A work placement found me in Germany last weekend so I couldnt resist driving over a day earlier to catch some Bundesliga.
My intention was to catch a regional Bundesliga derby game between KFC Uerdingen and Essen.
However due to traffic on the autobahn I arrived late in the first half and decided to give it a miss.
My only other option was the game between Borussia Dortmund and Borussia Monchengladbach and despite being sold out, I couldn’t resist the appeal of such a fixture.
After an Immediate rejection at the ticket office I was approached by a fella offering me a seated ticket for €100. With a €50 note in my pocket left over from Munich the week but I’d already spent €6 on the parking so really €40 was my limit for a ticket. The chap wasn’t best pleased with my counter offer.
I still had ages till kick off and decided to stroll about and play the field, there was half a dozen fans needing tickets and all holding a sign saying “suche karte”. I soon witnessed one fan buying a ticket for what looked like 30€ so I decided this was the way to go.
So some beer packaging and a purchase from the club shop later..
It took about 20 minutes but sure enough I managed to get a ticket. A Dortmund fan and his niece offered me their spare season ticket in exhange for my €40, it was in the famous terraced area in the South Stand. I was delighted and snapped their hand off.
The only downside I discovered after it was too late was that not only they needed to escort me in the ground, fair enough I’d not let anyone get their hands on my season ticket but once inside each section of the stadium had a second check so once I entered the block with them I couldn’t leave.
It also dawned on me that I only had 1€ euro on me and 2 hours till kick off.
The smart card top up desks didn’t take card like they did at the Allianz
However my season ticket friends realised my predicament and bought me a couple of pints pre game, a lovely touch.
After this I was at their mercy and agreed to stand on the terrace an hour before kick off with them.
I understand its a ‘thing’ on the continent but I cant remember the last time I was in a ground this early and certainly not this sober.
The terrace was almost full already so at least I was able to make the most of the experience.
The South stand at Dortmund or The Yellow Wall as it is known is renown for its atmosphere and one of biggest capacity stands in the modern game holding 28,000 fans, all standing. The noise started as soon as the players came out to warm up and didn’t seem to stop till the final whistle.
A rousing moment came before kick off as the Dortmund fans sang their version of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, the one song that my season ticket friends enjoyed telling me I could join in with.
The game was excellent, a under par season for Dortmund so far but they really seemed to move up a gear here and could easily of won by more goals.
Monchengladbach were 3rd in the table before the game and looked threatening in spells but the game was decided by a freak own goal.
A 40 yard back back pass from World Cup winner and Ex FC Bochum player Christoph Kramer, looped in over his own keeper. I don’t think I’ll ever see a better own goal again.
At the final whistle the fans stayed behind and welcomed the Dortmund team’s traditional salute to the south stand with a ferocious wall of yellow noise.
German fans are so proud of their team, I stood on the block 13 section of the south stand where my season ticket friend proudly told me how he’d stood for every home game in the last 12 years.
He was even wearing a hoody that he’d designed himself with his initials on that read “Sidtribune block 13” on the back.
Before the game he laughed when I asked if Jurgen Klopp is still the man for Dortmund with them being joint bottom. “Of Course, we love him”, he said.
English Football could certainly learn from the Germans fans loyalty and faith in their clubs, as well as the whole experience of standing in modern football.
For me this is only the 2nd time I’d stood on a sold out terrace in my lifetime and yes there’s a couple of worries sure. I did witness a young girl get up from the floor looking badly hurt after the goal and it is a issue trying to get out mid game if you need a piss or a pint.
The atmosphere and experience it generates though far out weighs these issues and with a bit of work to prevent injuries standing has to be the way forward for football grounds in England.