Sunday 28 March 2021

Travels in Germany: Füchse Berlin and the Time I Missed the First Half of Their Match Because I Went to the Wrong Ground

On a trip to Berlin a few years back, a Saturday afternoon flight home stopped me from catching any of the numerous local weekend football fixtures apart from, after studying the various fixture lists, a lone Friday night sixth tier Berlin-Liga match. The match in question was between a team called Füchse Berlin and the infamous Tasmania Berlin who I now know are famous for completing the worst season in Bundesliga history (You may have heard of them, I've written about them a few times before).

Pronounced 'Fookser' which translates as 'foxes', Füchse Berlin are a small-time team who are difficult to fathom out even to the point that it's unclear if Füchse Berlin is even their actual name. Based in the Berlin suburb of Reinickendorf in the west of the city, search for them online and depending on where you look they are also known as Reinickendorfer Füchse and Füchse Berlin Reinickendorf. To confuse matters further, Füchse Berlin is also the name of a top flight handball team. However, it actually turns out Füchse Berlin Reinickendorf/Reinickendorfer Füchse (I'll call them the latter from now on as that's what it says on the scarf I bought) are actually part of a sports club which, with over 3600 members, covers far more than just football. The aforementioned Füchse Berlin handball team, once part of the club, are, however, nowadays a separate entity though still have close links with the sports club.

In terms of footballing history, after the creation of the Bundesliga in 1963 Füchse joined the new, at the time second tier, Regionalliga Berlin but did not sustain themselves at that level. The club were before long relegated and have played outside the top two levels ever since. During those years outside the higher echelons of German football, their best performances came in 1989 and 1990 when they won consecutive, then third tier, Amateur-Oberliga Berlin titles. Sadly, on both occasions they missed out on promotion to the 2.Bundesliga by losing in the resulting play-offs. The club have twice won the Landespokal Berlin (regional cup) and three times participated in the main DFB-Pokal with one lone first round victory to their name.

As for my visit to see Reinickendorfer Füchse in action, well it turned out to be a rather eventful one with finding the right ground rather problematic. 

Whilst Füchse's website even when translated into English was almost useless it did, however, give me details of their home ground - or so I thought. Google Maps (other mapping services are available) gave me accurate directions and I arrived there half an hour before kick-off with everything initially seeming fine, albeit a little quiet. 

I had turned up in the middle of what was a quaint residential area and I found several football pitches and some tennis courts but whilst there seemed to be players warming up next to the main pitch there was a distinct lack of supporters about. Despite posters up advertising the match, I knew something was amiss when as kick-off approached the aforementioned players were still training/warming up and there were still no spectators around. The specified kick-off time came and went with still no match taking place so I checked my phone and a German site listing the league fixtures claimed the match had already kicked off. The site in question also had live updates from said game so yeah it had clearly kicked off somewhere just not where I was! At the time I wasn't aware of the groundhopper app nowadays known as 'fubology' but it might have come in handy.

I frantically searched online using my phone to try and find out where the match was actually being played and whilst doing so was accosted by two lads who, speaking perfect English, introduced themselves as a German groundhopper and a Finnish guy studying in Berlin. The two men I had just met had made exactly the same mistake as me and turned up at the wrong venue. At least I wasn't alone in doing so! One of my two new friends was thankfully able to find directions to the correct ground and I followed the pair to a nearby train station where I was promised it was only two stops to the correct stadium.

After some great banter on the station platform, where the conversation at one point rather surprisingly turned to the not very Germanic or Nordic sport of cricket, we were finally able to board a delayed train and eventually reach our destination. Unfortunately, the aforementioned delay saw us enter the ground just after the second-half had kicked off. Arriving so late, however, saw no one charge us an entrance fee so it wasn't all bad.

The original so-called ground we'd turned up at consisted of one lone terraced section on one side of the pitch and certainly did not feel suitable even for sixth tier football yet this alternative venue was barely any more befitting. After buying cheap beers in the clubhouse we headed out onto the terracing in front of it. These several rows of terracing ran along the length of one side of the pitch and many people were stood there enjoying the action, whilst behind one goal a grassy bank was also populated by supporters. Most of the rest of the ground seemed to be surrounded by trees in what was a rather scenic setting. In all there were probably a couple of hundred people in attendance at the ground which I later discovered was called Wackerplatz and the former home of a now defunct side called SV Wacker 04 Berlin.

