Thursday, 15 September 2011

Why the Gooners taunted the Germans with the chant: "Are you Arsenal in disguise?"

New for 2011/2012 on AshburtonGrove.co.uk is a series of articles about the ups and occasional downs of being a Gooner at an away match. Here Roger Mackness, gives his experiences of being one of 1,500 Gooners at Arsenal's first Champions League group game of the season.


The first away game in the group stage of the Champions League is always a rush to plan. Flights suddenly rise in price and with no organized trips from the usual suspects, myself and another die hards ended up booking the trip at the last minute. Consequently the hotel we got was in a remote suburb some 15km from the centre of Dortmund.

We arrived at the hotel at 10.30pm on Monday after a 40 Euro taxi and found it was closed! Not a great start we thought however within fifteen minutes an apologetic owner arrived, bought us a beer in the hotel and then drove us to the nearest bar for more…….surely the Germans are not all like this, we thought.

The next day, slightly hungover we took a train into the centre where another helpful local approached and asked us where we wanted to go, obviously it wasn’t sight-seeing we were after so although he was bemused by the early start he took us to the “Alt Market” as this was the area recommended by the Arsenal website to meet for a beer.

Already a sea of red and white, groups of Gooners were sat outside and with waitress service, most did not move for the next six or seven hours. As the beer started flowing gradually it became louder and the odd game of football ensued although this was generally stopped quickly by the local old bill as soon as the wayward shots started to endanger the local shoppers (one did look a little like Bendtner!)

The square was also home to the Borussia Dortmund fan shop and a fountain with a statue, this was to become a centre point of much good hearted banter between the two sets of supporters as the odd drunken brave from either side would try and dress the figure in their teams colours whilst trying avoid falling into the water, a feet that all did not manage, one particular Gooner may well have had to shop for emergency clothes!


By 6pm there were not too many sober fans (myself included) but the good humour remained on both sides, the odd song went a little too far (……..and the RAF from Arsenal shot them down) but either they didn’t understand or weren’t bothered. Any songs sung back to us from the locals were generally greeted with “we don’t know what you’re singing, we don’t know what you’re singing!”

At 7pm we jumped on a train to the ground, the carriages were as full as The Victoria line usually is and the noise from both sets of fans was deafening.

Unlike the ridiculous no alcohol rule we have for Champions League nights there were plenty of beer tents outside the ground so my now fluent “Zwei Biere Bitte” was still impressing the locals.

The ground is magnificent but the setup is strange. There is no segregation at the turnstiles or on the concourse and fans were happily mingling before the game and at halftime. I was told this was usual apart from when they entertain Schalke, their main rivals from 20km away.

The game itself passed by in a blur, the noise was quite breathtaking, 63,000 fans ALL singing and bouncing around was a sight to behold and even when RVP scored the noise level remained the same.

I think it was fair to say we defended pretty well but despite their constant attacks, there was a familiar mixture of poor shooting and overplaying from Borussia which lead to a chant from ourselves of “ARE YOU ARSENAL IN DISGUISE!”

With the usual wonder goal that we seem to concede late on the game finished with both sets of fans relatively happy and we all filtered out together in the search of more Lager!


The team whilst on the back foot did seem a lot more committed than of late and most came over to show their appreciation at the end, lead by RVP with the customary shirts thrown into the crowd.

I have to say on the normal away trips, you do have to be a little on your guard and any friendship from the locals is taken with caution as you never know what’s around the corner (Fenerbahce springs to mind!).

The Dortmund fans however are the best I have ever encountered, you can see why there is no segregation. My German is about as good as my Mongolian so struggling to understand which way to go a young German lad called Taimo showed us the train we needed, got off at the stop we wanted and then took us to a local bar and bought us a drink before sending us back to the Alt Market.

If this had happened anywhere else I would thought we being taken to an ambush of angry rivals but the genuine friendship was so common we realised that they are just good people.

We ended up in a bar full of locals and stayed there until long into the night with more singing and banter

The next day was a recovery day really and although we did try to drink through the hangover, the scene of yesterdays event was back to normal, a scattering of weary looking Gooners counting down the hours to departure time and locals going about their normal day.

Despite my usual fear of flying into a mountain we were soon back on the ground and thoughts are now turning to Marseille, I’ve a feeling that will not be so friendly!


AshburtonGrove.co.uk is looking for a fan heading to Tottenham on October 2 and also someone heading to Marseille on October 19 to write about their away day experience. If you'd like to get involved, contact us via Twitter or Email.



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