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When fans played footie with Bayern stars

This red sea was parted by a football pitch and an athletics track. The stadium looked no bigger than the Ambedkar and a lot like where Shillong Lajong FC will play their home games this season.

sports Updated: Jul 24, 2011 23:42 IST
Dhiman Sarkar

This red sea was parted by a football pitch and an athletics track. The stadium looked no bigger than the Ambedkar and a lot like where Shillong Lajong FC will play their home games this season.

Unlike Shillong though, this was wedged in greater greenery and had a little hill where Bayern Munich fans sat. As they did in the covered main stands and the temporary galleries erected for what was advertised as a mega-event in Passau, some 200km from Munich. One worthy of a 22-gun salute (one for each of Bayern's Bundesliga titles) and the presence of German football legends Karl Heinz Rummenigge and Uli Hoeness who are also Bayern's bosses.

This was Bayern's first 'home' match of the season and in keeping with tradition, it was with a lucky fan club. In this case, two. Each year, a lottery is held among the nearly 3000 Bayern fan clubs and the winners get to host the team first and keep the proceeds. This time, the honours went to a joint-bid by a club from Taubenbach and one from Passau in Lower Bavaria.

This meant Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Philipp Lahm, Jerome Boateng, Thomas Mueller and new goalkeeper Manuel Neuer played against a goalie who is a chemist by profession and others, ranging from the well-rounded middle-aged, balding midfielder, an elderly right back and a fit-looking striker, who hold ordinary day-jobs but are united by the colours of Bayern Munich.

All cheers
Each of these players would give an arm and a leg to see Bayern decimate opponents all the way to the Champions League final next May, which they are hosting. Maybe that's why each goal Bayern scored was celebrated raucously.
On Saturday afternoon though, with beer glasses for those eligible and apple juice bottles for those not, it was the Dreifluessestadion (Three Rivers Stadium) that thousands of Schweinsteiger, Ribery, Mueller and Gomes in deep red tees went to.

The original bearers of those famous surnames drove through the manicured countryside in Bayern's big, black first-team bus.

Bayern won 15-2 but the best goal came from a fan — a cracking volley from the top of the area that left Neuer's replacement stunned. If the player was introduced, it was lost in translation for me but everyone saw how he beamed when Bayern's top stars high-fived him.