COLUMNIST PAUL TRAILL
Boy, where do you start? What a trip! I guess a bit about the rigmarole of getting tickets in the first place wouldn?t be a bad place to begin?
Part I: The Tickets
On the evening in which we discovered whom we would be playing in this group stage of the Uefa Cup, Ste and I got straight onto the internet and looked around to see what deals we could find online in terms of getting to the game. With most of the flights to sporadic areas of Germany booked up, we plumed for a flight to Prague in Czech Republic and then a train on to Nuremburg. The return flight to Prague was about £70 so wasn?t too bad a deal. So that was the first hurdle out of the way.
Obtaining tickets was the next hurdle. Ste and I had originally agreed to turn up at the ticket office at about 4am the day they went on sale just to season ticket holders but of course they?d already all been sold out by then so we, like so many thousands of others, had to make alternative arrangements. Another mate, Ant, has a German girlfriend and so we went to them first to see if there was anything they could do, whilst at the same time stressing the urgency for them to do this, as we were well aware of the interest in ticket availability from masses of blues.
Now Ant and Hannah don?t know the first thing about football and so just could not understand our urgency as we were practically begging for them to do this. With them seemingly unwilling or unable to sort anything out for us I also tried another mate from work who has German family, although we also ran into a bit of a brick wall with this one. With this being the case we tried the German ebay to see what was available here. Ste had the bright idea of contacting a seller direct to see what price he wanted for tickets. The fella, Fred Werner, responded to my cry for help with this:
"Hello Paul, we have 8 tickets for this Game.
The standard price for is 37.00 euro.
I sell 2 tickets of the category 1 = to 120.00 euro + express dispatch 18.90 euro + Pay Pal 8.00 euro = 146,90Euro
If you have interest, ask email. Express to England 2-3 days"
Delighted to get a response we got back to him asking if we could have four tickets for an overall price of 256.90 euros, thereby averaging about £45 each. He agreed this and so we put the cash into his PayPal account on the promise that the tickets would be despatched within 2-3 days. This was on a Saturday, a good ten days or so before we were due to set off and with it being a weekend we figured that even if he?d have posted it that day, we wouldn?t have received these until towards the end of the week, although as we didn?t know this guy whatsoever, we were slightly worried about the prospect of the tickets not showing up. As the week progressed and with no tickets arriving, our feet got itchier and itchier and so we contacted Fred again, at the same time trying not to aggravate the fella, to seek information on the whereabouts of our tickets. On Thursday Fred responded with:
the tickets are on the way.
They must be there tomorrow in Germany holiday are, on Monday or Tuesday there."
From this we figured the tickets were due on the Friday, although it was only at a later date that we realised there was more to Fred?s communication than originally met the eye. With no arrival of tickets on the Friday, we emailed again, politely asking when we should expect to receive these tickets. This time Fred responded with:
"Hello Paul, the Tickets were dispatched to 31.10.2007. In Germany holiday is the tickets needs 2-3 days to England. Monday there the tickets will be. I am also in Nuernberg, the Tickets run on my names. We always get replacement ticket. No fear, I is tidy humans."
So, after all this we we?re now being told the tickets would arrive on Monday, but failing this we could also get replacement tickets as Fred is a ?tidy human?. Ste certainly wasn?t convinced whilst I, although remaining as optimisitc and positive as I possibly could from the outside, did have a gulf of concern inside of me that these tickets just wouldn?t arrive.
On Monday, no tickets arrived in the post. As we were due to fly out on Wednesday evening quite simply, we were by now cacking ourselves.
I contacted Fred stating the tickets had not arrived yet and that if they didn?t come on Tuesday we would have to ask for a refund, either that or for his contact number so we could meet him in Nürnberg. His response revealed he was now getting a little agitated:
"Hello Paul, your tickets dispatched by international INSURED LETTER.
This is today in England . I` think he becomes today or tomorrow deliver-delivering that problem lies not in Germany but at the post office in England .
I am not a cheat!!
We could well believe that the Post Office could cock things up but given his reponse we felt he was telling the truth and that he had at least sent the tickets. He also gave me a reference number and delivery information which gave us a bit more confidence.
