Thursday, April 11, 2013

FC Basel

FC Basel 2 Tottenham Hotspur 2 (After Extra Time - FC Basel won 4-1 on Penalties) - UEFA Europa League, Quarter Final, 2nd Leg

Located where the Swiss, French and German borders meet, Basel also has suburbs in France and Germany. Situated on the river Rhine, Basel functions as a major industrial centre for the chemical and pharmaceutical industry. During the days of the Roman Empire, the settlement of Augusta Raurica was founded 10 or 20 kilometres upstream of present Basel, and a castle was built on the hill overlooking the river where the Basel Münster now stands. But even older Celtic settlements (including a vitrified fort) have been discovered recently in the area predating the Roman castle. On July 3, 1874 Switzerland's first zoo (the Zoo Basel) opened its doors in the south of the city towards Binningen. The carnival of the city of Basel (Basler Fasnacht) is a major cultural event in the year. The carnival is the biggest in Switzerland and attracts large crowds every year, despite the fact that it starts at exactly four in the morning (Morgestraich) on a winter Monday!

Fussball Club Basel 1893 are one of the most successful clubs in Swiss football, having won the Swiss Super League 15 times, the third most for any Swiss club. They were most successful in the late 1960s and 1970s, winning the title a total of seven times between 1967 and 1980. The 1980s saw hard times for Basel as they had an absence from European competition for many years and they were relegated in 1987. In the 2000s Basel returned to the top of Swiss football; winning their first title for 22 years in 2002 and won a further six titles between 2004 and 2012.

St. Jakob Park, nicknamed Joggeli, is the largest stadium in Switzerland. Construction of the stadium began in December 1998 after the old Stadium that stood in its place had been demolished. St. Jakob Park initially had a capacity of 33,200 (of which 9,000 standing), but got expanded with an extra tier on one of the long sides for the Euro 2008 tournaments. With an additional few extra rows of temporary seats capacity was raised to a total of 42,500 seats. After the tournament, capacity dropped back again to under 40,000. The stadium is located in the south-east of the city of Basel. Tram line 14 connects the stadium with Basel’s old city centre. Bus 37 also connects with the centre. 

One of the previously mentioned suburbs is the French town of Bartenheim. Despite a very clear instruction to Expedia, this Pieman was billeted on the French side of the border. This small town has an hourly train service to Basel taking around 15 minutes. Basel railway station (like the airport) is split and there is a defined French area complete with a customs control zone.

Whist in Basel, we did some exploring and sampled a few local beers. Of particular note was Ueli, a wheat beer enjoyed at Zum Braunnen Mutz. This centrally located establishment offers a wide range of quality local ales and at the time of our visit was particularly busy prior to the match. Ken Nisbet, our Scottish correspondent also recommends this place!

In order to facilitate a quick get away after the match, we swapped our tickets with some Italian supporters and were able to sit along the side of the stadium opposite the main stand. The first leg at White Hart Lane saw FC Basel take the game to Spurs, racing into a two-goal lead before being pegged back. The second leg saw an injury hit Spurs match their hosts before eventually (as is often the way) going out on penalties after extra time.

We decided to watch the penalty shoot out from the back of the lower tier and it was only then that we realised there was a railway station immediately behind our stand. As soon as the encounter was concluded, we joined the happy Swiss fans on a train that reached Basel station in a little over 5 minutes.With the last public transport to France already gone (it really is a sleepy place), we shared a cab back to Bartenheim.

So that’s it – the end of another European adventure for Spurs. A total of 12 matches in a competition that has long been relegated to a poor second to the greedy elitist Champions League. The football has occasionally been good, whereas the beer, the food and the people we meet have often been very good!

Attendance: 36,500
Programme: A4 24 pages (Free)

No comments: