13/07/2024
Home » Sensational Vierderby in Duisburg

A visit to MSV Duisburg was still on my agenda and the Revierderby Duisburg-Essen is back. I don’t have to think long. I gather a group of fanatics around me and we leave early for Duisburg.

We park the car at the Kalkweg and continue our way towards the Schauinsland Reisen-Arena (disgusting name), where it is already pleasantly busy about 2.5 hours before the match. Beer and Bratwurst are selling like hotcakes. You have to do some on a rainy Saturday. Soon we start talking to a group of Duisburg supporters, who are very interested in where we come from. As long as we don’t come from Essen, it’s fine. The Dutch can appreciate them in Duisburg. There will be more Dutch people present today, we are told. The Proud Generation Duisburg, one of the supporters’ groups, maintains close ties with the ultras of De Graafschap. Not much later, we see the first De Graafschap shirt walking by.

Mark Flekken

For many, the most famous Dutchman who has played for Duisburg in the past will be Mark Flekken. Between 2016 and 2018, Flekken played for Duisburg. The Duisburgers have mixed memories of his tenure, as is evident from the conversation with our new friends. Flekken was known as a very reliable goalkeeper and even scored a goal (with the heel at that). When they hear the name Flekken, however, the Germans immediately think of another moment.

After a goal by Duisburg in the match against Ingolstadt, Flekken was unsuspectingly drinking water in his goal with his back to the field. What he didn’t realize was that the goal had been disallowed for offside. More than ten seconds after the resumption of play, the ball was headed back after a cross, after which the unsuspecting goalkeeper stood like a statue and conceded a goal. An iconic moment, which Flekken was also able to laugh about afterwards. Fortunately, it did not stand in the way of his further career. Recently, Flekken was called up for the Dutch Efltal.

Downhill since the 80s

Since 2019, the Meidericher Spiel Verein (MSV) Duisburg has been at the third level in Germany. The blue and whites achieved their greatest successes in the 1970s. In 1979, it even reached the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup (the current Europa League), losing to Borussia Mönchengladbach. Since the relegation in 1982, however, things have gone downhill. Football was still played at the highest level, but Duisburg was never a fixture again. With the results of the last few years (places 12-15 in the 3. Liga), we have to be careful that the Duisburgers don’t slip even further. Back to the order of the day: the derby. The Zebras (as MSV Duisburg is also called) are dramatic to the season in the 3. Liga started and they occupied the last place before the start of the derby. Rot-Weiss Essen does considerably better with a 6e place. However, the ranking does not stop the supporters from flocking to the stadium. With almost 30,000 tickets sold, the stadium is almost sold out! Not only the home support is admirable, the supporters of Essen are also present in large numbers. No less than 5,000 tickets were made available for the guests from Essen in the south stand. These tickets were also sold out in no time. Insane!

Tense derby atmosphere

It had been restless in the Ruhr region all week. The stadiums of both teams were daubed with graffiti and at the station in Duisburg there was a confrontation between the supporters of Rot-Weiss Essen and the riot police. There is a large police force on the ground and the water cannons are strategically positioned to prevent a confrontation between the two groups of supporters.

Because it had been explicitly announced beforehand that Essen supporters would be banned from the home sections, the guests decided to visit the match in black (neutral) clothing. In the stadium I soon notice that I have been lucky again and had reserved seats next to a group of Essen supporters. I promise not to leave them behind, on the condition that they keep quiet about an Essen goal and give us a round if they win. Like a farmer with a toothache, they agree. Blöde Holländer, I hear them think.

An hour and a half before the game, the swear words are already flying back and forth. The supporters from Essen chant “Absteiger, absteiger!” en masse to rub salt in the wounds of the Duisburgers. This is immediately followed by a reaction from the home supporters: “Rot-Weiss Essen, fi#ken und vergessen!”. The derby can begin!

Impressive 3D choreo

The Duisburg supporters will present a beautiful three-dimensional choreography. In the middle, an upper body can be seen holding a blue heart in the hand. The heart is flanked by a sea of blue and white flags and the text “Mein Herz schlägt für dich”. The RWE supporters counter this choreography and display a banner with the text “Euer Herz wird heute gebrochen sein. Wir scheissen auf den Spielverein!”. The tone is set.

Then the competition. The guests from Essen get off to a great start and get a mega chance after two minutes of play. Former PSV goalkeeper Vincent Müller prevents an early deficit for the Zebras. After the promising start, the race collapsed. Both teams look nervous, it’s messy and they lose a lot of the ball. Most of the action can be seen in the stands, where a manhunt is being held for away supporters in the home sections. The riot police are frequently present in the sections to evacuate supporters.

As tame as the first half was, the second is as exciting. Duisburg seemed to be reborn and had four chances to open the score within three minutes in the second half. The highlight is Thomas Pledl’s kick from about twelve meters, which is saved by the keeper. After more than an hour of play, it is the guests from Essen who take the lead. The frustration of the Duisburgers is growing. Fireworks are thrown onto the pitch, the referee blows the whistle for the game and to make matters worse, no penalty is given after an alleged handball by RWE defender Alonso. The pouring rain is symbolic of what is happening in Duisburg this afternoon.

Turbulent final phase

Towards the end of the match, the sun comes out and the supporters prepare for a turbulent final phase. Duisburg pressed and in the final minute a deserved equalizer followed. Everyone in blue and white flies over each other. Our neighbours from Essen cannot escape the high-fives of the Duisburg supporters either.

In injury time, Duisburg still has the chance to win. However, substitute Benjamin Girth shoots against the RWE goalkeeper from close range. It starts to rain again and deep into injury time, Essen gets a corner kick. After it is repelled and can be reintroduced by the completely detached Felix Götze, it is supersub Mustafa Kourouma who sticks the dagger straight into the blue zebra heart: 1-2.

What a thrilling final phase! The first victory of Rot-Weiss Essen in Duisburg in 40 years is celebrated exuberantly with the 5,000 RWE supporters. The rival’s malaise is loudly applauded: “Vierte Liga, Duisburg ist dabei!”. With the game Duisburg is putting on the mat today, it will simply be very difficult to pick up points. The anger among the Duisburg supporters is great. With sirens blaring everywhere, we leave Duisburg. This was the day for me. And that tour of our neighbors from Essen? We never got that again.

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