With no delivery on the Tuesday we emailed again with a similar request and he sent a group email to a number of people saying that the tickets where on the way and that it was now out of his hands. Ste sent an email to all these contacts asking if anybody else had recieved these tickets as we now realised quite a few others were in a similar predicament. I emailed again on Tuesday evening asking for his contact details as we prayed for ticket arrivals on Wednesday morning. This really was the last chance as we had to leave at about 2pm. He emailed back but with a somewhat angry response:
"Dispatched your tickets in time.
It does not lie in my hands, which not deliver the English posts office you sent International of INSURED LETTERS.
I have a written confirmation, which is the INSURED LETTERS for Monday in England .
Come to Germany , it gotten from me other tickets. I will sue everyone, which pray-reprimands me.
On Thursday 13,00 I will let close all tickets and against each buyer announcement will refund.
Furthermore I will give buyers from England to the German police NAME - ADDRESS the ticket.
"I cannot be put as cheats.
At about 12pm, whilst at work, I phoned Ste to get a status check on the tickets. Just as I did he was on another line to his dad and I heard him shout ?We?ve got them! Yes! We?ve got them!?. I shouted ?YES!? pretty loud in the office, drawing a few curious looks from my co-workers. I finished work at 1pm and drove straight home with the biggest smile on my face.
My match ticket
Part II: The Journey
Gaz agreed to drive and park up in Manchester prior to the flight so I asked Ste and Richie to just get to my house for 2pm, with the flight at 5:45pm. Ste and Gaz felt they had to put everything into one big suitcase instead of Richie and I?s more appropriate sports bag approach. Ste, who takes an eternity to make any decision, and Gaz finally rolled up at 2:45pm. We all have our faults and mine is certainly being impatient. I hate not being on time and I hate being kept waiting for others so I was basically frothing at the mouth as I awaited their arrival.
Thankfully we did have the benefit of time but I found it slightly annoying having worked all morning and raced home for 2pm, whilst the others had been off all day and still rolled up 45 minutes late. Anyway it was now by the by and we got to Manchester Airport in good time for the flight.
The terminal was packed with other Evertonians all having a drink before the flight. We got a quick one in before boarding. Many Evertonians fancied a sing-song on the plane although this notion was thwarted by the stewardess who just wasn?t having it at all. Myself, I cringed slightly at the behaviour of grown men acting like this but it was all fun, and was particularly funny when having been told off for about the fourth time for singing, the Evertonians started whistling Z-Cars and a few other songs instead.
From left to right, Richie, a German Everton fan, Simon, John, James and myself in Prague.
Simon is an Evertonian working in Munioch but from Arrowe Park, Wirral, whereas John and James are Evertonians from Ellesmere Port.
We touched down, claimed our bags and jumped in a taxi hassle-free and arrived at our accomadation quite promptly. Richie and I stayed at a hostel, whilst Ste and Gaz plumed for a hotel instead. We got a quick pint at the hostel before going to meet Ste and Gaz. We just couldn?t find each other however and eventually, once Ste and Gaz had waited for us in the square for ages, and then vice versa, we just went seperate ways, with Ste and Gaz grabbing a bite to eat and going home, and Richie and I going to a good bar with some other blues form Ellesmere Port and drinking Absynth and plenty of beer until about 4am. Our train the next day was due at 9.16am so as we had an early start we should have been to bed long before that. We didn?t want to miss that train!
After smacking my phone alarm off a few times we somehow, still smashed, got up and showered at about 7.30am and got a tram to the train station. We tried to phone Ste and Gaz several times but their phones appeared to be switched off. We got to the train station and asked for two return tickets to Nürnberg. The lady was very helpful although could not speak any English. With our Czech not quite being tip-top it made communication difficult but we did what we could without trying to be to overly ignorant.
Anyway, the two tickets cost 350 Korona (about £6 each) but it seemed they were only returns to the Czech ? German border crossing of Cheb. With any further enquiry likely to hold us up and with time pressing, we thanked the nice lady and made a move for the platform. Ste and Gaz over-slept, feebly blaming it on forgetting to change the time on their phones, and so missed the train. We got on, leaving them to work it out for themselves. With the train being a good five-hour journey, Richie?s farting aside, it wasn?t quite as arduous as we felt it would be.
