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Three stadiums you have to visit in Germany

Thursday 12th January 2017
Everyone has heard stories of how great the atmosphere, stadiums and match day experience is at Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, but are there other stadiums or lesser known clubs in Germany which you should visit? 

With the German football scene blooming at the moment, the answer is most definitely yes. Here is a look at three alternative German footballing trips you might wish to take and they are not solely from the top division...

Union Berlin

Union may be the second and smaller team in Berlin in terms of stadium size and financial clout, but in terms of atmosphere, passion and support on match day they are up there with the world's best. They are the working class team of the old East Berlin, and therefore have a diverse fan base ranging from young and hip Berlin students looking for an alternative footballing experience to older, life-long fans, giving the club a unique feel.

Renovated in 2013, ‘Der alten Försterei' is the perfect ground for the football romantic. Set in a forest in the East Berlin suburb of Köpenick the stadium only holds 22,000 spectators. With only one of the four sides of the stadium being seated the ground has an old fashioned and sleepy feel, but the noise coming from the Union Ultras stood behind the goal is deafening. Fans sing tirelessly for 90 minutes, passionately roaring their team on and creating a raucous atmosphere. Union games regularly sell out even though the club currently finds themselves in the second division, but with tickets starting from 12,50Euro you can understand why.

Fc St Pauli

Sticking with the second division theme are St Pauli. Regarded as one of the world's most outspoken and controversial clubs, fans flock to St Pauli from all over the world. Based in the harbour district of Hamburg the club again has working class roots, with its supporters being heavily associated with left-wing politics. They have developed a reputation for being ‘against everything' and even have the slogan printed on match tickets and were, in fact, the only club not to boycott the RB Leipzig fixture last season simply because everyone else did.

Match days at the Millerntor Stadium are something to behold. The ground is full 60 minutes before kickoff, the noise travelling throughout the district. Sellers sell cheap bottles of beer from supermarket trolleys outside the stadium and punks with multi-coloured hair are the norm.

The clubs adopted emblem, a skull and crossbones, is proudly adorned on walls in the surrounding area giving the ground a ‘nobody likes us, we don't care' type of feel. During the game, too, the supporters are vibrant and noisy, proudly supporting their team in an almost patronising way. Away fans hurl abuse at the St Pauli players, and instead of retaliating the home fans join in, stifling the travelling supporters almost immediately.

A game at the Millerntor is anything but a run of the mill footballing experience, but definitely not one to be missed.

1. FC Köln

The only Bundesliga club to make this list is 1. FC Köln. One of the most traditional and well-supported clubs in Germany, Köln play in the 50,000 seater RheinEnergie stadium. The arena was built for the World Cup in 2006. It does not have a modern feel like so many other new build stadiums across the world, boasting four distinct stands rather than the modern bowl shape. This allows noise to travel and rebound off the stadium walls, making for an intimidating atmosphere for away teams.

The fans are also some of the best in Germany whilst still remaining remarkably grounded. In recent years Cologne has been somewhat of a yoyo team, switching between the Bundesliga and second division, however, this hasn't stopped the fans turning up week after week. Before each game, the clubs mascot - a live goat - is paraded around the pitch and the home fans go crazy for it. The atmosphere is ramped up for the teams to walk out into a cauldron of noise.

Whilst Köln is one of the country's most popular teams, tickets are still relatively easy to come by here, with prices starting from 25Euro. This makes home games at the RheinEnergie a viable option for any travelling football fan.
Stephen Parkinson
23 year old Football fan, player and referee. Specialising in the Bundesliga since having lived in Leipzig for 2 years.

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