Zürich revisited

Zürich, Swiss football away days 7

My next Swiss football trip brought me back to Zürich, once again in the big city, and once again to the the Letzigrund stadium. Last time it was to see , but this time I am here to see their city rivals, FC Zurich.

Zürich, the largest city in Switzerland with just over 400,000 people, is located in the centre of Switzerland on the northwestern shore of Lake Zürich. The city stretches on both sides of the River Limmat, which flows out from the Lake.

A German speaking city, Zürich was founded by the Romans in 15 BC. However, early settlements have been found dating back more than 6400 years ago. The Romans founded the city as a tax collecting point for goods trafficked on the Limmat river.

Zurich is a city that always rates very highly in “Quality of Life Surveys” carried out here and there by various agencies. With its wealth, general safety, cleanliness, and a wide selection of interesting sights and places to visit, top class universities, fiscally attractive with a lowish tax base: yes it is certainly a lovely city to visit, and even to settle down in.

The city also has a rich cultural tradition with many high-quality museums and art galleries, but for someone who is into more modern pursuits, the city holds one of the largest and most popular dance music festivals in the world, a techno “street parade” around August every year that attracts about a million ravers and the like dancing alongside the lake Zurich.

Zürich is a major hub for railways, roads, and air traffic for Switzerland and for Europe. Both Zürich Airport and railway station are the largest and busiest in the country, and the city has an extensive local train, bus and city wide tram network. The network also includes boats on the lake and river, funicular railways and even a cable car between Adliswil and Felsenegg. Zürich train station is the world’s most frequently served railway station, with 2915 trains every day, and has high speed trains coming from France, Germany and Austria passing through, and it is also directly connected with Zürich Airport which is less than 10 kilometers (6.2 mi) away.

I like Zürich, its a lovely city, looking very nice at night, people mulling about, a good atmosphere in the city air. The old town looks great, albeit a bit too posh and stylish for me but a nice city to walk around all the same.

Oh by the way, before I forget The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), otherwise known as the corrupt bastards running, our ruining, the beautiful game, have their headquarters in the city!

Pub watch

The Lion Pub

Address: Oetenbachgasse 24, 8001 Zürich

First pint of the day was to be in the Lion Pub, an English Pub, near the city centre. Was very busy with some premiership football on the box, but still plenty of space to sit down.

Got a nice seat at the round bar, and ordered a lager, can’t remember what, but it was served nice and cold, bar tender friendly, efficient and fast on the draw. Liked the Lion logo on the beer glass.

Nice interior, very swanky (wooden but all smart), good cozy atmosphere at the time, British style pub grub on the menu, but also some Swiss dishes, British and Irish beer on tap and in bottle. Also, while I was there they also had a gin tasting stall which looked pretty cool.

Nice classy pub with a good atmosphere, nice pint that did the business, and will be back again next time I am on the town in Zurich.

Rive Gauche

Address: Talstrasse 1, 8001 Zurich

Got completely lost following my google maps on my absolute shite mobile phone, Switel, a Swiss made mobile. Now the Swiss do a lot of things great, the trains run on time, the cheese is tasty and the direct democracy works just fine, but one thing they cant do is make proper mobiles! Switel was a hopeless mobile, and on this day it got me completely lost, and the battery died so quick.

I was planning on getting to another game before the big one later on in the evening, but I got completely lost and so giving up hope, I decided to just fuck it and go to the first bar I passed. And that bar just so happened to be Rive Gauche.

Now I could tell from the fancy exterior that this might be a bit to plush for a simple man like myself, but man I was dead on my feet and thirsty too boot. Ventured in I did.

A very nice interior, all modern and smart, and the bar was within easy reach so sat myself down and ordered a Carlsberg, which was served with a nice big friendly smile by the bar lady who also gave me some nuts to nibble on. Carlsberg was great, lovely and cool, and I had another one as I was beginning to settle in nicely, that and the fact that the bar lady was kind enough to recharge my mobile.

Not particularly busy, I was the only one drinking, but a few customers were in the restaurant just off from the bar. They do fine dining here, goats cheese, marinated salmon, chick pea croquets, eggplant caviar, Greek yoghurt and all that bollix and I can only imagine the prices, so the cold beer and nuts were enough for me I can tell you!

Enjoyed my time here, was settling in real good at the lovely long wooden bar with my nice cold beer and a friendly environment in a chic bar that had a nice ambient feel. Would love to come back when the sun goes down and try some of their cocktails.

