There are plenty of examples of cities playing host to two football clubs with staggeringly different fortunes, where fans from one team always enjoy bragging rights and success, more often than not, as compared to their rivals.
Nottingham in the late 70s and early 80s cannot have been an easy place to be for Notts County fans when Forest were taking the First Division by storm and securing two consecutive European Cups. Before the Sheikh moved in to revive and propel Manchester City to a Premier League title and into Europe, they were constantly belittled by the huge signings and sustained success of Ferguson’s Manchester United.
Right now it wouldn’t be difficult to argue that Munich plays host to the current largest mismatch between two professional clubs; Bayern Munich and 1860 Munich.
Bayern dominated the Bundesliga last season (their eighth title since the turn of the millennium), claimed the DFB-Liga Pokal and won the Champions League trophy to complete the first treble in German football history. They now possess one of the most desired squads in the world and have a brilliant manager in the form of Pep Guardiola, who had millions of euros at his disposal this summer to bring in more signings.
Meanwhile 1860 Munich have spent most of the last ten years in Bundesliga 2 maintaining mid -table obscurity, suffered a number of financial scares which almost saw the club lose its license and have had to seek sanctuary and share a home with Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena – something that every Bayern fan revelled in when asked about the ground share.
When I went to visit Munich and watch 1860 at the end of August, it was timed perfectly to show the contrast between themselves and their rivals. While I could purchase a ticket to watch 1860 Munich play SV Sandhausen in Bundesliga 2 for €11, the rest of the city was settling down to watch Bayern Munich play Chelsea in Prague and claim the European Super Cup.
However, I wasn’t to be deterred and made the journey from the Marienplatz city centre subway station to Frottmaning in the north of the city. Arriving out of the station on the warm Friday evening and beginning the walk to the stadium, I felt amazed that any team could feel aggrieved at having to play at the Allianz Arena.
The path twists and meanders up the hill to the stadium and means that the size of the Allianz is even more emphasized as you see it rise up before you, the plastic panelled shell giving it the image of a giant soft marshmallow in the middle of the Bavarian countryside. It truly is one of the world’s most recognizable stadia.
Munich 1860 fans were swarming up the road with us, every single one we saw wearing a club shirt, scarf and small flag tied around their wrists – meaning that visiting football fans like ourselves were easily identified and given a suspicious stare. Being the only group not swigging from brown bottles of beer also made us stand out and we felt the need to rush inside and get ourselves drei Bier bitte. In exchange for €7 we were handed pints of freezing cold German beer and a foot long bratwurst before retiring to our seats to take in the scenes unravelling in the stands – at times more incredible than anything happening on the pitch.
Men in leather trousers were tirelessly swinging cow bells above their heads while beginning two hours of endurance chain smoking that left our surrounding area with a grey haze and migraine inducing smell. Never while watching a football match have I enjoyed such an incredibly relaxed experience. People were laying on the floor, backs up against the barriers and fences, drinking and smoking, while deep in conversation discussing and debating everything wrong with 1860.