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Friday 28th September 2012 ko 18.00

2 Bundesliga

SSV JAHN REGENSBURG 3 (Sembolo 24 55 Müller J-M 44)


Att 12,181


Entry €18 (Stehplatz/ Terrace)

Programme €1

Wimple/Pennant €8

Pin/Badge €4

I sometimes think that organised groundhops ought to be graded in terms of how hard work they are. Grade 1 would be a gentle 3 games in a day on the coach, whereas the last Welsh hop (11 games in 3-and-a-bit days) would be, perhaps a Grade 8. This trip, 6 games in two countries in 3 days covering over 900 miles would definitely be a Grade 10!

The idea was Lee West’s, seeing that his team St Pauli had a Friday evening fixture at Regensburg. He then found cheap flights to and from Birmingham to Frankfurt, so he was joined by Graeme, Martin and I and so we found ourselves at a Car Hire station at the Frankfurt airport, with a beast of an itinerary!

From there it took around 3 hours to drive to South-Eastern Germany, to Bavaria and the medieval city of Regensburg. The city is famous for its beautiful pure German Gothic cathedral and medieval bridge. Astronomer and mathematician Johanes Kepler hailed from here, and Oskar Schindler lived here after World War II until his eventual emigration to Argentina. Our first stop was to stop at the Jahnstadion to buy tickets for the evening’s game, as St Pauli are quite a pull at Zweite-Liga level.

From there it was a short drive to the eastern outskirts of Regensburg to the Etap hotel. There I learned a groundhopping top tip. All Etap rooms are the same, consisting of a double bed with a single bunk at right-angles above it. Since it was Lee who booked the room, he got the double, and I got to sleep in a bunk bed for the first time in over 25 years! If you don’t like climbing a ladder to get into bed then an Etap is not for you. I rather enjoyed the novelty!

With parking at the city centre-based ground at a premium we took the train into Regensburg Hauptbahnhof, and after having a meal, strolled though the exquisite old town to the stadium. Outside, representatives of the Bürgermeister (Mayor) were handing out postcards confirming that this will be the Regensburg’s last season at the Jahnstadion. A new ground is being built on the site of local side TSV Oberisling with a 15,000 capacity, and should be ready for next season.

None of which answered my question of why the “Jahn” prefix? That it transpired was after Friedrich Ludwig Jahn, whose ideas on sport and gymnastics greatly influenced German sport in the 19th century.

At the game security was tight. Martin had an apple confiscated in case he threw it (!), and it was clear that the 12,500 stadium capacity was going to be reached.  We found a decent vantage point just to one side of the half way line and surveyed the scene. The club’s elevation to the second division has meant an increase was needed from just the seats in the main stand. That need has been satisfied with a temporary stand behind one goal, all other areas are open terracing, something to consider when there’s rain. Some enterprising employees of the brewery behind the away end made good use of the scissor-lift to see the game, and in the tower block behind me a window provided a vantage point for fans with a banner stating, “Section for those banned!”

They were no trouble and sadly for Lee, neither were the visitors. Shorn of many of the better players from last season such as Moritz Volz, they barely provided a test for a rampant Regensburg side. In particular defender Marcus Thorandt had no answer to the movement of Regensburg forward Francky Sembolo. He collected a brace and may well have completed his hat trick if he hadn’t collected a stupid booking for waving an imaginary card at Thorandt after being fouled. Thorandt was booked for that foul, but Sembolo was quickly withdrawn. There was no point in risking him further with the tie won.

The St Pauli fans got behind their team but they were also keen to make a point to the DFB, the German Football Association that the kick off time was highly inconvenient for a team based in Hamburg, some 700km and 7 hours drive away. They unfurled a banner that was certainly to the point! I’ve included it in the pictures and I apologise if it offends! Trust me, it isn’t pretty!

With managerless St Pauli utterly lacking in any kind of threat, star striker Marius Ebbers was sacrificed, the thinking being that with the game was lost, keep your best player injury-free for battles yet to come. We stayed to watch the Regensburg celebrations after the final whistle, before retracing our steps, buying some beer as we went. That was because back at the hotel our friend Andreas from Stuttgart was waiting after attending a nearby Landesliga game. He’d booked in to the Etap as the next day required an early start…….