Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Viktoria Köln v Rot Weiss Essen

Land Of My Viktoria

Viktoria Köln 2-2 Rot Weiss Essen
Sportpark Höhenberg, Köln
Regionalliga West
Saturday 25th January 2014
Attendance 2,017

The German winter break forces me to confront a bleak, footballless reality. Last year I tried to fill the aching void with a series of new hobbies such as basket weaving and making little boats made of matchsticks and putting them into empty wine bottles. All of which failed to compensate for the exhilarating thrill of watching a dull 0-0 in the German 6th division during ball shrinkingly cold weather. 

Nutty German fan. Tick.

This winter, I decided the tedious bullshit of five weeks without football was too much to bear. In late December I settled down inside a hay lined cardboard box, fitted with a complex air regeneration system (holes punched haphazardly in the side with a pencil), pulled my head inside my body and woke only on Saturday morning to find the UK’s official hibernation waker-uppers, ex Blue Peter presenters Mark Curry and Yvette Fielding (sadly no Konnie Huq, thankfully no John Leslie), looming over me to greet my triumphant awakening. 

Freeloaders. Oldschool. 

After emerging blinking into the sunlight, with my head wedged in amongst the rubble of my shattered collarbone, I consulted the tinpot websites, cross referenced them against train times, read a letter from my employers informing me I should seek alternative employment as, apparently, humans don’t officially hibernate and set off to the Sportpark Höhenberg, home of Cologne’s third biggest side Viktoria Cologne. 

After a unsuccesful day working on new song lyrics a badly aged Brian Harvey decided to throw his endeavours away and enjoy a cigarette.

Viktoria were formed via a series of mergers with clubs with vaguely amusing names, including, SV Kalk 04, Preußen Dellbrück and latterly, and possibly most semi-amusing, FC Junkersdorf in 2011. Viktoria are one of the favourites to win the league, have ambitions to reach the Bundesliga and are backed by Franz-Josef Wernze, a man with Scrooge McDuck levels of wealth secured from his ownership of one of Germany’s biggest tax consultancies. With his wodge’s of cash the club has signed players with Bundesliga experience and are about as popular as the unannounced arrival of a fastidious tax man at a shady lower league club. 
Rot Weiss Essen are AiT favourites. They have average attendances of over 8,000, have won the Bundesliga and have ambitions of playing their again but, like an over confident hare competing against a narcoleptic tortoise in a purely metaphorical sprint dual they never manage to achieve the expected success, due to their own staggering ability to scupper their own endeavours.

Now obligatory AiT shot of ultras.

Token match shot. 
Including huge tent, for sponsors and VIP’s and it’s a place ruffians like me, and to a greater extent – you, will never see inside of.  

The stadium has, unlike this blog, won awards and an award no less prestigious than the tepidly contested 1993 “IOC/ IAKS International Architecture Award for Sports and Leisure Facilities”. I also awarded it an AiT “One Thumb Up” Award and will no doubt see all publicity material updated to include this prestigious honour in due course. 

In a bizarre pre match twist Viktoria decide to play the RWE club song over the tannoy, “And now here at Old Trafford raise your scarves ladies and gentleman as we intimidate our despised Liverpudlian guests by having a singsong of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’”

MBS Logistics - Proud sponsors of Viktoria Köln and home of the frankly creepy skull less logo. 

The RWE song is a joyous, toe tapping ditty and internet research has revealed that a) I have far too much spare time and b) the song is called Adiole, it’s sung by Swedish singer Sim Malmkvist and it reached the toppermost place of number 25 (fünfundzwanzig) in ze German charts in 1960. More googlebased timewasting reveals that Malmkvist also recorded a cover of "Where TheWild Roses Grow" by Nick Cave & Kylie Minogue in SWEDISH. Seeing as we're talking Swedish music, and we really *should* do that more often, here's a link to "All That She Wants" by Ace of Base

Just as I'd planned it, two flags and a passing football.
Viktoria’s club anthem (anthem – not song) is the standard oompah, slap your things, wear a silly hat type cringe inducing number loved by ze locals. The song is notable for maintaining the approved German standards of musical shitness, whilst riding roughshod over existing song text legislation and rhyming Viktoria with Bundesliga, through the agonising incorporation of elongated vowels to form “Bundesleeeeeeegaaaaaaa”. 

