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Öhringen - hometown of the Socceroos     mail an Andre


Öhringen will be the home town of the Socceroos during the World Cup 2006, and I was there three months before the big event. The first thing I have to say is that the town is hungry - not to make big money, but to have the Socceroos and their fans and to show them the best side of their town.

I got a telephone call from Mr Walter, City Manager of the town, in March. He heard of my passion, and saw the Southern Cross website. He invited me to a big function in the Ohringen Town Hall a few days later.
"Yes I will come. I need no preparation to speak in front of the people."
Just two days later, I was on my way by train from Hanover direct to Würzburg a trip which took just two hours. At the railway station, a council driver was waiting with a big "Mr Krueger" sign. We travelled another one hour by car through the snow. Finally we passed through the Australian-flagged entry to the town and then to the Hotel in the centre of town. A room was booked for me. So my first impression was, they are perfect in organising things.

The Mayor with his Socceroo DressAfter a while, Mr Walter picked me up and we went to the Town Hall where about 250 people were waiting. The event started with a video of John Aloisi's goal on a big video screen to show the celebrations and to give a sense of what it means for Australia to come back to Germany and the World Cup after 32 years absence.

Some speakers told the audience what will be going on in the next couple of weeks and months, the plans for events and things to show the Australians guests.

The hotel manager, where the Socceroos will be stayting, told the story how they will get the team to town, what arrangements were being made, and what's still to be done in the near future.

Then it was my turn. I gave a 30 minute speech, something about myself, the history of Australian football, and about the current team and its qualification. It was a big success - I think I had done a good job for my adopted home country. At the break, I didn't have a spare minute to have a snack or a drink. Question after question rained down on me. But that's okay, it's also good for me, my passion, for the Australian fans, and for Football down under.

Krüger on stageFew days earlier, Gary Moretti and Stuart Hodge of the FFA were in town. They left friendly impressions. I think I had done the rest, so that the people can't wait for the arrival of the team and fans.
When everything was over late in the evening, we had time sit down to some good food, typical dishes of this area, after which I finally got to bed.
Early next morning, the snow had changed to rain, but I still walked around the town. People recognised me in the street, and some even spoke to me in English because they thought I was the first Australia fan in town.

After some other meetings, I returned to Hanover the same way I arrived. Öhringen is beautiful. I just saw it in rain, how nice will it be in summer ?

People are working hard to make everything well - no - to make it perfect. The area is centrally located to Australia's three Group Phase venues: 155 km to Kaiserslautern, 270 km to Munich, and only 70 km to Stuttgart.
There are many things to see in and around Öhringen. It's a very good place for sight-seeing. They have some very old historical buildings in town and a host of nice pubs and shops. At the only sport shop, Intersport Gross at the main street, you can buy the new Nike Socceroo shirts and other football stuff. The town will establish new places for people to put up tents and park caravans.

ÖhringenThe Australian team will arrive on 5 June. They will play another international during the week. If everything works well, the Socceroos will play a friendly against a local XI. Under FIFA regulations there will be one open training day, and its Guus' decision whether he'll have one or two more.

But the fans will be in contact with the players when they come into town for sight-seeing or shopping. On 15 June the town has arranged a big Australian Party in the market place. They also will have some big video screens for the games.

The manager of the town school asked me if it's a good idea to provide some scouts, young people who can go with the fans to show them the best places and viewpoints. I said that this would be a great idea. One or two football games will be organised between the Aussie fans and locals. It was funny that I was asked by the Town Music Band if they also have to play "God Save the Queen" when the fans are arriving. No, was my answer, and you have to learn Waltzing Matilda too.

There are a number of fantastic old towns close to Ohringen. If you choose the town as your base, you will be rewarded if you also visit these beautiful places nearby. Ohringen will be the perfect location, and close to the team.
Places to visit, close to Öhringen, the Black Forest between the wonderful city of Freiburg and the mountain Feldberg. The Black Forest covers a triangular section of the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg in south western Germany, roughly 145 km (90 miles) long and 40 km (25 miles) wide. The Feldberg as highest mountain in the southern part reaches about 1493 m (5000 feet)
The Allgaeu mountains, Wuerzburg with the big Fortress and Town Hall, Dom and Churches, the Bodensea (Lake Constance which, borders Austria, Germany and Switzerland). And Jagsthausen, home of Goetz of Berlichingen who was a German knight. The towns Heidelberg and Rothenburg, a must to visit

waiting for the SocceroosI have to tell you one story, to show how great the Ohringen people are. An old lady from Sydney wrote to the Mayor to say that she booked a flight, but couldn't get a ticket to a game. One guy from the town heard this, and he just gave his tickets away so that the lady can fulfil her dream.
But, dear readers, don't write to ask for any more.

Everyone in Ohringen asked me if it'll be easy to make contact with the fans, to build new friendships and travel around with them. After the World Cup, the people from Ohringen want to keep in contact with the Australians. So you will easily make new friends when you visit.

When I asked through the internet what the Australian fans hope to find in their hosts, someone answered: "Anything, as long as they are friendly". Yes, I can attest to this, they are more than friendly and they will do their best to make the Aussies feel welcome and have a good time. I am sure, when the Australian fans go back down under after the World Cup,
some will sing in the old Australian style "I still call Ohringen home."

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