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Blog Entries posted by DangerousSausage

  1. DangerousSausage
    Right you lot. Inspired by 11 Freunde magazine, I've thought up a few ways to improve football. Agree? Disagree? Let me know! And feel free to add some more suggestions in the comments.
    Spoiler: lots of things are going to be banned
    Ban VAR. For better or worse, let referees decide on things instead of spending half of our matchdays staring at a monitor. We spend enough of our lives looking at screens as it is.
    Let's have some common sense in offside decisions. No, a player isn't gaining an unfair advantage if their elbow is a centimetre past the last defender. He's not allowed to touch the ball with his elbow for heaven's sake.
    Merge the Premier League and Football League. For the name of the new organisation, take the “Football” from Football League and “League” from Premier League. The new organisation shall not use a logo that looks like a washing machine brand.
    The four divisions of the new “Football League” shall be named division 1, 2, 3 and 4. There shall be neither “championships”, nor any “super” or “premier” leagues.
    All TV money shall be distributed equally between every League club, whether Manchester United or Stevenage Borough.
    Stevenage Borough shall actually be called Stevenage Borough, not Stevenage FC.
    Luton Town shall decide what colours to play in. I don't care whether you play in white and black, white and blue, orange and white or orange and blue. You've existed for 135 years, so make your minds up!
    Alan Hardy shall be installed as the chairman of Nottingham Forest with immediate effect.
    Football matches shall never start earlier than 3.00 pm.
    All new football stadia shall have proper, towering floodlights built on acres of scaffolding.

    Ban music after goals. If we can't make noise after scoring a goal, we might as well just stay at home.
    Each stadium shall have a designated sniper, who will shoot the stadium announcer with a tranquilliser dart if the latter becomes too excitable or attempts to “animate” the crowd.
    If, during World Cup matches, a fan shown on the big screen immediately starts smiling and waving, this fan will also be shot with a tranquilliser dart.
    If the behaviour in 13 persists, big screens shall be removed from football stadia.
    In fact, remove the big screens anyway.
    Notts County shall never play in white shorts at home, and the black and white stripes shall also be visible on the back of the shirt.
    Only flamboyant Latin American stars and tricky wingers with their socks rolled down are allowed to wear coloured boots. Everyone else wears black.
    Referees must all be over 40, balding and with pot bellies that wobble as they run. They must all be schoolteachers.
    MK Dons shall be stripped of the “Dons” name and relegated to the lowest rung of non-league, so they can earn their League place like everyone else.
    Beer can be consumed in the stands, instead of having to neck it in the concourse.
    Football managers are allowed to be fat again.
    Chairmen should be local barons of industry with a comb-over.
    All interviews that begin “Well, at the end of the day...” shall be cut off immediately.
    Players whipping off their shirts and jumping into the crowd after scoring shall no longer be given a yellow card, but actively encouraged (but only in the last ten minutes of play).
    Players who gloat to opposition fans after going 2-0 up shall be tolerated, but only on the condition that they are still on the pitch when their side loses 3-2.
    No more postponements, ever. If players slip around on the ice, or are completely submerged in the mud, or are struck by lightning, that just adds to the spectacle.

    Any mention of the acronyms “EPL” or “EFL” shall be an offence punishable with a season ticket at Mansfield Town.
    The Champions League shall be for champions only. Teams that finish fourth need not apply.
    Rochdale play in the fourth division. Sorry Dale, but it's called the Rochdale division for a reason.
    “Premier League records” are not a thing. The many records from our rich football history shall not be disregarded because they happened before a bunch of greedy first division chairmen decided to keep all the TV money for themselves.
    All journalists who use the phrase “what Pele called the beautiful game...” shall be sent to a rough Mansfield pub in a Chesterfield shirt to learn the error of their ways.
    A minimum of three teams shall be promoted from the National League to the Football League every season. The lack of promotion places from the National League is a relic of the strict separation of the League and non-league up to the 1980s and needs to be corrected.
    The National League shall be given a new name. Don't care what. National League sounds a bit too much like an underground neo-nazi cell for my liking.
    Betting companies, online casinos and all the rest of them have no place cluttering up our beautiful football shirts.
    Bring back standing.
    And cheaper prices for standing.
    Please let us have no more soulless new stadiums next to a motorway junction and Tesco's surrounded by zillions of parking spaces and Pizza Huts but with no pubs or anything approaching character.
    No stadium sponsors. Or, if they HAVE to be sponsored, they should at least be accompanied by the name of the actual stadium. Too many grounds are identified solely by a changing sponsor's name.
    Imprisonment for the “band” that plays at England games. Preferably in a dank medieval dungeon.
    Last, but most definitely not least: racism shall never, ever be tolerated and shall be punished with a life ban.
  2. DangerousSausage
    I was recently asked what we eat at the football in Germany. The answer is: mainly sausages!
    If you go to a German football ground expecting a pre-match pie and peas, you'll be disappointed. Pies and sausage rolls are completely alien to Germany. Instead, the staple meal is the humble sausage. This can be a standard Bratwurst or a Feuerwurst ("fire sausage" - a spicy beef sausage) served in a bread roll - as demonstrated by Bayern Munich's Uli Hoeness below! This will set you back around €3, but I'm sure Uli can afford it.

