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

Friday, November 30, 2012

Fortuna Düsseldorf (Germany)

Düsseldorfer Turn- und Sportverein Fortuna 1895 e.V. to give Fortuna Düsseldorf their full title, are a football club from the industrial city of Düsseldorf in Germany's North Rhine-Westphalia region. The club were formed as part of the Turnverein Flingern gymnastics club in 1895, with the team moving to play home games at Lichtplatz from 1908.

Two other local clubs; Düsseldorfer Fußballklub Spielverein who were founded in 1908, and Fortuna (earlier FK Alemania) who were formed in 1911 amalgamated to form Düsseldorfer Fußball-Club Fortuna 1911 in 1913. Another club, TV Flingern joined forces to create Düsseldorfer Turn- und Sportverein Fortuna on 15 November 1919 as the club moved to a new home ground at Vennhauser Straße.

In the 1920's Fortuna began to win honours, picking up four Bezirksliga district titles and providing their first German international player; Ernst Albrecht. In 1930 the club moved grounds once again, this time to Flinger Broich or Fortunaplatz as it was otherwise called in the Flingern district of the city. In 1933 the club were crowned as German champions after winning the national championships and defeating the prominent Schalke 04 in the final in Cologne.

During the period in which the Third Reich were in power, Fortuna were placed in Gauliga Niederrhein, one of sixteen top tier divisions. They were dominant at this level, lifting the title five times as well as being defeated in the national final of 1936 and reaching the Tschammerpokal, which was the predecessor of the DFB Pokal, the following year. The stand out player of that period was Paul Janes, who was the record appearance holder for Germany until 1970.

Paul Janes Stadion

Once peace had been restored the club were placed in Oberliga West, where they were mainly a mid table team having moved across the city to the Rheinstadion in 1953. In 1957 Fortuna reached the final of the DFB Pokal German Cup, where they were defeated by Bayern München in Augsburg.

Further finals followed in 1958 and 1962. Both campaigns ended in defeat to VfB Stuttgart in Kassel and then to 1. FC Nürnberg in Hannover.

The Rheinstadion in its prime

Fortuna were not selected as one of sixteen founder members of the Bundesliga in 1962, but they did gain a place after winning promotion three seasons later. However, their spell lasted just one season.

In 1970 Fortuna returned to Fortunaplatz for a couple of seasons while the Rheinstadion was rebuilt, going on to win promotion to the top flight in 1970-71, for a spell that lasted sixteen years. Third place finished came in the 1972/73 and 1973/74 seasons. 

The team reached another Pokal in 1978, this time losing to local rivals 1.FC Köln. On the 9th December 1978 Fortuna hammered Bayern Munich 7-1 at the Rheinstadion.

To see Bayern's largest Bundesliga's defeat, click here

At the end of the 1978-79 season Fortuna embarked on a magnificent run in the UEFA European Cup Winners Cup as Universitatea Craiova, Aberdeen, Servette and Baník Ostrava were defeated to set up a final with FC Barcelona.

The match in Berne was a classic encounter with Fortuna eventually going down 4-3 after extra time. Stand out players at the time were brothers Thomas and Klauss Aloffs, Bernd Zimmermann and Rudi Bommer. Thomas Aloffs and Wolfgang Seel with a brace were the scorers in the final.

To see the final, click here

Fortuna were relegated in 1986-87, but they returned two years later for a spell of five seasons before being demoted once again in 1992-93. They fought back once again to regain their top tier place between 1995 and 1997, before the club entered a period of turmoil. 

By 2002 Fortuna found themselves in the fourth tier Oberliga Nordrhein and in huge financial trouble, while playing at the Paul Janes Stadion as Fortunaplatz had been re-named from 1990 in honour of their former hero. The stadium also housed Fortuna Düsseldorf  II. Local punk band Die Toten Hosen helped out by sponsoring the club for a few seasons.

In 2005 Fortuna returned to the site where the new LTU Arena stood in place of the demolished Rheinstadion. In 2008 the club played in the newly formed 3.Bundesliga where they finished as runners-up and won promotion. The 2009-10 season saw the team narrowly miss out on another promotion after finishing in fourth place at the re-named Espirit Arena. 

After an average following campaign Fortuna started the 2011-12 season in great form, as they headed the table for some time. They eventually won promotion back to the 1.Bundesliga via a play off win over Hertha BSC Berlin. Team captain Andreas Lambertz became the first German player to be promoted three times with the same club.

