I weep for our pale-skinned, backward nation. Germany is just as good as England, only better. They do everything we do, but better, have everthing we have, yet it’s better – you get the idea…
In England the sun doesn’t always shine, the people never smile, (especially if you’re a foreigner), and youths certainly won’t want to pratice their Germany on you. You wouldn’t get 24 bottles (not cans!) of high quality (not wifebeater) beer for ?6 in your local Tescos. You wouldn’t get a special luggage conveyor belt running up the steep stairs of the Piccadilly line interchange. You wouldn’t get sparkling clean rivers running through any major cities (you would, however, be able to use Chip & Pin. Huzzah for England!).
As I lie here in my hotel, in my pants (because it’s so hot) with my big fat Pilsner belly, I feel I should be sharing some incites I’ve had on the England (cup-winning) trail so far.
So here is how to tackle your first group match:
– When you land at Dusseldorf airport, walk a little faster than normal, as the train you need to catch is guarenteed to be pulling away just as you descend the stairs to the S-bahn.
– Make sure to stash a lot of 50 cent pieces in your pockets so that every time you arrive at a Hauptbahnhof you can use the extra nice and clean facilities (70 cents if it’s a super posh one).
– Enjoy the opening game of the World Cup in a town full of partying Germans. And don’t be afraid when an over-enthusiastic drunk flag waver says “Entschuldigen” after almost breaking his flag over your head – this means “sorry” not “what the fuck are you lookin’ at?!”
– Partake in as many foot-long bratwurst-in-a-six-inch-bun as possible.
– Laugh as hordes of German and Swedish fans come together to suddenly support Equador quite vocally.
– When you are catching your inter city express train to Frankfurt, have faith that it will leave from the platform indicated on the yellow departure notice boards. Do NOT listen to friendly staff who tell you to go to platform 7 – they are lying. Don’t get on the first train that comes along either because even though it might have your destination written on the front, it will be the 3-hour beautiful scenic detour of the Rhine vineyard district, which is great if you don’t have a World Cup game to go to in the few hours.
– Trust the onboard DeutschBahn rail staff with impeccable English as they patiently assist every English fan who has bought the wrong ticket (you wouldn’t see that on the 16:28 from Doncaster to Plymouth).
– Make sure that three years prior to the World Cup you make friends with as many Germans as possible. Come the day of the first game, you will have someone to call when you arrive at Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof (with your 32kg purple suitcase full of cold weather clothing that you’ll never use) to find all storage lockers full and the luggage office closed.
– Make sure your mobile phone is set for international roaming so you can call said German friend when the fit hits the shan.
– When an empty S-bahn train pulls up to a platform full of singing English fans, you can guarentee it will drive off again without opening its doors. This is because the Germans have seen the movie Football Factory and believe we are all gagging-for-a-fight hooligans. This perception will be confirmed later by your German friend, when, drunkenly, he tries to incite you to riot with him, just for a laugh.
– Don’t take the risk of buying black market tickets – the entrance proceedure is Teutonically efficient and they will check everyone’s ticket and passport. And anyway, if you’re a real fan, you would’ve bought your tickets on the Fifa website over a year ago.
– Don’t bring a West Ham flag to the game, the hammer insignia can be misconstrued as having nazi or fascist connitations and will be confiscated.
– Marvel at the brand, spanking new Frankfurt stadium, complete with ultra large screens suspended high above the pitch (but not high enough to be safe from an errant Paul Robinson goal kick!)
– Avoid queues for beer by purchasing your beverages during the national anthems. As a side note, be mindful of getting back to your seat before the kick off, however, because you don’t want to miss that early goal now do ya?
– Blokes, time for payback during half time, avoid embarrassing urine stains by using the women’s loos for a change, otherwise you are likely to miss the start of the second half as the queue for the men’s is longer than Shaun Wright-Phillips’ World Cup wait.
– Don’t embarrass yourself and your nation by singing the “There were 10 German bombers in the air” song – it’s just plain rude and you HAVE been watching too much Football Factory!
– Remember to boo along with the rest of the 90% English crowd when Micheal Owen is replaced by the wunderkind Hargreaves.
– Pay for your match drinks and post-match dinner by staying behind after the game and collecting as many plastic cups as you can – you can cash in on everyone’s laziness because each one is worth ?1 in pfand or glass deposit.
– Staying behind also means you can play the ‘spot Victoria Beckham leaving the stadium’ game or the ‘try to get your flag waving, post-match winning dance on the big screen’ game (did you see us?!)
– After the game, if you’re trying to buy an official MasterCard Addidas Phillips Coca Cola Budweiser Fuji Yahoo Hyundai Deutches Telekom Continental McDonald’s World Cup program make sure your German comprehension is up to scratch because there wont be any English versions left. While you’re at the counter it would be funny for everyone around you if you ask the server, in a loud voice, if he is totally out of Hargreaves shirts yet.
– Also check that your girlfriend is in line of sight as she will be mobbed by English lads on the post-match pull.
– And finally, before leaving for Germany, be sure to remember the name of every person you ever met, because you are bound to bump into at least one of them at the game.
Post-match barbeques with the natives and travelling into the sunset on the train to Heidelberg with a crowd estatic Geordies gives this first game an overall 8 out 10 mark from us.
Bring on Nurenburg and the Tobagons!