Borussia Dortmund & The Lost Henkelpotts

Borussia Dortmund & The Lost Henkelpotts

Folklore, legend & the mysterious elements behind the stories that make up football transcend logical reasoning and are uninfected by the notions of reason. A side down 2–0 with 10 minutes left on the clock can comeback to win 3–2. Such is the nature of the game, anything can happen within the span of a few minutes. Titles and crunch games are won and lost within the span of a few minutes defying all notions of reason and the fans are at the heart of the comeback.

The stories that contrive to go down as legend are of course predominantly derived from what happens on the pitch, but also rather cohesively, the interaction of the emotions of the adulating fans present in the stadium and those watching at home. They share an interdependent coexistence that are intertwined with each other and co-dependent on each other in the most intimate way. Without fans, football doesn’t have everlasting moments and stories that become legend.

The tragic nature of the 2020 and 2021 COVID19 crisis has shown the world that football isn’t the same without fans and the atmosphere they create inside the stadium to cheer their teams on. It’s just not the same.

A proverbial example of the pervasive role of the crowd inside the stadium making an impact and rallying their players on was substantially evident when Borussia Dortmund played Malaga in the 2012–13 Champions League quarter-finals.

Borussia Dortmund’s home stadium the Westfalen stadion

For the German city of Dortmund, football is more than just a way of life. Amidst the myriad low-lying skyline & urban backdrop, the black and gold colours of the BVB football team are imprinted into the heart of the city. Everything from clothes, to banners, signboards, and even garbage cans are painted black and yellow.

The football club Borussia Dortmund was founded in 1909 & the club, for the city which was a hub for the steel and coal industry in its infancy, gave the masses of workers something to look forward to after putting in their daily shift.

Just ask BVB fan Fabian Lienig who was introduced to Borussia Dortmund as a 2-year-old because of his father’s love of the club. Several years ago, Fabian ate a bratwurst with mustard before a match and BVB won. So now he eats a bratwurst with mustard before kickoff every week, with no exceptions.

Just like Fabian, BVB is ingrained into the very fabric of every inhabitant of the German city & the club is in the blood of every Dortmund local whether child or adult.

So when Dortmund drew 0–0 to Malaga in the 2013 Champions League quarter-final first leg, the fans inside Dortmund’s stadium, the Westfalenstadion, decided to intimidate their Spanish opponents by putting together an elaborate Tifo(In-stadium fan imagery) to scare the Malaga players and inspire their own.

The result was an eerie rendition of an unmistakably unnerving character looking through binoculars with the words “Auf den Spuren des verlorenen Henkelpotts” (On the hunt of the lost Henkelpotts) displayed below the character’s sharp-toothed smile.

“Auf den Spuren des verlorenen Henkelpotts” (On the hunt of the lost Henkelpotts) BVB Tifo vs Malaga in the UCL

The analogy of calling the Champions League Trophy “the lost Henkelpotts” was a term coined by Dortmund fans chosen especially for the UEFA Champions League — a trophy that has eluded the club for decades.

Dortmund won their only maiden Champions League in 1997 & the tifo shows the character depicted to be peering through binoculars hot on the heels in the hunt for the UCL trophy.

BVB beat Malaga 3–2 that night in Dortmund after coming back from being 2–1 down until 90 minutes with late goals from Marco Reus(90+1′) and Felipe Santana(90+3′) in extra time to progress to the semi-finals.

The comeback was complete and the tifo of the binocular man had done its job.

Dortmund eventually went all the way to the UCL final that season but lost to Bayern Munich with a goal from Arjen Robben late on at Wembley.

However, that night in the Westfalenstadion against Malaga was an unrivaled example of how the crowd got behind their players to rally and spur them on to victory, while the elaborate tifo of the ‘lost Henkelpotts’ displayed that night to spur the players on and inspire them to victory, remains one that will go down in Dortmund folklore and legend.

Dortmund were knocked out by Manchester City last night in the quarter-finals of the 2020–21 UEFA Champions League but until next time, for Fabian & the rest of the BVB fans, the ‘Hunt for the lost Henkelpotts’ continues…..


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