I already visited a couple of stadium tours with Flyctory.com in the past. My home and heart soccer club, 1. FC Köln (FC Cologne) offers regular tour with legends of the club history. Apart from legendary referee Walter Eschweiler and championship winner Harald Konopka, there is also the Scherz-Tour, named after Matthias Scherz, who was a player and crowd favorite playing ten years for the club from 1999 to 2009. The idea of these tour is to be really interactive and have a lot of questions to the celebrities. Though I know the club’s ground, the RheinEnergieSTADION (named after a local energy company) quite well from different photo jobs, I was looking forward to this very special occasion. I visited a midday tour at 11th May 2019.
Scherz-Tour – Location & Admission
RheinEnergieSTADION is located in Müngersdorf, one of the Western districts of Cologne. It is quite easily accessible by tram or car if there is no matchday. The German Sport University Cologne is nearby.
The tours start at the Northern gate, where the 1. FC Köln Museum and major souvenir shop are located as well. You need to buy the tickets for these tour in pre-sale. The Scherz-Tour is 19 Euro for adults, similar to the other legend tours. The ordinary stadium tour just costs 11.50 EUR.
Scherz-Tour – About Matthias Scherz
Matthias Scherz has a quite unusual vita as a professional soccer player. Until the age of 22, he played at his local club Rot-Weiß Scheeßel in Northern Germany before he transferred to FC St. Pauli. He played his first professional match in the 1996/97 season, at the age of 24. 1. FC Köln signed Scherz for the 1999/2000 season, in which Cologne, re-promoted to the Bundesliga for the first time. He played 270 matches, 63 goals for the club. Furthermore, Matthias Scherz is in 1. FC Köln’s record books for the most 2nd Bundesliga matches played (148) and most goals scored in that division (45).
After his active career and some roles in soccer, he retired from sports and now works in marketing / sales of an home electrics company. Furthermore, he is active in his foundation which promotes healthy nutrition and sports for children (banner and link below).
Scherz-Tour – Tour Stages
The stadium was just about to be prepared for the last home match of the season when the tour took place. The first stage was just at the business seats of the stadium, where the major part of the Q&A with Matthias Scherz, who was accompanied by a stadium tour guide, took place. This stage already took 80 minutes roughly, which is about the same time like the whole “ordinary” tour takes. The next stage was a walk through the VIP area to the VIP lounge just above the halfway line.
Then we went to the heart of the stadium, seeing the locker room of the club, walking through the same aisle as the players to the pitch and visiting the home bench. Visiting the press area was planned but somehow forgotten or skipped due to time. There is also no visit of the away team locker room. The whole tour, which is announced to last 90 minutes, took two hours, so that the next tour was slightly delayed.
Scherz-Tour – The Scherz Stories
Matthias Scherz is the massive value added to this tour. At each and every stage, he is telling stories about his soccer life. Sometimes, the questions are guided by the stadium guide, but any questions from the guests are honestly answered. There are not just stories about himself (for example when he explains why he enjoyed to work with certain coaches – and why not), but also about the current situation of the club and soccer in general.
Some of the stories were just hilarious. For example, he looked back to a doping control at his home – after he had two crates of beer because he was not nominated for the team before. He also told how he hated with extravagant styling and behavior of a certain player or how Faryd Mondragon, a Columbian goalkeeper playing for Cologne, always pumped up the balls for the match on his own – with too much pressure. Scherz secretly deflated the air again, because the balls hurt so much at headers.
Scherz-Tour – My View
If you just want to see the stadium, the Scherz-Tour is the wrong choice for RheinEnergieSTADION in Cologne. You likely did not expect to sit two thirds of the time at the stands and listening to stories when you bought the tickets. Me too – I would have loved to see the press room, the away team area and other parts of the ground like the Lukas Podolski box. This finally prevents a Top Pick rating as well.
The value added by Matthias is massive, though. He absolutely surprised me with his honest and straight stories about life as a professional soccer player and playing for Cologne in special. I had a lot of laughs listening to him. The tour is in German only, so you have to speak the language – but you don’t have to be a fan of this club to have a great time and get some insides about professional soccer life. The tour at Old Trafford was posh, Glasgow Rangers were amazing – Cologne did it a special way. Thanks a lot, Matthias – it was a great afternoon with you!