Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Schwarz Weiss Essen v TuRu Düsseldorf

Black and White Town.

Schwarz Weiss Essen 1-2 TuRu Duesseldorf
Uhlenkrugstadion, Essen
Oberliga Niederrhein
Sunday 17th March 2013
Attendance: 209

Old men shuffle to an arthritic induced stop on the gravel surrounding to the pitch, two old men smoke pipes high up in the creaking wooden stand, slightly younger men stick banners proclaiming themselves the “Youth Crew” to a rusting barrier.  Schwarz Weiss Essen is a traditional club with a strong history, the terraces of the Uhlenkrug stadium are packed with stories of the good old days past and even the name (Black and White) recalls more successful, simpler, monochrome times.

 The latest in our series titled "scary owls in German clubhouses" See here for more.

 Now, I'm not suggesting that the away team didn't bring a lot of fans. You can make your own judgement from the quilted mode of transport they arrived in. 

The Black & Whites brightest hour was in 1959 when they won the German Cup, becoming the first ever second division side to win the trophy. Since then it’s been mostly dark times, with the club narrowly avoiding insolvency thanks to some last minute fund raising earlier this year. In the hour of need the club were able to call on Jens Lehmann for some help. Pissypants, spectactles thief Jens Lehmann donated some shirts for his former club to raffle off on a popular internet based auction site. Oliver Bierhoff also played here.

"I've got a great idea. We stick little Schwarz Weiss Essen stickers on every seat. *slaps on sticker*.
Great idea, how many have we got?"

Essen Youth Crew. Average age 57.

The Unhlenkrug was built to hold 35.000 people, this grew to 45,000 but most of the terraces are now buried under a shallow grassy grave and the capacity is just 9,950. Today just over 200 are in attendance.
It’s not just the club and it’s stadium that have seen better days. The main sponsor is Fila. Apparently they’re still going, who knew? I thought they went out of business in the late 90’s along with C&A, Opal Fruits and Ini Kamoze. Their logo is all over the place the stadium giving it a strange mix of 1990’s basketball branding combined with old peoples home chic. 

Fila's idea for a four goal game of football sadly contributed to their demise.  

Obviously the place to launch a comeback to the dizzy heights of the 90's are a German 4th division side with all its complete lack of accompanying razzle and also dazzle. Having mocked Fila I have to say the kit is nice, if a little bit like a off centre archery range in a 1940's silent movie due to its concentric circle approach. 

Somewhere an ad exec just got fired. 
That's seat 4 next to seat 19. In the row behind 46 is next to three and 32. Finding your allocated seat at SW Essen can prove problematic. 

The club shop, like most purveyors of sports equipment doesn't sell Fila stuff, preferring to sell a locally made curry sauce. Obviously. The food options are the usual vegetarian denying options of Bratwurst and Frikadelle while coffee and beer is sold from a bar with a slanted roof and three tables, all of which are populated by elderly chattering football widows. 

Token expansive stadium shot.

Groundhoppers climb the overgrown terraces for pictures the rest of the crowd stay close to the lower levels of the stands for knee joint reasons.On the pitch TuRu start the game quickly while Essen slowly fila their way into the game. Booooo! Sorry. It's quiet in the ground. The occasional honk by an embarrassed airhorn interrupts the shouts of the players echoing around the expansive emptiness. The Essen keeper shouts non stop, hearing aid settings are adjusted downward accordingly. 

Token match shot. Crowd member used to show sparseness of crowd.
 "I've got a great idea. We use Schwarz Weiss Essen tiles in the gents. *grouts on tile*.
Great idea, how many have we got?
For fucks sake....."

 When TuRu score the air is thick with "Ja", I've not heard so many joyfully exclaimed ja's since I accidentally watched a particularly energetic episode of Peep  RTL2 in 1997. By half time Fila's great black and white hopes are two down. A mournful PA announcer gives out the half time score before releasing a heartfelt advert for the curry sauce. 

 Further token match shot. Large chimney in the background used to demonstrate the industrial nature of Essen.

Clocking off. 

Essen attack the empty terrace end at the second half. A terrace empty except for five people and a four sided 10ft high clock which stopped long ago in the good times.With the knackered clock showing 2:50, 6:37, 9:42 and 3:15 Essen score. Air horns are blown and weak wrist bones undertake careful clapping.
Despite their best efforts Schwarz Weiss couldn't find an equaliser, a more important battle for their very existence is more important.  Despite my best efforts I haven't yet received any free Fila merchandise. 

