Posted: 6/16/2008
Title: SIMPLY RED AND LAST TRAIN FROM PARADISE

Blog:                                                                                                                         

      With half the teams at EURO 2008 wearing red or having that colour in their flags, you can see many stadiums covered in red, as most fans wear there team jerseys or flags and paint their faces. Holland, with red in their flag play in orange for the House of Orange, and Italy play in blue for the House of Savoy.  Austria used to play in white and black like the Germans, but when Hans Krakl became coach a few years back they switched to their national colours of red and white. You might be interested to know that under Yugoslav born arch anti-communist US Soccer President Werner Fricker 1984-1990, he refused to allow USA national teams to play in that 'Commie' red colour.

   A few day ago I met a yet to be famous US coach, Ryan Swiontek off the LAX-MUC Lufthansa flight and we walked 50 metres to the fan zone at Munich Airport between Terminals 1 and 2 to watch Croatia vs Germany from Klagenfurt.

    The Plaza is surrounded by 12-14 floor airport glass buildings on 4 sides with a high glass atrium roof. On one wall they had climbers on ropes trying to reach the top. In the middle was a stage with a poor man's Rod Stewart look-alike DJ, and a giant TV screen. The floor was covered with tressle tables and benches, and kiosks to buy beer and sausages.  A volunteer offered to paint a small German flag on my cheek, but I demanded the retro DDR (East German) one in honour of Michael Ballock, the captain,, but they wouldn't do that. We grabbed the last 2 places on a table high up on the mezzanine floor behind 6 teenage fans, who all had finished off Whoppers from Burger King and one of their mates arrived with 32 tiny paper cups of 0.21 bier, kinderbiers I called them, and asked the 14-15 year olds if their mothers knew where they were. The cups were about the size of those that the unlucky players have to piss in for the after the match doping tests. The kids finished up with a huge box of miniature white chocolates!!

   As you know, Croatia won 2-1 and Bastian Schweinsteger the Bavarian sub, was red carded. I tried to console everyone around me that at least their Dammen National Mannschaft were World Champions. It didn't go down too well.  There have been some really exciting matches and the Dutch continue to roll. The authorites in Bern, the small Swiss capital said that over 130,000 fans were in town, more than the city population, and there was very little trouble, so they didn't have to let out the bears from the famous bear pit in town to control the fans.

    We took the slow train deep into The Salzkammergut, Austria's lake district, south of Salzburg. First stop was Traunkirchen where the station is next to Hotel Annerlhof www.annerlhof.at, where I house teams. 500 metres away is THE most beautiful soccer field in THE WORLD  at SV Traunkirchen. We bumped into Michael Linenberger(Sac State coach) and his family, a former player of mine, who we had been trying to link up with. Two years ago they met us during World Cup 2006 in Rosenheim, when 15 year old Matthew was 15 1/2 and 5' 6". Today he is 6'2" and growing and will be a left full back senior in high school in the fall, recruited by many Pacific Coast colleges.  Its a tradition after a match to run down the short jetty and jump naked into the Traunsee, the deepest and clearest lake in the region. Standing on the bottom the little fish will clean and tickle your toes. Then you can dash to the Gaste Kabine(away locker room) for a hot shower. Outside on the tressle tables the home team will often feed you steaks and weiners and maybe open a keg of beer. All with the mighty Traunstein mountain in the background across the lake.

  I took them to The Annerlhof for lunch and we sat on the sun terrace and I had the local rainbow trout with potato salad and apple spritzer. I called the fish 'Bob' as he looked at me with his mouth wide open and little eye. DE-LICIOUS.!! A few minutes later we hopped on the train again and went to Obertraun, near the end of the line and walked to the national sports school, under the shadow of the Dachstein mountains at 3,000 meters. Its a fantastic setting with a dozen football pitches and lots of other sports. It's the start of the summer season and Inter Ljubljana from the Slovenian capital were arriving for training camp. Other clubs from Russia, Romania, Cyprus, Ukraine, Scotland, Austria and English clubs such as Preston North End and Coventry City will follow in the weeks ahead.  


    Having missed the hourly Austrian postbus we walked 4 m to Hallstatt, THE most beautiful village in Europe, and managed to run and catch the last ferry boat-5 minutes across the lake, to the tiny station and the Last Train out of Paradise to Salzburg.

    What a match: Turkey vs Czech Republic from Geneva, The other match Portugal v Switzerland was less dramatic since Portugal go through and the Swiss stay home even before kick off. The Swiss do love their coach Kobi. Two goals down and the Turks fight back  to win 3-2 and advance out of their group. 325 years ago in 1683 The Ottoman Empire failed to take Vienna after a long seige and left behind lots of flour and coffee beans, with which the locals celebrated by making croissants, the shape of the Turkish crescent, and the intense dark coffee the locals still drink in Viennese coffee houses today.

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