Groundhop 1881 – FC Ingolstadt 04

Bundesliga 2
FC Ingolstadt 04 v Hertha BSC
Friday, 12th April 2013, 6pm
Audi Sportpark
Entrance €12, Programme free
Distance 704 miles, Attendance 9167
Sitting in Sigis bar, opposite the Münster – inside the ancient city walls – I tweeted “When you step out the door in the morning you have no idea where it will lead. (I miss my family but) Today has been fantastic. #Ingolstadt”.
About me were members of the young fan group “Black Red Company 08”, three amusing Scotsmen and, Hans-Martin, the club’s former Fanbeauftragter. In reality all were total strangers however without question, all had welcomed me openly and convincing sold me the vision of their young club.


Like the histories of so many other football teams (see Aberdeen & Newcastle United) FC Ingolstadt 04 was founded through the amalgamation of other teams. Playing in the level IV Landesliga, ESV Ingolstadt (Eisenbahner-Sportverein Ingolstadt-Ringsee e.V.) were suffering crippling financial issues when the football department merged with MTV 1881 Ingolstadt (Männer-Turn-Verein) whose senior players had been allowed to leave to help form the new side.
Beginning in the Oberliga Bayern League (ESV’s level IV place) FC Ingolstadt 04 – “Die Schanzer” – played their matches at MTV. Facilities were improved however as the club progressed, they outgrew the small stadium and after two years moved to ESV’s former home, Tuja Stadion. With three promotions and a relegation since their inception, FC Ingolstadt 04 now find themselves playing 2nd division football in the industrial outskirts of the city, at a brand new stadium (three years old), and with the backing of Audi, the city’s major employer.

130412 Bundesliga2 FC Ingolstadt 04 v Hertha BSC (87)

Whilst MTV have since reintroduced their own senior team, the Tuja Stadion of ESV now plays host to the youth teams of FC Ingolstadt 04. For my weekend in Germany – along with another 1881 club near Stuttgart – all three clubs & stadiums were high on the agenda.
130412 Bundesliga2 FC Ingolstadt 04 v Hertha BSC (57)Meeting Hans-Martin in the beautiful city centre, we ate before heading by free shuttle bus out to the Sportpark. Given his popularity in the role at the club, we were stopped and greeted by everyone from Club President, Werner Roß to stewards and turnstile operators alike. In the club shop Bettina had even prepared a welcome gift for me, whilst two tickets were presented by fans to allow me to wander freely between the Stehplatz behind the goal and the Gegengerade. If I was feeling unwell before leaving home, the constant kindness was certainly curing me quickly.
130412 Bundesliga2 FC Ingolstadt 04 v Hertha BSC (82)With Ingolstadt in the bottom half, the match was an intriguing encounter against top of the table Hertha however, little in the next ninety minutes would suggest the visitors had anything on Die Schanzer. For the opening half Ingolstadt ran them ragged; totally dominating in all areas and restricting Die Blau-Weißen to just one off-target shot, in the closing minutes. By then Ingolstadt were 1-0 up and should’ve had at least two more.
???????????????????????????????Caiuby had opened the scoring after some terrifically unselfish play by Danny De Costa however, Moritz Hartmann and Ümit Korkmaz could have put the game far out of reach, and thus avoided the scares of the second half after Änis Ben-Hatira had equalised for Hertha.
At the end – whilst the visiting fans were relatively silent – the home support had lots to celebrate. Their young club, and burgeoning support is making steady progress. They haven’t yet got the voice of the Bayerns of this world but in time, it will come.
Leaving home sixteen hours earlier – dosed up to the eyeballs for laryngitis – I’d felt so rough. Now, sitting in Sigis surrounded by so many welcoming and, positively, enthusiastic locals I knew it had been well worth the trip. Not so much Vorsprung Durch Technik, more “advancement through kindness” to visitors.
Footnote – Sunday’s MTV 1881 Ingolstadt v TSV Gaimersheim II fixture was postponed. Whist disappointed not to see them play, I am honestly more than happy that – to complete my 1881 odyssey – I now have a marvellous excuse to pay this friendly city another visit. Hell, I might even do some sight-seeing next time (in between the football of course).

130412 Bundesliga2 FC Ingolstadt 04 v Hertha BSC (91)w

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Initially appearing in this season’s Watford FC matchday programmes, consequently Groundhop 1881 reports will appear late on here. At the end of the journey, a book will be published telling the full story.
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