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

FC Ismaning v 1. FC Nuremberg II

A Story About A Man Called Roman and A Man Called Janis.

FC Ismaning 0-2 1. FC Nuremberg II
Regionalliga Bayern
Saturday 23rd March 2013
Stadion an der Lindenstraße, Ismaning
Attendance: 287

Regionalliga Bayern side FC Ismaning are managed by a man called Roman Grill. A man named after a Italian/Greek multi-cuisine take away in a student area, or a Tapas Bar in London's trendy Islington if you men named after restaurants where the portion sizes are smaller and your food less of a health risk.

Easy where your putting those hands old man.

Roman is a busy man. As well as his daily anguished battle to put on a coat he is also an agent to, amongst other, Philip Lahm. Therefore Roman is a man with a lot on his (Grill) plate. Booo!! He's been at the club for about five months, first as Sporting Director and as team manager since January. It’s not gone well. Really it hasn’t.

This was a big match with clearly a lot at steak. 

Grill wants to focus on bringing young players into the club who could be sold at a profit. Grill is both an agent and a team manager remember. He soon upset the team by bringing in Miran Mihelic, a player he represents, as a first step towards building a Roman Empire. The players then accused him of not knowing their names when he took charge of training for the first time, despite already being at the club for two months and also criticised his training methods. Grill then suspended captain Thomas Bachinger and long serving player Bernd Häfele, a decision which was as popular as the offer of a late night vegetarian kebab. In an act of solidarity 12 (twelve) players are now on strike and refusing to play for the club while Grill is still in charge, striker Mijo Stijepic went with “either he goes, or we go” He’s not training a 16 year old team who all suck up because they’re worried about their place.” Ouch. 

Obligatory teams walking out shot.

Also he’s not one so much as a point yet. In town today are the young ‘uns from 1. FC Nuremberg. Or Nürnberg. Them from that Bundesliga. Those ones. Their second team.

It's "arschkalt". It's Bavaria so everyone is elegantly dressed, except for the kid in a Cardiff City (blue) tracksuit. A couple of policemen, sporting hats made of luxurious animal carcass, mill around the entrance keeping a wary eye on a minibus full of Nuremberg fans and cracking the wise with everyone who enters. Large numbers of the crowd sport dangerously inflated puffer jackets and woolly hats balanced high on balding heads making the clubhouse scene reminiscent of the time East 17 held open auditions to replace Brian Harvey.

"This patient is going to die of hypothermia and needs to put on a stretcher and covered in warm blankets immediately.  Where did you put the stretcher and blankets?"
The match programme is a photocopied advert break for the half time break with team photos occasionally interrupting the commercials. The first team pose with trophies, the seconds with pride and various youth teams are organised in the time honoured team photo formation. Except one, which shows the entire team lined up for a wee against a fence.

The ground has got a roofed (ooh, fancy) terrace, an uncovered terrace where the steps are just too big to step down with a normal sized step and require an elaborate two stage leg movement to ascend the terrace, a move I demonstrated it is impossible to achieve without splashing a small, yet not insignificant, fleck of beer onto ones shoes (Boooo!). There is also a solar panel roofed VIP room (OOOOH! GET YOU ISMANING!), a Police control tower (Why?) and an incorrectly functioning scoreboard. Nuremberg’s opening goal early in the second half shifts the score line to 0-7. Sadly such numerical generosity doesn't extend to the bar and my attempts to introduce a pay for one sup seven policy was flatly refused. Their lead is then reduced by five to 0-2 when the impressive Sebastian Gärtner. I’ve marked him down here in my AiT book of football tactics and well skill players as “a little bit good”. This probably means they'll never make it any higher and I will know haunt them through a disappointing career in German tinpottery. 

Token match shot. Token GOAL shot.

Match fixing hey.

The real star of the show isn’t on the pitch. He's on the outside looking in. And it’s not Roman Grill. One man has a picture of his shiny face and his self aggrandising website on an advertising board here. The man is Janis Nikos.

Well hello Helga, Ive been expecting you. Welcome to the pleasuredome. 

