Oh, der Cologne!
Cologne is an excellent base for 'ground hopping', being just a short flight from the UK and with ease of access to an extensive public transport network.
As always, Wilkie Tours combine the love of the beautiful game with as many cultural experiences as practical on a long weekend visit. So, we limited ourselves to just the three games (at Bonn, Monchengladbach & Euskirchen) while we also enjoyed a ride on the unique suspended railway at Wuppertal and boarded the 'cog' railway to climb one of the extinct volcanoes at Konigswinter.
The first game of the tour on the Friday evening was Bonner SC versus Viktoria Koln at the Sportspark Nord stadium. The high flying visitors were easily the best team and went on to enjoy a comfortable 3-0 win against the struggling home side in front of 710 spectators in the grandstand. All three goals were well taken, but two in particular were real 'belters'.
The main event was at Borussia Park where Monchengladbach were very fortunate to come from behind for a 2-1 victory over Hertha Berlin. After former Chelsea man, Kalou had put Hertha ahead late in the first half, the visitors squandered a number of chances to increase their lead. Inevitably, half-time sub Hazard (Eden's brother) scored twice in the last quarter to win the game. The second goal was confidently slotted in from the spot, after the penalty was awarded following VAR interjection. The 51,000 plus crowd eventually enjoyed their team's endeavours on a gloriously sunny afternoon.
The plan was to take in a Oberliga game at Siegburg on Sunday afternoon, but our research confirmed that their main (grass) stadium is being refurbished so Siegburger SV were playing on a nearby artificial pitch. Preferring to watch in a 'proper' stadium, we went to Euskirchen instead, they were playing second-placed Hennef 05 at the Erftstadion. With their giant keeper getting in the way of the visitor's attempts to score, the home side took the lead in the second half with a dipping shot from 18 yards. Hennef equalised with a header, but were lucky to escape with a point when Euskirchen twice hit the post in the same attack.
A cracking trip, but sadly the last one of the season as we focus on Southampton's desperate battle against relegation and an FA Cup semi-final appearance against Chelsea (and Boscombe's continued strides up the table).