Wednesday, 8 April 2015

A night to forget

Why Dortmund?
Dortmund, Germany
 For many years I wanted to visit Dortmund, and for as many years I wondered what the attraction to the city was for me?  Of all the cities in Germany, why Dortmund? 

Last week, I think I found the answer  to my puzzle.

1966 FIFA World Cup
 The only tournament England won, and the only one they will win. We were in possibly the weakest group imaginable at the time. The only way it could have been weaker is if Uruguay had been changed for either Switzerland, Chile, or Spain. Without a doubt Brazil were in the toughest group with the talented Hungary team, the talented but reckless Portugal team, and the brutal Bulgaria team. The fact Pele was taken out of one game changed the run of the contest. Although the Brazil team was on a threepeat, it wasn't their strongest. Most people agree - the dream team - was the 1970 World Cup squad, which saw the return of Pele. Despite the unfortunate quarter final with West Germany; there was no way England would have progressed further. In those hot, dry conditions; only one of three teams could have won Brazil, Peru, or Uruguay. It wasn't a matter of being the more skillful, it was the playing conditions; European teams weren't used to the hot climate, and the hard pitches. The same thing happens when the British Lions tour South Africa, Australia, or New Zealand.

West Germany
 The 1966 squad had a compliment of a third of the players from Borussia Dortmund. To a 10-year old boy, the name Dortmund must have sounded far away. I am sure that is why I always wanted to visit Dortmund. Many year later- during my Royal Air Force tour to RAF Laarbruch I did visit the city, for a night; one I wished I could forget. 

RAF Rheindahlen
 During my time in RAFG (Royal Air Force, Germany), RAF Rheindahlen was not only the largest base in Germany; it was the RAFG Photographic centre. Sadly, with the various cutbacks, all the former RAFG bases have been closed down- Lord help us if Russia do a land based assault on Europe.

The previous month, our photo section had played host to the soccer squad from Rheindahlen; and put them up in quarters, and our rooms, which were like cells. 
The day of our return match came, and although not a player, I got asked along. A decision I now regret choosing to accept-but who can tell what can happen? 
Their rooms were so big, the only comparison I can think of is - it was like moving from a monk's cloister to a ballroom - you could fit three double beds in a room, and still walk around them. 

After the match, things went from bad to worse for me; while we were sat drinking, and chatting, our hosts started verbally abusing me. All the time I kept thinking Surely, my friends will step in, and tell them to calm down, but nobody did. 
In the end, I had enough, I packed my bedroll, and walked off the camp; nobody missed me. So, here I was on a cold Saturday night, far from my base; in a strange land where I didn't know the language. I must have been mad to think I could get back to base, but I could't take the insults. I thought I was in the wrong area of the country too, for many years I thought the camp was near Dresden, or Frankfurt

I walked off the camp, with no idea where I was, or where I was heading. I was picked up by a kindly German in his mid-50s. I didn't know if he was gay, a Nazi, or a convict; all I knew was I cold, wet, and hungry, and some kind person offered me a bed. I slept with my back to the wall, and dozed. The next morning, I caught the train to Weeze, the nearest town to our camp,and from there a taxi to the base. By mid-afternoon, my "friends" arrived back, and asked where I'd been. I told them about walking off the camp,and being made to feel unwanted at the base; they did apologise, but it would have been better if they'd stepped in at the time.

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