I was standing out of our little carriage just doing a bit of window gazing when some fella asked us ?can I have a bit of your water mate?? I gave him some and he asked ?Have you got tickets?? ?Yes.? Was my response. ?Real ones?? he probed. ?Yes, got them through German Ebay? I explained ?You??. ?Got blag ones like?. ?Where did you get them?? I quizzed. ?Just photocopied them from my mates ticket?. I just envisioned several hunderds, possibly thousands of blues trying to get into the stadium with fake tickets at this stage. Meanwhile Ste and Gaz informed us they would be arriving at about 6.30pm. We were due at about 2.15pm.
Once we?d passed the crossover and had our passport checked and all that, a ticket inspector looked at our train tickets and informed us that we?d have to move to a different carriage. With no seats seemingly available, we moved onto what we felt might be the first class area even though it wasn?t very good. There were Evertonians everywhere here, and I doubted how many others had second class tickets.
Anyway, we sat down and another ticket inspector came in, but this guy really was the daddy of ticket inspectors. We were only an hour away from Nürnberg by this point. We felt our luck might have ran out when he checked the tickets for the guy behind us and said something like ?These are second class tickets but you are in the first class area. You will have to move to second class?. We didn?t fancy our chances. We were next up. ?Tickets please?. We gave it him and he inspected it for a while before looking at us in fury, enquring ?What is this??. He was simply disgusted. I meekly explained it was the ticket we were issued with by the lady, but it was no good. ?Cheb is passed. Cheb is gone. This cannot take you to Nürnberg?.
?OK, can we buy tickets from Cheb to Nürnberg then please?. He went and got his ticket machine and asked ?First or second class??. ?Second class please? I responded like a scolded teenager. ?Well you are in first class. You will have to move to second class. Go over there and I will deal with you in a minute?. We walked away, and couldn?t quite believe how furious he was.
As we were stood in a corridor some lad asked us if we?d just flown in last night, asking us if I had a good night before getting to the important question ?Did you get any brass (as in prostitutes) last night?? What he did also harrowingly tell me was to ?look afterwatch myself? in the home end and around Nürnberg. I didn?t quite know what he meant but presumably he was implying there?d be a bit of trouble in and around the famous German city.
Next thing the entire first class carriage emptied out with Everton fans as the ticket inspector must have gone on the rampage and kicked everyone out of the first class section. In terms of trying to get away with not paying for the rest of our journey, however, this did us a favour as the corridors were packed and the ticket inspector just couldn?t find us. We arrived at Nürnberg at about 2:30pm, and so had got there for just £6. Bargain!
We left the train station and followed my little map up a hill towards our hostel. We walked past a square and the noise from Everton fans chanting songs was almost deafening and was quite amazing. We pushed further forward and as we did so we saw Alan Stubbs and Andy Holden in Everton tracksuits the other side of the road. I shouted ?Stubbsy? and he looked round. I gave him the old clenched-fist salute? at which he waved back dismisively.
We then carried on up the hill but got a bit lost until some lovely German lady went well out of her way to help us find the damn place. Once we got there, exhausted, we parked our bags in our room, went for a bite to eat in some traditional German restaurant, and then went in search of a bar to have a few beers and wait for the others to arrive.
Perhaps you can't make it out very well but this is a square in Nurnberg.
There are loads of banners and supporters on the balcony.
One of the squares was packed full of blues in some balcony bar. This was good to see but looked pretty busy so we then went to another downstairs bar which was huge and simply jam-packed full of blues. We found a speck just by a fridge full of expensive wine bottles, and a few young scallies tried to open the fridge, only to be thwarted by the lock!
It was great in this pub, but pretty darn warm so we went to another bar I?d seen previously (Brown Sugar Rock Cafe) which looked half-decent and not very busy. It was also quite near the train station so would be easy to meet the other fellas later on. We had a few beers in there until the lads arrived. At about 7pm we met up with them and got a taxi to the ground.
From left to right, Richie, Gaz, Ste and me in the Brown Sugar Rick Cafe, Nurnberg.
