Friday night in Munich…

The U-bahn from the car park at Studentenstadt to the Olympiapark – site of the 1972 summer Olympics.

We’re headed for the Olympiahalle to see ice hockey – a local derby between München and Ingolstadt. 9th place in the DEL (the top German league) at home to 3rd placed Ingolstadt “Panthers”.

It feels a bit special to be wandering past the spectacular athletics stadium (all lit up for a concert) towards the venue of the Olympic boxing.

Inside it has a very 1960s feel – a little old fashioned, but well maintained. 40 minutes before face off, and the place is already buzzing. Some fans inside the arena to see the warm up. Some clustered around the bars. Some outside polluting the cold night air with cigarette smoke.

By 7.30 – face off time – the arena is packed. Like most German rinks it is standing only behind the goals, and the fans sing non-stop. Us middle class, middle aged folks have seats. The atmosphere is great – fueled partly by Löwenbräu & Glühwein.  A big crowd – it holds 6,000 – with lots of visiting fans. I’d guess about 5,000 spectators.

The home team is all over Ingolstadt in the 1st period, but can’t score. That’s good.

The 2nd period is more even, and Ingolstadt scores a breakaway goal at the end where all the home fans stand. The Panthers fans can’t see what happened, so it’s silence all round as the Ingolstadt players start to celebrate! Then the visiting fans notice and go crazy.

3rd period has Ingolstadt in charge, and scoring 2 more. Final score 3-1 to the visitors.

Great event – loved getting good Bavarian beer at an ice hockey game, with Bratwurst and a Brezel (the size of a dinner plate) to soak it up.

It made me think of my first DEL game – in Berlin to see Eisbären play Hannover, about 10 years ago when my son was 7 or 8 and just starting to play. The start of something…

The next year we went to Switzerland to see games in Geneva & Lausanne. After that it was Sweden for games at Djurgården (Stockholm) and Södertälje. By then Mark was 10, and fully occupied all season playing league games, so all we managed for many years was a match in Prague – Slavia against České Budějovice.

Prague, October 06

I much prefer European hockey to the North American version – but in the interests of being broad minded I have been to games in Boston, Tampa Bay and Washington.

The missing bits of the jigsaw – Canada, Finland, Russia & Slovakia. Onto the bucket list for them.

This isn’t turning into a sports blog – this is travel. Nor is it all about ice hockey – my sports travel has involved tennis, cricket, horse racing, rugby and football. That brings back great memories of Royal Ascot, Wimbledon and Fenerbahçe (for the less sports minded, FB is one of the top Turkish football teams).

1-0 to FB

So what’s next?

© iain taylor 2011

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