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

Sunday, November 4, 2012

UCS Paloma (Germany)

Uhlenhorster SC Paloma eV, to give the club their full title, are a sports club from Hamburg in Germany which has a football section. The club, based in the Barmbek district of the city, were formed in 1909.

As well as football, USC Paloma have sections for badminton, ball games, basketball, fitness, gymnastics, handball, junior sports, self defence, water sports and table tennis. 

The football section catered for thirty teams covering all age groups and levels as of the 2012-13 season, with the first eleven playing in the Oberliga Hamburg, which is the fifth level of German football. History of the football club is difficult to source, but evidence points to the club having never played at an higher standard.

USC Paloma were relegated from the  Oberliga Hamburg in the 2012-13 season to drop down to the Landesliga.

UCS Paloma will compete in the Landesliga Hammonia in the 2013-14 season.

My visit

USC Paloma 3 Niendorfer TSV 1 (Sunday 28th October 2012) Oberliga Hamburg (att: 180)

I was in Germany for a four day break and when booking the trip, the excellent Soccerway website offered me the opportunity to take in a game at a level I was more accustomed to with my non league travels around England. Even better, it had an early kick off, which would allow me to still go to watch the St Pauli v Dynamo Dresden at 1.30.

I'd had two tremendous days around North Rhine Westphalia, taking in a couple of matches and visiting some new grounds. After seeing the clash between Schalke 04 and 1FC Nuremburg, I enjoyed a fine Saturday night out in Dusseldorf's Aldstadt. I slept very well at the my budget hotel and awoke relieved that the change of the clocks hadn't made me late for my walk to the Hauptbanhof so that I could catch a train to Hamburg.

Entertainment was offered by two women fighting on Dusseldorf station, and a trio of drunks being met off the inter city service by the polizei at Osnabruck. I dozed and caught up with some more shut eye, waking with about thirty minutes of the long journey to go. We arrived bang on time at Hamburg Haufbanhof and I quickly sprung into action, as I found the left luggage lockers and then with remarkable simplicity the correct SBahn platform for my service to Barmbek.

The ride lasted around fifteen minutes and I walked out to a beautiful but cold Sunday morning suburban scene. It was at this point I realised that for the second time in two days, the one hour time difference between the UK and Germany had done for me. The kick off was down as 9.45 on the website, but I'd forgotten that the times were for UK viewers!

The ten minute walk through a very nice but deserted area brought me to the club gates, where I was the third or forth customer. There was virtually an hour still until kick off! I paid Euro 6 admission, which included a free programme which was in a box for supporters to help themselves. I wandered in and purchased a very welcome coffee from the wooden hut, from a no doubt slightly confused vendor at seeing an Englishman at a local game at such an early time.

I had a wander around the Jonny Reibahn Sportzplatz ground to survey the scene, and the first thing that struck me was the pitch. It wasn't a grass surface but brown cinders. These pitches were not quite as popular as once before, but there were still a few about, and this would be the first time I'd see a game on one. Tall flats were behind both ends, with fans being able to stand inside the tall wire fences that enclosed the playing area. There was a railing down the entrance side with a couple of sections of metal steps to offer a  slightly better view. Alongside was a small five a side court. On the opposite there were a few park benches along with the dug outs. It was basic, but nicely presented.

I returned to the clubhouse, where I ordered another coffee and sat in the window overlooking the pitch. It also had an open balcony, and was a fine facility. Gradually more spectators arrived as kick off approached, including the lovely sight of plenty of families. One fanatic had a denim jacket with all the clubs crests on the back. I decided to take in some food, and enjoyed a local sausage, with free bread alongside and my first cup of gluwein of the stay. It was a harsh concoction, but it hit the spot.

The teams jogged out to the middle of the pitch to polite applause as the PA man read out the teams and announcements. I stood with the main throng until I realised it would be far warmer at the far side with the sun shining on it. 

The home team, who started the game in second bottom position in the league started out well and took the lead when Jannik Dreyer fired home from an uncleared corner. The pitch started to soften with the players running on it. Not many sliding challenges were going in, but all the players looked comfortable on the ball. It maybe explained in general why German's have a better technical ability than the gung ho British players of a similar level?

Tobias Herbert was having a fine game for the visitors at left back, which was just as well, as Paloma were full of attacking intent. Their coach Marco Kraisz had obviously got them fired up. Jonas in the home net was also playing his part as he kept out a scorching free kick. Half time came all too soon for me. I was really enjoying the game.

Sadly after ten minutes of the second period I had to make a move as I had yet to pick up my ticket from the Millerntor, and with news that the game was likely to be a sell out, I didn't want to take any chances in it being re-sold. Inevitably, as soon as I walked out the ground I heard a big cheer. It turned out that Max Liehr had double Paloma's advantage.

The noise from the game could be heard a block or two away, and another loud noise went up, which was a goal back for Neindorfer from Utz. However, and its strange how distant cheers can fool you, another one went up which didn't sound like a goal within a few seconds. This signified that the visitors were reduced to ten men as Daniel Prange received a second yellow. He was followed into the showers ten minutes later as his team mate Ozden Kocadal saw a straight red. The win was sealed by a last minute goal by Lohfeldt.

The match details were later revealed when I purchased the best local football paper I'd seen for years the following morning. Sport Mikrofon contained details of the Bundesliga games, Regionalliga Nord, Oberliga Hamburg as well as the two local Landesliga divisions. Most had large match reports. I recommend anyone in Hamburg to get hold of one if they're interested in all standards of football.

Meanwhile I had headed to Barmbek station and got on board the U3 train to St Pauli, reflecting on a superb start to my day. I would never turn down the opportunity of football of this level on my trips.

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