What is the point? That’s what I am asking myself after experiencing my worst season ever as a supporter of Bayer 04 Leverkusen.
It wasn’t supposed to go like is.
This season was supposed to be different.
No more “Neverkusen.”
No more disaster at Unterhaching.
No more “Treble Horror” of 2002.
I was too young to have any memory of those events, but I know them all too well.
As a supporter of Bayer Leverkusen, I get all types of reactions when asked about who I support. In Germany, I get “Ach, Drecks-Verein!” In the United States, “Oh, Bayern Leverkusen, like Bayern Munich? Or “Wait, the pharmaceutical company?” Sometimes even just “Chicharito?” Any other story or reason I want to give will just get blank stares. This year that was supposed to change.
I came to Germany in the fall as an exchange student, spending my weekdays in Heidelberg, and my weekends (time/money permitting) in Leverkusen. I had high expectations. Everything just felt different. The club had kept all important players from the previous season, and made key, pricey purchases with transfer records smashed. Many thought that Leverkusen with their high-octane pressing would be the team to challenge Bayern Munich’s reign, and break the curse. I certainly thought so.
But of course, that just wasn’t going to happen. After beating Borussia Dortmund 2-0 on October 1st to move into 6th, Leverkusen never made it higher. Everything just went off the rails. Blown leads, missed penalties — way too many missed penalties, dubious suspensions, and all out drubbings led to the dream ending, and almost relegation. I finally realized it was over on March 4th in Dortmund. A 6-2 thrashing, with myself again in attendance. Yet, just a few weeks later there I was in Madrid, watching them in a pointless 0-0 draw with Atlético. Why?
The season is now mercifully over, and I’m drained. Which leads me to my main question, what’s the point? What’s the point of spending hundreds of euros to see your team play with no reward? What’s the point of being a supporter of a club that hasn’t been able to handle the biggest stage? What’s the point of liking a club that no one has any opinion on at home? All my friends are Premier League team supporters, why haven’t I joined them?
Heck even my own dad doesn’t understand my love for Die Werkself.
And frankly, I cannot answer those questions. All I can say is that I’ve been a supporter since I was 10 years old. I just try to get the club’s story out there. Michael Ballack, Lúcio, Zé Roberto, Dimitar Berbatov, Arturo Vidal, Heung- Min Son, Toni Kroos, Dani Carvajal have all suited up for this club. All I know is them. I get up by myself at 6:30 AM on the weekends to watch them. I don’t care if no one else gives a damn, because I give a damn.
Sometimes, I wonder what the story would be like if 2002 had gone differently; if Zinedine Zidane doesn’t score one of the greatest goals ever, if they don’t blow that 5-point lead with 3 games left, if they win that cup.
Maybe more people would be joining me, maybe not. But in reality, there isn’t anyone else. No fan clubs, no friends, no one.
All l can guarantee is that when Bayer 04 Leverkusen finally wins the Bundesliga, everyone, will be hearing from me.
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- Fan Corner: Why I Endured Leverkusen’s Forgettable Season - May 24, 2017