Oldham’s German comrades bid for European glory

Reporter: Jack Walton
Date published: 06 May 2022

Last night, German outfit Eintracht Frankfurt hosted West Ham United in the second leg of their Europa League semi-final, taking a 2-1 aggregate lead into the tie and eventually going onto win the leg 3-1 on aggregate. But twangs of patriotic fervour or inclinations to support your fellow Englishmen on their travels was of little interest in Oldham, where an Anglo-German bond with Eintracht - the Eagles to Oldham’s Owls - has origins set 40 years in the past.

It started - as the best romances often do - in Paris, in the early 80s. Latics followers ran into Frankfurt Fan Clubs EFC Bockenheim and Rhönadler at an international football supporters competition in the French capital, and bonded over a mutual rivalry against their French hosts. Decades later, EFC Oldham Adler (Eagle) is now an official Eintracht fan club.

The years in between saw Oldham fans frequently make the pilgrimage to the Waldstadion in Germany, a 50,000 seater footballing cauldron that opened in 1925. On such trips, old friendships are forged ever tighter on Weißbier and football. And Frankfurt fans of course return the favour. The first to do so, in 1983, were a pair named Bernhard Schulze and Paul Duong, hosted by Oldham’s Colin Shaw. A charity fundraiser between the two groups in the Jimmy Frizzell Stand saw 600 litres of German cider sold to raise £1,500 for Dr. Kershaw’s Hospice.

It might be a stretch to suggest Latics fans were living vicariously through their German comrades last night, even a 1-0 victory for The Eagles will do little to wash away the foul taste this season has left in the mouths of the Boundary Park faithful. But rest assured, it won’t be Declan Rice’s name that they’ll be singing at 8pm, not when Daichi Kamada and Filip Kostic are bidding for European glory.


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