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A day at Dortmund; what football is about

An evening in Dortmund

By Walter Broeckx

Going to Dortmund is a drive with the car of about 2 hours from my home. So it actually is closer than London is. And no water to go up, over or under.  So when the Benelux supporters met near Antwerp we were all in good mood. Of course we would have loved a win and at the carpool parking some of our members said they hoped  for a narrow win but all said they would take a draw right here and now.  On the car pool parking we met another group of supporters who had agreed to meet there. But they were wearing the yellow of Dortmund so we could share a few jokes already in Belgium.

When arriving a Dortmund we parked the car and did what most supporters do before the game: eat and drink. Some other Gooners from Belgium told us that they had gone to the town centre and that there was a great and friendly atmosphere between both supporters. Both signing their songs and enjoying some beer and Bratwurst.

One of the great things of being an Arsenal supporter is the fact that you meet all kinds and sorts of people. Yesterday I finally was meeting some Gooners from Luxemburg. I had been talking to one of them on the internet and now they came up to me in Dortmund and we had a very nice chat about football, the weather, politics in Belgium, you name it we talked about it. And may I say that they do have a lovely language they speak amongst themselves. It is called Letzeburgs and it is a language between German and French as this is where they are situated geographically of course.  Was really nice meeting you Olivier.

A strange thing was that we were standing in front of “Die Rote Erde”. Now this might not ring a bell but this was the stadium Borrussia Dortmund was playing before “Das Westfalenstadion” was built. The old ground is still standing next to the new stadium. Maybe it is used for reserves games but this was a very nostalgic looking stadium.

The Stadium. The biggest stadium in Germany when it comes to capacity. Three tribunes in the more orthodox traditional form divided in two tiers. And then the one stand we were all looking for the gigantic Sudtribune. Now it is as high as the other sides of the stadium but the fact that it is not interrupted makes it  so much more impressive. Yesterday Dortmund had to rebuild it to an all seated stand and people who know about it told me that it did reduce a part of the atmosphere.  But it was an impressive sight from the Nordtribune where we were standing in front of our seats.  Oh and for goodness sake there has never been an incident in the Sudtribune in the Bundesliga because the safety measures look to be working fine. Just let them have their standing areas if they want.

More impressions about the evening.  What about the fact that at half time we could have a drink or food and we just found out that we were sharing the stall with the home supporters. I couldn’t believe my eyes to be honest. Home and away supporters together not separated by walls just standing behind and next to each other in line waiting to order their drinks. And yes the support in the stadium was loud and electric but at half time we just stood next to each other drinking and eating.

And after the game they didn’t keep us in the stadium like they did at Barcelona or Rome in the past. No, we just could go out and mingle with the rest of the 65.000 people. There was some police but we all walked in our colours past and next to each other. Never I felt any hostile attitude against myself of my friends.

In fact when going to the car a few young Dortmund fans came over and wanted to know if we were German Gooners or from London.  The answer being from Flanders surprised them and then we got in a great conversation about football, the stadium, Borrussia Dortmund, Arsenal, the money spinners like Chelsea and City (which they don’t like at all in Dortmund), the possible Gotze to Arsenal transfer and the really big amount of money that Arsenal has been offering for him to join us. And how happy they were that he decided to stay with them.  We could have talked for hours it felt and I felt sorry when we arrived at our car. But there was not a pub insight at the parking so I couldn’t offer them a drink.

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But I think this night was all that supporting the Arsenal is for me. During the game I will support my Gunners for 100%. I have difficulty to speak with a normal voice for the moment because I have been signing and shouting the whole game long.  But before and after the game I just want to meet people. Gooners but also people who support the other team. I have made my choice, they have made their choice in supporting a team. During the game we support our teams. After the game we are all human beings. And we can speak with each other in a civilized way in mutual respect.