Although I remember the fantastic football craic with my two new pals more than the actual match itself, home side Füchse scored late on what, judging by the euphoria around us, seemed to be a winning goal (a check online later showed that yes it was, in fact, the winning goal with a final score of 3-2 and the other four goals evidently coming in the first half before we arrived).

Game over and we headed back for the train. After the local amongst us departed a few stops down the line, me and my new Finnish friend ended up having a lovely pork schnitzel takeaway before exchanging social media details and then heading our separate ways.

That win, it turned out, was much needed for Reinickendorfer Füchse as the club would end the season just one point above the drop zone. The following season it was even closer with only a superior goal difference stopping them from going down. The league has since been interrupted by COVID and I have yet to return to Berlin, but one day I hope to go back and maybe I'll get to watch Füchse again - let's just hope that in the meantime they don't move grounds without telling me!

Sunday 21 March 2021

Cooking Lessons With Carlo Ancelotti

I haven't posted anything for about ten days so whilst you wait for my next article/feature that I'm, no doubt, sure you can't wait to read, here is a video of Carlo Ancelotti making penne carbonara.

Thursday 11 March 2021

One Season Wonders - The Seven Clubs Who Each Have Just One Lone Bundesliga Campaign To Their Name

Since the Bundesliga was created in 1963, fifty six teams have played in what is Germany's top flight. Of those 56 sides, some have barely played outside division whilst others have made only fleeting appearances in it. 

Whilst, for example, founding members Hamburger SV lasted 55 seasons in the division before their eventual relegation in 2018, and FC Bayern München, who joined the league in 1965, are now in their 56th straight top flight campaign, Blau-Weiß 1890 Berlin, on the other hand, have managed just one lone season in the Bundesliga.

Blau-Weiß are actually one of seven sides to have just one Bundesliga campaign to their name and, not wanting pick solely on the Berlin minnows, here is a brief look at each of those seven clubs.

SC Preußen Münster (1963-64)

Preußen Münster were inaugural members of the Bundesliga but whist, of course, some of those original 16 clubs hung around in the top flight for quite a while sadly for Münster they did not.

Pre Bundesliga era Münster finished runners up in the German Championship in 1951, losing to 1. FC Kaiserslautern in front of 100,000 spectators in the final in Berlin, but that was as good as it got. When the club joined the newly formed Bundesliga in 1963 they finished second bottom in the leagues first season and were relegated, as yet, never to return.

Münster spent most of the 60s and 70s in the second tier and several times came close to promotion back to the big time but eventually slipped down to the third tier in the early 80s. The club briefly returned to the 2. Bundesliga almost a decade later but have since spent most of their time in the third and fourth tiers. They currently play in the Regionalliga West having been relegated from the 3.Liga last season. 

In 2012 Münster came to prominence when they knocked Bundesliga side Weder Bremen out of the DFB-Pokal by defeating them 4-2 after extra-time in the first round. The club failed to make it past round 2, however, losing to another Bundesliga side in FC Augsburg.

SC Tasmania 1900 Berlin (1965-66)

In 1965, West Berlin's only Bundesliga side, Hertha BSC, had their license revoked and were forcibly relegated for breaking the league's player salary rules with SC Tasmania 1900 Berlin drafted in to replace them. The DFB were, for political reasons, uncomfortable about the idea of not having a Bundesliga team in the divided city at what was the height of the cold war and decided one of the second tier clubs based in the city should replace the disgraced Hertha.

Tennis Borussia Berlin and Spandauer SV both finished above Tasmania, but of the three Tennis Borussia were considered the weakest and Spandauer decided, for financial reasons, they were not interested in joining the top flight leaving Tasmania as the only choice. When Tasmania were finally given the gig it was just two weeks before the season started and with so little time to prepare the odds were seemingly stacked against them.

Despite winning their opening match in front of 81,524 spectators at West Berlin's Olympiastadion, Tasmania would win just two of their 34 league games whilst losing 28 and ending the season with just eight points to their name, a whopping 14 behind the team directly above them in an era of just two points for a win. The club would go on a 31 match winless streak which was and still is Bundesliga record and just one of many unwanted records they would gain that season. Despite drawing huge crowds in the early part of the season they even ended up recording, what is still to this day, the lowest attendance in Bundesliga history when just 827 people turned up to watch their 0-0 draw with Borussia Mönchengladbach.