Ha. Wiener. Ha. Steffie.

Viktoria lined up without striker Lucas Musculus, a player notable for having a surname similar to a budget 1980’s TV cartoon hero ("Save my Musculus! Save me from the clutches of evil tyrant Brutarus"), but did start with a player called Mike Wunderlich, a player notable for having surname that translates as “whimsical”. 

Whimso (as absolutely none of his friends call him) scores two goals while RWE stick to what they do best and make things hard for themselves by going two goals down, down to ten men, down, down deeper and down and, finally, down in the tube station at midnight. In the fifth minute of injury time a textbook goalmouth scramble sees Marks Heppke score an equaliser which leads to a pitch invasion, shouts of abuse against the home manager and oh my GOD I’ve missed you football. SCREW YOU WINTER, SCREW YOU!

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Fortuna Düsseldorf II v Fortuna Cologne

An Alternative To Love

Fortuna Düsseldorf II 2-2 Fortuna Cologne
Saturday 7th December 2013
Regionalliga West
Paul-Janes-Stadion, Düsseldorf
Attendance: 1,023

“Cologne, Cologne, die Scheiße von Dom.”
"Cologne, Cologne, the shit from the Cathedral."

Düsseldorf hates Cologne, Cologne hates Düsseldorf. It's how it is.

The Paul Janes Stadion offers modern ticketing facilities....

.....and superb sight lines of the action out on the pitch.
Even though this match is a fourth division game between Fortuna Düsseldorf's second side and the second biggest team in Cologne the above chant gets a vociferous airing at kick off. With the Fortuna first team playing 1. FC Cologne in three weeks it’s a convenient time to rehearse the chants, fire up the inner Hate-O-Matic 5000 and practice flipping the Stinkefinger.  

"Lick my Stinkefiner Eagles"

“Ihr seid leiser als Fortuna Köln.”
“You're quieter than Fortuna Cologne.” 

The above chant is a German favourite. It’s the Germanic, polite version of the excessively sweary English “You’re support is fucking shit”. Oh, the delicious japery of sitting in a crowd actually singing it to, barely audible, Fortuna Cologne fans. The majority of the away fans respond by flipping the perfect Stinkefinger

While they’ve not got the loudest of fans they are largely acknowledged with having Germany’s oldest ultras group. The Fortuna Cologne "Eagles" were formed in 1986 by two Italians, named Renato and Marco (of course Renato and Marco), who were inspired by the “Lazio Eagles" ultras group. Here ends the facts section of the blog. 

"What is this now, some sort of ultras blog or what?" 

“Nelly the elephant packed her trunk and said goodbye to the circus”
“Nelly the elephant packed her trunk and said goodbye to the circus”

Goal music. Awful. Song 2. Seven Nation Army. Other songs with numbers in. The entire 5ive back catalogue. 

When Marcel Hofrath gives Düsseldorf the lead “Nelly The Elephant” booms out. Nelly. The. Elephant. If we must endure music after every bloody goal then jaunty jangly childhood songs are clearly the way forward. 

Derby game, streaming rain, you’re down to ten men, midfield clogger powers in 30 yard last minute winner that Yeboah’s off the crossbar. Mild celebrations ensure. That is until the addition of “Wheels On The Bus” sends the crowd round and round into raptures all day long. 

The away team are pumping you 0-6, your keeper’s been sent off, that shithouse former striker has scored a hat trick, most of the crowd have left, it’s pissing down and with two minutes to go your defender shins in a consolation. But wait. What’s that noise? Ahh, it’s “Ring A Ring O Roses” crackling through the PA. That’s cheered everyone up hasn’t it? Hold hands everyone! Football is only a silly game after all. 

