Wednesday 29 December 2010

Truro-ho-ho Merry Christmas

Weymouth v Truro City
Monday 27 December 2010
Zamaretto Premier League
The Bob Lucas Stadium, Weymouth.
Attendance 824

Boxing Day games are always a little bit special, one of the first you look for on that giddy day when the fixtures are released and ones that usually provide a big derby game in front of a fervent crowd. But, let us not forget the true reason of Boxing Day football; to allow men to get their bored arses out the house, escape the horrors of Christmas television, sink a few festive beverages and also swerve the visit from a procession of bat shit crazy relatives bearing unwanted gifts.

Boxing Day has been the Christmas gift that keeps on giving over the years. Highlights include Lee Phillips exhilarating debut against Dorchester in 2000, the 2-1 victory over Exeter City in 2006 in front of a crowd of 4,294 and of course that magical Boxing Day in 2003 when Weymouth festively stuffed Dorchester 8 (eight) - 0. However nothing compares to the glorious memories of a defeat away against Bashley in 1997 which allowed me to be out of the house for a good 7 (seven) hours. Result.

Financial cutbacks have meant 24 hour security patrols have now been replaced by this sign.

However, this years game isn't really a local derby and doesn't even have the courtesy to let me play my Boxing Day 'Get out of Family Hell free' card, as the Zamaretto League fixtures take place on the 27th and this year a couple of family members have had the audacity, some say damn right cheek, to tag along.

Bottom of the table Weymouths visitors are top of the tinpot table toppers Truro City, for whom this fixture does represent some sort of festive derby, as it their second closest game of the season yet still a sleigh busting 150 miles away. However it would have afforded the Truro fans at least 8 hours away from their families and their usual shenanigans of teaching pigs to smoke, feeding beef burgers to swans and breeding 20ft chickens.

Truro have achieved great success since property developer Kevin Heaney began to bankroll the club in 2004, achieving three promotions in four seasons. *doths cap* In my opinion, property developers should be welcomed to football with a carrot (laced with turkey excrement and piss soaked barbed wire) a saucer of milk (mixed with the tears of a thousand lonely skunks) and a mince pie (with a delectable wood lice and septic toenail filling). Weymouth have benefited fantastically well from having a property developer, Malcolm Curtis, "running" the club; as our league record over the last three seasons shows. Hmm...I'm sure Truro are different of course.

Times are so hard we have to have a meat raffle to pay for the players coach.

Truro have plans for an ambitious new 10,000 all seater stadium. In Weymouth's experience this can only end with an amazing new stadium being built. That nice Malcolm Curtis is going to build us one, he said so. There are also plans for annual pop concerts. Weymouth had one of went well.

Heaney's money has enabled the club to pay good wages and they've signed a load of players from higher leagues who wouldn't necessarily see Truro as the ideal stop on their CV, much like Ben Smith and numerous others did for Weymouth. Truro's most famous player today is ex Fulham striker Barrington Edward 'Barry' Hayles, attracted to the footballing backwater of Cornwall by the challenge on offer and to be part of something big bla bla bla etc...

Barrington 'Barry' Hayles meets his new Truro FC team mates.
(L to R: Maid Marian, Robin of Kensington, Little Ron and Rabies)

In the stadium bar the three generations of us spend time reminiscing of Weymouth teams gone by, of great players, away trips to strange towns and promotion seasons. Sadly those seasons are now more distant the Star of Bethlehem and it's the Truro City fans in the bar who exude the confidence afforded to fans of a top of the league team turning up at an away game expecting to provide a beat down to their inferior opposition.

Weymouth fans and Truro fans getting on like Turkey and stuffing.

For the first fifteen minutes the inexperienced Weymouth team, consisting of 5 players who spent last season playing at County level football, matched Truro's team of ex pro's. However once Andy Watkins scored after twenty minutes Weymouths confidence disappeared and the defence displayed the positional sense of a Grandmother after too many Christmas sherrys, allowing Truro to score three more goals before half time.

In the second half Barrington is able to carry on, with his Merry Men and make heroes, out of each of them as Truro outclass a spirited Weymouth, who never really look like scoring throughout the painfully long forty five minutes.

The comfortable afternoons work gives Truro fans the chance to exercise their vocal chords and support their team in going 5 points clear in a way that I am a little jealous about. Granted, your song "we're at the top of the Zamaretto and Blue Square South awaits for me" was mildly humorous but I did find you turning up on our doorstep and singing us your carols of "you're not famous anymore", "going down with the Tivvy" and "who the fucking hell are you" a little mean spirited at this time of year.

