From England to Arminia
The story of one English football fan´s trip from London to the SchücoArena.
Barrie Smith ist passionierter Fußball-Fan und bloggt über die Bundesliga in Großbritannien. Am vergangenen Freitag war er zu Gast in Bielefeld und sah sich das Spiel seines deutschen Lieblingsteams (DSC Arminia Bielefeld) und Fortuna Düsseldorf an. Hier sein Erlebnisbericht.
Now in my late-20s, I have been a football fan all my life. Over the past couple of seasons I have been following German football with a passion and now run a website containing Bundesliga news in the English language.
I have been to Wembley Stadium, Old Trafford, Anfield and even Bloomfield Road on a Tuesday night but nothing was quite as special as my first taste of German football:
Arminia Bielefeld versus Fortuna Düsseldorf at the Schüco Arena.
Staying in Köln, the trip to see some 2. Bundesliga action was 3 hours away via train. Along the way the train started filling up with the visiting fans from Düsseldorf; a city we passed on our journey into Bielefeld.
After switching from the Ruhr/Köln line onto the metropolitan line to wait for my train, the person walking in front of me was wearing a blue football shirt and was none other than an Englishman.
I tapped the gentleman on the shoulder. He turned to reveal an Ipswich Town FC football shirt – his local team back home in England. After speaking to him for a few minutes, it turned out he was attending this game with some friends from Düsseldorf, where he worked during the 80s. He was supporting the away side.
The train promptly arrived to the Rudolf Oetker Halle station located a minute’s walk away from the stadium. Fans outside brandished their team colours – shirts, scarves and jackets of Arminia lighting up the field as we headed into the stadium. Some even brought flags.
I was doing my best to wear the most appropriate colours I could to fit in with the home team – a blue, white and black polo shirt. I picked up a t-shirt from the official club shop along with a Krombacher beer before heading to the South stand.
Tickets for this Friday evening game were just €11 (£9) – I was stunned. Tickets right behind the goal in the top two divisions of English football will set you back a small fortune! This is significantly cheaper than my favourite team, who finished mid-table in the English equivalent of the 2. Bundesliga (The Championship) last season. Tickets to our next home day are priced between £19.00-£37.50 (€22.00-€44.00).
I was also about to experience an atmosphere that I’d never heard at Pride Park before. If you’re not familiar with this ground, it’s the turf of my beloved Derby County.
The Arminia Bielefeld fans sang their anthem with passion in the build-up to the match and for the opening 20 minutes of the game I witnessed the loudest atmosphere I have ever been a part of. Flags waving, beer spilling and fans shouting at the top of their lungs, getting behind their team.
And then Johannes Rahn was the unfortunate player to be a part of the most bizarre own goals I have ever seen. The result was the visitors going in front.
That didn’t keep the home fans quiet – they continued to chant and get behind their team throughout. Perhaps not as loud as it was at 0-0 but still very impressive amongst the 21,000 crowd.
Arminia Bielefeld equalised on the half hour mark but fell behind on the stroke of half-time.
I spoke with a couple of fans during the break who were shocked to hear that someone had travelled all the way from London, England to watch their hometown team, recently promoted back into the second division of German football, in an old stadium when I have the English Premier League on my doorstep. But to this point, despite the score line, I was enjoying every minute of it.
Things only got better from this point onwards. The home side equalised quickly after the break. And in the final 3 minutes they took the lead for the first time on a counter attack. In stoppage time Arminia scored again to win the match 4-2.
The fans were in delirium. The only English equivalent I could relate to would be when a side wins a trophy… or in my case when Derby County gained promotion to the Premier League via the playoffs six years ago.
Fans hand climbed up and were on the fence that separated us fans in the South stand to the pitch. Very few had left as they continued to chant for a good few minutes after the final whistle. Players came over to applaud them; holding hands and quickly thrashing them into the air to get a “weeey” out of the fans. This does not happen in England. We’re lucky when players come close to the stand; it’s usually nothing more than a quick applaud from individual players in the middle of the pitch.
Even leaving the stadium the fans continued their chanting – up the elevator and on the metropolitan line. Prior to the train taking off a number of fans on the same carriage as me were jumping up and down in joy.
This whole experience has questioned my attendance of English games – the experience is more expensive, the atmosphere a lot quieter and even a victory at the end of the game doesn’t feel as joyful to our fans as it did to the Bielefeld locals.
Some people choose their favourite team based on the first team they see in person. If that’s the case, then Arminia Bielefeld are my (German) team.
Written by Barrie Smith