My love for Simple Minds, football and taking pictures all came together in Dortmund in 1995.
Without following my favourite band around Europe, I would have never set foot in Dortmund.
Then freelancing for EMPICS, my life for about six months consisted of nothing but rock concerts and football matches. A new town or city every day with the aptly named Travelling Man by Simple Minds playing in my car, clocking up an unbelievable mileage count.
The only stress I had was persuading the bank to keep lending me money as posted cheques piled up on my door mat at home as I was not around to pay them in – no BACS in those days… The other stress was buying and posting films. No digital photography in the mid-90s.
During a telephone conversation informing my location on that particular day as being in Dortmund, at the Westfallenhalle, I had no idea what the question, “have you been to the Westfallensadion” would lead to!
As hordes of German teenager lined the streets in a long queue for a Take That concert THREE days later, I could see the top of the Westfallenstadion from the concert hall.
Upon reflection is was like Mount Fuji waving to me from every possible angle when I am in Japan.
To cut a very long story I ended up covering Borussia Dortmund v Kaiserslautern.
I soon got a staff job at EMPICS and I was soon catapulted into Europe to follow the fortunes of Borussia Dortmund as official photographer of the UEFA Champions League.
In 1997 I opted to cover the UEFA Cup Winners Cup Final and the UEFA Cup Final instead of going to the UEFA Champions League Final in Munich. I rarely watch football on TV. I have nothing against Juventus but was rooting for BVB as they became triumphant and Kings of Europe.
With any excuse to go to Tokyo, I documented them win the Toyota Cup defeating Cruzeiro 2-0.
As I grew, BVB grew and so did their stadium. Over the next few years, the stadium grew new tiers, new roof tops, new walls and just got bigger and bigger.
Now everyone loves Dortmund. Everyone knows of Klopp, the Westfallenstadion and especially the Yellow Wall, the Südtribüne. The near 25,000 fans behind the goal.
From 1996 up until now, the stadium has grown from 42,000 to 81,000.
It is the most iconic stadium in so many ways.
When I try to explain stadium art, I show them images of the Westfallenstadion.
When I try to explain football art, I show them images of the Westfallenstadion.
When I try to explain the best football club shop and merchandising range, I show them images of the Westfallenstadion.
When I try to explain the best fans, I show them images of the Westfallenstadion.
And when people ask what do other countries do differently, I show them images of the Westfallenstadion
I have a few projects up my sleeve at the moment. Amazon thankfully sells amazing old football books for £1!
I have found some right bargains from Allsport’s Visions of Sport to some great Manchester United books.
One of my German colleagues, Reinaldo Coddou H., has been working very hard on a wonderful project called HOME or HEIMAT in German.
Reinaldo did say that he would kindly give me a copy, but I could not wait!
The Postman just delivered it, and my eyes are wide open.
OK Reinaldo is a friend – I LOVE his book on Argentinian Football.
This is certainly not being kind to a friend – I simply have to enthuse and give it nothing but a five star rating.
It is a real book. Not fluffy one like an American tourist enthusing about Edinburgh, but spectacularly real and gritty with a Glaswegian vibe.
It’s wonderfully put together too. It’s an art I did not know existed until I authored my book. Picture selection, picture story telling, the order of images is vitally important. Pictures flung together rarely work.
It is anything but KrautRock. The famous Germain trait of Klaus Dinger – having repetitive rhythms is not there.
As you Waltz through every page, it is like an Opera, creating the issue of being magnetised by what is in front of you but knowing there are other pages to turn.
The next time I want to describe the Westfallenstadion, I will simply present them this amazing book and say THIS is the home of BVB.
From the mens toilets, showing the marvellous German fan culture on the Südtribüne, to the groundsmen to beautiful images of the stadium from around the suburbs. It’s wonderful and very Reinaldo!
Since Klopp went to Anfield, my little Jurgen Klopp figure has gone missing in my office.
However, this book more than replaces a wonderful reminder of a football club some 900km from my home.
….es ist wunderbar!