Token match shot.

I sometimes wish we were a little more humble about our Martyn Harrisons cheque book propelled rise to the Conference, a little more aware of the fact that the money wouldn't last forever and took steps to prepare for that day. Good luck to Truro City, I hope, for the true fans, that they enjoy their current success and that their club is built on strong sustainable footings. Ours clearly weren't and were paying for that massively now as we are again royally defeated , remain rooted to the bottom of the league and face a Zamaretto Division One South & West Boxing Day game clash against Wimborne Town (sadly only 30 miles away) next season.

For footage of the goals, probably only for Truro fans, click here and for a proper match report and pictures click here.

Sunday 19 December 2010

AiT Albums of the Year 2010.

It's the music event of the festive season, bigger than the battle for Christmas number but not quite as big as the Smash Hits Poll Winners Party, its the annual (first ever) Adventures in Tinpot Albums of the Year award.

Uploaded by AcerBen. - Watch more music videos, in HD!

Designer handbags have been exchanged, fawning speeches made and I have signed an exclusive ticket distribution deal with Jack Warners cousin for next years awards and can now exclusively reveal my 15 albums of the year in one handy, easy wipe spotify play list.

The 15 songs are in no particular order of preference, obviously I did spend ages dicking around trying to work out the best running order and probably still haven't got it right. Have a listen if you like, please recommend me new stuff that I might enjoy, I'm getting old and losing my edge to the kids from France and from London.

For those of you a) without Spotify and b) that give a shit here is that list in full:

Zola Jesus - Stridulum II
The National - High Violet
Warpaint - The Fool
Foals - Total Life Forever
LCD Soundsystem - This is Happening
The Walkmen - Lisbon
Surfer Blood - Astro Coast
Frightened Rabbit - The Winter of Mixed Drinks
Interpol - Interpol
Tame Impala - InnerSpeaker
Phosphorescent - Here's To Taking It Easy
Maps & Atlases - Perch Patchwork
Menomena - Mines
Steve Mason - Boys Outside
Beach House - Teen Dream

Wednesday 15 December 2010

No Limits to the excitement at The Memorial Ground fun day

Bristol Rovers v Exeter City
Tuesday 14 December 2010
Johnstone's Paint Trophy Southern Zone Semi Final
The Memorial Stadium, Bristol
Attendance 3,881

If I've learnt anything from Whitney Houston it's that the children are our future.

No doubt Bristol Rovers had this in mind when they decided to bring forward the kick off of this largely pointless match to 7:15pm and gave away free tickets so more weiner kids could attend (never mind that I had to miss Hollyoaks - oh no!) giving this fixture an element of a family fun day to it.

For tickets contact Trish on 0117 9524004. That's 0117 9524004.

Exeter captain Steve Tully is one of my favourite ever Weymouth players, always giving 100% for the club and for being an important part of our Conference South championship winning side. His presence gave me a legitimate reason for being at this match I feel. Steve is also the victim of some genius Wikipedia vandalism, which is at the end of this blog, in Annex One, in case it's vanished from the computer internet.

Also playing were ex Weymouth players Richard Logan, now at Exeter (or Exterra if you prefer - phnar!) and Rovers defender Gary Sawyer. These days it comes as no surprise to see a player who has played for the Radipole Lane based outfit appearing in any given match, it's like looking at the night sky and being surprised to see stars.

The Exeter fans have decided to embrace the family fun day staple of the 'wacky hat' for this match. Honestly, what makes it acceptable to wear ridiculous head wear at knock out football matches? Maybe they have an excuse, their manager Paul Tisdale is often seen wearing a bit of fancy dan clothing, including this deer stalker at Saturdays '6 fingers derby' match against Plymouth Argyle.

The Exeter City away end fun day marquee.

As with any good family fun day there's a bloody good sing along. A series of awful tenny bopper tunes and soddin' Christmas songs boomed out over Rovers' ramshackle PA system, which was clearly cranked up to 11 (eleven) by an evil tinnitus cure salesman seeking to successfully sell his product from the back of his Mondeo to the unsuspecting crowd of young bumpkins after the match, the rouge.

The musical theme continues with Rovers fans singing their traditional club song of 'Goodnight Irene', which tonight coincidentally doubles up as a lullaby for 7 year old diehard 'Gashead' Irene Holloway who, despite the early kick off and her bedroom backing onto the ground, wasn't allowed to attend and sent straight to bed after CBeebies by her strict bedtime imposing parents.

