As it was summer and I had a bit of time on my hands I decided to head over to Luxembourg to get in a new ground and see UCD of Dublin play F91 Dudelange in the Europa League First round. The first game in Ireland ended 1-0 to UCD so the stage was set for an exciting second leg to see if the Students could hold out and progress.
Here is my trip in video form
UCDAFC, or University College Dublin Association Football Club, play in the second tier of League of Ireland football, and are a semi pro team that mostly use players who also attend the university. Many players avail of the opportunity to earn a degree while playing top class, or relatively top class football. Before this game UCD’s claim to fame was running an Everton team close in the European Cup Winners Cup in the 1984/85 season, a team that had the calibre of Southall, Sheedy, Sharp, Reid and Gray in its line-up, going down just 1-0 in aggregate.
Also more importantly it is said that Socrates, the legendary Brazilian chain smoker and sometime footballer, played for the team when he was a student of UCD back in the day.
(Even though I love to dream, that’s unfortunately more than likely an urban myth)
F91 were formed in 1991 from the amalgamation of three clubs, Alliance Dudelange, Stade Dudelange, and US Dudelange, who all had varying degrees of success, but it was hoped that a new club would be financial viable and more successful on the sporting field. Which was proved right as F91 have won 11 national league titles since the year 2000.
In European competition they will be remembered as the plucky Luxembourg team that knocked out Austrian champion’s Red Bull Salzburg from the 2012–13 Champions League. A result that was quite unexpected considering the relative sizes of both nations leagues.
Had organised a good deal with two bars before the trip. Justin from the Tube Bar had offered me a cracking deal on shots and draft pints, and he got in contact with the Irish bar for me, PYG bar, who also offered bottles at a discount.
Now the sad thing is I wasn’t able to visit both bars at all over the day/night. Which was a pain in the hole.
I simply couldn’t find the Tube Bar, and the PYG looked closed when I passed it in the middle of the day, and later was far too much of a walk away to check it out. Virtually no signage or street maps at all on the streets of Luxembourg.
Thanks to Justin anyway for the effort
And I will definitely check it out both bars next time I am in the Duchy
Check out the Tube bar and the PYG
On arrival in Luxembourg City, the first bar and the first beer (first draught!) was in Bistrot Le Journal Bar, just around the corner from the train station. Was early afternoon, but had a good lively crowd in the bar. Nice décor, old floor, and a bit of chat with some of the customers. Had my first pint of Bofferding, the local brew. Truth be told it was disgusting. I figured that it was a bad pint, as later on in the day I found that Bofferding wasn’t that bad.
Just had the one, but heh sometimes you can get an unlucky pint.
Now this was before I know how hilly Luxembourg City was. After what seemed like well over an hour, I eventually came upon the bar. But it was closed, or at least it looked that way! What a disappointment.
Noticed that just a small walk up the way was an interesting bar called Maybe Not Bob’s. Again the front door was closed, but I heard some noise from inside. I checked it out and yes it was open! Which made me think that perhaps the Irish bar was indeed open as well. WTF with closed doors, hardly a way to entice customers!
Anyway asked for the local brew, got another Bofferding. But thankfully this one was prefect, no bad aftertaste, and was exactly what I needed after my long haul to this side of the town. Got chatting to the barman who was an Ethiopian called Addis (like the capital!), nice friendly guy who gave me the low down on life in the Duchy. Place was busy enough, with people eating what looked like pretty tasty food. Had a gander at the menu, and tried to order something off it but was told the kitchen staff had just left for lunch! Yes, they left for lunch at lunchtime, most be a Luxembourg thing. Indeed I saw them heading out the door, a couple of Chinese fellas. Pity as I read later that this place does the best burgers in the city. Damn!
As for Dudelange, the town is located in the south of the country, and a short 30 minute train journey from the capital. The town itself is a small “city” of about 20,000 people (3rd largest in the country) and is straddling the border with France.
As I didn’t have a whole lot of time, I managed to just visit the one bar in the town.
THE SYNDICATE BAR 33, avenue Grand-Duchesse Charlotte, Dudelange Facebook
I popped into the first bar I came across from the train station, and that was The Syndicate Bar
The Syndicate Bar is an old school bar, nothing pretentious about it, with good classic rock music playing away from the juke box. I liked the bar, wasn’t full at all, but it was the middle of the day, on a Thursday in Dudelange.
Had a nice bottle of Strongbow, cold from the fridge which went down well. I liked this bar, and would have easily stayed for more than the two ciders I had if I wasn’t pressed for time.
The beer I was mostly drinking on my short trip to Luxembourg was the local brew, Bofferding.
Bofferding is produced by the Brasserie Nationale, founded in 1975, which is the largest brewery in Luxembourg. A small brewery, but they export to their close neighbours, Belgium and France, and their not so close neighbours, China!
Without giving a full detailed review, the beer was fine. Certainly did the business over the few hours I was in the Grand Duchy.
Another beer I was drinking over the few hours was Leffe, a beer from Belgium. The beer, is known as an Abbey beer, which means it has a close connection with a real Abbey where real monks develop real ales! Using knowledge passed down through the ages and ingredients found in the wild near the abbey, the canons developed a unique ale, brewed only at the Leffe abbey.
Now all Leffe brands are brewed at the Stella Artois brewery in Leuven. But the connection remains with the original Leffe abbey, who collect substantial royalties to this day from InBev Belgium.
The beer was decent enough, a bit hoppy, but did the business.
It took me over 4 hours to get home, via 3 trains, 3 long trains!
But it was worth all the effort, as UCD held out to go through on an aggregate score of 2-2, winning on the away goals rule.
