World Cup 2006 Blog

From our reporters in Germany

Gate-crashing the World Cup party

MartinBERLIN – Fletch and I worked out at that we are two of less than a million people on this planet to see to the current World Cup trophy lifted in person.

Obviously Fletch was comfortably seated in his press place for the whole game whereas I had to chance my arm in a late dash into the stadium, after the end of the action but before the prize was hoisted aloft.

And it was a remarkably successful tactic - check out the video (UK users only).

Having turned up at the ground a couple of hours before kick-off with a host of others without tickets I was never confident of getting my hands on one, not for any kind of reasonable price anyway.

So very early on I’d resigned myself to finding a decent vantage point by a big screen, and a garden centre next to the stadium offered the ideal location.

I was with a couple of English guys, Lloyd ( a designer for BBC Sport Interactive no less) and his mate Chris, they were in a similar situation to myself, with mates in the ground and very limited budget.

But the competition for tickets was so fierce there was no way any of us was realistically going to get into the ground, or so we thought.

We spent the match in this garden centre, which had a side room with a big screen.

When we got there, about 45 minutes before kick-off, there was still a decent amount of standing room but as kick-off approached, and more and more familiar faces from outside the station appeared, the place became cramped and very hot.

There was very much an Italian bias to the crowd as well, L'Inno di Mameli was sung with gusto whereas La Marseillaise was roundly whistled.

It’s with no joy at all that I’m obliged to report there were some very unsavoury elements among the Italian fans.

After Zinedine Zidane’s early penalty we saw one fan spit at a man with a temporary England flag tattoo on his cheek but wearing a France shirt, and while my Italian isn’t great I did hear the word banana repeatedly whenever there was a close up of Patrick Vieira or Claude Makalele on the screen.

The worst of it all were the monkey noises being made as Sylvain Wiltord stepped up to take France’s first penalty in the shoot-out.

But I will stress this was all coming from a very small band of blokes just next to me and whenever it seemed they were trying to start chants, which unfortunately I did not understand, they found little common ground among the rest of the fans there.

When Fabio Grosso hit the winning penalty the room exploded.

The Italians just seemed to pick up whatever was nearest to them - chairs, benches, people – and proceeded to shake them in the air with joy.

After being errantly congratulated on victory a couple of times – Lloyd was wearing an Italian replica shirt – we wandered outside and somebody asked the question, do you think the barriers at the ground will be open?

With the stadium only 100m away it would have been rude not to have a look, and lo and behold as we sauntered up to the ground, with a steady flow of dismayed Frenchman walking the other way, the barriers were unmanned.

A sense of euphoria overtook us as we got through the first set of barriers and then as we passed through the open turnstiles, Lloyd shouted, "we’re in, run!"

So we legged it up the stairs to the upper tier and into the stands, where there was some vacated seating.

Feeling like we’d just broken into a high security area, the adrenalin was pumping and as Italy lifted the World Cup we were only too keen to join in with the dancing and singing.

But after every high there has to be a come down, and I can hear that stereotypical German army officer telling me, "For you my friend, ze World Cup is over!"

Back in Svan now, it’s hit me.

It really is all over.

30 days of the biggest sporting spectacle on the planet, racing from town to town trying to meet as many people and cram in as many experiences as possible.

On Monday we’ll be faced with the long drive home and the prospect of explaining to the hire company just why the back bumper is not all it should be.

I’ll be running down my highs and lows of the trip during the journey home, and handing out such prestigious awards as Nicest German and Worst sausage.

If there’s anything you want to know about the trip then this is your last chance to ask the question.

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 11:47 AM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • tolque wrote:

Really sad this is over. It was fun reading your blog.
Did you really meet a german army officer telling you this or is this an imaginary person?

I would have liked to see france win it, especially for Zidane. But at the moment he misbehaved, I was in doubt wether I should continue rooting for the french. How did you see the scene that the italian players already got their hands on the cup before it was handed over to them? I thought that was not polite, they should show a little more respect to the whole sceremony and to their teammates who where still standing in the row, waiting for their medal.

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  • 2.
  • At 12:24 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • jo wrote:

hey, ricco & fletch

cheers for the effort - brillant journey it has been!

