Wicked Wanderers

WW Stadion
You need very good eyesight to make out the Schalke U23 team in ugly green.

Dear Fussballenglisch Fans
As you know the Royal Blues who have the pleasure of playing in the Europa League this season, have not been drawn against English opposition like Liverpool or Tottenham yet. Luckily Schalke U23 team is participating in the Premier League International Cup and was playing against FC Porto at the stadium of Wycombe Wanderers, the Adams Ground, on Friday, 25 September, at 7pm. So my friend Phil and I decided to represent Schalke FanClub UK there rather than flying to Hamburg for Saturday’s match.

We had to pose a few time for people who took a photo of the Schalke UK flag.

If you have never been on the M25 between 4pm and 7pm on a Friday, you have not seen a proper rush hour. However, Friday is my non-work day and I left home in good time and took the scenic route via Bracknell and Maidenhead, including a stop at KFC, to avoid being stuck on the M25.

We met twenty minutes before kick-off, Phil got the tickets (£3.00 for a ticket was very reasonable) and I bought our usual pre-match pint at the bar before entering the ground.
There were about hundred people in the stadium and at first we thought we were hopelessly outnumbered by half a dozen Porto supporters. But then a goup of kids in Schalke outfits came in (probably the Schalke U11 team which spent the weekend in London) and supported their team on the pitch by singing the usual songs (excluding the naughty ones), occasionally joined by Phil and myself.

Admittedly the match was not too exciting, Schalke lost 1:0 and never looked as if they could win the match. However, watch out for names like Alexander Nübel, Tjorben Uphoff or Thomas Rathgeber who may develop into the next generation of home-grown stars.

By the way, Schalke fan and self-appointed German comedy ambassador Henning Wehn used to work at Wycombe Wanderers as a marketing manager before he found a market for selling German humour to the British.

PS: If strikers have a good opportunity to score a goal and fail to deliver, you can say that they fluffed their lines*** (something that never happens to Henning ‚wehn‚ he is on stage).

*** to fluff one’s lines = seinen Text vergessen

Mothers, Partners & Daughters

Dear Fussballenglisch Fans
You’ve probably heard the saying ‚Behind every successful man stands a strong woman‘. However, this clearly does not apply to the male England football team (The Lions) and  their female counterparts (The Lionesses).

While last year the so-called Three Lions and their lame lion-tamer Roy Hodgson were on their way home from the World Cup in Bazil before you could say ‚missed penalty‘, their female counterparts not only finished third in Canada, but did it in style by beating Sylvia Neid’s Germany – with a converted penalty! ***

Our neighbour George, Lucy and I prepare for the England-Germany match in our garden.

And I hope you are not too sad about being beaten by England (luckily it does not happen too often). If you are, there is a solution. Tomorrow is the first anniversary of the semi-final Brazil Germany, and if you need to be cheered up, just watch the BBC highlights on Youtube, and you should feel a lot better immediately.

*** And how did the functionaries at the English FA react? By basically telling their team that the World Cup is over and now it’s time to go back to the kitchen and look after their beloved men (see below).

The Football Association has deleted an „unfortunate“ social media post in which it said England’s women’s team were „going back to being mothers“ after returning from the World Cup.  The @England  Twitter post read: „Our #Lionesses go back to being mothers, partners and daughters today, but they have taken on another title – heroes.“  The message was deleted and the same wording in an online story was changed. An FA source told the Press Association it had been „unfortunately phrased“.

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/33416006

To Fail to Plan is to Plan to Fail

Dear Fussballenglisch Fans
I hope you take the above saying seriously and have started planning for the future as there are – in my humble opinion – several items to consider:

1. Ucoming Heatwave
Now is the time to check your beer supplies and put some bottles in the fridge as temperatures are said to rocket faster than Greece’s debts from next week. Unfortunately I finished my last bottles of Veltins beer (other brands are available depending on which football teams you support), however I managed to buy some nice real ale from a local business (the Hogsback brewery in Tongham) at my local Lidl.


You get a lovely pint of TEA (Traditional English Ale) at The Exchequer in Crookham Village

2. Another 1966?
As I am writing this post it is still possible that there will be another World Cup Final between Germany and England next weekend.  So make sure you get enough sleep and don’t work too hard this week as the sem-finals and the final will be shown from 1am (or midnight if you live in the UK like me). Also see tips regarding Upcoming Heatwave.