Every half decent, non PC, fun day should have a midget. This one is no exception as a female midget is allowed to run the line. Hilariously she wasn't tall enough to check the top of the goal net and kick off was delayed while a stepladder was brought out. I shit you not.

It's been a while since I'd been amongst a football crowd of this size and one that spoke a language I was more than vaguely familiar with, and it was a pleasure to get re-aquainted with a couple of stereotype football fans amongst the Exeter support.

Fan stereotype number 1 - Frustrated Manager Fan.
This fan would be able to step in for Paul Tisdale whenever he needed to nip off for one of his 8 mid match costume changes. All midfielders were encouraged to "Hassle 'em! Hassle 'em!" (doth of cap in direction of Danny Baker), any player within a radius of 57 yards of the goal was encouraged to "SHOOOOOOOOOT", or"'IT IT" and at least 3 long tactical sermons concluded with a phrase made famous by the revered Russian tactician Aleksandr 'Compare the Meerkat' Orlov of "Simples". Chump.

Fan stereotype number 2 - Frustrated Comedian Fan.
Every fun day needs a dodgy comedian. The type of person who is a mild mannered accountant and hen pecked husband by day but stick them in front of a football fans and they risk causing (in their humourless minds at least) a mass splitting of sides with their sparkling comedy repertoire. Exeter's FCFs nadir was noticing that the linesman was holding his flag so that the pole was dangling between his thighs " Look, the linesman's got a stiffy.... LOOK EVERYONE THE LINESMAN HAS GOT A STIFFY...ehhh...STIFFY". Not even the kids laughed. After looking around forlornly he decided to counter with a volley of abuse towards the linesman; "you yellow shirt wearing prick". This got a laugh from me.

Tully Watch - First Half: - He does his usual pre match gee up of the players, runs about a bit but generally doesn't contribute much.

Token match shot.

Half time contains the standard funday raffle for a leg of lamb and a box of Matchmakers before the sing along fun of the second half commences. First up Exeter's Troy Archibald Henville gets his absurdly posh name sung to the tune of Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes. Troy also gets a certificate, which I award mentally, which sees him added to the list of players I thought were white but are actually black.

Next up for a song is Richard 'Loags' Logan. 'Loags' is a nickname given to him by the Exeter fans, with Weymouth fans preferring to refer to him as 'that useless lummox mercenary donkey piece of shit'. However he's obviously done well for himself at Exterra and has become the subject of my favourite football/90's Europop cross over moment since my friend Shed tried to get Weymouth fans to sing 'Nade, Nade, Rapheal Nade' to the tune of SL2'S 1992 smash hit 'On A Ragga Tip'. Sadly, like sensible long term financial planning at Weymouth, it didn't catch on. 'Loags' gets his name adapted to fit the complicated lyrics to 2 Unlimited's seminal 1993 classic 'No Limits'. Lo Lo Lo Lo.....surely you get the idea? Bloody genius. Techno, Techno, Techno, Techno!!

Am impromptu fun day game of 'Pin the blame on the Donkey' vociferously breaks out after "Loags" recreates his Weymouth form and falls over whilst one on one with the Rovers keeper, misses a sitter and then fails with a pathetic and piss funny attempt at an overhead kick as Exeter push for an equaliser. The useless tit. Luckily for "Loags" Exeter get a last minute equaliser to take the game to penalties, no extra time, presumably so the kids can get home and off to bed.

Tully Watch - Second Half: - More like the Tully of the prime, some say pomp, of his career. Numerous runs down the right flank, some intricate passing and some great crosses. He wasn't caught out of position for either of Rovers' HE WAS AGAINST NOTTINGHAM FOREST AT THE WESSEX WHEN WE COULD HAVE BEAT THEM AND THEN IT ALL WENT DOWNHILL AND NOW WERE BOTTOM OF THE ZAMARETTO LEAGUE.....Let it go Kenny, let it go. Breath. It wasn't Steve's fault.

It's an emotional moment for me as I witness, I think, my first ever penalty shoot out and you really couldn't have asked for a more important occasion than this. "Loags" is quite rightly kept a safe distance from the penalties and Exeter's Richard Duffy scores the winning goal which prompts wild scenes as hundreds of adults take their kids off home as quickly as possible and Grecians fans celebrate getting through to the tinpaintpot southern zone final.

This guy celebrated so hard his hand went see through.

