The Football Neutral: Match Forty – Borussia Dortmund vs FC Augsburg

2015-02-04 19.48.10

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I don’t have the most complicated bucket list in the world. I’m not one who wants to fly around the world in a hot air balloon or climb Mount Everest. I want to get paid to make people laugh (done that one), have a novel published (working on that one) and go to watch football in some of the greatest stadiums in the world alongside the best fans. This week, I’ve been working towards the latter.

I am obsessed with German football. Every club has tremendous support, wonderful stadiums – that are actually interesting, not just identikit concrete bowls – and football is still the game of the working class. Everyone is welcome, and everyone can afford it. I’m also fascinated by Germany, having learned about it when studying the language at school (although I can only remember a few snippets of it these days). Yet I’ve never visited the country before. I reasoned if I was going to go there, I should go to the city that I wanted to visit the most, purely for football reasons.

Dortmund. In my football obsessive youth they stood out in their bright yellow shirts, and the first time I saw the Westfalenstadion (now corporately called Signal Iduna Park) I was blown away. A concrete and steel monument build in the 1970s, I always reasoned that the noise from the fans was good when I was watching them in the Champions League on the TV, but what would it be like in real life? I had to go there one day. Finally, in 2015, at the age of 36, I can say that I have been there – and as it would turn out, I went along on what was a very interesting night…

The only way to read this post from last season in full (along with 23 others and a load of extra stuff) is to get my eBook for less than £3. Click here to get it. I’d be really grateful!

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33 thoughts on “The Football Neutral: Match Forty – Borussia Dortmund vs FC Augsburg

  1. The small standing section is the away standing section, but since there were only 900 of them they were crammed into the Northeast corner and the standing tickets were given to BVB fans as an exception. Normally there are up to 8000 visiting fans (the required allotment is 10% of stadium capacity) and they sure do fill their standing section plus the Northeast corner and parts of the upper North tier.

  2. Dear Jim, I am glad you had a good time, though sadly BVB had one of the weakest displays I have ever seen. Correspondingly the atmosphere was quite subdued actually, with the worry and disappointment rather paralyzing the support way below normal level.
    I have held a season ticket there for years, and one of my favorite support songs goes ” BVB, all our life, all our pride”. These are difficult times indeed, but luckily most people remember the truly bad times before, and how much joy and pleasure the club has given us over the years. Thus all the anger the fans vented in the end was summed up in that song to the team “we want to see you fight”.
    If you would like to have an idea of how the attitude normally is, watch the semi final against Madrid, or the end of the game against Malaga. The singing and chanting is so loud you cannot hear yourself think, and when they shoot a goal you hug anyone within reach and then bounce like mad. I am lucky enough to stand on the South Stand, and for me the stadium deserves its nickname “the temple”. I live in Kiel, so quite a bit away from Dortmund, but from the moment I start travelling there I cannot stop grinning…
    I have no idea how we can go beyond juventus this year, but if we do, or past Dreden in the German Cup, I’ll take you along, if you wish, and then we’ll all do our best to do you proud.
    Thanks for all your kind words and appreciation of Dortmund and actually Germany in general. And as a BVB supporter let me tell you that St. Pauli and FC Cologne are really worth watching, too, but nothing I personally have seen compares to the Westfalenstadion and BVB.
    Kind regards, Claudia

    • Hi Claudia, thanks for writing! I think me and my friends will certainly be back at BVB very soon. Other fans have mentioned Cologne and St Pauli (one of my friends has been to St Pauli several times) so we’ll probably visit them at some point – but nothing could ever live up to BVB! I’ve been stunned by how many great messages I’ve got from BVB fans today (and the club themselves). We will return! Thanks again 🙂

  3. as a long time Dortmund Supporter, i have to say thank you for this nice reply of the game!
    When you got time you´ve to try to get some tickets for the game vs. Schalke! That´s the derby of all derbys!
    Thx

    #echteliebe

  4. I really enjoyed reading your report. It is a really good description of visiting a BVB match for the first time.
    2 notes (Sorry, my Englisch is not perfect):
    1. The standing area in the Nordtribüne actually is the area for the guest supporters. If the opposite team does not bring a lot of supporters with it, the area is for BVB supporters.
    2. After the match the Yellow Wall sang: “We want to see you fighting!”

