Thursday, August 02, 2007

SpVgg Unterhaching – LR Ahlen (06-02-2005)

I had to be in Munich for a conference this weekend, so I decided to stay a day longer to see, after Bayern and 1860, the third team of the city: indeed, the Spielvereinigung Unterhaching. This club has one of the oddest combinations of sports, namely football and… bobsleigh!

As it had snowed extremely in the days before, and the freezing temperature had turned the snow into ice in the city, I was getting increasingly anxious that the game would be cancelled. At 13.30 I took the Strassenbahn from the centre of town to Ostbahnhof, where I transferred to the S5 direction Holzkirchen. Possibly blinded by the reflection of the sun in the fields of snow I got out one stop too early and had to walk for a good 25 minutes in almost total solitude and through a snowed under park, meanwhile becoming more and more sceptical about the taking place of the game. When I finally arrived at the correct S-Bahn station I saw more and more fans and my frozen fingers started to tingle from the regained warmth. I arrived finally at the stadium at just 15 minutes before kick-off (15.00), after having watched a friendly game of curling on natural ice!

The Generali Sportpark is a reasonable accommodation for a club that has promoted (back) to the 2. Bundesliga (Second Division) only a few years ago. It is situated in the district Unterhaching, a former independent suburb to the south of Munich. Officially the stadium has a maximum capacity of 15.053 spectators, including 6.874 seats (of which 6.111 are covered). As it was ice-cold but dry, so I opted for a standing place at the Südtribune (South Stand), at 7.50 euro, to prevent my knees from freezing together.

The programme for this afternoon was a game between SpVgg Unterhaching and LR Ahlen, a so-called Keller-Duel in the 2. Bundesliga. Despite the unprecedented coldness some 1.500 people had shown up -- the speaker spoke of 2.500, but that seems wishful thinking. Incidentally, he also mentioned the presence of Rudi Völler, which did prove to be correct. Without fear I took my place between the Rot-Blaue Tiger (Red-Blue Tigers) and the Sonnenbrillen Mob (Sunglasses Mob), gangs for which even the most hardcore hooligans in England would be afraid. ;-)

Already after 4 minutes “Haching” was 1-0 ahead, and 4 minutes later it was even 2-0. The fans didn’t know what hit them and I also got carried away by their enthusiasm. This disappeared rapidly when the football deteriorated, yet the cold became more and more biting. Even the joy of a Bratwurst could not reanimate my frozen toes.

Fortunately I was pleasantly surprised by a nice conversation with a British German during half time. He told me that he and his group of some seven Munich-based British mates went to virtually every home game of Haching. Some were fans of FC Darlington, one of Dundee FC, and he himself of Walsall FC. He had also lived in Wolverhampton for a year and that’s why he had come up to me, as in my unsuccessful fight with the icy wind I had wore my Wolves hat (which I purchased during my visit there last Christmas).

After our entertaining conversation we directed our attention ack to the game, which more and more became a race against the clock. Ahlen took the initiative and the level of play became worrying. The visitors did score 2-1, and had chances at 2-2, but to the great joy and relief of the home fans Haching was able to hold on and 2-1 was the final score.

With frozen toes, but satisfied nonetheless, I walked back to the S-Bahn station to get to the airport. There I saw BMG win against Freiburg on the tv to make this an extra enjoyable football Sunday. There is something special about visiting the third team of a city, as I had earlier experienced at Excelsior in Rotterdam, at Partick Thistle in Glasgow, or at Bohemians in Prague. A sort of charm that might only be appreciated by real groundhoppers, but I can definitely recommend a visit to the SpVgg Unterhaching to them.

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