A Supercup View from the Yellow Wall

When beer flies through the air in the stands of a Bundesliga club, it’s likely to signify a fan’s disgust at an official, an opposing player or, in happier times, the elation of a goal.

As the amber globules of Brinkhoff’s flew over my right shoulder in the infamous Südtribüne, it confirmed not just a goal, but a win for Borussia Dortmund – their first against Bayern Munich in just over a year.

Bayern’s players have got used to launching beer in celebration in the last few months. In fact, the appropriate drink of choice for the “Triple” winners has been champagne, such has been their recent success, but in Pep Guardiola’s first competitive game, they came unstuck.

For the Südtribüne this context just added to their glee as they reeled off their anti-Bayern material throughout the evening – ordering Bayern to take their Lederhosen off and sarcastically chanting “Super Bayern.”

But, the words sung with by far the most gusto were “Hoeneß in den Knast” – that is, “Hoeneß to prison.” Five minutes before the end of the game, there was also the spectacle of all in the Westfalenstadion wearing Schwatzgelb rising to a rendition of “Stand up, if you pay your taxes.”

To think that only on Wednesday, Bayern were lifting the Uli Hoeneß cup as they scored their 60th and 61st goals in what has been a prolific pre- season.

Only three goals had been conceded in that time too, but Borussia would top that total in 90 minutes, much to the delight of two Südtribüne regulars in particular.

Falko and Mark taking in the game on the legendary Südtribüne.
Falko (on the left) and Mark taking in the game on the legendary Südtribüne.

Mark and Falko both stand in Block 14 of the Südtribüne. Falko is actually nicknamed “Shinji” due to his resemblance to a certain Japanese playmaker. He was serenaded during the build up with chants of “Kagawa Shinji” by others in the Block 14 fraternity, one of whom was Mark. He was the more excitable presence, not that Falko was exactly the shy and retiring type. You can’t afford to be if you’re a vociferous presence on the Südtribüne.

Still, when he wasn’t abusing all things Bayern he chatted to James – my fellow football aficionado – but most importantly to Mark and Falko, BVB fans for 12 years.

“I jumped on the first bandwagon,” joked James, which was enough for approval from Mark and Falko. Mark even wrapped his scarf round James’ shoulders promising him he could keep it if BVB won – no small gesture from James’s point of view, considering this was his first time on the Südtribüne. Don’t be fooled though. He knows his Ebi Smolareks from his Delron Buckleys which still surprised Mark and Falko, lively lads as they are.

It shouldn’t surprise you to learn then that after each goal, along with the rest of the Yellow Wall, both went stark raving mental.

Apart from the first, that is, because Mark was not present. One of their friends was unwell. You could tell as he was possibly the only one sitting down on the Südtribüne. For the first goal, Mark was downstairs was fetching water for the fevered friend – a simple, friendly gesture that showed amongst the raw and ridiculously loud nature of the Südtribüne, normality is still present.

It was Falko’s turn to nip down and get water for the friend at half time. The friend in question (who remained nameless) looked uncomfortable still at half time. This is not as startling when Mark told us that the friend was actually an FC Köln fan.

Now though Mark put the friend to one side. He wanted to know from us what had happened for the goal. So began the explanation of how understudy Starke had fumbled for Reus to nod in. Mark smiled, but behind that you could see that he wanted another. He wasn’t the sort who usually missed seeing the goal.

He wanted to see “ein Tor” in front of him, in front of the baying Südtribüne in the second half. His wish would be granted, but not before the man who broke his heart in May, Arjen Robben, equalised early in the second half.

Robben endured something of a nightmare in front of the Nordtribüne in April 2012, missing a penalty before then skying the ball over from three yards out.

His well-placed header resonated more with his Champions League Final winning performance. The whistles of derision from the Südtribüne for every Robben touch along with the raising of the middle finger from most illustrated that the Dutchman was the nightmare scorer.

The Yellow Wall pondered, not necessarily quietly, but the sound fell towards what you might call a noisy Premier League level of atmosphere.

Yet did they know that in less than 30 seconds, a Bayern player would become their momentary hero with Van Buyten heading Gündogan’s cross past Starke, leaving the Champions embarrassed.

The sound returned to Südtribüne mode with the frenetic celebrations that followed containing shameless amounts of schadenfreude. Taking pleasure in Bayern’s misfortune is something BVB were evidently enjoying, as was shown by Mark’s especially vigorous celebrations.

It was his first BVB goal of the night after all, with Mark embracing all those Schwatzgelb that he could lay hands on. By the time he eventually turned to face the pitch again, he would have seen another BVB attack building.