Part III: The Match
We got to the ground and being a little paranoid about not getting in, we all bought a Nürnberg scarf and tried to pass as Germans going into the ground. We needn?t have bothered. So relaxed was the attitude by German police and Nürnberg stewards, blues were quite comfortably just wandering in with Everton shirts on. Nobody cared at all. We got a pint when we got in there before realising it was all non-Alcoholic beer. The stadium was simply fantastic and there were no problems at all.
We took to our seats and were right at the very back of the stadium behind the goal, quite near the Everton away end. Our view of the goal furthest away from us was severely restricted by some sort of big box which hung down from the top of the ground, although of course we?d have settled for this a few days ago! Both sets of supporters were absolutely fantastic with Nürnberg fans simply drowning us out on many occassions. The teams came out to a great recepetion all round and we attacked the goal on the opposite side, the Nord-Kurve, in the first half.
We lined up with a 4-4-1-1 formation. A lot of the pre-match talk was about who would play at left-back, Valente or Lescott. As Stubbs wasn?t fit, I wanted Valente at left back as quite truthfully I don?t have much confidence in Jagielka, so with Valente?s experience, I wanted him there, although felt Moyes would go for Jags instead. As it was, he thankfully played Valente and the team was: Howard; Valente, Lescott, Yobo, Neville; Pineaar, Carsley, Osman, Arteta; Cahill; Yakubu. I don?t know any of their players so it would be impossible to comment on any of them individually.
We nearly seized the initiative in the first minute when Cahill struck the post. Given my severely limited view of the far goal I?ve got simply no idea what happened here but from what I could tell Arteta hit the bar!
Quite simply Nürnberg weren?t very good but were jeed up by their vociferous home support. They had a few decent openings in and around the box but really couldn?t shoot for shit and pretty much every effort seemed to drag wide. A few individual errors by Lescott and Pineaar created some good openings for the Germans but on both occassions they were thwarted by Tim Howard, the first time when he was off his line very quickly after a heavy touch from the Nürnberg stiker, and the second when Howard made a brilliant save low to his right from a stinging drive.
Everton had a few openings of their own in the first half but failed to take them and at half-time it was all square at 0-0. At least we were in a good sitting position to see any goals scored by Everton in the second half...
The second half was a bit more open and you felt Everton were settling for a draw at times. Nürnberg passed it about quite neatly but would always spoil it for themselves with bad control or a mis-hit pass. Everton played a high pressing game, not giving the Germans time on the ball, but at the same time trying to play it when they could.
One lovely little move in particular from Everton sticks in the mind when Neville, Pineaar and Arteta all combined well. It was our wingers who caused the most problems however, with Pineaar and Arteta in particular terrorising their respective full backs, especially the left back.
With the game seemingly heading towards a draw, Moyes changed things, taking off the bustly Yakubu for Victor Anichebe. The change was an inspired one as Anichebe basically battered the Germans into submission. His impact was almost immediate when he was played through by I think Arteta. He managed to role his defender who could do nothing except for hold him back. Anichebe tried to carry on but was being held and held and the referee had no choice but to give the penalty.
Arteta dutifully took the penalty and smashed it high towards the keepers left. The keeper dived right and the ball struck the back of the net. With less than ten minutes to go we were 1-0 up and the Everton fans dotted around the stadium certainly made themselves heard.
Arteta came close with a free kick after that and Osman mis-controlled at the vital moment when inside the box as Everton got into the grove. The game was sealed when Anichebe got free into the box, took the ball forward and then finished very calmly past the keeper from a tight angle. That was 2-0 and we all went nuts.
Anichebe didn?t go straight to the main contingent of Everton fans but instead to another section on the far side. I saw him wave there earlier on when he was warming up so maybe it was towards someone he knew. No matter what, it was a splendid goal by our young striker who seems to grow in confidence and stature every game. We then sung our hearts out as Everton saw the game out.
Now for the bad bit. Just to the right of us, across a short barrier, where two Everton fans. We hadn?t actually heard from one of them all game but his mate just would not shut up and bordered on tedious all game with silly inept comments mostly aimed at Valente and Moyes. Anyway, when we went 2-0 up they decided to start antagonising the home fans by rubbing their heads.
