Tuesday 17 March 2020

Plenty of Football on YouTube: Don't Let Coronavirus Stop You From Getting Your Football Fix

With football completely suspended and even non-league now affected you may be starting to get withdrawal symptoms but fear not, I have scoured YouTube and have your football fix covered with plenty of episodes of Match of the Day and The Big Match, various clips and matches from Football Italia, and lots more. This list will be updated over the coming days as I find even more football for you to watch!

Match of the Day

Match of the Day (March 17th, 1973): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WEYBd2kmFfw
06/09/1980 Match of the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qLSwbxuPTZ4
Match of the Day 30/11/1980: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C49Ia5Ojk68
15/05/1982 Match of the Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-_WSQ6J4TM
Match of the Day 9/1/1983: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gPW8ymxKyp4
Match of the Day 15/5/1983: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=deWoXVtAMAk
Match of the Day 28/1/1984: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TfDg-sfYWJk
Match of the Day 4/2/1984: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VeV0DoBQDzU
Match of the Day 28/4/1984: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q6VrsfFfDp4
Match of the Day 17/11/1984: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GKRhHKdrieM
Match of the Day 8/12/1984: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2fkPbraFwX8
Match of the Day 2/2/1985 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SxxlEKrYb4E
Match of the Day 9/2/1985: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RzXrvP__dak
Match of the Day 14/3/1987: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_0QcQ6xujo
Match Of The Day (Including Tottenham Hotspur v West Ham United) 1987/88 - 28th December 1987: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=27_r1bSB3s8
Match of the Day 18/11/1989: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4T-zWUxPd9A
Match of the day - FA Cup The Road to Wembley 1994 (3rd round): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5uQMaw_YFvk
MATCH OF THE DAY 1996 Featuring NUFC Entertainers 1-1 Draw v West Ham: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJiSWigHkvY
FA Cup 4th Round - 27th January 1996: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QH7yMeaefjk
Match Of The Day 1996/97 - Final Day Relegation Battle: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTFDlLXNGBQ
Bradford City - Premier League 1999 - Match of the Day https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Qehm-KNcfI
Match Of The Day 1999/2000 - Final Day Relegation Drama: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fYKWG8WiMf4

The Big Match

1969 70 The Big Match 20 12 69 (Tottenham v West Ham, Everton v Derby,Sheffield Wed v Arsenal): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nf0_xEApDaw
The Big Match 27.12.69 - QPR-Birmingham, Sunderland-ManUtd, Ipswich-Spurs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZlkD0m5cDks
[69/70] The Big Match [14-03-1970]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WjasofV0ZtQ
1969 70 The Big Match 21 03 70 (Chelsea v Manchester United, Liverpool v Everton, Golden Goals 1970): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UK5PYHgcgNI
1970-1971 - 24.10.70 The Big Match: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AHunztRX634
The Big Match (16th January) 1971: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aVrXL0mMeTc
26/08/1972 The Big Match: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0LLqBU2QTaU
04/02/1973 The Big Match: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTlUbf2X4ro
73 03 17 The Big Match FA Cup 6th Round Special: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vuJBKCeiws
1974 75 The Big Match 12 10 74 (Arsenal v QPR Wolves v Carlisle Sheff United v Everton): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9F-oQbY4mD0
21.12.74 - The Big Match (Christmas Edition): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ubcxyT3w9wo
1974 75b The Big Match 20 04 75 (Tottenham v Chelsea Norwich v Nott'm Forest Everton Sheff United): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tofvQCK7vEo
1975 76 The Big Match 05 10 75: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bqs2GwBA-Yw
1975 76 The Big Match 06 12 75 (Chelsea v Bolton,Stoke v Aston Villa, Everton v Ipswich): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EIbuWrsEzNo
24/04/1976 The Kick Off (Granada Television): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XAeRrBD9K2o
22/08/1976 The Big Match: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=01exfRdXr5M
03/10/1976 The Big Match: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qPGDgAuEN3U
10/10/76 The Big Match: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ensNELI8mTY
24/10/1976 The Big Match: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9MBH0OZuNU
12/12/1976 The Big Match: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=odtA_C7tE7E
19/12/1976 The Big Match: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uNwiZGlZqOw
19/02/1977 The Big Match: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vx8EJZfd4EQ
27/02/1977 The Big Match: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rHvB4QmK8M0
03/04/1977 The Big Match: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fdfRS8v6eCQ
15/05/1977 The Big Match: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lzFwj2n1Hy0
02/01/1977 The Big Match: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bCjFDkucN30
26/08/1978 The Big Match: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HKmuUfjrO7c
1978 79 The Kick Off Match 23 09 78: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CPSvToF2QxQ
[78/79] The Big Match (07-01-1979): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eQA9etRPS3w
The Big Match: March 11th 1979: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SoepTZBnpEQ
19/12/1979 The Big Match: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UC1UkbNabBQ
Granada Kick Off Match 6/1/1980: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m0oUt5ATplY
Granada Kick-Off Match 13/1/1980: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q-DCb5UelRk
The Big Match 3/2/1980: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yx76O3jHoz0
Granada Kick Off Match 20/4/1980: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AhhXyhtHswc
31/01/1981 Match Night: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CCt5nSIu0P4
The Big Match 1983-02-19: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-QnWGEbhbHk
26/02/1983 The Big Match: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5iUP3MUfJew