Got any more ideas for 90's dance music/football player chant cross overs. Anything re-working the lyrcis from musical giants such as Haddaway, the Urban Cookie Collective, Chaka Demus & Pliers maybe? Leave me a comment below then, thank you.

Annex One:
"Steve is a regular customer at Argos Exeter and has been recognised by the store as customer of the year for the last 6 years. Former Argos employee Matthew Smith commented "Steve has been a great customer to us over the last 6 years and he has contributed over 0.0000001% of our total sales during this period. Steve is to Argos as Nelson Mandela is to Africa. We thank Steve for all he has given us."

Tuesday 30 November 2010

Turkey, Hamburger and worst Wurst.

Türkiyemspor Berlin v Hamburger SV II
Saturday 20th November 2010
Regionalliga Nord
Friedrich-Ludwig-Jahn-Stadion, Berlin
Attendance 102

It's my third time (time one) at the Friedrich Ludwig Jahn Stadion, the former Eastern German national stadium, and the 3rd different team I've seen hosting a match here, after Hertha Berlin II and Union Berlin (while Bob der Baumeister got to work). Today's hosts are, Türkiyemspor Berlin, currently bottom of the German Regionalliga Nord and their esteemed guests are the good folk from Hamburger SV II team.

After unfavourable press reports Türkiyemspor officials react by super gluing journalists to the table.

Türkiyemspor began as a club in 1978 as a focus for the Turkish community in Berlin and have played predominantly in the 3rd and 4th tiers of German football since then. They narrowly missed out on promotion to the 2. Liga in 1990/1 after an administrative error by the Berlin Football Federation which saw rivals, Tennis Borussia Berlin, promoted instead. Since then attendances have declined, the team have to play their home games away from their traditional home of the Katzbachstadion and, according to the wonderful Abseits Guide to German football, have earned the nickname of the "Zehnmonatsklub" (ten month club") due to their continued inability to play players wages, something my club Weymouth are also familiar with.

Sadly there was nowhere to purchase any Türkiyemspor tat, not even a programme. With average attendances somewhere around the 100 mark it's probably not worth producing much tat. Shame as I quite fancied a scarf which, as tradition dictates, I would have lovingly worn for the duration of the match, maybe on the S-Bahn back to the hotel and then shoved in a drawer at home that now represents a retirement home for unloved and neglected football scarfs. A drawer whose contents, if knitted together, could be used to separate Berlin into 2 distinct areas again, the Berlin wool if you will. Sorry.
This years fashion must have, the official Türkiyemspor Berlin headscarf.

On the plus side Türkiyemspor Berlin did sell beer and sausages, however the sausage I had the misfortune to purchase had seemingly been kept warm there since communism was still in fashion and was rancid. Still ate it though. Of course. A theme to these blogs is building here, a quick mathematical equation that utilises both the tan and sin functions of my Casio FX 991 calculator reveals I have mentioned food in 89.7333333% of my blogs.

Brat-worst. Ha, see what I've done there...

HSV II have a few fans here. Türkiyemspor Berlin have a few ball boys and a couple of confused onlookers but it's a very sparse crowd and the only noise coming from the HSV fans. I say noise, it's more of a slightly louder than usual mumble, their chants barely drowning out the shouts between the cold and bored ball boys dotted around the running track that circles the pitch and despite their only being 6 of them they can't even keep time during the simplest of chants, H-S-V, H-S-V (repeat to fade).

On your own, on YOUR OWN!!

Things pick up on the chanting front after HSV take a deserved lead on 40 minutes through their number nine Tunay Torun, with the HSV fans reacting like a self appointed pools panel and chanting, in unison, Auswartseig, Auswartseig (away win, away win). The Türkiyemspor Berlin team see this as less an expectant prediction and more an order and deploy some embarrassing defending that allows Torun to score again. Remember the name, you heard it hear first, unless you heard it somewhere else, in which case fine well done, but maybe you should consider getting out more? Winky face.

And that's about that really. Türkiyemspor Berlin never really looked like scoring, their fans never looked like raising a voice and the HSV fans regaled us all with their sublime vocal talents and staggering musical repertoire for the rest of the match. Their moving rendition of "I'm Hamburg 'til I Die" in a collective bizarre accent resembling that of an inebriated westcountry simpleton had already lived too long in the memory by the time they stopped singing the song.

Final score, three-nil.

That high five, ole thing that all German clubs do.

11 ways to leave your football match.

