Welcome to volume one of my blog paying homage to the football clubs I've visited all over the world and the wonderful people responsible for keeping them going and looking after the stadiums, and in some cases basic grounds.

Since I was a little lad I've been fascinated in football and more so where games are played. With my love of travel and curiosity of the game I wanted to visit as many grounds and see games wherever possible. I was lucky that my Dad also loved the game and spent so much of his spare time taking me to matches. As I got older the boundaries widened owing to my location and increased wages to Europe and indeed the world. The sight of a stand or a floodlight pylon in the distance immediately hightens my senses and eagerness for a closer look.

I hope this site gives you the chance to share in my pleasure and experiences and maybe one day set you on the road to adventure. If you get half as much out of the hobby as I've done I can guarantee some great memories, good friends and stories to pass on to future generations.

Give your local club a go today. They'll be pleased to see you!

Everlasting thanks primarily to my late and very much missed and dearly loved parents; my Dad Bob Bernard and my Mum; Ann, who put up with endless years of football chat and my brothers Nick and Paul who gave me the chance and encouragement to do what I have. Thanks to all my friends who offer encouragement and Sally and Stan who inspire and give me great pride. Young Stan is showing a keen interest in my hobby!

Please feel free to post any comments (please use sensible language - I want everyone to be able to enjoy reading) or ask any questions relating to visiting grounds or events. If you want to see any ground reviewed please let me know. It will take quite some time for everywhere to appear, but make sure you keep having a look as the site is continually updated.

If you click on a lot of the pictures you will get a larger version on your screen.

I have also added links to video clips on youtube where appropriate for those of you who are bored of reading or are filling in time at work. I haven't always gone for the most obvious choices, but items that will be in some cases unusual but always historically interesting.

Click to see volume two of HAOTW.

Rob Bernard


September 2015

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Scarborough Athletic: My visits from 2017-18

Scarborough Athletic 1 Atherton Collieries 0 (Saturday 2nd December 2017) Northern Premier League Division One North (att: 903)

My first competitive game at the Flamingo Land Stadium came about as I visited my brother Nick and family for a long weekend. We had contemplated going to Sheffield Wednesday v Hull City but nephew Stan was more than happy with Boro; his Grandad’s team!

We travelled through and visited my Auntie Rita for lunch and to catch up and exchange gifts. I headed to The Valley pre match where I caught up with Karl Theobald and say hello to plenty of other Boro mates.

It was still slightly surreal walking up to the ground through areas of my junior adventures. We took up a position opposite the Main Stand by the half way line. Again it was good to stand with familiar faces in our home town at a game.

Boro played pretty well in the first half and went ahead half way through, when the excellent Max Wright tormented his full back before plonking a perfect cross on the head of Michael Coulson who made no mistake.

I headed round to the stand, where I caught up with my pals on the board of directors. Again it all seemed a bit surreal, but I’d never felt more comfortable. I knew they were doing a good job and the money was being looked after.

The second half saw the visitors get right back into the game, as they were cheered on by an impressive and vocal following. Boro boss Steve Kittrick rang the changes, with Jimmy Beadle easing the pressure as he won areal challenges.

Colls were very decent outfit, and piled on the attacks, with the Seadogs not been at their best. In the end a determined defence and fine display from keeper Tommy Taylor secured all three points. The match was also lit up by an erratic refereeing performance.

At full time I headed back to The Valley and caught up with Andy Crossland before I headed to Falsgrave to meet Karl. We had beers in the new pub; The Firk Inn Pub, which I found average before heading to The Ship and then The Stumble Inn.

Scarborough and general drinking behaviour had changed since my days as a resident. The pubs weren’t particularly busy and youngsters didn’t bother going out until late. The area around the station was once amass with groups on pub crawls. It was dead at 8.15.

I’d had a nice drink and needed food. The only fish and chip shop I could find was at the bottom of Prospect Road. I forget its name, but it was always Greg’s Plaice when I lived near there. The grub was average.

It had been a really good day for all that. I was over moaning Boro supporters. The team had won, I saw some lovely people and the ale was on form. I’d definitely be back.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Rot-Weiss Frankfurt (Germany)

SG Rot-Weiss Frankfurt 01 is a football club from the German city of Frankfurt-am-Main that was formed on November 11th 1901 as FV Amicitia 1901 Bockenheim. It has gone through several mergers and name changes along the way, in a complicated history.