Other Highlights

Leeds 3 v 4 Newcastle - Highlights: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A4y75PmSWXA
Mechelen - Ajax. CWC-1987/88. Final: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o66C8BAZAe0
Much more to follow...

Football Italia

Gazzetta Football Italia 8th April 1995:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IdsYI5IF5QU
Gazzetta Football Italia 20th May 1995: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YaLQQINTjvA
Gazzetta Football Italia 3rd June 1995: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IeNZcS_pJ_g
Gazzetta Football Italia 3rd October 2001: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D08zg0hfrfM
Gazzetta Football Italia 1st December 2001: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26ags12OZp8
Goallllazzo - Football Italia goals: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pjVoR3vz11I
Football Italia - Inter Milan vs AC Milan 93/94: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m3iT5YuvcSY
Football Italia Mezzanote - Lazio V AC Milan (1999-00 Season Full Match): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tXcBR2-Uays
Football Italia Channel 4 - 1999 - 2000 week 21 (Bologna v AC Milan): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WEzMKYiLaPA

Full Matches

England 5 Germany 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-N0mq0B_7s 

Premier League/First Division:
Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur. League Division 1. 1987/88 - 6th March 1988: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RKGvCea9zPw
Arsenal vs Manchester United-Premier League 2003-Full match-English audio.: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9O_cHGxAris
Manchester United vs Liverpool 20/09/2004 Full Match: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sKveY210jAU
Newcastle vs Manchester United 2 - 2 Full Match (Premier League 1/1/2007): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q2MiEY8Oous

FA Cup:
FA Cup Football (Sky Sports) - 5th December 1992 (Reading v Leyton Orient): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ziEPUvpuaGc
FA CUP FINAL 1997, Chelsea vs Middlesbrough: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vU6r129YUSM

Scottish Football:
Scottish Cup final 1985: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=88jTncuEH3M

UEFA Competitions:
Liverpool 5 Alaves 4 16/05/2001 (UEFA Cup final): 
Champions League 1995 Ajax vs Milan (Group D) 14.09.1994 full match: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0AHO4N7QNL0

European Leagues and Cups:
BFC Dynamo v SG Dynamo Dresden 8 JUN 1985 FDGB-Pokal 1984/85 Finale (1985 East German Cup final): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TnVtjyQGJDw
Many more to follow...

Other Bits and Pieces 

Brian Clough meets Don Revie in that 1974 ITV Calendar interview | ITV News: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iTiIdbDBmZc

Please donate. Visit my Patreon page: https://www.patreon.com/jamesmgowland

Brilliant Bavaria: A Cracking Football Weekend in Germany's Southernmost State

In a way, Bavaria feels more German than the rest of Germany if only because back in blighty our stereotypical view of the country consists of beer halls, giant steins of beer, pretzels, and lederhosen, all mostly confined to that region in particular. Okay, less so the beer halls, they can be found in many central European cities, but the steins they use are very much unique to Bavaria as generally are the rest of the stereotypes mentioned all of which in reality are usually unheard of outside the state. 

