11 cracking Germany games

20140712-153752-56272785.jpgGermany matches are always a thrill.

Back in the day if they lost and you were there you were guaranteed an unforgettable experience and a warming dose of schadenfreude that flooded organs you didn’t know you possessed.

Since seeing them three times at the 2006 World Cup, even their wins have become something to relish as my weltanschauung has widened and I learned that the childhood Victor comic German was an embarrassing cliche..

Here’s the cracking 11 Germany games I’ve been to, each memorable in its own way.

1 Wales 1 Germany 0 – June 5, 1991

Cardiff Arms Park: well you have to start with the Welsh wins. This made us unofficial champions of the world of course.

And if you lived in England, as I did at the time, it was doubly brilliant. And it remains the best Welsh win in my lifetime.

Welsh manager Terry Yorath said we would win 1-0. Quite a prediction that. Maybe he had trouble convincing himself but it remains the high point of Welsh managerial confidence. Possibly the only instance if it.

2 Czech Republic 2 Germany 1 – June 23, 2004

Lisbon: oh the cheeky, charming, cheering, Czech chutzpah!

The sheer effrontery, the dazzling, sneering, superior cook-a-snookery – already through to a quarter-final against Denmark, they put their B team out to tan tame Teutonic ass. Brilliant.

A Germanic arrogance by the best team at the tournament deserved the trophy in itself. Pompous Czechs adopted schtormtrooper schwagger, strolled round the pitch toying with the opposition.

Maybe they were even holding their noses, perhaps they didn’t have a shower after the match and sank a few Plzen beers at half-time and smoked a few fags.

If you hadn’t seen it, you wouldn’t have believed it. Milan Baros was even wearing an Alice band. Men against toddlers. Die Mannschaft were shafted.

Not a wonderful contest, though the Czechs’ Marek Heinz was, you guessed it, full of beans.

But a world class display of disdain to treasure forever by, for my money, after Spain the greatest international team so far this century.

3 Wales 1 Germany 0 – May 14, 2002

Cardiff Millennium Stadium: Got a ring to it, hasn’t it? ‘Wales 1 Germany 0’. Say it aloud! Sounds even better.

Robert Earnshaw, then a third division player scored the winner.

I chuckled for weeks after, and then Germany nearly went and won the World Cup a month later.

Oliver Kahn‘s expression in the clip is priceless. Mind you, within two months Germany were in a World Cup final. AGAIN!

Earnie unfortunately never scaled such heights again.

4 Germany 1 Italy 2 – July 4, 2006

Dortmund: another defeat for our bratwurst butties, but this time I was backing the Germs – my pet name for them – as being chased down the road by a Milanese madman toting an iron bar in 2003 made a strong impression on me, for some reason.

Can you believe it, I won tickets.

I took my brother and we both went as Elvis. It was so hot I drank four litres of Tango.

Germany v Italy 2006
Elvis makes the day for these two Adidas ladies

World Cup semi, Elvis, all the Tango you can slurp – life doesn’t get any better.

5 Germany 4 Costa Rica 2 – June 9, 2006

Munich: The Allianz Arena should be renamed the ‘Munich Meringue’.

Its exterior is a creamy coating of strengthened fibre glass.

the Germs weren’t too chuffed to see me celebrating C R’s goal to make it 1-1.

The anxiety was palpable.

My butty Vince meets Ronaldinho at the World Cup opening game in Munich
My butty Vince meets Ronaldinho at the World Cup opening game in Munich

But three more goals for the hosts calmed nerves and they went on to overachieve slightly by reaching the semis, providing good entertainment on the way.

6 Wales 1 Germany 2 – October 11, 1995

Cardiff Arms Park: Revisionists are rewriting Welsh football history at a fair old rate now that Gareth Bale is tearing up the world with his cyclonic brilliance.

Ryan Giggs wasn’t that great for us and didn’t want to play, the story goes. Well the story’s plain wrong.

Giggs may not have torn up trees under Mark Hughes when he was clearly instructed not to take on players so often and to stick to the team ‘shape’.

But in half his first 25 matches for Wales he was man of the match. No question.

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This was his best game. Playing as a striker! The centre-halves’ panic could be sensed 60 yards away in the stands every time he ran at or more often through or past them.

He was like a one-man buffalo stampede. The stadium shuddered every time he had the ball and or set off on a sprint.

Within a year, Germany won the Euros in 1996 in England. But no one played better against them in that tournament – not even Karel Poborsky or Paul Gascoigne – than Giggs did this evening.

He was absolutely fantastic and we came away, somehow, thinking this new manager, a certain Bobby Gould, could take us places.

Yes, it was a VERY strange night!

7 Germany 3 Ecuador 0 – June 20, 2006

Berlin: it was great to go to Germany and airily tell busting-a-gut locals who’d been selling their grannies and hustling like hookers to get into the game: “Yes, I just clicked on the official site and bought a ticket. Only 30 euros.”

All they could say, rather testily I thought, was: “But you are from Veils and you hev bought a teeket for zis game. But you are from Vels. Vere is Veils?”Germany v Ecuador

Always accompanied by a James Finlayson twitch, as seen in Laurel and Hardy films. Believe me, priceless and I would have paid a lot more than 30 euros for that experience.

