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The 25th of November





It was 25 November 2017. It was a Saturday to remember. It’s that Saturday after Thanksgiving, when you really only want to do nothing. You’re sick of leftovers, sick of shopping on Black Friday, and you just want to spend the day on your own couch.


For most Americans, this is the college football rivalry week. For me, it just so happened that my teams biggest rivalry game was on this day. The Revierderby is the biggest event of year for the fans of Schalke 04 and a team 30 min to the east.

Borussia Dortmund and Schalke boast one of the fiercest rivalries in European football. - © DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga

I got up at a decent hour, 8:30am (A Saturday wake up time before children), and started my pregame routine: Coffee followed by another cup of coffee. Usually I would watch with a group of friends at a location that I won’t mention here, but because it was the Saturday after Thanksgiving, it was closed. So my plan was to watch at home. My wife and I had planned to have friends come by and for us to go to the North Georgia Mountains for a stroll through some orchards and through the galleries of Blue Ridge.


Sat on my couch I started to watch the match. The game was in Dortmund, and you could sense the occasion. Schalke did not start well. A very strange Aubameyang goal, that should have been disallowed for hand ball put them into the lead. This goal completely took our team out of their concept and Dortmund started scoring more and more. And the WhatsApp messages started coming in in droves. There were references to Germany-Brazil, notes that our Thilo Kehrer should have been sent off, and even voice messages singing „ 4 to nothing,”.

Le tableau d'affichage de Dortmund / Schalke 04 Crédit: Getty Images

It was halftime it was 4:0 to the other team and I was pissed. I turned off the tv and went upstairs. I told my wife to let Missy and Pete know that they can come early, and that I won’t be watching the rest of the game and we can get out the door earlier for the 1.5 hour drive to the mountains.


I went upstairs and starting responding to those messages. “No, it’s not like Germany-Brazil, the Germans did not handle the ball into the goal. Thilo should have kicked him harder. “


I went to my closet and tried to work out which jacket, sweatshirt, whatever was going to be weather appropriate for that afternoon at the foothills of the Appalachian mountains. I checked the scores of the other Bundesliga games and even the other European leagues to distract me from what was happening.


Standing at my vanity while brushing my teeth after what was my 3rd cup of coffee, I get a message in soccer friends group. It was from Tobi who is a very sensible, analytical soccer fan. It said, “nur noch 1:4, da geht noch was.” I went back downstairs, turned the tv back on just in time to see the Burgstaller header goal replay. My wife informed me that Missy and Pete would be here in about 5 min.

DORTMUND, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 25: Guido Burgstaller of Schalke (19) celebrates after Naldo of Schalke (left behind him) scored a goal to make it 4:4 during the Bundesliga match between Borussia Dortmund and FC Schalke 04 at Signal Iduna Park on November 25, 2017 in Dortmund, Germany. (Photo by Christof Koepsel/Bongarts/Getty Images)

I put my shoes on, and stood on my hardwood floors in my living room. The remote control was in my hand so I could turn off the TV as soon as Missy and Pete arrived, and we could go. I see Tedesco dancing in the sidelines, the doorbell rings, my wife answers the door, my friends come in and I barely look in their direction. One could consider my demeanor rude and lacking social graces. I’m staring at the screen and Harit scores. I belt out a big “Jaaa.”


My wife is already apologizing for me. “This is how he is when he watches soccer.”

[This is partially true, but this is not how I am when I’m watching Hertha vs. Augsburg]


It‘s 2:4 out of Schalke’s perspective, and I begin explaining to Pete about these teams, who they, where they geographically located, how much I love one, and “hate” the other. I start gesticulating the yellow card movement. Aubameyang (remember him?) gets his second yellow and I say “und Tschüss.”

Schalke's Amine Harit celebrates his 4-4 equalizing score during the German Bundesliga soccer match between Borussia Dortmund and Schalke 04 at the Signal Iduna Park stadium in Dortmund, Germany, 25 November 2017. (EMBARGO CONDITIONS - ATTENTION: Due to the accreditation guidlines, the DFL only permits the publication and utilisation of up to 15 pictures per match on the internet and in online media during the match.) Photo: Friso Gentsch/dpa (Photo by Friso Gentsch/picture alliance via Getty Images)

The next sets of WhatsApp message are coming including one from Tobi “Hier geht wirklich noch was.”


Schalke is putting on the pressure. I really want that third goal so I can point to the earlier Dortmund handball goal and say how screwed over we were. I feel like Tedesco on the sidelines every ball is in my veins. Adrenaline is pumping (assisted by the 3 cups of coffee). A Schalke player is down and getting medical treatment. I stop and hit rewind for Pete and I said, “did you see it?” He was unsure of what I meant. I showed him the projectiles that were being thrown at the down player. I had to explain how coins, house keys, lighters, etc.. become items to easily part with in a Derby. A wide shot of stadium is shown. Yes, it is that pitch dark at 4:45 in Germany in November.


I also realize that I myself am as much of the spectacle to Missy and Pete. IE my reaction to what is occurring is just as interesting than what was on the screen At this point, there are likely middle fingers in the air to the imaginary opposing fans.

DORTMUND, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 25: Daniel Caligiuri of Schalke celebrates the 4-4 draw of the Bundesliga match between Borussia Dortmund and FC Schalke 04 at Signal Iduna Park on November 25, 2017 in Dortmund, Germany. (Photo by Christof Koepsel/Bongarts/Getty Images)

And there it is: it is 3:4. Caliguiri scores a fine goal into the top corner. Yes the future Derby hero did it here and would do it again in the next matches. I am pumped. Fists are clinched. Pulse is high. How much stoppage time? Schalke pressing all the momentum with them.


Schalke's Naldo cannot be stopped in scoring 4-4 by Dormund's Dan-Axel Zagadou (M) during the German Bundesliga soccer match between Borussia Dortmund and Schalke 04 at the Signal Iduna Park stadium in Dortmund, Germany, 25 November 2017. (EMBARGO CONDITIONS - ATTENTION: Due to the accreditation guidlines, the DFL only permits the publication and utilisation of up to 15 pictures per match on the internet and in online media during the match.) Photo: Friso Gentsch/dpa (Photo by Friso Gentsch/picture alliance via Getty Images)

A corner. One last corner. “Nalddooooo! “ This was the same elongated O sound as the Aguero Title winning goal call of years before. Schalke have “won” the game 4:4. I am at high that I cannot describe. My friends are happy for me. My wife kinda is done with it and just wants to leave.


Schalke’s Naldo leads the celebrations after his late goal secured a remarkable 4-4 draw. Photograph: Wolfgang Rattay/Reuters

We pack up the waters and go to the car. I open up my car door, and my cousin FaceTimes me with the biggest smile. We both agree it was an amazing day. Off to mountains and we went to the orchard where they serve dozens of varieties of fried pies. I got the wild blueberry filled one for the obvious reason.

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