3. Bundesliga 2015/16
I have already pencilled in a couple of weekends where I would like to visit my old hometown and a couple of matches at the Veltins Arena (and Ruhrstadion if applicable). So far I have pencilled in the weekend starting on Friday, 30 October 2015, and should be in the Ruhrpott from Wednesday, 28 October. It would be lovely to meet up with you for a chat or sauna visit.
If you want to invite me to your home, see tips regarding Upcoming Heatwave.

4. Visit of Schalke Fanclub UK in London 
I hope that this trip from 16-18 October will go ahead as planned (the last two times it was cancelled as the Royal Blues were drawn to visit London for a Champions League match a week later/earlier). Alas, I have already booked a ticket to see the tribute band Doors Alive in Reading and will miss the get together at The Silver Cross. They are brilliant and when I saw them at The Brook in Southampton a few weeks ago it felt like being at the Whiskey A GoGo in 1966. If any Schalke UK member loves the music of The Doors, this is the band to see. I am happy to organise tickets.

Okay, now it’s time to plan my lunchbox for work tomorrow.
Best wishes

Cup Fever

Dear Fussballenglisch fans
Welcome to my second post of 2015 which will be focusing on the business end of the season. With Bayern Munich and Chelsea ending the season as champions last weekend, this weekend is all about the English and German cup finals, in which Arsenal take on Aston Villa and Wolfsburg face BVB Dortmund.

Conveniently the match at Wembley starts at 5.30 on BBC 1 and the kick-off in Berlin will be at 7.00 (live on BTSport 1). I just hope that no ‚presents‘ from the German Luftwaffe will be found near Wembley today ( a couple of days before the play-off final between Norwich and Middlesborough a 50-pound bomb was detected and the area sealed off for hours).

I will keep my fingers crossed for Arsenal to win so that my favourite team Southampton FC (the Saints) qualify for international football next season. So when the Saints go marching in I would love to see them play the Royal Blues at the St. Mary’s Stadium.

By the way, here are some interesting facts that journalist Adam Shargold picked up when he watched 100 matches all over Europe last season: Brighton & Hove Albion (the Seagulls) got his full marks for being perfect hosts as they always put on a guest ale or two in the away end from wherever the visiting fans are from to make them feel at home. Brilliant idea! Can’t wait for a Schalke visit to the Seagulls. I’ll have a pint of Veltins, Fiege or Köpi, please.

Adam was also impressed by the pour-it-yourself beer in the posh seats at Borussia Dortmund, but thought that the yellow and black lawnmower that was on offer in the BVB club shop was a bit over the top. He hasn’t seen my royal blue lawnmower yet.

While the Royal Blues should aim at returning to Champions League football next year my personal goal for 2015/16 is to win the Schalke UK prediction game (so I’d better hurry up and pay my membership fee now).

Enjoy the cup finals!

Squeaky Bum Time

Dear Fussballenglischfans
Welcome to my first blog of 2015 and I hope you had a lovely and relaxing Christmas and will have a successful New Year. Most of us may have been suffering from the Bundesliga winter break blues and had to be cheered up by news (although females would disagree) from a court in Düsseldorf where a judge ruled that men can still enjoy the privilege of peeing standing up.

Yes, this story made headlines over here,  too, including reputable newspapers like The Independent, and the ruling convinced many British males that it’s not all bad in Germany.

In contrast the English Premier League clubs have had to put in extra shifts over the Christmas period, playing matches on Boxing Day and New Years Day. In addition, the majority of Premier League clubs are still involved in the FA Cup (DFB Pokal) and League Cup.

                  Beginning each August, the League Cup (this year sponsored by Capital One) features
all 92 clubs from The Football League and Premier League in a straight knock-out format
across seven rounds, with the semi-finals being played over two legs.  Premier League clubs
enter the competition in Round Two with clubs that have qualified for the Champions
League or UEFA Europa League joining in Round Three.  The competition culminates in a
final at Wembley Stadium each February, with the lucky winner qualifying for the subsequent season’s UEFA Europa League.

However, yesterday was regarded as the most amazing day in FA Cup history as several Premier League giants like Chelsea or Manchester City (both with home advantage) were knocked out by clubs like Bradford City (League One) or Middlesborough (Championship). Bradford even managed to come back from 0:2 to win 4:2 and send their travelling supporters into raptures.

For Chelsea manager Jose Morinho the defeat was a disgrace, and I am sure that most Chelsea supporters agree. However, it still does not make Schalke’s exit in the first round against Dresden any more digestible. And it was ’squeaky bum time‚ again for a Manchester United manager.

