With the winter-transfer window poised to open for business, football fans and clubs have plenty with which to concern themselves when it comes to roster improvement and/or pillaging. While 1. FC Köln fans have already braced themselves for a month-long flurry of rumors involving star goalkeeper Timo Horn and Liverpool FC, some off-pitch personnel news will settle at least one concern of the effzeh faithful: that they will continue to be greeted to home matches with Trippel’s familiar “Willkommen in der schönsten Stadt Deutschlands!” (Welcome to the most-beautiful city in Germany)
According to our friends at Geissblog.Koeln, stadium announcer Michael Trippel will remain in his position for the time being, having received unanimous support following an early-December meeting of the club’s executive board and club management.
“It never came into question,” responded business manager Alexander Wehrle to the German blog’s inquiry on the matter. “He is our stadium announcer, and anything contrary doesn’t come into the discussion.”
Of course, the question does not arrive without reason. Public conflict between Trippel and sporting director Jörg Schmadtke made it clear that even someone as iconic as the man who has served as the “voice of the 1. FC Köln” since 1999 could be considered for replacement if deemed for the betterment of the club.
Following a come-from-behind victory over Hamburger SV made seven points for the FC in its first three matches, an image of the league table showing Köln in fourth and level on points with the VfL Wolfsburg side that was, at the time, considered a legitimate threat to FC Bayern’s run atop the Bundesliga table. Trippel’s accompanying commentary was that, “this will now be a head-to-head race with the VfL Wolfsburg to season’s end!”
Though many fans would immediately recognize the heavy dose of irony and, hence, comedic value in Trippel’s proclamation, it was not met with laughter from other club figures. Coach Peter Stöger dryly dismissed the matter as “a problem with the alcohol, obviously,” Schmadtke’s response was a bit more terse.
“After such a good start, we need to take care that everyone remains grounded,” said Schmadtke at the time. “Our announcer must help with that and not spark a fire.”
Seemingly stunned by the reaction, Trippel assured both men they were mistaken, saying that Stöger needn’t worry as he was “surely not drunk” and that his statement was meant only ironically.
Schmadtke responded tersely.
“Mister Trippel must beware of what he says,” warned Schmadtke. “That was not the first time. One can always come with ‘irony’ afterwards, but Trippel has a responsibility. If he doesn’t do it justice, then we must sincerely deal with him.”
After the principals in the back-and-forth met to discuss things, the club announced via Twitter that the club remained grounded in reality, as far as the season expectations are concerned, adding that Stöger’s jab about Trippel’s choice of on-the-job beverage was also “clearly ironic.” As the issue faded into memory, fans voiced support of Trippel through social-media posts, some of which said that Schmadtke’s misunderstanding of Trippel’s words showed the architect of the current club to be an outsider when it comes to the Kölsch soul that fuels the passion for the effzeh.
The conflict did nothing to diminish Trippel’s dedication to the club, as he successfully ran for a seat on the club’s “member council.” Though there were only 13 candidates for the 15 positions, the at-large membership’s respect for Trippel showed itself in the vote, with Trippel getting over 93% of the votes available, rather than taking the large number of abstentions that met the other otherwise unopposed candidates.
Online discussions of today’s news were littered with mentions of Trippel as “the best” and the “goosebumps” one feels when they hear the man’s voice over the loudspeakers of Müngersdorf.
With Wehrle’s words comes relief not only for the fans, though, but also for the man himself.
“It pleases me because I am both FC and stadium announcer with my heart and soul,” Trippel told Geissbock.Koeln. “The FC is a huge part of my life. That is what I want to convey to the fans, so that they know that down there on the grass stands one of them. And I am honored that the club recognizes my work.”
For now, let us continue to enjoy hearing the excitement of hearing such a fan make the in-stadium announcement of a goal for the home side . . . all the way to the day we’re battling Wolfsburg for a Champions League spot!
(Just kidding, Jörg, I swear!)
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