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Dynamo Dresden - the Liverpool of East Germany

Robbie Ashcroft's (aka Mottman) article was previously published on the forum of redandwhitekop.

Dynamo Dresden 0 V Liverpool 0 - UEFA Cup (Quarter – final) 1st leg - 3rd March 1976.
“From the home leg Dynamo Dresden programme dated 17th March 1976, written by Ken Addison. <

"The 73 Liverpool supporters who flew on the “Anfield Special” to Dresden are back on home ground and, we hope, ready to cheer our team on tonight. But on their behalf, I’m sure a vote of thanks is due to everyone – not least the aircrew and couriers – who did so much to ensure that the trip was memorable and enjoyable.

There were problems - the East German Interflug plane which had left Berlin at 6.15 on the Tuesday morning arrived to find Liverpool shrouded in fog, and there was a time when we thought we would have to take the fans through to Manchester, for take off. But after circling around for nearly an hour, the plane got down, and the party flew out not too much behind schedule.

Before the “Anfield Special” departed, I went aboard the plane and presented the crew with some gifts, and the five members were delighted to receive these tokens. Fair exchange is no robbery . . . as the fans found, when they had an in-flight meal – and free beer.

On arrival at Dresden, coaches sped them to the hotel for lunch (which had not been included in the original itinerary), then there was a sight – seeing tour of the City, and the fans really enjoyed that trip, from all accounts.

They also appreciated greatly the friendly help from the two couriers and on their behalf I have written to one of them, Christa Berthold, to thank her and the other courier for their courtesy and assistance.

On the way back after the game, there was a hold – up when a wagon and a car were involved in an accident, and one of our coaches received a “nudge”. But within five minutes, the police were on the spot and they had a replacement coach there straight away, to take our supporters on to the airport. So there was no delay, and the plane touched down at Speke at 11.30 on the Wednesday night, as scheduled.

To our fans, we say: glad you enjoyed the trip. To the aircrew and couriers: thanks for the smooth service - incidentally, the plane turned round from Speke and went straight through to Berlin for duty the following day."

This is what really happened?

This was my first “Liverpool FC organised” overnight foreign trip following the Tricky Reds, it was 27 years ago when I was 19, thin, had a full head of black hair, and my own teeth.

This was Liverpool’s 12 successive season in European competition. Our European campaign had started in September with a difficult away game to Hibernian in Edinburgh, we had travelled up “independently” to Edinburgh to watch the reds get beat 1.0, the return game at Anfield saw us comfortably win 3.1. Our next opponents were Real Sociedad away in the October of 1975, we didn’t go to the away game the Redmen won 3.1 away and 6.0 at Anfield.

In November / December, the Anfielders played Slask Wroclaw, this resulted in an overall aggregate score of 5.1 for us, again we didn’t go to the away game only the home match. We were safely through to the quarterfinals of the UEFA Cup “happy days” the draw was made and we had been paired with Dynamo Dresden away on 3rd March 1976, with the return game on 17th April. The first game away was to be our 76th game in European competition.

U.E.F.A. Cup – The last eight.

Dynamo Dresden V Liverpool

F.C. Bruges V A.C.Milan

Barcelona V Levski Spartak Sofia

S.V.Hamburg V Stal Mielec

One night whilst having a couple of bevies with my mates, it was suggested that we should consider going to the away game in Dresden in East Germany. Initially, most of them said “Yes, ok, I’m up for it”, we eagerly awaited details of the travel arrangements. Once they were available most of them dropped out of the trip, it was an awful lot of money? We ended up with three of us prepared for the journey and an experience of a lifetime.

At that time, I was earning something like £ 18.00 a week the cost of the travel package to Dresden was around the £100.00 mark. I worked as much (mid-week) overtime as possible, got money for Christmas presents etc and soon managed to collect enough to afford the trip. We where really lucky at that time because one of my other mates brothers, used to travel to the away games by car, this enabled us to still go to most away’s on the cheap.

