Thursday 5 May 2016

Sneaking In: Union Solingen

The Stadium on the Hermann Löns Way in Solingen was built in 1929 and served as the home of SG Union Solingen, including a period between 1975 and 1989 when they played in the 2. Bundesliga. In 1990 the club went bankrupt and reformed as 1. FC Union Solingen, who also went bust in 2012. 

In 2006 the capacity of the stadium was decreased to 6,000, in 2009 the floodlights were taken out of service and the stadium was closed in 2010.

Two teams then formed in Solingen one of which, OFC Solingen now play on the artificial pitch next to the main stadium. The whole site was recently sold to property developers and in late 2016 work should begin to demolish whole site.





Monday 17 August 2015

Schönwalder SV v Brandenburg Süd

Germans in Speedo-oh, oh, no, no, my eyes!!

Schönwalder SV 2-5 Brandenburg Süd
Brandenburg Cup 1st round
Saturday 8th August 2015
Attendance: 44

Beer guts are unrolled and socks and sandals are kicked off. Hans struts around, a little tentatively due to being restrictively packed into his budgie smugglers, and Guido lifts his mullet up to allow Heike to rub suncream into that tricky to reach base of the neck/top of the back area. 

Beautiful. Isn't it. It's not Weymouth though. 

Schönewalder SV's  ground is next to a lake. Beach starved Germans berluddy love getting semi nekkid next to a lake. Even a large puddle is sometimes enough to see your average sand deprived Franz/Heidi lay down a towel, whip off their top and lay there flat. For hours. Until burnt zu ein Crisp.

To reach the ground a few confused football fans creep round cool boxes, duck under airborn frisbee's and dodge past exhausted Uncle Olaf, who has gone a distressing shade of purple trying to blow up the lilo after the wife forgot to pack the air pump. FFS Gisela!

The local car dealer decided the best place to advertise his new automobiles was the behind the goal of the local tinpot football club. 

Inside the ground an old couple plonk their deckchairs level with the halfway line and pour themselves a drink from their flask. Further along the touchline old boys gather round upturned oil barrels and sup beers. It's all reassuringly tinpot.

 Barrel. Not of laughs. 

Amongst all of this an act of jaw dropping wonder takes places. Two gold star geniuses/genii slot frosty beers into homemade garden wire beer holders that they've slung over the touchline barrier. With your genius invention sir's you have revolutionised football. No longer do us men need to suffer the numb handed torture of holding a beer during chilly autumn months. No longer do we risk the prospect of emptying a beer all down a clean shirt when we're unable to bat away a shanked clearance because our beers are now safe in their magical, dangly houses. Freedom!!

Probably the best thing my eyes have ever seen. 

New season, new hopes. 3 minutes and 36 seconds in and it's the same old shit for one, only happy when it rains, Brandenburg Süd fan. "Sideways, sideways, backwards, now sideways again, now... backwards.....kick it forwards!!!" This fan doesn't ease himself into the new season gently, he's straight in their, match fit and moaning like the crippling torture that is football never left. "FORWARDS!!" Chill out misery guts, go and have a little splash in the lake.


As this chap enters his own football hell a man in speedos and his child appear at the perimeter fence. They're the first of many semi-naked Germans who freeload a glimpse of the game. Seriously, if you must peer through the fence at least do us all the honour of putting a shirt on and covering up your dangly bits. Many thanks, the rest of the world.

Brandenburg Süd are, thankfully, sporting a little more than speedos. They are wearing, as has become tradition on occasions like this; full football kit. Their shirt is notable for including a neck tie up affair thing like they never even heard of 1992. It's Aston Villa Dalian Atkinson era,Chris Kimomya Ipswich and Mal Donaghy Chelsea.It's, as it was back then, a shit look.

Pull your pants up, we can see a bit of arse crack, Rudi. 

Schönwalde's keeper, despite the blistering heat, is wearing jogging trousers. Presumably he's worried "it might get a bit nippy later". Presumably he takes his coat off when he enters a room in the winter otherwise he "wont feel the benefit later". Presumably he carries his money in a purse round his neck when visiting a foreign city because "the guide books said to watch out for pick pockets". Presumably he's a total div.

