Adventures in Football #82: Paul Janes Stadion (Fortuna Dusseldorf II)
July 21, 2023
FORTUNA DUSSELDORF vs. BOCHUM (Friendly)
Guten Tag! This past weekend, I headed over to Germany with Mike Kilby for our mutual friend’s birthday party. Lukas, a Schalke fan, was turning 30. Given that Hagen is quite a long way to go for a party, we turned it into a weekender and visited Cologne and Dusseldorf. We had football and beers. It was great. Here’s a quick bit of background on the first ground we went to; the Paul Janes Stadion.
Janes was a Fortuna Dusseldorf player in the 30s and 40s and spent almost all his 21 year playing career at Fortuna, the last two as the club’s player manager. Between 1932-42 he was capped 71 times by Germany. A right back by trade he was a calm, smart player who served in the German navy during WWII. The stadium was named after him as he played almost all his football at the ground. The stadium was renamed in 1990. Before Janes’ name was posthumously attached, it was called the Fortunaplatz, or Flinger Broich, based on the street it sits on.
It played host to Fortuna Dusseldorf from 1930-1953 when Fortuna moved to the Rheinstadion. Dusseldorf moved again in 2004 to the Merkur Spiel-Arena. I’ve been to it. It’s this massive box. It looks like an IKEA. The Paul Janes stadium wasn’t demolished and remained part of Dusseldorf’s training complex. The II team play there. During pre-season Fortuna, making use of the facilities, play friendlies there. The capacity is 7,200 with 2,280 seated.
It’s interesting to note there’s quite a lot of police for a pre-season game. As we walk up towards the ground the path disappears and we’re walking up a road, which also has cars driving up towards the ground and an assortment of bikes and scooters too. It’s…an experience. Nobody runs us over and Mike apologies twice for making me come to this ground. No need for apologies Michael! We get to the ground unscathed and there are hundreds of empty beer bottles scattered around the outside of the stadium being collected by entrepreneurs. In Germany, you can take empty beer cans and bottles to shops for a 25-cent deposit. There were guys with shopping trolleys picking them up.
We head in and the ground is already quite full. We have a ticket to the side stand and sneak into the back row of it. Off to our left is the visiting Bochum support. They are fairly noisy but as the game progressed they had less and less to be cheerful about.
Opposite us is the stand, which is tidy enough. Behind it is a huge factory, which sums up how industrial this part of town is. Fortuna Dusseldorf feels like a club of the people, which makes it even stranger that they now play in a sanitised box. Where’s the factory belching smog out over the pitch?
Off to our right is the ultras congregating behind the goal. Mike said he didn’t get tickets in that end in case there was pyro and didn’t want to get into breathing difficulties. Which is funny because some Dutch bloke let off pyro right next to us the following day. It turns out, that end was less densely populated and would have been quite nice. Plus there was a fence at the back to lean on.
I check in on Futbology and I’ve now seen football in seven countries*. When I started doing this little project, it was to track grounds I’d already been to and, at a push, try and attempt the 92 Club. Now, I’m checking into the Paul Janes Stadion for a pre-season clash between two German teams.
*England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Italy, USA, Germany.
I’m reluctant to drink beer because I’m struggling with a bad back, already standing up all game, and don’t want to go and queue for it or the toilets. Mike heads off and gets me a Krakauer though, which is a smoky cured sausage they’ve slapped into a roll. As with all German sausages, the roll is shorter than the sausage, which is exactly how it should be. Nice bit of a mustard on this too. This is basic grub, but it delivers. The beer was Uerige Alt, which is a pretty good beer. I probably should have sucked it up and had a few.
Just to prove I actually went to the game, here’s me stood on the terrace. Factory in the background. The players head off to the changing rooms, which seem to be over behind the field behind the ground as they walk from there into this stadium, across the pitch and into the tunnel before re-emerging moments later.
Speaking of behind us; there is a training pitch and various other facilities off down there. Big German clubs seem to have a separate training facility that almost always has this sort of thing attached to it. It’s an impressive set up.
