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So, this week, Everton have announced a pre-season trip to Germany to play Werder Bremen in August. This is of course a vital fixture for the squad’s fitness and preparation for the season ahead, but it’s also a good excuse for us fans to have a little European jolly, which is obviously the most important thing…
Last year I went over to Germany to watch our pre-season game against Wolfsburg. Although the match itself wasn’t anything to write home about, the trip as a whole was incredible, and was one of my personal highlights of last season, for one aspect in particular.
On the Friday night my friends and I were having a drink in the hotel bar (as you do) when a massive coach pulled up in front of the hotel. The entire Everton squad bundled into reception, to be greeted by us lot hovering awkwardly around them, wondering whether or not it would be OK to approach them. At which point Phil Neville walked straight over to us, unprompted, and asked us all how we were, if we were having a good time, etc. A simple gesture, but it made our night, and confirmed to me that our captain is a credit to our club.
The rest of the players (and manager) were just as polite and welcoming to the fans as their captain. All of them were more than happy to sign autographs and pose for photos with everyone who asked, as they did throughout the entire weekend.
Casually bumping into Everton players as you wander around the hotel is quite a surreal experience. Especially when you bundle bleary-eyed out of an elevator and cheerfully say “Good morning!” to Phil Neville, only to be told it’s in fact two in the afternoon. Thanks for laughing at me, Phil.
This was just a start of what turned out to be an epic weekend. Wolfsburg is a great town with the friendliest people, the Volkswagen Stadium is one of the best I’ve ever been to (with the most beautiful surroundings) and I made plenty of new friends in some of the other blues we bumped into around the town and the hotel.
I’ve been lucky enough to have been on a few European away days in my time, but I can honestly say that, for the overall experience, Wolfsburg will always be one of my favourite Everton trips. Probably because we could just relax and enjoy the weekend without stressing over the result!
Aside from football, these Everton trips mean you get to see interesting parts of the world that you probably wouldn’t have visited otherwise. Germany has never really been somewhere I’d have considered going of my own accord. I now realise that this made me a fool, as I loved every minute of my weekend in Wolfsburg, and if I were able to afford it, I’d be booking my flights to Bremen in a flash.
As it stands, a total lack of funds means I’ll probably have to give this year’s German trip a miss. I’ll just have to make do with a Friday night in Bury instead. I’m sure that’ll be just as good as a weekend in Germany*.
(* It won’t. At all. Someone take me to Bremen?)