When England play football against Germany…

If you mention the word “football” to most Germans, then being English you are liable to be involved in a discussion about that goal.

Yes, the goal that took England 3-2 up against West Germany in extra time of the World Cup final at Wembley in 1966 thanks to a decision by a Russian linesman that most German football supporters have been disputing ever since.

German football fan - ©Can Stock Photo Inc. / gubh83One lesser known fact about that match is that Helmut Haller who scored the first goal for Germany kept the ball, as is the tradition here, rather than Geoff Hurst, who scored a hat-trick and by English tradition should have been allowed to keep it.  Haller returned the ball 30 years later.

But once you get past discussing whether it was a goal or not, the self-proclaimed German football experts like to remind you how often England have gone on to lose against their team, especially the last match at the old Wembley stadium and World Cup qualifier in 2000.

So it’s worth reminding them that in the return match in Munich in 2001 England beat them 5-1 – one of the worst ever defeats for the German national team – at which point the subject is usually quickly changed.

The strange thing is that the Germans actually like playing against the English side.  They even look forward to it, and call it one of the “classic” international games.

This week England and Germany were both playing to qualify for the second round of the World Cup in South Africa.  I was in Cologne and able to observe how many German fans were supporting England during their match.  They wanted them to get through to the next round.  They wanted to play them next.

There is, of course, no doubt about which team they will be supporting tomorrow evening, although I have heard the opinion expressed that they would rather lose to England now than to Argentina in the quarter final (with the added bonus of seeing another “classic”: England v Argentina).

I on the other hand will hopefully be cheering at the opposite moments to the rest of our building, and looking forward to further discussions and analysis with my clients in the coming week, however the game turns out.

When I was asked this week for my prediction, I always gave a diplomatic answer: “It’ll go to penalties”.

Seifenkisten – it all started in Oberursel

Many people have heard of soapbox cars, but I’m sure not many associate the term with the type of vehicles that took place in the annual Seifenkistenrennen the other day in Oberursel.

I suspect even less know where the sport originates from.

Whilst the original design may go back to wooden crates used for transporting soap, the modern designs are either more ambitious or extravagant.

Some resemble racing cars, others old-timers.  But what makes the races particularly interesting is not just the speeds at which they travel, but the unusual ones.  One good example of this would be the “sofa on wheels” that took part in the races here this year.

The length of the course is strictly governed, as are the weight and ages of those taking part.  But even the start ramp has a specification to make the races across Germany as equal as possible.  And yes, there is even a national championship.

Seifenkisten on Oberursel 2010

Seifenkistenrennen in Oberursel

What makes the race in Oberursel special is that the town lays claim to the origins of the sport.  The story goes that the first race was held in the Ackergasse, by children who built their cars having been inspired by the racing cars and their drivers taking part in the Gordon Bennett Cup that was held in the area in 1904.

There is even an exhibition about it in the town’s muesum.

Frankfurt-Eschborn Cityloop

Each year on 1st May (Maifeiertag) the main road out of Oberursel is closed off for a cycle race which this year was re-named as the “Frankfurt-Eschborn Cityloop”.  This means that for anything up to 2 hours we are unable to get out of our road.  Even the U-Bahn stops running!



The answer, of course, is to either get out early or to stay and watch the race – and the drivers arguing with the police that they need to go somewhere.



My daughter and I opted for the 2nd option this year.  To find out more, listen to the podcast:

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