Bochum Boys on tour in Leicester

29 Jan

LCFCVLFB

In recent weeks supporters from VfL Bochum have been present in SK1 for both the games against Villa and Stoke. Here is one lad’s account of his weekend in Leicester and the problems posed by modern football in England.

Just as I began writing this article, I thought about friendships between clubs from England and Germany. It seems that England and Germany don’t get along when it comes to football, but I always thought that there is something magical about England and how football and culture go hand in hand.

Sure, Hamburg SV is friendly with Glasgow Rangers and their town rivals from St. Pauli are really close to Celtic; but what about England and Germany? There is that 23-year-old connection between Borussia Mönchengladbach and Liverpool FC and then, there’s us. VfL Bochum and Leicester City FC.

Back in 2014, I got in contact with some lads from Leicester. We were on our way to Munich for our last away game of the season, the organised Bochum supporters put up a special train. A hell of a ride, but I was glad to meet some fine gentlemen who portrayed themselves in a presentable manner for this away excursion. Just to put that straight: we had some pints and a good laugh together, even if we can hardly remember it, as the adage goes: “if you remember that away game, you weren’t there”.

On that day, the idea of taking the friendship (which was founded in 2007) to next level was born. I asked about 20 Bochum supporters (who I knew were interested in our friendship or even had been to Leicester before) if they were interested in attending a LCFC home game. Predictably, they were. Funny enough, I was the only person who knew our friends from Leicester, so the rest of our travelling group would get thrown thrown in at the deep end of English football!

After no end of Facebook messages and e-mails, payments for the tickets and hotel rooms (thanks again to Dom and Simon!), nine Bochum foxes were ready to go. The journey was supposed to go like this: Flight from Dortmund to London Stansted > taxi to Leicester > a quick check-in and off to the pubs! As you might imagine, it didn’t entirely turn out that way…

After a last local Fiege pilsner in Bochum we went to Dortmund to catch our 3 pm flight to London and took our taxi to Leicester, so far so good. As we arrived at our hotel, the first problem arose: A breakdown in communication at the hotel meant we only had two rooms but needed three. Our Leicester friends came by and helped us by somehow organising another room, despite the hotel being booked up. I admit that it wasn’t the best way to break the ice, but we introduced ourselves and thankfully came along just great!

We threw our luggage into our rooms and headed to the Highcross for a spot of dinner and some good Leicestershire ‘Tiger’, which turned out to be our favourite ale. Since I organised the whole trip and put together nine Bochum Foxes who had never previously travelled together, I was a little bit worried that some lads wouldn’t fit in. I was so wrong. After the first pint, everybody had a chat with our new friends and (to seamlessly mix English and German expressions) we could easily ‘shake off the yoke’ of our ‘rusty English’. The bonding continued in the next pub (Cafe Bruxelles, thanks again to Markus for that bottle of rum), and after that we called it a day at midnight and went to sleep.

Tiger

A decent drop, even for a German mouth

We woke up around 8am and started to get excited. Football day! We all agreed to meet once again at the Highcross for an English breakfast and a fine pint. We were all wearing Bochum scarves to swap them with LCFC fans whom weren’t familiar with our friendship yet. To our surprise, our Leicester mates were already wearing Bochum scarves. That’s what it’s all about!

We went to our instant favourite pub in Leicester, the Swan & Rushes, a proper pub to get a nice pint before kick-off. By the time we left this oh so friendly boozer, there was a Bochum scarf hanging over the bar! We had some interesting conversations as a lot of older LCFC fans walked up to us and asked us what we were doing here. We explained the tradition and history of the LCFC-VfL friendship and everyone was instantly amazed and somehow touched that there were Foxes from Germany coming over to support the league’s bottom club.

Swanscarf

Now proudly hanging in ‘Der Schwan und Binsen’

The march to the ground was just as I imagined it. A group of 30-50 walking through a typical English residential neighbourhood and warming themselves up with some Leicester and Bochum chants. You just can’t imagine the feeling of an Englishman starting to sing one of the most famous chants from your hometown! Bochumer Jungen in blau und weiss…
As we arrived at the Filbert Way (or as it is officially called, King Power Stadium), we were automatically reminded of our beloved Ruhrstadion in Bochum, which nowadays goes by the name of Rewipowerstadion in another interesting similarity. The architecture and the view on the ground are easily comparable. That was pretty much everything the English football experience has in common with its German counterpart.

We got mentally prepared that football and everything that happens on the terraces is not at all similar to Germany anymore, but to be honest: it was scarier than we thought. Good thing was that in “our” section the supporters weren’t sitting down, even if thousands of other attendants were more “well-behaved” and remained seated for the whole game. Even though the game was not worthy any comment, the Union FS from the SK1 section did a terrific job by singing and cheering through the whole game. This is typical for German stadiums as well, but it was good to see that some supporters don’t let the original idea of football support go down the drain. The Bochum Foxes joined the singing nevertheless, so of course, we had a party even if Jamie Vardy sadly did not…

UFS VFL
There is something about modern grounds that still bothers me today. In Germany, you’re free to take your stance, take your 5% beer with you, have a smoke, wave your flags and hang your flags and banners. English stadiums appear clinically over-controlled. I’m a smoker and I don’t have a problem with not smoking for 45-90 minutes, but when it comes to football it isn’t the same thing without a drink and a fag. Going to a game shouldn’t be like going to the opera! It’s about cheering, shouting, jumping around, having a drink with your mates – leave your everyday life behind you, if only for 90 minutes. Our lads from Leicester really try their best to create some atmosphere in the ground (which they do – with awesome chants that are unparalleled to chants in Germany!), and we’re proud of that. The time of war on the terraces is long gone (and Thatcher’s dead), but the government crippled football in a horrifying way. It really makes me sad.

Nevertheless, the Bochum Foxes were glad to be there anyway. You can officially call you a fan/supporter if you have ever been to the home ground of your club. We did that and we know for certain it won’t be our last visit!

After leaving Filbert Way with mixed feelings, we headed back to the Swan & Rushes to moisten our dried-up throats. Three pubs, a lot of pints and great conversations later, four lads from Bochum and three lads from Leicester ended up in a nightclub with a quality choice of music. You don’t hear “My Generation” by the great The Who in German nightclubs that often…

Our way back home started at 9 am. As you can imagine: some lads from our group were terribly hung over, but we travelled back to Germany with awesome memories. We met great people, got introduced to the famous English pub culture and are very happy to know that our beloved VfL Bochum is always remembered by a growing number of supporters from Eng-land. We can’t wait for our blue and white friends to visit us in Bochum for the game against Braunschweig.

Blue and white for life! 1884 and 1848 were both good years for football.

JK, Bochum

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