World Cup diary

Amber Nectar headed to the land of weissbier, bratwurst and drei streifen turnschuh for the group stages of World Cup 2006. Here’s our day by day account of what we saw, who we met and what we ate…

June 8th

After badgering Dietmar Hamann for an autograph at Manchester Airport we flew from there to Stansted for a connecting flight to Düsseldorf. By fortunate coincidence we sat next to Jim, a Manchester based West Ham fan who happened to be staying at our hotel, so we shared a taxi with him and his son.

He said he had a mate who was the European ticket agent for the Angolan FA (friends in high places indeed) and he should be able to get us briefs for Angola v. Portugal and later v. Iran (the one we’re really holding our for.)

We went for a wander and ended in a bar called Vamps, staffed by a cute girl called Muriel from near the Dutch border who looked like a younger Miranda from Sex and the city (*PALC) and Dessel who was previously married to “a geezer from Maidenhead”, she surprised us when I asked “Wo ist der bahnhof?” and the reply was “You what??”

Stayed out till 4am before heading back to the hotel.

June 9th

Good news; Despite the German reputation for efficiency, the trains were hideously late and the rail network as shambolic as the one back home.

After breakfast we went for a wander round Düsseldorf. While in a museum being hounded by an irritatingly helpful guide the BBC rang for an opinion on the rumour that Peter Taylor had left City, though they were reporting it as fact. I wittered about it not being that much of a surprise after the Charlton job saga and that the Pearson-Taylor relationship had clearly deteriorated. I hope I don’t get charged for answering calls abroad as they had me waiting ages.

After a few hours trampling around baking in the sweltering sun (like a silly bastard I forgot to put sun cream on) we met Jim and his son at Uerlig, a pub of some repute just off the Kö. Drank till 5 with some mates of his (one a Bastard City fan who tried to get a rise with the Hull’s a rugby town line but was a decent chap when we got talking properly) then went to Düsseldorf station to catch a train to Gelsenkirchen, or at least to try to. The platform number on the electronic board kept changing leading to manic dashes for us and some bewildered Ecuadorians, none of whom looked particularly Ecuadorian, and it showed as cancelled now and then.

Mildly flirted with three lasses from Utah, Whitney, Rachel and Robin, who exclaimed delight at hearing an English voice, albeit in butchered Hullensian tones. I felt conscious about my teeth talking to Whitney, her’s were brighter than the Moon, Robin had a brace on so I felt better talking to her. They were studying here for a little while and were going to Essen.

Eventually we caught a train to Gelsenkirchen, some fuckwitted Ecuadorians got on the wrong one and are probably in Prague now. By now the opening game had started, gutted, the plan was to watch it in the Fan Park at Gelsenkirchen but instead we were sat on an antiquated carriage with no air conditioning sweating like Guantanamo Bay residents, attempting to make out the crackly German commentary over the tannoy.

Then on to the U-bahn to the stadium, a knacker sweat generating journey spent being pinned to the wall by pissed Polish fans, one who was trying to impress a Finnish girl by telling her he was a Lech Poznan “hooliyahn” and ruffling her hair, much to her chagrin.

We wandered around the stadium, not seeing any touts we tried the ticketing centre, obviously no tickets for this game but they might have spares for other games there, USA v. Czech Republic for example. No. Maybe they would know if my Ukraine v. Tunisia ticket application was successful. No. We wandered around again, we did see a few touts this time but they were asking for €200 for Ecuador v. Poland, fuck that. While we were there, nobody took them up on the offer.

The place teemed with pissed up Poles who resembled those who travelled to see England abroad 15 years ago. Accepting defeat, we took the tram with a fair few pissed Poles to the Fan Park, which was populated almost exclusively by Poles, there was the odd Ecuadorian looking out of place, meaning the situation at the stadium was mirrored here.

There was an air of menace about the Poland fans, but they were admirably partisan, they reminded me of the Greeks at Euro 2004. In contrast, The Ecuador fans appeared naive, as if they didn’t really know how to behave. They only had one chant too, to sing “Ecuador, Ecuador” ad nauseaum.

In the game, Poland huffed and puffed but achieved little, Ecuador were well organised and defended well despite the efforts of their facepainted goalkeeper (silly bastard). They also countered well and ran out 2-0 winners. The Poles whistled at the sight of their manager on the big screen but overall took defeat pretty well. The panama hatted Ecuadorians, some real looking ones this time, were delirious with unexpected glee.

We got the train back to Düsseldorf, I chatted to four Americans from Cincinnatti who gasped in awe when I said I knew of the place, and they cooed when I mentioned that the Cincinnatti Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer had ruptured a cruciate ligament. We were back at the hotel within an hour, we watched a repeat of the Germany – Costa Rica game and some hardcore porn before we succumbed to the need to sleep after a day marching around in blazing heat.

10th June

The BBC rang again, Helen Filthpot wanted to know if I thought England would miss Rooney against Paraguay. Fucking hell, am I the best they can do? After breakfast we caught the train to Hamburg, no delays this time. The hotel we checked into appeared to be full of Argentinians, it was in a bleak industrial area and looked jenk from the outside, but inside the facilities were pretty good for €45 each. We took a taxi to the Fan Park to watch England v. Paraguay, there was an impressive number of English fans there. The place was next to St. Pauli’s ground, flanked by a huge above ground air raid shelter that looked as impressive as it did menacing. The game was boring but a 1-0 win will do nicely. A few nougat filled croissants and a beer in the St. Pauli fan pub `Jolly Roger’ (which looked like a pub would if ran by Spiders Nightclub and featuring a Hinchliffe/Buchanan era City scarf on the wall) later we took the underground to the stadium. After a walk through a forest past a cement works we were offered tickets by an American tout for €250, about 170 bones. We deliberated for a while then decided to go for it, you don’t see Argentina v. Ivory Coast often do you?

about the reports of passport checks on the turnstiles we entered the ground early. A glance at the ticket and a quick frisk from the stewards and we were in, despite my name apparently being Petri Hakamäki. Before the game we watched Sweden and Trinidad and Tobago draw a blank on the scoreboard, people came round with giant baskets full of pretzels and that pervert lion with no pants on addressed the crowd, his inanely grinning mate, a ball, spoke too asking “Hello, how are you?”. Err, a little disturbed actually. An unlikely face to front a campaign, Owen Hargreaves appeared on the big screen asking people not to smoke in the stadium.

The game was superb, Ivory Coast went at the Argies from the kick off, eagerly exploiting space and running the Argentinian back line ragged. Somehow the South Americans went in 2-0 up at the break when on the balance of play the `Elephants’ should have been in front. Many Germans sported Argentina shirts but they were booing their negativity near the end as the Ivory Coast pulled one back and threatened to sneak a point. Alas it wasn’t to be, they lost but they certainly won a lot of friends with their performance.

Perhaps foolishly I wore an England shirt to this game, but I never felt threatened by the real Argentinians present. They were quite likeable really, to their credit they refused to take part in most Mexican Waves and were magnanimous in victory.

