Home > EURO 2012 > The Rocky Road to Poland (via Berlin)

The Rocky Road to Poland (via Berlin)

On Saturday I joined the mass exodus of 20,000 or so Irish fans from Ireland to Poland. Last one out turn off the lights & all that. My route to the Euros was via Berlin as that was one of the cheaper options when the draw was made back in December. I was one of those people who had about eight flights open on my computer when the draw was made. Berlin was booked quickly when Ireland came out of the hat in Group C meaning our first game was against Croatia in Poznan.

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Last time Ireland played in Poland I also travelled to that game via Berlin. That was back in 2005 when Brian Kerr was in charge of Ireland. That was the game that looked like it would be Roy Keane’s return to the Ireland team after Saipan but an injury ahead of the friendly in Bydgoszcz meant he didn’t make the trip in the end.

One player who did travel was the striker who is currently second in the all time goalscorer charts in the League of Ireland, Jason Byrne. He came on as a late sub in this dour 0-0 draw and as the song goes he “went all the way to Poland and never touched the ball.” Well I can confirm that he did actually touch the ball but it had just run out of play when he got the touch so that doesn’t count. The Polish police were deployed during the game not because of any trouble involving the Irish fans but to separate rival Polish fans from each other. I’d probably take a similar 0-0 draw against Croatia this coming Sunday.

On Friday, one Irish fan (Damien Coughlan) left his match tickets behind in Dublin Airport but through twitter he will be united with them today. Whether the four Irish fans who checked in but were never made my flight on Saturday morning will make it to Poland like Mr. Coughlan’s tickets is another matter. 40 minutes later having off loaded their bags we were on our way to Berlin.

I was able to see some of the city’s sights on arrival. Berlin was setting up for watching their national team play Portugal with a massive fan park behind the Brandenburg Gate. Lots of green around the place with Irish fans and lots of Germans wearing their Addidas green away kit.

Next I wandered down to the Jewish holocaust memorial adjacent to Potsdamer Platz. Lots of concrete columns is always going to get my engineering interest but walking through the maze of 2711 columns is a slightly unsettling experience. Thats the point I suppose. The museum in the basement building below the field of Stelae traces the terror policy & prosecution of the Jews. Not many museums where people walk around in silence but this was one I them.

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From there it was a short walk to the Topography of Terror & the longest section of Berlin Wall still left standing. This is located adjacent to where the most important institutions of the Nazi apparatus were. The permanent photographic exhibition details on the central institutions of the SS and police during the Third Reich.

After all that history it was off to the Hauptbanhof to take the train to Poznan along with a hundred or so other Ireland fans. The lovely Magda was very popular as she pushed her drinks trolley through the train. She and the other German and Poles were serenaded all the way to Poznan with Irish songs but what they made of “The Cat is in the sack” song I don’t know!

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  1. Tony Joe
    June 10, 2012 at 23:15

    Where’s a picture of the lovely Magda Macda??
    Keep it up!

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