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The logo held aloft

Category: Germany

I love you

All Germans we have come across have been very welcoming and friendly if a little disinterested in the spectacle of the World Cup. We left England with a blaze of flags lighting our trail and are surprised to find little of that fervour over here. While the people beam with good cheer, football comes a gentle second.

At the World Cup 2002 in S. Korea, although they are predominantly a baseball-loving crew, an enormous effort was made to inform folk there of what to expect and as a nation they created a great stage for this diamond of a competition. Of course their team performed beautifully, albeit with a twist of refereeing fortune. The ensuing celebrations were extraordinary. It was youthful, beatles-style euphoria.

The crowds gather in the centre of Seoul
Korean exuberance

The importing of Hiddink as the national coach was a stroke of genius, so much so that they took his management style and used it over a business framework. Jürgen Klinsmann has the same opportunity for this Weltmeisterschaft 2006 but he lacks the national fervour to support the team with such natural exuberance.

We find ourselves now in Erfurt, a former East German town in central Germany, meeting folk who have never met English and also the well travelled hostel owners. A particular couple, one of whose grandparents was a member of the SS, we meet at a 5-a-side football competition, their reticence to talk to us was palpable. However we stayed with them late into the evening exchanging stories, playing more football, learning a new goalmouth training game, and parted company after they had signed our ball — and for the first time since The Ball has existed, we were asked to sign theirs. To hear one of the younger lads saying “thanks for the wonderful day” on leaving, is a heart-stopping moment for me. It’s a small world and a big cup.

The teamshot after our kickabout
All together now!

I am sitting writing this with the Spain Ukraine game on the telly, a Mexican, two Australians, one Japanese and myself are watching, communicating in three languages… that’s English, Spanish and Football.

I love you.

The World Cup in ASCII

Warning: this post is not intended for the technically-challenged!

Okay, I just can’t resist posting this — even though I haven’t been able to see the stream itself — but it really does promise to be what it says on the tin homepage: “The best, most ridiculous, most redundant graphical implementation of ASCII!”:

A screenshot of World Cup action in ASCII (from, now sadly deleted)

Yes, now even the hardened of geeks can follow the action direct in their terminal application. One small problem, however, is that it seems to have been rather too popular:

As you may have noticed, we are completely overloaded at the moment… we already served more than a million telnet-connections and more than a terabyte of data. This is a free, non-profit for-the-fun-of-it project. However server upgrade and mirroring solution are in preparation. so stay tuned and thanks for the fish and the patience (you could play some football yourself while waiting :)

I’m going to follow that wise advice — shut down the computer, get myself outside and play some football!

Normal transmission to resume shortly

Actually, that’s not entirely true — Phil’s on his way back home in a couple of days and whilst I’d love to carry on posting videos, it’s not going to be easy filming with a crew of, er, one. In fact, filming with just the two of us on the case was tricky enough. In essence, we’ve needed three days for every day of the trip — one to actually do stuff (the bit that both of us enjoy the most), another day to edit and upload the video of what we’ve done, and yet another to deal with the press so others might find out about (and hopefully see) what we’ve done.

Of course, I’ll do what I can (given the constraints), and I hope Phil will do the same from England — as it happens, I’m quite looking forward to seeing the contrast between what we post. The view from home and abroad so to speak.

The Ball comes to rest
The Ball comes to rest

What’s least likely to happen is that there will be any more of those “ball-bouncing-along” videos… partly because the journey of The Ball to the World Cup is over (it did, after all, reach Munich a while ago) and partly because I’d be passing it to myself… Still, it’s not impossible — we’ve met some lovely folks here in Erfurt and perhaps I’ll try and persuade them to help me sort something out.

I will be moving about a bit from now on, but I’m also quite keen for The Ball to stay here in Erfurt for some of the events which will be taking place round these parts during the competition. More on that when it’s a bit closer to the time.

It’s been good to recuperate after the trials of our intense video-blogging experiment — we got so run down from the constant effort and late nights that we both caught colds — and I now certainly feel up for a bit more host city action. Erfurt is great, as are the people in it, but it doesn’t quite compare to the mayhem of being in a host city, as we discovered when we went to Nürnberg yesterday for the England v. Trinidad & Tobago game. Once again, all I can say is “more of that later”…

More Crouchery

Some people seem to be referring to the following as “the Hand of God, Part 2”

Well, cheating or not, surely Peter Crouch has to be pleased with the association to the legendary pint-sized one.