My research (cursory look on Wikipedia) shows that Janis sings ear burningly awful Schlager music that dominates Saturday night German T, music that has a target demographic of "bored, tipsy housewives with dyed hair called Helga or Gertrude". Janis is almost like a kind of young Greek/German Cliff Richard if your minds dark recesses will allow you such a horrendous comprehension. 

Token celebration shot.

In the back office of a dodgy Greek-Italian takeaway Janis’s manager, a recent honours graduate from The Murray Hewitt School of Music Management, clearly decided to blow the entire marketing budget (37 pfennigs and half empty bottle of Ouzo) on a perimeter fence board at a German division four ground that is rarely populated by bored, tipsy housewives with dyed hair called Helga or Gertrude. With Janis threatening to go on musical strike (entirely made up by me this bit, sadly) his manager has promised to replenish the marketing budget through sales of cheaply produced Janis Nikos merchandise specifically targeted to Helga and Gertrude. Such as a Janis Nikos autographed Christmas tree baubles, Janis Nikos Spring Clips and a Janis Nikos pen knife. Brilliant.

Seems like Roman Grill might not be the only manager looking for a new job soon then.

I LOVE YOU JANIS!!!!!!!!!!!!11


*squeals, throws underpants*

Yes, yes, I realise this is supposed to be a blog about football.

Monday, 11 March 2013

SF Baumberg v KFC Uerdingen

A great philosopher once wrote...

SF Baumberg 0-2 KFC Uerdingen
Bezirkssportanlage, Baumberg
Oberliga Niederrhein
Saturday 9th March 2013
Attendance: 640

I wasn’t going to bother with football. Too cold, rainy. But then a man in a KFC Uerdingen scarf walked past me on the train. My tinpot senses tingled. My tail wagged. My eyes rotated furiously in my skull. KFC Uerdingen, former Cup Winners Cup quarter finalists, nearby?

Maintaining a safe distance I followed scarf man from the train, over the wind lashed bridge, splashing through the rapidly expanding puddles, along the sodden/sodding dual carriageway, pretending to do up my shoelaces when we reach traffic lights, through the sedate housing estate and in to tinpot footballs SF Baumberg.

 Token match shot.

Uerdingen are pissing the league. You probably read about it here already though didn’t you? 17 points clear at the top, with a tremendous stadium and by far the biggest fanbase in the league. For small clubs like SF Baumberg it’s a chance to make some mega euro bucks and entry is bumped up from 5 (five) to 9 (nine) Euros to take advantage of the huge number of, tinpot comparatively speaking, Uerdingen fans. Some of whom were being stalked by suspicious looking English man. 

Uerdingen's big fanbase.

The body was found in an area of secluded woodland next to the football pitch.
There was no clubhouse. Just four man grilling an unending supply of bratwurst and shoving them into stale bread rolls for success starved Uerdingen fans. Old women sold cakes from a garage, new barrels of beer were constantly required, people wear comedy wigs, a spotty youth boomed out horrendous music from some speakers in the back of a Luton van as, despite the heavy rain, the early hours of the inevitable KFC Uerdingen promotion party get underway. 

Hello ladies, wanna come back to my truck to listen to some music?

The teams emerged and took the famous walk to the pitch which every young German fussball fan dreams of. From the dressing rooms, past the bratwurst stands, down a grass bank (where already hammered fans seek high-fives), under the police crime scene tape, across the ash, around the long jump pit and finally onto the famous Astroturf (I’ve never smoked Astroturf) of the Bezirkssportsanlage Baumberg. 

 Token players walking out shot.

Now obligatory shot of ultras.

At kick off it was lashing down and not an inch of roof in sight. The dugouts were two small marquees. Uerdingen fans gathered around their flag waving ultras. Baumberg fans gathered under a large golf umbrella. Uerdingen had little trouble in the first half. Why would they? They’ve played ten away games this season and one all ten. Previous recipient of a unfunny, laboured AiT gag Issa Issa scored a penalty after 33 minutes, his 23rd goal of the season. The disco van, which was by now parked with the engine running, a cork in the exhaust and a hosepipe directly into my mind decided this would be a fitting tune to repeat for the rest of the match. “His friends call him Issa and he is the main geezer, and he'll vibe up the place like no other man could, he's refined, sublime, he makes you feel fine, though very much maligned and misunderstood, but if you know Issa he's a real crowd pleaser, he's ever so good, he's Issa Issa, he’s good. 

