BBC Radio Manchester Features
Back where it began: Schalke v Man City
City's European tour: Germany
by Ian Cheeseman
So far, their 2008 Uefa Cup campaign has taken City to the Faroes, Cyprus, Denmark, the Netherlands - and now Germany. Read Ian Cheeseman's blog as he follows the Blues across Europe:
Day 3: Football comes full circle
During the earlier rounds of the Uefa Cup, you would usually find me running around the town in my T-shirt and shorts on the day of the game, but here in Germany I did something completely different - I went to the Zoo! It was a family trip out, of course, to a the biggest Zoo in the Ruhr area, very close to the Schalke Arena in Gelsenkirchen. I'd already spent the morning broadcasting the sports news on BBC Radio Manchester from inside the stadium, before being picked up by my family, Ute and Harold and their grandson Philipp.
City and Schalke fans take the tram
It was a very relaxing couple of hours before we returned home for the perfect lunch of homemade Rouladen (thinly sliced beef wrapped around onions and bacon and other stuff in a delicious gravy!), red cabbage and dumpling pieces. No-one does it better than Ute when it comes to cooking or preparing German food. Eventually I felt it appropriate that I travel into the centre of town to assess the mood, now that the City fans were arriving in numbers.
There seemed a good atmosphere, with groups of City and Schalke fans mixing together and exchanging scarves. Naturally, I met up with the Bredbury Blues at the fan area created by Markus for City supporters. There seemed to be hundreds of supporters there but all seemed peaceful, though I was told the police had steered a group of undesirables away.
I headed off to the Veltins Arena to prepare for commentary, only to be greeted with another request for an interview. This time it was the stadium broadcaster, who does an hour long countdown to kick off, to be shown on the video cube above the pitch and on the TV screens around the stadium. They brought the camera and interviewer up to me in the press box and chatted to me, in German, in between my contributions into "Manchester Now" between 5pm and kick-off. Another daunting experience, with my colleagues in the English media both laughing at and applauding my efforts.
Benjani opens the scoring for City
Once the long-awaited game got underway, I found it a very easy game to commentate on, as I know both sides so well. City won by 2-0 and in truth it was a comfortable victory, indeed with six points from the opening two games, City now seem certain the progress to the knockout stage next year. It was a bitter-sweet feeling for me though: on the one hand, I was delighted City had won but at the same time disappointed that Schalke lost. Hopefully they will win next Wednesday in Holland against FC Twente.
So, for me football has come full circle. My first game was City v Schalke, a 5-1 win at Maine Road in 1970 - and as I write this, the last match I have seen is Schalke v City in November 2008. Undoubtedly, in different ways, two of the best games I have ever seen - and this was a trip I'll never forget.
Paris are City's next European opponents, followed by a December trip to Santander in northern Spain - my European blog, therefore, returns in December.
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last updated: 28/11/2008 at 09:51