Amicitia had several members belonging to the former Bockenheimer FC 1899, with the new club playing in the top level of the Westmaingau Nordkreises, before deciding to merge in 1909 with Frankfurter FC 1902 to create Frankfurter FV Amicitia 1902, while playing in the Nordkreisliga.

Meanwhile in the Bockenheim district of Frankfurt, two other clubs; FVgg 01 and FC Germania decided to merge on July 5th 1912 to become Bockenheimer FVgg Germania 1901.

Following World War One, both Bockenheimer FVgg Germania 1901 and FV Amicitia 1901 Bockenheim merged to form VfR 1901 Frankfurt on August 26th 1919. Seven years later the club adopted the red and white colours for the first time.

The club achieved its first honours shortly after when they were crowned as Bezirksliga Main champions in 1929-30 and 1930-31. This led to participation in the final rounds of the Süddeutsche (South German) Championship.

The team’s goalkeeper of the time was local Bockenheimer Willibald Kreß, who went on to play for the German national team in 1929.

A further merger with FC Helvetia 1902 Bockenheim as SC Rot Weiß Frankfurt was born. Another club; Reichsbahn TuSG 1901 Frankfurt amalgamated to create Reichsbahn TSV Rot-Weiß Frankfurt in 1935, which greatly increased club membership as boxers and handball and hockey players joined up.

From 1933 German football was divided into sixteen top flight regional Gauliga’s, with Rot-Weiß being placed in Gauliga Südwest/Mainhessen as the temporarily joined forces with VfL Rödelheim, to play under the name of KSG Rödelheim/Rot-Weiß Frankfurt.

In 1940 the club moved into a new home at Brentanobad, with the club taking on the title of SG Rot-Weiss Frankfurt in 1946. The team played the 1947-48 season in Oberliga Süd; one of five top flight divisions at the time.

Rot-Weiss found the standard difficult as it was competing against clubs with far more wealth. 20,000 fans flocked to Brentanobad for the home fixture with 1. FC Nürnberg, before the team was relegated at the end of the campaign back to Amateurliga Hessen as the Oberliga was titled at the time.

The team dropped down a level to the Landesliga for several spells rising and winning the Oberliga Hessen league title in 1967-68 to play in the then second tier Oberliga Süd. However Rot-Weiss’s term lasted just twelve months.

Financial issues plagued the club in the 1970’s despite Hessenpokal triumphs in 1971 and 1975 and signings such as goalkeeper Hans-Peter Schauber, leading to the team being demoted back to the Landesliga at the end of the 1974-75 season.

Despite fighting back with a promotion, Rot-Weiss were relegated once again in 1977-78, with the club debt still remaining in place. Another regional cup success at the end of the decade at least gave rise to Rot-Weiss, at least to the attention of fans around the country.

The team qualified for the DFB Pokal; where they were hammered 11-0 against Hamburger SV at the Volksparkstadion. Financial expert and chairman Wolfgang Steubing led things off the pitch, while the team fought back to regain Hessenliga status.

Dragoslav Stepanović arrived as head coach as Rot-Weiss won the Oberliga Hessen title of 1989-90 and with experienced goalkeeper Oliver Roth and a young Jürgen Klopp in the team. However, the team missed out on promotion through the play-off rounds.

Stepanović departed after Rot-Weiss finished as league runners-up in 1990-91. Steubing also left the club half way through the decade; yet the club still qualified to enter Regionalliga Süd; the newly designated third level of German football for the 1994-95 season.

However, the level proved to be too demanding as Rot-Weiss returned to the Oberliga after finishing bottom of the table in the first season. A second successive relegation came in 1995-96 with the club dropping down to the Verbandsliga.

Worse was to come as Rot-Weiss made it three relegations in a row as the team found themselves in the Bezirksliga. It would take many years while the club regrouped to win a couple of promotions before regaining their Oberliga place in 2007.

Further disappointment was to hit the Stadion am Brentanobad faithful in 2011-12 as their heroes were relegated to the Verbandsliga. Rot-Weiss dropped down a further division twelve months later.

The club quickly regrouped to win two successive promotions, as Rot-Weiss finished as Verbandsliga Hessen Süd runners-up in 2014-15. The momentum continued with the club ending as Hessenliga runners-up in 2015-16.