I felt a lot of respect from the Dortmund supporters for Arsenal which they consider a very big club compared to Dortmund. I must say that I just want to say to them that they have been very friendly hosts for us Gooners and that they have succeeded in showing what football should be about: We fight each other on the field with the ball. We try to out sing the other supporters from the stands. And after the game we go home and give each other a really meant and warm handshake, wish each other the best in our respective league and may the best team win when we play each other at the Emirates.

Okay,  just change that last part and just wish Arsenal will win it. Auf Wiedersehn.

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22 comments to A day at Dortmund; what football is about

  • Kentetsu

    Thanks for sharing your experience with us, Walter. It must have been one hell of an evening. I agree that this is how football and supporting football should be. 22 players trying to play attacking football, thousands of supporters shouting their team on, and a nice handshake to the opponents (player or supporter) afterwards.

  • @Walter that’s how its supposed to be but tell that to the Manure’s. Nice piece of Article. By the way Walter when will Mike Riley visit Arsene to air out some biased refereeing against the Arsenal.

  • the font

    cant wait to try that going for a drink and shaking hands after we have just stuffed the spuds 5-0 at the lane but i do agree thats how it should be

  • walter

    The font,

    there are exceptions of course 😉

  • JohnW

    Welcome back Walter. Far away in Kampala, watching the action on TV, I could see the atmosphere was really very special at the stadium. And i’ve been a fan of German soccer ever since the 1980s, therefore I knew before hand what to expect from Dortmund, unlike some of my fellow Gunners who slag off our performance.Believe me we should be proud for even mighty Bayern could not survive that team last season.I wish one day I meet you so we watch Arsenal together. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  • tibor

    Dortmund has fantastic supporters, and really really great atmosphere at the stadium. I wish emirates to be so passionate and loud…

  • Mickess

    I went to Dortmund as well and agree wholeheartedly with your comments Walter. The atmosphere was great inside the ground, outside the ground and in the town centre. I was struck at how friendly everyone was. The security inside the ground were all friendly and approachable, the Police stood off and did not interfere or get heavy handed either at the ground or in the town. The integration of fans on the concourse was brilliant and to be let out all together was brilliant, just how it should be. No animosity from anyone we were all just football fans having a good time. It just shows that if you treat people like human beings and with respect and you get respect back. And,yes Kentetsu it was one hell of an evening. Oh and by the way I thought the referee was good as well.

  • steww

    I was impressed with Dortmund, the way they played was excellent and although disappointed I didn’t begrudge them a deserved point. Thanks for sharing your evening with us Walter I’m glad to hear that their fans deserve the same respect as their players.

  • Martin Village

    I found Walter’s report of fraternising with the Dortmund fans very moving, actually. It really may be what being european is all about. They are our brothers. We might support different teams but it’s the same old game.

  • The trouble is, once you build a wall between supporters (as we do in England) then it is impossible to take it down. I have no idea how the barriers in England could ever be removed now they have been put up.

    It is one of the joys of non-league football in England that some clubs (not all, just some) still have mixed support. Those in the non-league that actually do split supporters should be shamed – if 80,000 in Germany can mix in order to buy food and drink, surely 500 at a little non-league game in England can.

    Or have we sunk that far?

  • Gary

    Dankie Walter. Heel aangename artikel.

  • Dark Prince

    The atmosphere at the stadium was simply unbelievable!! 🙂 i cud literally feel it from ve television, cant even imagine how its like to be there!!

  • rhein

    Hi , a really nice Report about your experiences at Westfalenstadion. Seems you enjoyed it . The Support on Dortmund side was the best in the last 10 Years , as far as i remember. And i cant wait to go to the Arsenal – Dortmund Game in Emirates in November . Will be my first visit in the new Stadium , i loved Highbury, but i think new times need new Stadiums . Talked to some Gooners before Game and it was amazing , where they all came from,not just England even from Denmark, Slovakia and Poland . cu in November ( i am pretty sure we have to wait 30 minutes after game in London ^^ )

  • You were lucky, Walter: Not just because you saw a terrific Champions League game at a spectacular stadium with some great fans (all of this apparent, as I was at work and couldn’t see any of it, not even on TV), but because you weren’t reading Arsenal message boards. If you had, you’d have thought we were getting slaughtered 5-1.