After the game we headed to the town centre and wandered into the red light district, staffed by quite polited whores who’s services we declined in favour of beer. After that we went back to the train station, which unlike those back home was both open and busy well into the early hours. We sat and had a few white beers in there. The platforms were littered with flaked out Argies as an Ivory Coast fan with a drum looked intently at the ticket machine in the manner a short sighted man might look at a Magic Eye picture.

Two Germans saw my 21 Crouch England shirt and requested I “do the Robot!” in the toilets, after having a piss I obliged and danced to their delight. We got back to the hotel around 4am.

11th June

Up at 9am to catch a train to Köln, on there we talked to a Bayern Munich fan who lived and worked in Bremen and a rather attractive woman who used to support Dortmund but is now disillusioned by football selling its soul to the highest corporate bidder.

It turns out I do get charged for taking calls abroad, my 30 quid credit evaporated when the BBC called twice. As a result I couldn’t ring the hostel in Köln to say we’d be there after 12, the email they sent to confirm the booking warned the reservation would be cancelled if we didn’t, thankfully the girl at the hostel was charitable and let the booking stand. Found an Internet cafe and arsed around there for a bit before entering the Fan Park, which unlike the ones in Hamburg and Gelsenkirchen was totally shit. Though Holland v. Serbia was on they didn’t have the screen turned on and instead a poor man’s Bohse Onkels band were on fronted by some meff screaming into a mic while bored Unicef volunteers blew up balloons no fucker wanted, It took us ten minutes to get in the place after being frisked a little too thoroughly on the way in and we left barely 60 seconds after getting in.

Unlike Düsseldorf and Hamburg, Köln was a bit grubby and full of Chinese owned shops selling tat, the Dom or cathedral is impressive though, I imagined the Batwing flying past it before posing in front of the Moon in a comic book visual cliché.

We found a cramped bar ran by a quite manly looking woman that was showing the game, though Holland v Serbia was duller than England v. Paraguay. Never have I seen the Dutch labour to victory as in this game. It’s mental that this game featured a country that no longer exists after Montenegrans voted in a referendum for independence. The Serbian navy is fucked, Montenegro gave them some coastline but now devolution leaves them landlocked, maybe the Montenegrans will treacherously sell the Serbian subs on Ebay.

There are some good sports shops in Köln, but my pfennigs were spent on a steak in an Argentinian restaurant. After that we watched Mexico v. Iran in an Iranian owned bar, I expected Iran to be totally jenk but they competed for an hour before collapsing in the game’s final third.

We took a tram to the RheinEnergieStadion but found touts wanted a preposterous €200 for tickets. There were scores of Angolans holding up “I need tickets” placards but the touts wouldn’t budge on the price and kick off came and went, a goal was scored and still they wanted 200 EuroBones for a brief no one was prepared to go over 100 for. Silly bastards.

I’d have forked out €100 but no more, having seen Argentina v. Ivory Coast I wasn’t that fussed about missing this one. Köln’s stadium is in the middle of nowhere, we waited 15 minutes for a U-bahn train to take us to a station even more remotely located so we could wait another quarter of an hour to go back to the city centre. I wasn’t impressed by Köln at all.

We found a bar near to our hostel showing the game, it was jenk and I was relieved not to have seen it after all. I found myself reading an interview with Zadie Smith in an overpriced copy of the Times rather than watch the pock game on the telly. We faffed in an Internet cafe for for a bit, then went for a few bratwurts and beers in a street near the cathedral, there we saw a pissed up African get into a row with a white Portuguese wearing an Angola shirt who he said he hated. A Palace fan seeing my City shirts asked if Taylor was joining them `it appears so’ I said and when he asked for an appraisal I said I rated Taylor as a manager but thought him a wanker of a human being, the Palace fan looked perturbed by this, he said he’d met Taylor in Frankfurt and he’d implied he might be at Selhurst Park next year. Knackered after only sleeping for a few hours each night so far we decided to go to the hostel about 1am, but found our access to the stadium curtailed by Polizei, it turns out Portugal’s team were staying at the Hilton opposite our hostel. Fuckers.

12th June

Not sad to be leaving Köln we left the hostel at 10am to catch the train to Essen. Our original hotel cancelled the booking claiming the place was water damaged, they’d booked us into another hotel and I was fearing the worst, but Hotel Atelier near Essen University was very nice indeed. We had single rooms this time, excellent I though, I can watch some porn and empty my swollen knackers, in Köln we’d shared a room with 2 lasses with 2 fearful looking American bints which felt a bit odd.

Took a ludicrously sweaty bus ride to the Arena auf Schalke in Gelsenkirchen on a bus packed with Americans and Czechs. Touts figured dumb Americans would pay €400 for a ticket, well these not so dumb Englishers would not, so we watched the game in a hotel bar just behind the stadium. We noticed that touts ignored people with placards begging for tickets, this dim looking blonde Yank in cowgirl get up held up a huge sign imploring people to part with two tickets, and though she had her picture taken a lot the touts gave her a wide berth, probably figuring they would draw too much attention from stewards and the Polizei if they sold to them.

The prices asked don’t bode well for our attempts to buy briefs for Japan v. Croatia when we’re in Nuremberg, daft Japs will probably pay stupid amounts. In the hotel bar there was a mix of Americans (including an infuriating cunt from Alabama) , Czechs and Scots wearing Trinidad shirts. The Czechs sang a song I first heard sung by them in Portugal two years ago, it sounds like they are singing “beat Senegal” and is bellowed whenever they get a corner.

Walking away from the ground at full time we heard the World’s most American man talking on a mobile, he said “Man, we really sucked today” to much amusement. Took the tram back to Gelsenkirchen station to retrieve some Adidas Spezials I’d picked up for a bargain 35 quid in a shop in Essen, a bus at the station was being utilised as a temporary luggage locker.

On a train back to Essen (a double decker train, never been on one of those so I insisted on sitting, or standing as it was full, on the top deck). Met a screeching American lass from Orange County and thoroughly enjoyed taking the piss out of her to the glee of other Americans on the train. “Oh your accent is crazy, I love it” she said, “where are you from?”, the north of England I answered. Later she asked if we were from London so I delivered a firm rebuke, “I just told you we were from the north you fucktard” which amused her travelling companions no end, they loved that word and also ‘fadge’ after I said I’d kick her in hers because her accent was so annoying. “You think my accent is crazy?” she enquired, “No, just irritating” I said and the guys behind her cried with laughter “Oh man, I’ve thought that for two months and you have it figured after 10 minutes” he said, requesting to shake my hand. A few barbs later and we were at Essen.

We had planned to watch Italy v. Ghana on a screen in a beer garden near our hotel, but with kick off approaching and queues in the station we went to an Essen city centre restaurant/bar to see Italy win 2-0.

