This May bank holiday (Friday 2nd to Monday 5th) the annual pilgrimage to Moenchengladbach by a group of Liverpool supporters takes place. This will be 8th consecutive annual friendship visit by a group representing Liverpool FC and one that includes taking in a match at Borussia Park, with Mainz providing the opposition to Borussia on Saturday May 3rd. It’s a friendship unique in world football and one which has blossomed over four decades.
When Liverpool and Borussia Moenchengladbach met five times during the 1970s the stakes were high – with the Reds taking the spoils, edging out the Germans 3-2 on aggregate in the final of the UEFA Cup in 1973 and then four years later the European Cup was secured for the first time as Gladbach were beaten 3-1 on a memorable night in Rome. The rivals faced each other again in the semi-finals a year later when Bob Paisley’s side booked their passage to Wembley by overturning a 2-1 deficit with a 3-0 victory at Anfield. But the bond which was forged between the two sets of fans on those glorious European nights has not only stood the test of time but strengthened.
It is Kopite and Annual LFC Supporters Moenchengladbach friendship visit organiser Graham Agg, who leads the pilgrimage of Reds fans to Germany. Once more he is expecting it to be a special occasion. He explains how the trips came about; “This friendship goes back to those great games in the 1970s and it really took off after some Borussia fans came to Liverpool in 1991 to present a cheque for 21,000 Deutsch Marks (about £7,000) to the Hillsborough fund. That meant a great deal and in 1992 a group of Borussia fans started coming over to Anfield every year to support us during their league’s winter break. I speak fluent German having lived over there for a few years so when they came over in 2006 I met up with them for a night in town. I was chatting to one of them who said the relationship between the clubs was great but that it was a bit one-sided. They had been coming over here since ‘92 but there wasn’t much coming back the other way. I was a bit embarrassed and decided we needed to do something about it.”
So with the 30th anniversary of the two clubs meeting in the European Cup final in 2007 approaching, the Netherton native took action and 25 reds made the trip across to Germany in 2007. It proved to be an unforgettable experience with the hospitality and friendship shown to the traveling reds second to none.
Graham remembers that first trip fondly ”Just before Gladbach’s final home game a few of us went on the pitch to unveil a special friendship flag to our German friends. Their fans roared and then chanted ‘Liverpool, Liverpool’ before giving a perfect rendition of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’. It was very emotional and we decided then to do it every year. We’ve been seven times now and every year it gets bigger and better and the supporters who have joined me on our friendship visits have been superb ambassadors for both Liverpool FC and the city.”
Those attending this May for the first time may well think they are back at Anfield; Graham explains; “Their official supporter’s club house near the stadium has a corner dedicated to Liverpool Football Club. And in the stadium, their corporate hospitality is in the LFC suite which has a framed picture of the Kop from the 70s. It really is remarkable. Both Liverpool and Moenchengladbach are working class cities so I think that’s why the fans identify with each other so much.”
Those on the trip this year can enjoy a guided tour of the impressive 54,000 capacity Borussia Park. A tour of the pubs/bars in the Moenchengladbach Altstadt (Old Town) and a visit to the Borussia Moenchengladbach “Fanhaus”, the official BMG Supporters Club, where they have a whole corner dedicated to Liverpool Football Club. This is where the official presentations will take place. On match day there will be an all-day LFC/BMG Fan Party in the BMG Fan Haus followed by live music from local German bands. There will also be free time to visit the nearby cities of Cologne or Dusseldorf.
If you are interested in joining Graham and the rest of the crew traveling for the 2014 LFC Supporters Moenchengladbach Friendship visit please contact Graham ASAP on firstname.lastname@example.org as places are going very fast.