Bank Holiday Meet-Up

Kreisliga A, Essen Nord/West (level 8)
Sportfreunde 1918 Altenessen v FC Stoppenberg
Saturday, 24th May 2014, 5pm
Sportplatz am Nordfriedhof, Wüllnerskamp
Entrance €2, No Programme
Distance 366 miles, Attendance 80 (independent headcount)
What about this! (looking suitably awestruck at the gathering)… Everyone’s ‘ere! This is great! (delivering some very British whooping)… …So when d’you get down ‘ere then? I got down ‘ere ‘bout ‘alf an hour ago. Yeah? Well we left before it was light. What was it like? Well it was dark, wan-it ay?
Not the most riveting of dialogued scenes but, there’s something in the sentiment that our weekend could comfortably empathise with. In the build up, all the talk had been of a great bank holiday weekend away; what we were going to do, who we were going to see. Naturally I’d been trying to play it down for my lovely tolerant wife but, inside I was an immature cocktail of eager anticipation.
The planning had been relentless; games were selected, debated and cast asunder to formulate a pretty decent three game extravaganza. Without roughing it (I’m past that stage) flights, accommodation and parking were all booked early, leaving just two hurdles in the final few days. 1. Responsibly getting through focussed work when giddy with excitement and 2. Finding something to occupy the void between Rot Weiss Essen and (when one can’t think of anything better to do) the champions’ league final (very intentionally in lowercase).
Ok we weren’t going to Brighton (I’ve already ticked off three of their grounds), nor was I travelling with Chalky, Dave, Ferdy, Jimmy, Monkey, Spider or Steph but, our number would contain a Peter – two actually – though I’ve no idea if either is a scrap metal dealer.
Leaving Stadion Essen we walked north towards Vogelheimer Straβe and took advantage of the public transport for the very short distance to Altenessen.  A few stops later, alighting the bus rammed with RWE fans – still jumping and singing – we strolled along a pleasant and quiet disused railway (part of the footpath arteries which now comfortably dissect this city) to Wüllmerskampion, the street where Altenessen 1918 reside.
???????????????????????????????Formed to offer a refuge for a disillusioned people – following World War 1 – the sports club established a base for a wide range of sporting activities and, won their first footballing title a decade or so later. After delicate negotiations with local mining companies, the club eventually move to their current home in the 1930s however, was closed shortly after having disagreed with the country’s then political direction. A decade on, with the war over, Sportfreunde 1918 Altenessen were reborn. Members returned, filled the bomb crater in the pitch and, laid a new surface inside a small running track.
Though a traditionally lower league club, Altenessen have since been Essener Indoor Champions twice and faced the much bigger Schwarz Weiss in the City Cup Final. Obviously none of this was known to me before flying but having put it to Christian that we could fit a fourth match in, it was his choice. Apparently it ticked both the right boxes; close to Stadion Essen and he’d also never been there.
Having all agreed, we arrived to find the admission specially reduced to just €2 and the beer to €1.20 a bottle. Something sprung to mind about fortune favouring the brave, or, Triffic! as Phil Daniels’ Jimmy would put it.
Nodding stupidly to the locals who already filled the terrace, we made for the small bar, stocked up and went back out via a covered porchway that Grandpa Walton would’ve been proud of. It was then it became clear not everyone had been so fortunate. Yes, Jakub had made it over after his refereeing duties (having kept his red card tucked away to avoid delay) and Uhltras’ Peter had cycled by with Karin; fellow groundhoppers, Pete, Vince et al were also strolling through the gate but, rumours were afoot that, kick-off would be delayed as two of the Stoppenberg starting eleven had been stopped en route by the police. As I was mulling over whether they’d have been better off using the disused railway too, their team mates were warming up out on a cinder surface (or “mud” as it’s known locally); a surface not dissimilar to the Bensheim one my silky skills had graced, circa 1982 (a heroic 2-2, honours-even, in case you’re wondering, and, no, I didn’t score).

140524 SF Altenessen 18 v  FC Stoppenberg (19)140524 SF Altenessen 18 v  FC Stoppenberg (40)140524 SF Altenessen 18 v  FC Stoppenberg (53)b140524 SF Altenessen 18 v  FC Stoppenberg (90)

Glancing around, the running track now seemed more of a footpath these days. On the nearside of the pitch three benches lined the barrier, between the bar terrace (where generally home fans congregated) and a small corrugated iron roof stand (filled mainly with away fans). Lined up before both were spare goals and the wooden away dugout; the home dugout was on the opposite side of the pitch.
Thankfully it was not too long before we were under way; the home team in red away kit, the away team in green home kit. There were thankfully no choreographed meaningless UEFA respectful handshakes; it was just jog out, stretch (Brian Glover-style), toss a coin, and a visitors’ kick-off.
Immediately Stoppenberg went forward but Patrick Zweibäumer’s effort was easily saved by Alexander Kuzak. The return a couple of minutes on was far more deadly, as Oktay Arslan’s fine strike put Altenessen ahead. Ten minutes later Patrick Ritter’s even better volley had drawn Stoppenberg level. Then – amid some rather odd fouls and clutching of body parts – Arslan’s free-kick rebounded off the apex and just before the break, Altenessen struck the woodwork again.

140524 SF Altenessen 18 v  FC Stoppenberg (103)140524 SF Altenessen 18 v  FC Stoppenberg (44)140524 SF Altenessen 18 v  FC Stoppenberg (113)140524 SF Altenessen 18 v  FC Stoppenberg (142)

Even missing one vital moment, the second period was just as good. Firstly Marcel Winschewski prevented Voltan Karatas putting the home side back in front before, sub Christoph Thiem fired just over his goal. Then as I dashed off to photograph the glass bottle standing pitch side for player refreshment (the DFB would naturally be interested in an OCD clip-board kind-of-way) Christian Flucke put the away team ahead. Reliably informed Kuzak filled his goal admirably; he blocked the first strike but as the ball bounced off the cross bar, stood no chance of preventing the ball from being bundled in.
Karsten Meinusch thankfully soon slotted the ball home, having got on the end of a great through ball and, the final fifteen minutes were played out both to a deservedly and pleasing even conclusion. Honours even, handshakes, a beer and a cigarette (it was 1982 all over again).
It hadn’t been the greatest game – the searing heat was causing bistanders to down our Stauder refreshment hastily, so one can only assume what the players were feeling – the pitch was a difficult one and, the ref’s whistle had an appalling shrill tone whilst his kit clashed badly with that of Stoppenberg. What the players can be proud of however is producing a performance that easily topped the teams (four divisions higher) we’d watched earlier in the day and, doing so without much complaint or the aid of official linesmen.

140524 SF Altenessen 18 v  FC Stoppenberg (65)b 140524 SF Altenessen 18 v  FC Stoppenberg (68)b

For us, the parkas and scooters may have been replaced with cameras and note pads (and no doubt a carrier bag or two) however this was still our Brighton beach. It was still the place where British groundhoppers and German friends had gathered to watch the anticipated drama unfold. In the sunshine, with a cold one (or two) and great company… it was really triffic!
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
This is the second match in a most excellent four-game last hop of the season; the Last Weekend In Niederrhein.
MORE PHOTOS
Official match report
“Der Uhltras” report
This entry was posted in 2013-2014, Essen Nord/West, Kreisliga A and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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