If there was a national contest about which city has the greyest winter to offer, Berlin would have a good chance of winning. As the days get shorter and the sun is hidden by an army of dirty clouds, the city sinks into a grey soup. In order to brighten the mood there are various remedies. Some people buy a light box, stare into gleaming light 15 minutes a day and thus restore the body’s hormonal balance. I put my headphones on and click through the best football songs I know. There is no better recipe against winter depression.
As far as my selection is concerned, I am quite conservative, one might also say unimaginative. It always starts with the Youtube entry “You’ll never walk alone Celtic Barca”. By far, my favourite from the category ‘Nerdy Goosebump Moments for Football Fans’.
It’s 2004 and Celtic Glasgow are hosting FC Barcelona in the Champions League. The day before, a total of 191 people were killed in an attack in Madrid. The stadium announcer is in the centre circle, honouring the dead of Madrid and calling on the crowd to commemorate the victims with “one of our famous anthems”. You’ll Never Walk Alone. It’s the VW Beetle of football songs. Heard a million times but never better than this.
The first sounds are spilling from the stands. People rise, they lift their hands to the sky and tighten their scarves. They sing. At first softly, then louder, louder and louder. “Gerry and the Pacemakers” are switched off and now only the fans sing. A gigantic chorus, a thunder that shakes every sensible person with functioning hearing to the core. A mixture of anticipation and fear, memory and jubilation, love and anger, grief and passion. The footballers on the field, who are so used to noise, can feel the hair on the back of their necks start to rise. And I, who have seen this video more than a hundred times, amble in a turmoil of pathos, affection, and goose bumps.
The last sounds roll through the temple of football, the hymn of praise is silenced. A sunbeam crosses the Berlin clouds and blinds my eyes. The dear God tickles me at the back of my head. The most beautiful woman in the world gallops with a unicorn into the editorial office, takes me with her into the lunch break and gives me a bucket of happiness.
My day is saved.