Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Why have a go at Liverpool's greatest manager?

Betfair may have revamped their betting news site (the design actually looks quite cool) but once again their journalists have fallen into a common trap. Following a defeat or a poor performance by and Liverpool the knives are out for poor Rafa Benitez!

I can't work out whether the two recent attempts were written from pure spite, pure jealously or pure laziness. First up was " Does Reading betting coup leave Rafa on the brink" which I can only put down to someone being keen to get to the pub the evening it was written. In the piece (piece of shit) the writer suggests with some confidence that "....much of the blame for Liverpool's defeat will be laid at the feet of Rafael Benitez for his controversial team selection." Liverpool fans are tired of this type of nonsense and I'm sure other fans can't care less. Rafa's the manager, the fans love him, he's brought success and he won't be leaving.

The second article entitled Benitez is taking a huge gamble on Champions League glory goes even further with the writer confidently believing Benitez has given up on the league and is so scared of losing his job that he will do anything (including taking off his three best players on Saturday).

To be fair (or Betfair!), it's not just this particular site but many of the London-based media outlets who, whenever short of a story, decide to go for Liverpool as a target. I genuinely believe that jealousy is a the route of it. Many of these journalists will be Arsenal or Chelsea supporters who both have bottled it in the Champions League while some will be Manchester United fans who have just one lucky Champions League final appearance in the whole of Alex Ferguson's time in charge.

Perhaps I should lighten up but I think it should be the journalists who should keep their own petty jealousies to themselves and get on with writing more balanced pieces

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Torlos in final game

Considering my first RWE match was a pulsating 4-4 draw, I suppose it was some sort of karma that the final match was a 0-0.

It was far from a disappointing match with Essen dominating a very poor (though good defensively) Dusseldorf. We had plenty of chances, hit the post and the bar a couple of times and I think I am leaving a healthy club. Although only 10th in the table, Rot Weiss are just five points behind the leaders and if I was a betting man I would be tempted to back them to get automatic promotion.

On Wednesday I will be moving to Berlin. Mixed feelings about going - will miss certain people and obviously the football. I have always enjoyed going to watch football where ever I have lived. The ticket prices in England made going less enjoyable so in the past few years in England I have only tended to go when the tickets were free and spent many enjoyable days at the likes of Man City, Crewe, Huddersfield, occasionally Newcastle and embarrassingly Everton.

German soccer was a bit of a culture shock for me and it has reminded me of going to watch Liverpool in the mid-1980's when we could stand! The crowds are alot better here - more vibrant and real. It feels slightly more dangerous. English football has been taken over by the middle classes. I expect German football will go the same way but for time being it's the best place in Europe to watch soccer. imho.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

'Dead' poker player hid in couple's home

The wife of back-from-the-dead poker player 'Wild' Bill Hickok has said he was living in their family home for over fifty years after he was declared dead.

Lily Hickok, who is expected back in the US this weekend, told reporters her husband hid in another part of the couple's house when their sons and daughters visited as he did not want them to know the truth.

"For five decades, while virtually everyone close to us believed Bill was missing presumed dead, he was actually at home with me playing online poker," she said.

Hickok is currently in police custody after he was arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of fraud.

He disappeared from the couple's home in Las Vegas in 1955 and was presumed dead. That was until he walked into a New York police station last Saturday.

She told reporters her husband had talked about faking his own death to escape debts.

"We had a lot of debt, in the tens of thousands because he had become a pretty rubbish poker player. He couldn't cope with the new kids on the block like Annette Obrestad. He said there was only one way out of the situation and that was to fake his death," she said.

But Mrs Hickok insisted she did not know he had gone ahead with the scam until he turned up on her doorstep one decade after he went missing.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Fury as 'sick' poker TV show axed


In the week Beverley Allitt heard the news she may never be released from prison, TV bosses have shelved plans for a controversial poker programme after a string of complaints to the UK television watchdog Ofcom.

The independently produced 'Prison Poker' would have seen some of Britain's most notorious criminals sat round a table playing Texas Hold 'Em in an especially adapted TV cell at Marshworth Prison, London.

Among those believed to have been touted to appear in the 12-part series were serial killer nurse Beverly 'All-in' Allitt, psychopath Ian Huntley and road rage lifer Kenneth Noye.

Series producer Bet Hatton was disappointed by the decision not to commission the series.

"We have put a lot of time and effort into this project and to say I'm annoyed is an understatement," she said.

"It's another example of the nanny-state gone mad. Poker playing has long been associated with criminal activity and the show was just an extension of that.

"All the contestants are accomplished players in their own right and for some their murdering ways proved how good they were at bluffing."

The decision means Hatton will have to put another project on the back burner.

"I'd received some encouraging feedback for 'International Prison Poker' and there had been interest shown by both Timothy McVeigh and the Unabomber."