13th June

Got up early to have a shave and to dye the hair blue (*PALC), it’s been fun being blonde but my roots are showing through. Hope the hotel don’t mind me leaving blue towels behind, I feared the worst when our original hotel cancelled (they reckon they had water damage but probably just didn’t want a blue haired English prick staying) and booked us elsewhere but the Hotel Atelier was good.

I’m a bit sad to be leaving Essen after just one day, I like the place, there is a relaxed feel about it and no pretentiousness. There are ordinary folk in Essen whereas Düsseldorf and Hamburg seemed to be exclusively populated by well heeled, beautiful and impeccably dressed peacocks, as if average people had been banished elsewhere lest they sully the place’s rep. I half expected the train to go past a remote field somewhere with ugly lasses eating out of troughs because all the women I saw for the first three days were just ball achingly good looking.

Essen is also infinitely better than Köln, which somehow is a popular tourist destination, I can’t figure out why, a gothic cathedral aside it has little to offer. Essen also has better sports shops than any of the cities visited to date and I was chuffed to find a pair of stone/navy adidas Spezials for €50 (35 UK bones). The subway in Essen has video screens along the U-Bahn tunnel walls that would fire sequentially so a static image appeared in the window, I was quite alarmed by the sight of a woman running seemingly alongside the train until I saw the adidas Performance logo appear.

Our next destination is München, a 6 hour train ride away. It didn’t feel as if it took that long though, the ICE high speed trains are fabulously comfortable and air conditioned, essential in this heat wave. Met a Bolton fan in the restaurant car, he’s lived in Japan for 10 years and has come here with his Japanese wife. He confided he’d gone for a drink to get away from her for 15 minutes so he didn’t have to endure more whining about Japan’s 3-1 loss to the Aussies.

The sky is still cloud free and it’s cruel torch continues to torment pasty Britons, but a breeze made it easier to bear today. Despite applying sun cream the backs of my hands were sore, I figure the cream had been washed away after a bog stop. My last minute buy shades from Top Man fell to bits after just three days and were dumped in a bin in the Köln hostel.

We arrived in München just before 3, our hotel was within Frank Rijkaard spitting distance from the station so we dropped our bags off and went into a bar just round the corner to watch Togo v. South Korea. Pleasingly, the beers ordered came in hefty size jugs as opposed to the tiny glasses served in other places. The bar has some fantastically meffelated customers, some hoon with an inordinately intricate moustache and an old giffer who gesticulates wildly and raises his glass to some bloke who feels compelled to return the gesture but is clearly getting weary of it.

One of the Korean players appears to be wearing a nappy. Togo are a better side than advertised and they take the lead but Korea come back to win 2-1.

A shop selling naff shoes also has Internet facilities so we made use of them for an hour having not seen a web cafe since Köln. Then into a restaurant owned by a Portuguese chap who enquires why we are interested in Switzerland v. France, I have no real answer, so I just shrug and order Jägerschnitzel, a hefty slab of pork in mushroom sauce with soggy fries that tasted better than the description implies. I was slightly perturbed by the guy at the next table, who appeared to be a fusion of my dad and Admiral Ozzel from Star Wars.

Switzerland are improved on the side I saw at Euro 2004 but still lack cutting edge, France aren’t any better and the game ends goalless.

I like what I’ve seen of München so far, the population a splendid marriage of amusing meffs, polite averagerati and haughty looking sexy bints.

We took a tram then a bus to the Olympiastadion, venue of the 1974 World Cup final and England’s satisfying 5-1 raping of Germany in 2001. A fan park had been set up there and there must have been 7-8000 people there to watch Brazil v. Croatia. Most are supporting Brazil, even some Croats have Brazil shirts on, which is slightly distasteful. Frankly I’m tired of Brazil, it’s as if people have been brainwashed to love them and there was a roar of delight from most of the crowd when Brazil scored.

Joga Bonito? You’re having a laugh, Brazil looked distinctly average and no more exciting than England had been, only they had 3pm heat to contend with and this game was at 9pm. In fact, so far the Dutch, Portuguese, Argentinians, Italians and now the sickeningly feted Brazil team have all laboured to dull victories in their first game, yet only England are derided for it.

Croatia look capable of equalising but seem to lack the conviction to go through with it, as if they feel they should follow the script. Brazil finish up 1-0 winners, the latter stages of the game were so dull the TV cameras chose to display a forlorn looking Ronaldo after his jenk showing and subsequent substitution. I didn’t enjoy this game, so we went in search of beer in the city centre.

14th June

A lie in before a stroll around the city centre, I asked where there was an adidas Originals shop and headed to Münchener Freiheit U-bahn station in the Schwabing district on a cute blonde shopworkers advice. Eventually found it down a street where adjacent shops looked like Setams on Hessle Road. The OG shop was impressive though, and the staff really friendly, a change from most OG shops, the ones in Manchester are just ignorant and those in London and Barcelona treat you like dogtod. Not here though, where I chatted to a staff member about old German football shirts and Hull City’s impending world domination.

Picked up what is called an Arsenal track top even though there is no markings to indicate any link with the Arse, also got some miniature SL72’s in a tin box. One of the staff members was putting World Cup tickets into envelopes so I joked “Can we get some of them too?”, “Yes” he said, “how many do you want?”. Stifling a stiffy I ran to the nearest GeldAutomat to get some cash out before picking up two category 1 tickets for Saudi Arabia v. Tunisia at the Allianz Arena in München later today. Face value, €100, ta very much. Even better, the bit of the ticket with the buyers name on it said FIFA – adidas, haha, no more pretending to be a Finn, I’m a long time pal of Adi Dassler my mate. Ok maybe not, he died when I was 2.

Wandering around the achingly boho chic Schwabing district elated by our good fortune, a pissed up German bloke, bottle in hand, demanded to know “You English, where are you from?”. “Hull” I answered, exepecting the blank looks that answer got from others. “I know Hull!” he bellowed, “Housemartins!” he shrieked before breaking into song…”Ewery woman, ewery man, join der cara-wan of love”. We were pissing ourselves laughing, “I am a crazy Kraut yes?” he enquired. He explained his love of English football, that he loved Manchester City after meeting a Manc and because of Oasis, West Ham and Millwall, oblivious to the fact they hate each other. He staggered off singing “Rule Britannia”. How surreal.

Back to the hotel to drop off our drie striefen purchases and have a quick shower, we watched Spain exercise some of their potential with a 4-0 gubbing of Ukraine. Then to the stadium by tube and tram. The stadium is weird and wondrous at the same time, encased in a latticed translucent skin that made it look like an icing coated doughnut from afar, up close it looked like a giant flies eye viewed in black and white.

After speeding up three long flights of stairs we took our seats puffing and panting and spending the first ten minutes of the game thinking I was going to spontaneously combust.

