Some general impressions attending a European football game with my favorite German tean, TSV 1860:
The stadium looms like a smashed, opaque marshmallow. The grey skies surrounding it don’t dim the throng of fans filing off the subway and into the arena where we TSV 1860, a Munich soccer team, and another area team square off for the Germany National soccer league’s opening day.
Inside, the stadium is cavernous. The pitch is a sheet of emerald in two shades. There are the usual security guards and personnel roaming the field prior to the start of the match. The season ticket holders and soldiers for the TSV 1860 cause get seated on the north end of the stadium. They wear the turquoise, white and black colors as warpaint. They are a quietm sleeping army.
About four minutes before the start of the match, TSV 1860’s manager appears in front of the north end. In stunning unison, the army erupts. “Sechzig! Sechzig! Sechzig!” I get goose bumps and the game’s not started. Meanwhile, the lower ring of seats slowly fills in. This is very much how Duke basketball fans or Penn State college football fans must feel and look.
By game time, pomp and circumstance begins. The team’s anthem is appropriately one anyone could drink a large stein of beer with filled with oompahs, smiles and hearty German pride.
The team gets introduced. Giant flags wave and the north end becomes a colored collage as fans hold up large tracts of cardboard, forming a blue-and-white checkerboard. The TSV 1860 banner with the attacking lion logo, looking more like ancient heraldry than sport, rolls down from the second level. Someone else in the north end lights a flare.
The teams roll out. As they take the field, the north end banner gets rolled up and the cardboard gets crumpled and tossed out. Then, shirts are pulled off. In the center of the north end, a sea of singing, jiggling man flesh. The jodies and song begin almost immediately. Fervent, anxious and loud, the north end is alive now even before the the first ball is put in play.
About 17 minutes in, an American, Kenny Cooper, scores the first goal. He’s been in Germany about five days. The stadium explodes. The announcer offers his first name over the public address. We fill in his last. “Coooooooooper!”
TSV 1860 scores again later and goes on to win 2-0. In between, there are bratwursts, two beers, a hundred photos, several Twitter updates and a hundred jokes.
Thousands spill out of the stadium. The last carousing goes on through the subway ride back to the central train station in Munich. Echoes of a day that belonged to the lion.