But although Bavaria is in many ways different to the rest of Germany, for me it also seemed at times more friendly, more hospitable, and more humourful, in many more ways it is very much the same. Like the rest of Germany Bavaria isn't always as efficient as you're lead to believe, and in a country considered so punctual, Bavarian trains, like surprisingly those in the rest of the country, do sometimes arrive late. Then we have the shops, in Bavaria like everywhere else they all seem to be shut on Sundays too. The food is very similar also, pretzels aside, bratwurst, currywurst, and the various pork dishes served with sauerkraut are as much a part of any other region as they are Bavaria. But of course, one other glaring similarity between Bavaria and the rest of the country is their love of football.

As I write I've just come back from five wonderful nights in what is Germany's southernmost region and managed to attend a match in each of the country's top three divisions visiting Bavaria's two biggest cities Munich and Nuremberg and also the much smaller but no less beautiful city of Würzburg. Having decided to book flights for Lufthansa's new Newcastle to Munich route I waited patiently to see what the fixture gods produced when it came to scheduling kick-off dates and times for the fixtures set to take place on the weekend of my visit, and once details had emerged I sprung into action.

Knowing a Friday afternoon flight might leave limited time to make a potential Friday night match I opted for a Thursday departure and it worked out well with 1. FC Nürnberg's home match with Hannover 96 being moved to an 18:30 Friday kick-off slot. That would set me up nicely for the weekend with a Saturday afternoon match between FC Würzburger Kickers and SV Waldhof Mannheim taking my fancy. Whilst with FC Bayern München's match at home to fellow Bavarian side FC Augsburg having been moved to the Sunday I could end my football feast by visiting Germany's most successful club as they celebrated what would be their 120th birthday. No local Monday night fixtures coming to fruition did not mean staying till Tuesday was a waste either, it just gave me an extra day to explore Munich and visit one of the iconic European football grounds of my childhood, Munich's Olympiastadion. That there was my weekend sorted, I just needed to buy tickets for the matches.

For the first two matches buying a ticket was not a problem, I just had to wait for them to go on general sale and to be honest I could probably have just paid on the day as neither game sold out. FC Bayern tickets, however, were harder to come by. I was able to put myself on an advance waiting list to give me priority if any went on general sale but that is far as I got through the club. The alternative was becoming a member for €60 and getting first dibs before any general sale. Having gone for the former I was to find out the match had sold out before any general sale but I could wait and nearer the time if any tickets were returned I might be allocated one. Not wanting to take any risks I went for the one remaining option I had not tried, buying a ticket of a ticket exchange website. At €60 this was more than I would have liked to have paid but with no alternatives for that day and myself gee'd up for my first ever visit to the Allianz Arena, I begrudgingly paid. I believe the price was about double what I would have paid through the club if there had been any left for sale and for comparison Nürnberg and Würzburg tickets cost €18.40 and €12 respectively.

Munich airport, like many, is a little way from the centre of the city and after walking halfway around the airport and at one point getting a mini shuttle train between terminals I was able to board a train to the main central station which took about 45 minutes. From there I had to get a connection to Nuremberg. I took a rather lavish ICE train which took about 75 minutes. It was about €50 for the full two train trip. Trains to Würzburg and then back to Munich had been booked in advance and worked out significantly cheaper whilst day tickets for local trams, U Bahn (underground), and S Bahn (overground) trains generally didn't cost more than €8. 

In the bustling city of Nuremberg which is Bavaria's second largest, I had a bed in a cheap hostel for two nights and one that was rated highly online. Phone charger issues from the night before, of which I won't bore you with details, delayed my progress the following morning as I had to find a shop that would sell me a new one and then wait for said phone to charge. Having spent several hours the previous day sat on trains when I did eventually set off for some sightseeing I decided to spend some time sitting in models of trains. Four minutes from my Five Reasons Hostel was the DB (Deutsche Bahn) train museum. Deutsche Bahn is the main train operator in Germany and although it is a private company the German government is the sole shareholder. If you like looking at models of German trains through the ages, small and large scale, then this is definitely the place for you. Even with only a slight interest in trains I still found it a fairly enjoyable experience. The WWII related exhibits, however, did seem rather low key...

When visiting Nuremberg, the Documentation Centre and Nazi Part rally grounds is also a must see. The museum detailing the rise of the Nazi Party and the rallies they held in the city is very informative with English language audio guides available and well worth a few hours of your time. There is also a small balcony/walkway that gives excellent views across the main site where the rallies took place but compared to the large photographs inside showing crowds of thousands upon thousands stood to see Hilter it looks a little underwhelming in its current state. I did not realise how big a deal these rallies were, they became a yearly event and lasted up eight days with all sorts of stuff going on including parades, sporting competitions, and folk festivals as well all the usual nazi propaganda and announcements.

