Ok, it’s no big revelation that the holidays are coming. Our ancient ancestors celebrated the winter solstice and most religious groups have sacred days coming in the next month. These special days are celebrated worldwide by giving gifts.
And the Bundesliga Fanatic is here to help by sharing with you the gift-giving opportunities available through our retailing friends who have supported over the years, helping us pay those pesky WordPress, GoDaddy and other bills that keep us online and secure, so that we can bring you our best takes on the wonderful good of Fußball as played the German way by athletes from all over. When you purchase from these companies, whom we’ve known, done business with and appreciate for their great service and wide selections, you indirectly support our little enterprise called the Bundesliga Fanatic.
Thank you…and good shopping.
Online retailer SoccerPro.com have been with us almost since we came about in 2010, in time for that upcoming Bundesliga season. The Columbia, MO-based company (they have a retail facility at their headquarters there, too) carries a cornucopia of footy-related goodies — what ya need, what ya want, they probably have.
Having visited their headquarters in the past, I’ve seen their warehouse filled with all sorts of things you want — shoes, shinguards, goalkeeper gloves, club and national team jerseys and accessories and so much more. Need a ‘striper’ to put those important lines down on the pitch — they’ve got it. A set of corner flags — yeah they can supply those, too. Along with lots of neat stuff on clearance. Always.
@SoccerPro carries all the big brands — adidas, Nike, Puma, Reusch, Under Armour, New Balance, Warrior and more, with great prices and excellent service. I shopped the company before I ever had any business relationship with them and was always pleased by how quickly they filled an order and got it to my front door. And they’re more than just retailers of soccer gear — they have websites such as The Instep that features the latest product news and reviews, while The Center Circle features the latest news and opinion on the beautiful game worldwide, written for fans by fans.
There is Black Friday, too. Check it out… 25% off on cleats, shinguards, goalkeeper gloves. Free namesets on licensed club and NT jerseys. There’s free shipping to domestic addresses for orders over $65 (that’s ALL the time) and a free loyalty program that earns you points towards your next purchase. This is a big company that has a small-time feel — you feel like you’re always dealing with fellow fans, because you are, and they understand where you’re coming from. Treat yourself right and check them out … and make your holiday shopping sooooo much easier.
Classic Football Shirts
We’ve been involved with this British company since late summer, and so glad we are. Classic Football Shirts.co.uk have the COOLEST selection of kit imaginable….if you are a kit and accessories junkie, here is your fix. You can literally spend hours looking at the diverse goodies in their inventory, always at reasonable prices and sometimes so inexpensive that you’ll pinch yourself to see if you are dreaming.
While @CFS always has great prices, their Black Friday still is now with 20% off EVERYTHING !!! through midday Saturday GMT — use the BLACK FRIDAY code. I often tweet some of their German-football related goodies during our @bundesliga4u livetweets of matches, but they truly have so much neat stuff from everywhere, it’s overwhelming. Before writing this article, I was perusing their clearance section and found inspiration for some great stocking stuffers for gift-givers on a budget– how about a pair of BvB socks for £ 4.99 to pad around in on those cold winter mornings, or a Bundesliga or Hermes player issue patch for a pound less? A Hertha woolie cap for £4.99 for that BSC fan pal of yours? Got that covered. And of course, gear from everywhere — from Roda JC to Sturm Graz to Santos Laguna to a really cool 2009-2010 Zeus black/purple NK Maribor polo shirt/shorts combo for that footy friend who THINKS he/she has everything. Ha. Shame on them, kudos to you — you nailed this one for £4.99 plus shipping.
And shipping isn’t a big deal. You can combine items to make the shipping price a good deal if you are an overseas shopper, like I am. And I did nail some goodies from CFS as the new BuLi season started — Hoffenheim and Eintracht Frankfurt home jerseys brand new w/tags from recent seasons, plus an adidas VfL Wolfsburg cap (huh I couldn’t resist, it is cool looking) and got my order from Manchester to rural Missouri in less than a week.
Of course CFS has all the big clubs, vintage and new, all reasonably priced. Treat your friends with the coolest gear imaginable, and maybe leave your laptop open to the CFS page to provide subtle guidance for your spouse/special friend to look for something for YOU. Danny Taylor and the folks at CFS will tcb for you. Guaranteed.
After a miserable start to 2016/2017, the Royal Blues are back in the high life again, undefeated after five Europa League matches after defeating Ligue 1 leaders OGC Nice Thursday and moving their way up the Bundesliga table. Good things for Die Knappen are bound to continue, as I promised you a few months ago when you many of you S04 folks were in full despair mode. I understand you smashing your Schalke coffee mug after the worst league start in club history — even emptying your NULLVIER cinch bag and leaving it on the subway for someone to find and lessen the burden in your heart.