Firstly they did this to a couple of guys in front of me who didn?t react and instead just nodded and smiled with dignity. The guys then rubbed the heads of two other guys in front who were not so forgiving. One told them to fuck off basically, whilst the other gave him a one-fingered salute. The ?Everton fan? then inexplicably threw a punch at the German lad but thankfully didn?t connect with the punch. We all stopped the lad and told him to leave it out.
Now this was the only trouble I saw all game and all trip so certainly could have been worse, but didn?t half put a downer on events for us.
Everton closed the game out with a few substitutions with Jagielka and Hibbert featuring late on. The whistle went and we won this one. The players went round the field offering their applause to all the thousands of Everton fans who travelled. All but seemingly literally one fan were extremely well behaved and were a credit to themselves and the club, its just a shame one had to spoil it.
We boarded a train back into town after the game and as we expected town to be jam packed, we went back to the Brown Sugar Rock Cafe to drink the night away. Quite a few blues had the right idea and it was a great time in the pub.
Once it shut we went to get a bite to eat and whilst we ate some mad man came over and spoke to us in English. He was babbling on about how he lived in Wetherby for quite a few years back in the 60s and that there were brothels around the corner. After speaking to him we went back to the hostel as the night appeared to be over.. .well most of us did anyway!
Howard: Made a couple of superb saves in the first half, but didn?t really have a great deal to do otherwise. 7
Valente: Coped well and was very solid defensively. He did pick up a deserved booking but certainly didn?t look out of place or let Everton down. 7
Lescott: Made a bit of a blooper oin the first half which he got away with but was otherwise fine. 6
Yobo: Just a bit more solid than Lescott. 7
Neville: Was solid and had a decent game both going forward and defensively. 7
Arteta: My man of the match. His set-piece delivery was generally poor but his all-round play was superb and of course he scored that penalty. 8
Carsley: Worked hard and put himself about, although his passing wasn?t great. 6
Osman: Was very useful and intellingent in the midfield. 7
Pineaar: Worked so, so hard, both getting forward and tracking back. Was very useful on the ball also. 8
Cahill: I could barely make out him hitting the post in the first minute but he was generally quiet throughout I thought. 6
Yakubu: Had a good game. He held the ball up well and always looked a threat. 7
Anichebe (for Yakubu): Another superb performance from Anichebe who simply won us the game. Fantastic stuff. 8
Jagielka (for Pineaar I think): Not on long enough, can?t judge.
Hibbert (for Carsley i think): Not on long enough, can?t judge.
Part IV: Getting Back
Our return train to Prague was at 11:40am so we had plenty of time in the morning, yet Ste and Gaz still somehow failed to make it so we met them in Prague later on. We arrived at about 5:30pm, with the other two arriving at about 9:30pm in the end. We then had a great and late night out in Prague and boarded our plane yesterday (Saturday) afternoon.
All in all it was a superb trip and everyone, literally bar one, was a great credit to themselves and the club. I just hope Everton really appreciate how lucky they are to have fans as good as ours. Well it seems Moyes thinks so anyway: ?There was no need for motivational speeches tonight. Our fans were a big inspiration to us and a real credit to the club as well."
Well done Blues and well done all (but one) Everton fans out there. What a great trip and here?s to a few more before the season's out!
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1 Posted 12/11/2007 at 08:22:59
2 Posted 12/11/2007 at 09:47:49
(sat next to you - also hassled by Mr Werner’s ticketing arrangements!!)
I guess we won’t be dealing with Fred for AZ!
3 Posted 12/11/2007 at 10:19:07
4 Posted 12/11/2007 at 10:10:44
5 Posted 12/11/2007 at 23:21:12
I was one that emailed you and also got my tickets at the 11th hour.
Mr Fred has offered me tickets for the AZ game!!!
Nuremberg, what a trip. In my memory for life.
6 Posted 13/11/2007 at 03:16:04
7 Posted 13/11/2007 at 22:28:15
My tickets were picked up from Chris the tout from a hotel room ( roo 122 Maritime) along with about a hundred other blues.
Lets hope the club and players appreciate what we go thorugh to support them - the greatest supporters in the world !
keep the faith.
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