Planes, trains and automobiles certainly sums up the latest leg of our European adventure.
We drove down to Manchester to pick up our flight to Dusseldorf on Monday afternoon and after a seamless trip through customs, we were in the bar with like-minded souls ready to descend on Germany. One welcome visitor in the bar was Ryan ‘Over the Wall’ Taylor who was a top lad, mixing with a very appreciative audience and happy to pose for any photo request and smiling throughout. Out of the 200 or so people on our plane, I reckon 190 were of the Mag persuasion and it was noisy on board to say the least. There was nee chance of getting a quick kip in before the proper festivities started. After a quick train from the airport, we met a couple of our mates in a local bar in Dusseldorf and the ‘couple of pints’ before bed turned into the usual 1.30am finish and a sore head on match day morning.
Onto the day of the game and after a hearty McDonalds’ breakfast, well not really hearty as either I am getting greedy, or the German version of a breakfast is sized for a 5 year old?
We then jumped the free train to Dortmund (nice touch having free travel with your match ticket) and arrived into the station just before mid-day. After getting directions to the square, we found ourselves a spot and started on the lager, it was going to be a long day. The Sacriston posse were well already well encamped outside a bar so it just seemed polite to join them.
Over the course of the next 4 hours or so, the mixture of beer, music and great Geordie crack meant time just flew by. It was a magnificent turnout and we bumped into loads of Durham Mags young and old. It seemed everyone who I’ve met following our just and righteous cause over the last 40-odd years or so was in that square. These are great times to be alive. The young lads in the audience looked like they had drank, ate and sniffed anything they had come into contact with for 24 hours so there were some canny sights to behold. I have to say the atmosphere was superb though, well policed and good natured on both sides. It seemed everyone was soaking the experience up in the right way. As is the norm, we did, however, need to discuss an important issue. Is it ever right for a man in his 40s to be carrying a small shoulder bag? The general consensus was a resounding ‘no’ apart from Sid who was adamant it was a worthwhile and practical accessory. Suffice to say it was Sid wearing the man bag.
After a drink fuelled Euro-pop lunchtime session in the square, we headed up to the stadium on the tram a couple of hours before kick-off. The stadium was impressive in it’s simplicity. It was nothing flashy, just a massive concrete arena with space for 80+ thousand fans. We found ourselves in a Dortmund supporters bar and were welcomed with open arms by everyone we met. There was even a couple of Ukrainian-Dortmund fans with their kids who asked us for photos. When I quizzed them why, they said they had been in Newcastle for the first game and had been made to feel so welcome, they wanted to return the favour and make sure we felt at home. Nice touch and lovely lads who will spread the word about our great city. Whoever they met in the Toon that night, you were a credit to Newcastle United and our support.
After topping up an already significant amount of lager in the supporters bar, we headed into the ground. We all had tickets in the Newcastle end and our seats were at the top of the away section. Great to see Ronnie and Hazza up there along with other members of the TF tifosi who are all top lads.
I’ll not bother with the details of the game as this isn’t really the platform for that. I think Sam Dalling summed it up much better than I could in his match report. We do seem to have a lot of fans who just want to cause confrontation and they don’t seem to care who that is with. I’m not sure of the logic behind this but crowding walkways when there are empty seats right in front of you seems daft to me. But maybe I’m just getting old. The Yellow Wall was impressive though, there was a stage in the second half when it seemed to be bouncing to the beat of the home fans as they pogo’d (Punk reference, ask your Dad) up and down in unison.
After the game it was back into the town and back to Dusseldorf for a nightcap or two. Bit of a downer after the performance but in the cold light of day, this was a fantastic trip regardless of the result. We must have had 10,000+ Mags in Dortmund and I would guess only around half of them were at the stadium. People travelled to just soak up the atmosphere and share the experience in a great city with friends young and old and great to see the heart of NUFC beating as strong as it ever has.
One of the lads in our group asked ‘could you ever imagine this when Ashley was in charge’? The emphatic answer was NO F***ING WAY.
The morning after the night before was rough with beer sweats lasting well into the late afternoon. Not the greatest sight I’d imagine, but it was bloody worth it. I hope all got home safe and well from Berlin, Munich, Amsterdam and any other convoluted travel arrangements they embarked upon just to get there. Your combined efforts made this a memorable occasion.
Onwards to Paris at the end of the month. We can still qualify for the knock out stages and it ain’t over till it’s over. See you there.
Finally, I hope everyone remembers this trip for what it was – another chance to follow our team in the Champions League after 20 years out in the cold. Results will come and this one wasn’t the best, but I loved every minute of it. It was a pleasure to catch up with lads I hadn’t seen for years and spend time with lads I have known for years (and their sons and Grandsons).
You are all Mags of the highest order.
Dave – Ted – Edwards