This was an entertaining game played by two sides with little technical ability, often the ball was being spannered anywhere. Now and then though there were glimpses of creativity and technique. It was all the Tunisians in the first 10 minutes and when they took the lead it looked as if they might run riot. But as soon as they took the lead they took their foot off the pedal completely. The Tunisian fans, plentiful in number and raucous on the subway, were oddly quiet in the ground. The tiny enclave of Saudis made plenty of noise though, and for the full game. As the game progressed the Saudis looked more enterprising and adventurous up front and assured at the back and they equalised with a well taken goal.

We were sat next to some Swiss fuckers, one who thought it okay to stand up up, back to the pitch, talking to his mates while some of us sought to watch a game of football. Fortunately for him the action was all at the end he wasn’t obscuring, but those behind who couldn’t see gave him an earful and he looked astonished before sitting down meekly. Silly cunt.

This was never going to be the most skill packed game to watch but it was absorbing nonetheless. I found myself rooting for the Saudis and cheered when they went ahead. Tunisia woke up in the last 10 minutes and snatched a late, undeserved equaliser. Germans at the game won’t have seen it, they piled out of the ground to see the start of Germany v. Poland after it was announced the stadium screen wouldn’t show it and that the fan park at the Olympiastadion was full.

A mad scramble ensued at the U-bahn station, when we finally got on a train we halted the journey to the haufbahnhof in favour of watching the game in the Schwabing district that we liked earlier. Found a bar with some room about 20 minutes into the game. Got talking to a local called Peter, a Bayern fan about Bundesliga football, the quality of German bints and the British perception of Germans. Nice bloke.

Germany were all over Poland but couldn’t score due to a combination of some awesome saves from Artur Boruc and shots that hit the bar rather than the net. Poland are shit and their fans are moronic meffs so I wanted Germany to send them home, my chant of “Polen, Polen, auf wiedersein” had no takers.

Sub Oliver Neuville scored a 90th minute winner and the place exploded with ecstacy, white beer dripped from the ceiling. The celebrations in the streets afterward were fantastic and the sense of elation infectious. I’d experienced this before in Portugal when the home side beat England on penalties. I was gutted initially but the celebrations from locals were so intense you couldn’t help but be uplifted by them. Similar to how English fans have reclaimed the St. George cross flag from xenophobes, German youths were identifying with their national banner, probably for the first time after years cowed by post-war guilt. This was good to see, this generation of fans weren’t born back then so lets get over the war shall we?

After a ludicrously cheap and tasty Chinese meal we drank outside of bars, the roads a sea of German born humanity going mental. I was wearing an England shirt and track top but never once got any stick, one bloke did ask in German why I was wearing it during their game but realised I wasn’t German so that’s ok, many Germans had worn England shirts on other days.

Amusingly, there was a lone curmudgeon amongst thousands of deliriously happy Germans, a good looking girl of about 19 was eyeing her dancing compatriots with contempt, “They’re too loud” she told me with a scowl.

15th June

With touts asking €250 for Angola games and England tickets changing hands for €1000 we decided not to bother going to Nuremburg where England play Trinidad/Tobago later today.

Also, today is a public holiday in Germany (bank holidays on a Thursday??) and most things were closed in München, so, for no reason other than that we can, we jump on a train to Salzberg, Austria to watch the England game there. We’d not have gotten to see the Bavarian alps on our planned itinerary, and this way we got to see loads of blokes in traditional Bavarian dress and snigger at them.

The area around Salzberg station is a bit bland and we wondered if we’d erred coming here. Spent an hour in an Internet cafe where the woman behind the desk complimented my blue hair, “yeah I leave stains on the pillows all the time” I responded before I realised the connotation. We went for a wander and saw an Austrian goth lass, this amused me.

Eventually we came to an area of cool bridges spanning a river that runs an eerie pistachio green and a series of quaint narrow streets with architecturally stunning buildings either side, a shop called Wanger pleased my puerility. Sadly the place was packed with American tourists, and annoying ones, all the Americans I’d met in Germany were great to talk to but this lot, doing the gay `Sound of music’ tour, were a bunch of, well, wangers is a good term to use here.

We found a pleasant open air bar to watch the Ecuador – Costa Rica game, though I’ve developed a sore throat and runny nose and I found it hard to concentrate on this game, I felt like having a nap, but that wasn’t going to happen while some bearded Scottish bloke behind me droned on interminably about telephones and fibre optic connections to a local bloke who didn’t appear to give a shit.

After that game we headed back towards the station to watch England, our train back to München would leave not long after full time and I didn’t want a mad dash after food and beer. There was a sports cafe near the station so we went in there, the place was split 50-50, the left side was an impressive (compared to the seedy hovels back home) bookies with an array of screens displaying World Cup games, live tennis, dog racing, England’s cricket team, the lot, some screens showing teletext odds suggested you could bet on collegiate American Football games, but I resisted the urge to have a punt on the Oklahoma Sooners to go in the right section, which was a slick sports bar staffed by a bloke who was a curious mix of Shane Warne and Joe Longthorne.

Quaffing beer and eating spaghetti bolognese (and for once not throwing it down myself, a miracle considering I had a white shirt on, the Italia `90 England shirt) we watched with increasing exasperation England fail to break down a team of Coventry and Wrexham scuffers. A moustachioed local called Walter kept telling us that England were his second favourite national side but that we were playing shit, I nodded in agreement. Eventually England scored two late goals, the first by super Crouchinho and a last minute screamer from Gerrard. I’d excused England’s poor first performance against Paraguay as we’d won and we are always slow starters in tournaments, but this was jenk squared. Rooney came on, great that he’s fit but this smacked of desperation and made us look the one man team we shouldn’t be with Gerrard, Lampard, Beckham and Terry in the side. Urs Meier was a guest on German TV and he said he would have disallowed England’s first goal, quelle surprise. Didi Hamman was a pundit on the Premier channel and looked deeply uncomfortable, sat upright and stiff and staring eyes wide at the camera with distrust.

Had a brief chat with a Texas prosecutor, I wondered how many black men he’d had executed for fidgeting during the national anthem or having untied shoelaces. He was a disillusioned Dallas Cowboy fans who tired of them becoming all about money under owner Jimmy Johnson, so now he watches the Dallas Stars in the NHL.

In the station I bought a porno mag, simply because the idea of buying a jazz mag in Austria seemed a funny concept. I giggled throughout the transaction and the kiosk worker found it amusing too. I was reading it in full view of Korean women to shock them when the Texas prosecutor came over to tell me our train had changed platform. I felt a bit silly.

We got the train back to Germany and was sat with a couple from Washington DC and another from Ohio. Arriving in München we went for a few ales before retiring.

16th June

Woke up feeling dreadful, my throat was killing me and my snotty right nostril had bled all over the pillow, it was already covered in blue marks from my hair dry, the cleaner will want to eviscerate me.

