After experiencing yet another draw at Anfield the previous night I was happy to get away from English football and venture to Germany for a few days for two Cup quarter final clashes in Kiel and Berlin. It was the first time I had been back to this great country since the opening round of the competition where I took in matches at Essen, Oberhausen, Kassel and Braunschweig.

 

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I flew out Tuesday lunchtime from Manchester to Bremen with Ryanair which had cost me only £11. The flight, which was delayed by one hour, meant I was almost certain to miss my train connection to Kiel which was due to depart Bremen Hbf thirty minutes after I had landed. I landed at 15:20, the exact time my ICE train was due to depart. I jumped in a taxi and asked for “Hbf bitte”. The taxi driver was a Liverpool fan which was a coincidence. I gave him my e-mail address if he ever wanted tickets for Anfield. I wandered into the ticket office at Bremen Hbf and asked the lady when the next train to Kiel was. She printed off the details and told me I could use my original ticket which I had booked on Deutsche Bahn’s website. That would never happen in Britain! How very hospitable and welcoming the German people are! The journey would get me to Kiel 2 hours later than planned and only 45 minutes before Holstein Kiel v Borussia Dortmund kicked off! I bought some Beck’s beer for the journey ahead of me. Before boarding the train I phoned the hostel in Kiel to say I was running late and also Frauke from the Calcio Culinaria fan group who had kindly saved me a ticket for the match.
After jumping on an earlier train from Hamburg I arrived into Kiel Hbf at 19:20 and rushed to the hostel to check-in and drop my bag off. Many thanks for the lady for waiting for me as the hostel check in time closed at 19:00! I then got a taxi to the stadium and contacted Frauke to meet me with the ticket. I then bumped into a few lads and I recognised one of them from going to Liverpool matches. It turns out he was doing the same as me. Groundhopping the two same matches I was going to. Another coincidence! We exchanged phone numbers and agreed to meet in a pub later for a beer . I met Frauke for the ticket and she led me into the stadium. She seemed to have a lot still to do before kick-off including sorting a ticket for the Dortmund coach driver! We agreed to catch up at half time.

 

 

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The stadium was full and the atmosphere was electric. Fireworks lit the night sky and chants of Holstein Kiel!! Holstein Kiel!! rung out from the fans behind the goal. This was a great occasion for the Fourth Division North club nicknamed “The Storks” who had previously been German champions 100 years earlier. They had performed a miracle just to be at this stage beating Cottbus, Duisburg and Mainz along the way. This was their “cup final” and the Kiel fans where going to enjoy the occasion against the present German Champions. I took a few photos and bought a beer in time for kick-off. This was the coldest place I had been to for a while, it must have been about – 10 degrees. Even the beer was freezing so I had to drink it quickly!
By Half time Dortmund had gained control of the match and looked like progressing to the semi-final. I met Frauke and her husband Matthias and we exchanged a few gifts including some Double Gloucester cheese which I had brought over on request! I swapped my Liverpool scarf for a Kiel one and we took some photos.
The second half kicked off with The Storks needing a goal to reignite the tie. They tried hard but it was not to be and the Black and Yellows added two more late goals to seal a comfortable victory. It was a step too far for Kiel but they can hold their heads up high knowing they did themselves and the city proud.
I said my goodbye’s and wandered to a pub with the lads I had met before the match, for some warmth and a cool beer! We went from pub to pub and had great time talking to the locals. We ended up in a club where the shots where 1€ each and the dance floor was packed. It was a throwback to my student days. The night finished around 04:00 and I staggered into a taxi and somehow found my way into the hostel even though the keys I was given did not work! I would have a few hours sleep before boarding the train to Berlin for the next stage of my trip.

 

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I’ve said it before to many people but German people are the most welcoming I have come across and that is why I will come back for many years to come whether it is the North, South, East or West.


YNWA
Dan Lloyd

 

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