Promotion was denied as Rot-Weiss went down in their play-off round. The performance was followed up with a third place in 2016-17 and another shot at the play offs. Once again the team fell just short in the quest for promotion to the fourth tier Regionalliga.

SG Rot-Weiss Frankfurt will play in the Hessenliga in the 2017-18 season.

My visit

Saturday 21st October 2017

It was the second day of my visit to Frankfurt for football, sightseeing and socialising, with day one going exactly to plan. I’d even had an early night to allow for the big Saturday ahead of me.

I was going to attend matches at FSV and Eintracht, but before that I wanted some exercise and a look around. I’d taken a nice walk around Aldstadt and Hauptwache and sat outside McDonalds enjoying fries and a coffee. I was in tip top form.

The plans were set to just the right time for me to take the S3 service to Rödelheim station, from where it was a pleasant fifteen minute genteel stroll through some nice streets to Solmspark and then Brentanobad before arriving at the home of Rot Weiss.

Good news followed, as the gates to the stadium were open, with juniors playing on the artificial surface behind one end. I went in and had a good look inside a fine small to medium sized venue.

The Main Stand was covered down one side, with facilities at the rear. The corner nearest the south end had a similar sized banking of open seating, with the Rot-Weiss clubhouse at the rear. The rest of that end, the far side and ends consisted of a dozen or so steps of open terracing.

Once I’d taken all my photos I walked round the main Ludwig-Landmann-Straße and walked up to the Fischstein UBahn stop. This didn’t really work for me, so I continued along to the Industriehof stop to take the U7 service to Johanna-Tesch-Platz for my first game of the day.

SV Sandhausen (Germany)

Sportverein Sandhausen 1916 e.V. is a professional football club that was formed in August 1916, who represent the small town of Sandhausen; which is located four miles south of Heidelburg in the southern state of Baden-Württemberg.

The early years of SVS was interrupted by the outbreak of war, with the club struggling financially once peace had been restored. The negotiations for some land with the Fostamt Schwetzingen was successful, as the club set up a ground on the road to Walldorf, opposite the Wasserwerk.

Initially the club competed in regional C-Klasse football, before winning promotion to B-Klasse in 1924; before rising to A-Klasse in 1929. A league title arrived at Sandhausen the following year. In 1933 German football was divided into sixteen top level regional Gauligas by the Third Reich; with SVS spending time in Gauliga Südwest/Mainhessen.

Following World War Two Sportgemeinschaft Sandhausen was formed. This was a sports association which affiliated handball, chess, sportsmen and singers to the club. Sandhausen progressed to the newly formed Amateurliga Südwest following a local success. This was the third tier of German football at the time.

However, in 1949 the team were relegated down to 2.Amateurliga before the sports association was disbanded. On March 16th 1951, SV Sandhausen became a stand alone football club, with club stalwart Walter Reinhard being elected as its first chairman.

During the 1950-51 season a new sports centre was constructed at Waldsplatz, with Hardt-Stadion the centrepiece; as SVS moved in. The 2.Amateurliga title was won in 1956-57, with the team moving up to 1.Amateurliga Nordbaden.

Theo Machmeier was capped at German amateur level as the team found the going touch; as it was relegated before regaining their position in the early 1960’s. The club welcomed FC Bayern München, Hamburger SV and 1.FC Köln to Hardt-Stadion for prestigious friendly games.

In 1975-76 SVS finished as league runners-up. The following campaign saw the club qualify for the German amateur championships; where the side went all the way to the final before being defeated 3-2 on aggregate to the amateur team of Fortuna Düsseldorf. Solace came through promotion to Oberliga Baden-Württemberg.

In 1977-78 Sandhausen qualified to compete in the DFB Pokal German Cup. FC Traber Berlin-Mariendorf and SC Gladenbach/Hessen were both defeated before SVS went down 1-0 at home to Eintracht Braunschweig in the third round as World Cup winner Paul Breitner scored in front of 15,000 fans.

The team atoned for their defeat in the previous seasons German amateur championship, as they progressed to the final once again. This time there was no mistake as 5,000 supporters cheered SVS to a 3-1 aggregate win against ESV Ingolstadt.

Sandhaused quickly adapted to their position in one of the several third tier divisions, as they went on to become Oberliga Baden-Württemberg champions in 1980-81, 1984-85 and 1986-87 as Gerd Dais banged in the goals.