  • Amerigunner

    I live here in Germany, and the games can be a bit hostile after a Bundesliga match, but it is usually just a couple of drunken idiots. I went to the Cologne-Arsenal preseason match this year, and it was incredible. It was a very similar situation to yours, and we were even sitting in mixed company. The fans were very nice and had massive respect for Arsenal and out football, and namely our history. I lost my program on the way out of the grounds and we ran into two Cologne supporting ladies in the train station. When my German girlfriend told them about it the BOTH offered me theirs (yes, I had to take one as it was Gerv’s debut:) It was a day and an experience to remember. Danke Schoen Koeln, und Sie haben richitge gutes Bier!!

  • Byo

    Reading from Fishersville, VA(USA)-3 hours SW of Wash DC, you make me jealous! You are one lucky so and so.

  • walter

    No problem Gary. 🙂

    Rhein, I think Dortmund earned itself a place in my football hart. I hope you can experience a good atmosphere when you come to London.

  • walter

    And if I compare this to the atmosphere after the game in Standard Liège a few seasons ago… I remember we had to stay in our part of the stadium. And then because we were from Belgium and drove in cars with belgium numberplate we had parked our cars in the streets nearby.

    so we had to go in to the direction of the leaving Standard supporters. There was a big gap of some 100 metres between our side of the stadium and the Standard supporters and in between a lot of police.
    so when we neared them in our Arsenal colours the police first wasn’t happy to let us through but when we said we were in our own country and our car was parked on the other side they gave us permission to cross no man land but they insisted we covered up our Arsenal shirts and scarf.

    Must say we didn’t feel that comfortable over there as I did in Dortmund last Tuesday. It was two different worlds in fact.

  • Fabian

    Thanks for the great article walter. I’m very pleased that it was such a great time for the foreign (in term of not-german 😀 ) Arsenal supporters than it was for me. How I would have liked it to had been in die Arsenal block, but I bought my ticket in a Borussia Dortmund ticket shop as I thought I would have had more success getting a ticket there. But nevertheless wearing with my Arsenal jersey and scarf such as a few others under hundreds of other Dortmund supporters wasn’t uncomfortable as they all were very friendly to me.
    This day will always be in good memory :D.
    Do you think there is any realistic chance to get a ticket for the Arsenal – Dortmund match in the Emirates?

  • Rhys Jaggar

    I must say that the only fans I have found to be trouble have been those of Manchester Utd. And that only once. It was a small minority, untypical of most Utd fans.

    I’ve spoken on a tube home with Spurs fans after Arsenal won 3-0 in the derby. They were decent folks.

    I’ve never found Evertonians to be anything but jovial, passionate folks who know that had they been born in London they would have supported a London team.

    Liverpool fans are fine so long as you don’t taunt them about 20 years without a league title. ‘Five European Cups’ usually then becomes the topic of conversation!

    I’ve directed Baggies fans, Wolves fans, Sunderland fans, Newcastle fans and many others to the Emirates from H&I. All were decent people.

    The days of local turf wars and tribes are disappearing from football.

    So long as you aren’t aggressive, rude or intimidating to other fans, 99% of the time you’ll find they’re just like you.

  • Matthew

    Most Germans, football fans or not are the friendliest people you could ever wish to meet, with the exception maybe of east Germans who seem quite insular in nature. Football clubs such as Dynamo Dresden, Energie Cottbus and Hansa Rostock have reputations as having trouble making fans. I really wanted to go and would have had no hesitation if work/family/money had not been an issue. The same could not be said however for Arsenal trips to Italy and Eastern Europe where supporters are a lot more hostile. I cannot imagine Gooners drinking and showing their colours in Rome or Belgrade for fear of attack by ultras.

  • Wilfried

    Atmosphere in Dortmund ? To remember see this:

    or this:

    Greetings from Dortmund.

    We all wait to support our team at Emirates Stadium in November.