Akela is back from a weekend in Germany and a complete over dose of the beautiful game. Friday night I saw Oberhausen v St Pauli, Saturday Bochum v Schalke and on Sunday Osnabruck v Mainz. A complete and utter footy fest and what a refreshing one it was as well.
Forget the premier league and plastic stadiums full of people watching rather than participating in the whole event. Forget over pricing and robo cop style stewarding. Forget having to sit down and fans whose vocal support consists of chanting the team over and over again. Forget tension between fans and being scared of travelling in colours. No, go to a different place all together.
Stadiums where you can stand, on proper terraces. Stadiums where the crowd gets behind their team. Clubs where the fan is the heart of the place and is treated well. Think of top flight games where 13 euros (about £11) is considered expensive. Grounds where home made flags are brought in and not considered a safety hazard (or a block to the club gaining more revenue). Games where you are considered adult enough to drink beer within site of the pitch. Fans that are friendly and want to know where you are from and what brings you there and want to talk about football of all levels in all countries and understand that football does have meaning outside the top flight and champions league. Fans that can drink like fish and just simply smile more, sing more and then fall over without the slightest hint of agro.
The fans of Bochum who looked after us (a mix of Barnet and Leicester fans) for much of the weekend were amazing people but honourable mentions must go to St Pauli and Osnabruck fans who were perfect hosts as well.
A weekend like that has completely restored my faith in football!