Having recently moved to Frankfurt it has given me the opportunity to travel across Germany and experience German football and its notorious fan culture. Renowned for cheap tickets, terracing and high quality beer German football to many is the pinnacle of fan culture within what is becoming an increasingly commercialised game.
My first game was Hoffenheim v Borussia Dortmund, making the fairly short commute to Hoffenheim by train (which is included within the €17 match ticket) I arrived a few hours before kick off at a small station that looks as though it is rarely used by the local population of just 3,200 people, similar to that Eaglesham, This is a small town that is bank rolled by the success of a local billionaire Dietmar Hopp a million miles from the glamourous cities and towns from other champions league teams, The first building you see upon exiting the station is a large museum of flight owned by Hopp another one of his expensive hobbies.
Hopp was to be the centre of the games protests due to him banning 33 Ultras from todays game for singing songs insulting him during Dortmunds visit the previous season.
The stadium (Rhein-Neckar-Arena) is similar to that of many in the Bundasliga due to the redevelopment for the world cup held in Germany in 2006, Across all Bundasliga games you are normally able to buy beer however today Hopp only allowed the sale of Alcohol free beer within the guest block again another punishment for the actions of the support the season before.
Within the concourse we were handed a leaflet explaining the reasoning for the protest that would take place during the game, We took up our positions within the away corner from which the Ultras began to prepare their actions for kick off, As the teams appeared out of the tunnel a large banner reading "Hasta la vista Hopp" emerged with an image of the 78 year old with a target on his face, The Dortmund Ultras again showing their discontent with Hoffenheim owner, rooting from Hopps vocal support against Germanys 50+1 rule that ensures the ownership of clubs remain within the hands of the supporters.
The game itself started slow however Hoffenheim mounted pressure which resulted in them taking the lead just before half time, and from the start of the second half they continued that pressure and had two goals disallowed, However against the run of play dortmund snuck a late equaliser which resulted in the match finishing 1-1.
In the stands the Dortmund supporters were impressively loud even though their team were far from impressive, A notable comparison between that of Celtic where the supporters often get on the players back when losing for a long period of the game. The block was full of colour as the Ultras hand out a large amount of flags that are spread across the whole section and then collected at the end of the game, again something that could be implemented within our full away support rather than solely the two active groups.
We exited the stadium and made our way to the train station for the journey home not before stopping some of 3500 Dortmund supporters that had made the trip getting into their buses to ask for some beers that were being kept in the boots of the bus that would accompany them on the three and a half hour journey back home. I already was looking forward to the next day in which i would go to another Bundasliga game although hoping this time i would be able to buy beer with alcohol in the stadium.