Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Win 2 Tickets to Leeds Festival

Win 2 Tickets to Leeds Festival + Hunter Wellie Kits & More

Win 2 tickets to Leeds Festival at Bramham Park from Friday 28th to Sunday 30th August plus 2 pairs of amazing Hunter wellington boots.
Fancy joining The Libertines, Mumford & Sons, Metallica, Bastille, The Maccabees, Jamie T, Limp Bizkit, Lethal Bizzle and more plus tons of comedians, DJs and celebrities in the heart of Yorkshire? Then it’s good news for you that wellington boot and outerwear specialists Hunter have teamed up with Mainline Menswear to give you a chance to win 2 tickets to the festival – plus we’ll kit you out in Hunter wellies just in case that Yorkshire weather is a bit wet.

All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning this amazing weekend of great music, entertainment and premium wellington boot kits worth well over £700 leave your name, email address and mobile number below and we’ll pick one lucky person at random. That 1st prize winner and a friend or family member will then be making their way to Leeds in August to enjoy all of the excitement and music that a festival can offer, complete with a pair of Hunter wellington boots each plus a bag and care kit for your boots.

Fancy increasing your chances of winning an amazing prize? Optionally you can tell us your favourite festival story, and we’ll pick one at random to take home a pair of Hunter wellies, bag and care kit. Be creative, as your best stories will feature on our blog!

So what are you waiting for? Enter now to be in with a chance of winning these amazing prizes courtesy of Hunter and Mainline Menswear.

Monday, 13 April 2015

Eisenhüttenstadter FC Stahl v TuS 1896 Sachsenhausen

The Most Immaculate Haircut

Eisenhüttenstadter FC Stahl 0-6 (six) TuS 1896 Sachsenhausen
Sportanlagen Waldstrasse, Eisenhüttenstadt.
Brandenburg Liga
Saturday 11th April 2015
Attendance 115

"Sorry, we only do bratwurst on a Friday night".

Not a great start to the trip. Slippery bockwurst from a jar are the only food option. I'll go hungry, thanks. 

Things aren't great in Eisenhüttenstadt. The town’s best days are long gone and the football club can no longer match past DDR achievements.

Classic groundhopper shot. 

*Sounds Fact Klaxon* I'll keep the facts brief.

Eisenhüttenstadt was East Germany's first pop at a town in a fully socialist planned style, a commie Milton Keynes if you like, and originally called Stalinstadt. At the time the Berlin Wall fell Eisenhüttenstadt was home to 50,000 people, a huge steel works, and a team in the top level of East German football. Now, half the population have buggered off, the steel works is mostly closed and the team are struggling at the bottom of 6th level of German football. Still, I bet the Commie's could manage to BBQ a Bratwurst on a Saturday.  

Appears to have been coloured in with a permanent marker.

The main stand is a cramped, crumbling and dusty socialist relic. Seats are missing, leaving unwelcoming wooden benches. Those seats that remain are filthy, or cracked; or filthy and cracked. The sweeping terraces are covered in weeds and moss, the club house is closed, the scoreboard is broken, the stadium signage has faded away to feint outlines and the goal posts are rusting.

The road to nowhere. Not a road. 

"Dear esteemed committee members, good news. We can afford to replace the dilapidated seats in the main stands."

"All of them, Hans?"

"Well......three of them?" 
*mass booing ensues*

Double-denim clad fans make their way to the ground along broad, deserted streets lined by abandoned housing blocks bearing socialist murals. They’re greeted by a sparse food offering and jaunty electro indie pop, which has recently been introduced to Eisenhüttenstadt (or, if you prefer an English translation, Iron Hut Town).  Pre match tunes include "I Still Remember" by Bloc Party (Blok Partie), "Everything Counts (Everyzink Counts) by Depeche Mode and "Mr Brightside" (Herr Brightside) by The Killers (Die Killers Die).

Groundhopper classic curving terrace shot. 

Pre match warm-up for the home starting eleven consists of dribbling round the daisies on the bobbly pitch before firing shots over the corroding goal frame and into a sand less long-jump pit. Pre match warm-ups for the home subs involves fetching wayward shots from a sand less long-jump pit.

Fritz vowed never to go to the football again after his prized handkerchief turned up tied to the corner flag. Oh, the indignity. 

Both teams consist of eleven men who don't look like footballers. Most of the play suggests many of them aren’t footballers. Eisenhüttenstadt’s number ten is an angry brick of a man who barges into anyone who comes near him whilst simultaneously struggling to control any ball that comes near him. He can’t shoot and generally has the demeanour of a hunger crazed German carnivore who's just asked for a large Bratwurst at a Morrisey concert.