    • Hey Anja, don’t worry – your English is much better than my German! Thanks for writing, appreciate the information! Glad you enjoyed the report, BVB is the most amazing club 🙂

  5. Thank you Jim!
    I’ve been a Dortmund supporter ever since I could spell “Fussball”!
    Times are rough right now, but your beautifully written post brought both, a big smile and some tears!
    Thank you for writing this piece because it most definitely makes a (currently) grieving and worrying Dortmund supporter feel better!
    Cheers, Andreas

    Ps: Just in case you haven’t noticed yet, the official Dortmund Facebook and Twitter accounts have shared your piece! 🙂

    • Hey Andreas, thanks for writing! The official BVB accounts have been very kind to me today, I can’t imagine any club in the UK doing what they’ve done. Glad I could help you feel a little better, I’m sure BVB won’t be relegated. And I’ll be back to support them again soon, I have no doubt! 🙂

  6. Reading this post just made me very, very happy indeed. I am a German fan of the BVB (although I’ve never been in the stadium, shame on me) and it really is not a very easy situation at the moment, with the club being at the bottom of the table, having been there for quite a few weeks now and nothing seems to work to get them out of there again.
    But the atmosphere in the stadium, the loyalty of the fans does make Dortmund stand out from the other German teams in the Bundesliga and it’s something that the club and the fans are very proud of. And reading of your experiences and your impressions proves that this is not our imagination but that it is perceived even by people who are not too familiar with the club.

    I honestly can’t tell you why Sokratis is called Papa – I guess it’s because his surname is quite impossible to pronounce for a German tongue 😉 And I’m quite sure that it hasn’t occured yet that the crowd did not know the name of a player – even the boys from the second team, the amateurs/non-professionals are well-known among the fans and sometimes also get to train with the first team.

    I don’t really know what songs were sung after the game. The only thing I know is they were shouting “We wanna see you fight” (Wir wollen euch kämpfen sehen). And that is also something that is typical not necessarily for German fans in general, but definitely for Dortmund: That the fans (at least the “hard core” fans on the Südtribüne) never stop supporting the team during a match, no matter how bad they’re playing and that the team comes to stand in front of them after the game (or even climbs on the fence when there’s something to celebrate).

    Well, to cut this short: Thanks a lot for your post, it really did me good to read this. And I definitely have to go there soon and experience the atmosphere that you described so wonderfully myself.

    • Hi Hannah. You MUST go to the stadium soon! You won’t regret it. I have been to nearly every stadium in the UK and a few overseas and it without a doubt the greatest stadium I have ever visited, with the best and most loyal fans. Thanks for reading 🙂

  7. Hey,
    it was very nice to read your review of the last BVB match. As a supporter of Dortmund, the current situation is hard but as you figured out together we will make it happen and stay in the Bundesliga.
    One hint: The standing area on Nordtribüne is normally reserved for away supporters. In Germany 10% of the capicity of the stadium has to be sold to away fans. If it is the case like against Augsburg( they just sold 900 tickets) the away standing area changes to a second BVB standing area!

  8. “, singing songs that I wish I could have translated”

    They sang: We want to see you fighting.

    That’s what they blamed the team for. No fighting, no passion after Augsburg scored 1.

  9. Great writing which made me picture myself in the world’s best stadium .. but if i may say you are mistaken ..

    We know every U23 player ! Even the Rot Erde is full in match day for U23 !!

    Borussen are insane and we are proud about it .. 😃

  10. Hello, my name is Thomas and I’m a supporter of BVB, who has the luck to have a season ticket. So I was in the Westfalenstadion against Augsburg as well. I’m glad and proud, that you guys enjoyed your trip so much.
    It’s a hard time for a BVB-fan at the moment, but we hold together in good AND bad times. In the first half of this season, there wasn’t any booing against the team, not even after the final whistle of bad apperances. But now was a point, where the team had to realized, that we could go down to 2nd Bundesliga, if nothing ist going to chance!
    There are two things for you to know:

    1. You pointed out, that there is a second stand at the Nordtribüne. Actually this is the stand for away fans, but because it was a game in midweek and Augsburg isn’t that near, they only brought ca. 900 fans to the game and so they get the small corner at North-East side of the stadium. In german Bundesliga, every guest team have the right to get 10% of the stadium capacity for their crowd. So in Westfalenstadion that makes an amount of 8000 tickets for the away team!