In 1973 SC Tasmania 1900 Berlin went bankrupt and were reformed as SV Tasmania Berlin. Under their new guise, Tasmania's most successful period started in 1981 when promotion saw ten straight seasons in the third tier. More recently, seven straight seasons in the sixth tier Berlin-Liga ended with promotion to the fifth tier NOFV-Oberliga Nord last time around. They currently play at the very modest Werner-Seelenbinder-Sportpark where 827 is considered a decent turnout. 

The club recently hit the headlines again when FC Schalke 04 came within one game of matching their Bundesliga record of 31 games without a win but Schalke then managed to put four without reply past TSG 1899 Hoffenheim and the record still stands.

Finally, for anyone wondering why the club are named after an island off Australia, it is believed that their name comes from the fact the founders of the original club had wanted to move to Tasmania.

SC Fortuna Köln (1973-74)

Over the years in the city of Cologne, Fortuna Köln always played second fiddle to their big name city rivals 1. FC Köln and whilst FC Köln have 49 Bundesliga campaigns to their name Fortuna have jsut one.

Fortuna finished second bottom of the Bundesliga in 1973-74 with just eight wins to their name, however, they are remembered more for their run to the final of DFB-Pokal nine years later than that, to date, sole top flight appearance.

After defeating Bundesliga side Borussia Mönchengladbach in a quarter final replay, second tier Fortuna reached the 1982-83 DFB-Pokalfinale after a second Bundesliga scalp in which they thrashed Borussia Dortmund 5-0. In the final Fortuna would face none other than city rivals FC Köln and the match was moved to FC Köln's Müngersdorfer Stadion where a crowd of over 60,000 would be in attendance. Unfortunately for Fortuna, they lost the match thanks to a second-half goal as their far more successful neighbours were crowned cup winners for a fourth time with a 1-0 win.

Fortuna continued to play second tier football until 2000 when they were relegated from the 2. Bundesliga and have yet to return. Spells in the third and fourth tiers followed whilst after a return to the 3. Liga in 2014 they were relegated back to the Regionalliga West five years later. That relegation in 2019 came as Viktoria Köln, traditionally the smallest of the city's three main clubs, went in the other direction and won promotion up to the third tier making Fortuna technically now the city's third club.

Blau-Weiß 1890 Berlin (1986-87)

A second tier side for much of the 70s and 80s Blau-Weiß 1890 Berlin were relegated from the 2. Bundesliga in 1992 and have yet to return. During that period of relative success, however, they did manage to make it to the Bundesliga for one single season.

A second placed finish in 1985-86 saw the club promoted to the top flight for the very first time but they were immediately relegated straight back down to the second tier. Three wins and 12 draws meant Blau-Weiß's Bundesliga campaign did not go quite as badly as city rivals Tasmania's had some 20 years earlier but they still finished rock bottom of the league some eight points from safety.

Blau-Weiß 1890 Berlin went bankrupt after their 1992 relegation from the second tier and reformed as SpVg Blau-Weiß 90 Berlin. They currently play in the fifth tier NOFV-Oberliga Nord.

VfB Leipzig (1993-94)

After Germany reuinited in 1990, former East German Oberliga side 1. FC Lokomotive Leipzig renamed themselves VfB Leipzig and in 1993 were promoted to the Bundesliga.

In East Germany, Lokomotive never managed to be crowned top flight champions but did have 4 FDGB-Pokal domestic cup triumphs to their name and in Europe reached the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup in 1973-74 and finished UEFA Cup Winners' Cup runners-up in 1986-87.

When east and west became one again VfB Leipzig began life in the second tier but, of course, it only took them a couple of seasons to reach the top flight. Life in the Bundesliga did not go well for the club, however, as they finished rock bottom in their first season with just three wins to their name and some 12 points from safety.

Post that lone Bundesliga campaign the club struggled, eventually went bankrupt, and reformed as 1. FC Lokomotive Leipzig once more.  Lokomotive currently ply their trade in the fourth tier Regionalliga Nordost and last season missed out on promotion after losing in the play-offs.

SSV Ulm 1846 (1999-2000)

SSV Ulm 1846 currently ply their trade in the fourth tier Regionalliga Südwest and last season claimed their third straight regional WFV-Pokal trophy in a row.

Promotion in 1980 saw the club spent ten straight seasons in the 2. Bundesliga but after relegation, they did not return to the second tier until 1998. It was worth the wait, however, as the club's first season back in the second tier saw them promoted to the Bundesliga for the very first time.