5 Euros each you freeloaders, ta. 

*makes loud swishing noise* 

After quarter of an hour lower league Schönewalde take the lead. Their players go wild, the Brandenburg Süd misery guts is delighted. Two home fans, unhindered by the age old dilemma of what to do with a beer when your team scores a goal*, clap wildly. Meanwhile, a man in swimming trunks too small for him and a child wedged in a rubber ring stare impassively through the fence. 

Token match shot. 

Right after half time, and now kicking towards the freeloaders end, Schönwalde get a dodgy penalty. Beers are placed in their holders, anticipation rises, all eyes are fixed on the penalty taker. A sun burnt father places his kid on his shoulders so the brat can get a better, free, view. The penalty is scored, it's now 2-3, its tense, all is to play for. The kid is dumped back on the floor.


The game gets feisty. Insults are traded between players while outside a beach ball is slapped back and forth. Brandenburg score again to put some distance between the two teams just as Uncle Olaf finally sets into the middle of the lake on the barely inflated lilo.

Lovely painting of a tiny man windsurfing on a tiny pencil that's been sharpened at both ends

Five minutes from time  Brandenburg score again, The game's over. The Brandenburg fan finally shuts up, the home players fall on their backs whilst a mother shouts "come on we're going bathing" towards no one in particular. It starts to spit with rain and a fuming Uncle Olaf starts to paddle the lilo back towards a nervous looking Gisela on the side of the lake.

*The answer of what to do when this situation occurs is never, NEVER grip the pint between your teeth and applaud. It makes you look like a dick. 

Tuesday 21 July 2015

Win 2 Tickets to Leeds Festival

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So what are you waiting for? Enter now to be in with a chance of winning these amazing prizes courtesy of Hunter and Mainline Menswear.

Monday 13 April 2015

Eisenhüttenstadter FC Stahl v TuS 1896 Sachsenhausen

The Most Immaculate Haircut

Eisenhüttenstadter FC Stahl 0-6 (six) TuS 1896 Sachsenhausen
Sportanlagen Waldstrasse, Eisenhüttenstadt.
Brandenburg Liga
Saturday 11th April 2015
Attendance 115

"Sorry, we only do bratwurst on a Friday night".

Not a great start to the trip. Slippery bockwurst from a jar are the only food option. I'll go hungry, thanks. 

Things aren't great in Eisenhüttenstadt. The town’s best days are long gone and the football club can no longer match past DDR achievements.

Classic groundhopper shot. 

*Sounds Fact Klaxon* I'll keep the facts brief.

Eisenhüttenstadt was East Germany's first pop at a town in a fully socialist planned style, a commie Milton Keynes if you like, and originally called Stalinstadt. At the time the Berlin Wall fell Eisenhüttenstadt was home to 50,000 people, a huge steel works, and a team in the top level of East German football. Now, half the population have buggered off, the steel works is mostly closed and the team are struggling at the bottom of 6th level of German football. Still, I bet the Commie's could manage to BBQ a Bratwurst on a Saturday.  

Appears to have been coloured in with a permanent marker.

The main stand is a cramped, crumbling and dusty socialist relic. Seats are missing, leaving unwelcoming wooden benches. Those seats that remain are filthy, or cracked; or filthy and cracked. The sweeping terraces are covered in weeds and moss, the club house is closed, the scoreboard is broken, the stadium signage has faded away to feint outlines and the goal posts are rusting.

The road to nowhere. Not a road. 

"Dear esteemed committee members, good news. We can afford to replace the dilapidated seats in the main stands."

"All of them, Hans?"

"Well......three of them?" 
*mass booing ensues*

Double-denim clad fans make their way to the ground along broad, deserted streets lined by abandoned housing blocks bearing socialist murals. They’re greeted by a sparse food offering and jaunty electro indie pop, which has recently been introduced to Eisenhüttenstadt (or, if you prefer an English translation, Iron Hut Town).  Pre match tunes include "I Still Remember" by Bloc Party (Blok Partie), "Everything Counts (Everyzink Counts) by Depeche Mode and "Mr Brightside" (Herr Brightside) by The Killers (Die Killers Die).

Groundhopper classic curving terrace shot. 

Pre match warm-up for the home starting eleven consists of dribbling round the daisies on the bobbly pitch before firing shots over the corroding goal frame and into a sand less long-jump pit. Pre match warm-ups for the home subs involves fetching wayward shots from a sand less long-jump pit.

Fritz vowed never to go to the football again after his prized handkerchief turned up tied to the corner flag. Oh, the indignity. 

