So you are at the pub. The Quiz is on. The next question engulfing the drums of the populace is as follows. Which current German Bundesliga football team is former US Secretary of State and Nobel Peace prize winner Henry Kissinger, a supporter of?
SpVgg Greuther Fürth.
Now that is someone you want on your side. You can give me Mick Hucknall. You can give me Fatboy Slim. In all honesty I don’t see anything that comes as close as that. These are genuine fans and have followed teams all their life. I know some berk you meet will claim that Kurt Cobain was an avid Havant & Waterlooville fan, but that guy needs to be told extremely impolitely that him in flames and your unwanted fluids will never be able to co-exist in this Universe.
Following on from the perennially lost Aesop’s fable aforementioned, there is a back story to Kissinger and Fürth.
Superfan Kissinger was born in Fürth, Bavaria, in 1923 before fleeing with his family to America in 1938. The story goes that the Nobel Peace Prize winner used to sneak into football games against the best wishes off his parents, to snatch a glimpse of the mighty Cloverleaves or Kleeblätter as they are known locally. Despite the love of the game and his local team, he was never able to make a return to the now renamed Trolli Arena until this season. It is rumoured that even during his time in office, he was always asked to be informed of the results of his hometown club every monday morning. Kissinger is quoted as saying that he would only come back to watch the club once they were back into the top flight of German football. Finally in his 89th year he has been able to do so.
The Bundesliga is in its 50th season this term and this is Greuter Fürth’s first attempt. A remarkable turn of events you may say, especially as it is James Bond season. The Cloverleaves were most admired during the 1920’s and 1930’s, when they enjoyed their golden period. It was at this time when Kissinger joined the schoolboy ranks of his beloved Fürth. Ever since the departure of Kissinger, I imagine entirely coincidentally but he has been coined the Political Johnny Heitinga, the club similarly followed suit in departing the top division of German football for half a century.
Last season the hurdle was completely straddled. Over the past decade they have finished 5th 6 times and 4th in the 2010-11 season (in German football the top two teams get automatic promotion and the third placed team enter into a relegation/promotion playoff). Remarkable consistency. In a sense I have a lot of similarities, footballing wise, with the great man. Lincoln City, my team, featured in the playoffs for five consecutive seasons. That included two trips to the Millenium Stadium in Cardiff. Of course we were defeated on both occasions, being robbed in the second final. I will not get into to this but Simon Yeo was onside. We have not been the same since, well since big Keith Alexander passed. Anyway I digress.
Promotion and cup semi finalists, saw the Bavarian team earn promotion in style.
Kissinger finally arrived then at the Trolli Arena this season, for the arrival of Schalke 04 in September. Despite losing 2-0 to the men from Gelsenkirchen, it was a special occasion for everyone there.
The start to the season has been a decidedly low-key affair for the cloverleaves. A single point earned at home so far last time out against Werder Bremen has left them bottom of the table on goal difference. In the same game they scored their first goal at the Trolli Arena in the Bundesliga. It is clear where the problems lie.
Away from home, they have been much more solid. 5 points from 4 games and conceding only 6 is a solid starting point to develop from. On away form alone they would be mid table.
Goals will come, as will points. The ultimate goal is consolidation this term, by any means necessary. Thus a stingy defensive record will provide a greater chance of achieving said target.
Tonight the Cold War starts away at the other promoted team, Eintracht Frankfurt who remarkably sit third in the table going into tonight’s game. It has been the form of Japanese playmaker Takashi Inui that has elevated them to such a position. Unbeaten at home, scoring 13 goals in the 5 games they have played here, could provide a real problem for Kissinger’s men. The cloverleaves go into the game unbeaten in two and will be hoping to Fürther this run.
I for one will be following closely for the rest of the season to see what develops for the Bundesliga debutants.
Ps. Please feel free to provide appropriate sources if Cobain is a Havant fan or any other legitimate famous superfans.
PPS. More info on the history of Greuter Furth can be found in reading this http://soccernet.espn.go.com/columns/story/_/id/1022970/uli-hesse:-go-furth-and-conquer?cc=5739#