Even the faithful of the Yellow Wall – the self-proclaimed best fans in the Bundesliga – seemed unprepared for another goal.

And in a way that is difficult to express to those who aren’t familiar with the sport, you just knew, when Gündogan cut inside creating the space on the edge of the area to curl the ball with his right, where it was heading.

So began the second wildest celebrations of the evening as the ball completed it’s predicted trajectory clipping the inside of the post and then nestling in the Südtribüne net.

The taste of beating Bayern had been fully rediscovered. For most, there is no feeling quite like it. For BVB, beating Schalke would climb above that, but no matter. A two goal lead was a place that Mark, Falko, and indeed James were comfortable with.

Not so when Robben struck for a second time soon after – the fourth goal in ten minutes. The game was more comparable to basketball especially when the players broke for a short time out a few minutes later.

This break midway through halves has been customary in German games of late with the recent spell of hot weather. Still at least the players were thrown water bottles from every angle.

Back on the Südtribüne, it was sweaty to say the least. (Top personal tip – you’re not helping yourself if you wear long, dark trousers when standing in temperatures over 30 degrees with 25,000 others.)

The heat wasn’t affecting the atmosphere (not much does in Dortmund) but as the game surged into its final quarter, a Bayern equaliser was becoming increasingly more foreseeable.

So to murmurs of excitement around us, Jürgen Klopp called for one of his new signings. Pierre Emerick Aubameyang raced around the perimeter before being given instructions by Klopp’s coaches and then finally by the man himself.

Klopp imparted some final instructions and then, in the way only he can, he embraced Aubameyang, giving him two mighty thumps on the back in the process – he was ready.

This substitution was met by roars of approval from Block 14. Behind us, Mark was excited by Aubameyang’s arrival. He along with quite a few others had heard about the Gabonese international’s pace.

It was to be no urban myth either as he effortlessly streaked through for a one-on-one with Tom Starke, minutes after his arrival. He delivered a sheepish effort but it was still met by a round of applause.

Mark and Falko were just happy to see the ball away from the BVB goal after Thomas Müller had clipped the bar with a tremendous volley.

But now was Aubameyang’s time, as he ran through on goal once more and now he had Reus in support. Urged to shoot by most in the Yellow Wall, desperate for a debut goal, he instead squared it for Reus to tap in and, as the subsequent celebrations told, seal victory against Bayern.

Borussia had only scored four goals in all of their games against Bayern last season, so what a marker this was to set down.

Even if it was the Supercup, you couldn’t tell by the fans reaction. “AUF WIEDERSEHN” bid the Südtribüne to their counterparts in red on the far side of the stadium. The Yellow Wall couldn’t resist a little more Bayern baiting with “Ein Schuß, KEIN Tor für die Bayern” (“A shot, NO goal for Bayern”), the chant of choice in the final few moments as victory was soon toasted.

The players were happy, but celebrated with perspective. They no doubt realize how difficult it will be to overcome this Bayern side over the course of a season.

Borussia players are thanking the Südtribüne for their support.
Borussia players are thanking the Südtribüne for their support.

This difficulty was not something being considered by Mark and Falko, however. It wasn’t complete payback for that night at Wembley, yet it was a satisfying feeling judging by their exuberance.

Mark patted James on the back too. Having pondered whether to get a scarf outside the Westfalenstadion, he couldn’t have been happier that he didn’t. True to his word, Mark’s scarf became James’s scarf. Its’ scent may be a bit pungent but with it you can almost smell the Südtribüne with its’ stale cigarette smoke and beer soaked deep into the fibres.

The scarf would be swirled in the air for a final time as the players came over to the Südtribüne with BVB’s three new signings, Aubameyang, Sokratis and even the injured Mkhitaryan, initiated by the Yellow Wall.

Soon, the Supercup was lifted with unnecessary amounts of golden ticker tape fired into the sky as our first Südtribüne experience came to a close.

After bidding farewell to Mark and Falko, James and I trudged across the lower regions of the now sparsely populated Südtribüne.

Along with finding a rather antiquated object in the form of a Mario Götze BVB  beer cup, we were able to properly survey the size of the Südtribüne before exiting.

When drifting away from the stadium, it’s then you come to appreciate what you have just witnessed. Because no matter how much you read about it, how much people tell you about it or how much you see of it, little can prepare you for the sound, the colour, the people and even the flying beer of Borussia Dortmund’s Südtribüne.

With thanks to Sandra Goldschmidt (@sanborussia) and James Craig (@craerto).

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Archie is a freelance sports reporter and producer with a strong interest in all things Bundesliga. You can follow him @archiert1

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