Posted: 3/7/2016
Title: HALLER, HALLER, HALLERLUJA

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           The first time I went to a football match in Augsburg was in 1972 at the old Rosenaustadion at the Munich Olympics to watch a very boring 0-0 draw between USA and Morocco. Nowadays FC Augsburg play in the new WWK ARENA on the city outskirts past the university. On match days there is a free 20 minute tram ride from the Hauptbahnhof or city centre.

         .  At the stadium there was a 30 minute wait to get frisked which even with half a dozen lines was the longest I have ever experienced. At Helmut Haller Platz in one corner is a statue of FCA's most famous player, Helmut Haller. My most vivid memory of him was when he scored the opening goal for West Germany in the World Cup Final against England at Wembley in 1966, before a Geoff Hurt hat-trick and an extra time win gave The Three Lions there only World Cup victory--50 years ago. Der Fuggerstadter, (named after a prominent medieval family The Fuggers) were founded in 1907 but merged in 1969 to form the current FC AUGSBURG.www.fcaugsburg.de.   They have mostly been a 2nd or 3rd tier club and for two years at the 4th level, before promotion to Bundesliga l in 2011  for the first time, two years after moving into the 30,000 seat Arena.

            Helmut Haller played in three World Cups in 1962, 1966 and 1970 Born in Augsburg, the capital of the Swabian area of Bavaria he played for his local club from 1957-1962 before a big money transfer to Bologna where he spent 6 years before 5 seasons with Juventus. He won the Scudato with both clubs. In 1966 in England he formed  the midfield with Franz Beckenbauer and Wolfgang Overath. He was lured away to Italy with a 750,000 marks fee and an annual salary of 200,000 Marks  Back then German domestic players could only be paid 500 Marks a month, which rose to 2500 Marks when the new Bundesliga started in 1963.

             In 1973 he returned to his native city and the chant ' Haller, Haller, Hallerluja'  was devised.  In a Bundesliga ll match v TSV 1860 Munich such was the interest in the returning star that a world record for a Bundesliga ll match with 90,000 in the Munich Olympiastadion. He retired in 1979 and did some amateur coaching and opened a fashion store. He passed away in October 2012.  There is a bronze statue of the local hero at the stadium at Helmut Haller Platz.

              Augsburg has an old town which I spent Saturday morning exploring and a fantastic and well displayed market which seems to specialize in local and exotic fruits, and there are many cafes, wine bars and restaurants and pastry shops with scrumtious choice of breads, passtries and and sandwiches.  Then to the Konigsplatz to catch the free bendy tram to the stadium. Mine was packed with many visiting Leverkusen fans singing their lungs out on the 20 minute trip.. Bayer are in 8th and FCA in 14th in the 18 team Bundesliga 1 table..

              Marwin Hitz in goal is a Swiss international and has been attracting interest from Liverpool so a fan told me. They have two South Korean internationals including Jeong-Ho Hong and Ja-Cheo Koo.  it was Koo that sent the home team into a 2-0 lead by half time and then completed his hat trick. Three points for FCA??  - WRONG!!   Leverkusen fought back and with a pk in the 90th minute managed a point in a 3-3 draw. By then I had long gone to hop on the first tram to the Augsburg Hauptbahnhof and just in time to catch the ICE Express to Munich Hbf, a quick meal of half a roast chicken, and the S bahn No.8 line to Flughafen Muenchen.

      

        

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