|SC Freiburg 2-2 Hertha Berlin. Mage Solar Stadion.|
Gothic cathedral? Check. Warmest city in Germany? Check. City walls? Check. Little open air gutters called Bachle that run water through the pedestrianised streets and which cool the air? Check. Urban legend that if you unintentionally step in a Bachle, you are destined to marry a Freiburger? Check. City that gave Jogi Loew his break in football? Big check.
|City Gates/Home of Rapunzel|
|A Freiburg street, complete with bachle on the right|
Once there, we unfortunately avoided any Bachle's and stumbled across a delightful pub called Schlappen. Three pints later and we lured in a typically fit barmaid to bombard with questions. One of these included the whereabouts of Herr Loew, who we were reliably informed by our contact at SC Freiburg was a regular in the city. Just in case anybody in Germany didn't know who the coach that led them to the World Cup two months ago was, Andy had decided to print out a photo to show them. So had she seen him? Loew and behold (I've waited ages to use that), she bloody well had! Last week, he was in a pub three streets away.
|Haben sie diesen Mann gesehen?|
Several pints later and we had neither found Jogi or were in possession of the photo, it having been drunkenly lost. We had however tried some of the local speciality beer, a cloudy offering that tasted distinctively of lemons. Horrible at first, it seemed to grow on you after a few pints although that could of course have been due to a numbing of the tastebuds.
|Who goes to Freiburg to buy a Millllllllllllllll scarf?|
Being members of the fourth estate once again for this massive visit of Hertha Berlin meant we had press passes waiting for us courtesy of the excellent Andrew at SC. That of course meant we had enough time for more pre-match beer, this time in a tented area just outside the ground where we enjoyed pints and schnapps with Hertha and Freiburg fans and some traditional Swiss snuff with a group of Swiss chaps who make the journey to home games at Dresiam due to Swiss football being "shit". Well, if you can't even beat England at home guys...
|Schnapps with the traveling Hertha army|
|A football ground at the foot of the Black Forest? We like|
|It looks and feels VERY English|
|The locals go wild as Marc Oliver-Kempf makes it 1-0|
Game over? Well no. Ronny had other ideas and in the 96th minute Hertha got a free kick on the edge of the box. Quite incredibly, their goalkeeper Thomas Kraft came rampaging forward, got involved in a bit of pushing and shoving with some defenders and then started getting involved in the Freiburg wall. Told in no uncertain terms by the referee to get back in his goal and stop clowning around, he duly did so but before he could make it all the way back to the other end Ronny had bent the set piece into the top corner to cue mental celebrations from the away fans.
|Hertha goalkeeper Thomas Kraft starts organising Freiburg's|
defensive wall in surreal scenes
|And the confusion caused allows Ronny to net a 96th minute|
leveller from the free kick. Boom.
|Partying in a shopping centre|
|Andy becomes immortalised in a hundered Freiburger's Facebook|
albums as the queue up to have a photo with drunk Englishman
asleep in corner of night club
|Freiburg and Hertha line up for this big clash|
|An impressive show of support from the traveling Hertha army|
|"Cheers for coming guys - sorry about the 96th minute equaliser"|
Hertha Berlin: Thomas Kraft, Peter Pekarik, Fabian Lustenberger (John Heitinga), John Anthony Brooks, Nico Schulz, Roy Beerens, Ronny 2, Hajime Hosogai, Jens Hegeler, Genki Haraguchi (Valentin Stocker), Julian Schieber (Salomon Kalou).