A lazy day today, no travelling, no plans other than to mooch around München and watch the days games, so after a lie in we went for a walk arond Schwabing and Marienplatz. A toilet at a biergarten had postcards offering advice on shagging prossies, the tips included “Business is business, even if your time together is wonderful, stay calm with your feet on the ground” and “With sex there is no money back guarantee, if you are not satisfied talk about it, don’t demand your money back.” Picked up a 2004 Greece home shirt for about 17 quid, I’d wanted one since I’d first seen it used at Euro 2004 but you couldn’t get one for love nor money in Portugal and they weren’t that widely available in Blighty. Arsed around till 2.30pm, back to the hotel for a quick shower, today was 3 degrees cooler than yesterday but it was muggy and I needed respite from the dreaded ‘thigh rub’. Watched Argentina disassemble the newly split Serbia and Montenegro in the restaurant we visited on Tuesday. The waiter thought I was an Aussie even though he’d served me just 3 days ago. Had a mixed grill including Souvlaki.

We visited a proper Bier Keller afterward, it was empty to start with but was later invaded by an entire schoolful of 18 year old kids from San Diego who came in to eat, no beer for them, haha. Talked to an Aussie bloke who was a white Antipodean version of Forest Whittaker. When we said we supported City he was reluctant to say who he followed, though he later let on he liked Leeds. He agreed with our assertation that Leeds fans were all plebotrons and said when he’d visited Elland Road, a load of White Shiters gave him grief because Mark Viduka said he wanted to leave Leeds, oh aye because it was this guys fault. We watched Ivory Coast contrive to lose again, this time to Holland.

The steins of lager are deceptive, you think you can finish one quickly but they best you in the end. Four of those later and we were pissed as bastards for the first time since we’d been here. We staggered to an open air food and beer place with a big screen, but after scoffing some spare ribs we went to find a table nearer the screen to watch Angola v. Mexico but this big German bloke in Lederhosen wasn’t having it. “Reserviet!” he bellowed, though there was nobody at the table, there was a nearby table with a couple at it who didn’t mind us being there so we smudged in. There was a reserved sign on this table so I checked it to see who it was reserved for, and the leather panted meff who looked like Randy from ‘My name is Earl’ came over, nicked my beer and shouted “You can go!”. As if.

At that point it started raining for the first time since we’d been here and everyone frantically ran for cover as if it would burn them. They then turned the TV off, the basts. Randy had cleared off too so we just sat enjoying the rain as it filtered through the trees above our table. Eventually bored of being beerless we fucked off, indulging in some traditional pissed Englishman stupidity, swiping a BMW’s numberplate and a ‘Münich loves you’ flag. We found a small fan park with a semi circle of seats in front of a big screen. The place was empty apart from a woman serving beer, a local wearing a daft hat, 4 Croats and 2 blokes from Cheltenham, one of whom gave me a roll up that was impossible to keep lit in the wind as a storm raged spectacularly around us. We watched the goalless draw before stumbling through a building site and back to the hotel, I fell asleep with a kebab in my hand.

17th June

Sadly, we must bid farewell to München, I love this place (and it loves me, as the kifed flag reminds me) as it’s cool without being pretentious. Had some breakfast in the dining room, sat near some Japs who are noisier eaters than my Dad (an impressive but annoying achievement), slurping at their cereal and making clicking noises that sounded like a dolphin having an asthma attack.

Got the train to Nürnburg. A Jap asks if I’m Croatian because I have a 1982 Soviet Union shirt on. Our hotel is on the outskirts of the city, we take a tram to a bus interchange and a bus from there to Reutles. We were on the bus forever and wondering if we’d missed the stop or got the wrong bus but then we saw it, we realised slightly late and got off at the next stop and dashed to the hotel. The hotel is cool and has been used by Fifa delegates, the AS Roma team and that slag Pele, he’d better have not pissed the bed in our room. The girl at the hotel, Katja, was wonderfully helpful and ordered us a cab to take it to Herzogenaurach, birthplace of adidas.

The factory outlet there is massive and a haven of three striped bargains providing you don’t have size 9-11 feet. They had some El Salvador Kicks for about 30 quid but alas not in my size, though I did find some Toy2R adicolor Century Lo’s that I got for 22 quid, even though they are 90 bones back home, for that price I can live without a box.

Herzogenaurach is comparable in size to Beverley, yet home to two massive trainer companies (Puma are also from here, both companies set up by the feuding Dassler bothers), we visited an exhibition about the two companies at the stadtmuseum featuring some running spikes and football boots from the 1930’s onwards and trainers from the 60’s till the late 80’s. They had a Zidane signed shirt, Pele’s signed boots from Mexico ’70 and an amazing Beastie Boys/Money Mark track top in amber and black. We saw the adidas HQ including what remains of the original factory before getting a taxi to the adidas training camp in the hope of getting a pic of the Adi Dassler statue. Alas not, the Argentinian team were using the place as a training venue and though not there, the place was secured and we couldn’t get in. Argie basts!

We watched Ghana stun the Czech’s 2-0 at a biergarten in the market square and then ate some superb pasta at an Italian place, watching Italy draw 1-1 with USA.

18th June

Got up reasonably early to get a bus to Nürnberg centre. My Mastercard isn’t working at cashpoints which troubles me slightly, it works on the FIFA website though as we spied Iran v. Angola in Leipzig tickets on resale so we snapped them up, ok, it’s not a game to get the heart racing but it’s still a WM game and I’d watch it on TV if I was at home so why not in person? There’ll be no Iranian bints to clumsily chat up as it’s considered un-Islamic for them to look at a male strangers bare legs. Bah.

Upon arrival at the station we saw hundreds of Japs and Croats wandering around with placards reading ‘I need tickets/Gesucht karte/whatever that is in Japanese/Croatian’ and in between them all a Japanese bloke holding a discreet sign saying ‘I have tickets’, I asked how much and he quoted €200, €250 if we wanted hospitality tickets (err, no, I don’t care if I’d get sucked off by a half Jap, half Croat beauty, I’m not into prawn sandwich bollox) and I was struggling for cash with the Mastercard not working so option one it was. He seemed surprised by this but I wasn’t getting into supporter ethics in Nürnberg station.

Jim owed me his half of the Angola v. Iran ticket booking, so that and the money in my wallet I cobbled together €196, he let me off the €4 so I gave him the City shirt I’d bought for a tenner to give away to a fat Jap, he wasn’t fat but hey he could have it, though he gave it to his fit bird who was holding the tickets in a Burger King shop.)

At the stadium I went to buy a Japan shirt and had to endure 45 minutes in the World’s sweatiest queue as the Sun beat down on those patiently waiting (the Japs) and those impatiently waiting (the rest). By the time I came away with a shirt I felt ready to collapse, today was probably the hottest day so far. In the stand there was a roughly 50/50 split of Japanese and Croatian fans with few not displaying an allegiance.

Japanese can be annoyingly inane on their own but as a group of fans at a game they were impressive. The Croats are noisy, but unkempt looking fuckers who are the most tuneless singers I’ve ever encountered. One chant appeared to be “Stzee! Stzee! Stzee!”. Meffs.