                *** When Louis van Gaal defended his controversial 3-5-2 formation he claimed that
       the 4-4-2 system „makes my ass twitch“, providing an alternative for Alex Ferguson’s ’squeaky bum time‘. According to the Independent it stems from van Gaal’s tendency to
           translate Dutch expressions directly into English. The Dutch phrase is ‚met samengeknepen billen‘ which means: very nervous and hanging on in quiet desperation.

This time it was Louis van Gaal who started the match against Cambridge United with substitutes who are valued at £100m, Manchester did only marginally better and managed a goalless draw. For Cambridge who play three leagues down in League Two, there were even chances to win the match and the replay at Old Trafford will guarantee a lot of extra cash.

Cambridge has already indicated that the extra money will be used to modernise the stadium facilities, including new toilets. Whether there will be signs to do it sitting down is not known at at the moment.

Enjoy the restart of the Bundesliga!
Juergen Halten


The World War 1 Games of Truce

Dear Fussballenglisch Fans
As Christmas is approaching fast, you may have read about the stories about the Games of Truce that were played between the German and British soldiers on Christmas Day 1914. There are lots of different stories regarding how many matches were played, who won and what Christmas presents were exchanged but there is clear evidence that actual matches were played and that the generals on both sides did not like it (stuff them!) as they would rather use their soldiers as cannon fodder. ***

So when a commemorative match between the British Army and the German Bundeswehr was organised in Aldershot (home of the British Army) on 17 December I took my family to watch the match. Well equipped with a Union Jack, a German flag and the Schalke UK flag we went to the Stadium where an opera singer entertained the crowd with a bilingual version of Silent Night/Stille Nacht.

Flying the Schalke and Germany flag before the match

Then Sir Bobby Charlton himself greeted every player personally before the national anthems were played (not a single booo for the German anthem – just silence and friendly applause at the end) and photos of the teams, who had merged into one team, were taken before the kick-off.

When we left just before half-time (it was almost Lucy’s bedtime) I found a mini-bottle of Schnapps in my rucksack ( which I carry for emergencies) and – in the true spirit of the Game of Truce – offered it to my British neighbour who was delighted and wished us a very Merry Christmas.

Have a wonderful Christmas and a happy and successful New Year (whichever club you support).

*** THE ‘GAME OF TRUCE’ BACKGROUND (source www.armyfa.com)
By December 1914 a continuous line of trenches stretched over 750km from the Belgian coast to the Swiss border. This was the Western Front over which a struggle of unprecedented brutality would rage for the next four years. The opening battles in a war of movement which had marked the start of the conflict just four months earlier had gone. The dreadful battles of attrition by which this first ‘total war’ would later be characterised had yet to start. 

The winter of 1914-15 was a harsh one. ‘Earth stood as hard as iron, water like a stone’ were particularly apt lines when the ability to dig into the former and drink the latter was essential for mere survival. There was a common aim and shared struggle to survive these woeful conditions by friend and foe alike. Culturally too, men of opposing sides shared more in common with each other than we might realise. It was not uncommon for a Saxon soldier in the German lines to have worked as a barber in the East End of London or for a British soldier to have sung carols around a fir tree decked with lights, a tradition introduced by Queen Victoria’s late husband Prince Albert.

So it was no real surprise when on Christmas Eve 1914 those same carols started to drift across no-man’s land. The tune was the same. The words and their meaning was the same. Only the language was different. As a population far more religiously minded than our own, the Christian message of peace and harmony chimed loudly amongst those manning that seemingly god-forsaken stretch of blasted earth. So the next day the famous Christmas Truce came to pass. Men met in no-man’s land. They shook hands. They swopped cigarettes and cigars, schnapps and whiskey, stories and jokes. They showed each other pictures of their wives, sweethearts and children and they took photographs of one another.

So what part did football play in all of this? There can be no doubt that many of the men who met that day would have shared a common and passionate interest in the game. Attendances at pre-war matches were huge and avid discussions about teams and players took place. One officer in a Highland Regiment found himself deep in conversation with a German Sergeant who had toured Britain in 1913 with the Leipzig team which beat Glasgow Celtic 1-0. Out of the line, fiercely competitive matches took place between platoons, companies and battalions. Sadly, despite extensive, detailed research there is no unequivocal evidence to prove that what we might regard as a ’match’ took place that day between the opposing sides. What there is can at best be regarded as hearsay.