Hibernian v St. Johnstone
Saturday 27th November 2010
Scottish Premier League
Easter Road Stadium, Edinburgh
Attendance 10,248

Sometimes when attending a football match you know its a bad idea, you know it'll be horrifcally shit. This match was one such occasion. So was this one. But, at the risk of loss of man points, there's no way any of the 4 of us were backing out of a game that our attendance was enthusiastically (drunkenly) agreed upon 3 months ago. A match that one friend had cleared his diary for and another had successfully secured a fun pass from his wife, a decision even more shocking as he is one of those questionable types who have no interest in the game we call football.

A number of potential ways out of the game offered themselves in advance.

1. The fact that this was a match, as clearly advertised, involving two teams from Scotland should have been enough for us to agree to casually drop the idea, but no.

2. A golden opportunity to make alternative plans was offered on the eve of the match when the only one of us who had any interest in the game had to drop out. But no, the remaining three of us made the journey from Glasgow full of a sense of impending doom.

A cow wearing a football, presumably on its way to be slaughtered round the back of the catering outlet before being served up to the locals. Scots will eat anything.

3. Even the Scottish referees knew this game was going to be, as the locals say, pish, and decided to strike for this round of fixtures as no one wanted to draw the metaphorical short straw and have to officiate this particular match. For a while it looked like the match might not go ahead, but step forward Christian Lautier of Malta who happened to be passing by and agreed to referee at the last minute. Yeah, cheers Christian you scab!!

4. It was snowing. "Don't travel unless your journey is absolutely necessary" the TV weatherman said. Was a trip to Edinburgh to watch two mediocre Scottish teams that none of us cared a jot about necessary? Apparently bloody so.

A kid shot dog meal? Eh, no thanks. Scots really will eat anything.
Thanks to Ken Gordon of Impermanence Indeed for the picture.

5. 22 (twenty two) of your Scottish pounds (current exchange rate with the superior English pound 1-1) for a ticket...again, for a game NO ONE was interested in. Surely we'd baulk at the price? Nope, we are men and we are here to watch the football and nothing must distract us. Arse.

Once in the Easter Road tundra a series of other escape options offered themselves to us.

6. Food poisoning. Do not eat the Easter Road Scotch Pie. My guts very nearly instantly collapsed in on themselves after attempting to digest this. Sadly though sitting on a cold chair in the ground seemed to instantly freeze the contents of my stomach and nothing moved (upwards or downwards seeing you asked) and my plan of vomiting over an unsuspecting, spotty 15 year old St. Johns ambulance volunteer whilst being led out of the ground to a warm hospital ward were dashed.

This is my main offender. Scotch Pie. Does not contain scotch. Scots will eat anything.

7. Not long after entering the ground a tannoy told us all to behave and not to shout any "football related abuse" as we risked being ejected and a ten year football banning order. If I knew the horrors that awaited me I would have instantly opened my potty mouth and unleashed a torrent of almighty football related profanities direct into the ear lobe of the nearest steward.

Quite what constitutes "football related abuse" I'm not sure. As I saw no one being booted out I can only assume it's not "Neil Lennon is a wanker", as sung in unison by both sets of fans, nor is it "referee you're a big fat goats head', as shrilly shouted by a partially frozen child behind me in the second half.

8a. The advertising signs at Ice Station One (aka Easter Road) offered some suggestions of escape routes. " Give blood" suggested one. Ten minutes in and the idea of having a sharp needle jabbed in my arm in return for a cup of hot tea and a Club biscuit seemed a Rhesus positive one.

One kid shot dog meal please.

8b. Two signs along from the aforementioned sign was a sign for Leith Funeral Directors, complete with phone number. Surely if I give them a quick bell, told them my seat number and asked them to bring their warmest wooden box I could get out of here before half time? I'm 29 years old, the average life expectancy of a Scottish male, so nothing would have appeared out of the ordinary.

9. The standard of football itself was enough to make any sane indivdual leave, it really was awfully awfully bad. The highlight of the first half being when one of the Saints fans blew up a balloon and then let go of it, sending it zooming around for a bit and in its short life span moving more than St. Johnstone midfielder Jody Morris (yes, that Jody Morris) did in that half.

10. An attempt to secure a minimum wage job in the refreshment hut represented our next attempt at avoiding football hell. We made repeated attempts to persuade a 15 year old that outside a legendary football match was unfolding, in tropical conditions, and that she could have our tickets while we happily served Revels and Bovril to a crowd of frozen and near suicidal football fans. Regrettably she valued her career prospects in refreshment huttery too much and refused. Then refused again. And again. Before once more refusing.