  "For me, Geoff, that's a straight red. He's gone in with both feet of the ground, with full force and he could do serious injury. 

"Yes I agree, my question was about why the player on the right appears to be wearing striped shorts? No one likes to see that in football."

The home team are two down after twenty minutes, but they get a penalty shortly after. This penalty could change the course of the match, revitalise the clubs season and give rise to the re-awakening of the town. Carsten Hilgers places the ball confidently on the white cross which marks the dry bit of earth which marks what used to be the penalty spot. He steps up. He waddles it way over the crossbar and straight over the sand-less long jump pit. After that it’s all Sachsenhausen.

Token lonely fan shot.  

A home fan behind me provides a commentary which consists of “Oh man, oh man, oh man, oh man…..” “Oh god, oh god, oh god….” Many other fans just laugh at the ineptitude of both teams. Sachsenhausen are slightly less inept. At half time they’re winning 4-0.  

 Token match shot. 

Sachsenhausen’s manager, Frank Schwager, is a man enjoying the afternoon in the spring sunshine. Frank Schwager is also clearly a man who used to have a mullet. He still maintains a little bit of it, just enough to tickle the collar area.

 The "F" stands for "Full of People"
He’s a man that knows that the heady days of peak mullet (1987 - 1991) are, regrettably, gone, but his haircut reminds him of a rebellious youth he’s unwilling to let go of. He’s in mullet rehab. Slowly reducing the length of a mullet before a more contemporary haircut is slowly introduced is a tactic used by many FMS (Former Mullet Syndrome) sufferers to help them reduce their dependency on the short at the front, long at the back style and, very slowly, rehabilitate them into normal hair styled society.

The treatment is going well, we are pleased with his progress but he's not fooling anyone by tucking his mini-mullet into his tracksuit. 

Downtrodden areas, like East Germany, are prime FMS territory and, statistically, football managers of lower league clubs are 37% more likely to suffer than the rest of the population. Secret clubs congregate regularly in dank church basements for slideshows of the photos from the heydays of the mullet and to receive updates from the last bastions of mulleted resistance against the square haircuts of the capitalist world.

Actual people in the ground.  

Frank’s work in the second half consists solely of stroking his tenny-tiny mullet and having the Bundesliga scores read to him by his assistant, a man whose sole duty appears to be to read out football scores out from his mobile phone to a boss who “hasn’t got his reading glasses on”.  Glasses, or not, Frank sees his team score two more goals in the first ten minutes of the second half before they declare. Eisenhüttenstadt, its bratwurst starved people and its football team have suffered enough.

If you too suffer from FMS and would like to speak to someone the AiT confidential hotline is open 24 hours. You do not need to suffer alone.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Kitchee v Eastern

Kitchee Nightmares

Kitchee 2-3 Eastern
Hong Kong Stadium
Hong Kong Senior Shield Final
Saturday 17th January 2015
Attendance: 6,133

"I think you need 5XL, sir”

AiT loves a freebie. Free pen, stress ball, mouse mat, one of them furry things with the wobbly eyes that you don't see so much anymore, so to see free T-Shirts being dished out at the Hong Kong Government Stadium was a grifters delight. However, the comment on just what size I would require to get stretched it over my *cough* robustly proportioned European Asian frame was a bit of a slap in the jowly chops.

Go ,go, go, we are Kitchee, Kitchee. 

In addition to handing out the ridiculously small T-Shirts Eastern fans were busy painting faces (face too fat), temporarily tattooing arms (arms too wobbly) donning comedy wigs (head too big) and taking selfies with mascots (confusion as to who was wearing a costume to make them look like a grotesque over sized human being and who was a mascot). I waddled off to the other side of the ground, all the way my sweaty thighs rubbing together resulting in an agonising chub rub, towards the low key Kitchee fans.

I just don't know where to begin with what's wrong here. 

Kitchee fans were selling goods. For money. They don't need freebies, they've already given the world enough, via their club song. The video for which sees four lads bounce around wearing similar, well fitted, T-Shirts, purchased in bulk from the Matalan autumn sale singing an infuriatingly catchy chorus. 

A young, handsome, SLIM, Kitchee fan gets in the Senior Shield final spirit.  

I was angry. I was raging. I was eating a chicken burger with large fries. I know wanted a T-Shirt really bad (I'd spilt mayo all down my shirt). This became vitally important to me, even though there is no danger of me ever wearing the T-Shirt, I needed to have one. Breathing in so hard that I could barely talk I wheezily requested another T-Shirt. It works. An XL! I've dropped five T-Shirt sizes. If you are interested in the AiT diet please send a stamped addressed envelope to.....