However, there is no doubt that there was a clear intent by both sides to play a game of football against one another. A number of contemporary written accounts clearly confirm this. Sadly, as we now know, the realities of the conflict meant that any prospect of playing football was quickly extinguished by the resumption of hostilities.

PS: I promised you catastrophes with apostrophes, so here are three examples:

1. The wrong use of „its“ or „it’s“. At Lidl you get a free apostrophe with each bottle of champagne! „It’s“ is just a short form of „it is“ which doesn’t make any sense. So the right word should be „its“.

2. The wrong use of an apostrophe to separate the plural s from the rest of the word, for
example a job advert which I saw where the successful candidate needed to have excellent
written communication skill’s
(probably to replace the dipstick that wrote the advert).

3. The wrong use of an apostrophe to separate the plural s from the rest of the word when also the plural itself is wrong. Not long ago my local free paper, the Star Courier, advertised Educational Opportunity’s and recently I read a guideline that said I should ask my customers whether they have any disability’s (for example they cannot write plural words properly) so I can support them more appropriately.

Maybe these people get confused because they support Southampton FC who play their home matches at the St Mary’s Stadium.

Tip: Do not write that you drink Veltin’s beer at the Veltin’s arena as you support the Royal Blue’s.

Wanne-Eickel – Windsor – Wembley

Schalke Shirt
Luckily I did watch Schalke-Chelsea at home and not in a pub wearing my new shirt

Dear Fussballenglisch Fans
Since last Wednesday I have – for obvious reasons – a new motto: Life begins at 60. And I am now the proud owner of a Schalke shirt which I got from Horst, Sandra, Volker, Heike and Bernd who flew from Wanne-Eickel to England for my birthday party last Saturday. Funnily enough, Olaf and Ingo from Schalke FanClub UK couldn’t come to the party because they flew over to Germany to watch the Royal Blues beat Wolfsburg.

And on Sunday we took my brother Rainer and his wife Marile to Wembley Stadium to watch the women’s friendly between England and Germany. Over 45,000 people – the majority women and girls – were present and set a new record for a women’s match in Britain. And half of them were active players who travelled to Wembley from all over the country in their clubs‘ shirts or England shirts.

This was probably also the only match between England and Germany where the German national anthem was not booed.  And the young girls that sat in the row above us were very knowledgeable about the game and gave competent comments on what the English players should do or not do. Wunderbar.

Sue, me and my sister-in-law Marile at half-time.

As a result I have decided to start writing about the women’s game as well, after all I am one of the Equality & Diversity representative in my company.

The next blog will definitely include a session on catastrophe’s with football apostrophe’s as I read some wonderful example’s thi’s week.

Best wishe’s

Summertime Blues

Dear Fussballenglisch Fans
Q: What’s the difference between Eddie Cochran and Roberto di Matteo?
A: None, as both seem unable to find a cure for the Summertime / Royal Blues.

Maybe the solution to Schalke’s problem is not a coach in a smart silk suit,  but signing players who are more flexible and can play any position on the football pitch. The technical term for such a player is ‚sket‚, at least if you believe Queens Park Rangers‘ central back Rio Ferdinand, formerly Manchester United. Rio used the word to reply to a comment from another user on Twitter, which he posted on his own account.

The entire exchange read:
@ManCunian56: @rioferdy5 @matiousmarston
Maybe QPR will sign a good central back, they need one”
> get your mum in, plays the field well, son! #sket”.

To his surprise, he was charged for using offensive and inappropriate language by the Football Association who followed the definition of ’sket‘ provided by the Collins dictionary (sket: British, derogatory, slang – a promiscuous girl or woman) and an independent regulatory commission was established to hear the case.

According to the written reasons to punish him, which were published on Wednesday, Ferdinand’s solicitors had provided evidence to the independent regulatory commission explaining their client’s position that he simply meant the Twitter user’s mother could play any position on the football pitch.

The written reasons state: “The letter from his solicitors explains that the #sket was being used to indicate that the ‘mum’ was able to play anywhere, including the centre-back position in which the original sender had apparently claimed Mr. Ferdinand needed to be replaced. It was not a comment intended to insult the recipient’s mother. Given the nature of the preceding comment, namely “get ya mum in, plays the field well son!”, the Regulatory Commission rejects Mr. Ferdinand’s explanation.”

As a result Rio Ferdinand was banned for three games, fined £25,000 and has to attend a relevant education programme. Hang on! I am a qualified equality & diversity representative, so I could do that, food included. I would even offer Rio chocolate ice for dessert (check that for hidden offensive language, please!).

