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, May 17, 2015

Borussia Mönchengladbach (Germany)

Borussia VfL 1900 Mönchengladbach e.V or Borussia Mönchengladbach or BMG for short is a professional football club from the city of Mönchengladbach in the North Rhine-Westphalia region of Germany.

The club were formed as FC Borussia in 1900 in the Eicken district of the city. By 1912, ‘Die Borussen’ found themselves in the Verbandsliga, at the time the highest division the club could play in.

The club purchased land at De Kull in March 1914 and began to build their Bokelburgstadion. In 1919 Borussia merged with local club Turnverein Germania 1889, to form 1899 VfTuR M.Gladbach.

The move paid dividends as they defeated Kölner BC to win the Westdeutsche Meisterschaft final of 1920. However, by 1922 the merger had drifted apart as the club became known as Borussia VfL 1900 e.V. M.Gladbach.

The Nazi Party gained control of Germany in 1933 with domestic football being split into sixteen regional Gauligen. Gladbach were placed in Gauliga Niederrhein and later in various regional Bezirksklassen leagues.

Once peacetime resumed, the club won promotion to the regional second tier Landesliga Niederrhein in 1949 and then to Oberliga West the following year. Borussia’s first Oberliga title arrived at the Bokelburg in the 1958-59 season.

In 1960 Gladbach won their first major honour as they defeated Karlsruher SC 3–2 to lift the DFK-Pokal at the Reinstadion in Düsseldorf. In 1961 the club took up their current title following the city of  München-Gladbach became Mönchengladbach.

Results in the previous period were not deemed sufficient for BMG to join the newly formed Bundesliga in 1963, so they were placed in the Regionalliga West. The team won promotion to the top flight for the 1965-66 campaign along with Bayern München. The two clubs would become fierce rivals over the following decade.

Gladbach lifted their first Bundesliga title in 1970 and then followed it up with a consecutive win the following year under head coach Hennes Weisweiler and legends Berti Vogts, Rainer Bonhof and Günter Netzer starring on the pitch. BMG reached the final of the UEFA Cup where they went down to Liverpool 3-2 on aggregate.

A second Pokal was collected in 1973 by courtesy of a 2-1 extra time victory against 1.FC Köln. ‘Die Fohlen’ enjoyed a golden period as they lifted Deutsche Meisterschale as Bundesliga champions in 1975, 1976 and 1977. The club also enjoyed some memorable European occasions during this period.

BMG reached the 1975 UEFA Cup Final. After a 0-0 draw against Twente in the first leg in Düsseldorf, the team won 5-1 in Holland thanks to a Jupp Heynckes hat trick and a brace from Allan Simonsen.

In 1977 wins over Austria Vienna, Torino, Club Brugge and Dynamo Kyiv set up a final against Liverpool in Rome in the European Cup. Despite a Simonsen goal, Liverpool ran out 3-1 winners.

In 1978-79 Gladbach lifted their second UEFA Cup as Red Star Belgrade were defeated 2-1 over two legs. They reached the final once more the following season but could not repeat their triumph as they were defeated on away goals by Eintracht Frankfurt after the tie ended 3-3 on aggregate.

Players had to be sold in the 80’s to balance the books and as a consequence the trophies did not arrive. With Lothar Matthäus and Norbert Ringels in the side BMG reached the 1984 Pokal final but were defeated by Bayern München in a penalty shoot out. Matthäus moved on to Bayern after the game.

In 1992 BMG lost another Pokal Final on penalties; this time to second tier side Hannover 96. Gladbach returned to the final in 1995 and this time lifted the trophy following a 3-0 win against VfL Wolfsburg in the Olympic Stadium in Berlin thanks to goals from Martin Dahlin, Stefan Effenberg and Heiko Herrlich.

Gladbach were relegated to 2. Bundesliga in 1999, where they remained until 2001. In 2004 former Holland coach Dick Advocaat was appointed as head coach as the club moved to a new state of the art stadium on the outskirts of town called Borussia-Park.

Advocaat’s spell lasted less than a season before former player Horst Köppel took over the reigns as BMG continued to finish in the bottom half of the table. Legendary former player Heynckes took over for the 2006-07 campaign.

The move backfired badly as Borussia were relegated at the end of the season. The club regained their top flight status at the first attempt Swiss coach Lucien Favre took over in January 2011 and began to improve the side after helping them avoid relegation.

In Favre’s first full season at the helm, the club finished in fourth place, but they went out of the Champions League in the qualifying round to Dynamo Kyiv at the start of the next campaign. BMG managed an eighth place finish in 2012-13 despite losing key players including Marco Reus. 

The momentum continued as a Europa League place was gained at the end of the 2013-14 season, before Favre's side finished in the Champions League places at the termination of the 2014-15 campaign.

Borussia Mönchengladbach will play in the Bundesliga in the 2015-16 season.

My visit

Borussia Mönchengladbach 2 SC Paderborn 07 0 (Sunday 1st March 2015) Bundesliga (att: 53,152)

For the second time in 2015 I decided to take advantage of a Sunday off work and head overseas by courtesy of a budget airline. Unfortunately on this occasion I had to be back the same day to attend a course at work the following morning.

I snatched a few hours sleep after my late shift before getting up bright and early to take the 83 all night bus to Golders Green, where I caught the pre booked packed National Express service to Stansted.