Issa Good, Issa Good. He’s Issa Issa He’s good.
Issa Good, Issa Good. He’s Issa Issa He’s good.
Issa Good, Issa Good. He’s Issa Issa He’s good.
Issa Good, Issa Good. He’s Issa Issa He’s good.
Issa Good, Issa Good. He’s Issa Issa He’s good.

Has anyone got any Vera's ?

Having reversed the van out my head I left it to the pro, well rank amateur, to go back to playing the tunes, this time audibly, from the back of the van at half time Uerdingen fans gather around. You can sense a presence in the sound of the crowd. He gets them all at it - the party starts rocking - the people get excited. It's time to shout LOUD! UERDINGEN, UERDINGEN, KFC UERDINGEN. Ultras danced like maniacs. Around a van with speakers in it. In the pissing rain. At a 5th division football match. Roaringly drunk men, who’d barely strayed a glow stick away from the beer stand all match, joined in, everyone gathered round to laugh, the party ignites like it's comin' alive and this turns into the best half time in the history of intervals. Wicked! The atmosphere takes you to the top, shakes you all around, then back down. The comedown. The Ultras freeze and gather into a huddle..... And then break into “I Just Called To Say I Love You” by Stevie Wonder. Beautiful. 

Aint no party like an Uerdingen party. 


For the second half Uerdingen were in complete control, playing the ball backwards and then forwards, forwards and then backwards, Issa Issa is the geezer who loves to muscle in. It’s his corner that leads to non easily crowbared into a 90’s music lyric’s Monir Ibrahim heading in the second goal. 

Another easy three points for Uerdingen, a bumper pay day for Baumberg and it’s all back to the van! WICKED!


Got any Salmon?


Monday, 4 March 2013

Wuppertal SV Borussia v FC Kray

Adventures In Tinpot Versus The MONORAIL

Wuppertal SV Borussia 2-1 FC Kray
Stadion am Zoo, Wuppertal
Regionalliga West
Saturday 2nd March 2013
Attendance: 1,243

AiTinpot: The name's Tinpot! Adventures In Tinpot. And I come before you good people tonight with a new blog. Probably the greatest... Aw, it's not for you. It's more of a The Ball is Round type of reader idea.

You rabble: Now wait just a minute! We're twice as smart as the readers of The Ball is Round. You just tell us your latest blog waffle and we'll read (and RT) it!

AiTinpot: I give you the Wuppertal MONORAIL!
[reader gasps]

Arriving at a ground by genuine, bona-fide, electrified, two-car MONORAIL can’t be beat. And unless you’ve ticked off Brockway FC, Ogdenville United, or North Haverbrook Alexandra I'm going to guess arrival at Wuppertaler SV Borussia’s Stadion am Zoo is a tremendously unique experience.

No, of course I wasn't pretending to drive the MONORAIL! Watch out for that Z, it's coming straight for us!

The MONORAIL trip from the main normal boring loser train station to the stadium whisks enthralled travellers above a filthy river lined by crumbling factories and provides voyeuristic views into dank living rooms. All along the route the underneath of the precariously dangling carriages have their bellies tickled by mischievous tree branches whilst they swing like a baby’s cot in a force ten gale at Dogger Bank.

Stop! Hammerstein.

In addition to being at the (almost) end of a MONORAIL line Wuppertal have almost reached the end of the road financially. Slick transport related metaphor there Kenny, thanks, I know. They need to raise 35,000 Euros by 15th March to obtain a licence for next seasons Regionalliga. Clearly the obvious option was then to ask fans to donate blood for the club. Yep. Blood.

Now, I do a lot of great work for fourth division German regional sides that I don’t like to talk about. So, in order to help save Wuppertal I’d spent the previous night walloping myself in the schnoz with a slipper and, through an elaborate complex of bendy straws successful filled a rusty watering can full of freshly oozed, type tinpot blood which I proudly presented to the club at the turnstile. Turns out that’s not what they wanted. Boy did I look foolish....and horrendously pale.

The real plan is that for every new person who registers with the Blood Donation Service in Wuppertal they will give the club 40 Euros, while any previously registered blood leaker who donates will see 20 Euros to the club. Ahh....

Monorail, ultras graffitti, police car. AiT Heaven.