You can see “Flingeraner halten zusammen” on the back of the stand, which means “Flingerans stick together”. Flinger again referencing the street the stadium is on. The game starts and both teams have immediate joy. It’s Dusseldorf who take the lead, on 8 minutes, when a cross is missed by one forward and turned in by another, also unmarked, behind him. It’s Emmanuel Iyoha who finds the net. 1-0 to the hosts.
And the crowd goes wild! Well, not very. There’s some cheering but most people have barely settled in. You need to give the crowd a chance to get drunk before doing something cool! The crowd find something else to get excited about; namely the referee. He makes a series of blunders, getting the crowd on the far side increasingly more irate. He has blonde hair and a black beard. He looks a bit like Valtteri Bottas.
The match has a very clear plot; both teams are creative and chances are frequent. Both teams are defensively poor and both teams struggle to take their chances. Given the frequency and quality of the chances, this could easily have finished 5-4. It should have been 1-1 as Fortuna make a mess of something at the start of the second half and the ball looked over the line from the stand. Fortuna break down the other end and Jordy de Wijs, formally of QPR, makes it 2-0. The dummy to set it up was delightful.
The game continues at a pace with chances at both ends. During one frantic 30 second spell the woodwork is rattled at both ends. The referee continues to have a stinker. A player handballs right in front of us. It hit his one arm and he almost caught it with the other one. The ref just waves play on. Are you blind? Bochum play some really good football going forwards in the second half and should have scored before they eventually do. Moritz Broschinski netting. As I’m writing down the details Fortuna Dusseldorf go and score again. Mike has to nudge me so I don’t miss it going in. That’s Shinta Appelkamp. He has an intriguing youth record, having been born in Tokyo and represented Japan at youth level but has since been capped at U21 for Germany.
It’s a cracking game, especially for pre-season, and it could have been far higher scoring than it was. Something I’ve not touched on is how Fortuna Dusseldorf fans have turned the city into a red and white wonderland. Almost everything that can be spray-painted red and white has been.
This is at the train station! We also saw various electric boxes painted red and white, stickers on almost every lamppost in the entire city. It was an impressive display of club support and passion.
FULL TIME: FORTUNA DUSSELDORF 3 BOCHUM 1
Let’s get into the scores shall we? It’ll be interesting to see how it compares to some other grounds. Albeit slightly tainted because it’s pre-season.
It was pre-season but any game where the police have to turn up, in decent numbers, has something riding on it. The crowd were occasionally awake. The chanting did happen pre-game and during it. Bochum might have been a bit livelier if the team had put away half their chances. **½
It was 10 Euros, which comes out at £8.63. That’s pretty decent and it certainly allowed fans to attend the game in big numbers, although obviously not that big because the Merkur Spiel-Arena holds 54,600. ***
For a pre-season game it was really good. End to end action and loads of chances. Both of them played like they didn’t care what the score was going to be, which was nice. ***½
EASE OF ACCESS:
Even if you take the U-Bahn part of the way from the centre, it’s still a lengthy walk. If you drive there’s definitely car parking available, further down the street. I don’t know how easy that is to get into. I did find a parking garage but it’s also a kilometer away. **½
The facilities are ok for the level. If it was the normal ground for the club, it would be stretched. They have a beer tent and a grill alongside it. Most of the ground is completely exposed. This isn’t a warm country. Germany gets very cold in the winter, and it was very wet the weekend we were there. ***
I was glad we got the chance to get to the Paul-Janes Stadion. It’s a little piece of German football history and grounds like this don’t get preserved in England. Old grounds get demolished. Not converted into a training facility for the B team. It’s nice the main team comes and plays here at times too. You get a cup game in here and it would be great. Part of my low end for the rating stems from how much pain my back was giving me during the match. Which was exacerbated by heading into the Rheinkirmes after the game. A massive funfair by the Rhein River, which I spent about two hours hobbling around before calling it quits.