Euro Away Adventure (Part 2- Munich)

By The Way - Weekly Columns


So, after the trip to see Manchester United play Real Madrid the previous year which turned into an Eric Cantona fanboy pilgrimage instead I decided to continue my adventures at another major European city beginning with M - Munich, home of Bayern we slayed so cruelly in the final 2 years prior.

Unlike the previous year in Madrid this was a 2nd leg of the quarter final and we trailed the Germans after narrow 0-1 reverse at Old Trafford a fortnight earlier. Their vital away goal coming via the studs of sub Paulo Sergio in the 86th minute. (I thought Giovanni Elber scored but what do I know)

Therefore, we set off for Munich Flughafen fearing the worst as how in the hell do you beat the Germans in their own backyard especially at the fortress that is the famous Olympiastadion, Munich? Of course, Sven and his boys would show us how 5 short months later. Once again, I had to managed to snag the cheapest air tickets by holding every date and destination possible before the draw was made meaning just £59 lighter we were off on Lufthansa from a sunny Stansted. Additionally, it was a 2 night stay to cover the match being on a Tuesday or a Wednesday but to be honest 2 nights on the sauce with the lads is invariably better than one!

Attendees this year changed with Stuart unable to make the trip, but my brother Chris was dead keen once more. We were joined by his mate (Big) Brian and my mate & work colleague Sean. As it panned out Sean & Chris were possibly separated at birth as they decided to spend the entire trip trying to outdo each other at every turn mostly with disastrous consequences. I can’t remember why but only Brian and I had match tickets before we flew out. The other two were very confident that their ‘banter’ alone would suffice to secure tickets locally. Here is a recent family picture of Sean with wife, baby and beer jug!

No need to explore the delights of historic Munich as we were luckily enough to find a bar full of United fans just yards from our hotel (A bit more basic this year as I took into consideration who was accompanying me!). With the match that night Chris & Sean set to work securing tickets and amazingly they did just a few hours later. Not together though and that will be an important point to remember later. As I know full well from the two Munich based stag parties I’ve been to since, our Germanic friends are very similar to the Brits when it comes to a few beers and we all had a great time pre-match before piling into a cab and headed to the stadium

The Olympiastadion was built for the 1972 Olympics and did look a little tired in places but access was very simple because it was in a bowl and you entered from the top down with plenty of places to get food and drink nearby. Brian and I took our places in the United end and the other two disappeared off to their seats in different parts of the ground. As for the actual match it was really remembered for a chap called Karl Power somehow getting on the pitch and into the United team photo before the game. He didn’t even get arrested or thrown out either! Anyway about 20 minutes in I suddenly got a tap in the shoulder while stood in the middle of the away end. Somehow Chris had enough of sitting amongst the home crowd so trotted around the top of the stadium to where he thought we might be and while some stewards were dealing with some other away fans he vaulted a fence and was in. Despite the strong United support like all away games he still managed to spot my ginger bonce and Brian’s bald pallet.

The game wasn’t going as well as my brothers pathfinding abilities and United were 2-0 down by half-time courtesy of statuesque defending from Stam, Brown and Micky Silvestre. The aforementioned Elber tapped in the first and then Mehmet Scholl probably still smarting from the audacious chip over Schmeichel in the 99 Cup Final which came back off the bar rolled the ball home past the hapless Barthez. However, 4 minutes into the 2nd half Ryan Giggs latched onto a Butt through ball and made it 2-1 and it was still all to play for. By the way I had no recollection of this goal as I think I was still enjoying a Warsteiner and a Bratwurst up on the concourse. I made my way back into the stand but United never looked like getting a second and we were out at the quarter final stage once more. Once the match we had to locate Sean before getting back into town to commiserate. Eventually our moods were lifted when he was spotted and immediately went into a rant about him being sat with a bunch of families who were passing around sandwiches and flasks of coffee. Once the laughter had subsided he pointed at Chris and said at least he would’ve experienced roughly the same thing. His mood darkened as Chris described how he’d got into the away end shortly after kick-off!

I think we retired early-ish that night as we still had an all day session ahead of us the following day. The next day after a few ill-advised recommendations we initially ended up at a couple of dreadful places but then we bumped into a fellow Brit and he directed us to the Hofbräuhaus a legendary beer hall and the rest was history. It all gets a bit hazy after that, but I definitely remember smashing one of their steins and being forced to pay for damage. We then moved onto various other bars and clubs before Brian and I decided to call it a night about 2am. The other two guys pressed onto it the earlier hours despite the fact our flight back to Stansted was at 7am. Sean a single man back in those days was delighted to come across a venue seemingly chock full of eligible ladies. Chris arrived shortly after going via a cashpoint and Sean eagerly conveyed the promising news. Now my brother has been described as a lot of things but he’s streetwise that's for sure and upon scanning the room quickly realised that things were in fact too good to be true. Confirmation then came via their ‘price list’ and a hasty exit was made. I’ll leave you to fill in the blanks!

They somehow made it back to the hotel shortly but not long before our 5am alarm call for a taxi back to the airport. Chris woke, and wearily said to his room-mate Brian that he felt like ‘he’d been asleep for 5 minutes’ He had in fact been asleep for at least 10. After some scurrying around we made the cab and headed home. Sean was equally worse for wear and decided to borrow an airport wheelchair for most of the check-in process. This was before he leapt up and ran back outside to throw up. Airport staff were unbelievably kind and helpful but probably just wanted to get rid of us. We made the flight and in fact just 3 hours later, Sean and I were back at our desks for work! It was the last of my triumvirate of trips abroad to follow United but certainly a memorable one. A year later my son Nathan was born, and I’ve not been away since however he is 18 in two years’ time so maybe the cycle will start all over again…In the meantime COME ON UNITED!

Our Munich theme continues next week but for very different reasons as my fellow podcaster Dan Mellett visits the city to pay his respects on the 60th anniversary of the Busby Babes air crash