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

Thursday, October 15, 2015

SSV Markranstädt (Germany)

SSV Markranstädt is sports club from the town of the same name which has departments for badminton, cycle ball, gymnastics, table tennis, and volleyball, which is located around seven miles south west of Leipzig in Saxony, Germany.

The club was formed in 1990 following German re-unification, although football in Markranstädt goes back a lot further.

Following the end of World War Two, the football section of Sportgemeinde Markranstädt joined the regional top tier where they became champions in 1948. The club were renamed SG Glück-Auf Markranstädt and continued to go through a series of the following name changes as they slipped down the league’s.

BSG Stahl Markranstädt (1951–1952)
BSG Motor Markranstädt (1952–1958)
BSG Turbine Markranstädt (1959–1984)
BSG Motor Markranstädt (1984–1988)
BSG Turbine Markranstädt (1988–1990)

In 1990 Spiel-und Sportverein (SSV) Markranstädt were placed in one of the many fifth tier divisions; Landesliga Sachsen, where they remained for three seasons before being relegated to Bezirksliga Leipzig. The team won that league’s title in 1995 to go back up, but were relegated after just one term.

In 1999 Markranstädt once again lifted the Bezirksliga Leipzig crown. Landesliga Sachsen was won in 2007 and once again in 2009 after the club had suffered a relegation to reach the NOFV-Oberliga Süd.

Around this time the energy drink maker Red Bull entered the fray. They wanted a team in Germany to add to their portfolio of three football clubs; New York Red Bulls, Red Bull Salzburg and Red Bull Brasil.

Michael Kölmel the owner of the soon to be rebuilt Zentralstadion a few miles away in Leipzig proposed that the new club move into his stadium. To be able to climb the pyramid of German league’s Red Bull bought the playing license of SSV Markranstädt and took their position in the NOFV-Oberliga Süd, while forming an affiliation between the two clubs.

Markranstädt were given a place in the Landesliga Sachsen, which they won in 2012. Back in NOFV-Oberliga Süd, the team performed well. In the 2014-15 season they finished in third place to qualify for the play-offs. They were defeated over two legs by  FSV 63 Luckenwalde to miss out on a place in the fourth tier Regionalliga Nordost.

SSV Markranstädt will play in the NOFV-Oberliga Süd in the 2015-16 season.

My visit

SSV Markranstädt 0 FSV Zwickau 2 (Sunday 11th October 2015) Sachsenpokal Last 16 (att: 536)

My weekend trip to Berlin and Leipzig was going well. I’d seen a landslide win in the Berliner Landespokal and visited five excellent stadiums. The weather was beautiful, if a little chilly and I still had the highlight of my trip to come; the Euro Qualifier between Germany and Georgia to come. Before that I had an interesting aperitif lined up.

No league football was being played in the surrounding area owing to the international break. I scanned the internet for the weeks before in the hope of finding a match to attend. Once I found that the Berlin Cup was being played over the weekend, I checked out the Saxony FA site and came up trumps.

I left the superb old school Bruno-Plache-Stadion home of 1. FC Lokomotive Leipzig by the 15 tram and took a long journey all the way past the station and Red Bull Arena before jumping off at Schonauer Ring. The timings were tighter than I realised as I followed some others across the road to the bus stop. The number 65 was there within a minute to take us to Markranstädt.

I’d no preconceived ideas to what the town may have been like, but I got off at the railway station and the initial signs were not fantastic. I had to take the bus as the train service was so poor on a Sunday. The station was very run down, with the main building virtually derelict.

On the way into town we passed a field advertising a Monster Truck Spectacular, with a decent queue forming. There were more people in that queue than I saw on the streets of the town during my visit.

I had anticipated grabbing a meal at a pub or fast food chain after the match. A walk through it’s main thoroughfares quickly dispelled that notion. There was nothing there. It was nice enough, but so quiet. The pubs were shut. The only places open were an ice cream café, a pizza take away and two doner kebab shops, which were ridiculously placed next door to each other.

I knew I was close to the stadium, and a local confirmed I was nearby. As I approached I saw crowds of away fans getting out of vehicles. This looked promising!

Stadion Am Bad had facilities for other sports, but the stadium was the main feature. ‘Bad’ didn’t mean it replicated the railway station. It was German for bath. There on the approach was an outdoor pool behind the grandstand.

Between us, the lady on the gate sold me an €8 ticket which would allow me a seat upstairs in the stand. I also purchased a programme for €1. Despite us working it out, a rent-a-mob security guard no doubt brought in for the day started asking if I was an away fan? His attitude was awful to someone at the end of the game asking if they could just pop inside.

By now I was hungry. Therefore I was delighted to see a food stand near the entrance. I bought an absolutely delicious steak burger for €2.50 and a large cup of cola from the drinks stand next door for €2. Life was good!

I took up a seat in the covered raised seating deck of the stand, which had a glassed area in the centre at the back as I surveyed the rest of the scene.

Either side of the stand was a mixture of open steps, bucket seats and grass. The pitch was surrounded by a four lane running track, which was extended to six lanes down the main straight. By the turnstiles there was a large toilet block. An open terrace of around ten steps curved round behind the goal and down the far side. Trees backed onto the track at the other end, where there was no spectator accommodation and just a manual scoreboard.

The away following over in the far corner from Zwickau had grown to around 250. Their side from a division above Markranstädt, were expected to reach the quarter finals. They certainly played their part throughout the afternoon as their top class vocal support encouraged their heroes. They had many banners on the high fence and on sticks. One flag was not particularly complimentary to the police, if Google Translate is correct!

The home fans on the other hand were almost mute. They went for police ripples of applause or as the game progressed, murmurs of disapproval. A trio of old boys across the aisle from me were reminiscing over an old team photo. There were several sightings of Germany national team shirts on evidence. It had been a smart move to schedule the game as a warm up for the main event. I’m sure it bolstered the crowd?

Across the far side, a few freeloaders stood on the artificial pitches behind the terrace trying to watch for free. On the pitch the home keeper Lukas Wurster was raising the ire of the locals with his rapid, awful distribution. War film stars hung onto their detonators longer.

On twenty minutes the visitors went 1-0 ahead. A fine low cross from the right was turned into his own net by Toni Majetschak, who then remained on the deck in what looked like a classic example of trying to deflect the embarrassment.

It rapidly got worse for Markranstädt as Morris Schröter got slightly lucky as he swung his leg at the same time that defender Pascal Ibold tried to clear on the half volley. The ball lobbed over Wurster into the net. Before the break SSV came close when a free kick from Tom Geissler struck the top of the bar.

It was time for me to have a top up in the refuelling department. A nice wurst in bread set me back a very fair €1.50. I wasn’t in a beer mood so I bought a fruit tea. They only stocked fruit or mint tea, which was certainly a change!

On the return onto the pristine playing surface SVV huffed and puffed, while Zwickau looked the better side, without stretching themselves too far. Their centre back Sebastian Mai was a commanding figure. They were being thwarted by the linesman’s flag on the far side. The away fans were offering plenty of advice.

The young referee Ronny Walter was doing OK, but he wasn’t helped as players on both sides fell over at any opportunity. He was taking plenty of stick from all quarters. The game gently fizzled out with a deserved win for Zwickau.

With far too long until my intended bus back towards Leipzig, I decided to see if there was an earlier service? My luck was in. I was away on a very busy service half an hour half an hour early.

Once back in England I read the match report on the SVV Markranstädt website. It finished with the line that the club could now fully focus on the league. Some things are the same wherever you watch a game!

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