In the Bundesliga Ulm finished third bottom and three points from safety, however, whilst a second successive relegation saw them back in the third tier for the 2001-02 season. Since then the club have really struggled and spent much of their time in the fourth and fifth tiers. At one point they even went insolvent. They currently play in the Regionalliga Südwest.

SpVgg Greuther Fürth (2012-13)

Based in Fürth next to Nuremberg, like rivals 1. FC Nürnberg from the city next door, SpVgg Greuther Fürth's most successful period came well before the Bundesliga was created. The club were national champions in 1914, 1926, and 1929 but have achieved little since.

A few spells in third and fourth tiers in the 80s and 90s aside, the club has spent most of the Bundesliga era in the second tier. The club has actually spent 23 of the past 24 seasons in the 2. Bundesliga with the odd one out being 2012-13 when they made their one and only foray into top flight football during the Bundesliga era. 

Having been 2. Bundesliga champions the previous season the club, unfortunately, failed to deliver in the big time finishing bottom of the Bundesliga and some 13 points from safety with just four wins to their name.

Monday 1 March 2021

The Beauty of Germany's Third Division

Living in England, only once in my life have I attended a match in Germany's 3. Liga. It came last year in what turned out to be the final round of fixtures before COVID-19 sent Germany into lockdown and stopped all football for several months. The match in question at the flyeralarm Arena saw FC Würzburger Kickers draw 0-0 at home to SV Waldhof Mannheim 07 in what really wasn't a good advert for Germany's third tier. And don't get me started on the fact that the only beer on sale inside the ground was non-alcoholic... Nonetheless, I was and still am very much in love with German third division football. 

Moving there almost four years ago, my brother spent a year living in the German city of Cologne where he was introduced to one of its local sides Fortuna Köln by some colleagues and several times saw them in 3. Liga action (when I visited him there were no matches on). His accounts of how very different life on the terraces was at such games compared to the all-seater stadia back home very much intrigued me but it was actually earlier than that when I became captivated by Germany's lowest national level division.

Before that though, first of all, there are several reasons why the 3. Liga is so fascinating. The league was formed in 2008 as a new national level division to sit between the 2. Bundesliga and the varying regionalliga divisions that had, until that point, sat directly below it and one perfect example of its intrigue is its mix of clubs. I once, a few years back, read an article talking about the league's mix of fallen Bundesliga giants and classic names from the old East German Oberliga. Obviously, with the nature of promotion and relegation, not all the teams mentioned in said article are still present in the league but, at the time of writing, there are still enough of these names that fit the bill.

In terms of ex Bundesliga clubs in the division, TSV 1860 München, 1. FC Kaiserslautern, KFC Uerdingen 05 (formerly Bayer Uerdingen), and MSV Duisburg, for exmple, were all at one point or another big name top flight sides. Amongst that list are two former Bundesliga champions, an ex runner up, and several DFB-Pokal winners not mention a UEFA Cup Winners' Cup runner up. Several other teams in the league have briefly played Bundesliga football including a couple of the ex East German sides as well as FC Ingolstadt 04 who were promoted to the top flight for the very first time as recently as 2016 though were relegated after just two seasons.

Most East German sides have struggled post-reunification and, as mentioned, several fallen giants from the east also now sit in Germany's third tier including Dynamo Dresden and 1. FC Magdeburg. Dresden sit behind Berliner FC Dynamo as East Germany's most successful club with 8 DDR Oberliga titles to their name, 8 runners up finishes and seven FDGB-Pokal triumphs whilst in Europe they were UEFA Cup semi-finalists in 1988-89. In more recent times they are famed for taking 30,000 away fans to a DFB-Pokal clash with Hertha BSC at Berlin's Olympiastadion in 2019. Magdeburg, meanwhile, defeated AC Milan in the final of the 1974 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup and like Dresden also have several domestic league and cup triumphs to their name. The current 3. Liga also includes FSV Zwickau who were East Germany's first-ever champions and FC Hansa Rostock who were the Oberliga's final champions pre reunification as well as Hallescher FC, formerly known as Chemie Halle. Notably, fellow East German sides FC Energie Cottbus, FC Carl Zeiss Jena, and Chemnitzer FC have all in recent years played in the 3. Liga with Jena UEFA Cup Winners' Cup runners up in 1981.

