Chelsea ECL Group Away Games by Flat Eric
It was a 3-dayer. The game was on Wed, but we left on Tues – out to Cologne from LGW at about 6pm, arriving Cologne at 8.30pm with the hour’s time change, and then short train ride to the hotel – arriving there by around 9pm. Dump the bag & flag in the room and off to the bar. Few other guys on the same flight were at the hotel, and we had a few beers whilst watching the Munich-Villareal game on the tv in the bar. A big burger each – local food would be eaten tomorrow.
At midnight the bar was closing so a short walk to Leverkusen town showed us that the place was actually a ghost town. There was nowhere open. Nowhere – except a Mexican bar, almost at the end of the long High Street, which was just about closing. The chairs were being put on the tables as a couple of Coronas were ordered. That was it – done – back to the hotel for 1am. A few beers from the vending machine and we sat on the sofas in reception with two of the guys on the same flight we’d been drinking with. At 3am, in walk 3 Chels’ fresh from a bar they’d found. They were beaming. “Anything goes,” they informed us, with big smiles. The name of the bar was Venus, which we had walked past. It had looked abandoned, with no ambient noise and a pink door. It didn’t look inviting and we hadn’t really thought about entering a pink nightclub when we went out looking for a drink. Hindsight wasn’t helping. Anyway, with the bar these 3 guys had been to now called ‘Venus the Penis’, they went to bed and we finished up the last of the vending machine’s lager being getting our head’s down too.
The next morning we made breakfast at 9.30. It was poor, but the carbs were welcome. Just before brekkie was finishing, in walk the 3 musketeers, still beaming over there 3 hours spent in Venus the Penis the night before. After brekkie we were off to Cologne centre on the train, with a choice of two Irish bars waiting for us. We ended up taking in some sights, including the twin-spired cathedral and 3 different Christmas markets. Those Germans do know how to do a Xmas market. By 12 o’clock we were Thirsty, and in to one of the Irish bars we went. A quickie in there, then round to the other one. That wasn’t as good, and offered plastic glasses, so we were back to the first one by 1pm. There we stayed. The place started to fill as more and more Chels’ were arriving. It was a good afternoon. At 4pm we went to a traditional beerhaus for some food, where we found a traditional costume-dressed waitress serving traditional German food is a traditional beerhaus – just by the River Rhein. It was down a cobbled lane area, not far from the Irish bar. A few Chels’ were already in there enjoying some beers and pork dinners. We asked for the best pork knuckle and bratwurst plate they did, which was duly supplied in 10 minutes. That filled us up – and it was lovely. Back to Leverkusen and the hotel, where we were meeting 4 of the Polish Chelsea lads who had come over for the game. We had their tickets, part of the 5 extras we’d got. Then a quick splash and change of clothes – then to the stadium. It rained during the walk – just like it did at Genk.
The stewards were the perfect example of how stewards can do their job without being a jobsworth or taking the authorative stance. A great bunch of guys, who even wished us luck. We needed more than luck, though, with the team failing to keep a 1-0 lead for the 3rd away game of the group. The game was a letdown, again, but we made up for the disappointment somewhat when we went out after the game.
Back to the hotel to dump our flag, we went down to the bar where we all got wound up at the result, with that last minute goal being played over and over again. Why did Cech move his hand out of the way? Why didn’t Alex jump a bit better to clear the corner ball? That was it – out we were going – off to a Leverkusen bar by the station. Just me and Steve, but we’d meet the other two in there in due course. We were welcomed in the bar, which was very smokey, after a ‘quiet 5 minutes’. They soon started chatting with us and we bought each other a few beers. The other two arrived about 12.15am and it was a good laugh until 1am, which was when it shut.
I was then forced and dragged to Venus the Penis. Yes, I was. I can honestly say that the other three wouldn’t take no for an answer, and refused to be just shown where it was. I was physically pulled up the stairs when we got there and found myself in this small ‘nightclub’, which sported half a dozen eastern European girls wearing little dancing on the small stage and sitting on stools at the bar. It was only €4 a beer, so we got on it. There was no pestering by the girls and they seemed to like the idea of 4 Chelsea fans supping beer after beer and creating a bit of an atmosphere. The girls then started dancing with one of the other guys, and were soon joking around with some squatting on him etc (clothed!). It was funny, and they didn’t mind photos being taken. Terry, one of the other guys, still had his flag, which was unfurled in the club on the stage. A Union Jack with Chelsea across the middle. More photos. And, for the record, no-one paid for any extras. A great evening – and we back to the hotel for 4am.
Early flight – we needed to be at the airport for 8.30. We left the hotel at 7.40, feeling quite rough, but with a take-away bacon roll each from the breakfast buffet we scoffed them on the train to the airport. Back to LGW for late morning. Another enjoyable trip. Football aside, all 3 group stage games have been good trips this year, but I wonder if we’ll have any next year?