Cracking start to the game for UCD as they got off the mark first , with a def header from Swan (2-0 on agg.), but the game plan went astray once Coyne was sent off. His tackle was a bit reckless, but I think a red card was very harsh. With him UCD would have coasted this game, without him it was a struggle.
Both goals near the end of the first half for F91 were very disappointing. The first Dudelange goal was like in slow motion, he got so much space and got to pick his spot, the second was comical, from a throw in where everyone for UCD fell asleep, a simple free header.
Wasnt looking good for the second half, as the aggregate score was now UCD 2 F91 2, with the Luxembourgers only needing one more goal to go through against the ten men of UCD.
But UCD held out, I don’t know how they did, but they did. The stats might show how much of a colossal effort it was, 27 shots on goal for F91 to 4 for UCD
The UCD support were great too, for a small bunch they made a lot of noise.
The moment the ref blew the final whistle was fantastic, great craic, immense joy and what a relief. That was a very long second half, plus the 5 added on as well!
Overall the trip might not have had as much beer or shenanigans as I would have liked, but the game made up for all that.
Met some of Swan’s family after the match as well which was cool, nice people, and overall Luxembourg was a fantastic city. Must remember to bring the wifey there some day! As for UCD, they went out in the next round to Slovan Bratislava, a team of pros, but heh, thanks for the memories,.
Herein I give you some really fun and cool facts about little old Luxembourg
Luxembourg, and its capital, Luxembourg City.
Luxembourg officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, is a landlocked country in Western Europe. It is bordered by Belgium to the west and north, Germany to the east, and France to the south.
Another small country, another tax haven, another country in Europe run by a family of wealthy Royals. This time little old Luxembourg, with its amazing capital city, imaginatively called Luxembourg City. The city is truly magnificent, covered by hills and valleys all around, divided by rivers, and all surrounded by the many fortifications, bridges and viaducts dotted all over the city, it’s a city I fell in love with. And it’s no surprise to see that UNESCO gave it World Heritage status.
According to the OECD (2010) Luxembourg sold the most alcohol in Europe, per capita. Yes Luxembourg! But before you get your knickers in a twist, a large proportion of this alcohol is purchased by customers from neighbouring countries contributing to a statistically high level of alcohol sales per capita. So blame the French and Belgians, and perhaps the occasional Irish visitor (well what can I say, I do try!!)
Luxembourg is a parliamentary democracy with a constitutional monarch. Headed by Henri, Grand Duke of Luxembourg, the world’s only remaining grand duchy (don’t ask I am still confused about that one!) who has the power to dissolve the legislature, but he doesn’t as he is a good lad.
- Luxembourg is one of the smallest countries in Europe, and ranking 179th in size of all the 194 independent countries of the world; the country is about 2,586 square kilometres (998 sq mi) in size, and measures 82 km (51 mi) long and 57 km (35 mi) wide, with a population of 562,958. (2013 World Bank)
- The people of Luxembourg are called Luxembourgers.
- Luxembourg is a secular state, but most Luxembourgers, including the Royal family, are Catholic.
- Not a nation that produced a lot of major sports stars, but in Marc Girardelli they had an Alpine skier who was World Cup overall champion five times, and with Nicolas Frantz (1927/28) and Andy Schleck (2010) they bagged three Tour de France wins.
- General George S. Patton, “Old Blood and Guts”, is buried in the Second World War Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial at Hamm. This cemetery is also the final resting place of 5,076 American military dead.
- Luxembourg is sometimes called “Little Switzerland” for all its hills and valleys, and not, I repeat NOT, due to its vast wealth and somewhat questionable dodgy banking transactions. Other names we can use for Luxembourg is the “Green Heart in Europe” and the “Forest and Fortress”
- Speaking of tax havens, according to one British newspaper, The Sunday Telegraph Kim Jong-Il’s had some $4bn hidden away in secret accounts in Luxembourg banks. Make of that what you will!
- Three languages are recognised as official in Luxembourg: French, German, and Luxembourgish. Luxembourgish is the language that Luxembourgers generally use to speak to each other. Most official business and legislation, and the language of the government is carried out in French. German is usually the first language taught in school and is the language of much of the media and of the church.
- They are rich buggers with a stable economy, low inflation and unemployment, and a highly educated populace, money is what they are good at making. In 2011 the IMF put them as the second richest nation in the world. Banking, insurance and finance is the major sources of wealth in the nation but recently the Luxembourg government has started to attract internet companies to set up base in the tiny nation, with Skype and Amazon being two of the many internet companies that have shifted their regional headquarters to Luxembourg.
- Since the country is so small it only has an army of about 800 soldiers and no navy (landlocked) or air force, but that’s all A.OK as they are in NATO so if ever attacked they can get the big boys to bail them out.
- But who would want to attack such a small nation? Well quite a few have: Utilising its natural strategic location it was the Romans in the 10th century who fortified and used Luxembourg city as a base for trade and defence. Over time Luxembourg city was one of the strongest fortifications in Europe as a long list of conquerors arrived and continually strengthened the city walls. Build a big wall with a nice city inside and it’s just natural that someone’s armies will attack, so a long list of attackers have conquered Luxembourg: the Burgundians, the Spanish, the French, the Austrians, the Prussians, and the Germans in both World Wars. So I guess one can understand if Luxembourg was eager to join NATO and align itself with one of the world’s strongest military alliances.
- As mentioned alliances were important for Luxembourg. They also were a founding member of the United Nations in 1945, and were also heavily involved in the setup of the European Coal and Steel Community in 1951, a precursor to the European Union. Luxembourg City is the seat of several institutions of the European Union, including the European Court of Justice, the European Commission, and the European Investment Bank. As an aside Schengen is in Luxembourg, giving its name to the Schengen Agreement, which a lot of travellers know only too well helping with the freedom to move all around Central Europe!