Welcome to volume two of my blog paying homage to the football clubs I've visited all over the world and the wonderful people responsible for keeping them going and looking after the stadiums, and in some cases basic grounds.

Since I was a little lad I've been fascinated in football and more so where games are played. With my love of travel and curiosity of the game I wanted to visit as many grounds and see games wherever possible. I was lucky that my Dad also loved the game and spent so much of his spare time taking me to matches. As I got older the boundaries widened owing to my location and increased wages to Europe and indeed the world. The sight of a stand or a floodlight pylon in the distance immediately hightens my senses and eagerness for a closer look.

I hope this site gives you the chance to share in my pleasure and experiences and maybe one day set you on the road to adventure. If you get half as much out of the hobby as I've done I can guarantee some great memories, good friends and stories to pass on to future generations.

Give your local club a go today. They'll be pleased to see you!

Everlasting thanks primarily to my late and very much missed and dearly loved parents; my Dad Bob Bernard and my Mum; Ann, who put up with endless years of football chat and my brothers Nick and Paul who gave me the chance and encouragement to do what I have. Thanks to all my friends who offer encouragement and Sally and Stan who inspire and give me great pride. Young Stan is showing a keen interest in my hobby!

Please feel free to post any comments (please use sensible language - I want everyone to be able to enjoy reading) or ask any questions relating to visiting grounds or events. If you want to see any ground reviewed please let me know. It will take quite some time for everywhere to appear, but make sure you keep having a look as the site is continually updated.

If you click on a lot of the pictures you will get a larger version on your screen.

I have also added links to video clips on youtube where appropriate for those of you who are bored of reading or are filling in time at work. I haven't always gone for the most obvious choices, but items that will be in some cases unusual but always historically interesting.

Click to see volume one of HAOTW.

Rob Bernard


September 2015

Monday, May 9, 2011

Vfl Bochum (Germany)

Vfl Bochum or Verein für Leibesübungen Bochum 1848 Fußballgemeinschaft to give them their full title are a football club from North Rhine-Westphalia who were formed in 1848.

The club is one of the oldest sporting organisations in Germany having being formed after an advert in a local paper called for the creation of a gymnastics club. The club, originally called Turnverein zu Bochum had a short ban for political reasons but soon reformed. In 1911 it introduced a football section to the club.

Several splits and mergers took place over the next couple of decades before the Nazi Party enforced Bochumer Turnverein 1848, as the club was now known, to merge with Turn-und Sport Bochum 1908 and Sportverein Germania Vorwarts Bochum 1906 to form Vfl Bochum. The club played in the top flight in the area, the Gauliga Westfalen.

During World War Two with player and facility shortages taking effect, Vfl joined forces with Preussen 07 Elberfeld to form Kriegsspielgemeinschaft VfL 1848/Preußen Bochum but went their own way once peace was declared.

The club bobbed around the leagues until the formation of the new professional Bundesliga in 1963. Bochum were placed in the third tier Amateurliga Westfalen and won that title at the first attempt. They gradually progressed into the Bundesliga in 1971.

Die Unabsteigbaren (The Unrelegatables) managed to stay in the top flight for twenty years despite many scrapes at the wrong end of the table. During the early 70's the new Ruhrstadion was built on the ground which had originally been TuS Bochum's home before the amalgamation. Bochum also reached the final of two DFB-Pokal losing out to 1FC Koln and Eintracht Frankfurt during this era.

The team were relegated in 1993 and since then have been a classic example of a yo yo club spending time in the top two tiers. In 1997 and 2004 fifth place finished in the Bundesliga led to appearances in the UEFA Cup.

As of 2011 the sports club had 5,000 members with sections for athletics, badminton, basketball, dance, fencing, gymnastics, handball, hockey, swimming, table tennis, tennis and volleyball as well as the football department.

Vfl Bochum will compete in 2 Bundesliga in the 2013-14 season.