Okay, that’s enough Crouch-related stories for now.

Video: What I miss most

Izzy plays the flute for England
Izzy plays the flute for England

Izzy plays her flute in support of us and the England team.

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It’s not so easy being on the road sometimes. I miss my partner Anna and her daughter Izzy — I can’t wait to see them again. In the meantime, this little video keeps me smiling. I haven’t forgotten about your flag either, Iz…

The shrub at the bottom of the garden
The shrub at the bottom of the garden

Before I left for Germany, I’d been thinking the shrub in the picture above might be better somewhere else in the garden. Anna sent me this picture of it flowering with bright blue flowers — as she had promised it would — so I’d look kindly on it when I return. Judging by the picture, I guess it’s fine where it is — for now! ;)

Video: Rot-Weiss Erfurt

Andrew Aris
Andrew Aris

Rot-Weiss player Andrew Aris invites The Ball to his club.

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We’ve settled in Erfurt in Thüringia to recover from the stresses of travel and video-blogging, and to meet up with Andrew, whom I met when I came over to Germany just before Christmas. He’s been organising a project here that’s also called Spirit of Football and contacted us when he found that we had the domain name. We immediately recognised our common attitude to the beautiful game — and so here we are to hang out and enjoy the football.

Stefan Beutel
Stefan Beutel, Rot-Weiss Erfurt manager

Andrew invited Phil and me to his club, Rot-Weiss Erfurt, to have a kickabout, to meet the manager and have a chat about all things football. What we didn’t expect was that Stefan would also be a sharpshooter from the penalty spot.

Stefan Beutel scores
I stand no chance

And, of course, if you kick The Ball, you have to sign it…

Stefan signs The Ball
Stefan signs The Ball

Video: Flashback to St. Pauli

St Pauli FC logo
St Pauli — not PLC

In which we encounter the friendliest supporters we’ve met — as Trinidad and Tobago play a warm-up match against the unique St Pauli.

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St Pauli Hamburg
St Pauli’s in Hamburg, by the way

Some pictures for those of you who might be having trouble seeing the videos — perhaps your connection isn’t fast enough or perhaps you haven’t installed Quicktime yet. Either way, here you go:

One of our tickets to the game
One of our tickets to the game

A view of the crowd
We are warriors! The St Pauli crowd gets into the music

Sound supporters' deck
The St Pauli Sound supporters’ turntable mat

Save football, smash business
Radical through and through

Dancing together
But there’s a common cause — having fun

Sound Supporters' logo
Courtesy of the St Pauli Sound Supporters

Find out more about the St Pauli Sound Supporters at their website…

Video: Some people don’t like football!

Blinded by the light
Blinded by the light

Some people just don’t like football.

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Video: Beto’s football circus

Beto keeps it up

Outside the Opening Ceremony is the usual media circus — more camera crews and presenters than you can shake a football at. In the midst of this electronic feeding frenzy was one Adalberto Sanchez, world record holder for bouncing a football on his head. His record is two hours, if you’re thinking of emulating his feat.

One of the features of South and Central American supporters is that they often buy the shirt of the host country as a show of goodwill. Watch Beto as he puts his Deutschland shirt on whilst bouncing The Ball on his head!

Freestyling goodwill towards the hosts.

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Video: Der Ball erreicht die Weltmeisterschaft

We arrive at the Opening Ceremony
We arrive at the Opening Ceremony

The Ball makes it Munich and soaks up the atmosphere outside the stadium.

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The gathering has started.

The end of The Ball's journey
The end of The Ball’s journey

For us, the journey has finished — at a particularly attractive wasteland outside the stadium in Munich — but for all the teams that take part, the journey has only just begun.

Let’s play football!

UPDATE: We’ve got promises to keep, so I’m adding to this post — sorry that it took so long for us to get this picture of you up on the site, Philipp. Here it is now:

Philipp — a little star

The Ball 2018 left England on 25th March 2018 and travelled to the World Cup in Russia.

The Ball 2014 kicked off from England on 9th Jan 2014 and headed to the World Cup in Brazil.

The Ball 2010 left England on 24th Jan 2010 headed to the Opening Ceremony in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The Ball 2006 travelled from London to the Opening Ceremony in Munich, Germany.

The Ball 2002 was carried 7000 miles across Europe and Asia to the World Cup finals in Korea & Japan.