Tag Archives: Bundesliga 2

Dusseldorf Trip Part 1 – Zebras

Friday 29th April 2016 – MSV Duisburg 2 – 1 Fortuna Düsseldorf

Bundesliga 2 @ MSV-Arena, Duisburg

“He’s the Georgian Messi, mate….”

So last month I went to Germany. Düsseldorf to be exact, used as a base for visiting two of the many clubs based in Germany’s Upper-Rhine region (and to take advantage of the excellent pubs in the Old Town of course).

The first trip was on Friday night to the MSV-Arena, home of MSV Duisburg. At the time of booking, MSV Duisburg were rooted to the bottom of Bundesliga 2, and despite this being a local derby against Fortuna Düsseldorf, we were apprehensive as to whether this would be one turning up.

We were not to be disappointed.

Duisburg is one of the smaller towns in the area, and like much of its surroundings, heavily industrialised. To get to the MSV-Arena however, which sits on the outskirts, you don’t need to go into the town itself. Which whilst a shame, fit in with our flights. It took two attempts to get on the S-Bhan, such was the throng of Fortuna fans travelling alongside us, but after that it is a 35 minute journey, and roughly 10 minute walk at the other side.

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The ground itself, whilst large (over 30k in capacity), looks basic from the outside, pretty much a large steel and concrete square. Our tickets that day were on the home terrace, a snip at €12.

Once inside, you are greeted by an open concourse, selling beer and food (all of which looked delicious – and was a far cry from the pie and rubbery hot dog served in the UK). The first lesson for us however was get there early, particularly for a local derby. The terrace was packed even 45 minutes before KO. Speaking to the locals, Duisburg’s lowly position this season means they average no more than 22k supporters for most matches. But being against local rivals, this was  a full house. So we had to make do, at first, with a small strip next to the seating area, which didn’t offer the greatest views of the pitch, but did offer a decent vantage point to observe the festivities kicking off in the rest of the stand.

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Roughly 20 minutes before kick off, and aided by the announcer and some music, the home fans started a barrage of songs, flag waving, and general rowdiness. It was impressive. My last experience of German football had been in the St. Pauli away end at 1860 Munich, where despite their reputation, it was a relatively tame affair. The demonstration of support extended way beyond kick off, though the flags were lost as soon as the whistle went, ceremoniously thrown below the stand.

A word also for the Düsseldorf fans. Whilst fairly quiet in the first half, the ground was filled with smoke from flares in the second, and at one point the match was stopped whilst the chap swinging a flare round on some rope was asked to stop. Most of the actions of fans in Germany would result in a banning order back home, here it was just part of the fun.

The match itself, as you might expect for two teams at the foot of Bundesliga 2, whilst low in quality, was played at the high tempo characteristic of a local derby and a game where so much at stake. A loss for Duisburg would almost certainly confine them to German third division football. A win would give them a chance, and drag Duisburg into the mix.

A local we befriended described Duisburg as being like Villa that season; they looked doomed by Christmas. But unlike Villa, they mounted an incredible comeback. Düsseldorf he described as Chelsea; richer than most clubs in that division and expected to win promotion with ease, but whose team of stars had not gelled, and now resided in the bottom half.

He also advised that if Duisburg scored we would be soaked in beer. Just after the half-time break they did. And we were.

The first goal took the atmosphere to a new level; the aforementioned flares came out and the Duisburg fans increased the volume. A second goal wasn’t far behind – a victory against the local enemy, made shaky by Düsseldorf pulling one back, was secured and they were in with a chance of beating the drop.

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The party, and beer drinking, continued long after the final whistle. I’m not sure how the customary Premier League quick wave at the fans would go down in Germany, were mutual worship post-game appears the norm.

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It is difficult to articulate afterwards how good the atmosphere really was. In what could have been a dead rubber – Duisburg looked doomed when the tickets were booked – turned out to be a cracking local derby, and set is up nicely for a weekend of football. As I write this a month on, unfortunately Duisburg did go down, losing in the relegation play-offs. It is however well worth the trip, and if you can get a game against one of their local rivals, all the better.

 

Other photos from the MSV-Arena

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Gone Fishing….

I’m on my holibobs.

See you next season!

In the meantime, please check out my posts from last season:

PREMIER LEAGUE

– Arsenal (The Emirates) – October 14; January 15;

– Chelsea (Stamford Bridge) – December 14;

– Crystal Palace (Selhurst Park) – April 15;

– Liverpool (Anfield) – October 14;

– Tottenham Hotspur – May 15;

– West Bromwich Albion – January 15;

– West Ham United – January 15;

CONFERENCE SOUTH

– Bromley FC (Hayes Lane) – November 14;

ISTHMIAN PREMIER LEAGUE

– Dulwich Hamlet (Champion Hill) – October 14;

SOUTHERN LEAGUE PREMIER DIVISION

– Biggleswade Town (Carlsberg Stadium) – September 14;

– Hitchin Town (Top Field) – December 14;

GERMANY

– 1860 Munich (Allianz Arena) – February 15;

– FC Bayern Frauen (Grünwalder Stadion) – February 15;

OTHER

– Wembley Stadium, London – March 15;

Munich! (Part 1…)

Saturday 21st February 2015 – TSV 1860 München 2 – 1 FC St. Pauli

Bundesliga 2 @ Allianz Arena, München

It is not uncommon for the exiled fan to fill gaps in the calendar with random trips away. The Munich weekend however was to mark my first foray into European club football – whilst the chants unfamiliar, the beer was good, the fans passionate, and…..not only did it involve terraces, but you were actually allowed to drink the aforementioned beer on the terraces!!!