My visit

Vfl Bochum 2 Fortuna Dusseldorf 0 (Friday 18th February 2011) 2 Bundesliga (att: 24,100)

On the back of our successful lads weekend in Germany the previous year, the second edition was arranged for February 2011. Crusher was missing from the year before, but Carl and Colm were back.

We set off on the early Friday flight from Luton to Dortmund so that we could fit in some Friday night football. Many second tier Bundesliga games kick off at 6pm on Fridays to help avoid bigger games in the way of attendances and for TV.

I had booked the tickets for just 11 Euros each for the terracing weeks in advance. We had a wander to the Westfalenstadion in Dortmund on arrival and struck gold in obtaining tickets for their game the following day when we had been previously told it was a sell out. After a few celebratory beers around the market square and a brief siesta back at the hotel we set off for Dortmund station in readiness for our tea time commute.

The train service to Bochum was frequent and only took just over ten minutes. Unfortunately it took us that long for us to work out how to get the correct group ticket out of the machine. The ticket clerks would not sell them over the counter. 

We eventually worked it out and bought a ticket for around 12 Euros to cover the three of us. Before long we were at an extremely noisy Bochum station. It was quickly obvious that this was a big game and Dusseldorf had a large following.

We went for a walk to where I’d been advised was the main drinking area. Once again the message board on the internet guide to football grounds had come up with some useful suggestions. However, the area seemed more suited to later at night for the weekend people. 

We tried to get the beers in one traditional place but the bar staff seemed oblivious to our requests. The jury was out to whether this was deliberate or they were simply all hammered! We went downstairs on the square to board a tram.

Now I’d been on many tubes to Wembley so I was well versed in the sardine treatment, but these trams were really packed. Indeed it was so full we ran through every other stop after the central station. We emerged above ground outside the rewirpowerSTADION or Ruhrstadion to give it its pre sponsored name. 

The streets were mobbed as I tried to find out where I needed to collect the tickets from. I was sent around under the Main Stand while Carl and Colm waited for me. I eventually fought my way back and we found the correct gate. 

There was just time to buy a beer and go upstairs with it before we tried to find a place on the already busy terracing. Each block was fenced off so that only so many tickets could be issued for each section, thus making it safe. English authorities please take note!  

We managed to get up into the top corner which offered a decent view. Some youngsters were using the dividing fence as a climbing frame, which would have been no problem if they didn’t have flags on sticks and they’d have been in control of their feet. Several of us were continually prodded. I could see Colm was wondering when I’d lose my rag, but I acted like the perfect guest.

The fans in the central section were making a real noise, led by cheerleaders as seemed the vogue at all clubs who faced the crowd with loud hailers and got the crowd chanting and singing. The away fans had a section of standing down the side and then seats behind the far goal. We reckoned there was about 5,000 of them in Bochum’s highest gate of the season of 24,100.

The home side took the lead with an elfmeter (penalty) after the ref atoned for not giving a certainty earlier by taking the earliest possible opportunity to point to the spot. Marcel Maltritz sent the keeper the wrong way to start off the jingles and the home fans chanting the scorers’ home name after the PA man shouted out his Christian name. They got involved in Germany but I found it a bit too choreographed and plastic to be honest.

Bochum were up near the top of the league before kick off and they sealed a deserved victory with a deflected shot from Umit Korkmatz on the hour mark. We slowly filed out at the end and decided to walk back into town down the steep main road. I’m glad we didn’t walk to the ground! 

The roads were packed full of fans, some of whom were so drunk that they really didn’t know what was happening. There was a huge police presence determined to get as many fans as possible back to the railway station. We went the other way through the cordon, and after some helpful advice from a restaurateur we found a traditional drinking house where I got the first chance to look through the thick match magazine which had cost just 1 Euro.

We got settled for a couple of hours, enjoying the company of a rather extrovert man from Frankfurt who said he loved Merseyside! before heading back through the still noisy streets to the railway station in time for a few beers back in Dortmund before calling it a night.

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