Hi everybody, I’m back! Yes, it has been a while since I’ve written anything new for the blog and I won’t bore you with the reasons for my prolonged absence. It’s also been a while since I went on an Away Day to Frankfurt am Main and wanted to share with you the joys of celebrating promotion with my favourite German club Eintracht Frankfurt.
Having arrived “on the Main” last Friday, the football action got under way one day later when, as a warm-up to the main event (no pun intended) on Sunday, Eintracht Frankfurt’s Under-19 side played against 1860’s local rivals FC Bayern in the national Under-19 Bundesliga championship (South/South-West division). On a beautiful sunny Saturday morning there must’ve been at least two hundred souls at the Stadion am Riederwald who came out to see a glimpse of German football’s future potential stars in action. Sadly for the home contingent there weren’t too many great chances to shout about but the visitors hardly imposed themselves on the game either. FC Bayern did score the only goal of the game early in the second half; the goalscorer’s identity must however remain anonymous as I’d unprofessionally taken my eye off the game while the ball hit the back of the net.
Following a home defeat to one group of Bavarians I did privately fear that the professional Eintracht team would go on to lose to the other mob in the 2. Bundesliga (second division) game on Sunday. I was very privileged to get a ticket for this match as Eintracht had for many weeks looked likely to gain promotion and, unsurprisingly, this game was the hottest ticket in town. Having ventured with them on previous Away Days (see past reports) to Nuremberg and Dortmund, I express once again my eternal gratitude to the members of Eintracht supporters group “EFC 11-er Freunde” who helped get me into the stadium and make sure I was a part of the promotion party. Only six days earlier had Die Adler (the Eagles) confirmed their top flight status for next season with a convincing 3-0 away win against Alemania Aachen but they still, in theory, had first place to fight for along with SpVgg Greuther Fürth.
Following a fantastic choreography before the start of the game, in which fans held up cards above their heads to produce the slogan “Nie mehr 2. Liga” (Second Division no more), the game got under way in front of a sold out 50.800 crowd. Sadly my earlier fears about losing out to more Bavarians were to come true as the visitors started well and deservedly went two goals up in the first quarter of the match. An unfortunate own goal by Eintracht full-back Sebastian Jung in the 17th minute was followed up with an unchallenged header for Guillermo Vallori from a corner kick just four minutes later. For the remainder of the game the passion of the Eintracht supporters couldn’t be emulated on the pitch by the players who, it seemed, already had their minds on the beach for the summer holidays. Just as well, I guess, that promotion was already sealed but that is not to take anything away from 1860 München, who are the only team to defeat Eintracht home and away this season and who were evidently more up for the game. Despite the result a good natured pitch invasion came about at the end of the game in which the fans could celebrate with the players and look forward to a new season of fighting it out with the big boys such as FC Bayern, Dortmund and Schalke 04, exactly where a traditional club of Frankfurt’s stature should be.
One last shout goes towards a fan group from the English town of Oldham, who I met for the first time in Dortmund last season. Folowing the 1860 match I arranged to meet up with all the lads in the famous Eintracht fans’ bar “Klapper 33” in the district of Sachsenhausen and discovered just how popular they were with some of the regulars. Die Engländer have certainly made an impression over the years, confirmed by the fact that the last thing I expected to hear in a Frankfurt bar was a group of Germans chanting „Come on Oldham!“ at the top of their voices. Having attempted, and failing miserably, to get a similar chorus of Liverpool chants going I took defeat on the chin and realized that there would be a part of Germany that would be forever Oldham and posed with one of their home-made „Two Teams, One Spirit“ scarves. Hopefully it won‘t be long before there’s an away day in Oldham to look forward to and I could just be the latest convert to the „Come on Oldham“ brigade.
After the trauma of Eintracht Frankfurt’s relegation on Saturday came a little bit of light relief on Sunday. Frankfurt’s second club is FSV and it was to their Frankfurter Volksbank Stadion that I went to in order to see their 2. Liga match against Erzgebirge Aue, a club hailing from the east of the country.
Fußballsportverein Frankfurt, to give them their proper name, are a small team from the Bornheim district of the city and have done well on limited resources to stay in the 2. Liga for the last two seasons. On both occasions they finished in 15th place and will, for the first time ever, play in a Frankfurt city derby when Eintracht play in the same division from next season. Erzgebirge Aue, a former three-time champion of the old East German Oberliga under their old name of SC Wismut Karl Marx Stadt, are also a modest club and have done well following last season’s promotion from the 3. Liga. The game yesterday was a chance to secure fifth place in the table with Energie Cottbus and Fortuna Düsseldorf waiting in the wings in case of a slip up.
Once inside the stadium I gained a sense of nostalgia in the sense that I was standing on an open terrace behind the goal, something which has alluded me in England for many years. At the front of the stand was a lone cheerleader who, tried as he might, found it difficult to motivate the fans in the Südtribüne despite having the advantage of shouting through a megaphone. To be fair to him the football on the pitch wasn’t exactly a feast for the eyes and one was wondering if the players’ minds were already on their summer vacation ahead of the post-season. There was one moment which defined the first half and that was Aue’s opening goal which went in of the head off the unfortunate FSV midfielder Christian Müller. Erzgebirge Aue were 1-0 up at half-time.
The second half carried on in much the same vein, the only highlights proving to be each slurp of the cheap beer that was selling well around the stadium. What each person in the crowd of 4,011 thought about this game would probably prove negative with the exception of the travelling hoardes of supporters from Aue who had their second goal to celebrate with ten minutes remaining. Following more good work down the right side Robert Strauß crossed the ball for Jan Hochscheidt who ghosted into the box to put the away side 2-0 up, a margin which they never relinquished for the remainder of the game.
The Erzgebirge supporters unveiled a banner at the end of the game saying “Top Saison Männer!” which it ultimately proved to be as they cemented their fifth place spot thanks to the three points won on the final day. FSV Frankfurt, following a good start to the season, dropped markedly in performance as the season went on but not so bad that they had to worry about a relegation campaign unlike their more illustrious neighbours Eintracht. It will be interesting to see how the city takes to the derby next season.
Stoppage Time is looking forward to a trip to Germany this weekend so I have decided to write a short blog today in order to share a video from a German Second League game that was played last Sunday afternoon between MSV Duisburg and FSV Frankfurt. With nine minutes to play and the score already 4:0 to MSV Duisburg this goal didn’t have too much significance on the final outcome but a ‘goal’ such as this one only increases the case for video technology to be used in similar situations. That debate, I’m sure, we shall have on another occasion but, for now, just enjoy the comedy that is Christian Tiffert’s “Phantomtor”. The commentary is in German but the pictures are very self-explanatory: