Dortmund, Germany Part I: DFB-Pokal Final

It’s back onto the Flixbus and up to Dortmund again: a scorching May cup final day. Kick off isn’t until 20:00 but it’s already building. I’m used to typical Borussia Dortmund matchdays, but today it’s the entire city: a sea of yellow and black (Schwarz-Gelb).

There are two public viewings – in the neighbouring squares Friedensplatz and Hansaplatz. Crowds and buzz are already building – Borussia Dortmund (BVB/Ballspielverein Borussia 09 e.V. Dortmund) is simply an obsession here.

I meet some old friends from the TU Dortmund and the party begins. In a flat nearby, just round from Stadtgarten, some new people are here too. More keep arriving and soon we have over ten. We reflect a bit on travel, Europe, life abroad and home as usual, but the atmosphere’s building.

Thousands packed into Friedensplatz

It’s still around 30 degrees in the evening when we arrive in Friedensplatz. No great surprise, there are already thousands of spectators. Soon we’re under way: Eintracht Frankfurt v Borussia Dortmund from the Olympiastadion in Berlin. It’s intense. All sing and shout the entire match, and certainly after Dembélé gives Dortmund an early lead. Being my first public viewing match with the home side playing, here’s what happens: beer flies everywhere, it gets over you and everyone else, celebrations last minutes. But I don’t mind and join in the fun: it’s all part of the experience and atmosphere.

Although Rebić manages an equaliser for Frankfurt, the crowd are still upbeat. Both sides are creating chances and it seems Borussia Dortmund just have to keep pressurising to regain their lead.  Sure enough, they win a penalty in the second half and star Aubameyang makes no mistake from the spot. It’s another tense 25 minutes, but they hang on for a 2-1 win. Their fourth DFB-Pokal ever and first since 2012.

More of BVB’s massive support.

Needless to say, celebrations continue long into the night, ourselves included. Cars circle, honking their horns around the inner city “wall” (Bundesstraße 54/B54). Again, it’s just about enjoying the moment – it’s been a five-year wait after all. It’s like all the best ERASMUS memories: sharing and celebrating great times while they’re here.

That’s another great thing about extended time abroad: not only seeing things at different times of year, but occasions like this. Seeing it all from a first-person perspective, and experiencing it in the present, where and when it happens.

Celebrating into the night.

The next day was another first: the trophy parade. Several hot dry days had led up to this, so all was finally released in a severe thunderstorm (Gewitter). The rain was as heavy as any I’d seen in Scotland. Fortunately, things cleared up that afternoon. We all went down to Stadtgarten to catch the team and management as they showed off their trophy – something I’d never done in any other city. Along with many  others and tight security- if you follow football (soccer) you’ll know about the recent bombing incident. It was pushing 250,000 out on the streets, to the point that authorities requested people stop trying to enter Borsigplatz, BVB’s birthplace. Again there was plenty celebrating and chanting in the streets for several hours. A great round-off to a rollercoaster season – they’d definitely had plenty drama and a whole range of emotions.

The trophy parade on its way – though it’s more of a converted truck than an open top bus!
The first team and staff look happy enough, though no doubt haven’t slept much!
Manager Thomas Tuchel can be proud of his first (and only as it would turn out) silverware with Borussia Dortmund.

Random Takeaways

This was a perfect reminder: the main, guiding reasons I’m here. The shared emotion, the richness of the experience, quality time with friends, and of course, another unforgettable event experienced first-hand before I die. Building on what I talk about in my Darmstadt post – badly needed if you’ve read that.

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(Final) Part III: ‘Going Back’ Blues & Concerns

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