After the disappointment of the Champions League campaign two years previously, which had ended prematurely in agonising defeat to Villarreal, the Evertonians embraced the clubs 2007/8 UEFA cup campaign with great enthusiasm. A hard-core of support had travelled to Kharkiv in the Ukraine to witness a battling 3-2 victory that secured progress into the group stages of the competition, but it was in Nuremberg where the Evertonians truly re-ignited their love affair with European football.
For a generation of Evertonians, it was their first real opportunity to support the Blues in a competitive overseas encounter. The trips to Villarreal and Bucharest two years previously had been on a relatively small-scale due to the cost and limited availability of tickets, but now the Everton support were ready to take Europe by storm.
Born in the late 70s, I was fortunate to witness the great Everton team of the 80s, but was too young to travel to Europe during the triumphant Cup Winners Cup campaign, unbelievably the one and only European campaign that fantastic team were allowed to enjoy. The trips to Rotterdam and Reykjavik in the mid-90s passed me by, so the opportunity to travel to Germany to watch the Blues was one I enthusiastically devoured.
Although I was a season ticket holder, the desire to travel with friends and the official Everton tickets selling out in double-quick time, I was left me scrambling for tickets amongst the German supporters. With flights booked and tickets secured via Nuremberg’s official ticket office, everything was set for my first overseas trip with the Blues, only for UEFA, in their wisdom, to deem the Evertonians a security risk and they subsequently forced Nuremberg to cancel the ticket applications of anyone in the UK. The lack of tickets was not going to stop us and we travelled to Baravia alongside thousands of Blues to enjoy a fantastic adventure.
We arrived in Nuremberg on the morning of the match and were delighted to see so many Royal Blues shirts. A quick trip to the official ticket office in the centre of town was successful, with the Nuremberg officials quite happily re-selling the cancelled tickets back to the ticketless Blues. The mood throughout the day was unique, simply Evertonians everywhere you went, spilling out from bars and soaking up the fantastic late autumn sun. Official records suggest that 8,000 Blues made the journey to Germany, but for those in the historic city of Nuremberg, it felt like considerably more. “Everton, oh we love Everton” was sung repeatedly throughout the day and the number and variety of Everton flags made for an incredible scene. The noise and enthusiasm of the congregation of Blues, which incidentally was right outside the team’s city centre hotel, must have had a profound effect on every single member of the Everton squad that night.
The Germans were an unknown quantity, but had obviously enjoyed a successful season in the Bundesliga to qualify for the UEFA Cup via their league placing. The atmosphere inside the ground was one I will never forget. Sat alongside passionate yet accommodating ‘Nurnbergers’, we were treated to a spectacular night, which ended triumphantly thanks to late goals from Mikel Arteta and Victor Anichebe. The celebrations continued in Nuremberg long into the night, before a number of very tired Evertonians boarded the planes back to the UK the following morning.
If you made the trip to Nuremberg what were your memories? Did you miss out and endure months of everyone proclaiming the best ever Everton away experience?
We are looking to start a new section on the site relieving the experience of travelling to an away match with Everton. We would like to publish the thoughts and experiences of as many Blues as possible, whether it be a trip across Stanley Park to watch the Anfield derby, or to Kharkiv in Ukraine for a UEFA Cup match. If you have a story to tell and want to pass on your experiences please get in touch using the ‘contact us’ link on the left menu bar.