Let it all out, fella. If I'm wearing 5XL then somebody order this guy a moo moo in Eastern club colours. 

The reason for this freebie madness, well, it's only the *checks match programme* 2014-5 HKFA Canbo Senior Sheld Final. Yes, I had jetted in especially to watch the match. The names of some previous winners of the Senior Shield are so good that I feel it is special enough to deploy the use of bullet points to convey the comedy goodness.
  • G Coy., King's Own Regiment
  • Royal Welch Fusiliers
  • HMS Glory
  • HMS Albion (who later became West Bromwich Albion, of course)
  • Naval Yard
  • HMS Titania
  • The King's Own Borderers
  • South Wales Borderers
  • Buffs (BUFFS! GO BUFFS!)
There you go groundhoppers. It's the shot you all wanted to see. 

The Kitchee fans, all wearing non matching T-Shirts, raise a flag above their heads, covering their small but vociferous group of fans. They wave flags and chant loudly as the teams take to the pitch and are led by one guy co-ordinating their activities. Nice.

Token match shot. 

The Eastern fans are all in their perfectly fitting Senior Shield special T-Shirts and ohlookatmearentIwacky wigs. They slap together those air baton things, whack folded bits of card on their hands, shrill loudly, and have songs that are based just on clapping and not actually singing. They have a drum, but prefer to use instruments like a tambourine and others that I've not seen since Year 8 music lessons when we were giving a box of instruments and told to create a soundscape that recreated the feeling of being lost in a forest. It's all massively modern football. All this is co-ordinated by four teenage girls (Edit: The over 16 part of “teenage“ - AiT's top lawyer) in short blue skirts, tight T-Shirts and knee length football socks. One thing is for certain: there is no stopping them. And I for one welcome our new teenage ultra overlords.

I get myself litre of cold beer and have a sit down in a quiet part of the stadium for a while.

"This is Stadium Footage".  The match you were watching outside, remember? Look! It's the same stadium, you don't recognise it?

Fans from both sides laugh at the replays of the goals, which serve to show highlight the woeful defending. The game has it's own Willie Young/Paul Allen moment when Jean Kilama hauled down/bundled over/chops down a Kitchee striker. The ref gives a yellow. The crowd cry with laughter.

During the second half blue wigs are slowly discarded, old men argue, Jean Kilama gets #cupfinalcramp and the game is accompanied by a racket originating from wood blocks and maracas stamped with “Property of Hong Kong High School”.

Oh, well done sir. Well done indeed. A hand made replica of the tinpot shield. 

Celebrations. Not in shot the tinpot shield. 

Eastern's celebrations stick closely to the templates set down in the “How to Celebrate a Cup (or Senior Shield) Win rule book. They bundle on each other (tick), change into T-Shirts commemorating the win (tick) climb a staircase (tick), pass the Cup (or Senior Shield) amongst themselves and raise it towards their fans (tick), sing “Ole, ole, ole” a bit (tick), return to the pitch and celebrate with small children (a new rule implemented in the How To Celebrate a Cup (or Senior Shield) Win – Modern Testament), sing along to “We Are the Champions” as it booms from the PA system (tick), spray a bottle of cheap fizz around a bit (tick), pose for photos behind a large board proclaiming them Cup (or Senior Shield) winners in front of a largely empty stadium (tick) and then pose for selfies with four teenage girls in short blue skirts, tight T-Shirts and knee length football socks. *puffs out cheeks*

Got home. Shoved the T-Shirts in a drawer. Never even taken them out of their packaging. 

If my phone looked like this I would be delighted if I'd lost it. 

Nobody wants to be here and nobody wants to leave. 

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Lichtenberg 47 v Hürtürkel

Do you dream about me?

Lichtenberg 47 4-0 Hürtürkel
Hans Zoschke Stadion, Berlin
Oberliga Nordost
Saturday 22nd November 2014
Attendance: 141

When I'm not spending Saturday's watching football there's nothing I like more than to fondle mannequins in department stores. I love that smooth plastic feel and their forgiving, distant stares as I caress their plastic torsos. 

Dog in ground - tick. 

