Thursday, April 28, 2011

Germany, Luxembourg & Holland April 2011

This was a six game trip that took in a visit to Germany including seeing the temporary stadium in Dusseldorf as well as games in Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

Unhappy Aue.

Erzgebirge Aue 1 Energie Cottbus 2.

If you look on the map Aue is a small place going towards the Czech border in eastern Germany.
You might suppose not many fans would turn out to see their games but judging by traffic going into the town I soon realised that was certainly not the case.

They are after all doing well in the 2.Bundesliga and obviously draw in fans from the surrounding area (14,000 in this case)

It was a pleasant evening in Saxony but it was the visitors who had the upper hand scoring, ironically following an Erzgebirge corner, from a breakaway in the first half.

The home team brought on two subs at the break and eventually they did get a penalty but Glasner’s shot was saved.
Then on 65 minutes we had a ten minute interlude as the Cottbus ultras set off flares, the situation subsequently being calmed with the help of some of the away players.

The break didn’t help Aue who went further behind late on as top scorer Petersen converted a rebound.
A late header was only a consolation.

I strolled down the hill, past the small station and drove back to Erfurt.

Late drama.

F91 Dudelange 2 Swift Hesperange 1.

Not many options for games on this Easter Friday so I ventured into Luxembourg for this Cup encounter between the league champions and their visitors from Hesperange.

The ground is basically two sides with a refreshments area at one end. I’d had a weiss beer sharpener beforehand and topped that up with a glass of red wine in the ground.

About 300 watched what felt like a English non-league game in low-key, friendly, surroundings with the local kids having a kick around at half-time.

Although Swift did try to pass it F91 always looked more likely.
They led after 70 minutes, got pegged back after a goalie error and just as we thought extra time was certain they were awarded a disputed penalty and the centre forward converted.

Hot Rot.

Wehen Wiesbaden 0 Rot Weiss Erfurt 1.

Both these teams are well placed in the 3.Liga although it was Erfurt who generally held the edge.
The winner, via a longish throw, came in the 10th minute.

Wehen struggled to create for much of the match.

The newish stadium is a typical setup of medium sized stands and end terracing where at the left hand end Erfurt had brought a good sized support.

Easy Roda.

Roda 5 NAC Breda 1.

I drove the two and a quarter hours from Wiesbaden to Kerkrade for this Dutch top level game.

Having previously had trouble finding this stadium (at night) this time it was far easier on a warm, dry Spring evening.
It remains an unusual development with the in-built hotel and shopping areas.

Fortified by some nuggets and chips (no mayonnaise) I watched Roda demolish NAC starting with three goals in 26 minutes.
NAC got their consolation late in the first half but mostly all they could do was admire the home team’s play.

Further goals from a penalty and another after a defensive mistake sealed the win.

Matthew Amoah had no luck up front for NAC despite making many runs and hitting the post near the end.

Air Berlin World.

Fortuna Dusseldorf 2 Arminia Bielefeld 0.

This was the second of three games being played by Fortuna at a temporary stadium as their next door main Arena is being prepared for the Eurovision Song Contest.

Its hard to see why this would happen, there being no shortage of stadiums in the region, but Air Berlin World/Park worked well enough to accommodate over 18,000 fans in the usual mix of standing and seating.

You have to assume Fortuna are not losing money so perhaps this will be a future trend ?

In a decent atmosphere in warm, dry conditions Fortuna did enough to defeat a Bielefeld side lacking confidence and already relegated.

One goal in each half decided the match.

I took the U-bahn back to the centre and onward to my hotel in Bonn.

Fortuna Koln 3 Germania Windeck 1.

Again limited realistic options for Easter Monday so I chose an easy train ride to Cologne for this Oberliga match between the teams in second and third.

Fortuna have a old style ground of covered stand and curved terracing.

Around 1,000 turned out on another very pleasant day to see the home side earn a solid win going 2-0 ahead, conceding one before the excellent Fabian Montabell header the clincher.