Back at the hostel via a rather late lunch of Currywurst and chips I had soon freshened up and was on the move again. My first football match of the trip, 1.FC Nürnberg v Hannover 96, was to take place at the Max-Morlock-Stadion, a ground named after a former Nürnberg player. I would be watching two clubs languishing at the wrong end of the 2.Bundesliga table. Nürnberg's current plight is in stark contrast to their glory years. In the pre-Bundesliga years, the club won eight national championships including five in the 1920s and this along with various regional championships earned them the label 'Der Club' (the club) a nickname that is still used today.

On matchday's, there are direct S Bahn trains to the stadium from the city's main station (the station at the stadium is known as Frankenstadion which is the ground's old name). On the way there the train stopped for about 10 minutes, I couldn't understand the announcement detailing why but a group of unhappy fans sat in front of me were singing 'Scheiße Deutsche Bahn' (for those of even less fluent in German than me, Scheiße means sh*t). On the way back we were packed in like sardines, I was stood next to the loudmouth intoxicated guy. At times he had the whole carriage in stitches and although I had no clue what he was saying I laughed along anyway. Previous experiences in Germany had suggested to me that the stereotype that Germans have no sense of humour could possibly be true but during this trip in Bavaria, that theory to me began to seem nonsense.

As with many German grounds Nuremberg's home stadium was largely open plan with perimeter fencing on the outside acting as turnstiles. Once inside but still outside if you get me there were various food and drink stalls with more beneath the stands. There was the usual Bavarian fare of sausages and pretzels but I opted for a steak sandwich. €8.30 got me the sandwich and a pils in an FCN branded plastic cup. The steak was absolutely delicious and tasted rather gamey so I'm not sure quite what meat it was.

The ground is two tiered and has a running track around it with terracing at one end, I was stood on that terracing in the section along from the main ultras who never stopped singing and waving their flags throughout the match. My section was a little quieter and emptier whilst a small gathering of away fans aside the other end of the stadium was virtually empty. There was a full rendition of what seemed to be the club anthem before kick-off.

The hosts were poor and soon found themselves 2-0 down, yes the ultras did not stop singing through this but further along where I was the natives were getting restless. 2-0 at the break and in the toilet queue one fan started rambling at me and although I didn't understand him he sounded very disappointed and his disappointment probably continued into the second-half as things got no better. After the second goal, I feared a rout and although it never materialised Nürnberg never got going until the last 15 minutes and even then one easy save and a shot narrowly wide was all they could muster whilst in the dying seconds the visitors managed to sneak in a third - cue a mass exodus. 26745 had been the announced attendance, well below capacity.

One thing I noticed not just at Nürnberg but also at the two other games I attended were the protests against the German football association (DFB). In short, recent times have seen a lot of hatred towards Hoffenheim owner Dietmar Hopp for the success he's bought his club thanks to lavish spending. This has caused fans of varying clubs to sing abusive songs about him and hold up offensive banners. This all culminated in a recent match being stopped for ten minutes whilst travelling FC Bayern fans were asked tone it down. The gripe of many fans with the DFB seems to be their strong reaction to these incidents being in stark contrast to their muted response to recent incidents of racism. At all three matches, one group of ultras would shout 'Scheiße DFB' and the opposing fans would shout the same back. They would go back and forth for about a minute or so but that was about it during the game. Nothing disruptive or overtly extravagant but nonetheless a noticeable chant that showed the displeasure with the DFB of the supporters of all six teams I watched. 

A wander through the old town when I got back to the centre was followed by an early night in preparation for an early start the next day. The following morning saw me head north to Würzburg with serious train delays thankfully having minimal effect on my progress. Others, however, were not so lucky. Many trains out of Nuremberg were severely delayed that morning but I ended up only 5 minutes behind schedule by taking what should have been a much earlier train that had been delayed by almost an hour. Getting on the train with me were hordes of Jahn Regensburg fans complete with lots of crates of beer, all heading north to the trains final destination of Hamburg. Speaking to some of this group they told me that because of the delays they would probably miss the first half of their 2. Bundesliga match with Hamburger SV. They were happy to chat football with me until Würzburg, however, and one of the group insisted on giving me their scarf as a memento. Lovely folk, I wish them every success for the rest of the season.

