Kickers Offenbach 1 Alemannia Aachen 1 (17/02/08)
Located just 10 minutes by train from Frankfurt’s main station, Kickers Offenbach, to the south west of the city, struggle to avoid being overshadowed by their more famous neighbour.
While games at Offenbach’s Bieberer Berg ground may struggle to match the glamour of a big crowd at the Commerzbank Arena down the road, what they do offer is a good old-fashioned football experience. Offenbach’s ground is terraced on three sides, and even the more modern main stand still manages to feel in character with the other sides. the ground also has the tallest floodlights I’ve ever seen. So tall that you imagine traffic coming in to land at Frankfurt airport a few miles across to the west would have to weave through them.
Perhaps the most impressive part of the ground is the large Waldemar Klein stand, the back half of which is painted with thick red and white horizontal stripes. This is a covered terrace on the eastern side of the ground that looks a good 30 yards deep, rising steeply, and populated by the most vocal element of Kickers Offenbach’s supporters.
Another covered stand behind one goal is slighty larger, but it is split into two tiers, with the top tier being seated. The view from the seats here is terrific, but the popularity of the side terrace draws fans away.
The main stand is a single tier of red seats, holding around 4000 of the ground 6500 seats. It looks the most modern park of the ground from the inside, but looks older from the outside. From up close you can also see that the glass screen ends of the stand are completely mising their glass.
The far end of the ground is the open away end, with “temporary” metal terracing behind older concrete steps. When I was there this end had been allocated to Alemannia Achen fans on another promotion push. They only had about 1000 fans there, which was a bit disappointing, but it can be easy to forget how big a country Germany is.
Kickers were the underdogs, and it certainly looked that way in the early stages. Kickers were struggling to get into the game, so it was no surprise that Aachen scored first, sweeping the ball in, in front of the travelling fans.
This seemed to spur Kickers Offenbach into life, and after a spell of pressre the equaliser came. A free kick on the corner of the box was floated in an somehow evaded everyone before bouncing straight in at the far post.
Offenbach should have gone ahead just before half time but were denied by a great save, tipping the ball away from just under the crossbar. The fact that the save was made by a black-shirted Aachen defender rather than their goalkeeper was ever so slightly contentious, but the officials were all gripped by the collective myopia which afflicts them with alarming regularity in such cases.
Had that injustice not come in first half stoppage time, Offenbach might have used it to spur them on to victory. Instead, rather than anger, they just stoicly grumbled along in the second half, which was just enough to stop the visitors regaining the initiative. While a bit of controversy spices the game up for the neutral, it was hard on Offenbach. And it would be even harder in retrospect, as Kickers Offenbach were relegated to the 3rd division at the end of the season – on goal difference.