Ely-based author and journalist Chris Hunt is travelling around Germany covering the 2006 World Cup. Read his daily thoughts on the tournaments here, or at ChrisHunt.biz. His book ‘World Cup Stories: The History Of The FIFA World Cup’ accompanies the BBC television series and is published by Interact and can be purchased on Amazon.
Saturday June 24: Day 16
In Stuttgart it seems more like a Michael Schumacher victory than a win for the national football team. On the banked steps of the Schlossplatz flags are waving and horns are sounding as Germany’s workmanlike victory over Sweden is beamed on to the giant screens of the Fan Fest. The match has been played in the middle of a blisteringly hot summer afternoon but still thousands stand here to experience the collective euphoria of a football triumph. For most it surely would have been easier to watch this game at home, but these Germans are backing ‘Klinsi’ and the boys all the way. A cheer goes up as a firework shoots into the air and the match is won. But as entire families start to make their way out of the town square for home, they are caught in a bottleneck caused by a small army of riot police, each one in full body armour, their faces and identities covered by balaclavas and crash helmets. They are standing between a large group of jeering Germans and an intimidating corner of the Schlossplatz that will remain forever English, where shaven headed men old enough to know better wave their large plastic jugs of beer in the air and sings songs about the war. One simulates a machine gun and pretends to mow down the passing crowd in an imaginary hail of bullets, while others, with their arms outstretched, make as Lancaster bombers. It’s time to get out of the town centre just in case the wicker chairs start flying!