a relative’s wedding, going to great lengths to find a new pair of brown shoes that matched the socks. Continue reading