Token match shot.

11. Half way through the second half a dawning realisation hit the three of us that the cold had meant we had undergone a process of self inflicted gender re-assignment and we were all now technically women. To a man our balls had headed north is an urgent quest for warmth and weren't coming back until they'd noted a dramatic increase in temperature in the pants area and as women don't like football we were surely free mumble something about the cold, going shopping and flouncing out?

We didn't. We stuck it out to the bitter end and agreed never to speak of this match again.

Ill leave it to my non football loving friend to provide the post match analysis; "The blue ones were slightly less bad than green ones".

Thursday 25 November 2010

Undercover in East Berlin with Bob der Baumeister, Nina (not Nena) Hagen and the Stasi

1. FC Union Berlin v Fortuna Düsseldorf
Friday 19th November 2010
2. Bundesliga
Stadion An der Alten Försterei, Berlin
Attendance 14,309.

"FC Union, Unsere Liebe. Unsere Mannschaft. Unser Stolz. Unser Verein. Eisern Union."
FC Union, Our Love, Our Team, Our Pride, Our Club, Iron Union.

AiT gets multilingual.

The above phrase is heartily sung by the Union Berlin fans before every match and the slogan proudly adorns the top of the newly refurbished home end. A home end, along with the rest of the stadium, that was refurbished by the Union fans themselves and highlights the love and pride the fans have for their club.

In the 2008/9 season Union played their home games at the Friedrich Ludwig Jahn Sportpark a season that ended in promotion to the 2. Bundesliga, as a team of over 2000 fans assisted with the rebuilding of terraces across three sides of the ground and the erection of roofs at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei. Thankfully the volunteers turned out to have the skills of Bob der Baumeister rather than Laurel und Hardy and the stadium is a credit to their efforts.

The AF in 2005. Plenty of grass growing through the terraces and no roof.

2010. Observe. A roof has appeared.

More pictures from the building of the stadium can be seen here and more details here.

Another reason for Union fans to have pride in their club is their anti DDR stand in the communist era in East Berlin. Throughout this period the club attracted 'non conformists' to the DDR regime and the club suffered as their great rivals, Dynamo Berlin, received support from East Germany's Secret Service (Stasi) and won, fairly and squarely of course, ten consecutive titles from 1979 to 1988. The club continues to maintain this stance and in 2009 cancelled a lucrative sponsorship deal with International Sport Promotion as it was revealed the organisations chairman was a former Stasi agent.

A monument to those Union supporters that helped to redevelop the ground. Also, and sadly tantalisingly out of reach, the only hat that would fit my massive head.

Shame the Union fans construction skills couldn't stretch to sticking down some concrete on the route, through the woods, to the ground. Part time Bavarian folk singer, part time bingo caller and full time EFW stalwart Michael "Stoffers" Stoffl and myself were at severe risk of trench foot, with my flimsy Converse trainers having similar waterproof qualities to a sponge meaning I was woefully ill equipped to cope with the large muddy puddles that helpfully marked the way to the ground. There was also, for me anyway, a real fear of stacking it and ending up looking like Stig of the Dump.

German recycling efficiency at it's finest.

The Union fans have suffered for their team this season, with more than their fair share of games being moved to the absurd time of 6pm on a Friday for TV coverage, including a 800km round trip to Bielefeld, with other games moved to Monday nights and away from the traditional 15:30 on a Saturday slot. Still Stoffers and me found time for a couple of pre match liverners, a chat with the locals and the obligatory bratwurst.

Meeting the locals.

Also worth sparing a thought for the Düsseldorf fans, not only do they live in place that one forgotten umlaut suddenly translates a 'idiot village', but they've had to travel 600km to get here and have turned out in numbers, around 500 village idiots making the journey. *doths cap*

The female Union fan in this photo was so desperate for the toilet that her scarf almost strangled her, her legs shattered at the knee caps and she regained conscious slumped in a puddle of her own piss.

As a result of these ridiculous kick off times over 6000 German fans, from 50 different clubs, recently gathered together in Berlin to protest at the erosion if German fan culture, due to changes to kick off times for TV, increases in ticket prices, stadium banning orders and heavy handed policing, with Union fans playing a prominent role in the demo. I'd love to say that something like this could happen in England, bit with fan culture largely obliterated by all seater stadia and the prevailing culture of high prices, prawn sandwiches and the anodyne fan it's probably fair to say it ain't gonna happen.

