The concluding part from our trip to VfL Bochum, you can read the first instalment here.
Not happy with one Capo, he has been joined on the fence, he and his companions looking like the crows from Dumbo. They share the duties, one pumps his fist, demanding even more from a crowd that amazingly has more to give.
Amongst an overwhelming amount of blue and white flags, banners and scarves, even though it’s probably the smallest, the one in the Rastafari green, yellow and red with a black cannabis leaf on it, sticks out like a sore thumb.
Such is its prominence one of the three up high has grabbed it, and is using it as a crude conductor’s baton.
Not content with being affordable, friendly and having a stand out atmosphere, football in Germany adds another string to its bow, it’s innovative as well. Having spotted a man with a knitted bottle holder around his neck at Essen, one VfL fan has taken it to the next level, like the leap from Sputnik to the Apollo program.
The ‘thing to carry your beer in’ race is happening in front of us, we are part of it, as we see a man with a knitted pint carrier. I can just about get my head around the bottle, which just about makes sense with its small opening, and it being naturally a bit more contained, but the balls to wear a full and open container about your person, in a crowded public area, well frankly it’s mind blowing, we have a lot to learn from the Germans.
Although I don’t know what they are signing to the tune of ‘Go West’ by the Pet Shop Boys, it has the whole place on its feet, including the most vocal of the seated blocks, a small pocket to our left, their banner, “block A” hangs from the back of the stand, and their own flags sway at the front. A young boy next to me joins in, but softly, singing along under his breath.
The half ends with VfL completely dominant, SV only having one half chance, and half of the ground bathed in glorious vitamin D rich sunlight, whilst the rest shivers in the shadows.
Those we can understand talking, are a group of English guys behind us looking a little rough, one in particular shares his current state of mind with his friends, and we are lucky enough to overhear, “feeling a bit shaky” and the fact that he almost “shit himself”.
Sadly the boney finger of the advertisers and sponsors has managed to sully the one thing other than a foot and a ball, that is synonymous with this game we love, the goal.
As the players walk off, people flood out to get a drink and something to eat, and a team of men hang an advert in each goal, I thought the sponsored substation at Oxford was an all time low, but this might be the new leader.
A fan behind us asks me what I’m doing, “are you writing a football diary?” as most other people chat, smoke, drink, I’m head down scribbling away, trying to recount all the things we have seen and heard. I explain and tell him about the other games we are going to, in the Rurh area “the home of football” as he calls it.
When people return, the over sized cheese covered pretzels, hang over one woman’s arm like a giant’s bangle. Tom is not empty-handed either, after a quick toilet break, he returns with beer and pretzels, and it reconfirmed what a good bloke he is.
Once again the away team enter the field to “booo’s” and it’s wonderfully reminiscent of a pantomime.
VfL’s arrival on the other hand is quite different, like a returning triumphant Napoleonic army, they are welcomed by a fanfare of trumpets playing over the speakers in the ground, it’s a reception befitting a team who have been so in control, and they almost rubber stamp the victory when they a shot from a wide free kick bounces awkwardly in front of the SV keeper, who does well to keep it out, as well as the resulting close range shot, forcing out for a corner.
Maybe complacency has crept in, maybe the lavish welcome at the start of the half has gone to their heads, but VfL are getting increasing sloppy, and if SV had the wherewithal to capitalise on it, they could well and truly be back in the game by now.
“Beer is flying” comments Tom, a little shell-shocked after the barrage at Stadion Essen, as we once again see how people who disagree with a referee decision show their dismay. To be fair to them, he should have played advantage, they were bearing down on goal and he called it back, but I’m too tight to lob my drink, so just tut.
With their first clear-cut chance of the game, let alone the half, with twenty minutes on the clock, SV get a goal back, “it’s happening again” says Tom, as we both get the feeling we might be seeing a repeat of the comeback from the away team at Essen.
The visitors are now well and truly on the front foot, and VfL only have themselves to blame. The Capo removes his scarf, starts to swing it, urging the crowd to do the same.
Unfortunately things go from bad to worse, the game has gone ‘full Essen’ as less than ten minutes later things are all square. A mixture of good hold up play, bad defending and a bit of luck, allows the big unit up front for SV is to turn in the box and finish from close range.
Two fans return from a beer run and are forced into a double take, looking at each other, and looking at the scoreboard with a ‘what the fuck has happened’ look on their faces.
As we all know, a game is not won or lost until the final whistle, this game has one final swing, one final twist when VfL are awarded a penalty.
“Simon Terodde, Simon Terodde” chant the fans as the penalty taker prepares himself, no pressure then. More fans have climbed the fence, one is struggling and is at risk of missing the action if he doesn’t get a move on.