Würzburg along with Nuremberg is part of an area within northern Bavaria called Franconia which under Napolean in the 19th century was incorporated into what was a newly expanded Kingdom of Bavaria. I was told by a local in Würzburg that many people in the town consider themselves Franconian as opposed to Bavarian - This I was not aware of. Smaller than Nuremberg and Munich, Würzburg is a charming town sized small city and although at first sight upon leaving it's train station the place looks rather drab and dreary it won't take you long to find it's undeniable beauty. Standing on the old main bridge looking out at the almost storybook like Festung (fortress) Marienberg on the hill you can't help but think you'd struggle to find a more angelic sight whilst travelling on the continent. Walk back into town and there are several exquisite churches and the crown jewel of the town - Würzburger Residenz. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a majestic palace that dates back to the 18th century. It was commissioned by the Prince-Bishop of Würzburg Johann Philipp Franz von Schönborn and his brother Friedrich Carl von Schönborn in 1720 and completed in 1744. The palace is complete with delightful gardens of which when walking around them are rather pleasing on the eye.

After several hours of exploring this wonderful place, there was a football match to attend. For sponsorship reasons, local 3. Liga side FC Würzburger Kickers play at the FLYERALARM Arena. There is a tram from the centre which heads out to the ground on the edge of town and arriving several hours before kick-off, with seemingly not much else of interest in the area, many fans were waiting for the gates to open. Up the stairs and eventually through the turnstiles fans had several stalls selling, food, drink, and merchandise for company on the walkway around the top of the terracing. It must be pointed out though that the only beer available, which seemed surprisingly popular amongst fans, was actually non-alcoholic. I can genuinely confirm this was the only stuff available. There is one covered all-seater stand amongst three sides of terracing with the home end having what looks like corporate hospitality peering above it from behind. 

At one end the visiting SV Waldorf Mannheim supporters were in full voice well before kick-off and created an excellent atmosphere waving their flags as they sang. The home fans behind the other goal did their best to join in whilst the rest of the ground was a little more sedate. The game itself was very unremarkable, the home side were slightly the better of the two teams but with some of the chances missed it did not take long for me to realise the match had 0-0 written all over it and surprise surprise that's how it finished. Really not much of a spectacle for the 7012 in attendance. 

A tram back into town saw me pick up my luggage from the station lockers then check into my accommodation for the night. I actually had my own room to myself at the Altstadt hotel which was probably why it was the most expensive place I stayed at during the trip. Eventually, I decided to head out for some food but ended up in a bar drinking wheat beer and watching a Bundesliga match on the telly. A fellow lone drinker at the bar got chatting to me and it turned out he was an Eintracht Frankfurt supporter. After many beers and excellent conversation, I still hadn't eaten. I politely declined my new friend's suggestion of him showering back in my room then heading out clubbing with me but could not shake him off completely as he then insisted showing me some proper German food. The pub we ended up in was rammed and he had to convince a couple to share their table with us but the pork with crackling, bread dumpling, and sauerkraut I was served and the smoked beer that accompanied it was absolutely delicious. After my hearty meal, I was able to make my excuses pay my bill and leave my new pal behind. Straight off to bed ready for another early start.

Whilst in Würzburg I noticed an awful lot of what were evidently election posters. This was also the case in Nuremberg but in Würzburg it got ridiculous, everywhere I went I could not divert my eyes from ugly German politicians glaring at me from placards stuck to lamposts and railings. I assume these were some sort of state elections, the Pirate Party seemed to be standing in Nuremberg whilst in Munich although there was thankfully a distinct lack of posters I did come across a stall for an increasingly publicised German party that is by many seen as controversial. I had an interesting chat with one of their volunteers about British and German politics as well as the EU. I'll say no more than that as this is a football publication and not The Spectator or the New Statesman.

The following morning after my night in Würzburg I was on a train to Munich and no delays this time. Bavaria's main city has a train station seemingly bigger than Nuremberg's and that is saying something. The unbelievably large number of shops and food outlets make parts of it more like a shopping centre than a railway station, particularly in this case below ground where all the U Bahn and S Bahn platforms seem to be. Having been to Germany several times previously I know ginormous stations are not unique to Bavaria but no matter how many German stations I see they never fail to amaze me with their sheer size. 

