Groundhop 1881 – VfL Kirchheim/Teck

Verbandsliga Württemberg (VI)
VfL Kirchheim/Teck  v  1. FC Heidenheim 1846 II
Saturday, 13th April 2013, 3.30pm
Stadion Jesinger Allee
Entrance €6, Programme free
Distance 620 miles, Attendance 100 or 150 (both local guesses)
Rising late from a night on the Ingolstadt tiles, there was just time for some elementary map-reading and a spot of frühstück, before I was driving through the city walls in a rather embarrassing little boy-racer hire car.
The town of “Kirchheim unter Teck” was a two hour ride west of my temporary Bavarian home, in the neighbouring state of Baden-Württemberg. First documented in 960 AD, there is evidence that the settlement has existed since the 6th Century Alemannic era.
???????????????????????????????Nestled in the foothills of the Swabian Alps, the horizon from Kirchheim is dominated by The Teck; a ducal castle atop a nearby mountain. The castle’s most famous inhabitant is Duke Francis’s daughter, Mary of Teck; Queen consort of our very own George V, and Empress of India. It was a tale locals seemed fairly fond of recounting to der Englander in their midst.
The drive over – down the edge of a storm – had terrific views however arriving only an hour before kick-off, all plans for lunch in the old town had to be scrapped in favour of a stadium tour, some youth football, and a wurst and coke with Peter Eidemüller, the Sports Editor of local paper, Teckbote.
130413 Verbandsliga Kirchheim Teck v Heidenheim (60)Hearing of my imminent arrival, Peter had made a detour – en route to his scheduled Handball match – to interview me for his newspaper (people don’t generally go to Kirchheim for the football). Attendances at the club have suffered greatly – he told me – from the proximity of nearby Bundesliga side VfB Stuttgart, VfL Kirchheim Knights (the town’s national league basketball team) and more sadly, recent club mismanagement.
Founded as a sports club in July 1881, the football department was added thirty years later. The side won a few regional titles before finding themselves – for the first time in their history – in the third tier of German football.  The success was short-lived however and the return to the regional leagues placed strain on the club which ultimately saw their demise. Despite having a burgeoning youth section, VfL Kirchheim Teck completely withdrew from senior football last season.
130413 Verbandsliga Kirchheim Teck v Heidenheim (60)As Peter and I chatted, the club’s Sporting Manager, Markus Brühl – no longer serving at the pitch side bar – welcomed the arriving fans personally. The sun was out and, the teams were warming up out on grass in serious need of a haircut. Like many German grounds the pitch sits in a running track, with one large stand and terraced bar on the home straight.
130413 Verbandsliga Kirchheim Teck v Heidenheim (98)wHeidenheim kicked off the first period of tooing and froing and, very soon had the opening shot on goal. Thankfully the first of many very heavy challenges ensured the ball ballooned over, allowing Kirchheim to cause panic up the other end when the long grass let them. When the ball did run smoothly the referee seemed to find other reasons to stop play. What he couldn’t stop however, was a long speculative punt from Maurizio Scioscia which bounced in at the far post giving the visitors the lead.
Whereas two weeks previously the pitch had been deep and crisp and even, today the strangely entertaining scene was just scrappy and even. The atmosphere was warming – despite the whistling and torturous play-acting – and when the moment came, we were all happy to celebrate the Michel Forzano headed equaliser. All that is apart from the visiting keeper who was insistent the ball hadn’t crossed the line.

130413 Verbandsliga Kirchheim Teck v Heidenheim (119)w

From up on terraced bar it looked real enough to me and below – thankfully without replays or hawkeye – it was real enough for the linesman; this was proper game of football, where Kirchheim belied their league position and pushed for a winner deep into the game.

130413 Verbandsliga Kirchheim Teck v Heidenheim (152)w

As the announcing pounded out “Midnight Dynamo” and home players strode across the pitch to shake hands with each and every fan lined up, I reflected upon the absence of such gratitude in some professional leagues, the beautiful facilities the club has and, the dreadful car I had to drive back to Ingolstadt.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
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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