My mood wasn’t A1 as I listened to England’s latest World Cup disaster against Sri Lanka. At least I had the consolation that the day could only get better; and so it proved.

The Ryan Air flight allowed me to see outside and even spot some football grounds on a beautiful morning over Holland and we arrived early into Cologne/Bonn Airport, which enabled me to visit the home of Vfl 06 Benrath on the way into Dusselfdorf. I only needed a lesser rail ticket as my match ticket covered all travel inside the NRW region.

My original plan had been to have a beer or two in Dusseldorf’s Aldstadt but time was limited owing to a muck up or two in Benrath. I had a quick look outside the station but nothing looked too attractive. I decided to head straight to Mönchengladbach and take my chances from there regarding refreshment.

Plenty of BMG fans were waiting on the platform. The train was packed on arrival with both sets of fans making plenty of noise. I stood by the door next to the empty first class compartment. Beers were flowing amongst the young Paderborn following, but there was no hint of any menace. After the train picked up in the incredibly ugly town of Neuss, which did a remarkable job of making Middlesbrough look pretty in comparison, the carriage became more of a mix between fans. The Paderborn lads offered large bottles of beers from the wooden crates to their BMG peers. If only it was like that in England!

Mönchengladbach didn’t seem to have too much going for it aesthetically either. Plenty of fans, many of whom were also in ale, loitered around the station. I didn’t spot anywhere too promising. I had read that the old town was the place to be, but I didn’t want to get lost.

Instead, I got onboard the free buses included in the match ticket that ran at regular intervals from the station and that of adjoining town of Rheydt to Borussia Park. The journey took around twenty minutes.

The buses dropped us behind the north end of the stadium. I was hungry so the smell of the bratfurst stand made my decision easy. This was washed down with some fine dark Bolten Alt beer. The prices were most reasonable at under €3 for each item. This was to be the same inside the stadium.

I could see through the wire fences that food and drink was paid for by cash once inside, rather than the token system favoured by many clubs in Germany and Holland, so I made my way into the south end. The ground floor concourse had all manner of goodies on offer including beers, several type of wursts, schnitzels, pizzas, breads, fish and even ice cream!

Unusually, there was no sign of any programmes, so I climbed the stairs to the upper level where my seat was located. I went inside to have a look and take some photos before the crowds assembled.

Borussia Park was really impressive. It had two continuous tiers all the way around. The lower section behind the South goal was terracing, as was the corner section below me for the use of away fans. The rest of the ground was fitted with dark green seating. The main side, opposite to me, had corporate boxes and media areas.

I asked the steward by my entrance about programmes. Although he could only speak a little English, he was polite and most helpful. As I was walking to the concourse, a lady passed with what looked like a programme. He asked where she’d got it from as I pointed to it and directed me back downstairs to the club shop.

Another friendly member of staff who spoke perfect English served me. As I had left my Scarborough Athletic hat on an earlier train I splashed out on a new BMG bonnet as the wind was getting chilly. The colour programme was just €1.

There was still time for more food and drink before the teams came out, not there’s any rush in Germany. Fans can take their beers to their seats. I settled into my perfect position on the raised row right by the entrance. The view was excellent with the Paderborn fans below adding to the atmosphere. There were plenty of visiting fans in other sections too; all without any hostility.

As is usual in Germany the fans put on a show before kick off as the PA whipped up the frenzy. The teams came out as the rousing BMG club song was being bellowed out to accompany the excellent speaker system.

It was the visitors who started out the better side in the opening exchanges but they were bereft of any shots at Yann Sommer in the home net. Instead it was third placed Gladbach who took the lead with a deflected shot from Fabian Johnson on eighteen minutes.

BMG looked good in possession with Ibrahima Traoré, Raffael and Johnson standing out. The Foals went in at the break 1-0 up as I got to the front of the queue for food and beer.

The second half was an end to end affair with Sommer making a terrific save to maintain the home sides lead. The game was decided with another deflected goal. This time it was a strike from Patrick Herrmann with nine minutes remaining that wrong footed Lukas Kruse in the Paderborn net.

I knew it had been an enjoyable game as the time went so quickly. At full time I made my way back to join the orderly queue for the buses. The game had finished at 5.20 and I was back at the station before 6pm. All the traffic lights were set in favour of the endless vehicles transporting the fans.

With my direct train back to the airport leaving at 6.40 I walked across the square by the bus station and found a bar full of returning fans. They also served Bolten so it would have been rude not to indulge in a couple more for the road.

My train was waiting at the station, which was busy with drunk celebrating supporters awaiting their transport home. They seemed to be rather pleased with the possibility of Champions League football.

Once aboard the train I drifted in and out of sleep, while been most mindful of the importance of not missing my stop! I was extremely tired but my will power kicked in. Once at the airport I found out that my flight had been delayed by 20 minutes to 9.55. Not that it would bother me too much.

I found a seat and drifted off once more, awaking as the queue started to form to board the plane. Despite some loud foul mouthed arrogant Londoners making idiots of themselves, I managed to have a bit more shut eye on the hour flight. The Stansted Express took me back to Liverpool Street and I was in bed for just gone midnight after a really brilliant long day out.

I couldn’t recommend it more.

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