Saturday, 6 October 2012

Alemannia Aachen v Darmstadt 98. 06/10/12

"What the hell is a potato beetle?"

Alemannia Aachen 1-1 Darmstadt 98.
Neue Tivoli. Saturday 06/10/12.
Cologne has it all - a bloody great cathedral, a plethora of great little bierkellers, a river, a chocolate factory and a bridge. It is also very well connected (even by German standards) in terms of trains and that made it the perfect location from where to launch a trip to the 3.Bundesliga game between Alemannia Aachen and Darmstadt 98.

Cologne Cathedral - one of the worlds finest
Aachen have fallen on hard times in recent seasons. They reached the last 16 of the UEFA Cup in 2005 having qualified as runners up in the German Cup the previously season and they spent 2006-07 in the Bundesliga. They moved into Neue Tivoli, a 33,000 stadium in 2009 but since then it's been all downhill with financial mismanagement that would make even Peter Ridsdale blush. For this campaign they find themselves in the third tier with relegation into the regional leagues and bankruptcy a very real possibility.

Needing all the help they can get then, Rumble and I decided to give them some hard earned cash through our attendance and even had the good grace to take along a couple of women with us for their first experience of German football. Who says romance is dead?

Bitburger and a match ticket
It's certainly not dead in Cologne, Germany's unofficial gay capital. On my previous visit in 2010 we spent the majority of it accidentally frequenting the cities gay bars which ultimately led to a huge man putting his hand down my trousers and onto my bare bottom. With two girls on tour this time, that was thankfully avoided.

Fruh Kolsch remains my favourite of the various types of Kolsch you can sample in Cologne which naturally makes Fruh am Dom opposite the cathedral the best place to drink in the city. We spent Friday morning in there, moving onto the cobbled streets between the cathedral and the riverfront in the evening to put away a fair share of varying types of beer which was excellent preparation for the Saturday.

Aachen Town Hall
Aachen itself is about 45 minutes on the train and the German football regulation hangover cure of Jagermeister poured into a beer was very much needed. After arriving in the town we had a cheeky look around the cathedral and the grand town hall before catching a bus straight to the ground. We'd heard good things about the fans bar at the stadium and it was even better than first thought once we arrived at the Neue Tivoli.

Der Neue Tivoli
Just incase you didn't know where you were...
The ground itself is not too dissimilar to new builds in England - in the middle of nowhere with just retail outlets for company. Inside, it's like a German version of Leicester/Southampton/Middlesbrough (delete as appropriate). Stands all of the same size, single tiered with the main stand having a row of executive boxes behind it. The difference of course being that this is the Fatherland and so behind one of the goals you have an 11,000 capacity terrace - the Bitburger Wall - which is where we found ourselves with the raucous home support. No problems if you needed the toilet there, with the gents featuring no less than 25 individual urinals. Yes, I counted them.

Not quite a full house for this huge 3.Bundesliga game
25 urinals - the ultimate football stadium toilet
And now for more on that fans bar. Put simply, imagine the best fans bar you can and then make it ten times better and you have what the Neue Tivoli does. Built into the stadium, you showed your match ticket to go in and after that you didn't have to leave to re-enter the ground via a turnstile - that was it, you were in the stadium. There was merchandise on the walls, Bitburger galore and even table service. We were served by a wonderfully attractive young barmaid with beer after beer and before we knew it it was kick off time. No worries there sir, just go through a set of glass doors and you are straight on the concourse, where you can buy more beer for the game.

Tivoli fans bar - table service all round
Alemannia fans enjoying some pre-game beers in the
wonderful fans bar
The game itself was pretty poor, two second half goals seeing it end in a 1-1 draw in pretty horrific wind and rain. One moment of magic the like of which Sky Sports News would show on loop for two weeks if it happened in the Premier League was the opening goal from Aachen's Denis Podzer after he collected a throw in on his chest, did some keepy uppys and then hit a dipping volley from about 30 yards over the keeper. Wunderbar! Kacper Tatara grabbed a far less glamorous equaliser for Darmstadt.

The Bitburger Wall with the Aachen Ultras far up to the left
With entertainment lacking on the pitch, it allowed plenty of time to admire the atmosphere created despite the fact the stadium was half empty and the visiting supporters were stuck high up in the opposite rafters and to devote towards appreciating what surely is the most bizarre nickname in European football - the potato beetles. After the game, our conversations back in the fans bar (where else?!) led us to discover Aachen are called that because of the yellow and black striped shirts sharing a resemblance to the insect. And that was enough to encourage even more much needed cash into the coffers with the purchasing of a toy potato beetle.

Help save Alemannia Aachen - buy a potato beetle
With each pint being justified as helping to "save" the club after the game, it took us until three hours after the final whistle had blown to finally leave Neue Tivoli for Aachen town centre and the train back to Cologne. Saturday night and Sunday afternoon were spent drinking down by the river and singing "Fog on the Rhine is all mine all mine" much to the confusion of the locals.

The world will be a poorer place without them so fingers very much crossed for the survival of the Potato Beetles - Alemannia Aachen that is, not the insect*

Alemannia Aachen's main stand
Karls Bande
*Just for the clarification of PETA and any other animal lovers out there, I do not wish extinction on the potato beetle. I just prefer Alemannia Aachen.

Alemannia Aachen: Michael Melka, Christian Weber, Thomas Stehle, Seyi Olajengbesi, Fabian Baumgartel, Kai Schwetfeger, Timmy Thiele, Timo Brauer, Marcel Heller, Denis Pozder 1 (Kristoffer Andersen), Oguzhan Kefkir.

Darmstadt 98: Jan Zimmermann, Andreas Gaebler, Cem Islamoglu, Christian Beisel, Michael Stegmayer, Hanno Behrens, Danny Latza (Marcus Steegmann), Preston Zimmermann, Elton da Costa, Uwe Hesse (Sebastian Zielinsky), Kacper Tatara 1 (Marc Schnier).

Attendance: 13,700.

No comments:

Post a comment