There aren’t many weeks where you get to be part of the ‘Yellow Wall’, go to the outposts of Mossley and Darwen, watch an international friendly between Argentina and Italy, before rounding it all off in the beautiful town of Harrogate. That was my week though.
I am old enough and lucky enough to have once stood on the Kop at Anfield. Done the Stretford End too and the Kippax. All pretty special. One of the few things left on my ‘to-do list’ was to visit Signal Iduna Park (or Westfalenstadion without sponsorship) and be part of the hosts incredible ‘Yellow Wall’.
Westfalenstadion has been the host to some incredible times, with a capacity over 80,000 and the largest terrace in Europe; the near 25,000 capacity Sudtribune. This is the ground where Liverpool beat Alaves 5-4 in the UEFA Cup Final, Scotland played Zaire here in the 1974 World Cup and Italy knocked Germany out of the 2006 World Cup in the Semi-Final. Not a bad history that is it?
An early morning express train from Cologne to Dortmund, the ground is a 45 minutes straight forward walk from the train station, just follow the crowds. Once at the ground, the sight is yellow wherever you look. For such a large ground, weirdly the turnstiles are all at the North End and then you make your way to whatever part of the ground you are in.
The standing areas are made up of individual blocks/pens, however they are strictly stewarded to make sure that the correct numbers go into the correct pen. It works, it works very well FA. Bring it back. Please.
With the atmosphere building towards kick off, the last 15 minutes before the teams come out was brilliant. A rousing “You’ll Never Walk Alone” just before the sides emerged into the sunshine.
When we got underway it was Borussia who took control, Chelsea loanee Batshuayi hit the post within the opening 60 seconds, in fact the opening 45 minutes was pretty much all one way. That the score was only 1-0 at the interval was done to lax finishing and some desperate last ditch defending. However, the goal had a moment of true class, a corner on the left wing was played into the near post at pace by another Chelsea ‘reject’ Schurrle, Batshuayi’s run gave him space and a deft flick with his right boot took the ball past Tschauner in the Hannover goal.
Dortmund didn’t have it all their way in the second half and as the clock ticked towards 90 minutes both the team and their fans started to tense up, in fact it was the home fans who looked to drag their heroes over the finishing line in the end with their rousing songs. In the end the solitary goal was enough for the 3 points as the hosts revival under coach Stoger continued.
My German adventure was over, back to Blighty.
seadogs manchester adventure part 1
Following a home game on Saturday, Scarborough Athletic had to make the trip to the suburbs of Manchester 3 times in 5 days, nigh on 700 miles of travelling. Hopefully the east/west split next season will assist to make weeks like this a thing of the past.
The travelling did not do them any harm on Tuesday, they dominated Mossley from the word go, Grimsby Town loanee winger Wright was the main threat, he tormented his marker all night. It was from the right that Athletic’s opener came from, Valentine being on hand to put the ball over the line. A bullet header from striker Walshaw doubled the advantage before the break. It should have been more.
It was just after the hour, Walshaw practically walking through the home defence to get his second and his teams third. A late penalty brought Mossley some consolation, though to be honest a 1-3 scoreline was flattering to them.
matthews hits 4?
Does it always rain in Darwen? My fourth visit and it has rained every time. It also rained goals for Northwich Victoria and in particular Matthews. This match was over in the first 30 minutes, the visitors at that point were 4-0 up and in cruise mode. Debutant Halsall opened the scoring on the quarter of an hour mark, I thought he also scored the second a couple of minutes later. The NWCFL website gives it to Matthews.
If the goal was Halsall’s then Matthews opened his account five minutes later to make it 3-0 and another five minutes after that he made it 4. At this point there was a feeling of wondering at just how many Vics could score. Their foot came off the pedal slightly and they toyed with their hosts for the remaining hour.
A fifth was added with 20 minutes to go. Matthews got it. Now we just need to clear up, did he get 3 or was it 4?
good & bad
Friday was a rare opportunity to do something unusual for me, an international friendly. Argentina v Italy at the Etihad.
A night of complete contrast. For a friendly I thoroughly enjoyed what happened on the pitch, both sides showed a level of skill and technical doings that Southgate’s mob cannot attain. Really enjoyed it, liked Lanzini on the night in particular, Argentina deserved winners.
Off the pitch was awful. Huge queues to get in, how on earth do they get 50,000+ in here for a game. Good job we arrived at 6:45, 30 minutes to get in. No programme. £5 for a hot chocolate & diet coke. Probably a good job there wasn’t a programme.
However, the worst bit were those in attendance. Is this what a modern day popular event is like. People taking selfies from start to finish, rarely watching the game and do not even get me started on the Mexican Wave. In the end I was glad Messi didn’t get on the pitch, it would have been just stupid.
I finished my week off with another one that has been on my to-do list for far too long, Harrogate Town.
A pleasant train journey over to Harrogate, via Leeds, and a relaxing 20 minutes stroll to the CNG Stadium. I must say at this point that everyone I spoke to from the club was very friendly and helpful, a credit to Harrogate Town FC. I would also recommend ensuring you are hungry when you arrive, club caterers Burgers & More offer an excellent choice of scran.
Getting underway in the sunshine, this was a game that Town should not have too much trouble with, Trinity struggling at the opposite end of the table and their new boss Sinnott didn’t even get a honeymoon period when he recently took over.
Early exchanges were fairly even and the first chance of the afternoon fell to Trinity, quite how you do not score from a 3 on 1 breakaway I do not know, but Gainsborough managed it, Belshaw saving from Jarman. As we approached the 20 minutes mark Town took the lead, Knowles setting up Emmett who fired past Ravas , 1-0 to Town.
Town looked to stamped their authority on the game, Ravas saving from Knowles, but Trinity would not lie down as Belshaw save from Hinchcliffe, the game opened up, end to end stuff until the break.
Following the tea break Thomson hit the post before Trinity must have thought they had equalised on a couple of occasions, Belshaw saving from Jarman, quite how he kept out the follow-up I do not know, this was followed minutes later by a header from a corner being cleared off the line by a falling Leesley.
Trinity were on top, but then as this game does, they paid for not taking their chances, Beck turning in a Burrell cross from close range. This game can be cruel at times. Trinity were beaten, their players looked a tad fed-up with that goal and it was Town who finished the stronger. Whilst Harrogate deserved the win, I think a 2 goals margin was flattering.
The return journey was just as pleasant. A great day out.
stats ‘N’ stuff
games: 4 (+ 1 friendly which I don’t count)
goals: 12 (+2)
total att: 82,889
milestones: Borussia Dortmund v Hannover 96; highest ever attendance – 81,360 / total attendances past 500,000. AFC Darwen v Northwich Victoria; 300th goal of the season – Matthews or was it Halsall, who knows? Harrogate Town v Gainsborough Trinity; 10 games since a 0-0.
totals – all-time
total att: 549,592
female officials: 14
red cards: 102
highlight of the week: Has to be being part of the yellow wall. Not every week that you get a chance to do something like that. Incredible.