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  • 3.
  • At 12:28 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • SandyGreen wrote:

Thanks Fletch and Ricco for your very entertaining blog for the past four weeks - I have really enjoyed reading about your highs and lows with Svan.

My wife very kindly gave me some time off and I spent a week in Germany around Koln and managed to see France in their game v Togo.

This being my first world cup (but a veteran as a travelling football supporter - as a Plymouth Argyle fan thats all you do - travel...) I thought the whole event was very well run and a credit to the German organising committee.

All the fans I met from every corner of the world were friendly and passionate about the sport - their knowledge of the English game was very impressive and all picked England to be the winners - except the Germans who said that we would see them in the final!

I was rooting for France last night but it's ironic that the team with the best defence won....well done Italy.

I am already planning my 4 week holiday in South Africa in 2010 (with the wife and family this time!) - regardless if England make it or not.

I am and always will be, a travelling football fan.

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I enjoyed reading your blog,thogh I was dissapointed at the final game.
I wanted the French to win, but the inside of me suspected the Italians were in a better shape.Bravo,the french ,quand meme.

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  • 5.
  • At 01:42 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Paul wrote:

I really have enjoyed reading your blog throughout this world cup. Bit dissapointed about the result last night as I think they French deserved to win. When it came to the extra time they were the only ones trying to win.

Anyway hope in 4 years time you will be travelling around South Africa in svan.

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  • 6.
  • At 01:55 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Di Chanio wrote:

Greetings Bloggers...

Great Blog - it has been essential reading and has helped those of us locked to our desks in London feel a bit closer to the action.

Amazing scenes of celebration last night in Soho, central London.

I watched the first half with some French people on the pavement outside Da Hemms pub - you couldn't get in for love nor money...

But as much as I wanted to get behind the French I was consumed by the Italian passion - it just seemed they wanted it so much more.

At half time we decided to move on - and despite my pleas the chance to watch the World Cup final in an Italian barbers was dismissed. (Impressive plasma screen though Luigi!)

After some frantic searching we managed to squeeze ourselves into the upstairs room of the impossibly packed 'Crown and Two Chairmen' Pub.

After two torturous testosterone packed hours of singing sweating and chanting I may as well have been born in Bologna!

'Forza Azzurri, Una Cannavro and Una Capitano' was the gist of it - I did sometimes stray into 'just one corneto' territory but my heart was in the right place!

Not sure why but a lot of poeple were singing the intro of Seven Nation Army by The white stripes - any ideas?

After an impossibly long wait we saw Cannavro lift the trophy and thousands of people poured onto the streets of Soho.

It was mental!

Cars were being shaken, mopeds were being ambushed, Lamp posts were being climbed, flags were being flown and EVERYONE was joining in!

Frith Street seemed to be the centre poin of celebrations under a magnificent Forza Italia banner and impromptu dances-offs were appearing everywhere.

One enterprising man had set up a scarve stall and was doing a roaring trade at five pound a pop - I even got one myself!

Outside Bar Soho traffic was at a total standstill as the throng frantically shook each car as horns beeped and foghorns wailed.

Quite simply it was amazing - and the best part was that after dissapearing into Bar Soho for a few hours - I reemerged bleary eyed to see the part still very much in full swing!

Fair play Italy - I enjoyed the celebration - hopefully Ireland can do it one day! and I cordially invite any of the Italians in Soho last night to attend!

And, Dear God imagine how good the party would have been if it was England!!!

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Zidane's career will be a contradiction. He was awarded the Cup's Best Player after receiving a red card for head butting his opponent. There may be a future football player watching all of this in the World Cup and learn that violence is justifiable [a shame].

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  • 8.
  • At 04:12 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Your friends from around the world. wrote:

Dear Fletch & Ricco,

We stumbled over your blogs purely by chance. We just wanted to get an impression of how others view the tournament. At first, you were just two peculiar names with amusingly sketched images on an electronic screen. We clicked on your names and blogs with eye-catching headlines appeared: ‘Carry on camper van,’ ‘Nasty habits,’ and ‘Plain sailing.’ They got us curious so we began to read. ‘Wait, you want us to give you ideas on what to name your van? We don’t care what you name it. NOOO, that really is a silly name, but how about…’ And before we knew it, we were commenting on your blogs - every day a little more.

You wrote about odd and intriguing things that no one else would bother with. Frequently you made us smile and a few times you raised the hair on the back of our necks. You moved from city to city and became our eyes and ears. You reported and we responded. We learned things about you, about ourselves… and about football. How could that be? We knew everything there is to know about the game.

In the morning we would get up, pour a cup of coffee, and then head to the laptop. After all, we needed to check in with Fletch & Ricco. ‘Who are you writing?’ - we would be ask. ‘Nobody, just couple of English lads!’ No, not just a couple of English lads anymore. We had become friends and we wanted to make sure that you made it through the night alright. After all, Svan was not the most reliable ride or pleasant accommodation. We hated the fact that we did not live closer so that we could offer you rooms for the night and perhaps a home cooked meal. After all, that is what friends are for.

You wanted your country to win and advance so badly. At first we did not care all that much but then your team lost and we could see your deep disappointment. We wanted to reach out and say - ‘Are you alright?’ You watched our teams be eliminated one-bye-one but took little pleasure because you had seen all our colors dance and celebrate in the streets and at the venues.

Now you are on your way home. It’s hard to believe after all this time you would just pack up and leave. What about our friendships? What about Paolo, Fabian, Annette, Michael, bobbylebonfire, Louisa, Sasha and all the others?

We are sad to see you leave but we know you have to return home. Good luck old friends. When our memory will fail to remember most of the matches, we shall still fondly recall our good mates Fletch & Ricco and all the grand times we had together. Perhaps someday, some place, some blog - we’ll meet again. Until then, have a good journey home and may England keep you safe.


............................................... TO ALL ........................................

Auf Wiedersehen, Goodbye, Adios, Do pobachennya, Au revoir, Tot ziens, Arrivederci, Do svidanja, Adiosu, Khoda hafaz, Adeus, Annyong-hi kashipshio, Salaam, Sayonara, Adjö, Do widzenia, Shalom, Joi gin, Do videnja, and Totsien until 2010 in South Africa where once again the world shall meet to play the ‘beautiful game’ and enjoy ‘a time to make friends.

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  • 9.
  • At 05:17 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • From your friends around the world wrote:

Dear Fletch & Ricco,

We stumbled over your blogs purely by chance. We just wanted to get an impression of how others view the tournament. At first, you were just two peculiar names with amusingly sketched images on an electronic screen. We clicked on your names and blogs with eye-catching headlines appeared: ‘Carry on camper van,’ ‘Nasty habits,’ and ‘Plain sailing.’ They got us curious so we began to read. ‘Wait, you want us to give you ideas on what to name your van? We don’t care what you name it. NOOO, that really is a silly name, but how about…’ And before we knew it, we were commenting on your blogs - every day a little more.

You wrote about odd and intriguing things that no one else would bother with. Frequently you made us smile and a few times you raised the hair on the back of our necks. You moved from city to city and became our eyes and ears. You reported and we responded. We learned things about you, about ourselves… and about football. How could that be? We knew everything there is to know about the game.

In the morning we would get up, pour a cup of coffee, and then head to the laptop. After all, we needed to check in with Fletch & Ricco. ‘Who are you writing?’ - we would be asked. ‘Nobody, just couple of English lads!’ No, not just a couple of English lads anymore. We had become friends and we wanted to make sure that you made it through the night alright. After all, Svan was not the most reliable ride or pleasant accommodation. We hated the fact that we did not live closer so that we could offer you rooms for the night and perhaps a home cooked meal. After all, that is what friends are for.

You wanted your country to win and advance so badly. At first we did not care all that much but then your team lost and we could see your deep disappointment. We wanted to reach out and say - ‘Are you alright?’ You watched our teams be eliminated one-bye-one but took little pleasure because you had seen all our colors dance and celebrate in the streets and at the venues.

Now you are on your way home. It’s hard to believe after all this time you would just pack up and leave. What about our friendships? What about Paolo, Fabian, Annette, Michael, bobbylebonfire, Louisa, Sasha and all the others?

We are sad to see you leave but we know you have to return home. Good luck old friends. When our memory will fail to remember most of the matches, we shall still fondly recall our good mates Fletch & Ricco and all the grand times we had together. Perhaps someday, some place, some blog - we’ll meet again. Until then, have a good journey home and may England keep you safe.