    2. You mentioned that anti-racism banner and scarfs. That was a special campaign for that matchday in the whole Bundesliga, because of the 70th memorial day of the relief of the conzentration camp (KZ) Auschwitz in 1945.

    I thought, you would like to know that. I hope you can make some more journeys to our wonderful stadium.

    Greetz Thomas

    • Hey Thomas, thanks for writing (and thanks for the extra information). We’re all now supporting BVB from over here in the UK and we all know that you will stay in the Bundesliga. Best fans in the world! 🙂

  11. Super to read!
    I am Bayern München fan and had the same feelings when I entered the BVB-station for the first time.

    One thing though: On my way there with public transport i experienced pure hate. Young girls, old grandpas, “hooligans” – everyone insulted me full of hate, just because of my FCB-scarf. Exclusive experience, too…

    • Hey Franz, thanks for writing. Sorry to hear that you had some bad experiences from the BVB fans. We didn’t see anything like that at all on our trip (quite the opposite, everyone was super nice), but I understand that it is a big rivalry between Bayern and BVB (although that is no excuse for hatred). Hope if you go back again in the future that it doesn’t happen again! 🙂

  12. Great story, Jim! Let me help you with this one:

    ”Booing, whistling, singing songs that I wish I could have translated.”

    –> The fans sang “Wir wollen euch kämpfen sehen” which means s.th. like “we want to see you fight”.

    Black and yellow greets from Germany,

    Merlin

  13. Hello Jim, I have to say you give a great account of what a visit to the temple is like!
    I am a Borusse since the 70’s and before we made it to be Erstklassig but then I am born and bred in Dortmund therefore it is in my blood and in my children’s too. You can’t help it, it is love at first sight!
    Now I am living in the UK since 2011 and people get confused with my love to this sport. I tried so many times to explain what makes it so special, This feeling of being an important part to a big picture and no one cares who you are or what you have as everyone is there just for one thing to support the team and enjoy the atmosphere. Thank you for your great article it is a brilliant account of what it’s all about . Very emotional for me, tears flowing with pride, happieness and homesickness. And a nickname is a Spitzname or shortening means Abkuerzung, examples are Drea for Andrea, Sandy for Sandra, Heidi for Adelheid or wait for it Willi for William 🙂

  14. I very much enjoyed your report, you can really feel the atmosphere just by reading! Will follow your blog more often from now on.
    Greetings from Germany!

  15. Hey there!
    What a wonderful report of typical “Matchday” in Dortmund. I really love to read that, especially from a guy of the “home county of football”. Even if we Germans know, that things have changed in GB, there is still the myth and admiration for english football and fan culture.
    Let me add two things:
    The main problem to get a ticket for the Südtribüne is: The whole stand is “sold out” every game, because every ticket is a season ticket. But your report is even mentioned on a whole page in the current official Stadionmagazin/Mitgliedermagazin “Echt”. Perhaps you might contact the Club directly again, to offer your wish to see a match on the Südtribüne. Or, as a second option, turn to the Fanabteilung (http://bvb-fanabteilung.de/fanabteilung/).

    I am really sorry, but you’ve attended the most cruel game since many many years. I stood in the middle of the Südtribüne on Block 13 (a friend of mine has two season tickets, so I am often with him), and all the people around us were agreed: that was also the worst atmosphere since years.
    You definitely have to come back, to see what’s really going on 😉

    p.s.: away games are fun too. In Berlin, Leverkusen oder Hannover for example, we were 10,000 away supporter 😉
    Greets from Dortmund and sorry for my bad English!

  16. Hi Jim,

    Fantastic report, it really sums up how I felt visiting the Westfalenstadion for the first time in 2009. I’ve never felt so welcome at a foreign football game. Groups of locals were buying us rounds of drinks after learning we had come from Birmingham to follow their team. I’ve had the pleasure of returning to
    Dortmund twice since then and also being part of at least 10000 away fans in Hannover. If anybody is considering visiting this fantastic club, stop thinking about it and go now! It reminded me why I fell in love with football in the first place.

    Heja BVB!!

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