The Yellow Wall at Borussia Dortmund’s iconic Westfalenstadion stadium has huge notoriety not just in Germany, but across the world as creating one of the most atmospheric noises in the game.
Rivalling the likes of the Kop at Anfield and Celtic’s Jock Stein Stand, the 25,000 capacity wall is the largest freestanding stand on the continent.
Being able to boast such a fanatical support can intimidate opponents as well as enabling the club to have a regular stream of support since some fans will go purely for the buzz of being part of a lively contingent of fans.
Irrespective of the team’s fortunes, many Dortmund fans live for the weekend and being able to take their place on the wall. It’s escapism at its best for many. It also creates the tag which makes Dortmund a big club in the long-term.
Standing at 131ft high and 328ft long, the Yellow Wall is one of the most spectacular sights in the game on match day. To be able to withstand 25,000 fans bouncing up and down every home game means it must be one hell of a sturdy structure.
An average attendance of 79,496 was the highest in the entire league last season, despite the struggles under Peter Bosz before Christmas. Even though they finished way above Dortmund, Bayern Munich had a lower attendance average of 75,000.
Only when roughly 15,000 fans boycotted the match against Augsburg in February did the Dortmund attendance drop. This was purely to salvage the purity of the spectators’ experience at the risk of being taken over by the commercialism of Monday night football on TV.
This regular level of support is testament to the passion of those who wear their yellow and black colours with pride week in week out. Finishing a mammoth 29 points off top spot did not deter fans from showcasing why the venue is on the bucket list for many travelling football fans.
Such support is exactly why Dortmund should be challenging for the title more consistently as they can attract an unflinchingly loyal fan base in a cauldron-like atmosphere. Visiting Dortmund should be an intimidating proposition, and as Lucien Favre’s side demonstrated during the opening day win against RB Leipzig, they have the quality to reward their superb support.
Gathering in the city centre before every home game, fans take their own pilgrimage by walking roughly half an hour to the stadium, getting increasingly vocal as they approach the ground.
German football is blessed with a spectator experience which is envied by fans across the continent. Dortmund’s cult following is evocative of this, but it is not alone.
From a personal point of view, I have witnessed German football in the flesh once as Hamburg beat Hertha Berlin 2-0 at the Volksparkstadion in 2016, happier times for the club.
What impressed me about the experience was the combination of comfort and atmosphere. While we were not sat amongst the hard-core fans behind the goal, the level of noise circulating around the arena was immense, especially at the climax as the players lined up in front of the fans. We were allowed to take in the game whilst being served from our seats. No need to dash to the concourses if you fancy a pint during the game.
The attitude to beer consumption is a laissez-faire approach compared to what it is in England. The atmosphere is exactly how it should be: loud, impassioned, yet safe.
Seating and legroom was spacious and the view inside the 50,000 plus stadium was magnificent. The build-up to the game was also lively without ever being threatening. A signposted walkway to the stadium was lined with bars serving beer, heavily decorated with Hamburg pictures and colours. It was an enjoyable experience completely alien to what you get in England.
Dortmund epitomises this high level of spectator experience in Germany. As a result of their imposing amphitheatre and massive crowds, the club have been able to attract some big names to the club over the years.
The likes of World Cup winner Andreas Moller, prolific goal scorers Stéphane Chapuisat, Robert Lewandowski and more recently, infant prodigy Jadon Sancho, have moved to the club because of its status in the game.
Significant improvement on last season, and even some pressure to rupture the dominance of Bayern, would certainly go down a treat with the club’s supporters.
Nevertheless, you can guarantee those on the Yellow Wall will be rocking regardless of fortunes on the pitch. It’s practically in their DNA. Cut them open and yellow and black would gush out, such is their unwavering commitment to the cause.