A memorial to Fortuna Düsseldorf's most famous fan, Gummy the two toothed octopus. An octopus famous for using washing up liquid to clean his chips. 

“Alle auf der Elf.” 
“All on the eleven.”

Form a baying mob, pick an opposition player and make them pay for being on an opposing side by layering thick layers of abuse on them. Classic football fan-dom. Düsseldorf fans choose Cologne’s number 11, Tobias Steffan. This being Germany the abuse wasn’t spontaneous and had to be communicated effectively to all, and agreed upon by the majority, before it can commence. First one fan starts to sing “Alle auf der Elf”, then a block and then the whole crowd join in to signify their readiness to abuse the agreed target. Then, and only then, can the booing, whistling and jeering begin. Tobias Steffan cops the home fans full abusive repertoire.


Shortly after he runs over to the stand, ears cupped and with a “fuck you” smirk on his face. A smirk that quite clearly states; “Screw you! Screw you Düsseldorf.  I just scored a goal against you and your pathetic city. A city which has nothing that can compare to the architectural splendour of our 765 year old Gothic style temple of worship and it’s two awe inspiring towers which, as I’m sure all you are aware, remain the second-tallest spires in Northern Europe after Ulm Minster.” The home fans are livid. This is an affront to Düsseldorf. This was not agreed during the terms and conditions of the agreed abuse. 

The home team bench there. A bench which is actually two plastic chairs.

The away team bench there. A bench which is actually a bench. 

Düsseldorf go back in front with eight minutes left. There’s now a real derby atmosphere. Düsseldorf’s assistant manager is sent off, there’s a melee, followed by a scuffle, Düsseldorf’s manager is sent off, there’s some pushing and (the always never far behind) shoving. Meanwhile, the Cologne manager stomps around furiously like an despondent Nelly The Elephant forced to spend her later years in a cramped, rusty cage before being coerced to do her “happy dance” thrice daily for a concerned, but nevertheless still applauding, crowd of middle aged picture happy tourists. The home fans bellow for their players to hold on to the lead, they bark at the opposition’s number eleven, the away fans are inaudible, the away goalkeeper is up for a free kick, the ball falls to him, he dribbles, he’s fouled. It’s the last kick of the game, the Cologne number 11 will take it. It’s all on the eleven. 

The eleven curls it into the top corner. It was always going to happen like that.  

Token match shot.

Once again Steffan celebrates by winding up the home fans, before becoming the base of a classic bundle/pile on. I maintain a look of disgust, while inwardly pissing myself laughing. Who doesn’t love it when a player sticks it to the fans? Obviously the goal needs accompanying music and, thrillingly, my mind’s inner jukebox (50p a song or 5 for £2) settles on “If You’re Happy And You Know It Clap Your Hands”.

The Eagles, and the other Cologne fans, are happy and they know it, and they really, REALLY wanna show it. They do show it. Steffan leads the fence clambering celebrations of the team. The fans are now clearly audible, "Alle auf der Elf, alle auf der Elf”. Take that Düsseldorf! Take that delicious irony you suckers, they (maybe) say.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Weymouth v Arlesey Town

Mistaken for Strangers

Weymouth  v Arlesey Town
Saturday 23rd November 2013
The Calor League Premier Division
Bob Lucas Stadium, Weymouth
Attendance: 401

Being a Weymouth fan this season should be easy. Lifelong fans are in charge of the club, after years of abuse at the hands of weapons grade arseholes Malcolm Curtis and George Rolls, and a decent team has been assembled.

But Weymouth FC barely exists as a functioning football club. It's a tiresome board room soap-opera that's long outstayed its welcome, its daily episodes played out to a baffled, dwindling and continually disinterested audience. Fans don't know the good guys from the villains, the investor from the asset stripper; the plot lines are of dodgy deals and double agents, of petty name calling and calls for solidarity, strongly worded statements to the press and messages available only to those able to read between the lines. It's tiring. It's pathetic. 

