U.S.-Supporter Sean: How a tattooed guy turned the BVB season around
A few seasons ago I finally joined the rest of the world in having cable tv. It was the only way I could enjoy watching soccer(football) matches. I have been a supporter of this wonderful sport since the late 70's/early 80's when I started to play. Cable tv gave me a chance to watch the English Premier League and by far my favorite League the Bundesliga.
Germany has had something over me from way back when I was young. I have some German in my family on my Dad's side. I remember my Dad coming back from a business trip overseas in Germany and he tried giving me a dreaded FC Schalke 04 t-shirt. I knew very little about them but there was something I knew I hated about it so I didn't take it. ha ha.
I was stationed in Germany from January 1989-February 1992. I unfortunately didn't attend any matches but I guess it is a good thing now as I might have wrongfully started to support any club located with in short distances of Wertheim which was where I was living.
Fast forward to the 2008/2009 season, I was reading as much as I could about the various clubs in the Bundesliga. In the end I knew it would be the club selecting me rather than me selecting a club. That said, I hoped to be part of a club that enjoyed playing attacking football along with having an awesome crowd atmosphere led by wonderfully cool supporters. It was early in that season when I was watching on tv. It was the first time I witnessed the famous Sudtribune. The wonderful noise coming from that section was amazing! I forget if we won that match but I look back to that day and I was defenseless. I was hooked!
I made my first trip to Europe, since I left in 1992 after leaving the army, in 2006. I have been going back each year mostly for heavy metal music festivals. That would change in 2010 when I would try to attend my first ever live football matches in Europe. I really wanted to attend at least one match in the Westfalenstadion. I was having trouble with my rusty Deutsch in how to go about buying a ticket. Luckily, I was on another football forum when I met my new friend Paul. He was going to school in Dortmund. He had season tickets and he had an extra ticket that I could use.
I planned my trip around a time in September where I could try to see the most BVB Dortmund matches. It worked perfectly. I was going to see them play Wolfsburg and Kaiserlautern at home. I also had a very good chance that we would see them play the evil FC Schalke 04 away on my birthday. The season started with that ugly home loss to Bayer Leverkusen. We won the qualifying leg to reach the Europa League group stage. We also finally won a league match in that 2nd weekend vs Stuttgart.
That said, no one expected what would come next. I arrived in Dusseldorf Germany a day or so before September 11 the day of the Wolfsburg match. On September 11, I was due to meet Paul at the Dortmund train station. The first plan of action was to head over to the various BVB team shops where I felt like I was in a Christmas toy store. We made the walk through town heading to the amazing stadium. It was amazing to see all the people walking around.
We walked in to the sudtribune. It was so big on tv but WOW, I couldn't believe how huge it was when you are actually standing in it. During the match, I tried my best to participate in all the various chants being created by the ultras in the sudtribune. I had to keep asking around sometimes what exactly we were saying as my German was very rusty.
As we know now, Dortmund went on to win a very entertaining match over Wolfsburg. We followed that up with that amazing comeback victory in the Ukraine in midweek. Paul and I participated in the ticket price protest so we enjoyed the Derby match vs Schalke in a Dortmund pub with many other supporters. I sensed that some long time Dortmund supporters around me were nervous going into that match. I wasn't. I seem to have very good luck when it comes to attending my club's matches and even though we wouldn't be in the evil blue club's stadium it was my birthday and there was NO WAY that Dortmund would lose that day. I didn't care what recent history Dortmund had in their matches vs Schalke. It wasn't going to matter this particular day. We know how that match ended up as Dortmund celebrated their returning heroes that evening when they returned to town.
My final match I would attend during my trip to Germany would be the midweek vs Kaiserlautern. This was inevitable. I knew that they would win. It was during this match where some of the local supporters heard me talking in English thus creating curiosity in finding out where I was from. I told them that I was from Arizona. They couldn't believe that their wonderful club had supporters from so far away. It was so awesome to be greeted so kindly by new friends from Dortmund and other European locations and to think it was this amazing football club that brought us together.
As we now know, we went off to continue our hot first half of season streak that eventually lead to us winning the Bundesliga championship. It was achieved with a mixture of an awesome coach, young talent on the pitch that played together as one, the loud vocal support of each and every Dortmund supporter around this planet. I would also like to think that it also included a little bit of good luck provided by one tattooed Dortmund supporter making his first ever trip to Dortmund in September of 2010.
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