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Barton is no Dick

I've never had much time for Joey Barton but his recent outburst against Newcastle fans struck a chord with me as it is something I have felt for a long time. It's the theory that the fans play a greater part in a team's success and, of course, failure than people think.

So threre are some questions that need to be addressed. Is it a coincidence that Newcastle have failed to win a major trophy for nearly 40 years despite having useful teams and plenty of money over that period? Who are these 'Geordie faithful'? And most importantly, do they actually understand football?

Their attitude was summed up by Frank Gilmour, the chairman of the Independent Newcastle United Supporters' Association.

"If Barton says we don't have the right to criticise, then he wants to learn," said Gilmour.

"He obviously knows nothing about the north east and its passion for football."

Frank has obviously misplaced 'passion' for booing and hounding certain players mercilessly.

He soon reverts to type and in a veiled threat suggests that Barton will himself come in for a torrent of abuse the next time he plays.

"For him to then turn around and criticise the fans is totally wrong. He should have kept his mouth shut.

"He will learn what happens after you criticise Newcastle fans. It takes a long, long time for us to forgive. I would be very, very surprised if he doesn't get a reaction at Blackburn today."

So it seems Frank is allowed to criticise Newcastle players but Newcastle players are not allowed to criticise the fans.

It is this attitude that makes Barton's comments all the more laudable.....and believable.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Three points from top two points from safety

A comfortable home win over 1974 European Cup Winner's Cup winners Magdeburg (2-0) was followed by a last minute victory away to Lubeck (2-1) which leaves Essen just three points behind automatic promotion. However the league is so tight that despite being so close to the top they are also only two points off position 11 (from where they will not automatically be in the new Bundesliga 3).

Close by Oberhausen is likely top be swamped with Rot Weiss fans on Sunday and hopefully I will be among them. They beat us 4-1 at home on the opening day of the Rot Weiss season and it will be nice to get revenge. From what I remember of that game we played fairly well and they had two chances and scored four goals.

With the move to Berlin impending the game against Düsseldorf on Saturday December 8th could be my last for a long while.

On a brighter note my football ringtones website has started to pick up again slightly after spending far too long in the doldrums. It's just a shame no-one buys ringtones any more.

Went to see Brian Auger earlier this week in Duisburg - though he is probably only known to people who love the hammond organ.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Essen's first away defeat of the season


Rot Weiss lost their first game of the season - away from home on Saturday losing 1-0 in a scrappy game against Verl. For pictures and stuff check out the link on the left hand side "excellent RWE site".

So away draws against Dusseldorf, Dortmund and Union Berlin were bettered on the road with victories at Bremen, Hamburg, Babelsburg and Wolfsburg optimism was high and more than half the supporters at Verl were Essen fans.

However, a goal midway through the second half ended that record and by all accounts it was a game no worth dwelling upon.

Not sure what the knife is about in the picture but some mother is short of something to cut the Sunday roast with now.

Got a decent response on the RWE forum about my wedding dilemma with some of the answers to sensible for my linking. Thanks to anyone who who contributed. It seems a well populated and well run forum - though a fight did break out halfway through the thread.

So the threat of not making it to the Bundesliga 3 remains. The main problem with not making it is that the promotion issue will see it very hard for relegated clubs to return.

Magdeburg next week at home who have achieved something Liverpool never did -they won the (now defunct) Cup Winners Cup doing so in 1974 beating AC Milan in the final 2-0. Liverpool famously lost to Dortmund in the 1966 Europapokal der Pokalsieger beaten after extra-time in a game played at Hampden Park in Glasgow.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Electric Essen held by Dynamo


To further strengthen the case for missing my brother's wedding, Rot Weiss Essen played their best match of the season on Saturday though could only manage a 1-1 draw against Dynamo Dresden.

Poor finishing ultimately cost them in a match that had almost everything - a missed penalty (Dynamo), a disallowed goal (Rot Weiss), a sending off (Dynamo) and bad refereeing. The crowd loved it and so did I. It is what football is about and I'm pretty hopeful for the rest of the season if the team can reach similar levels.

The day had started badly when the bottle opener I'd 'borrowed' off a friend a few weeks earlier was confiscated by the security guards on the way in. I tried to keep the incident quiet but the bloke holds it aloft and makes a scene about this very recognisable opener not being allowed in. I'd only brought it along to give it back to him as he was having a party that night but I'm sure he thought I'd nicked it off him.

The game would have been so different had the penalty gone in to make it 2-1. It seemed a little harsh and justice was done. Those with long memories will remember Ray Clemence saved a penalty against Dynamo Dresden in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup in 1976 so Daniel Masuch's save provides a very tenuous Liverpool link.

Talking of German goalkeepers, there is a discussion going on about Jens Lehmann joining Man City. Don't really care whether he does but here is for a fantastic clip of him playing in goal for Schalke against Rot Weiss many years ago.