Both teams consist of eleven men who don't look like footballers. Most of the play suggests many of them aren’t footballers. Eisenhüttenstadt’s number ten is an angry brick of a man who barges into anyone who comes near him whilst simultaneously struggling to control any ball that comes near him. He can’t shoot and generally has the demeanour of a hunger crazed German carnivore who's just asked for a large Bratwurst at a Morrisey concert.

  "For me, Geoff, that's a straight red. He's gone in with both feet of the ground, with full force and he could do serious injury. 

"Yes I agree, my question was about why the player on the right appears to be wearing striped shorts? No one likes to see that in football."

The home team are two down after twenty minutes, but they get a penalty shortly after. This penalty could change the course of the match, revitalise the clubs season and give rise to the re-awakening of the town. Carsten Hilgers places the ball confidently on the white cross which marks the dry bit of earth which marks what used to be the penalty spot. He steps up. He waddles it way over the crossbar and straight over the sand-less long jump pit. After that it’s all Sachsenhausen.

Token lonely fan shot.  

A home fan behind me provides a commentary which consists of “Oh man, oh man, oh man, oh man…..” “Oh god, oh god, oh god….” Many other fans just laugh at the ineptitude of both teams. Sachsenhausen are slightly less inept. At half time they’re winning 4-0.  

 Token match shot. 

Sachsenhausen’s manager, Frank Schwager, is a man enjoying the afternoon in the spring sunshine. Frank Schwager is also clearly a man who used to have a mullet. He still maintains a little bit of it, just enough to tickle the collar area.

 The "F" stands for "Full of People"
He’s a man that knows that the heady days of peak mullet (1987 - 1991) are, regrettably, gone, but his haircut reminds him of a rebellious youth he’s unwilling to let go of. He’s in mullet rehab. Slowly reducing the length of a mullet before a more contemporary haircut is slowly introduced is a tactic used by many FMS (Former Mullet Syndrome) sufferers to help them reduce their dependency on the short at the front, long at the back style and, very slowly, rehabilitate them into normal hair styled society.

The treatment is going well, we are pleased with his progress but he's not fooling anyone by tucking his mini-mullet into his tracksuit. 

Downtrodden areas, like East Germany, are prime FMS territory and, statistically, football managers of lower league clubs are 37% more likely to suffer than the rest of the population. Secret clubs congregate regularly in dank church basements for slideshows of the photos from the heydays of the mullet and to receive updates from the last bastions of mulleted resistance against the square haircuts of the capitalist world.

Actual people in the ground.  

Frank’s work in the second half consists solely of stroking his tenny-tiny mullet and having the Bundesliga scores read to him by his assistant, a man whose sole duty appears to be to read out football scores out from his mobile phone to a boss who “hasn’t got his reading glasses on”.  Glasses, or not, Frank sees his team score two more goals in the first ten minutes of the second half before they declare. Eisenhüttenstadt, its bratwurst starved people and its football team have suffered enough.

If you too suffer from FMS and would like to speak to someone the AiT confidential hotline is open 24 hours. You do not need to suffer alone.

Monday 2 February 2015

Kitchee v Eastern

Kitchee Nightmares

Kitchee 2-3 Eastern
Hong Kong Stadium
Hong Kong Senior Shield Final
Saturday 17th January 2015
Attendance: 6,133

"I think you need 5XL, sir”

AiT loves a freebie. Free pen, stress ball, mouse mat, one of them furry things with the wobbly eyes that you don't see so much anymore, so to see free T-Shirts being dished out at the Hong Kong Government Stadium was a grifters delight. However, the comment on just what size I would require to get stretched it over my *cough* robustly proportioned European Asian frame was a bit of a slap in the jowly chops.

Go ,go, go, we are Kitchee, Kitchee. 

In addition to handing out the ridiculously small T-Shirts Eastern fans were busy painting faces (face too fat), temporarily tattooing arms (arms too wobbly) donning comedy wigs (head too big) and taking selfies with mascots (confusion as to who was wearing a costume to make them look like a grotesque over sized human being and who was a mascot). I waddled off to the other side of the ground, all the way my sweaty thighs rubbing together resulting in an agonising chub rub, towards the low key Kitchee fans.

I just don't know where to begin with what's wrong here. 

