Category Archives: 1. FSV Mainz

Resisting the Frankfurt Doctrine

Come on in the Apfelwein is lovely

When Andrew van Leeuwen moved to Germany he thought he’d be free to follow his beloved Mainz. However, as he tells the Bundesliga Lounge, some pesky Eintracht Frankfurt fans have other plans for him.

I have a love/hate relationship with Eintracht Frankfurt.

There’s no real reason for me to dislike Eintracht. My wife is from Hessen, and I absolutely love Apfelwein, the native alcoholic beverage of Frankfurt.

I don’t even mind the way Eintracht Frankfurt play football. They have some exciting play makers, which, coupled with their lacklustre defence, makes for entertaining football. And, if nothing else, you can have a good laugh watching Alex Meier’s six-five frame galloping around a football pitch, or calling Oka Nikolov the Ryan Giggs of goalkeeping (he debuted for Frankfurt’s youth team in 1991!), or just wondering what Benjamin Köhler was thinking last time he got his hair cut.

But, despite all those reasons to love Eintracht Frankfurt, part of me still hates them. Part of me likes seeing them lose. And the only reason I want them back in the 1.Bundesliga is so that I can watch Mo Zidan connect with anything that flies through those massive holes in Frankfurt’s defence when they inevitably play Mainz 05 next season. These facts are harsh, but true.

The reason I have this strange disdain for Eintracht is because of my friends. Now, I don’t know what it’s like in the rest of the world, but in Australia, losing to your friends is worse than losing to your enemies. Very few will admit this, but deep down we all know that seeing a friend’s favourite club do well when your favourite club is doing poorly sucks. Sharing that happiness in any beyond a polite ‘well done’ and a forced smile is basically impossible. Again, harsh, but true.

I don’t live in Australia anymore. I now live in Germany, and, in case you hadn’t already guessed, 90 percent of my friends here are Eintracht Frankfurt supporters. That’s fine; they’re all good blokes who have welcomed me into their group. They love a Weizen and a bembel or two of Apfelwein, and that’s just fine with me.

But if I hear someone say ‘Eintracht Frankfurt is just a much better club than Mainz’ one more time, in any language, I’m going to scream.

The point that they’re trying to make isn’t, necessarily, too wide of the mark. In terms of ‘fanatic’ support, Mainz is a long way behind some of the other clubs, and according to my somewhat biased friends, the team’s stint in the 2.Bundesliga reaped some pretty embarrassing crowd figures (I can’t confirm or deny that, as it was long before my fascination with the league began).

And no, Mainz fans don’t command a huge police presence when they travel away. They aren’t famous for their pyrotechnics, and they probably never will be.

But the Mainz support isn’t all that bad, either. I’ve only been to the Coface Arena once, and there was 30,000 people there against Hannover, the away crowd only making a very modest contribution to the overall crowd number. Sure, Mainz have stolen You’ll Never Walk Alone from Liverpool – but so have heaps and heaps of professional clubs.

More than just apple juice

At the end of the day, flares and original songs aren’t the barometer of passion. The roar of the crowd when a goal is scored, or during a particularly beautiful passage of play, is what it’s all about. The actual size of that crowd, or the size of their flags and banners, is beside the point. It’s how the fans feel when their team is performing.

The funny thing is that I’ve been to more Eintracht games than Mainz games during my short stint as a German. I’ve seen a lot, from the 6-1 demolition of FSV Frankfurt to the 4-2 loss in Paderborn (or Paderbornska, as the Frankfurt fans were calling it after a stint out of European competition). And it’s been great. There are flares and chanting and jumping and bedlam when the ball finds the back of the net. In Paderborn, we watched as the local police outnumbered the fans as they walked from the city centre to the modest ground. It’s been fascinating to experience, some great football as a neutral fan, and I look forward to seeing plenty more Eintracht games.

But none of those things make me want to be an Eintracht supporter. I’ll stick with my little club – despite some external pressures to switch sides from my mates.

Because that’s what football is all about.

