Friday, November 9, 2012
Germany is definitely one of my favourite destinations when it comes to following our team around the world and I am one of many Gooners who have been fortunate enough to see us play in many of the country's different cities down the years.
As a football nation I think they are the closest to our own for a number of reasons. Their stadia are large and well-attended and their club fans travel home and away in large numbers. Throw in the fact they also very much enjoy the social side to our great sport and the numerous familiarities are obvious.
Located in a region full of major towns and cities, Schalke away gave us many choices as to our location for Tuesday night's match.
On this occasion 38 of us set off from Kent early on Monday morning in a VIP coach, the added comfort of reclining seats and tables making it an altogether civilised and sociable way to head to Bochum, a city just a few miles from Schalke's home in Gelsenkirchen and our chosen location for our stay.
The journey was full of the usual banter and by the time we arrived mid-afternoon everyone was in fine spirits and right up for taking in the city's offerings.
This we did in the usual fashion before waking on match day to enjoy more activities before taking one of the metro/trams free to everyone in possession of a match ticket and dropping us directly outside the stadium.
On a wet and chilly night and during a tricky period for us on the pitch the travelling Gooners were present in huge numbers once again and we very much added to the expected noisy atmosphere created by our hosts.
Before a ball was kicked pretty much all of us admitted we would be happy with a point from the night and once the dust settled on another rollercoaster we left with just that.
But for pretty much all of the first half it looked like we could go one stage better, two quite awesome away jostles once more as a result of Theo's opener and Oly's thunderbolt header. The noise from the travelling Gooners echoed into the night sky (what little we could see with the roof half shut!)
Like when Theo scored on the stroke of half time at Reading, the first goal we conceded was crucial and although like all goals it could have been avoided, Santi slipping over was a tad unfortunate and left us exposed.
The second half was always going to be one where we would need to dig in and so it proved. Our hosts had their chances but with the incident where the referee, in my opinion, should not have stopped play when were in a position where we were highly likely to go 3-1 up and Theo's opportunity in the final minute, we too could have come away with a victory.
Overall however, it probably was a fair result and it was pleasing on the night that we showed some heart and pride in gaining that all-important point.
Refreshment back in Bochum until the wee small hours gave us plenty of time to reflect on the game as did Wednesday's journey home after a fine European adventure. Roll on the next one!
Before all that, we get back to domestic business with our latest London derby, this time at home to Fulham.
Three points are once again the No 1 aim, especially having lost two of our last three League games. Anything more than that would be a welcome bonus of course.
As always... come on you mighty reds!
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