Tag Archives: koln

Cologne – You’ve been great…

Sometimes the football does not really matter. And for the mid-week jaunt to Cologne, the football was always going to take second fiddle.

A competition than none of us massively cared about, a team already guaranteed to qualify for the next round, and knowledge that we would see a team of second string and youth players, very few of the 4,000 travelling Arsenal fans went for the football.

It might have been Arsenal that bought us to the city of Cologne on a cold November late week, but Arsenal was certainly at the back of the minds for the majority of the trip.

Jager bombs on the 8:54am train from Kings Cross, a couple of hours stop off in Brussels, before reaching Cologne at about 4pm. It was only Wednesday…

Check in then straight to a bar and the carnage continued. Beer after beer. Stein after stein. as the afternoon turned to evening, more and more Arsenal turned up, more and more bars filled up. People spilling onto the street. Trying to steal Laurie and Hardy.

Wednesday night turned into Thursday morning as we found a nice little bar that was £25 entry, all you can drink inside. Nice little spot. Plenty of Arsenal in there.

Game day. The drinking continued. After about 5 hours sleep, we were back out. Bit of food and a few beers on the river, before heading to a few more bars. A few more beers. At no point did the discussion turn to football.

The great thing about the Euro away is that you go with your group, but every bar you go into you meet old friends. Some who you saw just a few days ago at Spurs, others who you might not have seen for a few years. It is like a massive reunion, a Euro away day.

Old acquaintances resumed, new mates made.

Eventually we realised we had to leave for the football. Almost begrudgingly a few hundred of us left the bar to get the tram to go to the stadium.

I imagine to a man, we all regretted that decision to leave the bar.

Half an hour stood outside the ground to get in – 2,000 in the upper tier, 4 turnstiles…standing in bitter cold rain, to then get in and watch a match none of us were interested in.

Some left at half time to find a warmer climate to grab a beer. Others on 75 minutes to get the tram back to the town.

Few more beers. Visit to a rat-infested beer hall. Then back to that 24 hours, £25-all-you-can-drink bar I mentioned earlier.

500 Gooners in there, all singing Sweet Caroline and Gold. The place was going off. I imagine the bar regretted doing £25 all you can drink. Although I imagine they made their money back elsewhere.

It was only Friday, but we felt we had already been in the city for a week. Elsewhere the money we had spent in two nights could have covered a 2 week all inclusive holiday in a warmer climate.

Few more beers before the train home, getting back into Kings Cross at 11pm-ish.

A lot of money spent, Arsenal lost, it was cold, wet and miserable, and one of the best “city breaks” of my life.

The football really did not matter. No one out in Cologne cared for it. It was merely a distraction.

When we made the Europa League, many moaned about the lack of Champions League football. No Madrid, Dortmund, Munich or Barcelona. No PSG or Milan. But those of us that do travel abroad did not care.

Sometimes these smaller games, in smaller cities like Cologne, or backward towns like Belgrade, Sofia or Borislav, you end up with the best away trip.

A great trip, and one that will take a few days to recover from.

Cologne, you were a great host.

Up the Arsenal.

Keenos

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All aboard the 8:54 to Cologne

I feel sorry for those Eurocrats on the 8:54am train from St Pancras International to Brussels. There quiet journey into Brussels to collect their expenses pay cheque is to be ruined this morning by 100s of Arsenal fans invading their train.

Or I would feel sorry for them if they were not a bunch of overpaid, unelected, expenses cheating, meddling individuals. They will be in for a shock when we leave the EU and they actually have to get a real job rather than ride the £120,000 a year MEP expenses gravy train.

I am writing this blog on Tuesday night. By the time it is published on the site, at 8:54am Wednesday morning, the beers will already be flowing, the Jägermeister shoted, and the chaos will begin.

A few years back we played Anderlecht. I had tickets as part of the Arsenal away scheme and stupidly decided not to go, selling my tickets (face value of course) to a mater. I missed what was one of the best Euro away trips in recent memory.