It’s an old rant, but English clubs, The FA, and our local plod could learn a lot from our Germanic cousins. More on that later…

My first match was 1860 Munich vs St. Pauli. Why travel all the way to Bavaria for a Championship match? And one at the bottom end of the table at that? Doubtless not many travel from foreign shores for Rotherham vs Millwall – but it was the away team that was the allure.

St. Pauli have something of a cult following across Europe; whilst historically second fiddle to their larger city neighbours, Hamburg, they are known for their liberal, left wing attitudes. The players come second at St. Pauli – the fans take centre stage. By way of example, the guys I travelled with supported clubs ranging from Huddersfield to Hammerby, but go for the sense of community and acceptance that the club offers.

But to the hosts first. 1860 Munich. 1860 play their home games at the architecturally impressive Allianz Arena these days, the home also of European aristocracy, Bayern Munich. But whilst it looks good on paper, they want out. The stadium was initially a joint venture between the two clubs (who vacated the Olympic Stadium across town to move in) however 1860 get far smaller gates than Bayern (and also don’t benefit from ongoing Champions League riches) so sold their half to Bayern to combat financial difficulties, and are now just tenants. I have read that the club are looking for a new home now, more within their means.

It was a 1pm KO, so an early start. The Allianz is not in central Munich (not uncommon for a new ground) – it is situated amongst industry in the North East of the city, about a 30 minute tram ride away. And when I say amongst industry, I’m not talking about a retail park – I mean cooling towers, refineries, rail yards and also busy motorways!! Architecturally impressive, and very unique, but in a very unattractive part of town!

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Its location also means one huge downside – no pubs! Not a problem at first. We met up with some guys from the Bavarian St Pauli supporters club, who kindly supported some Astra for the journey. Brewed in Hamburg, a big favourite amongst their fans!

This inevitably plays into the hands of the stadium. To buy beer (or food and drink of any sort at the Allianz) you have to put money onto a non-refundable prepaid card (minimum €10). I have seen this before in Holland, but still very disappointing. Guess the money not spent that remains on these cards helps pay Robben’s wages…..

I read prior to the match that the stadium used to be lit up to reflect who was playing that day (so red for Bayern, blue for 1860) but it was not to be that day. Again, rumour I think but I believe this is because it was causing accidents on the nearby Autobahn. Could also have been because it was daylight. Who knows.

Once through the turnstiles (and VERY tight security cordon – no flares that day!) there is an immediate ring around the ground where you can buy beer (and your card) and a couple of club shops. Then onto the concourse, which whilst spacious, I thought was a little sparse. Perhaps this was because I was in the away end. I once made a trip to Twickenham for England vs Fiji rugby union a few years back. Egg chasers beforehand remarked that it is the greatest stadium in the world, however I felt it lacked character and was just a concrete mess. The inside of the Allianz reminded me very much of Twickenham.

Away from the concourse however, the Allianz does impress (much like its facade). The pitch is sunk beneath ground level, and whilst on paper it is a three-tier 66,000 behemoth, inside it is actually quite compact.

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The top-tier was closed (as I believe it is for all 1860 games), so I was worried that we would be rattling around a bit inside, but not to be. both sides were very vocal. In particular the 1860 fans directly opposite the away end. St Pauli took c. 4,000 fans that day, all of whom were in good voice (I got the impression a fair few had been drinking since the night before – this probably helped).

The away end itself, as alluded at the top of this entry, was completely terraced, as were other sections of the ground. There was a distinct lack of stewards, and beer was also allowed to be taken within the view of the pitch! It was all very laid back and relaxed – it was nice to have to down your dregs 5 minutes before KO. And it worked. I am an advocate of safe standing at football, and I think the authorities over here could do worse than replicate the German model. The vast majority of the stadium was seated, but designated areas set aside for standing for home and away fans is surely a good thing – better atmosphere, no more arguments with stewards, fellow fans, and some basic freedom for football fans!

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So to the game. A real relegation six pointer, with both clubs at risk of dropping down to the German third tier. A real scrap of a match which ended 2-1 in 1860’s favour. An unfortunate own goal from St Pauli opened the scoring and a second was added shortly after the half time interval. St Pauli made a real scrap of it after that and pulled one back – but too little too late. The mood amongst the travelling fans, including my own contingent, was that relegation now seemed a cert. Unfortunate if that is the case, but as somebody pointed out, that could mean a Dynamo Dresden ground tick….

Two thoughts from the match. The atmosphere was top-notch and much better than a of English grounds I have been to. As stated, I think this is probably linked to the standing aspect of the ground. One noticeable absence at this match though was the tide of people rushing for the exits with 5 minutes to go. Fans stayed in the ground long after the final whistle. St Pauli players spent a good ten minutes applauding their own. And the 1860 players had a routine whereby they knelt in front of their fans who chanted constantly! Not sure what was going on, looked good though!

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And finally, I don’t normally comment on taking a piss at half time, but enlightening at the Allianz if only for the sticker culture prevalent in German football (more so in the toilets). I had noticed this on trams and at stations around Munich prior to the game, but a nice effect (though some will no doubt claim it is vandalism…).

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And so into the late Munich afternoon, the temperature having now dropped considerably. The Allianz provided a good induction to German football, but was let down badly by its location and the prepaid card feature. The atmosphere generated by the fans that day though was great, I imagine when full and on big Champions League nights the place can really rock. Not a bad day out for the €15 ticket price….

Plenty of good beer halls in downtown Munich, worthy of a blog entry of their own. Perfect warm up for Part 2….

Other photos from Allianz Arena

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