Our Last, or more accurately, recent, game on foreign soil was 19 years ago when we ventured to Germany to face the football club of our twin town, Worms, at the Wormatia Stadion in Alzeyer Strasse. The ground possesses a large stand that gives an excellent elevated view of the pitch and superb terracing but, on the downside, has a running track that is wrapped around the football pitch.
The Germans had a new coach in Max Reichenberger, a former defender with TSV 1860 Munchen and Eintract Bad Kreuzach. Reichenberger had brought in ten new players with the accent on youth. The new players were introduced to the 700 strong crowd one at a time over the public address system. Once that was out of the way the two sides lined up for the playing of the national anthems.
As for St Albans City, we were preparing for our first season as inaugural members of Conference (National League) South having secured our promotion from the Isthmian League via a scintillating 5-4 play-off victory over Bedford Town in May. The party that we took to Germany, though, was far from being at full strength. Manager Steve Castle had just twelve players at his disposal, one of which was the 38-year-old midfielder himself.
The game kicked off at 5pm on Saturday 10th July and was played in higher temperatures than had been experienced earlier in the day when the stadium played host to a number of festivities. The Germans opened the scoring on 18 minutes when Miguel De Souza was penalised for a perfectly good tackle on Volker Berg that referee Reichert deemed worthy of a penalty; Berg duly despatched the spot kick past new signing James Robinson in the City goal.
City were more attack minded after the break with the new boys featuring favourably. The outfield signings included the former Bedford Town pair of Darren Sarll and Craig Rydeheard, and right sided midfielder Matt Hann from Dorchester Town. Hann was instrumental in our equaliser when he ‘won’ a generously awarded penalty on 78 minutes that Graeme Butler, playing his final game for the club, slotted home. Six minutes later, Hann did well to outjump Matthias Lang for a high ball from Rydeheard before running through to smartly fire City ahead. But victory was washed away a minute from time when Worms scored a controversial equaliser. Both sides appeared to stop when a Worms player went down on the halfway line, however, Marcel Genhardt kept going and ran through to complete the scoring.
St Albans had flown to Hahn airport on the Friday afternoon, they were accompanied by the Saints president and former mayor of St Albans, Cllr Malcolm MacMillan, vice chairman Alister McMillin and kit man John Feneley . A group of ten City supporters, including former hon. secretary Steve Trulock, made their own way to Germany and stayed in Worms. Upon arriving at Hahn, the team were taken to the Parkhotel Prinz-Carl, where they stayed for two nights. On the Saturday morning the touring party were invited to an official reception at the Town Hall hosted by the Mayor of Worms, Michael Kissel. After the game the team returned to their hotel and spent Sunday morning sight-seeing before returning home.
Most of the organising had been carried out meticulously by Hubert Listmann of the Wormatia Worms Town Twinning Committee. Hubert was no stranger to St. Albans having taught for a short while at Verulam School in 1963/64.
Wormatia Worms: Christian Bieser (Sven Jenner 46), Bjorn Miehe (Marc Bayer 76), Mathias Bihn (Mario Cuc 58), Mathias Lang, Steven Jones, Marcel Gebhardt, Volker Berg (Jan Kiessling 58), Christian Schäfer (Christian Vogel 58), Dimitri Mayer (Benjamin Sigmund 16), Ozkan Cin, Andre Nenning (Bjorn Beisiegel 76). Booked: Sigmund. Dismissed: Lang.
St Albans City: James Robinson, Richard Thomas, Graeme Butler, Darren Sarll, Miguel De Souza, Chris Seeby , Matt Hann , Adam Parker, Ben Cogger, Neil Gough ( Steve Castle 67), Craig Rydeheard. Booked: Gough, Sarll, Rydeheard.