Day 72 of 98 – The Southern Dandy

28 Nov

So the purpose of this visit to Bremen is two-fold. First I want to catch up with some friends I knew in Ottawa who are from Germany. Second I want to see a soccer game.

Julia collects me at the Bremen Hauptbahnhof and we set off to the Christmas Markt to rendezvous with Amie whom I have not seen since the Greatest Summer Ever (2006). We’re supposed to meet her at 12:30 but it’s 12:35 and there’s no sign. Normally five minutes would not be a big deal, but each minute that she’s late, I’m getting increasingly nervous. This is because she is traveling by bike, it’s cold, windy, raining, and the roads are so slick I’m having trouble walking. And did I mention that she’s nine month’s prego and her due date was three days prior?

The reason she’s late is that she took the bus instead of the bike. Smart move. So we visit the Bremen Christmas Markt and it’s awesome. Check out these photos.


Lots of standing.

Man I hope those guys are real cops. They are sporting a lot of leather

My mo is, once again, not helping.

The baby is still inside.

I think this is how he feels.

Bremen is really nice.

So we say goodbye to Amie who has to go to the hospital for a cesarian or checkup or something. On the tram to the stadium Julia tells this eight-year-old boy that his favourite player is out of the lineup because of an injury and the kid starts to cry. My “while you’re at it, why don’t you tell him there’s no Santa Claus” comment does not deflate the situation. I keep forgetting that these kids understand English.

We arrive to discover that they’ve covered the entire stadium in photo-voltaic cells in an effort to show the world how much Hamburg SV’s stadium sucks. I’m unsure if they’ve succeeded.

Looks like a giant lampshade to me.

The other thing about Bremen Stadium is that the only way to pay for things (food, drinks, souvenirs) is using this special Bremen Football Club Convenience Cash Card (or BFCCCC for short). The idea is that you get this card and you load it up with money and any time you want to buy something in the stadium you just swipe the card. It means that transactions are super fast because there’s no fumbling around with bills or coins. All the vendors have one of the readers.

Here we have a backpack full of beer.

The first day of school never looked so blurry.

The dude pours the liquid gold while the customer waits patiently.

Please sir, can I have some more?

He places her card on the reader and enters his twenty-five digit alpha-numeric pass code to complete the sale.

One can't spell "efficiency" without "efficient"

This must save a ton of time at the end of each game when the money has to be secured, collected, sorted, counted, transported, and deposited. There’s also all the interest they can make on the unspent money and there’s no 3% to Visa. As long as the cards don’t cost anything and they are easy to recharge, I think the public would go along with it. Plus, what else are they going to do? Eat before the game? Exercise self restraint?

I think not.

So we’re in that crazy end zone section I told you about yesterday but this time for the home team. Here’s the deal: it’s 10 degrees, the rain has stopped, and for about 10 minutes there’s blue skies overhead. There is no sitting – these football people are really smart. They figured out that some fans will stand for the entire duration of the match. They are also able to double the number of people that would normally occupy this section if they kept the seats down.

Two people standing where normally there would sit butt one.

Before the match even starts I am blown away by the intensity of the psychological warfare (PSYWAR) being waged against the visiting team. They start by singing the anthem of FC Bremen but *not* the one for Stuttgart FC. This must be hugely demoralizing for the Stuttgarters.

Next, as is customary with most sporting event, each team is ushered onto the field with a popular music song. Bremen’s song can be found here. While Stuttgart gets this one. Again, totally unfair. Note: when you click on the Stuttgart link be sure to read the top comment.

The announcer giving the starting lineup has only to give the first name of each home team player and the crowd shouts out the family name. It was terrifying. During the game it’s even worse. The home fans are singing and dancing and waving flags. I feel so bad for the Stuttgarters.

I’m going to save my analysis of soccer the sport for another post but here are some additional observations of this game:

  • There is a lot of diving going on – at least three clear instances from my limited vantage point (who knows what’s happening at the other end of the field).
  • The game is rather boring.
  • The crazy fans are making the whole thing a lot of fun.
  • Both goals are scored at our end of the field – it’s really cool to see them up close.
  • Stuttgart loses. Or is it: Bremen wins? I can never remember.

On the way back home the train to Hannover is just packed. I pass through three wagons and cannot find an empty seat. In the space at the end of one of the cars there’s a guy sitting on the ground doing homework with his feet resting on the steps. I decide to do the same thing but on the opposite door.

Sitting is better than standing.

As we pull up to the next station we exchange a look that says “Which one of us is going to have to move?”. As he gets up to let the passengers in I smile and say, “You chose poorly.” He laughs and just shakes his head.

He tries to keep his place by leaving his bag right next to where he was sitting but another passenger is standing by the door as the train pulls away from the station. She then proceeds to sit down and now dude’s got nowhere to sit.

So it goes on an overcrowded train.

He’s still here with no seat as we leave the next stop so I offer him my place.

He declines saying he’s done studying for now. He’s got to get back to Nuremberg for a big presentation or something the following day. He was also at the match, one of the about 500 people in the Stuttgart section (his team). He confirms my suspicion that it was in fact a boring game, but at least it wasn’t a tie.

The tally for the day is

  • 7 hours train
  • 3 hours Christmas Markt
  • 3 hours soccer

I’m glad to be home. Sleep is good.

2 Responses to “Day 72 of 98 – The Southern Dandy”

  1. Uncle Ross November 28, 2011 at 15:46 #

    I played soccer in the Hi-Tech Industrial League in Kanata in the 80’s. I loved to play the game. I hate watching professional soccer because they play the “neutral zone trap” at a very high skill level. This is stupifyingly boring.

    The NHL banned the neutral zone trap in hockey because it was medically determined to be detrimental to the mental well being of the spectators.

    I believe that the economic problems in Europe can be directly attributed to the deleterious effects of watching too much soccer. The economic problems in the USA are caused by the same mental degradation in this case caused by watching NFL Football (four downs, how pathetic!) and, that great sleep inducer, Baseball.

    Canada’s economy has remained strong because our minds remain stimulated and vigorous by watching Hockey.


  1. Day 79 of 98 – The Soccer Part 2b: There’s plenty of exits for everyone « Die Hard Three - December 8, 2011

    […] high stakes. The majority of regular season games are, well, regular (i.e. nothing special). So why all the craziness? And why are there real security concerns at regular season soccer games? The answer […]

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