Wuppertal trainer Peter Radojewski received a TUC biscuit and some lemon squash in the week after squeezing out a pint of blood, potentially saving a life and a club. Whereas Matthias Hahn and his team of nerdsquares from the Wuppertal internet site proved as useful as a MONORAIL in a nondescript industrial town “We have red blue blood and don’t want to let WSV go under”.

Lines you've never heard on Casualty:
Charlie Fairhead: “This patient urgently requires 42 milliliters of Type Red Blue blood Duffy or he's going to die a horrendous death.”

Duffy: “There isn't a blood type Red Blue Charlie. It's exists in metaphorical terms only”

Fairhead: “Ahh, this boffin's screwed then. Next!”

Wuppertal's opponents today are FC Kray, (pronounced Cry – remember that it could be important later) who, by a quirk of a league restructure, achieved a double promotion last season from the 6th division to – yep – the 4th. Kray have 27 successful female teams that help to keep the club financially stable. In fact you could say No Woman No's pronounced cry remember? Gah....sorry. And it’s a lie. All for a rubbish gag.

The ground gets a double thumbs up on the AiT scale. Get yourself a ticket and hold on tight as we go on a tour. Looking from MONORAIL to left you've got:

A club shop tent thing. The Wuppertal SV ladies range clearly not as extensive as anticipated.

A cake stand. Our hands are covered in cake but I swear we didn't have any.

A huge, behind the goal open terrace with some steps about this big, some a little bit bigger – about this big where the Wuppertal lion mascot hands out autographs. I wasn’t allowed one apparently. *humph*

A 10 (ten) sided terrace along one touchline containing one area of uncomfortable looking seats and two of dilapidated terraces. The entire terrace rises and dips along the touchline giving it the same structural formation as a Quaver crisp. If you're wondering a ten sided shape is, of course, called a tenellalagram.

There’s a forest behind the ground just waiting for glory hunting supporters to shimmy up the trees during an all important DFB Cup game. Some freeloaders watch the game from here.

The Krays (pronounced Krays this time) stand in front of the huge scoreboard at the away end.

Slightly boring stand. No pics available. Yawn. Here's a man in a Kutte jacket instead.

The obligatory club song plays over the tannoy before the game. Normally German sides prefer the 80's rock style club song but Wuppertal have chosen a song that sounds like Phil Collins farting in a slowly emptying lukewarm bubble bath. Awful. A MONORAIL passes behind the terrace and all is forgiven.

The PA announcer then announces the home team. Building up the first names and leaving a gap for the home fans to shout the surname being a staple of the curriculum at German PA announcer school. However it only works if the crowd respond and with only about a thousand people in the ground it was clear after goalkeepers surname was shouted by family members only the PA announcer had to go his own way. First names rise dramatically like the bag of Quavers terrace, pauses are left before he shouted the surnames all while an instrumental version of Jump by Van Halen soundtracks the comedy. *doffs MONORAIL conductors hat*

The match. Yep.

A man called Abel scored two goals for Wuppertal. One of them was a last minute winner. Well done Abel.

Another man blew a bugle in an attempt to encourage Wuppertal.

Yet another man stood next to me, he wore a khaki jacket and his text message alert was the sound of rapid gun fire. I moved away slowly.

A man called Schmidt scored a penalty for Kray. This came after a seemingly fair tackle which left one of the away teams players rolling around on the floor theatrically. Hey...get this...I guess you could say he was a Kray baby. It's pronounced cry. We discussed this remember?

Token match shot.

The penalty led to a number of things no one everyone wants to see in a football match:

• Wuppertal subs running onto the pitch to berate the Kray baby. Still pronounced Kray.

• The Kray player rising to his feet to try and fight the Wuppertal subs

• Wuppertal fans clambering a fence to abuse the Kray player.

• The penalty taker celebrating in front of the home fans.

• Beer being thrown at the Kray players. No, actually that one was genuinely upsetting.

In summary it was brilliant. In addition I estimate that a MONORAIL passed the ground every four minutes which means I missed around 23 monorail trips during of the game. #sadface Cheer me up, you don’t want to see me Kray do you. Come on everybody join in!

AiTinpot: [speaking] What's it called?

You lot: [singing] MONORAIL...

AiTinpot: Once again!

You lot: [still singing] Monoraaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaail!

Fancy taking a virtual trip on the MONORAIL? Course you bloody do!