Back in Time Again

…Or how to recycle old articles in a new format to bring them to a new audience…

I hope you enjoyed taking a trip with me back to Berlin to see Germany thrash England in the World Cup?

If so, why not take another trip with me?

If not, come back in a month, when I should have moved onto something else.

Climb aboard my time machine as I take you back to Berlin exactly one year ago, as Germany played Argentina in the next knockout round of the World Cup.


First off – let me apologise. I fucked up. After a promotion party with my football team on Monday, I agreed to play 7 a side in a cup for a team on Saturday morning. At the time I didn’t realise Germany were playing the early game (or where the team would be playing). I had planned to watch the match in the Admiralspalast after seeing Serj Tankian play there on Wednesday – I thought a beautiful old theatre would make a fitting backdrop to the theatrics of the Argentines. I didn’t, however make it back from East Berlin in time, however, after playing 2 matches in 32 degree heat (especially after my ‘driver’ and neighbour Kay injured his ankle in a tackle which would be described here as ‘English’, or in England as ‘late’). So, to avoid missing the game, I watched it at home. But bear with me, I can still offer a German perspective on the game. Anyway – Saturday…

As I walked to the shop early in the morning with my empty bottles (the German system effectively makes every beer a down payment on the next), I overtook a group of about six Turkish children arguing about the Germany team. This is the new face of Germany, and German football (about half of the first team were born in another country, or have non-German parents). The German press have been focusing on this over the last few weeks, and it seems as if the majority of the Germany is getting swept up in a kind of wave of multicultural euphoria. Who’d have thought it, eh?

Despite a week of being the victim of pity and mocking (playing football on Monday night was the worst, as I’d confidently predicted to my team that we would dick on Germany), I still favoured Germany. At the end of the day, I would struggle to find an international team I hate as much as Argentina, being of a younger generation. They are the epitome of unsportsmanlike conduct, and it seems that many of the Germans I know agree with that assessment. But that didn’t mean I was gonna start proudly wearing the Black, Red and Gold…

So, as I mentioned earlier, I watched it in my flat, with my German girlfriend. But, in order to get the feeling of watching with more than one German, I decided to drink lots of beer. Then at least there would be two Germans in the room…

The build-up that I caught (and in the few days before the game) focused on 2006, and the brawl that erupted after the game. Schweinsteiger (him of the over-reaction to Cahill’s tackle against Australia and Lahm called out the Argentines for being unsporting, which, albeit true, probably didn’t help German-Argentine relations. My girlfriend seemed a bit nervous before kick-off, as were most of the Germans I spoke to, although they all still thought Germany would win.

Is it just me, or does anyone else think Diego Maradona looked like a little monkey in his shiny silver suit? At least Jogi Loew and his mini-me ‘friend’ look a bit more classy, albeit shovelled into tight clothing inappropriate for men of their age.

Anyway, I hardly had time to open my first beer before Germany scored (little did I know my beer drinking would be in a race against German goals – I thought Germany were traditionally a boring team! That’s 13 goals in 5 games. For those who are counting England managed 2 in 4 games). Fireworks erupted in my street to celebrate Mueller’s goal, and cars beeped their horns for the next few minutes. I would still be in a queue at the Admiralspalast if I’d have ventured out of the house.

After the first twenty minutes, the crowd (my girlfriend) started to get very nervous every time Argentina attacked, even occasionally whimpering (kind of a cross between Peter Griffin laughing and a dying sparrow (I would imagine…)). By half time, the crowd was exhausted from worrying, despite my reassurances, and needed another beer. They were drinking some weird grapefruit beer, which I found strange, but, you know, she’s a woman, and rules is rules (“a fruit-based drink for the ladies”). With the door to the balcony left open, we could hear more fireworks nearby, and chants of ‘’Schland’ (from ‘Deutschland’).

The crowd criticised your humble author during the break, as they felt he should be more supportive, as his team is already out of the World Cup. The conversation quickly moved onto beer marketing during the world cup (AB InBev sponsors the World Cup, but the beers advertised as the official sponsor change depending on the location – in Germany it is Hasseroeder, an old east German beer which is as flat as a witch’s tits (as my dad would say)), and then the American adverts for Broon – until I was silenced by the crowd, as the second half was starting.

In the second half, the crowd quickly became abusive (I blame the German temperament) and turned on your humble author as he tried to explain why Germany should be murdering the Argies on the counter. I decided to remain quiet after this, as the crowd would be cooking later, and it would be best not to annoy her (she fed me ostrich without telling me a few weeks ago). When the Krauts scored the second, my neighbourhood (an island in the middle of the city – check it out, Moabit is really an island within the city centre) erupted into another firework and car horn medley. I missed the goal, just like last week, although the TV reception, and not a mixture of beer and shame, was to blame this time. The crowd became a lot more friendly after this, and even tried to get into a discussion about the offside rule, which I avoided.

The crowd enjoying the match. Today. One year ago.

When Arne Friedrich (ex-captain of the relegated Hertha Berlin, and immortalised as ‘Arne Friedrich, Deutschland Lieb dich’ (Arne Friedrich, Germany loves you) in a song after the last world cup) scored the third, it was clearly all over. The commentator used the phrase ‘tearing Argentina apart’ a few times, and the crowd seemed to relax finally. When Klose (I do like him, mind, even if he doesn’t actually play for Bayern) scored the fourth, the party started – the TV stations cut to Angela Merkel and Michael Ballack celebrating, and fireworks erupted continuously until full-time.

While I did enjoy watching the Germans hammer the Argies (I really hope no English players use this result as an excuse: ‘You saw how they beat a team with Messi in it 4-0, and we nearly beat them’), the result fed the arrogance of the crowd, as well as the fans and experts shown on TV after the final whistle. The crowd even suggested drinking schnapps and then finding a party nearby – but then she fell asleep… Germans, eh?

About Neil

28 years old. Geordie. Lived in Berlin almost three years. All-round canny lad.
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