In 1992-93 a second German amateur title was collected as the amateur team of SV Werder Bremen were defeated 2-0 in Sandausen as the team ended the season as league runners-up. A third Oberliga Baden-Württemberg championship was won 1994-95.

By now the Oberliga had become the fourth tier of German football following reorganisation, but Sandhausen’s title win elevated them to the third tier Regionalliga Süd. However, the step up proved too far and the team were relegated twelve months later.

SVS returned to be in contention for honours back in the Oberliga; as Slavisa Staletovic became the league top scorer in 1997-98. After finishing as runners-up in 1998-99, Sandhausen won the league for a fifth time in 1999-00; but missing out on promotion after a play-off with SSV Jahn Regensburg.

The team continued to knock on the door when it came to final top league placings, before a plan was announced in 2006 to merge Sandhausen with TSG 1899 Hoffenheim and FC Astoria Walldorf to create FC Heidelberg 06.

The idea was rejected by Sandhausen and Walldorf. There was also the problem of finding a suitable site for the new stadium in Heidelberg. SVS carried on and won another Oberliga crown in 2006-07.

This time Sandhausen were promoted to Regionalliga Süd, where a top half finish granted the club a spot in the newly formed 3.Liga for the 2008-09 season; where Régis Dorn finished as the league’s top scorer in 2009-10, while Roberto Pinto pulled the strings in midfield.

SVS won 3.Liga in 2011-12 to claim promotion to 2. Bundesliga as Frank Löning topped the goalscoring charts at Hardtwaldstadion. Former player Gerd Dais was replaced as head coach by Hans-Jürgen Boysen as the club narrowly avoided relegation in 2012-13.

Alois Schwartz became the new team boss in May 2013 as the club took on work to extend the capacity of Hardtwaldstadion. The team consistently finished in the bottom half of the table while retaining their status with relative ease.

Schwartz departed to 1.FC Nürnberg was replaced as head coach by Kenan Kocak in the summer of 2016 as the new man took the team to tenth place in 2016-17.

SV Sandhausen will play in 2. Bundesliga in 2017-18 season.

My visit

SV Sandhausen 1 FC St Pauli 1 (Monday 23rd October 2017) 2. Bundesliga (att: 8,514)

It was the final full day of my latest German adventure before I returned home the following morning. Frankfurt had been good to me, but it was time to move south. I took a decent walk most of the way to the station to try and freshen up before lunch.

I wasn’t feeling 100%, after once again trying the local applewein the previous evening. Would I ever learn? The stretch did me good on a cool but pleasant morning, before I grabbed a snack and found the bus station.

Again, I chose the budget option of the FlixBus for €9 for the two hour journey. I drifted in and out of sleep while listening to TalkSport on the journey to the town of Heidelberg for my overnight stay.

I’d soon sussed out that the number 21 tram would take me close to Hemingway’s Pub & Hostel; where I’d pre-booked. Sure enough, I was soon alighting at Bismarckplatz before walking around the corner and checking in.

My room cost €55 in an admittedly expensive tourist destination; but I expected a bit more than the basic top floor accommodation with a shared bathroom. I decided to go and explore the town on foot.

Heidelberg was very pretty, sitting on the banks of the Neckar, with historic buildings and a dramatic castle on the hill overlooking the old town. The places I fancied for a drink were either busy or closed and I certainly didn’t fancy anywhere too touristy.

Instead I did all my sightseeing and walked across the river before taking the bus back the mile or so to Bismarckplatz to grab some food and drink and then head back to have a siesta before heading out to the match.

Sandhausen is a small town about five miles from Heidelberg. There were several options to reach the stadium, but I opted for the direct 780 bus. It arrived late; no doubt owing to match traffic on its previous run. I managed to get a seat for the longer than imagined ride.

The roads approaching BWT-Stadion am Hardtwald were not built for large crowds. Cars were parked wherever they could find a spot, while many others walked up. Our driver wouldn’t open the doors, despite pleas from both sets of fans on board as we neared our venue.

Eventually, he relented so that we could walk the last few minutes. I was unsure of where I wanted to be, until I found a stadium plan. My gate was just the other side of the clubhouse and by the souvenir shop.

The stadium had obviously been built bit by bit. I picked up a free A4 sized programme on entry, before walking along several fenced in alleys behind a stand and the sports centre. Eventually the area opened out and I saw signs to my block.

