VfLBochum 2-0 Borussia Dortmund (10:03:07)
Kickers Offenbach 1-1 Hansa Rostock (11:03:07)
Another German European Football Weekend and another one whereby we used our unofficial EFW office in Cologne as a base. We arrived on Friday evening, checked into our hotel opposite the Barbarossaplatz tram station and not before too long we were saying hello to Mr Beer.
There is a fantastic pub crawl we have sort of made our own in Cologne - it starts opposite our hotel taking in 6 or 7 pubs down one road - then leads back along another road back to our hotel taking in a further 6 or 7 more pubs. It's an above average way to spend a Friday evening!
The next morning we took the one hour train journey from Cologne to Bochum for the local derby match between VfL Bochum and Borussia Dortmund. Upon our arrival in Bochum we made an early beeline towards the 'Bermuda Triangle' area of the city known for its pubage. I was with Big Deaks and Nick on this trip but we were about to be joined by 6,000 of our friends from Borussia Dortmund.
After a couple of early morning 'liveners' we got the call to meet up at Bochum station. Every time Dortmund play away at Bochum, the fans gather together en mass at the station and march towards the stadium as one. There was a wall of noise on the march, together with the sound of smashing bottles (both sets of fans), smoke bombs, flares and an enormous police presence because as we only know to well - crime won't crack itself.
Things got a little bit lively outside the Haus Frein near to the stadium which is where the majority of the Bochum 'fans' had gathered to 'welcome' the away fans. We later heard that there had been multiple arrests but I didn't really see anything major. There is a video here which pretty much sums up what it was like outside the ground before and after.
Bochum is only ten minutes away by train from Dortmund and as such it didn't take too much effort to sell the 6,000 away tickets. Yet again our friends from The Unity helped us out by getting us ours for the princely sum of 12 Euros! The atmosphere inside the ground was incredible - loud as you like from both sets of fans.
As it was Dortmund played like a bunch of clowns - their very own Muppet Show. It was a disgrace - all that fantastic support behind them and they couldn't string two passes together. Bochums Greek star Theotanis Gekas scored a brace for the home side. Both goals resulted in three quarters of the stadium jumping up and down doing the Greek Zorba's Dance which was pumped out from the PA system. I was finding hard not to swing a fast shoe myself as it was really catchy and looked mightily impressive.
At the final whistle I looked around me and saw how much Borussia Dortmund meant to the members of The Unity. All the colour had been drained from their faces and they were angry. I am able to cast off the effects of defeat within 20 seconds these days but to those chaps it meant the world and their week had officially ended.
To the tune of more bottles being smashed around our ears we made our way back to the station and let the others get on with having a pop at each other. Once back in Dortmund we headed to our favourite brewery; the Hovels Hausbrauerei for some quality food washed down with the obligatory German beer(s) to die for.
After all that we were invited back to a bar in town where some of The Unity members had gathered to down their sorrows. After the initial disappointment had died down some hours later the songs started coming out again. As usual in Germany we ended up singing all night and generally having the time of our lives.
It was a struggle the next morning to get up but before we knew it we were on the train to Offenbach for our second match of the weekend. We got the train to Frankfurt which took just over an hour from Cologne and then a regional train from there to Offenbach which didn't take too long.
In saying it didn't take that long - the previous night had caught up with me and I was in dire need of an emergency No.2. Every second on the train (no toilets) seemed to take an age. There was nothing at the station for the ground either and after twenty painful minutes walking to the pub nearest to the ground, I burst in, pushed the local Kickers hooligans to one side and sat on the bog for five of the most enjoyable minutes known to mankind.
With that trauma behind me everything seemed rosy. The beer started to flow again both outside the ground in the aforementioned pub full of hoolies and inside in a wonderfully run clubhouse type bar resplendent with murals daubed all over the walls celebrating Kickers Offenbach's previous triumphs.
Our tickets had been sorted so we were in with the Offenbach ultras in Block 2B. A sea of red and white greeted the teams as they trotted out and to our right 1,500 or so Hansa Rostock fans were backing their team. Just to put that into perspective -this was a Division 2 game, it was a Sunday afternoon and Rostock is over seven hours away by train from Offenbach. German football fans eh!? You just have to love them!
The game itself was ok. It finished 1-1 and Hansa Rostock missed a penalty late on which added to the entertainment. The ground was magnificent if you are into your old skool stadiums. It might not look much to the Johnny-come-lately Premiership fan but for an old(ish) timer like myself it had everything. Terracing (tick), large floodlights (tick), ding dong atmosphere (tick), beers (tick) four banks of similar coloured seating (untick).
That was it then. A few cans of beer accompanied our train back to Cologne where upon on arrival we sat down and sunk a few more beers and patted ourselves on the back for another European Football Weekend with no bother. England and Germany may have their differences but here in the EFW office I can safely say 'WE HEART GERMANY'.