Come on you Worms! Meet the Germans who’ve been burrowing down the divisions ever since they got banned from writing ‘CAT’ on their shirts
When you enter Germany’s EWR-Arena, you could be forgiven for thinking a disgruntled fan has broken in and daubed insults on the seats. The letters in the main stand spell out the message ‘Worms!’ – possibly a tribute to Danny Baker’s Twitter tirade post-Iceland, if only they’d also added ‘Ridiculous clowns!’ and ‘Over-indulged mollycoddled s**ts!’ It isn’t really a homage to England’s most enraged radio host. The stadium’s owned by the City of Worms: not the title of a horror movie but home to around 80,000 people in the Rhineland. Pleasingly, the locals chose to run with the theme and call their football team Wormatia Worms (because why not?), although disappointingly they stopped short of making the club crest a picture of a massive worm. It’s a dragon instead, which is less fun. Wormatia Worms were formed in May 1908 and early legends included the brilliantly named Willi Winkler, but their ground has a much darker past. Erected on the site of a prisoner-of-war camp from the First World War, it was named the Adolf-Hitler-Kampfbahn between 1933 and 1945. A regular member of the region’s top division until the foundation of the Bundesliga in 1963, by the late-60s Wormatia were causing a kerfuffle by emblazoning the letters ‘CAT’ across their shirts – a sponsorship deal with the construction manufacturers Caterpillar, rather than a declaration of affection for the local tabbies. The first shirt sponsorship of its kind, it was swiftly banned by the German football authorities. Appropriately, Worms have been burrowing down the divisions ever since, reaching as low as the fourth tier. Maybe they’ll resurface when it rains.