A ten minute walk from the main station is Marienplatz which is the focal of the city centre where the Neues Rathaus (new city hall) and Altes Rathaus (old city hall) dominate the area with their magnificent architecture. The new town hall replaced the old one in 1874 whilst in 1877 a tunnel was built through the old one to use it as a thoroughfare. The old town hall was first documented in 1310  and remodelled between 1470 and 1480. In and around Marienplatz are many shops, restaurants, and a nearby market. 

After a McDonald's lunch consisting of a delicious McRib burger and fries, it was time for my final match of the trip. But first, a word on the McRib, if you read about my trip to Berlin a few years back then you might remember me mentioning it. This elusive limited edition burger is highly sought after, particularly in America, and there is a Simpsons episode loosely based on it. Germany is the only country in the world to have the burger permanently on the menu all year round and boy is a trip McDonald's whilst in the country worth it! Burger eaten, I headed back to Marienplatz where I was able to catch a U Bahn train to Fröttmaning which is a five minute walk from the Allianz Arena, home of FC Bayern München, you can't miss it. 

FC Bayern, as I'm sure you well know, are Germany's most successful club both at home and in Europe. The club have been crowned German champions a record 29 times and also have 5 European Cup/Champions League titles to their name. FC Nürnberg might consider themselves 'Der Club' but it's a title they should probably have handed to Bayern many years ago. With such a successful history it's hardly surprising that a trip to the Allianz Arena really does have a superclub atmosphere about it, similar to that of say Old Trafford. FC Bayern is right in your face from the moment you leave the underground platform with stalls selling scarves and other trinkets and then thousands of supporters milling about as soon as leave the station, all this taking place several hours before kick-off. Fans travel far and wide to watch Bayern as well, there is a large coach park near the stadium for travelling home supporters whilst fans from all over wearing scarves and replica shirts can be found milling around the city centre from early morning onwards.

This iconic stadium is famous for its tyre shaped exterior which is in photographs looks incredibly impressive all lit up at night. But during the day it's a little underwhelming. The walkway up to the stadium is raised above ground level and once through the turnstiles, you can happily walk all around the outside of the stadium or enter the concourses through one of many entrances. Inside there are various food and drink outlets selling, bratwurst, currywurst, Pizza, and much more. The stadium consists of three tiers and the main concourse has access to the middle and lower tiers of the stadium whilst you have to walk up several flights of stairs to reach the top tier and a separate concourse. The stadium layout makes it definitely more similar to an English stadium than the other two I'd visited on this trip. It is also worth pointing out that the seemingly unpopular card system in operation in many European grounds seemed to also be in operation here. I did not purchase any food or drink but if I had have wanted to I would have needed to buy a special card and top it up with credit as this is seemingly a cashless stadium. This was not the case at the other two grounds I visited on this trip. 

This was a big afternoon for FC Bayern, the club were celebrating 120 years of existence and for this 120th birthday extravaganza, there was huge display just before kick-off with fans holding up placards to create a huge collage with the club emblem part of it and large banners being held up pitchside. 

Today's opponents were FC Augsburg a fellow Bavarian club which made the match a local derby though traditionally this is not a massive rivalry with the two clubs having spent much of their history in separate divisions. As with the other two games, I found the action on the pitch once again disappointingly poor. FC Bayern had the better of the first half but all in all, were still slightly sluggish, also like in the other matches, however, this did not stop the main band of ultra supporters from singing non stop and waving their flags. These lot were housed in the bottom tier behind the goal in an area that was terraced with no seating and way up high sat in the top tier I had an excellent view of them below. It was Bayern who despite a disappointing display ended up winners on the day though. The first goal came early in the second half whilst the second came right at the death and minutes after Augsburg had a goal ruled offside. 

As was the case at other games, when the team line ups were announced only the first name of each home player was given and the supporters would shout back his surname. This was also the case for each goalscorer and here at Bayern that was followed by a reminder of the score in which only the team names were announced and each name was followed by supporters this time shouting out the score for each team. What made this rather amusing was at the end of this the stadium announcer shouted 'danke' and the whole stadium in unison responded with 'bitte'. Great stuff.

