Friday, 19 September 2014

SC Freiburg v Hertha Berlin. 19/09/14

"Have I seen this man? Yes. It is Jogi Loew. He was enjoying himself in a pub three streets away last week."

SC Freiburg 2-2 Hertha Berlin. Mage Solar Stadion.
Friday 19/09/14.
Whoever decided to construct Dreisamstadion, the home of SC Freiburg, on the edge of the Black Forest deserves a medal. In fact, whoever decided to build the city of Freiburg itself is worthy of the highest honours that mankind can throw at them.

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
This was just a one night stay but with hindsight it should have been longer. The little corner of south west Germany that Freiburg occupies is a stunning place full of forests, mountains, friendly people and most importantly of all of course, good beer.

A Freiburg street, complete with bachle on the right
We arrived at Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg airport on Friday morning, totally bamboozled by separate exits from the arrivals lounge into France and Switzerland. Where did those of us wanting to go to Germany go? This sort of puzzlement wouldn't have happened in the early 1940s. We picked Switzerland but needless to say that was wrong and so we had the torturous task of crossing the border into France (a set of double doors in the airport) to begin the hour long bus journey to Freiburg.

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?
Now I don't care how fit a girl is - and this one was very - if Jogi Loew is the vicinity, you go and find Jogi Loew. The only thing for it was to visit every pub in the next three streets. Fortunately, we didn't know in which direction she meant either so that would mean every pub in the next three streets in every direction. The best of which was Martins, brewing its own stuff on the premises.

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?
And so onto Dresiamstadion, or Mage Solar Stadion as it is known for sponsorship purposes. A quick tram ride took us to the foot of the Black Forest and we wandered down residential streets set up with your normal beer stands and scarf stalls - including one selling some of the greats of the English game along with Millwall. Are Millllllllllllll popular in this part of Germany? Answers on a postcode.

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
The stadium itself looked exactly like a football ground in Lord of the Rings would if the Fellowship had have taken on the armies of Mordor in a kick about rather than a war for Middle Earth. With towering hills and trees aplenty in the background, it was the epitome of an old style English ground. Tall floodlight pylons, big one tiered stands littered with poles holding up the roof. Fans loitered around outside the stands before the game, enjoying a beer and the view into the Black Forest in the distance and once inside the atmosphere was electric.

A football ground at the foot of the Black Forest? We like
Given the distance to come on a Friday, Hertha had traveled in numbers and they weren't to be disappointed. Neither were we, our press box seats being next to the official Tweeters of the visiting club. In an all too familiar set of circumstances, we were the only people in the press box munching on sausage and drinking beer but the more professionals around us were too engrossed in the spectacle unfurling on the pitch to notice the growing inebriated state of two of their fellow journalists.

It looks and feels VERY English
The locals go wild as Marc Oliver-Kempf  makes it 1-0
The homesters went 1-0 ahead in the first half through a Marc Oliver-Kempf header, the wonderfully named Ronny - not O'Sullivan, or Biggs, or Rocket, just Ronny - equalised with a free kick before the break and Felix Kraus made it 2-1 Freiburg with 79 minutes to go. And then, with 93 on the club Hertha's Nico Schulz was shown red for a beautifully rash and unnecessary tackle.

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.
And how do you top that for a game of football? Why, by going to a closed shopping centre that is now selling beer and is packed to the rafters for a live bands performance. And then back to Schlappen for more lemon beer. And then to a discotheque that is actually called Discothek where Andy promptly fell asleep ten minutes after we entered and spent the night totally unaware that groups of German girls were posing for photos with this strange Englishman asleep in the corner of their nightclub. He will no doubt be in hundreds of German's Facebook photo albums and we'll never even know about it.

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
And did any of those girls end up marrying yours truly? No. Next time we go back to Freiburg I'll have to try harder to fall into a Bachle.

Proper floodlights
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"
SC Freiburg: Roman Burki, Oliver Sorg (Mensur Mujdza), Pavel Krmas, Marc Oliver-Kempf 1, Christian Gunter, Jonathan Schmid, Vladimir Darida (Nicolas Hoffler), Julian Schuster, Felix Klaus 1, Karim Guede, Max Phillipp (Mike Frantz.

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).

Attendance: 23,600

1 comment:

  1. Great blog entry! Just be glad that you could enjoy the match as a neutral spectator, the whole action in injury time was hard to bear as a Freiburg supporter... ;)