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  • 10.
  • At 06:43 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • The Gaffer wrote:

Great stuff, especially the bit about running into the stadium and proclaiming "We're in, we're in!"

How there were vacant seats for you to find, I have no idea. Even if they were the seats of French supporters, you would think they would have the decency to stick around to see the best trophy in the world lifted into the air.

Cheers,
The Gaffer
The new Premiership season is just 41 days away. Experience the hype at www.EPLTalk.com

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  • 11.
  • At 08:14 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • jenny wrote:

Let’s get this straight - are you telling us two BBC employees sneaked into a football ground without match tickets?

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  • 12.
  • At 08:40 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • bobbylebonfire wrote:

'friends from around the world@ 9..
who were you blogging as? Salutations from bobbylebonfire, i'll miss you all, well nearly all..no, i won't mention names!

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Yes jenny (comment 11) and after standing outside so many stadiums in this tournament it was one of the highlights ;-)

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Thanks a lot for this blog. ALl of you have done an excellent job to keep us infomred every hour.
I have compiled a list of

50+ amazing things related to World Cup
2006. I belive that BBC WOrld CUp
blog and BBC sports website both are among the most amazing things for the fans.

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  • 15.
  • At 01:32 AM on 11 Jul 2006,
  • Rich Clark wrote:

Thanks Guys, it's been emotional. Roll on 2008.

PS - I hope our license fee doesn't have to pay for the bumper?!?

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  • 16.
  • At 09:47 AM on 11 Jul 2006,
  • Eric wrote:

Thanks for the Blogs.

It was fun and it will be again in 2 years I hope???

For me the biggest surprise was that the atmosphere was everywhere so friendly and peacefull.
Before the Worldcup there were a lot of rumors that the Hooligans from every country want to use Germany during the Worldcup as their Battlefield.
The idea to bring in police officiers from every country was really a good one and propably helped a lot to keep everything calm.

There were almost no fights between fans at all or stoped really quick.
The only one I know about was between some african guys and maybe the same stupid racist italian group you are mentioning in your article above.
But even that was stoped very fast by the security before anybody was hurt badly.

2: Questions

How many city's have you visited during your journy?

and
From all the publing viewing area's that you visit...which one was the most fun and organizied?

I only had the chance to visit the big one in my hometown Hamburg and found it a nice idea to have tents from all participating countrys there.
Don't know if they did it in other citys as well.

I just love to try food from different countrys and therefore this was a perfect place for me.

As a half German and half caribeean I am used to spicy food but hell the spicy chicken I ate at the Ivory Coast tent was very delicious but spicy like hell.

In Hamburg you still can see now quite a few Germans running around with Shirts or Jersey from Ivory Coast, Ghana or Togo.


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  • 17.
  • At 02:06 PM on 11 Jul 2006,
  • jenny wrote:

Hell Rico,

Isn’t sneaking into a match without a ticket illegal?

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  • 18.
  • At 11:32 AM on 12 Jul 2006,
  • Jonty wrote:

Ciao Fletch & Ricco,
We were in the "Garden Centre" too until about 2 hours before kick off, after spending 6 hours trying to buy tickets without any luck. The "entrecote mit brote" from the BBQ area next door must have been the best food ever at a footy game - certainly beats the gristle burgers on offer outside Loftus Road on a Saturday arvo! We heard that for €30 you could get into the 20,000 seater Waldbuhne amphitheatre at the far end of the stadium. It was only half full, but it had a huge screen and became a little piece of Italy for the duration of the match. You lucky *******s getting in to see the boys lifting the trophy - we walked right past the stadium entrance without thinking of trying to get in. Anyway - the drive from Berlin back to Eindhoven airport in Holland to fly home was a long one, but worth every minute to be in Berlin for the game. By the way, the fans sing "Siamo Campioni Del Mondo" (we are Champions of the World) to the tune of the White Stripes, in answer to the post above.....

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  • 19.
  • At 04:23 PM on 13 Jul 2006,
  • Di Chanio wrote:

Ah ha I see thanks Jonty - it's in the Sun today as well apparently!

Cheers Sean

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