Date: 5th November 2010
Match: Schalke 04 - St. Pauli 3-0 (Bundesliga)
Attendance: 61 673
When fixtures for this weekend were confirmed by DFB I noticed Schalke 04 were at home to St. Pauli, the cultverein from Hamburg, on Friday evening. There were a couple of games in 2. Bundesliga as well this evening but with VELTINS-Arena (Arena auf Schalke) being a ground on my "must do" list the choice was quite easy. My day started in Eindhoven though but with Düsseldorf, where my hotel was, being only a 2 hours train journey away it wasn´t a too complicated trip. As the train passed the Netherlands/Germany border there was suddenly plenty of border police on the train. I obviously look suspicious as I was asked all kind of questions. "What have you been doing in Holland", "Where in Germany will you be staying", "What will you be doing in Germany" etc. I kept my cool though, showed them my passport as well as my football tickets. "Ahh, ein Fussballfan" was the reply and suddenly I was of no interest to them anymore.
As I made my way to Gelsenkirchen later in the afternoon it had started to rain and it really felt like a November evening. Because of the rain the roof on VELTINS-Arena was closed, making it a massive indoor arena. Until 2001 Schalke 04 played their home matches at the classic Parkstadion. Parkstadion is of course for people in Sweden most famous for hosting the legendary "Snow match" between Sweden and Austria in 1973. Parkstadion was outdated though and in 2001 Arena Auf Schalke was opened. This stadium was built close to Parkstadion and with a retractable roof this was a thoroughly modern multifunctional arena. For domestic matches the capacity is around 61 000 and for international matches 54 000. Veltins-Arena, as the new stadium was renamed a couple of years ago, hosted several matches in the 2006 World Cup as well as the 2004 Champions League final. The opening match of the 2010 Ice-hockey World Championships was played here in front of a world record crowd of 77 803.
Before this match Schalke 04 were in a relegation spot but apparently my presence lifted the home team. After some clinical finishing by Raoul (and some incredible misses by St. Pauli) Schalke won by 3-0 which moved them just above the relegation zone. My journey back to Düsseldorf was supposed to go as easy as the journey to VELTINS-Arena did. The tram back to Gelsenkirchen went OK. I boarded the 23.30 train (as planned). The train was packed with both Schalke and St. Pauli fans heading back to Düsseldorf. When we arrived in Oberhausen the driver announced we wouldn´t go any further, at least not for the 30 minutes. Total confusion onboard the train. 30 minutes later a train did leave for Duisburg, from another platform, and after another 30 minutes the Düsseldorf bound train started to move again. We arrived at 01.15 in Düsseldorf, only 65 minutes late. My view of Deutsche Bahn was forever changed......
Queuing for beer....
View of play
St. Pauli fans