Hello Reader! If you’ve been following along with my time spent in Dortmund, you know that much of it has felt like a dream, and attending BVB’s home match against Köln was no exception. When asked if I would be attending this match, my response was that until I had the ticket in hand, I was only allegedly attending.
The universe (and my immune system), however, thought I needed some extra...let’s call it, excitement to really make this excursion memorable. See, about four days before the match I started feeling “off.” Before I knew it, I was wicked sick, and that Friday I found myself in the hospital. You read that right...the freaking hospital. Talk about something that wasn’t on my “Trip to Dortmund” BINGO card!
My situation was touch and go and my thoughts on whether I’d be matchday-ready changed minute by minute. Even though I didn’t know if I’d make it or not, I did know that I’d regret it if I didn’t go. I feared this dream was slipping away...
Fast forward to the next day and it’s a wonder what 24 hours on amazing drugs will do for a person. I mentally prepared myself to go to the match, repeating the mantra “Dortmund till I die!” It seemed to work because before I knew it, I was taking the train to the Stadion.
Now, in addition to my health-related anxiety, there was the excitement surrounding securing a spot to watch the match. My ticket was for Section 14 which is located in (pause here for dramatic effect) the Südtribüne. There are no assigned seats here. It’s first come, first served. After I exited the train, I walked through the throngs of people milling about as there is plenty to eat and drink right outside the stadium. Entry was simple enough and after a quick security inspection, I was on my way to Section 14.
It’s probably worth commenting at this point that we all know this stadium is massive and the capacity is insane. We’ve heard the figures over and over...total stadium capacity is 81k+ and the Yellow Wall is 24k+. To put this in perspective, Exploria Stadium (my home stadium in Orlando) holds 25,500 and the entire population of Dortmund is just shy of 600k. But as you’re walking around the stadium (both inside and out of) you don’t really get a sense of that. I was honestly expecting to see lines everywhere rivaling Disney’s latest popcorn bucket drop, but it was super easy to get my matchday scarf, some vegan food (yes...this is a thing!), and the essential throwing beer.
After taking care of business, it was time to secure my spot in the wall.
As kick-off approached, the stands filled, the players came out for warm-ups, and I was an active participant in all of the pre-game traditions. The chills one feels during You’ll Never Walk Alone are exactly as you’d expect. I kept scanning my surroundings and telling myself “you’re here...this is real...this is happening.” On the one hand, it felt like something totally normal while on the other, a dream; something I would later start comparing to an out-of-body experience.
At any rate! The match started and what a match it was. Something I thoroughly enjoyed was casually observing my fellow fans. Like, the dude behind me was a big fan of Malen; every time he touched the ball the guy would shout “Dony!” which elicited a smile and chuckle from me. Getting to “toss” my beer after the first goal was one of the most exhilarating feelings ever. Hands down, best money I spent that night. If you’re in the Südtribüne, it’s like being in the splash zone...you will get wet. And really, if you’re not at least partially soaked with beer, were you even really there?
As the clock wound down, the elation of the crowd grew and with the blow of the final whistle I was doing my best to contain my inner fangirl for what would come next: the squad gathering to celebrate the win with the Yellow Wall. The guys lined up with their kiddos as we proceeded to sing my new favorite song (the Pippi Longstocking one) while they started pushing each other around. Someone pinch me, please!
It wasn’t until after the match started and the seats were filled that the whole “sell-out crowd” aspect really hit me. If traveling with the away fans to the Revierderby is like an intimate dinner party, then attending a home match is like going to a frat party and everyone on campus is invited. Both experiences are totally unique and equally enjoyable and a must for any BVB fan.