    Something else found at virtually every football ground is the Currywurst - a chopped-up sausage served in a "curry" sauce, which is in reality a kind of warm, spicy ketchup, with curry powder on top. This is served on a little tray with either a bread roll next to it (for mopping up the sauce) or, if you're really flash, a portion of fries. The type of sausage used depends on the whim of the seller, and you probably won't notice the difference anyway. This is quality junk food - you'll get a hit from the sugar in the sauce, followed by stomach ache and a vague sense of regret. Then you'll be hungry again, so you'll go and buy another one.

    Other trash / quality meals found everywhere include giant pretzels and Frikadelle meatballs, which are like burgers but with pork served in the obligatory bread roll. If you strike it lucky these can be really nice, with herbs, spices and plenty of meat from the local butcher's. More commonly, these mainly consist of bread crumbs and fat.
    At most German grounds, that's yer lot. There are regional variations though. If you go to a ground in Hesse (Frankfurt, Offenbach, Darmstadt among others) they'll also serve Frankfurter sausages (below), which are boiled sausages served on a little tray next to (but not in!) some bread and a blob of mustard. You then dip the sausage in the mustard and take a bite out of the bread. This is a bit of a pain if you're drinking a beer as you'll need both hands for it. In the north (Hamburg, Bremen), the football staple is a fried fish filet served in a bread roll.

    Of course, we like to drink too. You'll find the usual array of soft drinks, plus apple juice with sparkling water, which is ubiquitous in Germany. Apple wine is highly popular in Hesse and is on offer at football grounds - it even tends to be a bit cheaper than beer. It's an acquired taste though and isn't really like cider. As for beer, experiences vary - you will find pilsner and shandy everywhere, although some clubs only offer pils with reduced alcohol (about 2.5%). Us football fans can't be trusted, after all. If you're lucky, you might find a Weizenbier (wheat beer), which is more full-bodied but gives you a headache if you drink too much. Trust me, I've researched this. Your beer will cost you in the region of €3.50, plus an extra deposit charge for your plastic beaker - 50 cents for a disposable one or around €2 for a resuseable one. You'll get your money back when you return it, but watch out: football grounds are plagued by little urchins who run about collecting as many beakers as they can carry so they can pocket the deposit cash!
    If that sounds like too much hassle, every matchday an army of helpful gentlemen can be found in the vicinity of every professional football ground, selling tins of beer from their cool boxes for about €2 a pop. Until the police turn up, anyway. But the big advantage with buying in the ground is that you can actually take your beer in with you and sup while you're watching the match - no downing your pint outside one minute before kick-off here. Prost!
  3. DangerousSausage
    This weekend the headlines have been dominated by the chants and banners aimed at Hoffenheim benefactor Dietmar Hopp, in developments that must seem a bit bizarre from over the Channel. I've seen a few articles in English papers already, but none seem to tell the full story. I'll try to give you the inside track.
    At the weekend, numerous matches in Germany were stopped while offensive banners aimed at TSG Hoffenheim's billionaire owner Dietmar Hopp were taken down. Most referred to him as a "Hürensohn" ("son of a *****"). Some went further and depicted his face in a gun's target. When banners were unfurled by Bayern fans at Hoffenheim (minus the targets), the players stopped playing and simply passed the ball among themselves for the last 15 minutes (although it should be noted that Bayern were already 6-0 up at this time, so hardly had anything to lose). Players up and down the country refused to play until the banners came down, and engaged in a public show of solidarity with the billionaire.
    So who is Dietmar Hopp, why does he stir such strong feelings and what brought this all on in the first place?
    Dietmar Hopp is the co-founder of SAP, one of the world's biggest software companies, and is a very rich man. He often puts his money into charities, local sport, and in particular youth sport. He invested in his village club TSG Hoffenheim in 1989. At that time they played in the Kreisliga A, the eighth level of German football (as the German pyramid is heavily regionalised from the fourth level onwards, this is lower than the Northern Premier League in England. Think Nottinghamshire Alliance). The investment was modest at first, but the big money started to come out from about 2005, when Hoffenheim was in the then third-level Regionalliga. After Hopp tried and failed to merge Hoffenheim with two other local clubs and move them 20 miles to Heidelberg, he decided to financially dope the village team instead and get it into the Bundesliga - which he achieved in 2008. Just months later, Hoffenheim (population 4,000) had a brand new stadium next to the motorway with a capacity of 30,000.
    OK, the idea of a billionaire taking, say, Bingham into the Premier League is a bit bizarre. But what has that got to do with all the insults?
    In Germany there is something called the 50+1 rule - a majority share of each club must be owned by its members (50% plus one). While this makes German clubs less attractive to investors, it does mean that the fans' voice is heard. Hoffenheim, who were transparently Hopp's plaything, drove a coach and horses through this rule. The rule was recently weakened to the extent that individuals or companies that sponsor a club for more than 20 years can own more than 50% of the shares, but not before Hoffenheim had gained an unfair advantage.
    This riled fans before they reached the Bundesliga, but from 2008 Hoffenheim were national news. In 2011, Borussia Dortmund were visiting. The away fans decided to sing a few songs goading Hopp, and for their trouble they were subjected to an "acoustic attack" - to drown out the songs, a Hoffenheim employee played a high-frequency noise on the loudspeaker system at a frequency that could cause hearing damage. Naturally this didn't have the desired effect of stopping Dortmund's songs and banners about Hopp and, a couple of weeks ago, the German FA banned Dortmund's fans from attending their team's fixtures at Hoffenheim for the next two seasons. Hence uproar in Germany's fan scenes and "Hürensohn" banners out of solidarity up and down the country.
    In my view the banners with Hopp in the target are tasteless and have to go. The "Hürensohn" banners are crass and insulting (I'd prefer a more creative and witty protest, but many ultras struggle with that). But does that on its own justify bans? At Saturday's match I insulted every single Kaiserslautern player before kick-off, I insulted everyone who lives there, I insulted the referee and the linesmen in two languages and I was pretty harsh with two of the home team's players too. I'm sure there were plenty of away fans questioning my parentage too. That's hard to justify in a normal social context, but if we hit ordinary insults with the ban hammer, where does it end? "The referee's a chap who's made a few unfortunate decisions"?
    This goes deeper too. A couple of weeks ago, a Schalke player was racially abused - he reacted furiously, and for his troubles was shown a second yellow card and sent off. This was not front page news, there were no public expressions of solidarity from clubs or the German FA - and the furore over the insults aimed at Hopp is showing that the football authorities take rude words aimed at a white billionaire more seriously than racism. I've followed the walk-offs and abandonments in England as a result of racist abuse. In Germany, this solidarity seems to be limited to rich club owners, and that sends out a pretty damning message. 
  4. DangerousSausage
    I'm going to use this blog to share some random thoughts with you all ... in and outside the world of football! In doing so I will add to my array of half-hearted and long-forgotten blog attempts already littering the WWW.