At full-time, there was a swift departure as the majority of fans, including me, did not want to hang around. For me, it was back to the main station to pick up my luggage and check into my accommodation, the Euro Youth Hotel, where I got chatting to a delightful old American who was travelling through Europe. Eventually, I left my American friend so I could freshen up then get some food.

Munich is famous for its beer halls and all of the city's main brewers have one. I decided to celebrate Bayern's victory by visiting the Hofbrauhaus ran by the Hofbrau brewery. I wasn't entirely sure how the place worked but there were numerous large tables with benches to sit at and it turned out you could sit where you wanted. I ended up on one of the very few fairly empty tables which had just one lone couple sat at one end. The food was similar to the previous night's fare of which I cannot remember the price but at the Hofbrauhaus I ended up paying about €21 for a plate of food and a drink and I'm sure the previous night in Würzburg I could not have paid much more. In this large beer hall, the beer was served only in those huge one litre steins (almost two pints) that Munich is famous for, smaller options were not available. A Bavarian beer hall is very much an interesting experience, it is a hive of activity and I found myself regularly distracted by the beautiful pretzel ladies. Dressed in traditional looking Bavarian dresses these ladies walked around carrying huge trays of pretzels trying to the sell them to the masses of drinkers, a bit like a shot girl in the bars of Newcastle back home.

Following Sunday's FC Bayen adventure I had one more full day in the city before flying home and I made the most of it by amongst other things visiting the city's Olympiastadion. Those at least a couple of decades older than me might remember this iconic stadium as the centrepiece of the 1972 Munich Olympics but I just remember it as a historic footballing venue from my childhood which is no longer used by Munich's two main clubs. My team Newcastle United once played Munich's second team TSV 1860 here in an Intertoto Cup clash on channel 5 but I mostly remember the venue for Michael Owen's hat-trick as England thumped Germany 5-1 in September 2001, what night - even Heskey scored! Ex Bayern keeper Oliver Kahn also springs to mind when thinking of the Olympiastadion. Kahn was an ever present for both Bayern and the national team in the pre Allianz Arena days and I remember him for his excellent saves on big Champions League nights when the stadium all lit up on tv by its large floodlights made it feel like a magical arena of the beautiful game.

It costs only €3.50 to enter and walk around the stadium if you can find the right entrance which is a little tricky. Full stadium tours are also available but having checked in advance none were available on the day of my visit. The whole place was mostly deserted when I visited as was, a few joggers aside, the whole Olympic Park. One feature of note in the park aside from the main stadium is the Olympic tower which at a height of 190m tall no doubt gives excellent views across the city when stood at the top. It is possible to visit the top of the tower but I passed up on this opportunity. Next to the Olympic Park, another attraction of interest is the BMW museum, however, the German car manufacturer closes its museum on a Monday so I was unable to visit. 

There ended my stay in Munich and indeed Bavaria. Munich is a beautiful bustling historic city with excellent food (including pretzels served by lovely ladies), very large beers, a train station so large you could get lost in it for days, and a world famous football team. I must also say that having spent an absolutely fantastic extra long weekend in Bavaria I was both sad and happy to be finally heading back to Britain. Bavaria is a fascinating region of Germany and from its enchanting fairytale castles to its famous beer halls, Bavaria can take you from arty to party with all manner of things inbetween. In Bavaria, there is an intriguing albeit at times troubling history to be discovered but in the here and now you'll meet some wonderful people and have some unforgettable experiences. I've visited different parts of Germany various times before and loved everywhere I've been but none quite have the magic of Bavaria. 

This was primarily a football trip, however, and despite not seeing the most exciting of games for that it still did not disappoint. Bavaria might not have the dearth of clubs that say the North Rhine-Westphalia region of the country, for example, has but it does boast the country's most successful club as well as several other historic names and a fan culture as vibrant as anywhere else in Germany. On all counts Bavaria most certainly delivers and for me, it was a cracking football weekend that offered so much more.

Please donate. Visit my Patreon page: https://www.patreon.com/jamesmgowland

Wednesday 4 March 2020

Blog Update and Crossword #4

I am away on holiday tomorrow and have another holiday later in the month (as long as coronavirus doesn't spread and cancel everything). Because of this, I might not have much time to write any pieces for the blog although I will have some football matches from my trips abroad to write about when I find time.

In the meantime, here is a brand new crossword, the theme is 1990s Serie A.

Click here to give it a go