A cup of woe.

The terraces are empty at kick off. It's depressing. The shouts on the pitch provide the atmosphere. Those who remain are seemingly too stunned to even be apathetic to the whole thing. I don't miss the days of the Conference, 7,000 against Oxford United. I miss the anticipation of going to the ground, the “hello's” and nodded greetings with those I once shared a 4 hour coach journey to Baldock with, I miss feisty floodlit games against Havant & Waterlooville on cold winter nights in front of 750, with the terraces warmed by our passion for our club (and dislike for Billy Gilbert).

The shouts on the pitch get drowned out, the focus shifts to he match. Joyce, Yetton and Ford are a decent strike force, the football is skillful at times, the linesman gets barracked (“ you tosspot”, “ you deadbeat”) and the shouts from the old ladies of the Babs stands are as nutty as ever (“Hold the line!!! Hold the line!!!” “Watch out for the gingar”). The half time scores are read out, the raffle numbers follow, the fans change ends. These parts of Weymouth FC are all working as they should be.

The others equalise. Their one fan claps wildly.

In the second half we, as we always should do, attack the golf course end. The sun disappears behind the main stand, the floodlights come on, it's bitterly cold and the crowd are now roaring the team forward. The old feelings return, this is how I remember it. Weymouth FC is watching us attack the golf course end on a cold Saturday afternoon, it's David Laws barrelling in winners, Alex Browne dribbling the ball out of defence and it's Mark Boulton being genuinely useless. When the final whistle goes and we've won the feeling is great. This is why the hardcore 400 remain and it's what, no doubt, those who aren't here for whatever reason really miss. This is what you remember as a fan, the players, the memories connected to the stadium, not the finger pointing and willy waving of those in charge. 

Token match shot.

We all want the club to be in a position of harmony and stability, with a focus on creating more great memories from those wearing the terra cotta and blue of our club. If the team is to succeed and the club is to move forward then those in charge need to remember the feelings they had as real fans on the terraces. The elation from last minute winners at the golf course end on cold Tuesday evening's, the despair of being knocked out of the FA Cup to Hinckley and Boxing Day battles over the Ridgeway. It's what we all want, it cant be that hard.   

Thursday, 14 November 2013

AiT on Tour 2012/3

AiT on Tour 2012/3 

A shameless attempt to pad this blog out by bunging a load of * cough*  previously unseen photos online.
SSVG Velbert 0-3 SC Verl
17th August 2012
Regionalliga West
Preußen Münster 2-0 Hallescher FC
16th February 2013
3. Bundesliga

Preußen Münster’s "Deviants" Ultras. One of two groups at the club.

 Dear Old Mother Tinpot, I think this picture proves that, despite your concerns, I am eating healthily.

MSV Duisburg 0-0 Kaiserslautern
17th February 2013
2. Bundesliga

Borussia Monchengladbach 1-0 Greuther Fürth
6th April 2013
1. Bundesliga

MSV Duisburg 2-1 SV Sandhausen
7th April 2013
2. Bundesliga

KFC Uerdingen 5-6 (penalties) Rot Weiss Oberhausen
16 April 2013
Niederrhein Pokal Semi Final

Chemnitz 2-0 Kickers Offenbach
20th April 2013
3. Bundesliga

Portland United 6-1 Tintinhull
15th May 2013
Dorset Premier League

Fortuna Köln 1-3 Borussia Monchengladbach II
25th May 2013
Regionalliga West

Germany’s first ultras group there, the Fortuna Cologne "Eagles"
Rot Weiss Oberhausen 0-1 Sportfreunde Baumberg
29th May 2013
Niederrhein Pokal Final

Monday, 11 November 2013

1. FC Köln v Fortuna Düsseldorf

1. FC Köln v Fortuna Düsseldorf

1. FC Köln 1-1 Fortuna Düsseldorf
2. Bundesliga
Sunday 28th July 2013
RheinEnergieStadion, Cologne
Attendance: 50,000