There's always a twinge of regret, I'm free to leave afterwards but they're stuck. Frozen in a shop window wearing clothes they don't like as a world of shoppers points at their bodies, without ever once making eye contact. They're stuck there on the shop floor, I've seen women forced to expose themselves in Matalan in only a bra and underpants, oh the shame of it. They're stuck there, never interacting, always staring and told never to speak - even in situations where someone accidentally bumps into them and, especially, not when someone mistakenly begins to ask them for direction to the Men's Suits section (3rd floor, take the stairs on your right)

Old men wearing hats - tick. 

But Lichtenberg 47 prove there is a way out, a world into the limelight and out of the shop widow, a chance to shine away from the drudgery of the Marks and Spencer men's knitwear section. 

Look at him. A mannequin stallion, A perfect specimen. A hero, an inspiration to all those mannequins trapped behind and left in a uninspiring world of day shifts on the shop floor and uncomfortable nights sleeping, huddled, often naked, on stock room floors. Here is a mannequin that has made it in the real world, he's escaped, we don't know how but he's escaped to a better place, he's amongst us now. Look at his rippling chest. That powerful thigh swooping through the air to strike the ball perfectly with the sole of the laces. The hair. Luscious, Blonde. Together it provides a bold statement. "Look at me, this is who I am world, I'M A MANNEQUIN AND I'M PROUD.  Look at me, look at my six pack, my hair.... don't look at my knob and bollocks, OI! Knock it off, right! I didn't have time to pick up some shorts before I did a bunk from JJB Sports. And yeah, it's November and your cock wouldn't look at his best in this chilly air. Can someone get these rocks behind me shifted please, they're killing my ankle on my follow through."

The club house is perfect. Packed with people getting drunk on an early Saturday afternoon, whilst watching the televised football. The tables are beautifully laid out, including flowers and candles to create an ambiance that's equal parts BT Sport game on a Saturday evening in a Walkabout and part doomed romantic meal in a mediocre restaurant. 

Weird number plate style sign - tick. 

The walls have league ladders. The names of Lichtenberg 47's two teams printed out on pieces of paper and ordered in accordance with the current league standings. This is interactive at it's best. Keep your red button, keep your live table updates after every soddin' goal and your Ray Winston in play's - give me a clubhouse league ladder any day. Who updates them after every match? No one would tell me. No one admitted to knowing. I have my suspicions. *points further up page to picture of mannequin in the buff*. 

Tinpot perfection right there. 

Along the corridor from the bar was the trophy cabinet, the boardroom and the toilets. The big news story was to be found in the Gents toilets. 3 urinals, one cubicle, 9 (nine) air fresheners. Not all the same either, some hung by string from pipes, some balanced on a shelf, some clung to the side of the urinals, but all of them combined to create a dizzying aroma of Ocean Breeze, Toasted Almond and Harvest Meadow. Why the need for such a plethora of fragrances? Who's causing the ungodly funk that must be masked, even if it means blowing the entire weekly clubhouse shopping budget? Have you ever smelt a mannequin's shit? I have. *taps nose knowingly* Their diet is terrible. Truly terrible. 

AiT - Bringing you the finest football photography on the web. 

AiT - Bringing you the finest football photography on the web and then bringing a very similar photo to you again right after it.

The grassy terraces. The tergrasses. That doesn't work. Scrap that.

Your average pile of leaves shoved next to a psychedelic painting of a five legged woman, wearing high heels, shooting a football from her bits, whilst simultaneously shitting a perfect triangle of footballs AS a bunch of tennis rackets and badminton (eh?) bats attack her AND AND AND WOW THIS IS REALLLLYYY MENTAL, DUDE!!.

The ground itself, which might have got somewhat overlooked in this blog, is perfect. 4 terraces covered in grass, one small area of grey seating, which is being slowly covered in grass, and a psychedelic mural. Who painted it? No one knows. I have my suspicions. Have you ever been to the opening night of an art exhibition staged by mannequins. I have, they paint some freaky shit. 

What? Oh, Lichtenberg won 4-0. 

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Hürtürkel v Optik Rathenow

Lost In Pronunciation

Hürtürkel 3-4 Optik Rathenow
Jahnsportplatz, Berlin
Oberliga Nordost
Sunday 26th October 2014
Attendance: 157

Since being formed in 1999 Hürtürkel (pronounced "Hürtürkel") have made rapid progress, hürtling through the leagues to reach the Oberliga Nordost. 

Back in 1999, when we all partied like it was 1999, the Grundig TV that sits in the refreshment hut was in it's tiny prime, the antiquated fire hazard heater contraption was already posing a very real risk of an explosion and the beautifully hand crafted signs showed prices in Euros for the first time. Mona and Kalla König work as an impressive team in that hut. Him with double denim, large glasses and an ear ring, her with cropped hair and a world weary demeanour. I order a Krakauer (pronounced "Krakauer"), a spicy sausage, and Mona asks if I want it "warm or cold?". Hmm..odd. "Warm" please Mona.

