Handball Final Four 2008

Ahhh, another wonderful handball festival, although I had the impression that the stadium in Hamburg (called "Colina" by the locals, as they hate the official "Color Line Arena" in which the "Lufthansa Final Four" was held for the "Toyota Handball Bundesliga". What will they sell next, air?) was much fuller this year.

We had usual seats behind a goal, but real bleachers this year, not the folding chairs they set up to get more people packed in. It really is quite something when all 12.800 or so people are cheering!

The official propaganda (regurgitated by the media) was that all the seats had been sold out in 7 minutes. Hogwash. The system broke down after 7 minutes :) It took us 45 minutes to score our seats - and there was barely anything left, so we of course ended up with rather expensive seats. But a friend managed to get tickets on eBay with a 12,5% markup, and the shills were selling tickets as we got off the bus.

Saturday my favored THW Kiel (extra points for those who know what THW stands for, no fair peeking in the Wikipedia) met up with the Rhein-Neckar Lions, who had an axe to grind. They have been snapping up "aging" stars and had some of the great world champions (Henning Fritz, Christoph Schwarzer, Oliver Roggish) on the floor. You couldn't be mad when Fritz managed to fend off a goal or Blackie did one if his flying goal stunts from the circle. But the THW Zebras stomped all over the Lions.

Then Nordhorn met up with HSV, the local team in Hamburg. Both were determined to win, and neither gave up. Holger Glandorf for Nordhorn (another world champion) was just a whirling dervish of a goal getter - he made 13 goals all by himself! It wasn't enough, though, the stars from HSV were better.

So the final was the "local derby" between the rivals Kiel and Hamburg. We were in a restaurant for dinner out in the sticks (but handball is really big in the north) when some drunken HSV folks came in for a smoke or two and food. Yes, a smoke. The largest room in the restaurant is the smoking room, there are a few tables up front for the non-smokers. Since we were so many people, we had to sit in back. We toasted to THW, they answered with more comments and an occasional tröt of their blaring horn.

Got to the stadium early, I scored a new training set for only 20 € and in the color I wanted, WiseMan managed to get a T-Shirt he had been looking for for a long time (He collects them. Don't ask how many he has.....). WiseKid liked the food and decided to cheer for Hamburg, since the oldies were for THW.

It was a close game, with HSV in the lead at half-time. But the THW coach must have said some magic words, because they came back fighting in the second half. It was - literally - quite a fight. The referees had their work cut out for them getting people to settle down and not be so aggressive. There were two serious injuries, both on the HSV side, including Bertrang Gille, what I pity, I love to watch him play. The new guy, the flying Dane, did a few of his magic goals for HSV, but it was not enough, and they gave up 2 seconds before the end as they were 2 goals down.

It was such fun to see the faces of the Kiel team, even though they have won so many titles, they are just as excited about each new one as if it was the first one! One down, two more to go for the Triple Crown again for Kiel!

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