Just your average Saturday afternoon in Germany
Union Berlin 1; Andersson (14.)
Werder Bremen 2; Klaassen (5.), Füllkrug (55.)
I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to experience when I was thinking about moving to Germany. I just knew that football was a big reason why I wanted to go. I’d no doubt been sucked in by the Bundesliga marketing. If there’s one thing the Bundesliga sells well, it’s the fan culture. My only previous taste of German football was a Hamburg game during a very pissed up stag do. I’m still amazed to this day how some of us got in to the game but it was pretty clear that going to the football was a little bit different. Then on a visit to Berlin when I was contemplating moving, I checked out Union. I’m a little ashamed to say I have no idea who we played, or what the score was. I think we won. I was just transfixed on everything else. The walk to the ground. A stadium with 3 sides standing. The fucking noise. But it’s only now after however many games that I also notice the small things. The things that I just can’t get enough of from going to Union.
A common image in the Bundesliga is fans staying behind after games and the players applauding. What you don’t see as much is what goes on before the game. And how early the stadium starts getting packed out. Sometimes it feels like fans in England don’t really actually like being at the stadium. Fans arrive late and leave often before the game has even finished. Then again you probably would if all that awaited you was a soulless new arena and being ripped off by anything you might dare to purchase.
Compare and contrast to Saturday just gone. Union are at home to Werder Bremen on a Saturday afternoon and due to my own lack of self discipline I turn up to the stadium with only an hour to go before kick off. I usually try to get there 90 mins before kick off, just to make sure I can get in my normal spot. One benefit of being ‘late’ is that I get to enjoy one of the small things. When you walk up the steps of the Waldseite and you get to the top, there’s a moment when the pitch comes into view that gives me a buzz everytime. If you stand just in the right place you can see the Gegengerade to your left and the Waldseite on the right, and they look and feel about 90% full even with an hour to go. There’s an excited energy around the place and not just because it’s suddenly a Bundesliga game. This is normal. It’s already been said by others that keeping football affordable is a big part of generating atmospheres but when you see it in action you just want to get involved. Thank God for marketing, it does have some uses.
As for the game itself. The referee was useless and Union caused their own demise. But cut out those mistakes and Union will be ok this season. I’m more thinking about the first party train of the season to Leverkusen. I didn’t go to the cup game a few years back so this will be a new stadium for me. Let’s see if they can outdo Augsburg for an away trip. Leverkusen have taken a bit of a stumble recently. Although realistically no one expects us to get a result, the more positive amongst us should see this as a free hit against a team not in form.