This year, there are 12 of us going out to Cologne.

Alongside us will be 100s, thousands more. It might not be as many as what Cologne bought to London, but we will drink the city dry.

Whilst Cologne might have had the numbers in London, there fans odd behaviour of spending hours walking the streets, before getting into the ground 2 hours before kick off baffled me.

Out there, we will pitch up to a bar for three days, drink it dry, then move on to the next one.

Locals always pretend that they hate when the English appear. The rumours of havoc and towns and cities being destroyed. The truth is much different.

We just drink, drink together, in the name of the AFC. I would love to see how much money is bought in to a local economy when an English team visits.

I was out in Lille for when England played Wales. There was 10’s of thousands of fans. The invasion would have bought millions into the Lille economy. The cost of policing and the odd repair of a window being hit with a football would have been negligible.

The next 3 days is going to go past in a drunken haze, so do not complain if you do not get a blog from me till Saturday at least.

Up the Arsenal

Keenos

Cheap Arsenal tickets and Cologne still not sold out

Numerous times in the past I have blogged about my dislike for Champions League football.

A mixture between having the same old opponents, the same predictable performances from Arsenal, my dislike for UEFA and their money making machine, and my total dislike for mid week football.

Whilst I understood the annoyance of many when we made the Europa League, both due to finishing below Spurs and the financial implications, I really was not that bothered. At least we are in a competition we might win.

Making the Europa League also saw my season ticket drop dramatically.

There are 11 of us going out to Germany for the match against Cologne – trains rather than flying – and it is going to be a quality 3 day bender with a good bunch of people. But I digress.

For years many of us have complained about match ticket prices. Season tickets are too expensive. Single match day tickets are too expensive – peaking at £126.It is alienating the normal fan. A dad can no longer take his 2 sons to a game without taking out a second mortgage.

Taking into account how many people complain online about ticket prices, it came as a shock that tickets for Cologne in the Europa League were still on sale.

 

Tickets are now on sale via the Friends and Family service to all valid members of the Arsenal membership using the Ticketfast print at home facility. This service allows Arsenal members to buy an additional 4 tickets on their membership account.

So a member can now buy an additional 4 tickets on their membership account – on top of the one they are already allowed to buy, making it 5 in total.

The reason I am surprised tickets are on sale is due to how cheap the tickets are:

Junior Gunners can but tickets for as low as £4.25. Adult tickets start at £15.50 and the most expensive tickets are £23.50. These are dirt cheap.

Even if your lads are not  Junior Gunner’s, a dad can take his 2 kids for around £75 max, if he go’s for the most expensive tickets.

What has happened to all those people who constantly moan about ticket prices? Why have they not picked up tickets for a Thursday night game?

Last season in the Champions League we played PSG at the group stages. My ticket for that game was £64. The most expensive tickets were £126. The game sold out in no time, and I was able to shift my ticket on the ticket exchange with no problem.

What I am getting it is how so many people seem to pay lip-service to ticket prices. They use it as an excuse not to go to games, but when tickets are more than reasonable – it is cheaper to go to Cologne v Arsenal than the next Leyton Orient home fixture in the Conference – they also do not go.

It is no surprise tickets are so high when people eat up the Cat A tickets within seconds, yet the Cat C and EL4GS tickets struggle to sell out.

My theory is ticket prices are not the problem. The problem is too many fans want to pick and choose what game to go to. They do not want to go to Stoke, Doncaster or Cologne. They only care about going to see Arsenal play Man U, Chelsea or Bayern Munich.

When I go to games, home and away, over land and sea, I only care about seeing Arsenal. I go for the Gunners. Sadly it seems many of our fickle fan base only want to go to the big games.

If you are one of those who moans all day on Twitter about ticket prices, and are not taking advantage of £15.50 ticket prices for Cologne, then you have no right to moan about the £126 tickets for when you want to see Arsenal play Man U.

Go for The Arsenal, not the opponents.

Keenos