The locals included some lively ultras noisly enhanced by a couple of guys with megaphones.

I strolled back to the South station, past the swingers club and second on the left.

more pictures at

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

France April 2011

This was a Eurostar and train trip to Northern France taking in the Brittany derby between Brest and Rennes.

Vannes in front.

Boulogne 0 Vannes 1.

After a Grimbergen I strolled around the ramparts before joining the 9,000+ fans (though it looked a few thousand less than that figure)

The stadium is a patchwork of temporary looking and more permanent stands with the local ultras in the left hand end.

The winner was headed in by Diguiny half way through the first half.

Though the home side made some second period changes it didn’t make much difference as Vannes general looked in control and continued to be dangerous from breakaways.

Brittany spheres.

Palbennec 0 Bastia 3.

This was a 3rd level match between league leaders Bastia and Plabennec.

Plabennec is a small town close to Brest and I got to the game about fifteen minutes before the start after a long train ride from Boulogne via Paris.

The ground has one elevated stand which was well populated on a sunny Saturday afternoon.
There is a bar behind one goal and a semi-temporary stand for the away fans to the left hand end in which Bastia had about 40 supporters.

Though both teams hit the woodwork early on the result was never in doubt as Bastia were a class above their opponents.
They stay on track for promotion.

I took the bus back to Brest and had a kebab panini in the logically named ‘Brest Food’ takeaway.

Brest 2 Rennes 0.

This derby was a local triumph for the home side who were well up for this match against their 3rd placed Ligue 1 rivals.

Everyone waved their flags (I gave mine away) to create a decent atmosphere in the 15,000 crowd.

Rennes brought their ultras, many of whom I saw before the game around the Place de Strasbourg.
But they would go home disappointed as Brest were the better team, especially in midfield, allowing the visitors few opportunities.

Nathan Roux fired in an inspiring 30 yarder for the first and the excellent Grougi got the second to seal the win.

At the end the home side, and their fans, could enjoy a well earned win.

I had a brisk walk back to the centre as the car horns sounded.

more pictures at

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

France & Belgium April 2011

A three game long weekend Eurostar and train trip to France and Belgium.

Le Havre 1 Istres 2 in French Ligue 2

This 1938 World Cup ground will soon be replaced by a new stadium going up the other side of the railway lines.

For this Friday evening encounter over 8000 turned out to see second placed Le Havre beaten by the visitors from the south.

After a regulation goalless first half of few chances we had more action in the second.

Istres took the lead early on and, as Le Havre pushed forward, they extended their advantage with a breakaway second goal.

The young home side converted a late penalty but Istres held on for the victory.

The league is amazingly close with just twelve points separating the top sixteen teams.

OH Leuven 3 Tournai 0.

Via Paris and Brussels to Leuven for this Belgian 2nd level match.

On a warm and at times humid Saturday evening in the very amenable town of Leuven I watched the league leaders have a reasonably comfortable win over the bottom team.

Tournai had about 40 fans (in the left hand end) plus the 3500 home fans.

Leuven won by being strong at set pieces and exploiting the pacy Tunisian Harbaoui up front.

I strolled afterwards to the attractive central area - thronged with beer drinkers.

Vise 1 Roeselare 3.

I took the train from Leuven via Liege to the small town of Vise for another 2nd league fixture.

Though it rained early on the weather brightened up by the 3pm start.

Vise have a smaller ground comprising two sides with a typical bar area at one end.
I partook of some wine and watched the cycling on the TV, along with quite a few others.

As is often the case team sheets were freely available.

Roeselare always looked in control after scoring early, soon adding a second and getting a third after 55 minutes.
Despite one reply from the home side they struggled to create much and the visitors ran out winners.

Back in Leuven the impressive Scala/Kolacny Brothers rock choir were performing outside the large central church to finish off my evening.

more pictures at