Olympiastadion Berlin is steeped in history
It was April 2017 and I returned to watch Hertha Berlin at the Olympiastadion for the first time in 30 years, the opponents were Bundesliga strugglers Wolfsburg.
Hertha’s home underwent a refurbishment in preparation for the 2006 World Cup finals. Gone are the days of 1987 when the fans bought a cushioned seat to place on the concrete stepped banks. The Oympiastadion was built for the 1936 Olympic games, an edition dominated by black American Jesse Owens. The stadium also hosted games during the 1974 World Cup finals.
The Berlin transport system is not only efficient, it’s very cheap. A group ticket costs a little over €21 for either 4 or 5 travellers. A match day ticket for Hertha Berlin in the famous Ostkurve cost €18.60.
Upon arriving at the nearby U-Bhan station it was apparent that we were not the only English fans who had traveled over for the game, we were greeted by a number of Stoke City and Port Vale fans.
A nearby mini-fanpark provided the pre-match entertainment, the price of a beer was a cool €3. One thing that strikes me about German football fans is the fashion, they have no shame in wearing full denim covered in team patches and hanging numerous scarves from their waist line.
A smile was brought to the faces of our party upon entering the stadium turnstiles, beer! It was on sale everywhere whether it be at the numerous kiosks or staff wearing beer backpacks. Of course it wouldn’t be Germany without pommes unt bratwurst.
A number of Hertha Berlin staff were collecting personal data for the purposes of conducting primary research in order to identify ways to improve the match day experience. Switched on and bi-lingual, the researchers were not short of volunteers willing to disclose email addresses and mobile numbers, English clubs take note.
How often have you heard fans say that ‘running tracks kill the atmosphere at football grounds”? For those of you not familiar with the Olympiastadion, it has a running track, did it dampen the atmosphere? Absolutely not. The bulk of the hardcore Hertha fans sit in the Ostkurve, orchestrated by an MC with a PA system. The fans sang non-stop for 90 minutes, mainly to the tune of HA OH HE – Hertha BSC. The 2,000 or so traveling Wolfsburg fans could hardly be heard, having said that they had little to cheer about during last season.
Both teams had something to play for, the hosts European football and the visitors were fighting relegation to Bundesliga 2. The game wasn’t a classic, Hertha were fortuitous and ran out 1-0 winners with thanks to a header from Vedad Ibisevic. The visitors should have won the game by three or four, Yunus Malli should have opened the scoring for the visitors inside the first minute.
Despite a relatively flat game it was an excellent day overall. The cost of flights, hotels and match tickets were of outstanding value. Beer and food was cheap too, in Germany you’re never far away from either. Mike Hunter gave his verdict on the experience.
The fan park inside the stadium grounds was good. The atmosphere was much more relaxed than in England, both sets of supporters were drinking with each other without incident.
The biggest issue for the nine members of our party was the smoking policy inside the ground. Sadly it seems that the Bundesliga are yet to adopt a smoke-free atmosphere.
The Bundesliga is well worth considering if you’re thinking of traveling to the continent to watch a game. The club staff were friendly but one thing to consider is match ticket availability. Our primary choice wasn’t Hertha but Dortmund, in the end it boiled down to availability of tickets. Hertha’s attendances can peak upwards of 60,000 meaning that you’re always likely to be able pre book tickets in good time.
Feel free to ask if you’ve got any questions about the trip – @inthestandsport
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