Spirit High and Passion Pure.
Charlie Connelly

Spirit High and Passion Pure.
A Journey Through European Football.

"Spirit high and passion pure" ist der Reisebericht eine Engländers, der 14 europäische Länder besucht und sich dabei auf die Suche nach der Seele des Fußballs macht. Dabei stattet er Derry City einen Besuch ab und erzählt wie es dazu kam, dass der Klub aus Nordirland heute in der irischen Liga spielt, schaut auf den Färöer Inseln vorbei und berichtet von Vergangenheit und Zukunft des französischen Drittligisten Red Star Paris. Ebenfalls auf seiner Liste stehen Luxemburg, Italien, Österreich, Solwakei, Spanien, Bosnien-Herzegowina, Ungarn, Rumänien, die Niederlande, Norwegen und natürlich Deutschland. Hier schaut er am 21. Mai 2000 ausgerechnet bei der Zweitligapartie Borussia Mönchengladbach gegen Mainz 05 vorbei. Sein Bericht soll hier als Leseprobe dienen:

"A visit to Gladbach is a little like stepping back to the glory days of Simonsen, Netzer and Vogts. Well, off the pitch anyway. The fans queuing at the ticket kiosks are mainly clad in leather, topped with cut-off denim jackets. On the back of the denim jackets are sewn as many patches and badges as the owner can manage. Knotted to each wrist is at least one scarf.

Inside, the ground consists of three sides of steep terracing. The fact that it only costs a fiver to stand on the terraces increases the feeling that you are in a time warp. I buy my wurst and take my position amongst what appears to be the crowd at a `70s heavy rock festival.

Loud rock music thunders out of the speakers and the packed crowd jumps along in the time on the Nordtribune, where the most vociferous fans congregate. I soon realise that they are singing along and that the thumping rock tunes have been written specifically for Borussia. The rain fails to dampen their enthuisiasm. A man with a microphone interrupts the proceedings to read out the teams. As in Austria, he gives only the first names: the crowd shout back the surnames. "Danke" says the man with the microphone as he finishes reading the substitutes. "Bitte", reply 26,000 people.

Eventually a man with a mullet squelches on to the pitch with a guitar and proceeds to sing another bombastic heavy rock tribute to the Gladbach team. Unfortunately for him, his performance is overshadowed mid-song when the visiting Mainz fans unfurl a huge banner the size of the entire away terrace celebrating the friendship between the two sets of fans. Caught up in the bonhomie, I have already purchased a scarf which bears Borussia`s black-and-green on one half and Mainz`s red-and-white on the other, the two designs being joined by a handshake and the words Im Freundschaft. Borussia`s fans answer by holding up squares of green paper and bouncing up and down. This makes the north terrace look like a well-kept lawn undulating due to a horrendous mole problem.

The man with the guitar finishes his song with a thundering climax, raises a clenched fist in the air and bows his head in readiness for the applause. He passes a man dresses as a horse in full Borussia kit going the other way, who cavorts around on the snoggy turf to more Gladbach-inspired heavy rock."

Preis: 15,99 Pfund. Mainstream Publishing, 2000, ISBN: 1-84018-157-5.