Kitchee fans were selling goods. For money. They don't need freebies, they've already given the world enough, via their club song. The video for which sees four lads bounce around wearing similar, well fitted, T-Shirts, purchased in bulk from the Matalan autumn sale singing an infuriatingly catchy chorus. 

A young, handsome, SLIM, Kitchee fan gets in the Senior Shield final spirit.  

I was angry. I was raging. I was eating a chicken burger with large fries. I know wanted a T-Shirt really bad (I'd spilt mayo all down my shirt). This became vitally important to me, even though there is no danger of me ever wearing the T-Shirt, I needed to have one. Breathing in so hard that I could barely talk I wheezily requested another T-Shirt. It works. An XL! I've dropped five T-Shirt sizes. If you are interested in the AiT diet please send a stamped addressed envelope to.....

Let it all out, fella. If I'm wearing 5XL then somebody order this guy a moo moo in Eastern club colours. 

The reason for this freebie madness, well, it's only the *checks match programme* 2014-5 HKFA Canbo Senior Sheld Final. Yes, I had jetted in especially to watch the match. The names of some previous winners of the Senior Shield are so good that I feel it is special enough to deploy the use of bullet points to convey the comedy goodness.
  • G Coy., King's Own Regiment
  • Royal Welch Fusiliers
  • HMS Glory
  • HMS Albion (who later became West Bromwich Albion, of course)
  • Naval Yard
  • HMS Titania
  • The King's Own Borderers
  • South Wales Borderers
  • Buffs (BUFFS! GO BUFFS!)
There you go groundhoppers. It's the shot you all wanted to see. 

The Kitchee fans, all wearing non matching T-Shirts, raise a flag above their heads, covering their small but vociferous group of fans. They wave flags and chant loudly as the teams take to the pitch and are led by one guy co-ordinating their activities. Nice.

Token match shot. 

The Eastern fans are all in their perfectly fitting Senior Shield special T-Shirts and ohlookatmearentIwacky wigs. They slap together those air baton things, whack folded bits of card on their hands, shrill loudly, and have songs that are based just on clapping and not actually singing. They have a drum, but prefer to use instruments like a tambourine and others that I've not seen since Year 8 music lessons when we were giving a box of instruments and told to create a soundscape that recreated the feeling of being lost in a forest. It's all massively modern football. All this is co-ordinated by four teenage girls (Edit: The over 16 part of “teenage“ - AiT's top lawyer) in short blue skirts, tight T-Shirts and knee length football socks. One thing is for certain: there is no stopping them. And I for one welcome our new teenage ultra overlords.

I get myself litre of cold beer and have a sit down in a quiet part of the stadium for a while.

"This is Stadium Footage".  The match you were watching outside, remember? Look! It's the same stadium, you don't recognise it?

Fans from both sides laugh at the replays of the goals, which serve to show highlight the woeful defending. The game has it's own Willie Young/Paul Allen moment when Jean Kilama hauled down/bundled over/chops down a Kitchee striker. The ref gives a yellow. The crowd cry with laughter.

During the second half blue wigs are slowly discarded, old men argue, Jean Kilama gets #cupfinalcramp and the game is accompanied by a racket originating from wood blocks and maracas stamped with “Property of Hong Kong High School”.

Oh, well done sir. Well done indeed. A hand made replica of the tinpot shield. 

Celebrations. Not in shot the tinpot shield. 

Eastern's celebrations stick closely to the templates set down in the “How to Celebrate a Cup (or Senior Shield) Win rule book. They bundle on each other (tick), change into T-Shirts commemorating the win (tick) climb a staircase (tick), pass the Cup (or Senior Shield) amongst themselves and raise it towards their fans (tick), sing “Ole, ole, ole” a bit (tick), return to the pitch and celebrate with small children (a new rule implemented in the How To Celebrate a Cup (or Senior Shield) Win – Modern Testament), sing along to “We Are the Champions” as it booms from the PA system (tick), spray a bottle of cheap fizz around a bit (tick), pose for photos behind a large board proclaiming them Cup (or Senior Shield) winners in front of a largely empty stadium (tick) and then pose for selfies with four teenage girls in short blue skirts, tight T-Shirts and knee length football socks. *puffs out cheeks*

Got home. Shoved the T-Shirts in a drawer. Never even taken them out of their packaging. 

If my phone looked like this I would be delighted if I'd lost it. 

Nobody wants to be here and nobody wants to leave.