One is not sitting, but standing directly behind the keeper, leaning up against the large net behind the goal. He turns to the Ostkurve, his finger to his lips, asking for quiet. The crowd obliges and a nervous hush falls over them, they want Simon to have no distractions.
Alan Shearer knew how to take a penalty, now imagine the opposite to one of big Al’s spot kicks, and that might give you a good idea of how Mr Terodde took his, but at least it went in and that’s all that counts.
The keeper went one way, the scuffed rolled bobbling shot the other.
The air is filled with a mixture of beer, and confetti that someone has pulled from their pocket and tossed skywards. Fans around us hug and celebrate with each other, it’s a sudden release after all the tension that preceded the goal.
The supporter who asked for quiet is now rocking back and forth, back and forth still grasping the net, as the scorer runs to one corner of the pitch, followed by his teammates,“Simon Terodde, Simon Terodde, Simon Terodde”.
When the stadium announcer reads out the scorers name, “Simon” the crowd reply with all the ferocity and confidence a potential winning goal gives “TERODDE”.
Ten minutes left, and SV pour forward leaving themselves open time and time again to counter attack, after counter attack. The fans start to clap, faster, and faster sounding like an oncoming train, perfectly timed with the on field onslaught.
VfL almost get a fourth and kill the game, great one touch passing means they transition from defence to attack in the blink of an eye. A lay up is hit, curls towards the back post across the keeper only to be kept out by the post, the rebound God only knows how, is shot wide.
As if the match needed anymore more drama, SV have a late penalty appeal turned down, the bench are on their feet flabbergasted, heads are in hands, some players and staff have even encroached on to the pitch.
Thankfully for all concerned, in the home end at least, hearts are spared and the game finishes 3-2.
Half a dozen people now sit on top of the fence. The players approach the Ostkurve applauding, and the fans reply. A song breaks out again, driven on by the flawless drummer, scarves again are stretched out in front of people, and the flags continue to whip back and forth.
As the song peters out, people start to leave, and Kings Of Leon starts to play over the stadium speakers.
Those fans yet to leave watch the highlights on one of two small screens in opposite corners of the ground, when they see the missed rebound again, they jeer, still wondering how he did not score, luckily there are no need for tears.
On the pitch one of the players has a kick about with a young child, presumably his son in a massive over sized home shirt and woolly hat.
With the crowd now gone, we can’t help but make our way down the stairs of the terrace, banners have been taken down and packed away, and once again I have to remember that Tom does not want to spend all day following me as I take pictures of Ultra stickers.
We do though attract the attention of an older gent, who inspects our small contribution to the Kurve.
Again my Spurs scarf is the perfect ice breaker and the Bayern Munich/VfL Bochum fan, which going by some of the stickers is not that uncommon, they are two clubs in a ‘friendship’ if you like, tells me he hopes Tottenham “kill them” motioning with his fist, like he is punching someone in the guts.
I ask him how he felt, and where did his allegiance lie after the recent DFB-POKAL game where his two teams were drawn against each other. “I win”, whatever the result he tells me, in fact it was the team from Bavaria who won, which was no great surprise.
He introduces us to his Son, who is positively dashing in his gleaming aviators. They tell us they are off to their second game of the day, about an hour away in the sixth tier of German football.
When we show an interest, he tells us not to bother, there will only be about “50” people there, which sounds like most the games we go to in England.
We are not quite the last people to leave, what we think are a group of Leicester City fans, who are not an uncommon site at VfL games considering the two clubs ‘friendship’, they are still going strong singing at the back of the stand, and have drawn a bit of an audience.
Outside one home fan, who makes Macy Gray sound softly spoken, is still trying to sing, but is so hoarse, it’s painful to hear him straining. A few drinks to the good, his call of nature so strong, in full view of all the people waiting for the U Bahn, he whips out his cock and starts to take a piss.
Chips for breakfast, pretzels for lunch, welcoming fans and last-minute goals. The bench mark was high after our night at Stadion Essen, but VfL did not disappoint, they carried the torch on with out a hitch.
This German football lark, really is a thing of beauty, its addictive. I’m sure there are fans who have their grumbles, them would happily point out the bad points, things they are not happy with, things they wished they did ‘like them over there’.
I’m sure there would be people who would argue that the quality of the football is better or in fact worst than anywhere else, but for me that would just be splitting hairs.
They just seem to do so many things the ‘right way’, that being the way Tom and I like to enjoy an afternoon at the football.
Next stop is to see the yellow and black lot, and their big bloody wall.