Some fantastic pictures from the protest here.

This seasons fashion must have, the Union Berlin Christkindl hat. Not suitable for use on a building site. You need a hat hard on for that.

Another reason for loving Union is the heavy metal style official club song, "Eisern Union", sung by Nina (not Nena of 99 red balloons fame) Hagen. As usual the song was belted out with gusto, however other than that the atmosphere throughout the game was quiet, except for the odd 'Scheiss Fortuna' chant, perhaps due to the early kick off time and probably also due to the lack of any major incident in the match until a foul throw around the hour mark. There were, sadly, no large flags on display, no tifo displays and no banners protesting against the ridiculous kick off time as there have been at previous matches.

Union deservedly won the cagey match with a goal in the 64th minute from captain Torsten Mattuschka with a shot from just outside the area that the Idiot Village keeper let slip under his body. How can I be sure it was a keeping error? Thankfully I was able to watch the highlights on TV in the warm 'Abseitsfalle' Bar afterwards with a tall frosty beer and few hundred Union fans. I bloody love TV. Ironic winky face.

For more pictures on the match click here. Don't worry, they're by a proper photographer and not mine.

For more details on a previous trip to Union Berlin point and click your mouse in this area here.

Celebrating victory with a mulled wine and a smoke.

Wednesday 24 November 2010

Behind the scenes at the San Siro

Part two of a two part series where AiT goes behind the scenes at Europe's toppermost clubs.
Part One - Behind the scenes at Glasgow Rangers.

Waxwork Ruud Gullit meets waxwork Lionel Richie.



Stupid sod. Worst. Pitch. Ever.

Classic double thumbs up pose.

Wouldn't expect this at the San Siro, maybe at Bristol Manor Farm.

Each dressing room is designed according to the owners specifications. Silvio Berlusconi is the owner of AC Milan and I have to say I was a little disappointed as I expected scantily clad 17 year old Moroccan belly dancers for all in there and old copies of Razzle scattered about the place. Sadly I had to make do with this sign instead. Sad face.

I was told this was the exact seat where THE Luther Blissett sat.

The much more subtle Inter changing room.

The prawn sandwich suite.

Anti Berlusconi graffitti and Union Berlin stickers in the San Siro. *does sex wee in pants*

Tuesday 23 November 2010

A late autumns afternoon dogging in Berlin.

Berliner FC Viktoria 89 v VfB Hermsdorf 1899
Sunday 21st November 2010
Verbandsliga Berlin
Friedrich-Ebert-Stadion, Berlin
Attendance 108

A week that started with a trip to the San Siro concluded with a trip to the rather less palatial surroundings (better pitch though) of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stadion of BFC Viktoria.

DJ Otzi's career hits a new low as he does a DJ set to a tree.
Viktoria Berlin were 3 times German champions in 1894 (one thousand eight hundred and ninety four), 1908 (one thousand nine hundred and eight) and 1911 (one thousand nine hundred and eleven) but now find themselves in the 6th (sixth) tier of German football.

The stadium itself is set amongst a sports complex with a small stand with seats having their own little covers to keep them warm. Either side of the stand are large areas of terracing, and around the outside of the pitch an athletics track and the obligatory German muddy area for spectators to navigate-oh and of course, 3 wooden benches on a grass verge.

To a child this lot raced straight out of the stadium.

The seats have their own little jackets to keep them warm.

It seems strange things happen in this part of town. A series of fashion crimes were noted amongst the crowd of 108. A couple of mullets, 2 bum bags, a Merv Hughes style moustache, a man so outrageously orange he resembled a space hopper with a bad spray tan, a horrific bleached blonde Mohican/mullet cross over that my eyes just won't forget and a man sporting a beret so large in circumference that if he crouched down it could have been used to hold a 14 man business meeting and still have room for an oil tanker to turn around without disturbing the meeting.

World largest headgear.

The fashion crimes weren't limited to the spectators. One of the linesmen decided to get in on the act by sporting glasses and also also gloves. Nothing wrong with gloves, it was pretty bastard cold, however these gloves weren't in the traditional place of his hands and were tucked into his shorts with the fingers just poking out from the top of his shorts like some very inappropriate child's puppetry routine that the relevant authorities really should be told about.

A small child seeks to clamber out of the linesmans pants.

