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Ruhrpott Derby Observations

Gelbe Wand in Schalker hands (or not?)

Gelbe Wand in Schalker hands (or not?)

Have you ever wondered what makes a true Derby and how the emotions of the Fans are affected by the spectacle? After this weekend’s Ruhrpott Derby between Schalke 04 and Borussia Dortmund (1:1) some of the blogs have interesting takes from both sides. I am not going into the specifics of the game as there are plenty of available match reports but have chosen to translate a few excerpts about one particular piece of Tifo that has been at the center of attention between the two sides.

Schalke Fan:
After all the pre game Music, the Introductions and Advertisements the game is finally about to begin. Everyone starts waving their Scarves as the Whistle blows and we are underway. In the Nordkurve the first Banner makes an appearance “Wir tun alles – ihr nichts…!” (We do everything – you do nothing!), maybe a bit early is my feeling. As I look closer at the Blue Wall I see to my surprise several giant yellow pieces, and they truly look like remnants of the famed “Gelben Wand“ (“Yellow Wall”), the one that disappeared one night about two years ago from its location 80 Meters above the pitch of the Westfalenstadion. As I look at the Visitors section I recognize they are beside themselves and not a very happy bunch, and the Schalke Fans are singing something about “Gelbe Wand in Schalker Hand” (“Yellow Wall in Schalke Hands”) and are celebrating themselves and their so called Heroic Deed. I wonder are those yellow pieces “real”?* When yellow player banners have been imitated even I have to wonder. But UGE (Ultras Gelsenkirchen) would not embarrass us by making this themselves, I can’t really imagine it.
* It seems that apparently there was an incident in which Schalke Fans made Dortmund Player Banners and held them up in the Schalke Section so as to appear they were captured from the opposition.
In a few seconds the entire Stadium is on its feet and singing “Die gelbe Wand, die gelbe Wand, die gelbe Wand ist wieder daaaaa!” (“The yellow wall, the yellow wall, the yellow wall is back again!”). This results in severely testing the stability of the Plexiglas enclosures around the visitors section. Before the match the songs were less about “Support” and more “Anti Support” already because both Fan Groups worried more about each other than with their own team and this incident actually heightens that feeling. At least until a few minutes into the game when the action on the field causes reactions to the actual match……….

Dortmund Fan:
The whistle had barely blown when the Blue Supporters already got our attention. It seems that even though the roof of the arena was closed that some of them were a bit cold and needed to wrap themselves up in a warm yellow blanket. Seems the additional warmth had them feeling better as we could see by their singing and dancing. Since the noble yellow material was apparently the one lovingly manufactured in Dortmund until it changed hands through a criminal action all of us were a bit enraged. The journey from Dortmund to the little Fishing Village already had its share of delays and troubles, this display finally torpedoed the remaining sentiments of those trying to calm the feelings before the derby. In this situation you have to ask yourself why there are talks between delegations of both teams and the police before the Derby. The promises of FC Perjury ahead of the game to not participate in any kind of provocations where broken again. They have had a banner over the Nordkurve since the last derby that made reference to our missing banner: “Einst war ich schwatzgelb und hing im Süden” (“I used to be yellow and black and hang in the South”). If that is their idea of de escalation then that is why we hope this Club does not survive the year 2010. Probably a question best posed to the Russian. (Reference to the Schalke Sponsor Gazprom)

So there you have it, different views on activities surrounding a true Derby match. Thanks to the bloggers from auswaertssieg (Schalke) and schwatzgelb (Dortmund) for sharing your experiences. Right or wrong, it is part of what makes the atmosphere of a rivalry match so heated and different from what we are used to in the United States. Your thoughts?

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  1. Julia

    August 26, 2010 at 9:44 pm

    I watched the derby where the “Gelbe Wand” was in the “Nordkurve”. how the ultras come to the “Gelbe Wand” there are different stories. one says that the ultras went in white overalls to the westfalenstadion and said that they wanted to wash the “Gelbe Wand”. an other story says that they klimbed on the roff of the “südtribüne” and picketed the “Gelbe Wand” off.
    i think that the yellow wall in the “Nordkurve” was the real “Gelbe Wand”.
    but in the german “bundesliga” aren’t only revivals there are also friendships. for example between schalke and nürnberg. if schalke plays in nürnberg or in the near of nürnberg the fans of nürnberg go to the schalke games and support them and if nürnberg plays in schalke or in the near we support them.
    and the games between schalke and dortmund are something special.

  2. Juliet

    February 25, 2009 at 10:00 am

    Indeed MLS is building it’s own supporters culture –just look at the heated rivalry between DCU (go team!) and the Fire.

  3. Joe Ashmore

    February 23, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    Thanks for the kind comments and I am glad that you all like these type of entries. College Football rivalries are probably in many ways the closest thing to some of the rivalries and traditions that are found in European Soccer. One of the hardest things for many European Soccer Fans to understand about MLS is the distances involved and the few real Derbies (in that sense) that we have here. But the game is growing here and as I told some of my fellow supporters (I live in Houston) here is that we are able to grow a Supporters Culture and establish our own traditions.

  4. Juliet

    February 23, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    Despite growing up in the American south, which is plenty familiar with spirited American college football rivalries, I’d say it sounds like the Ruhr rivalry would give any of them a fierce run for their money. Thanks for providing this kind of insight into the Bundesliga and German culture!

  5. diana

    February 23, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    I cannot stop giggling over the little fishing village reference! But really, as a non-German (I come from Singapore), whatever I had read about the passion of the derby…these two blog excerpts does put things into perspective.

    For me, coming from a country where we always like to get one over our neighbour up north (Malaysia), I am always fascinated reading about football rivalries from any part of the world.

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