At it like a Lidl Checkout Worker (Berlin Pt1) – Football Abroad

It’s 3AM on a Sunday morning and I’ve now been up for 24 hours. Lets just say that I’m very disappointed with what is currently being displayed on the old box before me. For years, since I was knee high to a bar stool, I was always impressed with the difference between what us Brits got in respect to “Adult entertainment” in comparison to what our European brothers from across the Channel got.

Times have changed. Hardcore it isn’t! The images currently being displayed could’ve been shown on CBBC. Still this might have been just the free preview, like we used to get on Television X back in the day, but to say that all my hopes & dreams were fading would be an understatement. Anyway, let’s not dwell on the disappointments (like at a Sutton game) and begin this tale at a proper junction. Like say, the start maybe.

“I think this is the place….”

With about four hours sleep under my belt, I’m soon awoken to the sound of the opening theme tune to the ‘Battle of Britain’. The time must be 3 o’clock, as I’d stupidly set the alarm to that time the night before. With everything already packed and ready to go, the temptation is to just fall back in the sack, but knowing my luck, I would just oversleep and miss the whole fuckin’ thing.

Leaving the house just after four, I head towards the designated pick up point. It is only on the way that I realise that, even though I’m stocked up on Reichmarks, I’ll still need some currency of the realm for sundries at the airport. Of course, our designated driver, Mr X, is early as no doubt Osama Bin 4 Days was ready well ahead of schedule. Taz is soon picked up and before long we are bombing down the M23.

Arriving at the Gatwick, we weave past all the other idiots that also have early flights. One of these said idiots even tried to drive the wrong way up a one way street as he’d realised that he didn’t want to enter the car park. Finding a place to park was easier than I thought it would be and now it was time to get out. The only snag was that being in the back sat behind 4 Days is tight enough, but trying to  get out from behind him without damaging the car next door which is only only six inches away is another thing!

Dukey’s photo skills still need some work.

Eventually we made it to the terminal and we all breezed through security. Well I say all of us, but I would be lying, because 4 Days, as usual, is pulled over for looking like Richard Reid with ticking shoes and is forced to take a turn on the X-Ray scanner thing. The first thought now on our mind is food, and we quickly head upstairs for some sustenance.

McDonald’s as you would think is rammed to the rafters. Another choice is needed and before you know it we have some sandwiches for the flight. Next stop is WH Smith’s and to purchase some high brow reading that proves without doubt that we are as cultured as a Radio Four listener. Namely copyies of Viz & Zoo magazine. There was a certain familiar name in the production team of the latter publication that seemed familiar and raised a few eyebrows I can tell you!

Taz now decided to lump into Boots to get some shampoo. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that he doesn’t really need it these days! This is about when we get the first loudspeaker message of “Last call for Berlin”. Quickly checking that I have everything, I discover that my phone has gone walkabout. I ask Mr X to ring it, only to discover that it was in my pocket all along. Ooops.

It’s not quite correct, but close enough…

With Taz finally rejoining us we start the run (quick walk) towards our gate, only to realise that with only one member of staff on duty, the queue is already spilling out. Still, once through we jump on the plane and await our departure. With the plane only half full and three of us sitting in the row behind the emergency exit the proper sort of a stewardess asks us if we would like them? The look on the face of 4 Days is of pure happiness! Funny what a couple more inches of legroom can do for a man. Mr X then goes one further and is allowed to sit in business class. Lucky Cunt, I believe is the phrase to use. Although quite what you get in ‘Business Class’ on Easyjet I dunno. Maybe they don’t gob in your food?

The flight was rather non-descript and soon enough we were touching down in the Fatherland. With all our baggage in tow, we leave the plane, only to then find ourselves locked out of the terminal! After a short wait, some lady approaches with a key and finally lets us in. I breeze through security confidently and before I know it we are outside and getting our first taste of Berlin air through a cigarette.

With a part of the train network on strike (proper Gandermonium holiday this!) we end up getting a bus to the nearest tube station. What surprises me is that there is no ticket barrier of any kind to be seen. The whole system is based on trust. And trust me, this wouldn’t work back home! But for now we head towards Alex’s place, or as the Germans prefer to call it Alexanderplatz.

First view of the Forsterei.

The first thing that hits me is the amount of down & outs around. Just like back home, the phrase “East is poor, West is posh, South is rough and North is intellectual” springs to mind. I know this is the East side of the Wall but it’s not what I’d imagined. First I see a C&A, then behind that is Primark. Around the corner is TK Maxx and surrounding them are Burger King’s and McDonalds. You gotta feel for the little blighters, all they need now is a ‘Spoons and they’ve got the full set. And they’d also have somwhere to put the down & outs!

