Gelsenkirchen - Touted as the Mother of all Derbies, witnessing the Revierderby in the flesh is an experience you’re likely to never forget.
Banter on the train
Coal versus steel, Royal Blue against Black and Yellow - underpinned by a long-standing game of oneupmanship for good measure: FC Schalke 04 against Borussia Dortmund is a fixture like no other in world football.
Travelling via rail may not be the most glamorous option to get to Gelsenkirchen, the home of Schalke, or Dortmund, but only by traversing the heavily industrialised Ruhr valley can you gain a real insight into German football's fiercest rivalry.
A mere 20 miles separate Gelsenkirchen and Dortmund, and with several short-distance trains connecting the cities, it's only a matter of time before both sets of fans cross paths on their way to either the Signal Iduna Park or, in this case, the Veltins Arena. Pre-match banter is the norm in a vocal ding-dong that dates back to the local foes' first meeting in 1925.
Hours before kick-off in Gelsenkirchen on Matchday 6, an expectant buzz fills the air outside the stadium as fans queue in their thousands to get a taste of the spine-tingling ambience. A sea of blue and white interspersed with the odd yellow and black Dortmund jersey: it's a scene that is only truly complete with the obligatory Bratwurst and beer combo.
As breathtaking as the atmosphere may be at most Bundesliga matches, the deafening backdrop of the Revierderby truly sets itself apart as one of a kind, reaching its climax at kick-off when followers of both clubs really make their presence felt be it chanting, hoisting huge banners into the sky or performing elaborate choreographies. It's only natural that the occasion should get to the players, with the Ruhrpott rumble traditionally being a heated affair to say the least.
“I don't think there's a derby as emotional and noisy as this one,” opined Schalke forward Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting after notching a goal in Saturday's 2-1 win. “It's difficult to imagine anything better than scoring in the Revierderby.“
Ultimately, though, it's bragging rights that matter most come the final whistle, as the assembled press found out down in the catacombs of die Knappen's Royal Blue temple after the game. “As a Schalke player, you couldn't ask for a better way to spend your birthday,“ said goalkeeper Ralf Fährmann, before downcast Dortmund defender Neven Subotic summed up what it felt like to be on the losing side perfectly: “The fans won't forget [this defeat] for a long time.”