I was excited to be heading to my first soccer game in Europe. I was in Germany visiting a cousin of mine and luckily for me, Borussia Monchengladbach had a home game. My cousin had secured some prime seats for us and I was pumped. To see any of the top league teams in Europe play! The chanting and the singing, even if it was an “unimportant” game, you would not know it by the crowds enthusiasm. This is the Bundesliga. Germany’s premier league where players homegrown and worldwide imports play in front of some of the most dedicated fans in sports, this is Borussia Monchengladbach, founded in 1900. The term Borussia is Latin for Prussia and Monchengladbach was formerly part of The Kingdom of Prussia.
We caught a bus in downtown Monchengladbach to shuttle us to Borussia Park. Built in 2004 and with a capacity for about 55,000 diehard fans, it is about a 15 minute drive to the outskirts of the city. The bus is packed with young fans, beer in hand and belting out pro Gladbach chants. Some of which are familiar as I had been able to watch clips of games on the net and I am eager to test out my German singing where we will be in a stadium so loud no one can actually hear me. As the crowd begins to fill in, I notice something you do not see in professional sports in The States. The visiting fans are separated into their own seating section away from the home crowd fans. A tactic that has been used for years to deter violence between fans. There is also a section dedicated to season ticket holders and hardcore fans. One glance around Borussia Park and it is easy to pick out. Massive flags are flying and the crowd is loud even before the game as started.
As the players take to the pitch the atmosphere fills with cheers. Flags waving and scarfs swinging. The next 90 minutes are a blast and I am understanding the allure of soccer in Europe. It is a city pride at its best. Where the players are fighting for the bragging rights for their fans. The history runs deep and so do the rivalries. As the clock neared the end of the game Gladbach was holding a 1-0 lead and held on for the win to the crowds delight and I am doing my best to singalong. Victory belongs to the home team and it feels great to be a part of it and the beers come out.
If you have never been to a top league game in Europe this is a must in your travels.