Restaurant Schlachthof (Alpstübli)

Address: Herdernstrasse 59 , Zurich 8004

Just across from the Letzigrund Stadium there is this restaurant and bar or “Restaurant slaughterhouse”, it is a big place and easy to spot. They mostly concentrate on Swiss cuisine, plain and simple, and cold beer to refresh supporters before and after the game.

I went in and sat down at the bar, was hungry too so ordered some food to accompany my beer. Service was very friendly. Had some regular local lager and got some fries and a steak burger, nothing too fancy! The beer was nice and cold but unfortunately the food was rubbish. Just tasteless, small portioned and nothing special, bit disappointing. Sit down food should be a bit better than this.

Anyway had another beer then my eye caught a board listing various shorts and I was immediately intrigued by the hemp vodka that was an offer. Had a shot of it and it went down easy but I am not sure how much hemp was in it.

The Alpstübli is nice and cosy, with friendly and attentive staff, and it was good to have a few beers before the match as its so close to the stadium one doesn’t have to worry about last minute runs to the game. Pity about the grub though.

Nelson Pub

Address: Beatengasse 11, Zurich 8001

Just before I would hit the train station to go home, I had one more pint, this time in Nelson Pub, not too far off from the train station. I have drank in this establishment before and always found it to be a decent enough and lively watering hole.

It is an English pub with an all wooden interior, offering up British pub grub and football and rugby on the box, it always seems to be very busy anytime I venture in, and a good atmosphere is to be had in this bar. It is not a place to sit down and have a quiet pint, that’s for sure!

On this night the place was heaving with a boisterous and noisy but friendly atmosphere. I didn’t manage to get a seat so just stood at the small bar near the entrance. Ordered a lager from the friendly bar lady which was served quick enough considering the big crowd that was in. Had another pint, both went down fine and enjoyed my brief stay in the Nelson pub before I hit the road home.

I like the Nelson pub, nothing pretentious, really is like a good old fashioned British pub, good beer, decent atmosphere, always attentive staff, and football and grub, what more does a person need from a bar?

FC Zürich

Arena/Stadium: Letzigrund

Location: Badenerstrasse 500, 8048 Zurich

Capacity: 26,104

Manager: Ludovic Magnin

Founded: 1896

League: Swiss Super League

info@fcz.ch

FC Zürich, known as Der Stadtclub (“The city club”), or FCZ for short, is a Swiss football club from the city of Zürich that play in the top tier of the Swiss football league, the Super League.

The club, who play in blue and white, was founded in 1896 and is one of the oldest sports clubs in Switzerland. They have won the Swiss Super League 12 times (last in 2009) and the Swiss Cup 10 times (last win was last season 2018!)

The club was founded on 1 August 1896 by former members of the three local clubs (FC Turicum, FC Viktoria, and FC Excelsior). One of them was the FC Barcelona founder, Joan Gamper. Zürich won its first national championship title in 1901–02, but did not win it again until 1923–24.
Until the 1930s, FC Zurich was also active in other sports such as rowing, boxing, athletics, handball and so on. Due to financial difficulties, the other sporting organisations ventured off to their own separate ways while FC Zurich have been a pure football club since then.

Between 1925 and 1962, were the years of no success, FC Zürich winning sweet fuck all. Thirty seven years of nothing at all and including two relegation’s. Bet the supporters enjoyed those times. But not to worry, as the “Golden Years” came during the 60’s right up to the early 80’s, Zürich winning seven championships in the years 1963, 1966, 1968, 1974, 1975, 1976 and 1981, and the Swiss Cup five times in 1966, 1970, 1972, 1973, and in 1976. FCZ also had some success in Europe getting to the semi-finals of the European Cup in the 1963–64 season, before losing to the mighty Real Madrid (8–1 on agg!), and also reaching the semi-finals in the European Cup in 1976–77, where they lost to Euro kingpins at the time, Liverpool (Losing 6–1 on agg)

They won the Championship again in 1981, but what followed was a good few barren years, even a relegation in 1988, a promotion back in 1990, and a half decent run in the Uefa Cup (1999), getting to the last eight. The noughties started off a bit better, winning the Cup in 2000 against Lausanne, and again in 2005, this time against Luzern.

But still no league success, well that was until 2006 in one of the most dramatic final days of action when FCZ got the title from under the noses of their fiercest rival FC Basel, when Romanian defender Iulian Filipescu, of all people, scored a late, late winner in the 93rd minute of injury time to bring the trophy back to FC Zurich for the first time in 25 years.