Finding our apartment was easier than I thought it might be and before long we were making contact with our cleaner to let us in. Underneath the apartment was a so called ’24hr Packet Shop’ (trust me it was!) that soon had us stocking up on some beer for the digs. The actual apartment was very nice with one double bed and two sofa beds on offer for us to rest our drunken heads later on.

With time not on our side and a bottle of beer in our hands to blend in with the locals, we decided to start making the way towards the game. The first trick was to buy a train ticket and jump on anything that was heading East. After another change over we just simply followed the crowd as they alighted at a place called Köpenick. I was amazed to see several fellas going through the bins looking for bottles and putting them into trollies. I only learned later that they got about 8c per bottle they returned. A tidy sum.

Home fans. Bouncy bouncy.

On the walk to the ground we saw a little makeshift BBQ place full of people and more importantly it served Beer! I think four beers came to something like just over £7. Not bad! It wasn’t quite a pint, but nobody’s perfect. Three rounds down, we decided to head further towards the ground. Passing more bottle collectors we were soon walking through a forest. Yes, a genuine fackin’ forest! I half expected to see Hansel & Gretel pushing a trolley of bottles along.

Suddenly the ground was there before us. Apparently it’s ok to piss anywhere in this forest because streams of locals would dive off only to return moments later looking relieved, making sure they didn’t spill a drop from their plastic cup. With our tickets all scanned we entered the outside of the ground to await the customary spot of brotherly love & touching  up from security.

Mr X got his water confiscated and to cheer him up we went straight for a another round of Berlin’s finest example of our very own Foster’s. With me & Taz getting more beers in, Mr X & 4 Days disappear only to return minutes later with a load of hot dogs. And this was no normal little British chipolata affair but a whopper that had outgrown its bun.

“Terraces are rubbish and inherently dangerous”

Said no one in Germany, ever. 

With a beer in one hand and my sausage in the other, we begun to head into the stadium proper. Soon an official was looking to take a butchers at my ticket. With both hands full, what could I do? Only hand the beer to him whilst I delve into my pocket! He sportingly accepted and held my cup while I fished out my ticket. Cheers fella. Sadly, arriving five minutes before kick off was not our best idea of the weekend because the place was packed absolutely packed, so we stood at the back and made do.

Now, this is proper football. Not only could you drink & smoke to your hearts content, there was also no one around that was glued to their phones looking at scores no one gives a fuck about. Happy Days! I suppose now I better do some kind of football write-up? Unfortunately over ninety minutes I got to see about ten minutes worth through the gaps in the crowd and whatnot. Still lets pretend for a moment…..

Hass, Schönheim, Parensen, Leistner, Trimmel, Thiel, Jopek, Zejnullahu, Quiring, Kreilach, Polter. Benchwarmers: Amsif, Puncec, Kopplin, Sulejmani, Skrzybski, Nebihi, Kobylanski

With Union shooting towards the home end, They begun to put the pressure on the Aue goal from the onset. It was only the poor finishing that let them down. In true Sutton style, that created the space to set up the cross, only for the forwards to miss the ball nine times out of ten. And on the occasion they made contact, it was easily dealt with by the keeper.

Bit busy.

Also in true Sutton fashion, the home team were soon to concede midway through the first half against the run of play, Aue counter attacked down the right hand side. The ball was cut in and fell to a fella just inside the penalty area. He calmly slotted the ball into the back of the net & the sea of purple behind to the right of the goal erupted in celebration.

This brought Aue into the game and soon there was a spell of chances for the away team. Much of the rest of the half saw the home support rally behind their side with a chorus of loud chanting and flag waving from the hardcore behind the goal. With a beer kiosk behind us at the back of the stand, obviously the beer continued to flow very freely whilst we enjoyed the spectacle.

With three sides of the ground terracing, the place was electric. The only things the stewards were overly worried about was in keeping the gangways clear. Then as the half time whistle blew we tried to move down the side of the stadium to see if we could squeeze onto a terrace for a better view, but soon gave up hope as there was no space and worse, no beer kiosk visible.

Dukey blending in as usual…

The second half saw both teams try and change the course of play. With my personal view receding by the minute I had to rely on other people to tell me what was happening. Near the hour mark I saw Aue make an attack. The only view I had of the penalty area was were the Union keeper was standing. Suddenly he dived for a ball that he missed and the ball was in the back of the net. 2-0.

Bearing in mind that we were watching an old division two level game the ref was about as useful as one of ours! He seemed to let everything go and tried not to get involved at all. Then whilst in the beer queue with Taz, Union finally banged one in and the place erupted. Asking what the goal was like, Mr X continued to demonstrate that it flew into the top corner with an outstretched right arm. Taz seemed surprised that it wasn’t me that had done that particular gesture first!

