Bring on the German experience

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Three days in and the snow has already started.

Berlin in the winter seems a formidable place, but the excitement and vitality coursing through the city is unlikely to diminish, whatever the elements.

That’s what I kept telling myself anyway, before my first trip to a Bundesliga game.

I’m in Berlin for two months, a Brit out of water, doing work experience at German football magazine 11 Freunde (11 Friends) – a very fun magazine, somewhere between When Saturday Comes and our own dear FourFourTwo.

Its office above a theatre in the former East Berlin is a great vantage point, not only from which to watch the snow tipping down, but also from which to contemplate the idiosyncrasies of German football and the fans who follow it.

I think it would be fair to say that German football is something of an enigma to us Brits.

We suspect that the quality might not actually be that great (Exhibit A: Andriy Voronin’s 11-goal success last season), but we’re jealous of the cheap safe standing, the beers and the bratwurst – three reasons to make you forget any technical deficiencies.

The Germans, in turn, cast an admiring gaze our way: English football seems popular here.

I had a meeting recently with a Lieutenant-Colonel from the Bundeswehr (German army), and the first thing he did was slap me on the back and say, “Hallo Herr Chalk, I’m huge Blades fan!”

He was, in fact, the first Sheffield United fan I’d met. 

My colleagues in the office here are also impressed by the creativeness of English chants – especially the one Spurs fans had, willingly offering up their wives to Paul Stalteri.

Whether Borussia Mönchengladbach supporters are as generous to their current right-back, I can only wonder, but shall endeavour to find out.

Meanwhile, if there is anything about German football culture that has you scratching your head, be sure to ask.

I’m certainly no expert yet, but finding out the answers is bound to be an adventure.

As they say here, Los jetzt! – Bring it on! 

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