Our fantastic region is twinned with many cities from around the world, in this limited series ‘Twinned’ will look at those cities, and more specifically the teams associated with that city, and their links to our Newcastle United.

The first in this series is a city that is actually twinned with North Tyneside, that of the German city Monchengladbach. Both places hold a personal affinity for me. I was brought up by a Geordie from North Shields, but I was born just 20 minutes north of Monchengladbach. Weirdly both places feel like home.

Borussia Monchengladbach may not be known to a lot of people, they aren’t really seen as one of the top teams in the Bundesliga, and for one Scottish pub a few years ago, became too hard to spell, and were referred to simply as ‘A German Team’. The club themselves actually jumped on this, and produced a series of official scarves that had ‘A German Team’ on them, one of which sits proudly in my room, next to one of my Newcastle ones.

Known as the ‘Fohlen’ or Foals, this is a team that has been there or there abouts when it comes to German Football. Their era of dominance came in the 1970’s, when they won five Bundesliga titles, two UEFA cup titles, and one DFB Polka Cup, with further victories in Germany’s version of the FA Cup coming in the 1959-60 and 1994-95 seasons.

In recent seasons they have challenged with Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, but haven’t been able to add to their Bundesliga haul. However European football is almost a seasonal occurrence for the team from Nord-Rhine Westfalen.

Community 

Community has always been important when it comes to German football, and each clubs connection with the fans. All Bundesliga clubs must have a fan representative on the board. Gladbach keep this connection going. The Stadium is set within the outskirts of the city centre, but comes as complex. The stadium, Borussia Park, has the training facilities just to the left of the main car park, with a supporters hotel, club shop and bar all on site. Watching Gladbach train took me back to the days of NUFC at Maiden Castle, you just turn up and stand pitch side as the first team train. Then as the players make their way back into the stadium after training has finished, the will spend time talking to the fans. A moment that caught me was Granit Xhaka standing talking to one fan for quite a length of time, obviously someone he knew, or a fan he had multiple conversations with.

The connection doesn’t just end there though. Many clubs will retire shirt numbers to honour legends of the club. Gladbach have gone one step further, by retiring the number 12, to honour the 12th man, the fans! It is a strong connection between the club and its fanbase. A drive round the area, will see Gladbach flags flying with pride in many gardens, akin to Americans displaying the Stars and Stripes on their property.

Links with Newcastle United

Gladbach and their fans, hold no real affinity with Newcastle United (apart from this writer of course) and tend to hold a closer connection with Liverpool. But there are some similarities between the two, however tedious the links may be.

Gladbach were the second team in the city, but were formed just 7 years after Newcastle became United. Their main rivals, FC Koln, also have an affinity with wearing Red and White, although Koln is a much nicer city to visit than Sunderland. This was a link the Mackems jumped on before project restart.

The link between the two clubs comes more with players. All of which come in recent times. The first is possibly one of the worst loan deals under the Mike Ashley era, when we took Luuk De Jong on loan. De Jong didn’t fair too well on Tyneside, and to be fair, didn’t really set the world alight at Borussia Park, and now strangely finds himself at Barcelona.

The other two links, show failures from Newcastle’s side. Valentino Lazaro for me was decent at Newcastle, when used properly, but the powers that be didn’t see fit to bring the Austrian winger back for a second season. Instead Lazaro would join Marcel Rose at Gladbach, and would have a decent season, scoring a cracking goal, but suffering a injury, which kept him out for most of the season.

The second of Newcastle’s failures that were Gladbach’s gain come sin the shape of Alassane Plea. The young French striker would move to Germany instead of Tyneside simply because Gladbach would pay the money. He has become a a regular in Gladbach’s first team.

In terms of youth development, Gladbach are far better that Newcastle (not that its that hard), and have brought through some decent young players, who inevitably get poached by the ‘bigger teams’ Dortmund and Munchen.

So while the region may be twinned with the city of Monchengladbach, there aren’t many links with the clubs themselves. Although there is nothing to stop you taking advantage of taking a Gladbach game in. You will find the fans have a lot in common.

Carl Richardson