Fortuna Dusseldorf 2 Wuppertaler 0

Fortuna Dusseldorf 2 Wuppertaler 0 (16/02/2008)

After floodlight problems in Wiesbaden the previous day, I nearly had trouble on three counts here in Dusseldorf. The first was the decision to buy a ticket on-line a month earlier. It seemed almost absurdly unnecessary at the time. It’s not as if a 3rd division German gave would sell out a 50,000 seat stadium. Yet I found that trouble at a match a week earlier had caused this match to be all-ticket with no tickets available on the day. Even with my ticket somebody decided getting in should be as stupidly annoying as possible, making every single fan be subjected to a search in the same area.

Even getting that far was a challenge. The stadium is a bit out from the centre. There is a metro, but the metro trains in Dusseldorf look like they were leftover props from the set of Trumpton. They are so small they’d look inadequate as the mass transit system of a small village in the Cotswolds, and would be full if someone took on board two bags of shopping. Train after train pulled up at the station, each one already rammed full of fans with their faces distorted against the glass. That the stopped at the station, as to show you that you couldn’t get on, was like a little tease.

Once at the ground, it certainly is different to any other stadium on the outside. The entire stadium is covered in a grey metal box, more or less translucent so you can just see the stadium inside. Had it not been for thart translucency it would probably have been pretty dull, but the overall effect was actually pretty distinctive.

Inside they’ve given it a bit of thought too. Realising a 3rd division side won’t get crowds of 50,000 except in their dreams, they’d gone for a seating pattern of mainly grey seats, but with random multicolour seats scatter throughout. The effect is a kind of camoflage for low crowds, avoiding the bright glare of empty plastic that normally makes unfilled all-seaters look so empty.

The final thing that made it had to watch the game was the sun. It was dazzling above the roof of the stand opposite, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one looking a the shadow creeping up the stand and waiting for it to reach me, and block out the glare. And I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who regretted it when it did, as the temperature immediately dropped like a stone. I could almost see the ice forming on my clothes as the shadow worked up them.

It’s days like that, when you see footballers running round in shorts and t-shirts, that you think perhaps they do earn their money sometimes.

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