The new century had some mixed years, winning the league in 2006/07 as mentioned, again in the 2008–09 season, edging out Young Boys of Bern, beating AC Milan at home in the Champions League in 2009, and also winning another Swiss Cup in 2014, beating rivals FC Basel, 2–0 to match the two in 2000 and 2005. But in the 2015–16 season the unthinkable happened, the club finished last, one point behind FC Lugano and were relegated to the Swiss Challenge League, and this is despite having a team good enough to win the Swiss Cup where 4 days after relegation they beat beating FC Lugano 1–0 in the Cup final. What a weird season, relegation and cup victory. But luckily for the Zurich fans this was only a temporary blip in their great history, as they bounced back immediately, winning the Challenge League easy enough, to secure promotion straight back to the Swiss Super League. In the 2017–2018 season they won the Swiss Cup for the tenth time, beating BSC Young Boys 2–1, to complete a turbulent and crazy few years for the Zurich club, the highs and lows but always exciting.

They play their home games at the Letzigrund in Zürich, which seats 25,000 spectators. The Letzigrund stadium is some stadium though, wide and expansive, at night with the floodlights on it is a sight to see. An athletics stadium first and foremost but owned by the city of Zurich (buying it off FC Zurich who were in debt at the time), with the popular IAAF Diamond League taking place here every year, it also has held some pretty big music concerts down through the years (both the old and updated version of the stadium) from U2, Bon Jovi, Madonna, Metallica, Guns N’ Roses, Rihanna, Beyoncé, the Rolling Stones right up to today with Ed Sheeran playing in the summer of 2018. The current capacity is 25,000, for football events, 30,000, for athletics and 50,000, for concerts.

As for rivals, I would say it has to be the other Zurich club, Grasshopper Club Zürich, and FC Basel. Grasshoppers are known as the club of the elite while FCZ are known as the club of the workers. But its the RotBlau who are regarded as the number one foe, mainly down to an incident in the last day of the 2005–06 season when FC Basel only needed a draw to clinch the title at home against FC Zürich, who had the cheek to spoil the party and score in the last minute to take the title. After the final whistle, players and fans from both teams started fighting on the pitch and in the stands. Since that day, fans from FC Zürich and FC Basel pretty much detest each other with a passion.

Well known players to have played for the club include ex Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo, Nigerian World Cup star, Rashidi Yekini (I loved him!), Swiss stars Gökhan Inler, Ricardo Rodríguez and Ludovic Magnin, who is presently their manager and who was a very much underrated player in his time (In my opinion). Pele, also played with them. Abedi Pele, the legendary footballer from Ghana and ex European Cup winner with Marseille.

To the game

FC Zurich 3–0 Lugano

10.03.2018 • Stadion Letzigrund, Zürich

F. Rohner 9′
A. Nef 15′ A. Marchesano 19′

Attendance: 8069

Wasn’t long settled in when FCZ went one nil up, after about 9 minutes when Rohner went on a mini run into the box and unleashed a cracking shot to put it past the goalie and into the far corner. What a great goal and a good start to the game for Zurich. Nice one.

And then six minutes later we had our second goal of the night, I. Aliu whipped in a nice high corner for A. Nef to power home a header where the goalie had no chance, albeit you might wonder why the Lugano defence were a little static. Two nil and I was barely even into my burger and beer!

Well 4 minutes later, and just after we had calmed down for the second goal, the third came via a bit of a hapless clearance by the Lugano goalkeeper, who ballooned it out where a smart M. Frey pass let in A. Marchesano to get space and momentum to power home the third from just outside the box, again to the goalkeepers right hand far post. Perhaps the goalkeeper could have done a bit better with some of the Zurich goals?

You just know when you get a high scoring first half that Sods law dictates that the second half will be shit, that’s the way it always goes, and sure enough it was. Zurich did the work and relaxed a little to give Lugano some chances but they were mostly long ranges efforts and Yanick Brecher in the FCZ goals was equal to anything that came at him. Lugano quite simply were not up to the same high temp and level that FC Zurich were at.

Entertaining game all the same, some nice football on display, the FC Zurich fans were lively enough throughout, and another good match day experience was had in the Stadion Letzigrund

Goals of the game here.

Overall

Like the days out in Zurich, a great city for drinking in, wandering round and for football hopping. Albeit it is expensive but heh ho it is Switzerland. Was good seeing how much of a crowd FCZ brought to the Stadion Letzigrund compared to their rivals Grasshoppers, it was slightly bigger but not as large as I had expected considering they are the “big team” in the city! Still they were a noisy bunch all game and I just love the Stadion Letzigrund big game atmosphere. One can only imagine what its like when the place is even half full!!

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Alcohol and fun

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