Tempted to go to the game against Verl next week but, although it is close, public transport issues could be a problem.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Rot Weiss or my brother's wedding?


"Rot Weiss oder die Hochzeit meines Bruders"

Essen's victory over Kaiserslautern in the German Cup has left me with a difficult decision to make.

With the next round of the cup taking place on the last weekend in January - should I go to the game or attend my brother's wedding back in England scheduled for January 29th?

I'll let you decide so please add your thoughts in the comment section. If we had been playing Schalke the decision would have been alot easier.

One point in my favour about staying for the game against Hamburger SV is that technically it is not his wedding. He married last week in California or somewhere and this day at Blackpool is just a place for him to celebrate with family and friends. 1-0.

The celebration takes place in Blackpool. Not the most glamorous of locations and I always thought the place smelt of chips (Pommes). 2-0.

He's my brother. 2-1

I don't really like weddings. I usually get put on a boring table and end up discussing insurance while the evening function is normally a banal affair accompanied by dreadful cheesy disco music. 3-1

My brother will no doubt do his 'breakdance' routine. 5-1.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Another away win for the 1955 Champions


After a dire loss at home to bottom-placed Cottbus II (couldn't bring myself to blog about it), Rot Weiss recorded a splendid 3-0 away victory against Hamburg II to maintain their position in the top half of the table and are not too many points behind the surprise leaders Emden

"The team has returned impressively," said RWE-Trainer Heiko Bonan with his Google translate English improving slightly: "The boys have shown that the defeat against Cottbus is a setback, but not a total knockdown. We are now back in the right lane."

Just over 80 watched the game which is fairly sad and is another reasdon why these reserve teams should not be playing in this league at all. The picture tells its own story and after watching RWE play against Dusseldorf and Dortmund in souless big stadiums, I'll make a point of not doing it again despite both those games being well attended.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Liverpool or Red White

I'm actually thinking about giving Rot Weiss Essen a miss on Saturday and watching Liverpool - a big club against Everton in the Merseyside derby. Alan Stubbs' comments were quite pathetically picked up by the newspapers in an attempt to stoke things up but it's the derby so things like this aren't needed.

So Essen are playing Cottbus reserves. OK, a win would be great to maintain the promotion bid but it's hard to get worked up for these sort of games and with it clashing with the game at Anfield. I know what I will be doing. Just hope there are no bluenoses in the pub. Last season I had to watch the game with some horrible Everton fans (I don't mind good ones) and that was in Manchester.

Not sure about watching Johnny Wilkinson and the Rugby World Cup Final. We shall see.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Lorenz out for season

RWE did not escape relegation last season but the following clip is of one team who does and the reaction of one fan watching at home on TV. If you have five minutes to spare it s worth a watch and anyone whose team has been close to relegation may understand the mentalism of it all.



Found the clip on the US soccer website so can't claim it as a great find of my own.

Bad news for Essen this week was reports that club captain (and the slightly balding) Stefan Lorenz will be out for the season with cruciate knee damage. Got a text message while at the language course which just said "S.Lorenz mit Kreuzbandriss". I didn't know what it meant but feared the worst.

I thought he was one of the most consistent players last season and it could spell the end of any promotion thoughts.

The next game is on October 20 against FC Energie Cottbus II whose first eleven we beat to reach the second round of the German Cup. The date has been announced for that second round match and we will play FC Kaiserslautern on October 31 (kick off at 7:00pm).

Monday, October 08, 2007

Werder best

While the fortunes of Liverpool continue to stutter the mighty Rot Weiss Essen have gone from strength to strength winning their latest game 4-0 away to Werder Bremen.

OK, it was only their reserve side but a clean clinical 4-0 victory is nothing to be sniffed at and Rot Weiss now lie in sixth place with their eyes on an automatic relegation spot.

"That was a strong appearance of the entire crew", coach Heiko Bonan said after the game in Google translate English - and announced confidently: "We will work in the next weeks and months to climb in the table still further upward."

The man's a genius.

The team still lies in only third place, however, in my fictitious RED WHITE league behind Rot Weiss Erfurt and Rot Weiss Oberhausen but above Rot Weiss Ahlen.

With the next two games against reserve sides Cottbus on October 20 and Hamburg the following week there is every chance of Essen being in a challenging position for the top two places when Dynamo Dresden visit on November 3 -which promises to be one of the best games of the season.

Spent a few days in Berlin (the Stasi Museum is worth a thought provoking visit) last week as K had a job interview. It's entirely possible we could be moving there as soon as early November and could see me spending my Saturday afternoons at Union Berlin.

Not good really.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Marseilles Liverpool games was fixed?


