Friday, March 21, 2008

VFL Borussia Mönchengladbach – FC St. Pauli (16-03-2008)

At least once a season I visit my German love, VFL Borussia Mönchengladbach 1900 e.V. And, as JB has joined the big community of Gladbach fans, it was clear that we had to see them before this season was over. On this hop we also had the company of JB’s friend N. (despite the fact that he is a Club Brugge fan).

After a 2.5 hour drive, which included 30 minutes stop-and-drive from the motorway exit to the stadium parking lot, we walked toward the Borussia-Park. Today we were playing the ultimate cult team of Germany: St. Pauli from Hamburg. Pauli is known for its following, which includes many anarchists (Autonomen) and other alternative left-wingers. As an homage to its fans, the club even started to use the pirate symbol, which its fans had been waving for years.

St. Pauli Team Bus

I had bought tickets online in advance, for 20 euro each on the Süd Unterrang, so we were able to take our place in time. The stadium was almost packed, with a good 48.000 people – and this is Germany’s Second (!) Division (2. Bundesliga). Among them were several thousand fans of St. Pauli, including in the sky boxes.

As always, the game was preceded by the collective singing of the rock song “Die Elf von Niederrhein” (The Eleven from Lower Rhine) by the band B.O. – In Germany many football teams have bands that play ‘soccer rock’, while the phenomenon also exists in Italy and the Netherlands – most notably through the band Foienoord!

I’m not going to write much about the game itself. Although Borussia is at the top of the 2. Bundesliga, destined to return to the top flight of German football, they have been struggling since January. This game was not much different. Both teams played rather poor, but at the same time created many chances. Although Borussia should have been 3-0 up by half time, it was still 0-0.

The second half was much the same: bad play, but may chances. This time, Borussia was able to successfully finish one: in the 62nd minute striker and top scorer Rob Friend scored the much awaited and needed 1-0. Shortly after Neuville missed a huge chance, but fortunately it remained 1-0. As the direct competition Mainz 05 and Greuther Fürth both lost, it was still a really good day for Die Fohlen!

After the game, we were somewhat disappointed by the catering, which clearly hadn’t expected such a good turnout, as virtually every stand was out of bread or even French fries. However, even more disappointing was the roughly 30 minute wait at the packed parking lots. 48.000 people in a stadium is fun, 48.000 outside of a stadium is a traffic nightmare!

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