Rio Ferdinand. What a twit-ter!

Sources: The Telegraph, 5 November 2014, bbc.com, Collins Dictionary



Surprises! Surprises!

Ingo, Thorsten, Phil and Co are surprisingly optimistic before the match against Chelsea.

Q: Daddy, why did you lose your voice?
A: Because I went to Stamford Bridge to support Lalalalalalala Lalalalalalala Schalkeeeee 04!!!!!

Dear Fussballenglisch Fans
I may have lost my voice on Wednesday, but surprisingly enough, this time Schalke did not lose the match while we out-klaased the Chelsea supporters by miles. And the team rewarded us (and themselves) with a first-Klaas equalizer from Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. What a lovely surprise!

Well done, boys! We may have to start practising ‚Berlin, Berlin, wir fahren nach Berlin‘ as we are well on course towards the Champions League Final in Germany’s capital next year.∗∗∗

Stewards Tracey and Julie, who dealt very effectively with the noisy travelling supporters, share a smile with me, just before Schalke’s equalizer.

Another important result on Wednesday was that the Scottish people voted to stay in the United Kingdom (no real surprise there), so luckily our flag doesn’t need changing.

∗∗∗ If you think that I have lost my sense of reality, check out the statements made by our former head coach/manager Felix Magath. He was disappointed and „surprised“ to be sacked by Fulham after a perfectly successful start of the season (six defeats and one draw from seven matches). Of course it was not his fault at all as he blamed everyone else. Here are some lame excuses – usually in the third conditional – that he (may have) used:

– If the referee had not given a penalty against us, we could have won the match.
– If the former owner had not sold so many good players, we would not have been relegated.
– If Lewis Holtby had translated my instructions better, the team would have been more successful.
– If the match had stopped after 65 minutes, we would have won.

Yes, Felix. And if you had won all matches you may have been head-hunted by Manchester United or Real Madrid. But you didn’t win any match. And I tell you something else. If I had won the jackpot in the lottery last Saturday, I would have bought Fulham and would have sacked you personally. Surprisingly, I didn’t win the jackpot.

I wish you lots of positive surprises for the coming weeks.

Language Matters

WillkommenStamford Bridge
I look forward to seeing you there.

Dear Fussballenglisch Fans
You may know what ‚the false 9‘ is but do you know ‚the 7‘? If not, here’s how Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho explained it in the Independent on 9 August after signing former Arsenal hero Ces Fabregas from Barcelona:

“We want to give the next dimension to our game in midfield, and Fabregas is this kind of player which I like to call ‘the 7’, because he’s not ‚the 6‘ and he’s not ‚the 8‘. Normally ‚the 7‘ is the winger, I also call ‚the 7‘ the guy in midfield who’s not ‚the 6‘, he’s not ‚the 8′. Or he’s a 6 and 8 at the same time. So he’s a 7 and we need him a lot.”

Any questions? Call Jose on 7777 888666 or – if you are in London on 17 September – talk to him directly at Stamford Bridge when the Royal Blues play Jose’s team.

At least Jose is still the Chelsea supporters‘ hero, unlike our former manager Felix Magath, who used to cycle to Fulham’s training sessions in Fulham but is now more likely to move in an armoured car and a police escort after losing the first four matches of the season. He was also not too shy to blame the former owner of Fulham (and Harrods) who – according to Felix – had sold too many good players, and to remind the Fulham fans what a good and successful manager he was.  According to himself he is not The Special One (like Mourino) but The Only One who can bring success to Fulham. He is simply still Ful of Hamself.

To change the subject completely, here’s a tip for you: If you live near Dortmund and have access to a lorry or van, go to Dortmund when Germany play Scotland on Sunday. Last time in October 2003 about 10,000 Scots flocked to Dortmund’s city centre, bought 10 million crates of beer and drank it. Most of the crates were left when the jolly Scots made their way to the stadium. So just pick them up, take them to Real, Netto or Aldi, and make lots of money. I would like 10% commission, please.

Hopefully the police in Dortmund will hand out the same leaflets to the Scottish supporters as 11 years ago. I quote:

Dear Scottish fans
We would like to give you some advice which will help you to make your stay even more enjoyable … we will not accept any kind of disorder or crime! Please note that the German police have the right to take you into preventative custody (vorbeugender Gewahrsam) to avoid crimes, even if you haven’t committed one (yet) …
With the very best wishes for a pleasant match and fair play.
Dortmund Police-Force

With the very best wishes for a pleasant week.
Juergen Halten