Thursday, August 30, 2012
Seven games starting with England playing Italy in Bern followed by games in Austria, Germany and Sweden.
August 15th England 2 Italy 1 Stade de Suisse Bern 15,000
I took a BA flight to Basel and then the train to Bern.
An excellent, but pricey, pre-game meal of coq-au-vin and red wine was followed by a tram to the stadium.
Which was maybe half full for this friendly against the country that recently knocked us out of the Euros.
We gained some revenge due to an excellent winning strike from Jermain Defoe.
It looked like the Italian goalie should have done better, in contrast to our sub. goalkeeper John Ruddy who made a couple of superb saves in the second half.
Tom Cleverly played behind the strikers but he clearly needs more time to adjust to this level.
Afterwards a tram back to my hostel - Bern is not cheap at this time of year and many England fans either chose such a place or took a late train to somewhere else (some left before the end of the match)
August 17th Kapfenberg 3 First Vienna 3 Austrian 1st League 1,300
I walked up the hill to the station in Bern in warm and muggy weather before getting the train via Zurich to Vienna.
Where I stayed near the Prater - nearby was the Ferris Wheel made famous by Orson Welles in the film ‘The Third Man’
The train takes around 2 hours to get to Kapfenberg.
Arriving early there were very limited options prior to the 6.30pm kick-off.
I chose to have a white wine spritzer in the small shopping centre before walking up to the Schloss, high above the town.
As it was a hot climb up I felt like another spritzer whilst enjoying the view.
Back at ground level I watched Kapfenberg share six goals with the visitors from the capital.
Both sides could have done with a win but although the hosts led 3-1 at one point they allowed ten-man First to get parity with a penalty and a last minute strike.
It was a entertaining second half for a neutral and no doubt for the 30 or so ultras from Vienna.
The ground retains some old terrace, a track and a mix of stands in a pleasant setting.
A stroll to the station for the train back to Vienna and then the S-bahn to Prater by 11.30pm.
August 18th Admira Wacker 4 Red Bull Salzburg 4 Austrian Bundesliga 3,212
There was time for culture beforehand in the impressive Museum quarter of Vienna taking in Klimt and Egon Schiele at the Leopold followed by Rembrandt, Titian, Caravaggio, Rubens and Vermeer at the outstanding Art History museum.
Via Starbucks to the hotel and then the S-bahn to Modling to see Wacker.
This was only the second time I’d seen a 4-4 draw and as they reached that score with about fifteen minutes left there could have been more goals in a game where the defending was consistently poor.
Salzburg gave the home side a three goal start before they scored either side of the break through Nielsen.
Their tall sub. striker Maierhofer controlled a long ball to chip in for 3-4 but soon after Admira equalised.
So very entertaining if you ignore the defensive qualities in a good sized ground that has mostly unused ad-covered ends and a decent main stand.
Only some 50 or away fans were present.
Return to the hotel for a weissbier nightcap.
August 19th SV Ried 0 Austria Vienna 1 Bundesliga 4,100
And so from the Westbahnhof to Wels, picking up some ‘Frequency’ festival fans along the way (apparently the Killers were excellent)
At Wels I checked into my hotel and dropped off the bag.
Then on via Neumarkt to Ried im Innkreis again being joined - this time by some Austria fans.
It was Sunday so Ried was quiet (and hot)
I chose an ice cream/coffee and caipirinha - though not all at once.
The all-covered stadium (another ‘arena’) was fairly new being small but neat with a myriad of adverts that reminded me of grounds in Belgium.
There were a couple of hundred away fans including a lively group of ultras in part of one end.
Ried edged the first half although Austria had a couple of late chances.
The visitors finally got it done with about five minutes remaining when Linz crossed for another sub. Grunwald to convert.
Back in Wels, a 50 minute train ride away, I strolled around the pleasant central area then failed to resist a pricey large Mojito combined, later, with an ice cream.
August 20th Chemnitz 0 Dynamo Dresden 3 German Cup 14,500
It was a long ride via Nuremberg to Chemnitz with the second part of the journey being on a stiflingly hot, crowded regional train.
At Chemnitz there was the inevitably large police presence awaiting the arrival of the fans from nearby Dresden.
I sorted out the tram to my hotel near the Messe, settled in and returned the same way back to the central station.
And from there walked to the ground.
Which Chemnitz have plans to update as it retains the old style open terraces and just the one covered stand.
Some 3,000 or so Dynamo fans were packed into a section of the left hand end/side and they maintained excellent support for their team.
The home ultras were at the right hand end, below the scoreboard, and they provided the fireworks and enough smoke to delay the proceedings for about five minutes during the second period.
They had nothing much to celebrate in the game as Dynamo were mostly in control scoring through a Schuppen header, a Pote cross conversion and an own goal.
Combined with the smoke we also had a heavy thunderous downpour which fortunately subsided for the walk back to the tram.
I was ready for a quiet night and so sat outside the Etap hotel with an Erdinger and some red wine.
August 22nd Falkenberg 2 Angelholm 2 Swedish Superettan 1,413
From Chemnitz via Dresden to Berlin, a break at the central station for some refreshments then the bus to Tegel for a flight to Gothenburg.
I stayed near the centre and eventually found a good quality Spanish restaurant where I had some gambas and a very passable Gotland (Wisby) weissbier.
The weather was significantly cooler and rainy.
As it was in Falkenberg - which has generally fairly limited attractions.
And a station that is a decent walk from the centre as was my ‘motel’.
But there were river views and wooded areas to admire along the way.
The ground, in the old style with wooden seats and a track, is tucked away amongst the trees.
This match had a very unusual end to the first period as the referee took the players off with around 1.5 minutes to play due to a torrential downpour.
We then had the half time break and came out to play the residual minute and a half after which the players turned around to complete the second half.
Something I’d never seen before.
The home side had led early only for the Angelholm top scorer Simovic to equalise.
They led again when an effort from a corner is given as over the line but with a minute left a deflected shot by Dahlgren restored parity for the ten-man visitors.
Angelholm could have been renamed Nilssonholm as they had four, apparently unrelated, ‘Nilssons’ in their team.
Despite the black clouds I made it back to my motel in the dry.
August 23rd Osters 1 Brage 0 Superettan 6,703
I took the train to Lund where I stopped to check-in to my hotel.
Onward then to Vaxjo, another hour and three quarters, arriving at around 4pm.
Time to have a wander around, check the internet and stroll on to the ground, passing the next door new stadium which is all ready to open next month.
This was the final game at the Varendsvallen and it was free entry (as it was at Falkenberg, though not in the main stand) to all seats.
And a good crowd came out to see the league leaders huff and puff before they got the winner from a left wing cross that Henningsson converted.
The Varendsvallen is/was a good sized traditional stadium with plenty of old terrace, a small track, open seats and a decent sized main stand.
I’d noted that there was a return train at 20.09.
It was a 6pm kick-off so with luck I’d reckon on having around 20 minutes to make it back to the station, a distance of about 2km.
Normally Swedish games end fairly punctually with not much added time and so it was after the first half but in the second the away goalie (no.100 - another first for me - hopefully not the sign of a trend) fell awkwardly going for a cross.
And so we had seven minutes of injury time and I had had just over fifteen minutes to make the train.
I did just make it with a combination of running and walking, taking some time to cool down.
Back in the very pleasant city of Lund I walked to my hotel and calmed down with a couple of Wisby beers.
more pictures at http://www.photobox.co.uk/album/1419875201