, , , , , , , , , ,

Sunday 30th September 2012 ko 14.00

3 Bundesliga


KICKERS OFFENBACH 3 (Fetsch 25 53 Rathberger 53)

Att 2,450

Entry (Haupttribune/Main Stand) €18

Programme €1

Badge €3

Bratwurst €3

Teamsheet FREE

The last game of our tour saw a 10km trip south of Munich to the municipality of Unterhaching, a location utterly dominated by it’s larger neighbour. The town is notable for being the German base for chewing gum manufacturer Wrigley, these days a divison of the Mars Corporation. The Wrigley factory is a few hundred yards from the Sportpark Unterhaching, in fact if we’d have watched Fortuna Unterhaching, we’d have been opposite! On a more ecological scale the municipality has become a centre for geothermal energy with two deep boreholes providing super-heated steam to drive turbines. To prove that we do live in small world Unterhaching is twinned with Witney, in Oxfordshire just a short drive from where I live in Oxford.

The Sportpark Unterhaching was built in 1992 to accomodate the club’s elevation to the 2 Bundesliga. Its been extended since then, and further expansion plans are afoot, but with the club’s demotion to the Dritte-Liga, the current 15,000 capacity is clearly sufficient. The club were second in the table at kick-off, so to draw as few as 2,450 spectators must have been highly disappointing for the club. Clearly the lure of 1860, and Bayern Munich is too much for a club this close to the big city.

There’s more to SpVgg Unterhaching than just football though. As the club badge betrays, the club has a highly successful Bobsleigh team. Multiple Olympic medalist and National coach Christoph Langen represented Unterhaching at his chosen sport. Graeme and I also discovered an active Curling club tucked behind the away end. Clearly there is no lack of sporting choice in this part of the world.

With the time so tight between games, I’d eaten nothing. The pizza stalls looked tempting, but there was the vexed question of nabbing a teamsheet from the press office. Eventually I found a 500ml glass of apfelsaft and a bratwurst and made to with that until we could stop somewhere between the ground and Frankfurt Airport.

The surroundings weren’t half as boring as a new-build ground can be. I liked the wooden roof on the main stand, and the quite bizarre hospitality area in one corner. The two sets of fans did their best to create an atmosphere but the empty spaces made that aim difficult.

What none of the 4 us expected was a massive away win. Unterhaching would have gone top with a win, but at no time did that look likely as Offenbach quickly took control with Mathias Fetsch looking a class apart from everyone else on the field. He scored two poacher’s goals which provided the intro and coda to Thomas Rathberger’s wonderful header for the second goal.

The Unterhaching manager Claus Schromm had no answers save for a rather contrived argument with referee Bibiana Steinhaus after the final whistle. The truth of the game was that Unterhaching hadn’t turned up, and Offenbach had taken full advantage. We made our way back to the car and followed the away fans more or less the entire 400km to Frankfurt. That bit, on the autobahn should have been straightforward but as befits our weekend, we got caught in several traffic jams and were glad of the live traffic feature on the hire car’s SatNav for reassurance. We handed back the car at the airport and dashed over to the terminal. We had 45 minutes to takeoff, enough, but not comfortable. That seemed somehow to be a metaphor for our weekend.

It remains only to thank my companions on this weekend, Lee, Martin, Graeme, and Andreas. Andreas in particular for his help explaining groundhopping to two border Polizei who weren’t minded to understand such subjects. The real star of the weekend was Lee, for planning this, finding the hotel, and for a positively mammoth driving stint. Many thanks mate, and when’s the next one?