We announced our attendance at the VfL Bochum vs Brentford FC fixture earlier in the month, now comes the post-match report. TSG Dülmen e.V. were host to the match in the town of Dülmen, a small place between Münster and the Dutch border, basically existing as a residential town for the business types working in Düsseldorf, Dortmund etc.
These pre-season friendlies between big clubs from different countries are now often held at grounds of smaller regional-league teams. The actual competing clubs often don’t want to host the games. A casual test game will always draw less spectators than a league game, because the pace and quality is lower, but they still have to pay staff the usual amount. Unless Ipswich Town host someone like Bayern München, it’s risky. Smaller provincial Football clubs however need revenue sources out-of-season. A game in their sports park between two pro clubs from Germany and England will draw out the locals for the day when the facilities would otherwise remain unused. If this keeps small clubs going and helps the local well being and spirit, I’m all for it.
I arrived after kick-off thanks to Dülmen being a town where taxis are seemingly forbidden, thus in the long walk from station to ground, I didn’t see a single one that could have picked me up. The small but well maintained sports park was alive with activity. The stewards and police presence were blatant at the entrance, but they did not impose themselves on any of the fans at any point of the day, so they were easily forgotten. Attendance must have been somewhere between 1 and 2 thousand, with Brentford bringing a couple hundred. Great effort for a wet Wednesday evening in a flat, humdrum part of Germany.
Now, we all know that to be the biggest bully in the playground, you have to beat the biggest bully in the playground. English hooliganism during European competition trips in the ’80s and ’90s has earned the English the reputation for being the toughest and meanest. Nowadays, we are seeing the result of that. Mobs from a variety of countries choose the English as their targets for aggression; A) for revenge and B) to become that biggest bully. Pre-season friendlies are not an exception, rather an opportunity for ultras and hooligans to have a nibble at English fans and prove their mettle. Thus this fixture naturally had potential for trouble. But, all attendants, both Bochum and Brentford, had something far more important on their minds.
Drinking. I arrived and immediately got talking to a couple of well-traveled Brentford lads, inviting me for a beer almost immediately. Many fans were simply milling around the two fully-staffed outdoor bars chugging down the pils and completely ignoring the Football. Brentford won the game 1-0 with a goal in the first half. Nobody I spoke to knew who scored. It was just a beer fest, with everyone talking part. Every Brentford fan I spoke to was really happy to chat and share stories, whilst maintaining the usual harmless North-South piss-taking. Way better attitude then anyone I’ve ever spoken to from Chelsea or Arsenal.
After the game and the Bees continued to show great spirits and worked hard to make sure everyone got the correct travel arrangements in the right direction to get home safely. I was lucky enough to catch the last train back with the Brentford lads I had first spoken to, thus the journey was a beery one. The day was worth every penny, proceeds going to a sports club that really deserve it for their hospitality. If any of the Bees I had the pleasure of meeting read this, I would like to thank them for their great sportsmanship, kindness and banter. (And sorry for disappearing from that pub; I went to get a kebab but then couldn’t find my way back. I’m still up for helping you come across for a Bundesliga game and another piss-up at some point).