One night my Dad pulled me aside gave me £ 50.00 towards the cost for Dresden, he said “Don’t tell your Mum or any of the others, I had a good win on the horses and want you to have this.” I told him I had already sorted the money side of things out he said “keep it lad, put it towards any of the away games you have planned.” Superb, the old fella always helped me out when money for the games was a bit tight.

We booked our plane – match tickets, hotel accommodation etc with Town’s travel in Liverpool City centre, we also had to go to Anfield to let them know we had booked for the game. No computers in them days, and for some reason we had to take a copy of the booking slip from Town’s travel to Liverpool FC.

We were already members of the “Anfield Special” club, as we tried our best to travel to nearly all the league / Cup away games in them days (Southern based mid-week away games were a pain to get too and home from). January and February were terrible months, West Ham away in the FA Cup (2.0 to the Reds), Derby County away in the FA Cup (lost 1.0) and West Ham away in the league (won 4.0). All via the “Anfield Special” club because our mates older brother “didn’t fancy going” to these games? Man united away (car) and Derby County away (coach) were also attended. We only missed a mid-week 1.0 win away at Arsenal, we were gutted.

Travelling to East Germany was a journey into the unknown, we couldn’t find anyone who had travelled last time we played there in 1973. We were told that we could only take £ 25.00 out of the UK, and that owing to political reasons, we would not be allowed to take any books, magazines, newspapers etc into Dresden.

Anyhow, we had managed to beg, steal or borrow enough money to sort out the travel costs and we had £25.00 spending money each. Bags packed with new or best clobber, it was time for the off.

We made our way to Anfield for around 8.00 – 8.30 in the morning of Tuesday 2nd March (Shrove Tuesday) boarded our coaches and were taken to Speke Airport. Upon arrival, we were told we might have to go to Manchester as it was too foggy for the plane to land. Most of the 73 Liverpool supporters complained that we didn’t want to go via Manchester, but our complaints fell on deaf ears.

Eventually, we boarded the plane and wizzed off from Liverpool to Dresden, our courier was Christa Berthold, and she was a stunner, long blonde hair and a figure to break your heart. As we approached Dresden airport, Christa stood up and asked us to collect all our daily papers and put them in a bin bag, to be deposed of safely, hmm I thought hope its not going to be dead strict over there? A couple of lads rolled up their daily newspapers and put them in their socks, under their kecks.

We got off the plane and were greeted by two lines of heavily armed East German soldiers, a couple of the lads made funny remarks to them, and goose-stepped along the airport reception area, not one of the soldiers, or the Liverpool tour official’s laughed.

We soon made our way to the checkout desk and were escorted onto coaches by the soldiers. As we travelled through Dresden, it was VERY noticeable that something “special” was going on. Christa explained that Shrove Tuesday was a huge celebration in East Germany and that it was Carnival time (Rosa Montag), and that the majority of people wore fancy dress costumes to help celebrate the occasion.

We reached our hotel in the middle of Dresden, we booked in and unpacked our gear in our hotel rooms in a matter of minutes and headed downstairs. (I shared a room with my mate Ian Nunney from Thornton. Ian was one of my best mates (and still is), and he would travel “anywhere” to watch the Reds. Another lad was Lee he lived in Warbreck Moor in Aintree, sadly Ian no longer goes to the matches and we lost contact with Lee some years ago.

Anyway, the time in East Germany was 2 hours ahead of UK time, so it was still afternoon, and we were thirsty? We were told that the only place we could exchange £’s into Deutchmarks was at the Hotel reception, so we changed a £5.00 note for about 7 Deutchmarks and headed for the hotel bar.

