Borussia Dortmund v St Pauli
After such a stressful, not to mention important, match on Wednesday night at HSV, it didnt quite seem time for another game of football, but come Saturday morning, there I was standing in Dortmunder Hauptbahnhof waiting on a few friends. Such was the strength of my hangover, any thoughts of a late morning beer were put to one side and we headed up to the ground with the Dortmund fans on the underground. Reactions were mixed to our brown scarves, the odd chilling stare, as well as the odd surprisingly warm congratulations on the recent derby win. We headed for the forecourt, passing the Rote Erde Stadium, Ballspielverein Borussia Dortmund’s old ground, which still lies intact, and in regular use, next to the Westfalenstadion. The main ground, currently renamed “Signal Iduna Park”, is in my opinion the best of the large grounds in Europe (yeah I know, Old Trafford, but where is our approx. 18k capacity standing terrace?). Many of you will remember it from 1997 when United played against Borussia in the semi-final of the European Cup. Im not quite sure which bits have changed, as I was a kid watching it on tele at the time. The rather striking partly yellow painted fences are still there in front of the Sudtribune, but I suspect the extension to that very terrace occurred after our visit in Cantona’s last season. Its an impressive sight. Also new are the electronic turnstyles. In 1997, a friend of mine, just walked in without even so much as a snide ticket in his hand.
Another odd thing, was seeing so many Celtic scarves. I knew there was a friendship between Celtic and St Pauli and one also between the Glasgow side and Dortmund, but its odd seeing the same scarves on both sides of the fences! So freezing out on the forecourt, we decided to head inside. The lower terrace in the away section was very good indeed, apart from there being little space to hang flags and a small section of about 6 rows being seemingly pointlessly separated from the rest by a low wall. I was in this lower section but still had access to the larger uppersection so hung around there for a while. It kicked off a little shortly afterwards, seemingly when the stewards took objection to Ultra’ Sankt Pauli’s banner partially covering an advertising hoarding (my word, the priorities in football!). Suddenly the police, this time without riot gear, were in the block and following on from Wednesday night the reception for them was less than friendly. Fortunately they left shortly afterwards, with the stewards then deciding the small section at the front would be closed. As many of us had tickets for this bit, we then just climbed over the wall, brandishing the correct ticket. A sort of “you’ve sold us a ticket for this section, so now you must honour that contract” cheeky windup.
The match started and it was very pleasant to hear our singing echoing off the roof. A large following from our side and good accoustics, really helped. On the pitch though, Dortmund were proving to be far the better side. Kessler back in goal for us, was clashing with our own defenders at crosses, which perhaps showed a lack of communication. It wasn’t a surprise as Dortmund went a goal up. The halftime highlight, was Pliquett coming over to our end and enjoyed the applause he got after his heroics on Wednesday. Really heart-warming stuff. In the second half, Dortmund continued to dominate. Blunted by the lack of Asamoah, we struggled to make any chances and Kessler, who was by now getting back into the swing of things, had to work hard to keep the score down. A defensive error, led to another cross for Dortmund and Gunesch put the ball into our own net. Game over.
Seemingly nothing left to play for and still in party mode after the derby win, the crowd relaxed and we spent the rest of the game winding up the Dortmund fans sat near us by mocking their Mexican waves and singing “Ihr seid nur schwarz-gelbe Schalke”/”you’re just black and yellow Schalke fans” (Schalke are Dortmund’s bitter rivals) as well as various other light-hearted bits of anti-support.
After the match I headed to the pub next door for a beer with a friend who is a Dortmund fan. Later in the evening I also used the chance to meet up with a large group of friends I know, who are in the Dortmund ultra’ group The Unity. Dortmunds fan-scene has had its problems. In days gone by, it was the BorussenFront who brought shame on the club with their far-right politics. Even today, the club, like the city still has issues with some groups at the very least tolerating nazis within their midst. I had an argument with one fan later, because he was wearing a BVB scarf with “Gott mit uns” on it. The lad seemed to be genuinely oblivious to its dubious links to the Third Reich, but it was nevertheless a worrying sight. Its therefore to pleasing to see, that some groups do not tolerate such poisonous views. Some decked out in their newly produced M65-style jackets with The Unity arm badge, the group have recently adopted the Viva Con Agua project that started with FC St Pauli and are generally a sound bunch. After a few beers round at a friend’s, we all headed to the Hirschq, the leftwing punk bar popular with St Pauli and Dortmund fans alike. Another decent group, the Rude Boys, Borussia Dortmunds SHARP skinhead supporters group, seemed to be in, as the place was full of skins. A fun evening of abusing each other, me accusing the lads out of the Unity, that they are all secretly St Pauli fans, particular one friend who was wearing a brown “No al Calcio moderno” tshirt. Their response of course was too wind me up about the rather irritating, inebriated “Pauli Party” elements that were also in the bar (think daytrippers at United but so pissed they can barely walk). Having taken a sound beating at table football, perhaps partly down to dancing too much to Ton Steine Scherben at the same time, the lights eventually came up and it was clearing out time. A quick, and it has to be said freezing, beer from a kiosk nearby and then it was time to head home.