Monday, October 18, 2010

Our First Pro-Soccer Game: FC Koln vs. BVB Dortmund

We went to our first German Bundesliga Soccer game between BVB Dortmund and the home FC Koln this past Friday night. Since my conversion to soccer (I had originally sworn that I would never watch it), I have been a Dortmund fan. Dana and I had to choose which team we liked the best within our first week of living in Wulfen, Germany 6 years ago. We saw Dortmund play on TV, so that’s who we chose. Anyways, a few years of watching Bundesliga soccer on ESPN360 each Saturday morning, I have built quite a liking for German soccer.

Needless to say, we were excited to hear that our favorite team was playing in Koln (our second favorite team) on a weekend that we had no basketball games and jumped at the chance to go. Dana and I went with Sebastian, my basketball coach, and his fill-in date David, because his girlfriend couldn’t make it. I was given a stern warning that I was not to wear any yellow (Dortmund colors) as we would be sitting in the FC Koln fan club section. Knowing how passionate Europeans are about their soccer clubs, even I was not about to test the limits by wearing a Dortmund shirt. Here’s a recap of the night.

5:30 pm Babysitter made it on time, and we are on the way to Koln.

6:30 pm Traffic is good and we cruise right through…until we get close to the stadium. Now we are stuck in traffic.

7:00 Still stuck in traffic. Starting to get car sick.

7:30 Still stuck in traffic. Really getting car sick.

8:00 Still stuck in traffic. Really getting car sick. Game time is 30 minutes away.

Starting to get nervous about missing the FC Koln Hymn, which the crowd sings before each home game. (This was the part of the game I was looking forward to the most. I had watched the hymn on YouTube and was excited to see it live.) I was so excited about singing this hymn with 53,000 other people that I even thought to myself that I might switch favorite teams after singing this and move Dortmund down to 2nd favorite.

8:15 In the parking garage, but still in traffic. I think about jumping out of the car to make it in time for the Hymn.

8:20 Finally parked. We power walked through the rain to the stadium. “Get your knees up!” was all I remember saying as we desperately tried to make it in.

8:26 I could hear the hymn being sung inside the stadium as we walked in. I ran up the stairs and I made it into the stadium to hear the last 30 seconds of the hymn. It was breathtaking. Here’s a clip from YouTube that starts pretty much at the exact moment I arrived in the stadium. Breathtaking.

8:27 As soon as we get to our seats in the top left corner of the stadium, we grab the red cellophane in our seats and raise it over our head. We had no idea at the time that the overall result was so cool. (Watch the entire video above to see the end result.)

8:28 I mention to Sebastian, a huge Koln fan, that the first 20 minutes of the game will be critical for Koln to hang with Dortmund. Like I really know what I’m talking about.

8:30 Dortmund controls the game from the beginning, making the Koln faithful very upset. I am very familiar with that feeling being a Detroit Lions fan.

8:45 Dortmund scores their first goal about 20 minutes in. So much for the important good start. I accidentally reacted with a huge “Yeah!” along to two clenched fists in the air. I quickly pulled them down and looked around. My chances of getting beat up tonight just quadrupled. There were some other closet Dortmund fans around that had the same reaction, so I think we we’re ok.

8:46 It occurs to me that I don’t know who scored the goal. Was he onside? Were there any fouls? “Where’s the instant replay?" Sebastian tells me that they don’t do instant reply to help control the crowd anger. I am really scared that my goal reaction is going to get us in trouble. I am extra careful to look neutral for the rest of the game.

9:20 Great first half. Dortmund played well and had some good scoring chances. Koln had a couple of chances, but looked inferior. Again, what do I know? The Dortmund fan section was going crazy all game. And why not? Dortmund is off to a terrific start this year, and is at the top of the league. Just like Michigan State. This has been a pleasantly strange fall so far.

Koln's colors are red and white.  We didn't have "official" Koln scarves, but our BSV Wulfen scarves did the trick and helped us blend in with the other Koln fans.
9:50 Koln plays better in the second half and finally gets a goal in the 82nd minute. The stadium comes alive and is rocking. I am wet with Gaffel Kolsch beer after it was thrown on the entire section during the goal celebration.

9:51 Although I am entertained by the newly found enthusiasm of the crowd, I am secretly bummed out at the tied score. Dortmund has played too well to give away two points. We go into 2 minutes of extra stoppage time, and then it happens. Dortmund scores in extra time to go up 2:1. I am not exactly sure what my external reaction was, but internally I was screaming, “Yeeeeaaaaahhhh!” The same audible noise came from the Dortmund side and hit us on the other side of the stadium like a wave. A glorious wave.

If I were watching this game on my back deck on the Internet, I would have been shouting and jumping around the backyard. Tonight, I have to conceal my emotion so I don’t get us all beaten up. It’s so difficult to do.

10:15 Game over, Dortmund 2 FC Koln 1. Leaving the stadium, I am so happy on the inside, but terrified to show any emotion. I didn't high five the Dortmund supporters on the way out, although I really wanted to. I am also glad that I didn’t wear my Dortmund shirt. I’m a pretty (ok, very) obnoxious person, but even I could sense that this wasn’t the venue to make a scene. To confirm this, we pass a wall of riot police on the way to our car. They were stationed close to the train station, where the Dortmund faithful were headed. What a crazy scene!

10:25 After the game we opt out of sitting in traffic and found a nearby place called Doping Sports Bar (not sure if the Germans understand the humor in this name, but I did) to wait out traffic.

Shortly after that we left and it home safe and sound from our first European soccer match.

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