The German Leicester?

14 May

Little did I know what I had discovered when walking into a pub full of strangers in another country.

As a young lad wanting to experience the German football culture that most of us have read about, I decided to tag along on an organised trip with some guys from London. After visiting Hamburg’s rockers, St.Pauli (that’s a story for another day!), we headed to a city I’d never heard of – Bochum.

A long train journey from Hamburg and we arrived in the city. Nothing special here I thought to myself. A short walk up and we arrived at the “Bierkutcher” pub. Walking in to to be introduced to lots of strangers who spoke varying degrees of English from fully lingual to a similar language ability to my own! A bit scared and shy, I never would have expected such a warm welcome from the Germans. The pub and all the ‘Bochumers’ were decked out in blue and white scarves! This is where the similarities started. A few rounds of the local “Fiege” beer and plenty of shots later we headed to the stadium.

Bierkutscher pub, Bochum - R.I.P

Bierkutscher pub, Bochum – R.I.P

Luckily the walk to the ground was only 5 minutes! There was the 2nd similarity – the stadium! It was a 30,000 odd capacity bowl type stadium with little character which reminded me straight away of Leicester’s own ground. It does have much more character once inside though; a huge terrace in the home end with a wall behind, artistically decorated by the loyal following that fill it every other weekend.

Ruhrstadion, Bochum

Ruhrstadion, Bochum

The game was brilliant! Bochum beat Schalke 3-2 and I had an instant connection with VfL Bochum! I had made friends for life and an experience that I would never forget. When I got home I was hooked. I started looking up VfL & the Bundesliga in general. Then there was a third comparison to Leicester.  Bochum have two big neighbours who are arguably more famous – Borrusia Dortmund & Schalke. VfL also come from the “Westphalia” region of Germany where a huge majority of clubs come from, reminding me of the Midlands back home and Leicester’s many near-reach enemies.

I then looked at Bochum’s table history and there was another canny comparison – they were a yoyo team! They had spent years in the 1st & 2nd Bundesliga with minimal success in the top flight where most seasons were a struggle to stay in the league. An occasional foray into the UEFA cup also drew my attention.

There it was, I was convinced this is the German version of Leicester City Football Club! I was hooked and have been back several time since. Spreading the love of VfL, the number of fans travelling over to Germany grew & grew. And reciprocating trips of Bochum fans to watch Leicester grew the bond between. Last year a flag was drawn up, designed and printed.

LCFC-VfL flag

Leicester & Bochum flag

This year we headed over with a group 15-20 strong on what is known as a “Sonderzug” – let me explain this one. VfL played away at 1860 Munich in the Allianz Arena. Instead of selling bus tickets for the 1200km, 11 hour round trip, the club put on a football special train (the direct translation of Sonderzug). But this wasn’t your typical football special. This train departed from Bochum at midnight the day before the game and arrived into Munich in the early morning ready for the pubs to open. It was not just the timing that made this so special though. There was a carriage that had been gutted out of seats with a dance floor put in their place. Kitted out with a DJ booth and bar this was one hell of a football special!

 

More on this to follow…

 

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3 Responses to “The German Leicester?”

  1. Mac Bochum May 16, 2014 at 10:20 am #

    BOCHUM&LEICESTER
    Greets from Bochum 🙂

    • filbospirit May 18, 2014 at 2:45 pm #

      Hallo Mac

      Welcome to our website, enjoy!

      • Julian August 12, 2014 at 12:55 pm #

        Greetings from Bochum! If you like, drop me a message on Facebook (Julian J. Kruse). I think we had a chat and a pint on our trip to Munich together! Trying to increase the blue-white connection between Leicester and Bochum. All the best for the upcoming Premier League!

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