Wednesday, 28 June 2006

The World Cup in Hamburg

I’ve deliberately not posted on this subject this far as I wanted to

(a) See how the German National Team were playing
(b) Experience the atmosphere first hand
(c) Get some photographs

Having now achieved the above points I can report that it has been by far the most exciting occurrence I have witnessed thus far on our travels.

(a) The Germans, whilst having a young and relatively inexperienced team have played extremely well getting stronger as the games have progressed. They have a dodgy defence and I’m not Lehman’s greatest fan (dirty Gooner) but they are playing exciting football, have scored goals (lots) and best of all we’ve managed to avoid England in the next round. Also, I am very happy for Jurgen, our German, who took a right pasting in the press “for his new training and tactical ideas” (take not Erikson, it’s good to bring something new into a team), as an ex Spurs player, it’s always grand to see a local lad done good!

Anyway, I am extremely happy about avoiding the Old Enemy (exactly how many “enemies” do England need by the way? Germany, Argentina, France, Scotland; the list is endless. Is there anyone you actually enjoy playing against?) Had we met England they would have done for us as that game would have been their “Cup Final”. By the law of averages alone they would have won and who knows, maybe even on penalties…? However, we’ve both managed to get past the first knockout stages without too much difficulty (although having scored three against Ecuador and you only managing one, we are obviously three times better…) and best of all we’ve been part of it at Hamburg’s “Heiligengeistfeld”, which leads me onto…

(b) Heiligengeistfeld is situated in St Pauli (where else?) and is 80 000 square metres in size, which is about the area of eleven football pitches. It actually means “Field of the Holy Ghost” and was once part of a hospital grounds (in 1264) before becoming a spot for all manner of entertainment spectacles, including a free, noon to midnight football fest for the WM 2006.

We went there to watch the all important (to me!) Germany versus Ecuador match, where the winner of the game would win the group and thereby avoid meeting England in the next round. Drawing for the Germans would not be enough as we had a poorer goal difference so we had to win and it seems the game was a tad popular, as thousands of fans flocked to the arena.

Safe capacity for the ground, was 50 000 fans and we found out later that over 65 000 had turned up, with people queuing to get in as we were leaving. It was mobbed but despite all of this no sign of any aggro and everyone was having a ball.

OK, so winning 3-0 helped and as both sides went through to the next round everyone was extremely happy, but I have to say I have not witnessed any violence (apart from wifey getting a bit stressed at waiting to get served…) in the slightest. Quite a lot of English fans were here too (they were showing the England v Sweden game afterwards) and they were very much into the spirit of the atmosphere.

Not only that, but all food and drinks were being sold at reasonable prices - with a pint of good quality (and not watered down) beer at £2.50 a pint- try getting that at Wembley. Oh no, you can’t- it’s not been built yet.

So there we have it, we’ve been in Germany for the biggest World Cup ever, and we’ve had so much fun and enjoyment from not just the football but also the fans, the atmosphere and even the weather.

(c) To follow…

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