Berti Vogts, Günter Netzer, Jupp Heynckes, Rainer Bonhof– all legends in Germany – helped make Borussia Mönchengladbach the only serious opposition to Bayern Munich for much of the seventies.
Due to their youthfulness the team was known as Die Fohlenelf – the eleven foals – and in the 1970s they won the Bundesliga five times, the Uefa Cup twice and were runners up in the European Cup final of 1977, losing to Liverpool.
I can’t remember when Borussia Mönchengladbach first came into my consciousness. Probably flicking through Uefa Cup scores at some point in my school days. It was cemented in my teens as a lyric by Wirral indie outfit Half Man Half Biscuit with the line “Supercalifragilistic Borussia Mönchengladbach” from the band’s track The Bastard Son of Dean Friedman.
With this song ringing in my ears, I jumped on a train from Düsseldorf – a great base in the heart of Rhineland football – for the 20-minute hop to Mönchengladbach. [Continues]
The visit of Eintracht Frankfurt
On my visit to Borussia Park the opponents were Eintracht Frankfurt. I am relatively club-agnostic in Germany but I know for sure that Eintracht Frankfurt are not among my favourites. Partly because Andreas Möller played for Eintracht. England fans will remember him as the guy who scored the winning penalty for Germany against England at Euro ’96 and the proceeded to strut in the most ridiculous manner around the Wembley turf in celebration.
The match at Borussia Park itself was frenetic and end-to-end, resulting in a come-from-behind 3-1 win for the Frankfurters, but it was one of the most entertaining league games I’ve ever been to. A great deal of that was down to the fans from both sides. [Continues…]
Eintracht filled their allocation with a vocal and at times antagonistic hardcore of ultras, while the unsegregated nature of Bundesliga football meant that pockets of away fans could be found in the home section and enjoy the match without issue. A little like rugby and cricket matches in the UK and mixed pockets in football – such as Craven Cottage (Fulham) – where there is no segregation and the atmosphere benefits as a result.
You can swig beer in your seat in the Bundesliga (unlike FA matches in England) and in some grounds, such as Hamburger SV’s Imtech Arena, they even bring the beer to you! The downside is that spectators can also smoke, so I found myself downwind from four smokers at Borussia Park, which wasn’t cool.
For their part, Borussia’s Nord Kurve (North Stand) has to be one of the best Tribünes (kops) in Germany. Vocal from start to finish, bouncing up and down, flags and arms waving. It was a brilliant face-off between the home and visiting fans at either end, although at half-time there was some silliness between the visitors and neighbouring home fans with plastic beer cups and insults being thrown. As opposing fans were separated by a net, those throwing beer only managed to douse their own side.
Watch Borussia Mönchengladbach fans at their vocal best pre-kick off:
How to get to Borussia Park
Borussia Park (capacity: 54,000) is a wonderful modern stadium [built for] the 2006 Fifa World Cup in Germany. As such it’s on a space way out of the city centre. There are shuttle buses from the main station (Mönchengladbach Haubtbahnhof) on the Platz der Republik side. This is free and can be boisterous if light-hearted.
Make sure you get back on the right bus on the way back to the “MG Hbf” – I managed to get on the wrong bus and ended up at the next station down the track.
The atmosphere at Borussia Park was definitely better natured than my first Bundesliga match, where I had witness around 50 Hamburg fans charging the Werder Bremen enclosure 20 minutes before kick-off. The police broke that up, but it was a massive culture shock for me.
Like a lot of the stadiums in Germany, Borussia Park is a long way out of the city but it is well worth the effort and I paid less than €45 for an upper tier mid-stand seat.