Season 9 - Germany PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mark W   
Saturday, 06 May 2017 14:43

Germany v England – International Friendly

Signal Iduna Park, Dortmund

Wednesday 22nd March 2017, 20:45 K.O. (local time)

Germany 1



I hate having to address press coverage in these reports but once again, I feel the need to comment on the negative coverage of England supporters in Dortmund on Wednesday. I am not going to defend everyone who travelled or say that I do not understand the view of those who think singing about the war is unacceptable. What I will do, however is try to give it some perspective.

I have read since I returned that England fans sung about nothing but the war for 90 minutes in that Stadium. I have also read that our hosts were offended and insulted and that they were embarrassed for us. The reality is that there were songs about the war, there were also songs about the players, songs about getting drunk, songs about not wanting to go home, songs about going to Moscow. Not all fans sang every song that was sung.

In my opinion, there were songs that wouldn’t be sung in an ideal world but there was nothing I heard that was overly offensive. I spoke to a number of locals after the game and at no point was what the fans had been singing mentioned. This was blown up in the British press but I genuinely don’t believe that it was an issue for our hosts. It should also be noted that this is something which has happened whenever we have played in Germany yet we are still the German’s first choice when organizing a friendly. We were only there last year and yet they were desperate to get us back for Podolski’s big day. This doesn’t strike me as the actions of people that feel insulted every time we turn up.

That’s all I will say, some will strongly disagree with me on this and I understand that. There will be those who think that football fans should show ultimate respect to each other. I don’t think that is realistic. The tribal nature of the sport means that they will always taunt each other in the stadium. The secret is to then get on together afterwards and that was exactly what I saw on Wednesday.

I wasn’t going to go to the game when it was announced. I gave the game in Berlin a miss last year as I had been before, but when they announced that it would take place in Dortmund I wanted to visit a new city and iconic stadium. A change in jobs meant that I couldn’t commit early and missed out on cheap flights but eventually I was able to swing it, though it did mean a flying visit with a full day in work the day after.

An early morning flight on the day of the game with Neil and a new travel companion for me, Martin, resulted in us arriving in Dusseldorf before lunch. Neil and Martin had already made arrangements to get a coach to Dortmund but unfortunately my delays in booking meant that I had missed that opportunity so it would be the train for me.  I left the two of them in the bar whilst I went to find our hotel (ideally placed for an early dash back to the airport the following day).

Some of you will have heard me mention previously that I have a stalker who seems to turn up everywhere I go. Often this is understandable as it is football related but when it is walking through town or in Abu Dhabi airport Emirates Lounge, I definitely think I get to class him as a stalker. I thought I might be in the clear here but this chap with a sign suggested otherwise.

Germany 2

The train to Dortmund was packed with English and clearly an off-license somewhere had done very brisk trade that morning.

The national football museum was bypassed upon arrival in Dortmund as I needed to find the ticket collection point and then reacquaint with Neil and Martin.

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Tickets were to be picked up from the city centre version of Dortmund club shop. It's a bit more impressive than the Latics version at Boundary Park…

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We had an excellent lunch of Schnitzel and then Strudel (it’s always schnitzel and strudel in Germany) at the restaurant that Tripadvisor told us was the best in Dortmund. Neil and Martin arriving before me was clearly a masterstroke because by the time I got there they had made the decision not to let any English in. Simply joining a table already occupied, however, wasn’t a problem. Surprisingly the beer wasn’t the best in there but it was ok because we are sophisticated types and red wine is always a winner.

A trip back to the main square allowed us to catch up with friends of old but the beer was even worse up there. Many England fans had found a solution to this…

Germany 7

We did seek out the seller of these crates but the beers were warm and so we chose to ‘keep it classy’ and moved on to meet up with Dave, Baz, Charlton and co. at a local brew pub. This journey took us past a very random huge see-saw. Clearly this provided a photo opportunity. What I learnt is that if you have a photo opportunity, don’t give the camera to Martin.

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At least the pub meant that we had finally found some decent beers.

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A few hours in there was great to catch up with the other guys and other than for the waitress dropping a round of drinks at one point, everything was good.  They could do to make it a bit wider though as it is not good for stretching the flag out.

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The stadium was hugely impressive. I can imagine that the atmosphere from the home fans is much better for Dortmund games and it would be great to see the ‘yellow wall’ in action. That said, the tribute to Podolski was impressive enough.

Germany 13

I thought the England performance was excellent. It was always going to be difficult without  Kane and the lack of cutting edge was probably the reason that we failed to get a result. Some of our football was excellent, especially in the first half. It was Podolski’s day, though and I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that he produced the one moment of genius. You could argue that Joe Hart was slightly out of position but sometimes you just have to applaud the strike. This was one of those times.

I have already spoken about the England fans but stepping aside from the controversy, the atmosphere in terms of volume was unbelievable. It was good as I can remember at any friendly game, possibly on a par with Scotland at Parkhead. We might be starved of success but we travel in unbelievable numbers and certainly know how to make a real racket.

With an early morning flight home the following morning it was imperative to make the first train back to Dusseldorf and try to get a few hours kip to ensure I was in some kind of a fit state to face work at 8.30 in the morning. We made the train and everything was looking good. Neil and Martin were back on their coach and I could meet them back at the hotel. Having failed to take a photo outside the ground before kick off we found some friend locals to help us afterwards (the station would have to do).

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The beers were flowing on the train and somehow I found myself texting the other lads to confirm that I would meet them in a bar in Dusseldorf. Hang on, that wasn’t the plan. Even the dog knew it was bed time.

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We enjoyed this pub…

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and by the time we were having our photos taken with the landlord of another pub at 3am…

Germany 17

there was a real danger of not making the flight.

Somehow these things tend to work out though, and somehow I was sat at my desk in Manchester six hours later having grabbed a bit of sleep, slept through the alarm, tried to have a shower because I didn’t realize we’d slept through the alarm and apparently passed through the airport in some kind of haze.

It’s all good clean fun. Next stop Glasgow.

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Last Updated on Saturday, 06 May 2017 15:03