I love conspiracy theories and was interested by the following Marseilles betting thread about the game on Wednesday evening. I love stuff like this because it totally negates the fact that Liverpool were atrocious against the French side.

Although I missed the game I'm looking forward to seeing just how the referee influenced proceedings. However, I doubt it is right to trust an official who has created his own website for himself.

I'm beginning to get suspicious about all those bad results for Rot Weiss Essen both last season and this.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Hair we go again, Darrell

It's great fun making headlines when the star of a particular news story such as Umpire Darrell Hair has a great name and although this has nothing to do with my usual posts I'll add it anyway.

Umpire Hair is suing the ICC for unfair dismissal and is claiming racist discrimination after being relieved of his umpiring duties after his role in the infamous 4th Test Match at the Oval in 2006 when declaring England the winners after the Pakistan players refused to take the pitch in protest at being accused of ball tampering.

It is alleged that there is an Asian plot against the Australian and his case rests with the fact that his co-umpire Billy Doctrove was not suspended.

He then allegedly wrote an e-mail to the cricket authorities demanding money for basically keeping quiet.

It's all come to a head and I await the decision from the court with interest. Most of the blog commentary seem to suggest that the Asians have too much influence in world cricket.

UPDATE

Well, the ICC must have bottled out because Darrell Hair dropped the case and an out of court settlement has been reached. The best opinion about the Hair story is here and it makes sensible reading.

Monday, October 01, 2007

A proper game of football - at last!


I always like watching football when there is a light drizzle and when your team plays well, wins and the referee has a good game then it is almost the perfect day. Rot Weiss Essen 1 Wuppertaler 0.

This is possibly the first match of the season I have really enjoyed with good football being played throughout, both teams trying to win and the fans in good voice. A few beers and the right to smoke on the terraces helps as well.

There was a decent size crowd (probably smaller because of the rain) and plenty of away supporters though that is not surprising seeing as the opponents were top of the league.

Strange scenes after the game with the players celebrating as though they had won the league. Lining up hand in hand in front of the north stand they received the applause of the crowd before going down to the Kop equivalent and all sitting down.

Seated patiently, they was some sort of strange ritual shouting performed by the crowd then the players left the pitch. Quite strange but Germany is a strange place at times.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Premiership ticket prices

Expensive tickets prices are what really puts me off English Premiership football so I have been happily surprised with how cheap football is in Germany.

An English football blog dared to critisise Arsenal's high ticket prices with the amusing part being the comments section. The little fat Gunner fans are seen to be condoning the prices - some even suggesting that they get value for money!

Some bloke calling himself Gazzup is first up "I sit in an average seat, which costs about $75 per game. Given some of the ridiculous incomes of Londoners the price is a fair one, as proven by the 40,000 on the season ticket waiting list"

Just because there are 40,000 other mugs waiting in the wings to be mugged by leeching capitalists doesn't make it a fair price for 90 minutes entertainmentt. No wonder the minicriminlast Alisher Usmanov is attempting to squeeze into the club.

Cliff then chips in with "If there was not a sense of "value-for-money" the stadium would not be full for every game." Hmmm

"Arsenal playing entertaining football whether they win, lose or draw makes me happy to pay top whack for a ticket." Did I read that right?

It gets worse.
"I think paying £38 a time to sit in a beautiful stadium to watch beautiful football is, if I'm honest, verging on what I would call 'a bargain' "

How have we, as fans, allowed such a situation to develop? Could we and should we have stopped it?

The best post was the final post.

I think you Gooners are all missing his point... that it's too expensive for a middle-class family of four to go to the games on a consistent basis, and that's a shame.

It IS an issue of supply and demand, and according to the laws of economics, yes- they could charge even more and continue to fill the stadium. But that doesn't make it right.

Unfortunately, the club has gone the way of our own American pro sports teams- jacking up the price almost as high as the market will bear. That's great for revenues, but results in the exclusion of your most dedicated fans- the working class.

I went to Pro football games a lot as a kid, as it only cost $20 to $30 to get a decent ticket and I'd go with my father. We had a great time...

Now, 20 years later, I'm lucky enough to be making more than my father ever did, but I still can't justify buying season tickets for my family at $80+ per seat, per game.

The net result is a stadium full of distracted, affluent people talking on cell phones throughout the match...

Though I've never been to a Premiership game, I can see the difference in atmosphere on the television...

One last thing... the Gunners suck anyway! You'll come crashing back to 3rd place soon enough.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

More goals in Berlin


After a torrid start to the season, things seem to be stabilising with Rot Weiss Essen currently sitting mid table on an unbeaten run of five games. On Friday they drew 2-2 with Union Berlin after twice leading in the match.

Frustratingly had to listen to it on the radio which is a torturous experience as any football fan knows. We can take heart from twice being in front - thanks to an own goal and one from the substitute Rafael Kazior.

After the match coach Heiko Bonan said in google translate English “For us was here more in it due to the better chances we would have had to decide the play for us,

"After our hit to 2:1 - guidance we did not employ ourselves more clever enough.”

The return of club captain Stefan Lorenz is a boost and should Rot Weiss Essen continue playing in a similar way they should make it to the third Bundesliga this season (need to finish in the top 11).

Still not sorted my tooth out but on a brighter note secured some more work this week.

Have been trawling around some Liverpool blogs this week and found some of the work put into them nothing short of incredible. Have you ever been to Liverpool is a good read while plenty of work has gone into this Liverpool blog named after my favourite position.


Monday, September 17, 2007

Rot Weiss rising


Three things on Saturday at Hafenstraße made me think about Liverpool. Firstly, they once again played You'll Never Walk Alone immediately before the teams came out. Secondly they decided to attack the Kop End (Öst Tribune) in the second half and finally they nearly succumbed to an almighty comeback after being 3-0 up at half-time (Istanbul 2005 in reverse).

Thankfully the game finished 3-2 but there were a few scary moments late on to remind any overconfident fan that they were really watching the strange phenomenom that is Rot Weiss Essen.

This was the best performance of the season with the team looking strong throughout and creating many chances. A penalty half way through the first half got us off to a good start and just before half-time the wonderfully named Rolf-Christel Guié-Mie completed his hat-trick.

The victory gives the season a wonderful symmetry with RWE having won 3 drawn 3 and lost 3. They have scored 10 and conceded 10. They now lie second only to the team we beat on Saturday (Rot Weiss Erfurt) in the mini Rot Wiess Liga. The mini Rot Weiss Liga is my own imaginary league fought out by Essen, Oberhausen, Erfurt and Ahlen.

The new sponsors Evonic blasted a couple of hundred free footballs into the crowd for the kids at the end of the game. Toby, who I see at the match, remarkably caught two balls (not bad for a fat heffer). Instead of giving them to some children he marched around the stadium with the two trophies under his arms. He is 30 and has no kids. He was finally persuaded to give one of them to Ollie who has some kids. Ollie strangely was crying like a baby at 3-2. Obviously an emotional man.

Th evictory makes up for a depressing week in the life of Dave Allan having lost a tooth on Monday. "It just fell out of my mouth and nearly landed in me muesli"

Thursday, September 13, 2007

New sponsor for RWE

Rot Weiss have got a new sponsor. Well, not a new sponsor, the company has just re-branded. Fan's shirts had been sold without a logo despite the team still playing under the old sponsor Steag. I used to be amused when the company was name was announced over the PA - in English.. 'Steag -the power company'. Will see what it changes to at the next home game on Saturday. So the new sponsor is...Evonic. Must of taken those marketing boys a long while to come up with that and I imagine they got paid very well for it.

So Saturday's game is an end to the Rot Weiss trilogy and hopefully things won't be as bad as losing 4-1 to Rot Weiss Oberhausen before losing 2-0 to Rot Weiss Ahlen when we play Rot Weiss Erfurt.

New sponsor, new start and maybe a first league victory.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Essen surprisingly win again

Rot Weiss Essen finished "englische Woche" with four points thanks to a 3-1 away victory on Sunday against SV Babelsberg 03. It is called 'English week' because of the midweek fixture (0-0 against Braunschwieg). Losing at half-time, they equalised from a penalty (elfmeter) and within ten minutes they had wrapped the game up.

Listened to the match on local radio who had a reporter at the ground. They cut across regularly to him from the studio but his emotionless voice gave me little indication of the score. I wish my German was better.

Went out last night in Dortmund after watching England beat Israel 3-0. It's not often you get a chance to be anti-semitic but for 90 minutes I was.

So Rot Weiss are in 13th place in the league with 9 points from 8 games played. They need to finish in the top ten to qualify for Bundesliga 3 next season. They are 10 points off automatic promotion.

God knows how they managed to score three goals. Will read about it tomorrow.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

First point at Hafenstrasse


I suppose I should be happy with RWE's first home point of the season but for a game between the two best supported teams in the division the game was a disappointment. It was a game of few chances spoilt by a poor referee and plenty of offside decisions going against the home team. It finished 0-0 at the Hafenstraße.

As usual the team were booed off after the game though this was a little unfair as Eintracht Braunschweig had come to defend and that is what they did very well. There was little to get the fans excited, not even a sending off or a brutal tackle. A most disappointing night for the 10,000 who attended.

The new Rot Weiss Essen striker Markus Kurth looked OK but he lacked service while the rest of the team gave the ball away too often.

On a brighter note, the team have finally seemed to work out that it is better to attack the goal where your fans are standing in the second half (Osttribüne). It is legendary practice at Anfield that if Liverpool win the toss then they elect to attack the Kop in the second half. I think it is a huge advantage but I fear it was luck rather than design which saw it happen last night.

On a more worrying note, I have noticed more and more young fans are sporting mullet haircuts.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Celebrating Szepan's birthday


Rot Weiss Essen were German Champions for the only time in 1955. The man who coached that side Fritz Szepan would have celebrated his 100th birthday yesterday - had he been alive.

Despite being the trainer in charge of RWE in 1955 he has no real affection with the fans because he was basically Schalke through and through and and nobody really knows who he was.

I am supposed to hate Schalke being a Rot Weiss fan but as I have only just arrived in the country I have not developed it yet. Schalke are hated by Dortmund as well and it was interesting going out last season to watch Schalke lose the title on the last day of the season. The Dortmund fans celebrated as though they had won the title.

Fritz Szepan also had a bit of a shady past and benefited financially in the 1930's when allowed to buy a Jewish-run business very cheaply. Many fans are quick to point out that Schalke have only won the German Championship once (1958) outside the Nazi era

Still, the anniversary of Fritz's birthday deserves to be remembered despite his shortcomings and despite being a legend in his birthplace Gelsenkirchen. Szepan is pictured here (nearest) looking fit and healthy - no wonder Schalke won all those titles under Hitler).

Rot Weiss sign new striker

RWE signed a new striker just before the transfer deadline with Markus Kurth joining on a two-year contract from Duisburg. The 34-year-old could start his first game against Eintracht Braunschweig on Wednesday.

A regular in the side last season that won promotion into the Bundesliga, Kurth had fallen down the pecking order at Duisburg after the signings of Manasseh Ishiaku and Ailton.

The experienced Kurth has also played at Köln, Leverkusen and Nürnburg.

"I have had four good years at Duisburg but I want to be playing football and I'm looking forward to playing with a young team at Essen." said Kurth.

Rot Weiss Essen needed a striker following the saga with the Danish forward Karsten Jensen who signed for us during the summer but then decided not to come because his wife didn't fancy moving to Essen. More fool her. He did, however, score a hat-trick for his team last week.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

First league victory for Rot Weiss Essen

Rot Weiss Essen finally managed to win their first league match of the season when beating Wolfsburg reserves 3-0 away from home. Got a text last night saying a couple of the lads were going but had to do some work so gave it a miss.

It was no surprise when I got a another text this morning saying D had been arrested - especially considering he was travelling with the (don't click on the websites) Chaos Boys and the Ultras. Not sure what actually happened though it wouldn't surprise me if he had got arrested last night even before he embarked on the long train journey to Wolfsburg.

I'm never too interested in the statistics about games I don't go to, but being 3-0 up at half-time was quite good. I followed the game on kicker.de with live updates. They said live updates but it was just the goals really...and I should have been working.

Friday, August 31, 2007

German inefficiency

Had a nightmare queuing experience at the Volkshochschule today. Got shouted at by some foreigners (!?) for jumping the line but the system was all wrong and these people were just sat round on their comfy seats with their asbo kids while I started an orderly queue outside the door. It was the fault of the school seeing as they had no signs up explaining what was going on. It is hard enough trying to learn a new language without having to deal with incompetent, inefficient German bureaucracy. To be honest the staff were all a bit lazy and disinterested in signing people up. The Civil Servants are the same over here.

Anyway, got a bargain. Thirty lessons (three hours each) of German for 100 euros. The course sounds quite intensive and I was told there was plenty of homework to do. Shit.

The TV writing work already feels like homework so I'm not looking forward to more.

RWE Arena

Rot Weiss Essen were relegated last season when beaten by Duisburg on the last day of the season. Their ground is soon to be renamed with a new sponsor - along the lines of the Emirates Stadium at Arsenal. It looks likely that the main power company will take the sponsor rights. The company is called RWE. Marvellous - the RWE Arena.

It serves them right for the way they firstly made us queue up for hours to get in (purely out of spite) and secondly for serving alkoholfrei beer.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Trouble at (die) Fabrik


Apparently there were near violent scenes after the game on Friday evening when a hoard of disgruntled fans went down to see the chairman. The poor bloke needed police protection but to be fair to him he stood his ground and answered the questions of the Rot Weiß Essen fans.

Not sure what was said but I expect it was along the lines of why are we so shit. One of the lads managed to speak to one of the players who suggested that the team had lost faith in the manager/coach/trainer Heiko Bonan.

The fans frustration is heightened by one important fact. After this season, the two third divisions will merge to form a Bundesliga 3 for the first time. Discounting relegation, the top 10 sides in each division will form the new league. It is possible RWE will not even make the top 10 meaning automatic relegation to the regional 4th division. With just one side getting promotion from the 4th tier each season it could be a struggle for RWE ever to return to anything like top flight football.

On the bright side though we may not get the new arena like the one planned.

German vocab

Der Fabrik - factory (here meaning mill)
Der Schutz - protection
die Enttäuschung - disappointment

Saturday, August 25, 2007

No love parade in Essen

It's the love parade in Essen today and hopefully it will take my mind off another home defeat for Rot Weiss Essen. A first half goal from a corner settled the match although Rot Weiss did have a goal harshly disallowed in the second half.

Beaten by a team that comes from a vilage with more cows than people is quite embarrassing (einem Dorf das mehr Kühe als Einwohner hatt).

They also had the captain sent off but it was no great loss at I believe Michael Lorenz could be the underlying problem with the team. He seems to believe himself to be some exceptional talent but merely stand in the middle of the pitch (rarely straying from the centre circle) passing the ball sidewards. But what do I know.

It is times like this when the captain should be taking responsibility but Lorenz simply hides.

It was not a bad game and the sendings off and the disallowed goal sparked the crowd into life. After the deary draw in Dortmund this was much more enjoyable despite the loss.

Went in the wrong gate when arriving and got charged student rates to get in ( five euros) and as most people know I don't look like a student.

Had to pick up an English girl from the station who is over for the Love Parade. Managed to get myself lost coming home and had to spend the money I saved from the reduced ticket on a taxi.

Having missed the cup game I have only seen one goal from Essen in five games - and that was when they were 3-0 down.

Playing Wolfsburg reserve team away next week where there will be less atmosphere than on the moon. I won't be going.

The next home game is a midweek evening kick-off against Eintracht Braunschweig who, like Essen, were relegated last season and have had an equally disastrous start to the season.

die Mannschaft - the team
der Schiedsrichter - referee
der Kopfball - header

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

England's Wembley result does not matter

It wasn't until I arrived in Germany that I discovered they are disinterested in their national team and could care less if they ever beat England.

All those times over the years when they beat us on penalties in major championships or spoilt the last game at Wembley by beating us on that wet day in October 2000 they were not watching in pubs up and down the land - they just didn't care.

Only the World Cup last year brought back a bit of national pride and some felt they were at last proud to be Germans. From the German people I have met they should have been proud a long time ago.

Incidentally, if you look at the team that lost at Wembley that day you may see the reason why Kevin Keegan resigned after the game.

Seaman, G Neville, Keown, Adams, Le Saux, Beckham, Southgate, Scholes, Barmby, Owen, Cole. Subs: Martyn, Barry, Parlour, Dyer, Heskey, Wise, Phillips.

As it as the final game at Wembley I convinced a friend that the Germans would allow us to kick-off - as a mark of respect that type of thing - so we both backed the 'England kick off' heavily (heavy in those days). However, the visitors won the toss and kicked off themselves! So much for repect or tradition.

I'm tempted to back England to kick-off tonight. Will the Germans show some respect for tradition?

England team

England: Robinson, Richards, Ferdinand, Terry, Shorey, Beckham, Carrick, Lampard, J, Cole, Smith, Owen

Subs: James, Brown, Taylor, Barry, Neville, Dyer, Wright-Phillips, Downing, Defoe, Crouch, Carson

Final Score 2-1...to Germany



Everton to blood Wessels

It's not often I have had good news this season but I was pleased when I heard Everton had signed Stefan Wessels from Köln as he was the poor keeper who conceded five goals against Rot Weiss Essen last season.

After watching it again I can't believe that side got relegated. To be fair to Wessels he didn't have a bad game.

There is a little bit more about Wessel's current form and a bit more about German football here.

For a classic goalkeeping blunder (not from Wessels) try here

Monday, August 20, 2007

Dire draw in Dortmund



The problem with relegation last season should have been that Rot Weiss Essen would be playing in smaller stadiums against small town teams. However, the first two games away from Georg-Melches-Stadion have seen Essen facing Düsseldorf in a 50,000 seat arena and on Sunday against Dortmund II in the 80,000 Westfalonstadion.

Both games ended in goalless draws and while the atmosphere in Dusseldorf was vibrant, the 4,000 crowd on Sunday was subdued and they found it difficult to drum up any enthusiasm playing against the reserve team of the Bundesliga club.

I was actually tempted to leave at half-time - annoyed at the game, the atmosphere and the beer prices. The second half was marginally better but with no clear cuts chances for either team a 0-0 scoreline always looked on the cards. The team were booed off the pitch - even when they came to clap the away support (3,000 out of the 4,00o at the game).

The reality of relegation is slowly sinking in. A new team full of poor players who rarely look like scoring.

Went back to the place I used to stay to watch the Liverpool Chelsea game on TV. Until the penalty it was a satisfying performance and they showed the highlights of Manchester United's derby defeat during the half-time break. The sight of Alex Ferguson celebrating a non-goal was quite amusing.

die Schlachtgesänge - football songs
betrunkenen - drunken

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Sack the board


They played "You'll Never Walk Alone" straight after the final whistle on Saturday at the Georg-Melches-Stadion following Rot Weiss Essen's 2-0 defeat to Rot-Weiss Ahlen. It served more to drown out the boos rather than a celebration of the team's fantastic supporters who were calling for the head of the director of football Olaf Janßen

Despite dominating for long periods there were few chances for RWE with the opposition happy to soak up the pressure from a series of long ball threats.

The game had started in bizarre fashion with defender David Czyszczon (pictured) being played as a centre forward - he may have been man of the match against Düsseldorf but surely he was not allowed to choose his own starting position!

Once the away team had scored he was quickly returned to the defence though, if anything, the side were less effectual in attack without him.

All the more frustrating for the fans was the lack of creativity up front and the continual 'giving the ball away'. Tactically they were poor and more should have been expected given that coach Heiko Bonan was in charge of RW Ahlen last season.

The lack of teamwork may have something to do with the fact that this team is unrecognisable from the side that was relegated last season. Indeed this point was proved before kick-off. The stadium announcer will reveal the starting line-up to the fans by just saying the player's first name with the crowd shouting back the surname. There was an embarrassing silence as most of the players names were called out.

Dortmund away next Sunday though not at the Westfalenstadion but at the Stadion Rote Erde -an athletics stadium next door.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

100 Jahre Rot-Weiss Essen Ultras Essen

Great song and good video celebrating 100 years of Rot Weiss (Click on it again to be sent to the right Youtube page). Nice bit of bagpipes at the start though where the Scottish connection is I don't know. Always brings goose pimples (not to be confused with 'goose steps') when I hear the opening bars. However, the bastards sometimes take it off the site so it might be Liverpool's greatest band - Shack.

2007 was the 100 years anniversary of the club - though embarrassingly they got relegated.

Quick history

German Champions 1955
First German team to qualify for European Cup
First German team to have floodlights

die Gänsehaut - goose pimples
der Dudelsack - bagpipes
der Abstieg - relegation

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Torlos

An attendance of 27,000 was very respectable for a Third Division (Regionalliga Nord) game though the stadium (LTU Arena) was only half full/half empty. The kick-off was delayed as over 10,000 Essen fans travelled the short distance to the game and the organisation was a amateur. More of a disgrace was the bar facilities which saw only non-alcoholic beer being served.

These new arenas (impressive as they may look at first glance) are souless, corporate/family places which, ultimately, may lead to the extinction of football. Still, it was cheap to get in (10 Euros), train and U-Bahn travel was included in the price of the ticket and the lack of alcohol meant I did not spend that much.

The game itself was OK (that's an English OK not a German OK) despite ending 0-0. After their exhausting game at the weekend, Rot Weiss seemed happy to play for a draw and fully deserved their first point of the season. Düsseldorf, one of the favourites for promotion, were disappointing.

After the match two people greeted me as though they knew me well though I struggled to recognise either of them. Both had spoken to me on previous away trip with Rot Weiss (Fürth and Koblenz respectively) but drink had obviously got the better of me on those days.

Torlos - Goalless
alkoholfrei - Alcohol-free
Der Trainer - Coach/Manager
das Auswärtsspiel - away game

Monday, August 06, 2007

Up for the Cup

The German FA Cup is a little strange. Basically, the lower league sides are drawn against Bundersliga teams with the smaller team playing at home. The early season starts means there are usually some shocks and trust Rot-Weiss Essen to spring such a surprise when I did not go to the match. Having just returned from a short break in Trier (oldest city in Germany and birthplace of Karl Marx) and some other stops in the Mosel Valley, I decided to give the game a miss as I couldn't trust myself to stay sober.

2-2 after extra-time, we should have won easily by all accounts against the glamour (?!) team from the Bundersliga FC Energie Cottbus. Penalties saw Cottbus given a chance to win the game after one of our players had missed but he fluffed it and Essen won 6-5.

Planning on going to Düsseldorf away tomorrow night and thankfully someone else has decided to go. Wouldn't have minded it by myself but its always better if there is another body there.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

First game of season


A new season in the German third division (north) for Rot-Weiss Essen. Virtually a whole new team and it was hard to recognise any of the players who started the first game against local rivals Rot-Weiss Oberhausen. A terrible game which the home side dominated but fail to make any chances. The away team created two chances and scored four goals in a 4-1 defeat for the mighty Rot-Weiss. Crowd of 15,000.

Disappointed and a little drunk I returned home for free (transport to and from the ground is included in your match ticket in German football) and after sobering up had to go to Hellweg to buy a jalousie (Venetian blind) and other odds and sods for the new apartment.

die Niederlage - defeat
Billig - cheap
die Saison - season

Below should be a quite good quality video of another famous team on their first day of the season at Villa Park.

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