However, the spell in the top flight lasted just one season as Fortuna were relegated on the final day of the 2012-13 season after defeat to Hannover 96. The relegation led to the sacking of manager Norbert Meier who was replaced by Mike Büskens who lasted just a few months before Lorenz-Günther Köstner came in after the winter break.

After another mid table finish in 2013-14 Oliver Reck came in as the new team manager. Recl lasted just one poor season before giving way to new boss Taşkın Aksoy. The managerial merry go round continued at the Esprit Arena in 2015-16 as Fortuna fought against relegation, with Frank Kramer, Marco Kurz and Friedhelm Funkel all having spells in charge of the team.

Funkel's appointment gave the club some stability as Fortuna finished the 2016-18 campaign towards the wrong end of the table, but safe from relegation.

Fortuna Dusseldorf will play in 2. Bundesliga in the 2017-18 season.

My visits

Fortuna Düsseldorf 1 Bayern München 2 (Saturday 14th October 1989) 1.Bundesliga (att: 55,000)

I was on my first ever trip outside the UK with some pals from the Gas Club in Scarborough on a mini holiday in the Rhine Valley. We arrived in Germany on the Friday afternoon, with the coach stopping for an hour or so in Bonn for our driver Derek, to have his designated rest. Naturally enough, without further ado, we headed for a bar.

The establishment we chose had various football mementos hanging up. We managed to get through to the barman that we wanted to know the fixtures for the following day, with this been in the days before the internet and the same coverage that would later be taken as normal. It was established that the game that stood out was Düsseldorf v Munich, with Scottish international Alan McInally getting great reviews back home while starring for Bayern.

I went drinking on the Friday evening with Crusher and Kev Phillips before meeting up with the rest of the gang. Both were very keen on going to the game, so we agreed to make sure we got up and had breakfast to set us on our way. Derek, who wasn't exactly endearing us gave us the advice that we needed to travel south and across the river to Rüdesheim. This needed a costly taxi ride, but we took what he said as gospel. After a couple of liveners at the bar next to the station we got on board our train, only to find out it went via Koblenz, where Derek was taking the rest of the party on a shopping trip!

We arrived a train that got busier with fans as we approached Düsseldorf after our ride that lasted over three hours. We got a few looks as we spoke in English, but the locals were fine once they realised that we weren't Bayern fans. We followed the crowds downstairs to the trams and we were quickly on a packed service to the Rheinstadion.

We managed to work out that we needed tickets in advance, but that was no obstacle. Despite the high attendance, the stadium held 76,000 at the time. We went inside and found ourselves on the terracing behind the goal for 12DM, which was around £4 at the time.

The Rheinstadion was a beautiful venue, although not perfect for football as the pitch was surrounded by an athletics track that had hosted the 1977 World Championships. There was a continuous lower tier with terracing at each end. Above of this tier was a horseshoe shaped upper level, with the far end open. Seating occupied upstairs apart from a couple of blocks at the far end, where the Fortuna fans stood.

Me and my new friend

Bayern began the game well on top and went ahead after just five minutes through Manfred Schwabl. Much though we were urging on the home side, they doubled their lead on thirty two minutes when Roland Wohlfarth netted.

At half time we were chatting away, when a bloke came across with a familiar accent. He turned out to be in the army based nearby, but came from Sheffield and was supporting Bayern. We had a good chat and he gave us some useful tips about the football out there.

Fortuna battled back after the break, but couldn't get a goal back immediately. We wanted to hear the noise if they did. On the hour they did get back into the game via a Klaus Augenthaler own goal. Despite the efforts of Uwe Fuchs leading the home forward line, Bayern held out reasonably comfortably to pick up an away victory.

We let the crowd drift away as we bought a bratwurst and a alcohol free beer and sat in the upper tier seats to get a better view. This allowed us to get on a tram hassle free and even get a seat. We were advised that it was best for us to change trains at Cologne on the way back by the man at the Hauptbanhof. While we were waiting for it to come along a special train full of Bayern fans went past us. I was wearing a Fortuna hat, and received dogs abuse, much to the hilarity of my pals.

We did change at Cologne, and lo and behold we caught a direct train to St Goar, where we were based. A couple of hours later we were sat in the pub having a meal and watching the highlights while drinking away. It was as well Derek didn't feel thirsty, as we ready to offer him major feedback!

