Monday, 14 April 2008

Munich weekend

The Allianz Arena from the ouside. Art or is it!?

Me (left) and Nick. Dortmund til we die!

Inside the Allianz Arena - large beer hall just out of shot.

The most impressive stadium ever* (*from the outside)

Generali Sportpark home to Spvgg Unterhaching.

The home fans trying their best at Unterhaching.

Nick and Big Deaks in drinking beer shock.

Inside the Olympic Stadium with predictable results.

Nice views from the Olympiaturm anyone!?

Friday night in Ingolstadt and we couldn't be happier. (L-R Big Deaks, me and Nick)

FC Ingolstadt 04 1-1 Karlsruher SC II (11:04:08)

Spvgg Unterhaching 1-1 Wacker Burghausen (12:04:08)

Bayern Munich 5-0 Borussia Dortmund (13:04:08)

Germany is synonymous with many things but for me and my mates, the two things it does best are both football and beer. This is why we keep coming back for more.

We have become firm friends with members of ‘The Unity’ who are the ultras group that follow Borussia Dortmund. We first met during my stag do when we were in the away end as Dortmund beat their old enemy Schalke 04 in Gelsenkirken for the first time in umpty thrumpty years and since then we always try and include a Dortmund match on our travels.

Initially on the Friday of this trip we were due to attend the Augsburg v FSV Mainz 05 match which kicked off at 18:00. The fact that we were flying out from the new Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport put pay to this cunning plan. A not entirely unpredictable delay to our flight meant that we missed the kick off.

Years of attending European football weekends has stood us in good stead however and we had a back up plan which was to attend FC Ingolstadt 04 v Karlsruher SC II which kicked off at the later time of 19:30.

Ingolstadt is located on the banks of the Danube River and lies around a 30 minute train ride north of Munich. It is also home to the Audi HQ which is why their sorry excuse for a football ground is smothered with the Audi logo.

It was a balmy evening in Germany when the match kicked off. We were relaxing on the terrace with a few nice cold beers and trying to enjoy the turgid football on offer. Ingolstadt 04 are top of the Regionalliga Sud in the third tier of German football but lord only knows how.

As the match – which finished 1-1 – drew to a close the most almighty storm passed over the ground. Thunder and lightning, very, very frightening. We dashed over to a nearby garage for cover, brought a few beers inside for our journey back and hitched a lift back to the station for the journey back to Munich.

The trouble with football in Germany is that it’s very easy to find yourself fairly drunk at the drop of a hat. You don’t get served watered down Fosters inside the stadiums. Instead you get quality premium beer and with this being Friday night, we were understandably a bit giggly, in a fine mood and the beers were flowing very freely indeed.

Upon our return to Munich we headed to a pub which had a couple of replica world cup trophies in a cabinet on the wall. Believe it or not we ended up singing “Da ya think I’m sexy?” with Rod Stewart in this pub! It was a mad night and quite frankly it was a brilliant one.

The next morning we headed to Unterhaching which is the second largest municipality in the district of Munich. Unterhaching is probably most famous for either its football team ‘Spvgg Unterhaching’ (who we were about to see) or the fact they have a very successful bob-sledding team, which is why there is a bob sleigh on the football teams club badge.

There is a brilliant set up outside the stadium at Unterhaching. It’s cut off from the town but this doesn’t matter as they have a large area to consume beer and food and soak up the pre-match atmosphere. As per usual we couldn’t help ourselves and down the hatch went some aforementioned beer (Lowenbrau – ouch) and food like it was going out of fashion.

This was another match in the Regionalliga Sud and again the quality of football on offer didn’t amount to much. At times like these it’s very for me to perform the ol’ switcharoo and start looking at the fans instead of the game.

Both Spvgg Unterhaching and visitors Wacker Burghausen had small but loud and active sets of ultras. They created noise, jumped about, let of flares, backed their team and provided a wonderful alternative to watching the football.

The game was 0-0 up until the last 5 minutes. Then both teams scored and a red card was issued. All and in fact the only action of the match crammed into the last few minutes. Enough to leave us thinking we’d seen the best game ever and certainly enough to give us a spring in our steps as we headed back into Munich for a night on the beer.

We met up with our friends from Dortmund back in town and they gave us our tickets (thanks chaps!) for the game the following day against Bayern Munich. We then rolled back the years and engaged in what can only be described ‘brilliant night out’ in which at 2am we found ourselves in a bar singing traditional German songs in our newly discovered fluent German language.

What better way of a Sunday morning to rid ourselves of a bit of ‘tiredness’ than to visit the Olympic Stadium in Munich, home to last good performance by an England team in 2001. For 2 euros we were allowed inside the stadium and have a good old reminisce which we certainly did.

Just outside the stadium stands the Olympiaturm – a huge tower which dominates the Munich skyline. We went up to the top of said tower where we were afforded wonderful views of Munich (e.g. The Olympic Stadium and Allianz Arena) and the Alps.

After this we headed to the north of the city to the Allianz Arena – home to both Bayern and 1860 Munich. From the outside the stadium is the most impressive I’ve ever seen. On the inside it’s nice but really just like any other modern stadium of its size. It is occasionally nicknamed Schlauchboot (“inflatable boat”) in Germany.

I was amazed at the lack of security outside the stadium. We had tickets in the away end but there weren’t separate turnstiles and we were allowed to wonder all around the stadium before taking our seats. A huge amount of beer was being consumed by all but there wasn’t a hint of trouble.

Bayern Munich won the game 5-0. They had it wrapped up inside the first 22 minutes, scoring four quite outstanding goals in the process. In Luca Toni, Bayern have the best finisher in Europe at the moment – he really is different gravy.

There is a small amount of terracing behind one of the goals inside the Allianz Arena. This is where all the support and noise comes from the home fans. Why they don’t extend this and rip out a few seats I will never know. In fact I do know, they’d rather have a few extra quid than a better atmosphere.

As mentioned we were in with the Dortmund supporters and you would have thought being five goals down would dampen the fans spirits – not a bit of it. They sang for 90 minutes as did we. No goals!? It didn’t matter, after a while they decided to start randomly celebrating goals anyway. All brilliant fun, they don’t come much better than The Unity when it comes to fan support.

If you could dream up a better of way of letting a crowd of 69,000 die down than by attending a large beer hall built into one of the stands serving up quality beer in glasses not plastic then please let me know about it. That’s what we did before returning to the city and enjoying our last few beers of the weekend.

I started this piece by explaining that for us Germany does football and beer best. I hope by reading this you’ll have just a flavour as to the reasons why. Good old life!

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