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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 2: Mince pies, make-up and training
Has it ever occurred to you just how difficult if is to explain to a foreigner what a mincemeat pie is? It's illogical. I had brought over a selection of goodies for my family and among the wine gums, allsorts and toffees was a box of mince pies. "What are these?", they asked. That's where I had to come up with a rational explanation, which sounds dafter the more you try to make it sound like a sensible thing to eat!
On German TV: with the film crew
Anyhow, after an interesting family breakfast, the WDR TV crew arrived. They told me they wanted to do a short interview , explaining my family connection with Schalke. It ended up being like filming the opening sequence of a James Bond film. I'd like to think of myself as more Roger Moore than Sean Connery or Daniel Craig.
I spent four hours acting out my arrival at my Aunts house and being filmed looking through old picture before some more "action shots" downtown and at the press conference at the Arena, where I interviewed the Schalke midfielder Orlando Engelaar - and there's nothing Mickey Mouse about him, he's 1.97m tall, which is big. Having felt like I'd spent the day in and out of make-up for the filming, and heaven knows I need it, I was glad to be back involved in the build-up to the game.
The stadium is fascinating, it has a closing roof, and the pitch rolls out underneath one of the stands on non-match days. The lush grass playing area had been moved inside the stadium, ready for City's evening training session and to allow preparations for matchday, with plenty of welding and last minute work being done. On Bundesliga days the stadium holds just over 61,000 fans, but when seats are bolted into to the standing sections for european games, the capacity is reduced to around 54,000. It should be a great atmosphere for the game with over 2,500 City fans packed into one corner.
Schalke's ground: the Veltins Arena
I met plenty of Blues as I stood watching Schalke train, before heading off to the nearby town of Bottrop for a game between a Schalke U19 team and a City reserve side. I'm not sure why the game was played there because I've previously seen games at one of their old stadiums in the town of Gelsenkirchen, but it was a neat little ground in Bottrop with around 500 in attendance. I spotted a couple of City fans, but not many had made their way there. Paul Marshall scored the only goal to give City a much deserved 1-0 win.
To conclude my day I met up with my BBC colleague Peter Slater, my friend Markus and Schalke's assistant press officer Thomas - another good friend. We spent the evening discussing, over a lovely Italian meal, the differences and many similarities between the two clubs and the two countries.
Although it was a late enough finish, I called it a day around midnight, as I'm up early on matchday to read the sports news on BBC Radio Manchester into Breakfast with Eamon and Dianne, and I want to look my best! Matchday promises to be very special.
To read more of Ian Cheeseman's blog, click NEXT >
last updated: 28/11/2008 at 09:51