Friday, February 25, 2022

FC Wegberg-Beeck - Rot-Weiss Oberhausen (19-02-2022)


For our afternoon game we go to the Regionalliga West, one of the leagues in the regionally divided fourth division of German football. The FC Wegberg-Beeck is a fusion team just across the border with the Netherlands (and close to Mönchengladbach).


They play in the Waldstadion Beeck, a small stadium in a small town, not dissimilar to an average ground of an average local club in Germany or the Netherlands, except that it has one covered stand and a decent size canteen. Everything looks very new.


We pay 15 euro for a place at the one stand, which is also covered, as rain is predicted for later in the afternoon. Inside the stadium is a small statue commemorating the game against Borussia Mönchengladbach in 1998, which was also the formal opening of the stadium. To be honest, it looks even newer than roughly 25 years.


There are some 400 people, including almost 100 away supporters, who made the relatively short 80 km trip from Oberhausen. Rot-Weiss Oberhausen used to play in higher divisions and has a great ground. They are top of the league, which might also explain the very decent away support got the Regionalliga.


In addition to the loud away fans, there are some 15 cops, who are dressed in riot gear (a bit over the top). The home fans are clearly local, mostly older men, with few women and children. They are fairly quiet, perhaps used to disappointment, given that FC Wegberg-Beeck is near the bottom of the league.


In the 6th minute the hosts have their first chance, a shot out of a rebound, which goes well over. The game is poor, which is not helped by the strong wind, but in the 25th minute a quick counter attack is finished easily by the visitors: 0-1. A minute later, Wegberg has a good attack that ends with a very poor cross.


In the 42nd minute, out of nowhere, from some 12 meter out, an Oberhausen player shoots low, quite soft, but it rolls in the goal because the goalie can’t see it: 0-2. Two minutes for half time the guests have another good attack, but the shot is cleared from line by an excellent sliding by a defender. Hence, 0-2 is also the half time score.


The second goal of Oberhausen was by and large game over, as Wegberg cannot and Oberhausen does not want to. But in the 67th minute an Oberhausen player cuts in, gets himself free on the side of the box, and shoots low in the far corner: 0-3.


In the last five minutes the game comes alive again. In the 86th minute a counter by the guests is stopped twice by the goalie and in the 89th minute a powerful Oberhausen shot from outside the box is beautiful saved by the home goalie. And then, a minute later, a miscommunication between the Oberhausen goalie and a defender leads to a Wegberg goal:1-3. Few home supporters celebrate.


FC Wegberg-Beeck and the Waldstadion Beeck have the atmosphere of a small, local amateur team; more Oberliga than Regionalliga, which it soon might be again. Not the most inspiring destination in Germany.

FC Chambly-Oise - FC Villefranche Boujelais (18-02-2022)


The first game of my groundhopweekend with TM takes us to Chambly, a small town just north of Paris. The local FC Chambly-Oise plays in the Championnat National, the Third Division of French football and the lowest national and professional league. Although we left the Netherlands in time, despite me getting lost for a while, we get stuck in a long traffic jam around Lille and start to worry whether we will make kick-off at 19.00. Half an hour later we worry whether we will even make the second half. In the end, we arrive 5 minutes late.


We are surprised how many cars there are, but later conclude that, because the ground is in the middle of nowhere, and there is no public transports, everyone is come in their own car. After a COVID vaccination check, and confusion about my unprofessional US vaccination card, we buy tickets for the main stand (at €15 each).


The Stade des Marais looks like work in progress, with one stand behind the goal and one on just half of the long side. Both seem semi-permanent structures, one truly covered and the other covered by a weird, temporary tent structure.


There are some 400-500 people in the stadium. The audience is very male, mostly older (40+), and somewhat mixed ethnically (much less than the town, undoubtedly). Remarkable how few women and children are around. There don’t seem to be any away fans – Villefranche-sur-Saône is almost 500 km away from Chambly, so that wasn’t too surprising. FC Chambly-Oise is 14th in the league, FC Villefranche-Boujelais 7th.


We are internally divided whether the pitch is natural grass (T) or some modern type of AstroTurf (me). In any case, it looks good and smooth. Still, the home team struggles, while the guests have several half chances, before they finally score 0-1 in the 39th minute, after a cross from the left is finished with a half volley. This is also the half time score, which flatters Chambly.


In the 55th minute, a bit out of nowhere, the guests score with a dry, low shot from top of the box, which the goalie sees too late: 0-2.


The guests are much better, even if Chambly has more possession. They create at least five clear chances through excellent play — but also because the hosts are so poor. Fortunately for the hosts, the Villefranche strikers are off target.


Although the game ends 0-2, and was never a real contest, it was entertaining, mostly because of the guests. The atmosphere was decent. A small crowd of people used to seeing their team loose and a few who occasionally sing. Definitely in the margins of French professional football.