I’d bought and printed my €13 ticket online in advance before I set off from London for a terraced place behind the goal. Before finding a spot I decided it was time for a beer. Rather frustratingly refreshments were only available by purchase on a club card.

Eventually I found the counter selling new cards, with the fella doing the vending being very helpful and speaking English. The card would cost €10 but it was returnable after the game. I put a further €10 credit on it.

Beers cost €3.50, with bratwurst €3. This was ideal for my needs! I bought a beer and went up into my block to take in my surroundings for the evening, to discover that BWT-Stadion am Hardtwald was like many lower division grounds as I grew up in England.

The Main Stand was in three separate builds behind an open terrace; with the open section the far side of the players tunnel being converted to seating. The centre and far stand both had seats, with the one nearest me covered terracing.

The far end was a single tier seated stand with corporate facilities in the corner. The far touchline had seating at the back of a paddock of open terracing, while the section that I was in was covered terracing; divided between home and away fans.

As usual St Pauli had a large following; although I was particularly impressed for such a long distance on a Monday evening, with the game being shown on live TV. Their fans filled their section behind the goal as well as taking many places up until the half way line down the side.

My view wasn’t bad at all, but it was blighted by the sound of the leader of the songs screaming into his microphone to try and enthuse the home fans into song. I don’t mind the culture; abroad anyway, but some try just too hard.

In fairness it did need someone to try and spark some excitement, because there was precious little out on the pitch. Both sides were just a few places from the promotion places; although I did struggle to wonder how?

The visitors looked more likely to score in what was a dour opening period. Their diminutive midfielder Waldemar Sobota was worth watching as he pulled the strings. They came closest when Bernd Nehrig fluffed an opportunity just before the interval.

I’d left my intended place and watched some of the game from the side open terrace. The din and ranting was just too much. At half time I went for a beer and banger double; with the bratwurst being more like and English sausage.

I’d got my car deposit back and taken up a place back on the open terrace near to the corner flag in the hope that the action would hot up. Philipp Förster tested St Pauli keeper Robin Himmelmann with a low shot, while Lasse Sobiech’s header was easily handled by SVS goalie Marcel Schuhen.

Substitute Richard Sukuta-Pasu set up Philipp Klingmann, but the home side’s full back found the side netting with his shot. It would be Sandhausen who eventually took the lead on eighty minutes.

A corner was half cleared by Christopher Avevor to the edge of the box, where a low shot from Manuel Stiefler took a deflection off Sami Allagui to find the corner of the net. I had to watch the goal by replay on the scoreboard as I was in the loo when it went in!

That looked for all money to be the winner, but St Pauli continued to try playing football against the resolute Sandhausen side. Sobota had been my stand out player all evening, so it was fitting that he crafted the last minute equaliser.

His pass into the area found Jeremy Dudziak in the area; who crossed low for  Jan-Marc Schneider to control, turn and fire past Schuhen to make it 1-1. After five minutes of additional time, referee Markus Schmidt brought proceedings to an end.

I’d positioned myself near to the exit and was soon on my way and outside to where there were several buses lined up. My first thought was to take the shuttle bus to St. Ilgen/Sandhausen station and then take the train to Heidelberg.

However, I’d vaguely read another option to a place I’m sure was called Leiman and then catch a tram. I came across a bus with that place among its destinations, so I jumped in board. It was all a bit of a risk as I couldn’t check owing to having no phone coverage.

It was all a bit of an adventure, but I must admit to being relieved when my map App kicked in and we started to take turnings in the right direction with passengers still on board. Sure enough, we were dropped right by the tram terminus.

There was still over twenty minutes before the number 23 turned up, so I went to try and get a beer. The service in the place I chose wasn’t forthcoming, so I walked out. However, it turned out that their ignorance would do me a real favour.

Further up Römerstraße I found a brew pub and had time to enjoy a fine large dunkel dark beer, while being served by a not unattractive waitress. The tram took me all the way back to Bismarckplatz.

There was still time for a couple of nightcaps at Hemingway’s before I went to bed in readiness for an early start the next day, as I took the 7.50am FlixBus to Stuttgart Airport in time for my lunchtime flight back to Heathrow after four magnificent days once again in Germany.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Eintracht Frankfurt (Germany)

Eintracht Frankfurt is a professional football club following the merger of two clubs that were formed in March 1899, and are based in the city of Frankfurt in the German state of Hesse.