The league, which also happens to be the highest level at which reserve sides can play, also includes amongst all those old warhorses from both east and west much newer names such as Türkgücü München who, at the time of writing, are competing in the third tier for the very first time. Not so long ago that mention of new and old could have also extended to the league's stadiums as there were some real old skool, often kitsch, open-air terraces amongst the new modern era stadia now favoured by many. Sadly, the former are becoming less and less common. A lot of clubs have played in modern arenas for quite some time now and although in recent times there have still been a few clubs in the division using retro venues most of them no longer play in this league. Amongst others, Carl Zeiss Jena, Holstein Kiel, Preußen Münster, and SpVgg Unterhaching are all ex 3. Liga clubs that have not yet moved into modern arenas. Meanwhile, Uerdingen who currently play in the division are having their very much old skool venue upgraded. But for some real nostalgia on the current stadium front see FC Bayern II/1860 München, VfB Lübeck, and SV Meppen. 

The stadiums of Kaiserslautern's and Türkgücü are also worth mentioning too. Kaiserslautern's Fritz-Walter-Stadion although, perhaps, looking more modern due to various upgrades was originally built in 1920. Whilst as for Türkgücü, their usual home is not up to 3. Liga standard so they have this season been mostly groundsharing at the Grünwalder Stadion home of 1860 and FC Bayern II but have also played several matches at Munch's Olympiastadion. This famous venue is surely one of the country's most historic sporting arenas alongside the other Olympic stadium in Berlin. It's just a shame that due to COVID fans are currently not allowed to attend these games.

The host of famous club names from years gone by and old skool stadia if you look hard enough, as I have mentioned above, are probably what first led me to take note of the 3. Liga. But what actually made me fall in love with it was some good old fashioned final day drama.

Having visited Germany with friends for the first time in 2014 to see my beloved Newcastle United play in a pre-season Schalke Cup tournament I went back home and started following German football with far more interest than normal. This eventually took me to the final day of the 2015-16 3. Liga season.

Now I'm not usually one to advocate the illegal streaming of football but wanting to follow the final day of the 3.Liga season and nowhere in the UK legally broadcasting it I turned to the internet.  As my fascination with German football continued to grow I had become more interested in the German lower leagues and wanted to watch some of the action for myself. Live in-person at the stadium fourth and sixth tier action in Berlin would eventually follow before that aforementioned 3. Liga match in Würzburg last year but I would have to start by watching from home on my laptop. I managed to find a stream of the ARD Sportschau coverage, which was a type of around the grounds show that I believe the Germans call Konferenz, and settled in for what turned out to be a cracking couple of hours with relegation still to be decided. 

With VfB Stuttgart II already down, any two from Energie Cottbus, Stuttgarter Kickers, SV Wehen Wiesbaden, and SV Werder Bremen II were set to join them. For Kickers a win would be enough to keep them up whilst two points behind them Cottbus could also stay up with a win. Bremen and Wiesbaden were a point behind Cottbus and therefore in a slightly more difficult position but, nonetheless, victory would potentially give them a chance of survival if other results went in their favour. 

Bremen found themselves 2-0 up at the break against VfR Aalen and won 2-1 whilst Kickers lost 1-0 at home to Chemnizter, but the real drama came at Cottbus and Wiesbaden.

There were tears in the stands of Cottbus' Stadion der Freundschaft when 1. FSV Mainz 05 II took the lead early in the second-half but after an equaliser eight minutes later there were eventually scenes of unbridled joy when on 77 minutes Cottbus found themselves 2-1 ahead. The whole stadium went wild as Cottbus fans looked towards safety and another season of 3. Liga football. But alas for those exuberant fans disaster eventually struck... Two minutes from time Mainz grabbed an equaliser and in stoppage time retook the lead as the stadium very quickly turned into what felt like a morgue and Cottbus abruptly found themselves relegated.

So now you are thinking but what of Wiesbaden and who actually went down with Cottbus? Bremen and Wiesbaden started the day level on goal difference with -15 whilst Kickers had -13. Kickers losing 1-0 saw them move down -14 with Bremen also joining them on -14 and the same number of points due to their 2-1 win. A slightly higher number of goals scored ended up being enough to see Bremen finish above Kickers and secure themselves safety but for Kickers, survival would end up hinging on events in Wiesbaden where there would be more late drama. Very late.

