From the archives:
I’m going to be frank; such was the woeful, abysmal quality of this game, I spent the vast majority of it regretting coffee choices and trying to pinpoint the exact spot Zinedine Zidane head butted Marco Materazzi.
This game was the very definition of how, in the face rampant commercialisation, clubs can always depends on amazing fans that they don’t deserve.
But back to the coffee…
The day had started with a walk along the banks of the Spree. Spring was lending its generous glow to the German capital; deck chairs were out on the river bank and nearby cafés were bustling with bright faces. For some inexplicable reason, gripped in the rapture of the tranquil, sunny morning, I approached a pop-up café and ordered an espresso.
Even before the words of my order had passed over my lips regret sliced through me. This multiplied ten fold when the tiny cup was placed before me. The walk to the deck chairs was some ten metres or so. This bastard of a coffee wouldn’t even last me three steps, so I downed it there and then and took a seat anyway.
After musing on the love poems of Keats for half an hour I made my way to Curry 36 for some famed Currywurst (chips, sausage, ketchup and curry powder). If this dish had roots in England, it would inevitably have come from the north and I’d be forced to frown upon it. But this joyous mess was continental, and I was a big fan. The only down side was the obscene amount of ketchup. There was so much, in fact, that I longed to tap a fellow patron on the shoulder and ask do you want some currywurst with your ketchup? I knew this would have brought down the house, but I didn’t. We must all live with regret in some form.
If you’re ever in Berlin, it’s möchtest du irgendwelche Currywurst mit deinem Ketchup? in German, apparently.
Because German football clubs don’t see fans as vermin, a match ticket for the game was also valid as a ticket for public transport. It’s enough to make a seasoned game-goer weep.
The Olympiastadion itself is steeped in familiar history. It’s not for John Fist to teach you that, but I will drop this bombshell – the running track is blue. What a time to be alive!
There are two very unique, distinctive features with this marvellous stadium. First, outside, are the twin pillars towering high above the roof, between which the Olympic rings are suspended. On the inside is the peculiar gap in the curve behind the goal where the Olympic torch once stood.
In a lot of cases, such a hole in the structure of a stadium might have a detrimental effect on the atmosphere, but not here. At the time, Hertha were some what of a fallen giant, playing in 2.Bundesliga, albeit on the verge of promotion back to the top tier, but their fans vocal support was as loud as it was impressive. Nur nach hause!
Scarves, flags, replica shirts and double denim were everywhere inside. I was sat in the upper tier of the Ostkurve and the place was bouncing long before kick off. Some way off, I saw a Capo with a megaphone in hand and rousing songs in his throat.
To my horror, before the game began, a group of ten or so English LADS FELLAS GEEZERS scramble up the steps, filing in toward seats a few rows down. Please, no. They’re in matching white t-shirts. Please god, no. Identical printing across the chests: STEVE’S STAG BERLIN 2013. They’re all here; BIG BEN 69, WICKSY 69, DAVO 69, FITZY 69. And STEVE 69, of course.
They note the Capo roaring into his megaphone. As English football, they check their seats for megaphones presuming that it’s some kind of atmosphere building measure laid on by the club.
We didn’t leave town for dad’s most recent stag party. A town centre pub was the venue, before we spilled out into the High Street. For some reason, he was humiliating those that came rather than vice versa. This was his seventh stag, so only I showed up. He plied me with drink, hung a sign that read PAEDO around my neck, wrote TWAT on my forehead in permanent marker, and tied me up to a lamppost in my underwear.
I started drinking coffee the next morning.
Sadly, the game failed on three fronts; it failed the passionate Hertha fans, it failed to entertain me, and it failed to distract me from the STEVE’S STAG BERLIN 2013.
For them, massive banter filled boredom’s void.
They took turns sliding their hands down the back of their jeans, farting, and wiping the pungent palm across Steve’s face. They spat chewed up sausage at each other. They made Steve down a pint of beer, and when he failed through sheer exhaustion, they poured another over his head. They each pulled a single testicle throw the open flies of their jeans and posed for a group photo in the 32nd minute.
I wondered how Steve would feel when his first born was placed in his arms for the first time. On the beat of the Capo’s drum, guilt thundered through me. I’d just assumed this man’s sexual orientation and lifestyle choices. I might as well have assumed his gender. What had this day become? Who was I? An espresso?
Mercifully, a curry and sausage laden burp brought some relief.
The football was draining what life remained. The Hertha fans chanted admirably on. A member of STEVE’S STAG BERLIN 2013 suggested shitting in a half empty pint glass and offering it up to Steve. I decided to call it a day. Only a few minutes remained.
As I reached the exit, the stadium erupted.
I paused, sighed, and continued on. A promotion party was on the cards. Shouting, smiling, singing. Joy wrinkled faces.
Not my kind of party.