Dado Prso took a dive and I screamed “Prso you fucking faggot” and the burly looking Croat to my left muttered some guttural guff that I took to be an enquiry of Serbian nationality, I looked him in the eye and gave my best “You what?” and he turned away. Croatia were depressingly on top and it seemed just a matter of time before they scored, that suspicion was strengthened when they were awarded a penalty, but Kawaguchi dived to his left and saved from Srna. Ace! Japan aren’t a bad side but play with too slow a tempo to be effective, they are slow to turn defence into attack and Croatia had time to put everyone behind the ball to mop up pressure easily.

Both sides lack conviction and this game sees some of the worst crossing and shooting ever, like watching Stevie Wonder and David Blunkett at a coconut shy. The two sets of fans find a way to chant simultaneously, the Japs go “Nip-Pon!” and the Croats finish with “Hrvastka!”, a stupid indigenous country name quite frankly. 0-0 at the break but it looks ominous for Japan who are stylish in their passing and movement but they are weak and defend naively, swiping into challenges that take them out of play instead of staying upright and jockeying an opponent.

The inevitable fails to materialise however, Croatia wilt in the heat and Japan have increasingly long periods of possession that they just don’t know how to take advantage of, they pass the ball around in neat triangles but seem afraid to have a crack at goal. It ends goalless but I enjoyed being among the Japanese, less so the knuckle dragging Croats.

Back to the city centre. It’s hard to find bottled water in Germany, at least bottles of still water, that fizzy crap is no use when you are thirsty and I was dying of thirst by now. I was getting quite irritable about it too, some apple juice from a supermarket had to do as they had no water, incredibly.

We saw Australia v. Brazil in a restaurant/bar attached to a cinema that described itself as American/Italian (so pizzas, pasta and burgers then) but was covered in James Bond livery. Beer cools me down but has no hydrating effect at all. Australia play really well but succumb to goals late in each half from Brazil. Croats, Japs and some other meffs cheer the goals and celebrate a Brazilian win, fuck off. Burnt, tired and desperate for water we head to the station. Two bottles of water later and I feel human again, and we get the tram ‘home’ to shower and watch France v. Korea.

19th June

Up at 6am, early start today as we have to get from Nürnberg to Dortmund for a 3pm kick off at the Westphalenstadion. Even in the high speed ICE trains, that’s pushing it. I have an anxious wait at the hotel reception as I dread my MasterCard being rejected as I try to pay for two nights stay but it goes through and we are sorted, I suspected I’ve just reached the limit that I can withdraw in cash but goods and services payments are fine. The lovely but shouty Katja waves us farewell and we get a bus then a tram to Nürnberg station. There were loads of schoolkids on the bus and tram, why on Earth do they go to school at 7am?

We get to the station at 7.45, our train to Dortmund goes at 8.30 and should get us there for 1.15pm. Hmm, we’ll be pushing it, the plan to go to the hotel and drop off the luggage is out the window and we’ll have to find somewhere to dump the bags. I’m feeling better today, the sore throat has gone, there is the odd sniffle and the odd greeny to gozz out but generally I’m ok.

The lockers at Dortmund station are all full but a sign advertises a luggage room behind one of the platforms. It’s not a room, just a section of the station ‘sealed off’ with a bit of plastic tape, and they want €5 per item so I hand over a tenner as I have a carrier bag as well as my suitcase. From the station it’s just a short train ride to the stadium where we get to use legitimately purchased tickets for the first time.

I like the stadium, it’s got an English feel to it, four sides only these sides are huge, it’s like Anfield if it were super deformed for a Japanese animated feature. The place has a lived in feel, the stadiums in Hamburg, Gelsenkirchen and München all look so boxfresh new you can probably find a barcode sticker somewhere and a sachet of silica gel. The stand we’re are in is a fairly new construction, an all terraced affair that is converted with a few bolt on seats. Not aesthetically pleasing but it’s effective. The rake of the stand is so steep that even near the top you have a great view of the pitch.

The Swiss outnumber genuine Togans and their sympathisers (including us) at least 15-1 and are very noisy, but inane, all their chants are nicked off the Germans or English and end in Mexican wave attempts that fail to gain support. When we got these tickets we figured this was going to be the shittest game of the World Cup, but this is an entertaining game and Togo are alright, not the Zäire of this World Cup. Their keeper is superb and they defend well, but too deep, leaving their technically talented forwards isolated and relying on punted long balls. Switzerland score and the fuckers following them gleefully seize the opportunity for more inanity. Togo are denied a certain penalty and the half ends 0-0, this leaves a bitter taste with us and the Togans. The same patterns are followed in the 2nd half and it ends 2-0 to the Sheiße Shweize. Their wanger fans want to stay and salute their team who parade around the pitch as if they’ve won the fucking tournament, as opposed to unconvincingly winning a game against a team no one had heard of a year back, so we fuck off back to the city centre.

A pleasing drizzle falls from an overcast sky as we scoff the best currywurst ever. It’s not just the weather that feels familiar, Dortmund is like a fusion of the best places in Hull with some of Leeds city centre thrown in and I like it. Köln was grubby yet is a tourist destination, this place is a lived in, working class city with no airs and graces and a relaxed, friendly atmosphere and I like it. I buy a Borussia Dortmund shirt and we watch Ukraine demolish Saudi Arabia in a pub, a proper pub, not a wanky bar.

Back to the station to get our bags and to catch a train to Fröndenberg as we couldn’t get a hotel in Dortmund. At Fröndenberg station we get in a cab belonging to a chuckling driver, it becomes clear what he’s laughing at when he takes us to our destination, about 100 yards away. At the hotel the receptionist explains the booking was made for a Frau Motherby, fuck right off, Miss Motherby indeed. After a shower we find a nearby open air bar with a screen showing Spain v. Tunisia. The Tunisians are winning when we get there but Spain turn it around and win 3-1. The barmaid exclaims that she saw me in Dortmund earlier in the day, the blue hair is a dead giveaway. A few beers later and we are fucked after a long day, so we are in bed by 12.30.

20th June

No need to rush today, no game to go to, so a lie in, a a leisurely breakfast and a slow meander to the station. A train to Hagen then another to Essen where we can take an ICE train to Berlin. We’ve a 40 minute wait for a train in Essen, 10.30 is late in the day enough for a currywurst as far as I’m concerned, so I fill my mush as I note the weather, sunny but overcast, warm but with a cooling breeze, poifect.

The train from Essen to Berlin seemed to take forever, it got us there just after 3pm. The new Berlin central station is just jaw dropping in it’s immensity, it is H.U.G.E. The floor we got a train to the East Station from was easily the size of Leeds station, and that’s just one floor, I spied at least 5 when I peered over a balcony.

The hostel we’re staying at is in a tatty part of town, reunification hasn’t seen this part of Berlin regenerated yet, every wall is graffiti covered and there’s a hippy/eco warrior/cultural counter revolutionary commune a few doors down. The hostel itself is quite good, though they claim we’ve yet to pay, that’s bollocks, my card was charged back in February when I made the booking. I paid again and I’ll take it up with NatWest/Mastercard when I get back. I tried ringing them here but was left on hold while my €5 credit evaporated while some electronic bint thanked me for my non existent patience. Bah!