But fear not. The Schalke04store.com is here to rescue you from your fit of despair and restore you to proper Royal Blue-ism. Matt Gleason’s one-stop Schalke shop has anything a Schalke fan can dream of (except for a salad plate — ok, quiet there BvB supporter over my shoulder). Name it…kit, socks, caps, backpacks, jackets, hoodies, scarves, mobile phone accessories, laptop carriers and even a new coffee mug for you. Show everyone that your royal blue blood-cell count is back to normal, treat yourself too.
Florida Cup, Colorado Cup
The Florida Cup enters its third year in early January with a 14 clubs from all over involved in the competition that lasts until January. Bundesliga side Bayer 04 Leverkusen will be making its third visit to Orlando in the first phase of the Cup along with fellow German side VfL Wolfsburg, making what I believe is their debut on American soil. Other clubs involved in the first phase of the Cup include Brazil’s most popular team, Rio’s Flamengo, along with Clube Atlético Mineiro from Belo Horizonte, the Tampa Bay Rowdies and famed Argentine side Estudiantes de la Plata.
Their will be two sets of matches during the first Challenge 2017 phase of the Cup — Estudiantes facing Leverkusen and Wolfsburg versus the Rowdies make up a doubleheader on the afternoon of January 8 at Al Lang Field in Tampa (the home of the Rowdies) in the first matches. On the January 11, Leverkusen will play Mineiro at the ESPN Disney Complex in Orlando while Wolfsburg face off against Flamengo the next night at the same location. Both venues are intimate and you can see the players close up.
The Bundesliga clubs will have departed for Germany when the Rowdies face Mineiro at Al Lang on the 14th. There’s also a doubleheader on the 15th at Bright House Networks Stadium at the University of Central Florida featuring Flamengo and Estudiantes, preceeded by an earlier afternoon match featuring iconic clubs Corinthians of Brazil and River Plate of Argentina, who will compete in the tournament’s second phase, along with four other clubs including Brazil’s Internacional and Sao Paulo, Barcelona of Ecuador, Colombia’s Millionairos and Chinese side Shanghai SIPG, which features South American stars Hulk and Dario Conca and is captained by veteran goalkeeper Sun Xiang, who played in Europe on loan to PSV and Austria Wien. For more information on individual game tickets and packages, click here.
For Bundesliga fans in the Americas, this is a great opportunity to see your heroes up close and personal. I have attended the first two editions of the Cup and can report that there are plentiful opportunities to see the clubs at open practice sessions and at autograph events at local venues. Seeing the players in person, getting a selfie with a Bundesliga star or an autograph, is just too cool, and watching them go through drills, working hard and with purpose but also finding some time for goofing is a treat. The players are generally very kind and approachable for short periods after practice and one can stand on the touchline or near it watching them going through the work that will make them ready for the Ruckrunde. It’s also pretty cool when you’re watching a Bundesliga match a few weeks later and see Diego Benaglio make a fine save or Kevin Kampl dribbling around everyone and realize hey –I have met this guy before, he shook my hand. Meeting fellow fans is a joy, too. So is seeing Chicharito and the crowds he attracts, almost all wearing Leverkusen or El Tri shirts with ‘Chicharito’ on the back.
Thinking ahead, there will be another opportunity to see Bundesliga football when the 2017 Colorado Cup rolls around in July. No official commitments have been made as of yet but talks are already underway and I’d expect one or perhaps two top-flight German clubs to spend a week in and around the Boulder area training and playing. Justin Rose put on a strong competition in last year’s inaugural Colorado Cup and it will be bigger and better this year. Again, there will be great access to players and staff and also formal youth training camps operated by top German academy coaches (as there with the Mainz academy folks last summer). I had a fantastic time in hanging with Mainz a bit and they are forever now a favorite club. The 2017 Colorado Cup will also offer advertising and sponsorship opportunities and also the chance to give back by sponsoring youngsters of need to be involved in the training camps.
Finally, another way to make the holidays extraordinary for your favorite footy fans is to buy a subscription to online services such as Fox Soccer 2 Go or FuboTV. Fox offers a stream and archives of all Bundesliga matches, along with the UEFA Champions League, Europa League, CONCACAF competitions, Scottish soccer and boatloads of rugby — generally 100 live matches per month for $100 yearly subscription. FuboTV is a streaming service available in the U.S. For $9.99 monthly subscribers get streamed matches available on BeIn, Unidivision Deportes, GolTV and others that features La Liga, Serie A, Ligue One, Liga MX, England’s Championship, Portugal’s Liga Premeira along with soccer from Brazil and other nations. If one is considering cutting the cord or simply wants to gain access to more of the beautiful game (and who DOESN’T need that?), these two services are a great value.
Stick with the Fanatic’s guide, and you’ll have a great time shopping, and probably be credited as the best gift-giver in your group. What more can you ask for?
Happy Holidays !!!