An early Wiesbaden lead at home to VfB Stuttgart II gave them hope but a second-half equaliser severely dented their prospects. When Wiesbaden retook the lead on 83 minutes they were still going down thanks to having scored fewer goals than Kickers who they now joined on -14 goal difference and, like Bremen, the same number of points. Kickers finished their match outside the relegation zone, but with Wiesbaden still deep into injury time those connected with the Kickers had to wait a short while longer to see if things would stay that way.

At this point, as I sat watching on my sofa, I was almost ready to turn off when the commentator at Kickers was abruptly interrupted by shouts of "Tor im Wiesbaden!!!" (Goal in Wiesbaden). It was the 94th minute of the match and suddenly on my screen, I saw wild scenes of players running off full pelt to celebrate with each other and fans going beserk in the stands. Wiesbaden had just scored a third goal and now 3-1 up would be moving to a goal difference of -13 which would send Stuttgarter Kickers on -14 down with Cottbus and keep themselves up. No sooner did the opposition kick-off again then the full-time whistle blew at Wiesbaden's small, neat, and compact looking Brita-Arena home - Out of nowhere Wehen Wiesbaden were somehow officially safe from the drop.

After several hours of sheer drama with an extra dramatic finale that even the Hollywood scriptwriters could not have written those involved could breathe a little easier whilst I could sit back ponder what the hell I had just witnessed! It was then that I quickly realised I had fallen in love with Germany's third tier. A picture of the Brita-Arena was even the desktop wallpaper on my computer at work for a short while. God, aren't I cool!

Three seasons after that final day drama Wiesbaden would actually find themselves promoted to the 2. Bundesliga though they only lasted a season before heading back down whilst Cottbus would secure promotion back to the 3.Liga after two seasons away only to suffer relegation again at the first attempt. Relegation and promotion actually seems to bring a lot of drama to the 3. Liga and not just involving Cottbus and Wiesbaden. 

In 2016-17, SC Paderborn 07 thought they had completed a third straight relegation when they finished third bottom of the 3.Liga just three seasons after their maiden appearance in the top flight but were saved thanks 1860 München's owner failing to pay the league's licence fee. 1860 were duly relegated to the fourth tier Regionalliga Bayern and Paderborn got a reprieve. 1860 would soon be back in the third tier whilst as for Paderborn well they truly made the most of their reprieve by finishing runners up the following season before a second successive promotion saw them right back in the Bundesliga again after what had been a rather lively five years for the club.

There was more drama at the end of the 19-20 season though this time at the other end of the table. League winners FC Bayern II had, of course, been denied promotion as a reserve side meaning second and third would go up automatically with the fourth placed side partaking in a play-off match. 1860 München missed out completely by losing to an Ingolstadt side who had started the day two points above them with Ingolstadt ending their match in the second promotion spot behind Eintracht Braunschweig but that was not the end of it. 

With the DFB nowaday's streaming weekly a 3. Liga match to international viewers free of charge via YouTube fans like me were able to watch live pictures of Ingolstadt's victory but the real drama, however, came in the dying seconds at Würzburg. The home side who had started the day in the second promotion place soon found themselves in a play-off spot behind Ingolstadt on goal difference thanks to being 2-1 down against Halle. In the third minute of stoppage time, however, Würzburg were awarded a penalty, and a chance to draw level. Doing so would move them back above Ingolstadt to secure automatic promotion and suddenly condemn Ingoldstadt to a play-off match against the third bottom 2. Bundesliga side. Würzburg duly scored the penalty whilst Ingolstadt, despite coming back from a 2-0 first-leg deficit to lead 3-2 on aggregate against 1. FC Nürnberg in their play-off tie missed out on promotion thanks to conceding a 96th minute goal that made it 3-3 and saw Nürnberg saved by the away goals rule.

I continue to follow the 3. Liga with interest from afar and having now even attended a match in the division hope to soon get back to Germany and attend many more. Of course, with or without me in attendance, the drama will no doubt still continue and, as I write, the famous name of Kaiserslautern currently sit two points above the relegation zone just waiting to bring, neutral viewers at least, more excitement as the season draws to a close. Meanwhile, one point above Kaiserslautern sit Viktoria Köln who now claim the title of Cologne's second club, behind Bundesliga side 1. FC Köln, having been promoted to the division in 2018-19 the same season my brother's side Fortuna were relegated from it. But by then Philip was living in Arizona.