Frankfurter Fußball-Club Viktoria von 1899 and Frankfurter Fußball-Club Kickers von 1899 were both founder members of the Nordkreis-Liga in 1909 before the two clubs merged in May 2011 to form Frankfurter Fußball Verein (Kickers-Viktoria).

The club was a success at they were crowned as Nordkreis-Liga champions in 1912,1913 and 1914; going on to qualify for the South German championship on each occasion. In 1927, the gymnastic department of the club went on their separate way; two years after football commenced at Waldstadion.

Eintracht collected the Kreisliga Nordmain title in 1919-20 and 1920-21 as well as the Bezirksliga Main-Hessen in 1927-28, 1928-29, 1929-30, 1930-31 and 1931-32. Those triumphs allowed the club to compete for the South German championship; which was won in 1929-30 and 1931-32.

The final triumph saw Eintracht go all the way to the national final, before going down 2-0 to FC Bayern München in front of a crowd of 55,000 at the Städtisches Stadion in Nuremberg, as the Bavarian giants lifted their first national title.

In 1933 German football was divided into sixteen top flight regional Gauligas under the Third Reich. Eintracht played in the Gauliga Südwest and went on to win the title in 1937-38. Following World War Two the club established itself in Oberliga Süd; one of five top level divisions.

‘Die Adler’ lifted the title in 1952-53 and 1958-59. The latter triumph led to the team being crowned as German champions for the first time as local rivals Kickers Offenbach were defeated 5-3 at Berlin’s Olimpiastadion in front of 75,000 fans thanks to a Eckehard Feigenspan hat-trick and a brace from István Sztáni.

The following season Eintracht overcame Young Boys, Wiener Sportclub and Rangers in the European Cup to set up a final against Real Madrid at Hampden Park. The Spaniards won the game 7-3; with the action available to view here.

The match became one of the most famous in the history of the competition and attracted a record attendance of 127,621. Erwin Stein netted twice, with Richard Kress scoring the other goal for the German champions.

Eintracht Frankfurt were selected as one of the sixteen founder members of the Bundesliga for the 1963-64 season. The team played for the next thirty three seasons in the top level of German football.

The club provided Jürgen Grabowski, Hans Tilkowski and Friedel Lutz to the West Germany World Cup squad of 1966, before the team reached the semi-final of the European Inter-Cities Fair Cup in 1966-67 before going out to Dinamo Zagreb.

In 1973-74 Eintracht lifted the national cup DFB Pokal after defeating Hamburger SV 3-1 after extra time at the newly opened Rheinstadion in Düsseldorf with the goals coming from Gert Trinklein, Bernd Hölzenbein and Wolfgang Kraus.

The team retained the cup the following season with a 1-0 win against MSV Duisburg at the Niedersachsenstadion in Hanover in front of 43,000 fans as Karl-Heinz Körbel scored the only goal.

Further third place league finishes and their Pokal successes ensured more adventures into European competition. In 1975-76 the side bowed out in the semi-finals to West Ham United; before going on to win the UEFA Cup in 1979-80.

Aberdeen, Dinamo București, Feyenoord, Zbrojovka Brno and Bayern München were defeated before Eintracht won the final on away goals after the tie with Borussia Mönchengladbach as Harald Karger, Hölzenbein and Fred Schaub weighed in with the goals.

Körbel became the record club appearance holder between 1972 and 1991 as he picked up a two more Pokal winners medals; in 1980-81 after Eintracht’s 3-1 win against 1.FC Kaiserslautern in Stuttgart as Willi Neuberger, Ronald Borchers and Cha-Bum-kun scoring.

In 1987-88 VfL Bochum were beaten at the Olimpiastadion in Berlin in front of a crowd of 76,000 as Lajos Détári scored the only goal of the game.

Eintracht kept their top flight status in 1983-84 and 1988-89 following play-off victories over MSV Duisburg and 1.FC Saarbrücken. However, the team were relegated in 1995-96 after top scorer Tony Yeboah had moved on.

Eintracht returned to the top flight as 2. Bundesliga champions in 1997-98 thanks in part to the goals of Thomas Sobotzik as Horst Ehrmantraut coached the team.

However, after two seasons of struggle and financial problems under spells of head coach from Reinhold Fanz, Jörg Berger, Felix Magath and then Friedal Rausch, the team went back down to the second tier in 2000-01. 

