Fortuna Favouring Town
Thursday, 3rd Jan 2013 10:13
There won’t just be 2,900 members of the Blue Army backing Town at Villa Park on Saturday but also 70 supporters of German club Fortuna Düsseldorf. The Bundesliga club's fans have become a familiar feature of games at this time of the year in recent seasons and TWTD spoke to Ulli Munsterberg to find out how it all began.
Ulli said: “It all started in December 2004 when we - a group of supporters of an at that time struggling German football club Fortuna Düsseldorf - decided to visit England for Christmas or New Year to watch football and to visit (for us) the home of football.
“The club we visited had to match our club and, as we were walking downhill into Germany’s lower professional football leagues, we picked Brentford and Griffin Park and a game against Colchester United. We got a very warm welcome over there and appeared on BBC London.
“But since January 2006 we have found our destination in Ipswich. ITFC and F95 share some similar history, both clubs have won domestic trophies such as the championship or cup and were somewhat successful in Europe in the 70s, and we again got a friendly and warm welcome at Portman Road.”
Since then the link between supporters of the two clubs has strengthened: “Sometimes it seems to be complicated to build a friendly relationship between football clubs or their supporters but, while I cannot speak in general for all the fans of both clubs, from what I have experienced so far, there is a lot of understanding and tolerance from all of the supporters here in Düsseldorf and in Ipswich and I have never heard any bad comments about what we are doing.”
Ulli, who says they always receive a warm welcome from Rob and Claire at the Drum and Monkey when they visit Ipswich, has seen a fair bit of the Blues in recent seasons: “Over the past years, we have visited Ipswich at home against Portsmouth, Leeds United, Stoke City, Sheffield Wednesday and Derby County and away to QPR and PSV Eindhoven and we have brought more than 600 Fortuna fans all the way to England.
“Tractor Boys have been to Düsseldorf themselves on a number of occasions as well. We have produced a friendship scarf with ITFC on one side and F95 the other and got official permission from both clubs to do so, which shows that both clubs are very open-minded about our project.”
At Villa Park, thanks to help from both clubs’ ticket offices, the Fortuna fans, who have a website here, will be in the upper tier of the North Stand, adjacent to the Town support.
Ulli says they could have brought even more supporters: “On Saturday, there will be 70 of us, most of them dressed in both clubs' colours and again, all places on board are sold out.
“If we’d wanted to, we could have brought two full coaches, but that would lead to a lot of work, one coach full of us is enough.
“Once again, we are really looking forward visiting England and travelling with the Tractor Boys and the Blue Army and we will give our best to support ITFC and will hopefully get away with a good result from Villa Park.”
The Fortuna fans’ most recent trip to Portman Road
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