March 8 2014 Latest news:
Saturday, January 11, 2014
Ipswich Town had some extra continental support at Portman Road yesterday as they took on QPR.
A total of 120 Germans packed into the Sir Bobby Robson stand to cheer on the side they’ve adopted in the English league.
The fans of Fortuna Düsseldorf have been coming over once a year from their home town since 2006. This year saw their biggest attendance yet.
They stood out in the crowds flocking to Portman Road with scarves that were half blue for Ipswich and half red for the Bundesliga team. Among those who made the trip was Egou Köhnen, a former defender for the team between 1966 and 1981.
One of the organisers of the trip, Friedrich ‘Freadee’ Schacht, said the fans related to Ipswich because of the similarities with their own club.
“Ipswich and Fortuna have very comparable histories,” he said. “They were very strong at the end of the 1970s and beginning of the 80s when Ipswich won the FA Cup and UEFA Cup.
“Fortuna won the German Cup twice, and was in the UEFA Cup and the European Cup Winners Cup finals against Barcelona the same year Ipswich lost to Barcelona in the quarter finals.
“Ipswich won the UEFA Cup in 1981 and they beat FC Cologne. FC Cologne are our biggest rival.
“They are two clubs with a great history. They are not very big clubs like Arsenal or Manchester United but they have the same status in their countries.”
The trip manager is Ulli Munsterberg. He said coming to Ipswich has practical advantages as well: “When you look at our geography it had to be for us somewhere we could go one day there and one day back.”
He added: “I used to be a footballer myself and used to manage an U18 team, but I’m here mainly as a fan and supporter. I just like to see a proper football game and of course all the best to Ipswich!”
On Mick McCarthy he added: “He’s Irish and we love the Irish so he’s a good guy.”
One Ipswich Town season ticket holder greeted the Fortuna Düsseldorf fans as they arrived at the stadium.
Jim Hendry said: “I love it because I’ve lived abroad for many years when I was a young soldier and I’ve got to know many people… I’ve been an Ipswich season ticket holder for a long, long time and I love other people showing an interest in my club. I just felt I had to say hello.
“I used to get on the same train as all the Dutch fans that used to come over here and I’ve got to know many of them and I just want to make them feel welcome to our country.”