Saturday, 20 April 2013

Borussia Dortmund v FSV Mainz 05. 20/04/13

"Buying a denim jacket and covering it with badges would probably be the final straw when it comes to my wife thinking I'm having a midlife crisis"

Borussia Dortmund 2-0 FSV Mainz 05. Signal Iduna Park.
Saturday 20/04/13 
If football is truly like religion, then Dortmund has to be one of the great pilgrimages to make. To most of the world it is a pretty unglamorous industrial city in the Ruhr Area. To football fans it is the home of the biggest average home support in Europe, the remarkable Yellow Wall and Jurgen Klopp's exciting young team that has torn through Germany and the continent in the last few years.

The masses gather at Signal Iduna Park
Game two of the Dusseldorf 2013 Weekend was Borussia Dortmund v FSV Mainz 05. The wonderful transport system of the Fatherland did it's typically excellent job in depositing us in Dortmund after a 30 minute journey during which the previous days tiredness and hangovers were combated with that very German medicine of Jagermeister poured into cans of beer.

Dortmund branded beer being drunk in the ticket office
Signal Iduna Park has it's own U-Bahn station which they've used that well know German imagination to call Stadion. The ground itself is in the middle of a park with not many bars around but this, being Germany, is not a problem as fans (and children) just mingle on the streets around the ground drinking bottles and pints of beer which can be bought from street vendors and are Dortmund branded. You were even fully encouraged to sink a couple of these while queuing for tickets and let's be honest, it would have been rude not to adopt some of the local customs.

Child drinking a beer - as you do
The alcohol branding machine got even better inside the stadium with each beer being served in a plastic cup with a Dortmund player on. You pay a €5 deposit for one and then use it for the rest of the afternoon before returning it at the end to get your money back. Or in our case, collect the glasses so you end up taking home a set of ready-to-use pint cups featuring Mats Hummels, Marco Reuss and ultimately Herr Klopp which go down as well as a hog roast at a barmitzvah in the typically anti-German English pub.

New pint glasses for the cabinet at home
There are a few stadiums in the world that take your breath away when you first see them after climbing the stairs and catching your first glimpse through the entranceway at Dortmund is without a doubt one of them. Our seats were in the top tier, tucked away high in a corner looking down on the Yellow Wall on our right. The place was simply huge and when it filled up before kick off the atmosphere was electric, particularly when the 25,000 on the Wall whipped out their scarves and flags for You'll Never Walk Alone.

The Yellow Wall in full flow
Marco Reuss put's Dortmund 1-0 up after 60 seconds and
that's game over
For a big match you could imagine the noise inside the place being so loud that even Beethoven would have been able to hear it, but this wasn't one of those great occasions. With Bayern Munich having the Bundesliga in the bag, there was little to play for save a tune up for the small matter of a midweek Champions League semi final clash with Real Madrid and to make it even more of a non-event, it was effectively game over after just 60 seconds when Reuss put Dortmund 1-0 ahead. They added a second through Robert Lewandowski with five to play but in truth it was a meaningless game and it showed although that didn't stop the stadium rocking.

The Yellow Wall after the game
Signal Iduna Park
Afterwards we hung around and ventured onto the terrace and it's really only then you appreciate the vastness of not just that particular part of the ground but of the whole place. It was empty at this point and looking up the Wall was enough to give you vertigo. If you can imagine one of those epic movie scenes where an athlete runs up the steps of a stadium, then the scale of it is probably best summed up that if one of those scenes were shot at Signal Iduna Park, it would be over after a quarter of the terrace had been climbed when Sylvester Stalone keeled over from the effort.

On the route back to Stadion Station we stumbled across Sportwelt Dortmund, a large swimming pool facility which on matchdays bizarrely has a large bar opened right next to the pool. We took several pints in their, meeting some of our favourite types of German fans in the shape of the denim jackets covered in badges brigade. Despite the dangerous mixture of beer and a body of water, nobody took a dive in with the most risky moment being Rumble seriously considering buying a jacket which could well have led to a divorce on our return home.

Rumble's denim jacket heroes
The day was finished back in Dortmund city centre and Katharinentor, a delightful little pub a stones throw from the station. It showed the live evening game featuring the mighty Wolfsburg with the added bonus of Jens Lehmann on commentary. Katharinentor had a large array of beers and it only seemed right we tried to sample one of each, which meant we never actually left it to explore anymore of Dortmund before the last train back to Dusseldorf. And we even managed to avoid ending up in Mochengladbach this time.



Borussia Dortmund: Roman Weidenfeller, Lukasz Piszczek, Neven Subotic, Mats Hummels, Marcel Schmelzer, Ilkay Gundogan, Nuri Sahin, Jakub Blaszcykowski (Kevin Grosskreutz), Mario Gotze (Julian Schieber), Marco Reuss 1 (Moritz Leitner), Robert Lewandowski 1.

FSV Mainz 05: Christian Wetklo, Stefan Bell, Bo Svensson, Nikolce Noveski, Zdenek Pospech, Julian Baumgartlinger, Yunus Malli, Marcel Risse (Adam Szalai), Nikita Rukavytsya (Marco Caligiuri), Shawn Parker (Nicolai Muller).

Attendance: 80,645

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