    As most of you know I'm an exiled 'pie living in Germany, who can only get to two or three games a season. Funnily, I don't often watch football on the telly – I'd much rather stand in a dilapidated stadium watching a lower-league defender scuff a clearance than watch Cristiano Ronaldo and his Real Madrid teammates on the box. That probably makes me odd.

    This particular immigrant, having recently escaped the horrors of watching Gary Silk and Gavin Gordon in League Two, decided to become a groundhopper. Instead of football making me grumpy and stressed, it would be a cultural voyage of discovery. I would discover the glamour of the Bundesliga, the charm of lower league grounds, the fascination of fallen giants in cavernous, crumbling old grounds. And if the weather was awful, I would simply stay at home and watch Sportschau without feeling the need to check the score every five minutes. Football would be entertainment, football would be fun.

    Except that's not how it works. I find it hard to watch any match without rooting for a team – if I don't care who wins, I usually don't bother watching it. So when I watched SV Waldhof Mannheim (now my most local club) I found exciting football, a city and fans practically begging for success and an atmopshere that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end, I got in the habit of watching regular home games again. The prices didn't hurt either. They don't have the same ability to ruin my weekend as Notts do, but they're getting there. I've been to other grounds too – Kaiserslautern, Cologne, VfR Mannheim, Sandhausen, Karlsruhe – but that's my home from home.

    The derbies are the real highlights. Sadly, Waldhof have a high proportion of troublemakers, meaning that large away followings are often frogmarched by the police the couple of miles from the railway station, accompanied by police horses, riot police and helicopters. Once in the ground, the experience is a more relaxed one. You can buy a beer and take it into the stands with you, and large swathes of the ground are terraced. It's a lot preferable to having a steward tell me to down my drink before taking my too-small seat and trying to keep warm despite not being able to move ...

    I do miss the UK and Notts though. I miss Meadow Lane and being able to actually eat pies at a match, yes even the funny white snot they use to fill chicken and mushroom pies (a sausage on a bun or a currywurst just isn't the same). I miss the spontaneity of the crowd too – the ultras can create a banging atmopshere and are LOUD, but many weeks they just go through their repertoire regardless of what's going on on the pitch. It changes the way I see Notts matches too, as I'm often so happy just to be there I don't get as frustrated when the performance is a poor one. For some weird reason I don't feel as angry at them for wasting my time (even though my short time in England is precious) as I used to do when I had a season ticket.

    So, that's a few thoughts to start with. I could write more about living in Germany in general, but that's a very, very big topic and definitely a subject for future blogs!

    Sausage x

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