Ah. Such are some simple joys in life.

Supported Ecuador of course but the Germs were such great, friendly fans that this match changed my outlook towards their team, fans and the country. Despite all those Victor comics.

Great backing for the team – every player was supported to the absolute hilt without question, something I’ve rarely experienced anywhere.

The German players, throughout 2006, responded by visibly giving their all at all times. Even the Higgs bosons they weren’t even aware yet that they possessed because they didn’t know they had them.

They were never a classy team at any point but they were full of guts, confidence and adventure. Great to watch. Great to be part of the gang who watched them too.

Germany v Ecuador
This German fan was so excited by having his snap taken next to such an alluring senorita at the game he nearly fell into the bottom tier

Their displays visibly lifted, enriched and enchanted their fellow countrymen and spoke powerfully for the importance of football in people’s lives.

No arrogance shown, the players were just grateful at this tournament not to be humiliated and to perform far better than the useless 2004 mob.

And, in turn, the fans were truly humbled by their efforts. They were also astounded by the warmth foreign fans showed to them because, er, they were well of their self-image issues.

Because, of course, before 2006, nobody wanted the Germs to win anything ever. Go on, admit it.

8 Germany 4 Wales 1 – October 1991

Nuremburg: Fiendishly painful, but most Wales games are, aren’t they?

Seventeen in a minibus from Croydon to Nuremburg which was then the most modern arena I’d visited.

Five thousand Welsh fans stood on their seats, made a circle with their thumbs and index fingers, turned that circle upside down and attached that circle to their eye sockets and started singing the ‘Dambusters’ theme.

Well, we sure got punished for that.

Gavin Maguire reduced one pal to a squeaking tornado of boiling anger. Another sobbed his soul dry in the bogs at half-time. We were 3-0 down by then and hopes of Sweden 92 looked to be kaput.

To recap, Maguire played a back pass to Neville Southall from the corner flag and Voller treated it as a cross and nipped in to head it home.

Always felt for Maguire, who would have been killed if my friend had managed to make it onto the pitch. Being one of the only sober Welsh fans at the match, I noticed that he’d looked for Ian Rush upfield before turning to Southall.

But Rush didn’t ‘show’ for an out ball and Maguire was marooned, forced into making a fatal mistake.

20140712-155917-57557525.jpg
Cor, remembering it is quite difficult. It remains an epochal match just for the ocean-deep despair it induced.

Other sub-plots saw Giggs make his debut despite Man U trying to bully Yorath I to not playing.

And Peter Nicholas, banned for the match and a player I think we’ve still never replaced, could only watch from the sidelines. He played only once more for Wales.

Maguire never featured again.

9 Holland 1 Germany 1 – June 15, 2004

Porto: Not the cracker you’d imagine, given the supposed bitter nature of the rivalry between the two.

Germany took the lead but Van Nistelrooy levelled to spark scenes of blissed out Dutch delirium by the Tango army.

All very polite and friendly afterwards.

10 Germany 1 Wales 0 – October 2008

Monchengladbach: Dullsville, Deutschland. Of all the places in their fair and fascinating country they hosted us here. Grrr! What a cheek. Concrete crap everywhere as though they’d decided to create their own version of Dudley.

Gripping game though. Great Welsh defence by James Collins in particular was to no avail as Trochowski got a late winner. Chris Gunter missed a great chance to give us a goal and a lesson learnt – never go to Monchengladbach again, whatever the reason.

11 Wales 0 West Germany 0 – May 21, 1989

20140616-150957-54597605.jpg
Cardiff Arms Park: 0-0 denotes a dull game, which it was.

All the excitement was in the anticipation. This was the first time Wales had played at the Arms Park and it was a high-profile match. I even wrote a dismissive fanzine piece saying it was a bad idea. Ahem!

Well, the FAW got it right. They made a bold decision and the matches at the Arms Park for the next six years featured bigger crowds and incredible atmospheres.

The 1-0 win over the Germs two years later and the Wales v Romania game remain the most intense atmospheres I’ve experienced.

Only a year earlier, Wales had drawn 2-2 with Finland at the Vetch Field. Dean Saunders missed a penalty. An awful game in an appalling stadium played in a dreadful atmosphere in front of about 6,000 fans, most of whom (not me, I was fuming) didn’t give a monkey’s.

There’ve been some pretty low points watching Wales over the years, you’ll be astonished to hear, but that match was one of the worst of all time. Something had to be done.

This occasion ensured games over the next few years were played against a classy backdrop in front of (for Wales) big crowds.

It was a pivotal match, though we didn’t know it then.

And once again, somehow, the Germs featured, bringing their Teutonic sparkledust majesty, Lothar Mattheus’s monumental arrogance and that sensational, sizzling sausage and sauerkraut X-factor to the occasion, lifting a small nation’s aspirations out of the ordinary.

We went from the vile Vetch to an Azteca atmosphere in 12 months.

In some strange way those crazy Krauts – and I love ’em – brought their sense of history to bear to help foster progress in Wales.

Ja, sehr gut, we owe them a few favours.

Deutschland, danke schon! But I’m still supporting Argentina tomorrow.

2006-10-05 19.07.25

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