It has been a while that we went to see a football match.
Now, Ingm and I relied on the season’s tickets of some Füchse teammates of mine to see Hertha take on perennial powerhouse BVB Dortmund.
One of the attractions here clearly is Berlin’s Olympic stadium. Yes, fascist and always with the sour aftertaste of the 1936 Olympics, but a pretty grand venue and even more so after its 2006 pre-World Cup refurbishment.
Travelling to the Stadium
The bike ride to BC Place is a big part of the joy of Whitecaps matches in Vancouver, especially on summer evenings, but also because of the excellent Bike Valet service there.
In Berlin, the transport method of choice, naturally, is public transit, in our case the S-Bahn. To get to the S-Bahn we hop on our subway where the first Hertha scarves are visibly already. As we progress toward the Olympiastadium S-Bahn, the number of beer bottles and scarves, also some yellow-and-black BVB paraphernalia gradually increases. Trains fill up and the number of police in riot gear also increases.
We’re going to the game with good friends B and S (schoolmates from high school) and their two kids.
At the approach, fans desire to get warmed up for the game takes its revenge. The piles of bottles (can’t take them into the stadium) rival Berlin’s highest mountain and with thousands squeezing through the entrances, the whole thing is not so attractive with kids.
In the Stadium
But then we get to our seats, and wow! It turns out that the match was sold-out, meaning just about 75,000 people. That’s three sold-out Whitecaps games. Of course, the Olympic Stadium is vast, and the running track puts spectators at some distance from the pitch.
— Julian Dierkes (@Schaumkroenchen) 11. März 2017
We were sitting in the Northwest corner, which means we were looking diagonally across at the Hertha supporters (Ostkurve) and were uncomfortably close to the BVB supporters.
The matches against Dortmund and Bayern are the games that sell out reliably, in part because those are the two German clubs that draw support across the country. Hertha has been very strong at home, but bad away leaving them around 5th place for a while now. That would mean qualification for the Europa League which would be a great success, of course. Dortmund under manager Tuchel has been inconsistent, both in Bundesliga and international play.
Some appropriately passionate singing to start the match, though we’re in a section that is focused more on watching than supporting.
In the end, Hertha won 2:1 which was a fantastic result. Play was fast (it’s hard to compare MLS from memory, but it is quite literally a different league!). Where we have our salty Scottish commentator sitting behind us at BC Place, here we had some older Berliners who were not at all happy with, surprise!, the ref. Some great commentary there!
The Dortmund starts (Aubameyang, Schmelzer, Schürrle, etc.) did not shine, though their goal was a nice one. With Schürrle and his long-time fiancee from Maple Ridge having broken up, hopes have been dashed, but the Whitecaps could still use him as a striker!
A great time was had by all!