The goals of Paweł Kryszałowicz cheered the Waldstadion faithful before promotion was secured in 2002-03 with Willi Reimann in charge after the team following a term from Martin Andermatt.

The team would only remain at the top level for twelve months before they were demoted once again. In true Eintracht fashion, the team won promotion at the first attempt as the goals of Arie van Lent proved pivotal in 2004-05 for Friedhelm Funkel's side.

Funkel continued to steady the ship and led his team to a mid table finish in 2007-08 as Ioannis Amanatidis captained the side. Funkel resigned in May 2009 and was replaced by Michael Skibbe; who in turn made way for Christoph Daum in March 2011; who couldn’t save the team from relegation.

Armin Veh arrived as the new head coach for the 2011-12 season as he took the team to promotion as runners-up. The team finished in sixth place in the Bundesliga in 2012-13; the clubs best finish for many years.

Thomas Schaaf took over looking after the team when Veh’s contract expired in June 2014. The former boss returned for a second spell before he was replaced by Niko Kovač in March 2016 as Eintracht stayed up with a 2-1 aggregate win against 1. FC Nürnberg in the relegation play-off.

The 2016-17 campaign ended in an eleventh place finish with Alexander Meier captaining the team.

Eintracht Frankfurt will play in the Bundesliga in the 2017-18 season.

My visit

Eintracht Frankfurt 2 Borussia 09 Dortmund 2 (Saturday 21st October 2017) Bundesliga (att: 51,500)

Once in a while I spend more than I usually would on going to a match if it’s somewhere I really want to go. Sometimes I regret it, but on other occasions it’s worth every penny. This was one such occasion.

I’d left the Regionalliga match between FSV Frankfurt and KSV Hessen Kassel at half time to ensure that I reached the Commerzbank Arena without any panic. I changed from the U7 at Konstablerwache before catching the S8 train to Stadion.

I’d been past the stadium, both on arriving in the city the previous day and on my journey to and from Wiesbaden, so I had an idea of the lay out and distances involved. The usual excellent German public transport was constantly ferrying fans to the area.

Flughafenstraße was a narrow road from the station all the way to the stadium, with several stalls selling food and beer along the route, along with plenty of souvenir stands. It was busy, without been too restricted. Some fans cut through the edge of the forest.

While I was keen for a beer and another snack to keep me going until after the game, I was also eager to get through the gates and inside the complex. I bought a large frikadel with onions for €4.40 just outside.

The entrances were set back from the structure, with access to most areas around the open concourse once inside. The queues were quickly negotiated and I walked up the slope to discover and to find my block.

It was immediately obvious that a lot of Dortmund fans had travelled, with the likelihood that many would be in the traditional home areas. This was quite normal in Germany, once the designated visiting area had been sold out.

There were only a few hundred places left when I bought my ticket online for €56. I printed it out before I set out, as well as an extra sheet which gave me free travel from 11am until 4am the following morning

I purchased a thick A4 club magazine for €2, which came with a small free match programme before deciding to try the local applewein, which I’d read about. It was like a flat cider and cost €4.30 for a large plastic glass.

My seat was in block 15H in the Osttribune. I knew I’d selected somewhere near the back, but I didn’t realise just how far. The steps were steep and I was a couple of rows from the rear. After initially mixing my row and seat number up, I found my correct place.

Like many German stadia the Commerzbank Arena had the back row seats taken out so there was a small standing area. Because my seat was in the middle of a row, and hemmed in, I decided to just go to the very back. It gave me an amazing view.

The arena was two tiered, with a business deck dividing the levels; not unlike a smaller version of Wembley. A roof covered every place, with a scoreboard hanging over the half way line.

Paul Robinson hit the scoreboard during the World Cup in 2006. It was so high, that I could only conclude that he’d done it for some sort of bet or dare? It showed highlights and club material as the teams warmed up.

The Westtribune had terracing on the lower level for the home fans. The visitors also had a section for standing in the corner below me to the left. Both sets of fans were creating a tremendous atmosphere in the lead up to the game. Thousands more Dortmund fans were indeed all around me.

If I was impressed by the stadium and atmosphere, I really hadn’t prepared for just what a superb game I was about to watch. It really was right up there with anything I’d seen before, thanks to both sides attacking intent.