We were also told NOT to walk about Dresden alone as “things” may occur, and that it would be best if we stayed in the Hotel and enjoyed ourselves. Part of the deal included a sight seeing tour of Dresden, Christa was going around telling everyone to meet up in the hotel lobby as two coaches had been laid on for us. Being in our late teens we decided this was a definite 100% “no-goer” for us, we were soon joined by many others who wanted to stay and sample the refreshments behind the hotel bar. Christa looked across to us, somewhat bemused as we restarted our assault on the bar. No body ever knew the name of the other courier; she was a grumpy soul who kept herself to herself.
Refreshed, it was time to rebel and go outside, we left our copies of the Daily Mirror etc at the Hotel Bar. About eight of us headed out, all decked in red and white, we walked through a huge square and reached a shopping complex, we looked at the prices of goods in the shop windows (camera’s, televisions etc) and were amazed how cheap they were. The square had statues of famous East Germans and of course influential communist figureheads, armed soldiers goose-stepped along each side of the square, we soon joined in and goose-stepped our way in single line to the sanctuary of a bierkeller.

Eventually we found a bierkeller it was massive, apprehensively we walked in and joined a queue, stony faced people dressed in drab clothing looking at us. We waited in line and ordered our lagers, these were served in huge heavy stein glasses. We sat down at one end of a long line of tables and surveyed the situation, one of the lads had ordered some food a waitress turned up with what looked like sausage and mash, the meal was huge, and the sausage was about 12” long and looked very tasty.

Hunger pains got the better of us pretty soon all of us had one of these sausage and mash mountains in front of us. The sausage really did look superb, very appetising, one bite soon put paid to our preconceived presumptions, they were horrible full of spices and things that I had never tasted before or since that day. One by one the sausages where tasted and then discarded by they’re hungry and disappointed recipients. The price of the meals and ale was incredibly cheap, something like 8 p for a stein of larger and 12 p for the meal, but of course in pfennings?

As the lager flowed, a couple of lads wearing Dresden scarves approached us, we invited them to sit down and ordered some lagers for them. They turned out to be cracking blokes, up for a laugh and joke and not a hint of hostility from them. They spoke quite good English and we had no problem understanding them, we had to repeat ourselves a number of times, they couldn’t understand Scouse. The lads sat in awe of us, and we asked why? They explained that not many away supporters from non–communist countries ever visit Dresden and we where the first English club to bring so many supporters with us.

After many many ales, around 7.00 that night, the gorgeous Christa suddenly appeared looking a bit flustered and said that we should be back at the hotel as a “special” meal had been laid on and everyone was waiting for us. Begrudgingly, we agreed to return to the hotel and walked back with our Dresden mates, purposely behind Christa, all of us lusting after Christa’s body.

The hotel people had no idea who was who, so we sat the Dresden lads down and we all enjoyed a free meal and a few free ales. It was noticeable that there were more than 73 Liverpool supporters in the hotel now, around 40 Liverpudlians had driven by car to Dresden, I spoke to a number of them, most were from Liverpool, Kirkby, Huyton and Bootle. Most of them looked knackered after such long car journey’s, some managed to last until 11.00 that night, but not many lasted after that.

The Liverpool Supporters Club based in London had also turned up with around 100 fellow reds, they had booked their own charter plane independently of the Club, and booked accommodation in the same hotel. We had a distinct feeling that the Liverpool officials who organised our trip, weren’t keen for the “independent” supporters to mix with us, so we made sure that we mixed with them, anyone who had travelled that far for a match was alright in my book.

The London lads were about 33% split between scousers, exiled scousers and southern based supporters, we had a cracking time with them, as most of them also enjoyed a good bevy and a laugh. For years and years afterwards every now and then you would recognise some of them at other matches.

After a quick shower and change of clothes, back to the bar for more ale. We had a few bob still left from our 7 Deuctmarks, one of the older blokes from London then approached us and whilst we supped with him, he said he had changed his “allowed” £ 25.00 with a tout outside for around 3 times the going rate. Happy days, quick as a starving fox after a big plumb rabbit, we legged it up to our room, got our £’s and went outside.

Obviously no-one is going to ask are you a tout? We must have stood out like sore thumb’s, minutes after going outside this bloke says something like “Hello, are you from Liverpool” a quick scan around and retort “Yes mate we are”. Very quickly the deal is done, delighted to have exchanged £ 20.00 for around £60.00 in Deuctmarks time to pop back into the bar to share our fortunes with the rest of the lads.


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