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 their maintenance.

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 fortunate 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 heightens 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 try today. They'll be delighted 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. Stan is showing a keen interest in my hobby as he grows into a young man!

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


November 2018

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 soon 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 Düsseldorf.

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!

No comments: