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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