Fortuna Düsseldorf 4 DSC Arminia Bielefeld 0 (Friday 21st October 2016) 2.Bundesliga (att: 24,153)

Fortuna had been the first ever overseas team I’d seen in their own home back in 1989, and even though I’d been through Düsseldorf many times since as a base for other venues, I was long overdue a visit to ESPRIT Arena, which stood where the old Reinstadion was previously located.

I’d been to Genk the previous day over the border in Belgium for their Europa League clash with Athletic Club. My train took me to Liege before I caught the service to first Cologne and then Düsseldorf.

I’d ordered and paid for my match ticket online and needed to collect it. My plan was to head early to the stadium, but I’d read somewhere that the tourist information office issued tickets. I thought it was worth a go, and sure enough the office over the road from the main station sorted me out.

Hotels were unusually expensive so I ended up staying in Oberhausen, twenty five miles away, with my Saturday afternoon entertainment in mind. Following a siesta and a shower I headed back to Düsseldorf and then took the U78 train directly to the stadium.

The trains were very busy but many were not dressed for the game. Their destination was the exhibition centre next door. I found my way inside the entrance to the arena through the security checks. Once inside the box like structure you were free to wander round and find your particular gate.

It had been constructed to be multi purpose with a roof, although that was not allowed to be closed during Fortuna matches under league rules. The concourses had a massive selection of food, drink, sweets and souvenirs. The stadium had two tiers all the way around inside. Both ends had terracing on the lower deck.

I was stood near the back in the corner with an excellent view and just along from the home ultras so I got the best of a very impressive atmosphere to say that the stadium was less than half full. It was certainly different from the old Reinstadion.

I was delighted to see that Fortuna had reverted to their all white kit with red trim, as they had worn when I first saw them. Arminia came to the match in a relegation spot. They were being cheered on by a hard core of visiting fans.

They had little to cheer once Fortuna went one up on twenty minutes as Ihlas Bebou set up Axel Bellinghausen to score. Things got worse for Bielefeld twelve minutes later following an incident that would decide the match.

The game was niggly in parts without anything too nasty. Fortuna were on top and Lukas Schmitz crossed from the left. Rouwen Hennings went for the header but looked as though he had missed his chance. However, referee Christian Dietz thought otherwise. He decided that the forward was impeded by Stephan Salger and pointed to the spot before showing the Arminia man a second yellow card and sending him off. Hennings made no mistake with the penalty to make it 2-0.

I’d decided to wear my Scarborough Athletic rain jacket and red woolly hat. Some locals of my age and above realised I was English and involved me in their celebrations and made me really welcome. They told me the reason that rooms were so expensive was that Düsseldorf was staging a huge conference and exhibition for the weekend.

Arminia had to regather, with coach Rüdiger Rehm making a tactical change. They plugged the gaps until the interval when I headed out for a bratwurst and a beer. My place was still there when I returned.

Voglsammer came close for the visitors before the home side stepped up a gear. Bebou on the wing was causing plenty of problems. Ferati made it 3-0 on sixty seven minutes before Hennings, on loan from Burnley, rounded off the scoring with just over fifteen minutes remaining.

The ultras were in tremendous voice with nearly all the home fans getting behind their team, which was obviously easier as they were playing so well. Coach Friedhelm Funkel must have been a happy man.

At full time I hung around to see the celebrations between the Fortuna players and the home fans. The German clubs have it right, as there seems to be a bigger bond involving everyone at the club.

Click here to see the crowd scenes I recorded.

The trains were regular back into the city. I alighted at Heinrich-Heine-Allee for drinks in Aldstadt; one of my favourite European area for nightlife. I headed for the always superb ‘Chicken Bar’ as we have christened it over the years. The regular staff were on and I got a place at the bar as it filled with revellers and returning Fortuna fans. The beer was good and music right.

After quite a long drink I finished off in the terrific Hausbrauerei Zum Schlüssel for a couple before grabbing a kebab. I took the U Bahn back to Hauptbahnhof for my train home to Oberhausen, where I got lost thinking I knew a short cut back to the City Hotel where I was staying.

It had been a long day but a brilliant evening. My affection for Fortuna had grown stronger.

The pictures at the top of this page of The Espirit Arena, Rheinstadion and Paul Janes Stadion have been taken from the internet. They will be replaced, hopefully soon, when I return for a game.

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