This is my first season of attending the Bundesliga. I did get hooked watching Dortmund last year in the Champions League and my first game this season was at the Westfalionstadion; however, as much as I enjoyed going there, I felt that I wanted to experience the football culture with a smaller club.
I opted for Hannover 96, partly because of the city’s historical links with England – it being 300 years since the Hanoverian Kings ruled this country and also due to the great travel links to where I reside, in London. You can fly in and out on Saturday if the game kicks off at 3:30; however, I wanted to see some of the city, so opted to fly in on Friday. The picture below is of one of the most impressive buildings I have seen, just outside of the city centre, if you like Expressionism:
The game I attended was on May 10th, which was the season finale at the HDI Stadium and my second game of watching H96 live. I had previously seen a draw against Bayer Leverkusen in March.
One main reason to go to this particular match was to say farewell to the “Mayor of Hannover,” Steve Cherundolo, a true one-club legend. After 370 appearances in 15 years, Dolo is now assistant manager of the club’s amateur team. He was given a rousing send off before and after the match against Freiburg. The picture below is of the squad and fans saying goodbye to Dolo, while “Born in the USA” was played on the tannoy:
I enjoy German football because the prices are so much cheaper than English football. I used to have a season ticket at a West London club, but paying over 1000 € for a ticket behind the goal did not make any sense. In Germany, the programme price is only 1€ and the ticket allows you free access around Hannover on public transport on the day of the match. Also the beer and food are so much better, and you can have a drink whilst watching the game, plus you have the choice to stand and the whole stadium sings . It’s kind of a liberating experience from the sterile English atmosphere.
The match itself, however, was played in rain and ended 3-2 to H96. Zeiler played well in the 96 goal and was named player of the season, which is another boost to him, after his call up to the national side for the World Cup. Hopefully, Zeiler will remain at the club and they can rebuild the side with a stronger centre half, a powerful midfielder and a forward to replace Diouf. An honourable mention should go to to Szabolcs Huszti, whose brilliant free kick right at the end of the first half flew past Schwolow into the Freiburg goal.
At the end of the game, after the players said farewell to the fans, the announcer stated that Eintracht Braunschweig had been relegated and the fans celebrated with a “Happy Hour” in the stadium’s bars.
I look forward to next season, and rejoining the rollercoaster that is supporting 96. Plus of course,in a few years to come, Dolo being “Manager of Hannover.”