Fellow Yellows – Ballspielverein Borussia 09 e.V. Dortmund

Borussia Dortmund v Bayer 04 Leverkusen
Saturday, 7th December 2013, 6.30pm
Entrance €16, Programme €2
Distance 383 miles, Attendance 80645

131209 BL1 Dortmund v Bayer Leverkusen (97)w2

Scarves were raised aloft as the opening bars of You’ll Never Walk Alone rang out from the Südtribüne. In that one moment, all my childhood dreams of standing on The Kop, were blown into the cold night air by the intense volume.
To fully appreciate my luck at being on Europe’s biggest terrace, one has to truly appreciate the difficulty in getting entrance to this Season Ticket area. The nucleus for my yellow journey started way before the end of last season; the endeavour to find a way on to this 24,000+ terrace began the same day.
Founded in 1909, Borussia Dortmund changed their colours to yellow and black in 1913 and, became the first German club to lift a European trophy in 1966. In the intervening years, modest success was hampered by money worries, the president falling out with politics of the era and, a short-lived merger. In 1949, BVB eventually rose from the ashes.
131209 BL1 Dortmund v Bayer Leverkusen (161)wSince their first “national” title was secured in 1956, Dortmund have become one of the biggest club sides in world football, with a stadium, trophy cabinet, fan base and, intermittent debts to match. A rise to prominence in the past few seasons has been guided by mercurial hand of Jürgen Klopp, earning the team a hatful of silverware and him two Trainer des Jahres titles.
This season, lady luck has departed Westphalia somewhat. Though going into the game Dortmund sat third in the league, a spate of bad injuries and emergency recruits have resulted in an unbalanced side and some fairly untidy performances. Tonight would present another.

131209 BL1 Dortmund v Bayer Leverkusen (103)w2

Leaving my wife – whom I’d, persuaded to take a romantic weekend to Düsseldorf’s Weihnachtsmarkt – I’d caught the train to Signal Iduna Park, meeting up with friends en route. Whilst the night was cold, there was warmth from the locals. Walking past the old stadium – now home to the second team – we fought our way through the crowds and security just as the rain began to fall.
131209 BL1 Dortmund v Bayer Leverkusen (95)I hadn’t really considered the impact of the game but this one was a huge fixture, against a team one place higher than Die Schwarzgelben. Whilst we were below admiring the enormity of the facilities, the ultras had begun singing some time before kickoff, with rehearsed tunes for every player, rival and, eventuality. When we finally left the Südtribüne over two hours later, the singing had not died down, just moved, first to the station and then the trains home (trains which incidentally are free across the region to all matchday ticket holders).
Thanks to one of Christian’s colleagues, we’d managed to secure tickets to join this elite band just two days earlier. There had been little time for planning but thanks to polite introductions all round, the lone steward and supporters packed in about us seemed fairly content of both our inclusion, and Watford scarves in their midst.
131209 BL1 Dortmund v Bayer Leverkusen (109)wThe game had begun in a very even form, with both teams demonstrating superb skill without either keeper being really threatened. Off the field supporters were demonstrating an incredible array of tunes to which BVB could be sung; Bonny Tyler’s Hard Life seemed to have the most poignancy. Whilst there was some mirth (rightfully) towards the Bayern result being announced, every other development – despite the disappointment – was greeted with ever determined singing.
When BVB’s Lewandowski had a shot saved early on, the volume changed tempo; when Son Heung-Min put the visitors’ one up from a defensive mistake, the volume increased. Up the other end Leverkusen’s fans may have been chanting too but, I couldn’t hear them at all. There were some brilliant saves from Weidenfeller, penalty appeals and red cards for both sides, and even more injuries for Klopp to navigate going forward.
It wasn’t the best game but in the stands the club motto was demonstrated wonderfully. In England we often hear the title “best fans in the world” banded about. In truth I’ve rarely witnessed anything like this night in terms of noise and atmosphere.
131209 BL1 Dortmund v Bayer Leverkusen (152)wThe packed trains may have been temperamental that night however, the packed Südtribüne was anything but and, like being on such a very safe terrace, hearing the gallows humour celebrating having the worst defence justly left its mark.
“Echte Liebe” indeed.
shorts league
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Initially appearing in the 2013-14 Watford FC matchday programmes, consequently these reports will have a delayed publication on here.

Fellow Yellows programme (4)

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