An old grill pan strapped to a gas canister. What could go wrong?

Now, lets have a look at the pictures you've sent in over in The Gallery. 

"Two pints of oder Kindl please Kalla lad"

Mrs K plonked a plastic cup full of tepidly steaming grey liquid on the counter and asked for EUR 1. 20. Hmm, I don't think this is what I ordered. I instantly knew this as , traditionally, sausages don't come served in a plastic cups. Something had gone badly wrong. I retreated to ponder this troublesome conundrum. I've said “Krakauer”(still pronounced “Krakauer” and she's heard me pronounce “Kakao”(pronounced very similarly to Krakauer by my mumbled German). Two sips later and the rancid, warmed up chocolate milkshake drinks gets lobbed into a bush.

Kakao. Putting the kak into Kakao. Should have thought this comment through a bit more. 

"I know, we probably shouldn't use that Marlboro change dish thing anymore, the bloody PC Brigade would be up in arms about it, but as long as I'm here it stays."

In front of the refreshment an old lady sits next to the only table. Silent. Serene. Chain smoking. A sign reading “Privat” shows she shouldn't be disturbed. She stares straight ahead as the noisy Optik Rathenow fans turn up and order, and receive, the refreshments they think they had ordered. 

Boots clatter on concrete, a linesman slams the changing room door shut and the keys rattle as he locks the door, the reticent PA announcer whispers the line ups into a microphone, the numerous home stewards pull on their hideously loud orange bibs, a roaringly pissed, double denimed Optik fan chants "FSV, FSV" whilst sloshing his pint, the referee blows the whistle to start the game. The lady sits quietly.

Token attempted arty shot. 

The Optik fans strike up a chorus of, "Come on you boys in green", (pronounced in English and with a harsh Brandenburg accent) and their team are three nil up by half an hour. The inattentive PA announcer has to ask for confirmation who scored all the goals and then, with head bowed and with very poor annunciation, whispers the scorers names into his microphone.

The Jahnsportplatz is an all seater arena. 

Optik's Marcel Bahr then concedes a penatly and gets himself sent off by punching away a goal bound shot. He takes the decision badly, oh, so very badly, despite it being his dumbarse decision to thump the ball clear. He then proceeds to pronounce, very clearly and very loudly, a large number of insults and swear words in the direction of anyone who doesn't really want to hear them. Hürtürkel's Attila Caliskan has his penalty saved. The PA announcer breaths a sigh of relief that he doesn't have to open his mouth. The lady sits quietly.

Token attempted arty shot II

Hürtürkel hürriedly score two goals. Half time 3-2. Bahr re-appears,still shouting and still trapped in his world of rage. He gets into an argument with some home fans, gets calmed down by some away fans and acts like a Bahr with a sore head (sorry).

Token match shot. 

One hügely proud parent tells all around him that his son, Hasan (of course, Hasan), is playing at left back for the home side. He abuses anyone that dares come near his son with clear insults, "YOU ARE AN IDIOT, HONESTLY!!", greets one opponent who dares to tackle his offspring. Proud Father takes out his mobile phone as the game reaches nears it's climax. Hasan lines up to knock a free kick in the area, the players jostle for position, this could be it, a glorious comeback with Hasan at it's centre, 30 seconds into the Proud Father's video Optik make a substitution, Hasan waits with hands on hips, his Dad films with his arm extended out in front of him, the substitution takes ages, Proud Father's phone camera fills with over a minute of absolute buger all, the lady sits, the referee blows his whistle, Proud Father extends his arm even further forward to capture the big moment. Hasan fires the free kick into the wall. "Acchh Scheisse", says the disappointed Father as deletes the video.

Proud Father. 

With seven minutes left the home side equalise. Subs, manager, stewards, fans and me go crazy whilst a Turkish wedding procession fills the air with the hönking of car horns and, yep, an old lady sits quietly looking on.

3 minutes later Salih Cetin takes a shot for Optik, the ball Brehme's up into the air and loops over the home keeper, 3-4. Hürtürkel pile forward, Proud Father films, Hasan takes shots, the goalkeeper comes up for corners, the shy PA announcer wishes for one more home goal to announce.  The final whistle sounds. Hürtürkel have lost. The old lady is nowhere to be seen. 

For an actual report of the game, that doesn't include numerous references to an old lady, have a read of this report over at the ever excellent No Dice magazine.