No more goals arrive and after the final whistle we get talking to some local geezers. One of who had immaculate dress sense like myself. This ended with Mr X gifted a scarf, which at least saved me having to buy Juan one. After the game we headed back to the squat bar that we’d frequented earlier. Suddenly the heavens opened and nearly got me soaked. But with typical German efficiency the rain lasted mere minutes and was soon gone. Taz & Mr X then managed to sneak in a cheeky steak burger before we decided to venture back into town.

Gingerbread house just out of shot…

Waiting on the platform with everyone else, I clocked in the corner of my eye a rather pissed German swagger near to where three rather stoutly rozzers stood. He had a proper pint glass in one hand and a fag in the other. The police did absolutely nothing! In true Gandermonium style, Mr X had also disappeared to procure some alcohol for the journey, but settled for 4 bottles instead of his normal order of 24 Buds.

Through contacts of Taz, we had a little list of places to go & entertain us tonight. Taz before the journey had also bought a book containing all the further details we needed, but of course the silly bugger forgot the fuckin’ thing! One place we knew we had to go was Friedrich-something or other. We looked on the map and found that it was a couple of stops away from home. Result.

Soon we were there and decided to get the first proper meal of the day. Stopping at a restaurant by the canal we some ordered some grub and more beer. With a limited menu and abiding by my self-imposed rule of trying to order something no one else has got I was forced to taking in a spot of the old pasta. An hour later and the food finally arrived. To say it was a small portion would be an understatement!

These things fucking stank.

Half a dozen mouthfuls later and my plate was clean. With the meal paid for we headed off to find some of this Berlin nightlife we’d been told about. The first street we found had no sign of any life at all. The second was also bereft of any activity. Suddenly the third came upon us an that too lacked any bars. “Fuck This!” someone said “Lets get back on the tube”.

On the tube we looked at the map. With my German skills all from old war films and some other frankly rather illegal ones, it was left to those who had a better grasp of the Teutonic language to work out the next step. “Stadtmitte” was soon suggested. Apparently that meant “City Centre” and was only two stops away. So we agreed to head there instead.

Arriving to an empty platform was the first indicator that something was wrong. Heading up the stairs to the outside to see the place was the next indication that in fact we had arrived in our very own German version of Oxford Circus. At 4am. All around us were closed shops and not one single person around. The only thing left to do was walk around.


And Dukey moans about a fiver for a Bulmers!

With the time fast approaching eleven, we’d still not found anywhere to drink. The setting was like a remake of 28 Days Later, not a solitary soul around except four confused Gandermonium members walking aimlessly. At one point we came upon six policeman outside a posh looking building. As you do, the conversation went silent as we walked past. The coppers in return stopped talking as well, an eerie silence was soon around as no doubt the Babylon we just thinking “WTF are they doing around here at this time of night?”. We eventually gave up and started to head home by way of the extremely large tower near our apartment. Of course, as luck would have it we finally stumbled on a Mexican gaff and sunk a few local brews down our neck wondering how it had all gone wrong so quickly.

The End.

We didn’t steal this. It wouldn’t fit in the lift…

Like fuck it was!

On the walk out we’d seen that not too far from ‘home’ was a little night club. Well, when in Rome I suppose! Stopping get some cash out of the hole in the wall and then bank rolling Taz as his Santander card was refused we soon stood outside this little club. Picking up the courage we all soon bustled in and paid our tenners on the door.

Now personally, I can’t fuckin’ stand German Techno music. And to be in a club dedicated towards it would not be my idea of heaven. But they did at least serve us more drinks and once you had gone deaf from the over the top bass you could just sit back and await the dancing totty to arrive. Of course it fuckin’ didn’t! Now I don’t know if it was the drinks or maybe something else at play, but everyone in the place seemed to be off their tits.

A group of Chinese lads were in the corner taking turns doing five minutes on a pole and then five minutes curled up in a ball on the couch. One of them was nearly dancing on Taz’s knee at one point! Then a woman with more ink than the Daily Mail was trying to do the river dance from a horizontal position and everyone else was doing their best of looking like a properly drunk uncle at a wedding.


After nearly an hour of this, we called it quits and headed back to the apartment. This was supplemented by the purchase of yet more bottles of beer from downstairs. I not sure how many we’d had at this point, but I lost count after seventeen. Back in the apartment we tried to work out how we managed to circumnavigate the entire city without finding a drop of alcohol.

Turns out that there were two different places called Friedrich. One had all the bars in it (Friedrichshain) and the other had sweet FA. Guess which one we ended up at? Still its always good to start a journey on a low and build up towards to a high surely? And not the sort of high we’d just seen in the techno joint.

I’ll now step back and let Taz take over from here. But just remember three things: The British Ambassador, Nicht das Gesicht!! and possibly the driest German football match in history.

This is going to become a theme on these trips isn’t it?


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