The action started right from the off, with neither side holding back. Eintracht’s players impressed me with their clever runs to get through the Borussia rearguard. I thought Ante Rebic was absolutely superb.

It looked like he’d open the scoring on seventeen minutes, only to have the goal chalked off for offside. Dortmund took full advantage just a minute later when Marc Bartra fired in a low cross shot, which was converted by Nuri Sahin.

The swathes of yellow and black support were ecstatic as Peter Bosz’s league leaders looked to extend their lead at the top. Marius Wolf nearly levelled things up, but he was denied by visiting keeper Roman Burki before Sébastien Haller came close.

Dortmund’s defence had a bit of a makeshift look as the team had been hit by injuries. Eintracht continued to probe and find their way through, without scoring. They suffered a blow of their own when striker Timothy Chandler was forced off with an injury.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang missed a good opportunity to double the BVB lead before the half time whistle as he fired wide after Christian Pulisic had knocked the ball down into his path.

I’d seen the effort from the gate, as I was poised to beat the crowds and grab another cider. I retook my place at the back and reflected on what a good friendly but passionate atmosphere was created, despite opposing fans sitting alongside each other.

Aubameyang shot wide just after the restart, much to the exasperation of the away fans, before he had an effort saved by Frankfurt’s goalie, Lukas Hradecky. However, it was soon to be 2-0 as Maximilian Philipp finished with style after Mario Gotze supplied a pass.

I felt slightly disappointed. I wasn’t too fussed who won, but I’d hoped for a close game, and was worried that it would peter out after Dortmund extended their advantage. It nearly became 3-0, but Aubameyang had a goal disallowed for offside.

Despite the score, Eintracht had continued to press forward. It did however seem difficult to imagine how they’d get back into the contest. On sixty four minutes I was to get my answer as Burki clumsily fouled Rebic. Haller scored from the penalty spot.

Play continued to go from end to end. Hradecky pulled off a superb stop to keep out a Pulisic effort before Wolf found space before firing past Burki to make it 2-2 after being set up by Mijat Gaćinović. The noise inside the stadium was incredible and matched the show on the pitch.

From nowhere I thought that Eintracht would go on to win the game. Chances and attacks were still coming with Gotze probing. Burki made a great save to keep out Haller, as I headed downstairs and found a vantage spot at a gate in the business section.

In stoppage time Dortmund nearly clinched a winner as Makoto Hasebe worked wonders to clear a volley from Sahin off the line. The whistle was blown by referee Robert Hartmann shortly after, to conclude a magnificent game of football.

As son as the game ended I was on my way along the paths at the other side of the complex to my arrival to jump on a 21 tram at Stadion Straßenbahn. It took me all the way to Frankfurt Hauptbanhof; where I knew I could catch the number 11 service to my hotel.

My day got better as the service pulled in a minute later. The mobile phone signal had been poor at the stadium and I was catching up on scores from elsewhere. Unfortunately I didn’t realise that we were travelling in the wrong direction for several stops.

Eventually I got back to the Golden Leaf Hotel & Residence to have a quick nap and to freshen up. I wasn’t finished with my brilliant day out.

Unfortunately a train was cancelled at Ost station, so I went downstairs to the UBahn and eventually arrived over the River Main at Lokalbanhof. I’d read about a lively area for bars between Affentorplatz and Dreieichstraße; and I was keen to take a look.

I’d been advised to try and visit a pub called Klapper 33. It looked absolutely packed, but I decided to give it a go. I’m glad that I did. It was full of people having fun and celebrating Eintracht’s performance.

A DJ played plenty of rock and local punk tracks, which did the trick with the customers. The service was excellent despite the crowds. I’d only popped in for a look, but ended up staying for five large beers; the last of which was the excellent Frankenheim Alt dark beer from

I had another beer next door in the relatively underwhelming Legends Music Bar, before taking a train back across town to Konstablewache for a visit to a pub I’d seen earlier in the day. The Birmingham Pub was a decent choice.

The establishment was very German, and served decent drinks at a fair price. I sampled another applewein, which shocked the staff as I didn’t want it diluted in any way. The pub also had the bonus of an adjoining Imbiss.

An Imbiss is basically a snack bar facing the street, specialising in take away food. The currywurst and fries were a perfect way to end a brilliant day; before I walked the twenty minutes or so back home. I didn’t require any rocking!