The Bundesliga Show Episode 42 – A mixed weekend of sadness and joy in the Bundesliga

This week on The Bundesliga Show, Terry Duffelen and Jon Hartley, talk about the big issues of Matchday 13 in the Bundesliga. It was a mixed weekend of emotions in the Bundesliga…sadness at the news of Referee Babak Rafati tried to take his own life before Cologne’s game with Hannover.

Also in the show, author and journalist Uli Hesse talks about the big match of the week between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.

The Bundesliga Show Episode 42 – A mixed weekend of sadness and joy in the Bundesliga by soundoffootball

A Mainz Down Under

Guest writer Andrew van Leeuwen tells the Bundesliga Lounge of the trials of following his beloved 1. FSV Mainz in Australia.
You can’t have it all.
There are a lot of great things about living in Australia. The weather is generally agreeable, the beach is never far away, and the array of poisonous snakes, spiders and marsupials make living through each day a unique and exciting challenge.
But being Australian (and yes, despite my rather Dutch surname, I am actually a born and bred Australian) does make being a Bundesliga fan rather hard work. Actually, just to digress a tiny bit, being an Australian makes following any football league hard work. In the hierarchy of Australian sport, football is still fighting its way uphill in comparison to the sports more traditionally watched by Australians, such as cricket, Australian Rules Football, and, for reasons beyond me and my Aussie Rules upbringing, Rugby League in the north eastern states.
A great World Cup campaign by the Socceroos in Germany back in 2006 and the excitement of a World Cup hosting bid for 2022 made some of the ground up to the other sports. But then a lot of that hard work was then undone by the Socceroos comparatively poor performance in South Africa last year, and Qatar shockingly, and somewhat questionably, earning the rights for the ’22 World Cup back in January.
Being a Bundesliga fan is even harder. As long as you’re happy to pay the $60 a month to have Foxtel connected to your TV – that’s the Aussie subscriber television network – you can keep a good eye on the A-League (our premier football division here in Oz) and the English Premier League. In fact, most EPL games are shown live on Foxtel in Australia – you just have to deal with the anti- social time difference by getting a good espresso machine, or buying your cola
drinks in bulk at Costco.But with the Bundesliga, you not only have the time difference to deal with, but a complete void of TV coverage as well. While the ESPN coverage in the UK might
be spasmodic, here in Australia there is essentially nothing.
For most of last season, free-to-air sports channel ONE HD was showing one Bundesliga match per ‘spieltag’. It was okay, except for the fact that the games started off being live (watching Hoffenheim beat Werder 4-0 live with a mate who loves Bremen during the first round in the 2010/11 season was just delightful), and then progressed to being shown mid-morning in Australia the following day. A better timeslot for sleeping patterns, sure, but well beyond any
chance of resisting the urge to jump on the internet and find out the score prior
to it coming on the TV.
The other issue was that ONE HD generally chose the game of the round, by which I mean the Bayern Munich game. So, throughout the entire last season, I got to watch my beloved Mainz 05 play live just once on my TV – although it was the game where Adam Szalai slotted the winner against the Bayerisch at Allianz, so it wasn’t all bad. Didn’t get much sleep that night.
It gets worse. Since last season, ONE HD has realised that being a dedicated sports channel was sending them broke, and changed their ethos from all-sport to being aimed at the general male demographic instead. That means that any chance of live, or otherwise, coverage of the Bundesliga has gone out the window to be replaced by the likes of Ice Road Truckers and Karl Pilkington’s An Idiot Abroad (hilarious nonetheless, but not at all helpful to a Bundesliga fan, unless in the next series he goes to the Coface Arena in Mainz).
Then there is Sentanta, which is an expensive add-on of Foxtel. Yes, they show a spattering of Bundesliga matches live, but a lot of them are simply replays, and having to justify doubling our subscriber TV bill to my fiancé just isn’t worth the hassle.
So, for a lot of Australian-based Bundesliga fans, it’s down to crummy live streams on our impossibly slow internet, usually in German. Now, meine Deutsch ist nicht schlecht, aber es ist nicht sehr gut. I’d kill for some English commentary, just every now and then. I also find myself activating the ‘Tor Alarm’ on the Sport1 iPhone app and setting the phone right next to my pillow in the middle of the night. The missus loves nothing more than when the beeping sound wakes us both up, and then I ask her to translate the German for me so I can work out
what’s happening … not. She likes Mainz 05, but as she so often points out, she’s happy to wait for the morning to find out the score.
So, these are the challenges of being an Australian Bundesliga fan. When my wife-to-be inevitably gets her way and we move to Mainz, then I’ll be faced with the same set of challenges to watch my other two loves, Perth Glory (A-League) and the Geelong Football Club (Aussie Rules), in action from the other side of the world.
But, as I said at the start, you can’t have it all.
Andrew van Leeuwen is the assistant editor of Australian Motorsport eNews. Follow Andrew on Twitter at @avlmelbourne.