For the first half I stood opposite the main stand on the grass bank in an attempt to get warm from the last bits of sun. It was clear that everyone had their own particular tree that they liked to lean against, or their own bench to pass rich tactical insight on the game. All except one couple, who really didn't seem bothered on watching Viktoria Berlin maintain their lead at the top of the Verbandsliga Berlin table and more intent on getting as close as possible to each other and showing support for the team by constantly kissing, hugging and giggling.

They were so insanely close that I had to double check to make sure he wasn't actually doing a sex to her...he wasn't, but I checked a further 27 times for my own enjoyment and potential sexual gratification and to ensure the facts of the story are correct and maintain the high level of journalistic quality this blog strives for, before moving to the other side of the ground and to avoid this being the saddest tale of suburban dogging ever committed to the internet. Please see my other blog for more info on these pursuits.

German dogging enthusiasts.

After 58 minutes Viktoria Berlin take the lead as the inappropriate puppeteers assistant, i.e. the ref, made a shocking decision to award Berlin a penalty. No one appealed, no one believed it when it given, least if all the Hermsdorf manager who almost combusted with rage.

The atmosphere was tense, even the doggers stopped and watched as the wonderfully named Micheal Fuss, (of course Michael Fuss) stepped up and dispatched the penalty and led to the Hermsdorf manager again spazzing out on the sidelines.

Token match shot. Strrriker!!! Toooorrrr!!

The second half plodded along, the crowd of spectators/dogging enthusiasts on the far side dwindled as the sun fell. A few hardy (ha!) souls toughed it out on the grass bank in the hope something might come up (phnar!) and they might see a cheeky bit of nipple...or that, more importantly of course, VB would get a second goal to seal the game. Which they did. Which was nice.

I'm writing this at the airport on the way back home, it's 8pm and I dread to think what sexual freakery that couple are now up to on that bench with their other deviant fashion misfits friends while the linesman watches, with his glasses slowly steaming up.

Monday 1 November 2010

I am Nyíregyháza Spartacus

Ujpest FC II v Nyíregyháza Spartacus
Sunday 24th October 2010
Nemzeti Bajnokság II, (National Championship II)
Szusza Ferenc Stadium, Budapest
Attendance 200

EFW Oktoberfest Day One - I really really really wanna Zalaegerszeg
EFW Oktoberfest Day Two - No Sleep Till Trencin

Sunday, last day of this genius trip and thankfully one that didn't involve a coach. It did involved 3 trips on the metro, 4 buses but all worth it in the name of a bit of Hungarian 2nd division football.

First up a trip to Boszik Stadium, home of the legendary Honved. Sadly there was no way into the ground an even a unscheduled trip through an open air flower market could not make the 'magic gate'reveal itself and we had to make do with looking at the ground from a fair distance away. Sad face. One of the EFW team had even shed blood in his attempt to get to the ground, so to miss out was a bit of a kick in the balls.

Um, it's a sign. What more to say?

As tradition dictates we decided to shun the formal opening of match proceedings that is kick off and turned up about 20 minutes in missing the opening goal scored by the wonderfully named guests. Nevermind. Half time and the opportunity make Ujpest rich beyond their wildest dreams as 30 of us sought to part with our remaining Hungarian florints in return for some scarfs, pendants and whatever tat we could lay our hands on. But no, "it's a weekend the shop is closed". Yeah, the shop is closed but there's a match on and there's 30 of us here desperate waving wads of cash, why not open it? It wasn't happening. Screw you Ujpest! Screw you!

Token match shot. Forgot I had a zoom function on the camera apparently.

The match itself was fairly decent, it was just played out one of those bizarre atmospheres that occur when you let reserve sides participate in national leagues and no one can be arsed to go and watch. Spartacus won the match fairly comfortably 2-0, despite having their keeper sent off half way through the second half for absoloutely nailing a Ujpest player on his way to goal.

Dear Ujpest, thanks for the hospitality, love Ferencvaros. Ps - we broke a couple of chairs, sorry about that. Oops. LOL.

The weekend was rounded off with a few beers and the first proper, non sausage, meal of the weekend in Budapest's fanciest sports bar Box Utca. The food was superb and who can fault a restaurant with an obscene amount of TVs and sporting memorabilia and if that wasn't enough TUC biscuits for all with the bill!!

TUC-king magic

All in all a top weekend with some great lads, some crap football, and plenty of laughs - everything an EFW should be. Bring on next year.

Thanks to Danny Last and Stuart Fuller for organising and for everyone else who made it a top weekend.

Read Stuart's report here on the excellent The Ball is Round and Danny Last's of Danny Last's European Football Weekends take on things here and here and here.