Catching a train back to the centre of Berlin we walked to the Brandenerg Gate where the fan fest for this city was situated. The streets teem with Germans celebrating victory over Ecuador in their final group game. There’s a huge stage and screen in front of the Brandenberger Tor where we’ll watch England v. Sweden. Before that we have a poke around the adidas World of football, I try a free kick in this astroturfed box with inflatable ‘players’ forming a wall and drapes over the goal with holes to aim at. My attempt is hopelessly gay and I nick off to get out of earshot of laughing Germans. I redeem myself at the ‘Header’ box. a similar deal with a machine that fires crosses at you to header goalwards, trying to avoid inflatable ‘players’ and drapes, I connect well and put the ball in the net. Hoorah!

A steak and chilli meal and beers later and we take position at the big screen, the place is packed with locals with a healthy smattering of English and Swedes and the odd bewildered looking Ecuadorian. England play well first half, Michael Owen hobbles off 50 seconds in but the other Owen, Hargreaves, impresses in the holding role, freeing Joe Cole to rampage forward and he cracks in a superb half volley to put England 1-0 up. So, England having resolved their midfield problems are sorted for a crack at world domination? Hmm, no, because England’s issues are like those arcade games where you hammer beavers down with a mallet, you smash one down and another pops up. Holding player issue resolved? Suddenly our much vaunted defence are incapable of dealing with set pieces and Sweden equalise. England somehow take an 85th minute lead through a Gerrard header but we chuck a lead away again and it ends 2-2.

A local girl asks if I’m ‘a real Englishman’, maybe there is a sideline in counterfeit ones. Yes I reply and she asks me to tell her how Gerrard is pronounced. I tell her and she nicks off, but returns after 10 minutes to demand I tell her my name, home town, opinions on Germany and what games I’ve been to. Her name is Sandra, a good looking girl with agreeably large wabs and she tells me she grew up in Mallorca among German and English tourists and always though we shared cultural elements, beer and football mainly, and I agree. I get her number and E-mail address before she blends into the crowd once more, a boost for a battered ego.

Back to the hostel where we talk to several Dubliners who bought tickets off touts and then asked Polizei officers if they were real, the Polizei were unimpressed and suggested they leave before truncheons were wielded and handcuffs used. We also talk to two Los Angelenos who love our foul mouths and stock up on our profanitous phrases, much to the chagrin of a middle aged woman who says she used to live in Newcastle. It’s big and clever we argue, and part of our cultural identity.

On my way out of the bogs I’m stopped by a Nürnberg fan called Markus who wants to talk football for an eternity, by the time I escape the bar is closed and it’s 4am so I retire to bed.

21st June

Off to Leipzig today to see Angola v. Iran. We got a train to central station but there Jim realises he’s not brought his train pass so goes back to get it while I indulge in a Starbucks frap, schoko croissants and staring at the awesome array of top drawer Teuton titties bouncing past me with pleasing regularity.

Jim makes it in time for the 10:52 and we head east. On the train we talked to two Iran fans, one who works for an Iranian football website and supports Tottenham (Y’know, this guy had a press pass and could see any game, I might have to try this scam for Euro 2008) and a bloke who spends his time in either Abu Dhabi or Blackburn (!) and was nearly in tears about Craig Bellamy going to Liverpool.

The journey was quick and we soon found ourselves attempting to follow the haphazardly laid out signs directing people to the stadium. After a wander through backstreets where we were accosted by some Mormons and later Iranians plying us with Islamic Republic of Iran FA pennants we got to the ground and collected our tickets. Drank in a sports bar staffed by a beautiful blonde girl who expressed delight at meeting an Englishman, I guess not that many venture out to Leipzig, though a poster said Robbie Williams was coming soon.

In the 1980’s, Fall singer (and a man who looks like an AIDS riddled Irish jockey) Mark E. Smith said about the place “You’ve got to go to East Germany to see it — it’s a horrible, horrible way to live. It’s like Middlesbrough.” Well, it appears to have improved a lot since then. Sure some of the architecture is bleak and concretey but it’s not so bad. The new stadium is impressive, like a 50/50 mix of Porto’s Dragao and Lisbon’s Luz, the designer clearly took inspiration from Portugal’s leading stadia.

Inside the ground we find our seats aren’t too good, in front of us is a metal railing that blocks the view and wheelchair users are stationed in front of it. When blind people take up seats next to us and don earphones for match commentary, I surmise FIFA are taking the piss out of us, having charged us €100 a piece for these seats. We talk to a young girl steward who says we can move, but when we try another block a jobsworth steward team leader isn’t having it, and isn’t willing to listen. The young girl mediates on our behalf and we find infinitely better seats in an adjacent block, there are loads of empty seats anyhow. German’s are a bit pedantic when it comes to reserved and allocated seats I notice, as if fearful that a person in a wrong seat will tear apart the fabric of time and space.

The game isn’t great, the two sides are not good though Angola give it a go, with a win and a favourable result they could sneak through to the knockout stages. Iran play like Japan but with even less belief, passing the ball around but looking frightened of actually having a shot. I feel knackered, the 4am finish last night has caught up with me and with the game not the most enthralling I frequently bob off for a few seconds each time. The second half saw some goals at least, Angola go ahead with a headed goal from Flavio from a great cross on the hour, but Iran peg them back 15 minutes later. You could see loads of empty seats in the Angolan end but when they score it magically appears full as they go wild and wave flags, then the empty seats reappear, odd. Rui Marques’ sole appearance for the Tigers at Ipswich must have booked his seat on the plane here for him, he comes on as a sub and plays quite well. The game peters out and a draw is a fair result.

A tram to the station where fortunately for us the ICE train to Berlin is 45 minutes late, allowing us to get back to our hostel quicker than anticipated. A shower and a change of clothing and we spend some time in the hostel bar, which became increasingly meffelated as time progressed. Some stupid cunts sang “No surrender” and these Emo geeks from Ipswich joined in, and this phenomenally loud bint from Brisbane, Australia was getting on everyone’s tits with her ludicrously flamboyant gestures and movements and shrieky voice. Natascha, the Russian born barmaid who as Jim points out looks like a female member of The Strokes would, heroically tells her to shut up or leave. Brisbane bint shuts up.

Sick of the English and Aussie meffs we go out, we find a Spiders type place after a 20 minute walk and have a few in there, this cute lass has an amazing tattoo that covers most of her back, featuring a blonde Monroe type with massive yags (her nips covered by blue stars) against a backdrop of snakes and skulls, I complement her on it and she yells “Thanks!”

