the real fa cup

OPUS

DFB Pokal, Runde 1
FSV Salmrohr 1921 e.V. v VfL Bochum 1848
Sonntag, 9th August 2015, 2.30pm
Salmtal Stadion
Entrance €16, Programme €frei
Attendance 4500

 

Scouring the DFB Pokal Runde 1 fixtures some time ago, just six Level 5 clubs could be found amongst the sixty-four starters. In their midst; Württemberg Cup Winners, SSV Reutlingen, and Rhineland Cup Winners, FSV Salmrohr, were the two lowest placed clubs. The former entailed a nightmarish voyage to darkest corners of Baden-Württemberg (home to Stuttgart), the latter just 2-3 hours on the Autobahns towards Trier.

With a friend – an amateur fuβball aficionado – in tow, all heart strings were ignored; the head instead planned our much shorter jaunt South-West towards Luxembourg, conveniently where his club were playing. “I am on holiday, you will have to get the tickets. Here’s the link.” Christian exclaimed, deadpan before heading to the airport. Ten days later my entrapment, and I suspect his mission, were complete.

The angst of registering with yet another (alien) team may be an acceptable process for marketers however, the thought of junk mail from countless clubs trying to spread their appeal, in my direction, is one I’ve long fought against. Still Bochum box ticked, they’ll doubtless fill my spam box with new kit promotions for eternity.

Another mark checked in my ever-expanding learning curve, was the realisation that the purchasing of tickets in advance can actually cost more than face value. Yes, upon arrival, our tickets said fifteen of Frau Merkel’s finest Euros; no, we didn’t get them at that price. The blue & whites decided that €16 was a far better price to charge, before adding even more for posting and packaging. A common practice I am informed but, one that I’ll never comprehend. Thankfully the drive down was more understandable even when we headed cross-country between to motorways.

Setting out from the flats of the Rhein floodplains, the roads increasingly cut into the luscious hilly regions that border the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. The picturesque town of Salmtal sits aptly in the valley which is home to the river Salm. Without dampening its intensity – as we progressed over the crest and into its centre – the burning sun gradually became obscured in the haze of a cloud filled sky and, the breeze softened to a mere whisper.

This rural location is home to a population of almost 2500, a pair of churches, a couple of mills and a football club that have had remarkable success – given their size – and even graced Bundesliga 2 for a season in 1986. Bochum are massive in comparison. It’s all relative but without closer inspection, the list of honours shows parity. In reality one has a stadium three times the size of the other; whilst Bochum have played in the UEFA Cup twice, their hosts can only claim to be a European team. In DFB Pokal terms; the visitors have reached the final twice, whereas their hosts documented their entire cup history on half a page in the programme; just sixteen matches spread over ten seasons, four games of which they won; one was drawn.

While the pitch sits within a running track, the stadium has an impressive stand that dominates both its rural setting and the athletics home straight. Fans are fenced off from the action on gentle concrete terracing steps which border three sides of the ground. Despite zero bad-blood between them, they were sadly segregated for this match. Though, only the final bend was without tiered standing, the fire station behind provided ample high vantage points for its occupants to view the entire ninety minutes from, and they did.

The opening half would not have been a disappointment to such locals. We’d all been parked up in neighbouring fields and been let loose on the refreshment stalls, both under and behind the main stand. As tickets continued to sell up to kick off (making the quoted attendance fairly remarkable) fans consumed more and more liquids to compensate for the increasingly intense heat and humidity. Though nearby Bitburg brewery provides a very adequate offering, many visitors brought their own – Moritz Fiege – before spending the next two hours declaring their love of it in song.

By kick-off, we stood on the back step by the corner flag nearest the athletics start line. Apart from the occasional local child scouting for empties to cash-in, about us it was totally blue. Christian – proudly covered in garish Blau & Wieβ – bullishly predicted “zero-three… no zero-four” before visible recoiling with uncertainty under the realisation of “oh, that’s not all the first team”. Countering that, I uttered that any team engaging in dumbing down deserved to lose. We then stood back to witness the action unfold. Salmrohr shooting left, Bochum right.

In truth (sadly) Bochum were the better side throughout but, during the first period the gap was far less comfortable than those about me would have liked.

Disappointingly trying to set a big league tone, Anthony Losilla, crumpled under the weight of a feather-tackle early on. Deservedly the free-kick came to nothing and soon Salmrohr were on the counter. Tim Hartmann shot just wide for the home side, before hopeful screams of AHHHH filled the air from people with precious little perspective on the direction of (Bochum’s) Marco Terrazzino’s wide strike. To our left Deniz Siga and Fabian Helbig’s endeavours were drawing cheers from the home crowd. In front of us, Janik Haberer slammed a shot straight into a team mate from close range, before Salmrohr’s Daniel Schraps blocked Terrazzino’s next effort.

With smoke bombs erupting in the Bochum crowd opposite – amid countless “V-F-L” chants – Helbig’s break was snuffed out, Haberer crossed and Simon Terodde rifled over. “He’s our best striker” Christian claimed. If that was the best, I hoped he’d keep to that standard but regrettably that wasn’t to be. Five minutes from the interval the floodgates finally opened. First Tim Hoogland headed wide but – whilst Salmrohr were temporarily an injured man down – a suspiciously offside Terodde got another opportunity which he made no mistake with.

After the break, Terodde bundled through a crowded box and slotted home again. Twelve minutes later his hat-trick was complete. In the meantime; Timo Heinz almost reduced the deficit but in general greater consistency and fitness levels, and the stability of Mauel Reimann between the sticks kept Salmrohr at a safe distance. Once Terodde has hit the bottom corner, the score line was completed by a Tarrazzino brace, neither of which Salmrorhr’s fine young keeper had any chance with.

In the home goal Daniel Ternes had easily been the highlight of the game. Beaten five times but rarely at fault and, in an incredibly promising display, often finding deft agility to thwart the numerous advancing blues.

As the game wore on, we just wilted in the oppressive heat and wished it over. Others endeavoured to correct wrongly spelt banners, quench thirsts with more beer and attempted to climb fences that were clearly beyond their middle-age postures (though not half as amusing as his realisation that he could descend again safely either). Disappointed as I was in the eventual lack of giant-killing; when the final whistle sounded – just moments after the fifth goal – muted celebrations were thankfully overtaken by universal applause for the hosts and their team. Is that all everyone else wanted, I wondered; a nice day out and a tidy win …

This past weekend there were countless television channels, all proudly showing Pokal fuβball. Naturally, most were loitering in big stadia. No studio production however can ever match the joy of three hours in a breathless stadium, where searing heat is counteracted with local bier and bratwurst. Where card signs, a cow flag and great banners decorated the scene, and continuous singing from the away support sound-tracks the entire ninety minutes. Even when an upset isn’t the eventual outcome… between this and the fernsehen, LIVE really IS LIFE.

Final result: FSV Salmrohr 0-5 VfL Bochum

Footnote – Of the 32 Runde 1 ties, only 25 ended with the “Große Jungs” winning. Six were wonderfully home wins; six goliaths were slain. The final tie was abandoned with 19 minutes remaining, when the referee was struck by a projectile from the terrace. At that point a very heavily-rebranded Leipzig side were losing 1-0 away from home… how this will be resolved is anyone guess but, just in case, I’ve carefully planned the two mile drive in hope of witnessing a seventh cupset.

Words & Pictures: A. E. Greb.  You can buy the story of his 2012-13 Real FA Cup journey, ‘The Long Way’, here. Ashley’s blog and Twitter.

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