Reading The Game
Reading The Game
Women know why a man calls another man "Pretty Boy". Probably to gain some modicum of revenge on those better favoured by the gods in matters of physical beauty.
This is Pretty Boy's story.
But not just his.
It's also the story of a marvelous day out.
Dortmund, Tuesday 9 May 1989.
DFB-Cup semi-final, Borussia Dortmund versus VfB Stuttgart, deep in the second half.
Corner, Möller takes.
Jürgen Klinsmann, the contortionist, twists himself into one of his extravagant pirouettes. Frank Mill plants both fists in Nils Schmäler's back, rises, heads home. 2-0.
Berlin, Berlin, we're going to Berlin.
The south stand is rocking. Yellow cards, red cards, wild challenges, final whistle, all over. Borussia Dortmund were in the 1989 German Cup final. The stadium was like a madhouse.
For me, the game had been a kind of comeback.
I didn't spend a lot of time in Dortmund back then, but I'd never lost touch with my friends from the early 80s, and a semi-final was a perfect occasion to renew old acquaintances.
So I headed to my local, surrounded by a sea of euphoric Borussia fans, sprayed with outpourings of the filthiest language by the stout Swabians who'd come along.
And believe me, being the target of Swabian foul language is an odd experience.
It bats back and forth, but it never crosses the line.
No fists fly. It has gone no further than charming, folkloric Swabian verbal blows before Jupp Schmiedeskamp, 300% Borussia fan, who will be referred to henceforth as the "Tour Guide", manages to find the right words.
"Put a sock in it, Schwabe , come with us. Free beer."
An offer no Swabian can refuse (and which quite possibly also explains our beautiful friendship with the Celts of Glasgow Celtic). Anyway - the local, bonds are forged, songs are sung. And as each new round is poured, someone begs:
"Swear at me, Swabians!" We laughed until the tears flowed.
It must have been around this time that it was decided - of course we were travelling. We were going to be there. Berlin, Berlin.
No sooner said than planned.
As morning approached I had to take the first train to Cologne, where I was already living at the time. Jupp Schmiedeskamp, the Tour Guide:
"OK mate, don't worry about anything, you'll be hearing from us."
Days pass. May is over. We know by now that we will be meeting Werder Bremen in the final. My telephone rings.
"Schmiedeskamp, travel bureau. We'll be waiting for you on Saturday 24.06., eleven in the morning at my place. Don't forget your passport."
"Who's going to be there?"
"A new lot."
The Tour Guide wasn't completely unfamiliar to me at the time. He'd been a regular at the modest pub I had once run with some friends in Dortmund. It was over the course of the next 48 hours, though, that we were set to become more than mere acquaintances.
Set off from Cologne about half nine, arrive at the meeting place at 11 on the dot.
As I entered the Tour Guide's cramped flat in north Dortmund, not far from Borsigplatz, I experienced the first magic moment (many more were to follow over the next two days).
This modest flat, more a Borussia Dortmund museum than a place to live, had a pocket-sized kitchen, and on the kitchen table in this pocket-sized kitchen stood a glass of pils.
Pilsner at eleven.
Pilsner that had been pulled with sublime and exemplary skill.
All the pils you see during commercial breaks on TV is bile and bilge compared to this.
DEPUTAT was to be my next initiation.
I knew it was a mining term. As a miner, my father had the right to a certain amount of coal for household use. Deputat.
The whole neighbourhood had it.
The Tour Guide was an employee of the Dortmunder Actien-Brauerei . DAB. Taking up much of the space on his b