After landing at Munich Airport, Martin Percival and I headed immediately to one of the local beer gardens before taking the train to Augsburg. ChrisPTenner met us outside the station and we walked the short distance to the hotel. After checking in, we sat outside for a very welcome beer with Ron Hill and Chris. At the next table was an R’s fan who informed us that he had been living in Holland for 30 years.
He soon joined us and it turned out that it was Robin MacWilliams who used to be involved with the Supporters Club football team and he also told us about his memorable trips around Europe in the 70’s/80’s. Apart from Alan Barnes (who everybody knows) he asked about Joe English and Peter Kingham and many others from back in the day. As so often happens with these encounters, the stories from the old days continued long into the night.
After breakfast the following morning, Moreno turned up and we went to the station to meet two of the German R’s, Udo Hu and Maik Steuerberg, for a beer. Later, a group of us headed off by tram to the ground. Some QPR fans had purchased their tickets in advance, but Robin and I hung out to make certain that we were situated in the Rangers section. When we arrived at the ground we had to queue up at a portakabin for tickets. Robin purchased a couple for just 7 euros each.
Inside the stadium the first person I bumped into was George, aka the Wolfman, who was with someone else I hadn’t seen for a while, Alfred from Austria. We laid out the Indy R’s flag and it was time for a beer. Rangers fans were also located in other parts of the ground and on view in the Stand to our right was Mel’s ‘Northolt/Greenford’ flag. Good to see Toboly who was with a mate of his who now lives in Bavaria.
FC Augsburg’s original home was the Rosenau Stadium up until 2009 and the new SGL Arena holds just over 30,000. It was a very relaxed atmosphere, fans were drinking and smoking inside the ground and the handful of stewards were very friendly. I only remember seeing one policeman who had briefly surveyed the crowd and left.
It was the home side who took the lead 17 minutes into the game. Rob Green should of been red carded after he had handled the ball outside the box. The resulting free kick was blasted into the Rangers wall and the referee decided that the ball had come off of Ryan Nelsen’s arm and pointed to the spot. Bance stepped up and made no mistake, placing the ball straight down the middle. Djibril Cisse equalised with 33 minutes gone, but 4 minutes later Anton Ferdinand headed into his own net after a mix-up with Rob Green.
Rangers played much better after the interval and 10 minutes or so into the second-half, it was that man Cisse who equalised with another well taken goal after good work by Junior Hoilett. Cisse almost did it 3 minutes earlier when his clever shot hit the crossbar after a superb pass from Adel Taarabt. On 77 minutes the travelling R’s fans were on their feet to welcome back the return of Alejandro Faurlin.
With a few minutes remaining, Rangers had a good shout for a penalty when Fabio da Silva was seemingly brought down.¬†The referee wasn’t interested and it finished 2-2. I was surprised that more players weren’t introduced by Mark Hughes during the course of the match. There could of been something up to 300 R’s fans around the ground, which is decent when you consider the short notice etc and the farcical events leading up to the game the previous Saturday against the Turkish side Trabzonspor. Apparently Ron Hill and John Proudlock were lucky to get in to what looked like a training ground after the venue and kick-off time was changed on the day of the game.
Team: Green, Derry (Taarabt), Ferdinand, Nelsen, Onuoha, Park (Faurlin), Dyer (Wright-Phillips), Cisse (Zamora), Mackie, Fabio, Hoilett.
Subs Not Used: Murphy, Harriman, Connolly, Ehmer, Ephraim, Doughty, Sutherland.
After the game I witnessed a mini-version of ‘Beatlemania’ outside the ground. As the R’s players gradually made their way onto the team coach, a large group of teenage Korean girls hysterically screamed at the appearance Ji-Sung Park. Although seated on the coach, they continued to call for him. So to get into the spirit of the situation I decided to shout out from time to time: ‘Park, we love you’, which resulted in further hysteria and screaming from his fan club !
We took the tram back into town and Robin quickly departed after looking out of the window and suddenly catching a glimpse of Andy Evans who he hadn’t met for many years. Moreno, Martin and I later went back to Munich. Moreno stayed on until Monday, but Martin and I flew back to Heathrow the following day and surprisingly the plane took off early. A very enjoyable weekend and hopefully something similar will be arranged for next year.
(The above pics were taken by Martin Percival. All rights are reserved and his photos are used by the Independent R’s with his permission)