SC Preußen Münster 1 Sonnenhof Großaspach 0 (20th April 2019)
I wasn’t planning on being in Germany over Easter, but a lack of value on flights to alternative places didn’t give me many options. Even my options within Germany itself were limited, but beyond the odd stag party, it doesn’t seem many seek out Westphalia as a weekend getaway.
Two of the great things about a German trip are that the kick off times are confirmed a long time in advance, and that there is normally plenty of choice for games, especially in this part of the country. When you’ve had a many football trips to Germany as I’ve had though (13 now), and been to as many grounds (33), even here, choices start to get limited.
I was lucky, therefore, to find two options a mere 90 minutes away on the train from where I was staying, in Münster and Bielefeld. Münster in particular also offered a bit of a decent old centre to look round for a couple of hours before the game, as well as a survivor of the once popular Germany style of a ground, with three sides of terracing banked in an oval at the ends. They certainly aren’t ideal for viewing, especially when the advertising boards are pushed up so that they obscure he goal line, and I’ve no doubt that before too long it’ll be redeveloped into a modern venue, but until then it’ll be a relic of how the game used to be.
Preußen Münster’s Preußenstadion is a good couple of miles south of the centre, but as is often the way in Germany, free buses to the game are laid on to the ground, stopping at the car park next door. A one-minute walk has you at an open courtyard with ticket booths and a small beer stall. Across the street was a sex shop, more of a sex warehouse, in truth, judging my the size of the place, but not wanting a dildo or a selection of porn DVDs, I just went and bought my ticket instead.
Walking past the shopping trolley slowly filling with empty beer bottles – a common sight outside many Germany grounds as arriving fans deposit their empties – I picked up a terrace ticket for €13 for this Bundesliga 3 fixture.
Through the turnstiles, the ground sloped gently up towards the back of the terrace beyond, with the slightly irregular bowl shape coming into view. The home end was considerably bigger than the away end, and that’s before half of that end had been seemingly declared out of bounds. Not that the visitors would need the space. Sonnenhof Großaspach play in the tiny town of Aspach (pop. 8000) nearly 300 miles to the south, and a head count suggested only 33 of their citizens made the trip up.
The closed section of the away end had the club badge painted onto the terrace, whereas the rest of the ground was decked out in green and white hoops, both seats and terracing. Arriving there slightly easier and earlier than planned, all I could do was buy myself a German beer and find one of the better sports on the terracing. It was a good plan until about 20 minutes from kick-off, when I needed to visit the shipping container that was the toilets, only to return to find some git just settling into my vacated spot.
Fortunately, for me, if not for the home fans, Preußen Münster’s season was petering out into mid-table mediocrity, and the crowd of a little under 6000 would be below average, so finding another spot wouldn’t be too difficult.
I had hoped that fans would be free to walk all around the ground, but I was limited to two thirds of one end. In itself, that wasn’t too bad as I didn’t need the roof on this gloriously sunny afternoon, although I did begin to question the wisdom of wearing a thick black shirt in this sunshine though. Luckily there was just enough of a breeze to keep me cool, although the “fragrant” aroma on the bus back to town afterwards suggested some weren’t so lucky. A group of ultras, who arrived en-masse about 15 minutes before kick-off, avoided sweaty clothes by removing their shirts and singing away bare-chested for 90 minutes. I’ve never quite understood the fascination some male fans have for bare torsos, but each to their own, I guess.
Many clubs have a club song. Preußen Münster, pronounced “Proyson Moonster (nothing to do with Fred Gwynne and his spooky 1960s black & white family) seemed to have several. One, a heavy rock type effort, was going on about the greatness of the city of Münster, although the last line of the chorus “Münster…Du bist (*you are) Rock & Roll” either implied there was an edgy side to the city I hadn’t witnessed while having a look round earlier, or the singer had led a very sheltered upbringing.
Some games have an ebb and flow about them. The story of the game unfolds, as one side, then the other, gain ascendancy and impetus. Not this one. Preußen Münster were by far the better team throughout, and the away side only approached the Preußen Münster box with a trepidation that made you wonder if they feared bears lived there.
The big problem was that despite Preußen Münster dominance, tempered only by a shade of warm end-of-season lethargy, was that they were hopeless up front. They were confident, I’ll give them that, but only in the way that a drunk 45 year old sales rep is at a works Christmas party when chatting up the younger female staff, and with about the same chance of scoring.
I’d noticed a distinct lack of accuracy in shooting during the warm-up, but dismissed the observation on the grounds that I’d made a similar observation at Xativa in Spain, about six months earlier, and the home side scored four that day.
That said, the game certainly didn’t have the feel of a 0-0, and shortly after half time those fears were ended. This time, rather than the usual wild shot, as if the player’s feet were strapped to a jet-pack, a calm measured effort was stroked in at the near post for what would eventually be the winning goal. The scorer, and other players, ran towards the corner where the bare-chested ultras has been doing their best to generate an atmosphere in this low-key third division fixture, and they showed their appreciation.
Other than several shots for the home side that didn’t go in, the biggest talking points in the rest of the game were two injuries. One for the away side, which looked quite nasty, and resulted in their guy being carried off on a stretcher. Then, just a few minutes later, a Preußen Münster one. A contested ball between keeper and attacker outside the box, down by the goal-line, saw the Preußen Münster player take a hefty kick. Had it been an outfield player, it would probably have been a red, but he got off with a yellow.
As befitting a leisurely sunny afternoon, the away side looked like they’d more or less given up, and the only tension was whether Preußen Münster would get the second their overall play (if not their finishing) deserved. One last spurned opportunity saw the ref blow the whistle for full time, and the fans could turn and stroll off happy into the afternoon sun. I wouldn’t say it was a great game, but overall it was a good experience, and a very pleasant afternoon out. The thirty three from Aspach, facing a 5-6 hour trip home, might have had a rather different opinion.