Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein

Here we're basically talking about Hamburg, although the backwaters of Schleswig Holstein have occasionally had a few clubs making an occasional appearance in the 2nd division.

The city of HAMBURG is obviously the most important visit in this region. This is an independant city state, which like Bremen or Berlin counts as one of the seperate Länder of Germany.

You must try a St.Pauli Girl. Now if you sample the true local version, you should have "protection", because you might also catch something else...The beer is actually brewed in Bremen, which is a bit of an outrage, if you think about it.

Hamburg has a rich soccer tradition, although except for a brief period in the 1980s, it's basically been somewhat of a wimpy tradition. The main club in Hamburg is Hamburger SV , although depending on your outlook, St.Pauli may be more to your liking. HSV has had a few successes, and about the only thing you could say about St.Pauli is that they are enthusiastic. Other Hamburg clubs are worth keeping an eye on, as they can be found in the Hamburg Verbandsliga or lower: VfL Hamburg 93 , SC Concordia, SV Barmbek-Uhlenhorst and SC Vorwärts Wacker 04 Hamburg-Billstedt, which sounds like one of those Austrian "fusion or die" teams.

The immediate suburbs of Hamburg are ignored by most tourguides, but not by Abseits, because we find a vibrant lower level collection of motley clubs: VfL Pinneberg, ASV Bergedorf 85, SC Norderstedt , Altonaer 93, TuS Hoisdorf. Use the excellent local transportation to zip over and catch one of their games, if you've gotten your fill of the Reeperbahn.

Heading directly north on Autobahn BAB-7, after about 60km you'll enter NEUMÜNSTER (so where is Altmünster?). The local club is VfR Neumünster, and is as obscure as the town.

Another further 30 km or so brings you to KIEL, which was an olympic city, albeit for the worthless sailing competition. (Now who did they have to bribe in order to get that as a sport? Must be the same as the rhythmic gymnastics guy). Anyway, there is some fancy regatta in June, but luckily that's the soccer offseason, so you'll not be anywhere near the city. The main local soccer club, Holstein Kiel has struggled of late. Also of strictly local interest is Kilia Kiel. There is a famous handball club, THW Kiel. For those who don't know, this is not the silly sport where you bounce the ball off the wall. Instead, it's a sport that Germans used to play when they got too tall to play soccer. Of course, then they realized they could get basketball scholoarships in the US.

If you continue north, passing through the worthless town of SCHLESWIG, you come to the Danish border and the town of FLENSBURG. Now up front, I have to say that the local clubs are hardly worth a trip, e.g. TSB Flensburg and Flensburg 08. However, there are two reasons to visit this town. One, it is the home of the famous Flensburger-Pilsner, and two, there is a local brewpub called Hansen Brauerei, where they can serve you a "meter-of-beer".

Back in Hamburg, if you head northeast on the Autobahn 1, after about 50km you come to the famed city of LÜBECK, another Hanseatic league city. This was the home of the famous Mann brothers, Thomas and Hermann, whose weighty prose have helped many a college student catch up on their sleep.

There are only a couple of teams worth mentioning, VfB Lübeck and Phönix Lübeck.If you want to see Bundesliga soccer, given the crap HSV performances, you might consider driving 120Km east to Rostock. Another local club is Eichhölzer SV.

When leaving Lübeck, try continuing up the BAB-1 Autobahn to OLDENBURG, another 50km. Ask the locals where you can watch VfB Oldenburg play. Then you'll find out if they have a sense of humour. If they pity you, they'll inform you that you're in the wrong Oldenburg. If you insist on soccer, there is a local club called Oldenburger SV, but I have no information on them.

(c) Abseits Guide to Germany :