Another wander and we find this small place ran by a Turk, this cropped haired girl who looks like she could have played Joan of Arc in Bill and Ted (have you noticed that Dirk Kuyt of Holland looks like Ted, or is it Bill?) dances all over the place like a mentalist, shrieking “Woooo!” at 7 minute intervals and occasionally dancing out of the bar and across the street, then dancing back again. Back to the hostel and I lay awake eating so many cheesy Wotsit style thingies that my gums hurt, then I fall asleep.

22nd June

Stay in bed while 10am today, before getting up to check email at the reception of the hostel. Good news, FIFA have allocated us some tickets for tomorrow’s Ukraine v. Tunisia game at the Olympiastadion. Today is the first day we get to properly look around Berlin, and after figuring out how to exit the labyrinthine central station we amble around the centre. Two places I wanted to visit are the Berlin branch of Subside Sports though I found little to tempt me in there and they had not a single 1860 Munich shirt for our burly forums captain (Couldn’t find any bigger than a medium in Munich either) and Solebox.

Solebox is Germany’s premier trainer shop. The place is ran by a bloke called Hikmet, a chap revered by kick collectors worldwide and who gets asked opinions by adidas, Nike and New Balance about future releases. He’s an über friendly chap and I spend a good 40 minutes chatting to him about adidas’s disappointing Adicolor series and what they have planned for the next campaign before I buy some white and onyx vintage Superstars. Had a search for the adidas OG shop but couldn’t find it, I’ll search again tomorrow.

A bar with a stuffed puffer fish on the ceiling provides us with beer and bratwursts as we watch the Czechs lose 2-0 to Italy, they are one of the best sides in the competition but fail to provide evidence and crash out of the tournament, Ghana take advantage and beat the US 2-1 to progress to the knockout stages.

Afterwards we go up the Berlin TV tower to enjoy the panoramic views of the city it’s dizzying height affords. For some reason we can’t see the Olympiastadion, which is perplexing. We arse around before going back to the hostel for a shower and to watch Japan v. Brazil.

Coming out of the Ostbahnhof we saw a German shirt clad bloke who Jim and I thought we recognised as one of AN’s editors, we looked at him, then each other before exclaiming “German Andy!” before laughing our tits off.

Natascha, the cute barmaid of unconfirmed ex-Soviet state extraction is in a strop with some English lads who are loud and smashed a glass, she kicks off, asking “Why always you fucking English?”, giving me a look to say ‘present company excepted’, ace! The English lads hate her guts but I love her bolshiness, and if you are polite with her she’s very pleasant. We decided to get out of there and she gave us the address of a nightclub called ‘Wild at heart’ so we wandered off to find it. After a lengthy trek we found it and paid €5 to get in, it was a splendid dive, Spiders obviously inspires many Berlin pubs and clubs. An American band are playing, they consist of a bald bloke with a strap on hanging out of a kilt and some fake tits, the drummer is dressed as a vicar and the bassist a monk. Their songs are hugely entertaining, featuring more sick profanity than the Philip and Terrance movie. “Drink, fight and fuck” they implore before singing a song called ‘Fuck my mouth’, the second line of the chorus being ‘smash my teeth out’. Such fun. The lead singer plays guitar on one track using a floppy double ended dildo as a plectrum, talented are these chaps.

After their set we got chatting to the vocalist, Garth from Indiana. This is their first European tour and they’d love to do England he said, “try the North” I suggest, before teaching him some profanity of our own, he is most impressed by fuckwit, fucktard and cuntpipe, and is so enamoured by the ‘*PALC’ that he vows to call a track that on their next album. They nick off but not before we by a CD, which comes with a free compilation album, featuring Urinal Mint and a group called ‘Tourettes Suffering Role Model’. These blokes were funny and their music pretty good, check out just for a laugh. A few drinks in a bar called ‘Travolta’ talking to a Berlin born bloke who lives in Trinidad and now follows the ‘Soca Warriors’, then back to the hostel for sleep. I’m a wee bit larruped so I foolishly turn down Natascha’s offer to go to a club, but her respect was hard earned and I’ll make a cunt of myself in this state, so I giver her a hug and nick off.

23rd June

About 10am we went for a wander round the area we went to a club in last night as we’d seen a few cool shops that way. Bought a St.Pauli away shirt in a fanshop, couldn’t get hold of one in St. Pauli’s home of Hamburg. I regret not buying a Zoo York jacket in a shop in München, I’ve not been able to find it here.

A train ride into the main station where we ask how you’d get to what remains of the Berlin Wall, “take a train to Ostbahnhof, it’s across the street from there” was the reply, which made us look like fuckwits as our hostel is a two minute walk from that station.

We take a tram to the Olympiastadion which takes about half an hour, no wonder we couldn’t see the thing from the TV tower. The ticketing centre takes an age to walk to but once there picking up our briefs was surprisingly quick and easy, loads of other meffs were queuing for the same thing but a girl on the gate told me to breeze right in.

A beer outside the ground before we go in, the stadium is a grand old place, and the running track around the pitch doesn’t impair the view really, which is a surprise. Sat behind us are a family of Argentinians, mum, dad, and a trio of kids far too young to be at a football game. The youngest child spends the game kicking the back of our seats and pouring a drink over Jim’s white shirt. While the youngest is on his dad’s knee the kid is kicking my back throughout, stupid Argie cunts nearly got a slapping.

Tunisia need to win more than Ukraine, and that is manifest from their urgency. Ukraine look calm and assured though and totally over their 4-0 drubbing in their first game, and Tunisia struggle to create openings of any real menace. The Africans have a player sent off on the stroke of half time to the bafflement of most in the ground. Tunisia can’t get back into it now and when Ukraine are awarded a dubious penalty that is despatched by Shevchenko, the game is over as a contest. Germans whistle at Tunisian fans for not joining in a Mexican Wave because they are watching the game they’ve paid to see. 1-0 to Ukraine at full time and we sit on a tram for aeons before it leaves. We get off at Alexanderplatz for a wander but give up a fruitless search for Berlin’s adidas OG shop to eat a giant steak and watch France v. Togo outside a bar. Then a train back to Ostbahnhof where we finally come across the Berlin Wall, we leave our signatures on the East side before going back to the hotel to pack, our flight leaves at 6am from Berlin Tegel so we’ll head that way about 2am.

I’m gutted to be leaving, I spent the full month at Euro 2004 but this trip was better even though it’s only for half that time. Over the last 15 days I’ve visited 9 German cities (and one in Austria) and 2 towns, seen 6 games live, not paid for a tram or tube train once, bought 3 pair of trainers, 4 football shirts and a track top, seen some ridiculously good looking girls while not seeing a single Italian (or a cat), and have culturally enriched the lives of many Germans, Americans, Australians, and others. Ahem.

I’m going to miss Deutschland, but I’ll be back sometime.

Top 3 places

1. München
2. Hamburg
3. Dortmund

Top 3 nationalities met

1. Germans
2. Americans (odd eh?)
3. Japs

Worst nationalities met

1. Poles
2. Croats
3. Cunting Swiss

Best looking women by city

1. Düsseldorf
2. Hamburg
3. München

Les Motherby