Europa League: Mainz maybe be out but that does not mean they are down

Last Sunday the players of Gaz Metan Medias trudged off the pitch at their pitch at the Municipal Stadium after having been thumped 5-0 by Dynamo Bucharest in the second round of the new Romanian First Division season. Preparation could not have been worse for their UEFA Europa League second leg encounter against Bundesliga opposition in the shape FSV Mainz.
But it has not exactly been a fantastic start to the competitive season for the Bundesliga club and they were as disappointing against the Romanians as they were disappointed to be knocked out of the competition on penalties. As in the first leg, the Germans seemed to have control of the game after taking a 2-1 aggregate lead in the first half with a smart volley from Marcel Risse. However, just as they did in the Coface Arena last Thursday, Medias equalised. The Jordanian Thaer Al Bawab rose to meet a corner kick with striker Sami Allagui an ill matched marker.
Mainz enjoyed plenty of possession but created few decent goal scoring chances. Those that did find their target were ably fended off by Medias keeper Razvan Plesca. It was Plesca who’s penultimate penalty save ultimately won the resultant shoot out as neither team could win the game in regular or extra time. And so, after all that hard work and effort over the last season, Mainz’ reward of European football has been snatched away from them by a team that themselves have only qualified for the Europa League by virtue of one of the teams that finished higher in the League, Timisoara, last season being kicked out of the division. The question to asks now is this the kind of disappointment that could lead to a season of misery at Mainz.
It is an old adage but worth repeating that when a club has an uncharacteristically successful season it can lead to an equally uncharacteristically poor following season. The challenge for coach Thomas Tuchel and Mainz is to avoid what happened to Hertha Berlin. Bundesliga title contenders in 2009, relegated in 2010. Mainz success last season was largely attributed to three players who left the club in the Summer. Andre Schurrle, Lewis Holtby and Christian Fuchs. Considering their elimination from Europe and unconvincing victory in the Pokal against Zweibrucken it would be tempting to include Mainz in your answer to “Name three clubs to go down” section of your Bundesliga Q & A.
However, it is important for observers not to prepare the obituaries for a club that has adopted a high power curve in the last four seasons which may be dropping off, slightly. While Schurrle, Holtby and Fuchs are undeniably three fine players who made a significant contribution to Mainz’ highest ever league finish, the players they leave behind are far from chopped liver.
Sami Allagui, Andreas Ivanschitz, Eugen Polanski, Marcel Risse and ‘Keeper Christian Wetklo are all players I think can have big seasons for FSV. From what I’ve seen, Zoltan Stieber, while perhaps lacking the industry required in the Bundesliga has a more than decent eye for a pass and takes a ferocious set piece. Those who know for more about Norwegian football than me rate the Nigerian striker Anthony Ujah, signed from Lillestrøm, very highly. Add to that the return of Adam Szalai from injury and there is plenty to be optimistic about.
Additionally and most importantly, the League season has not even started yet. As important as the Pokal and the Europa League is, Thomas Tuchel is surely not naive enough to believe that Mainz are so established in the Bundesliga that he is not prioritising the game on Sunday against Bayer Leverkusen?
So relax, Mainz fans give it until October and if things still look bad then the time will come to, as Kent Brockman once suggested “crack open our heads and feast on the goo inside.”
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