TBT: How a 19-year old kid instigated Borussia Dortmund's now-famous 'Yellow Wall' that propelled them to another Champions League final

The Yellow Wall salutes Marco Reus at his final home game this month (Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

TBT: How a 19-year old kid instigated Borussia Dortmund's now-famous 'Yellow Wall' that propelled them to another Champions League final

Mark Kinyanjui 18:30 - 30.05.2024

The story of how Borussia Dortmund's famous 'Yellow Wall' was started by a teenager.

The largest grandstand in Europe, now famously known as the Yellow Wall, earned its name more recently than most people think. 

This colossal terrace at Borussia Dortmund’s Westfalenstadion, described by German author Uli Hesse in 2018, is something Bayern Munich lacks: “a massive terrace that seemed like a throwback to football’s golden age.”

This architectural marvel can hold 24,454 spectators for Bundesliga games, more than twice the capacity of Celtic’s fabled ‘Jungle’ in the 1960s and nearly matching the Kop at Anfield during its golden age. 

Yet, unlike the Jungle or the Kop, the term "Yellow Wall" is relatively new. According to Hesse, it first appeared in the pages of Kicker, Germany’s most popular football magazine, in May 2009. 

The term was coined following Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller's remarks about the club’s fans traveling en masse to an away game against Eintracht Frankfurt. “It’s incredible; even when we are playing away from home, the yellow wall will be there,” Weidenfeller said.

The expression gained regular use 21 months later, around the time Jurgen Klopp led Dortmund to back-to-back Bundesliga titles. 

Klopp’s charisma and achievements turned Dortmund into a beloved club across Europe. Klopp described the experience of seeing the Yellow Wall as an almost out-of-body experience: 

“You come out and the place explodes — out of the darkness, into the light. You look to your left and it seems like there are 150,000 people up on the terrace all going completely nuts.”

The creation of the Yellow Wall can be traced back to a then 19-year-old fan named Daniel Lorcher. Born in 1985, Lorcher was instrumental in shaping the Yellow Wall concept.

In 2004, as Dortmund faced both on-pitch struggles and severe financial difficulties, Lorcher, a leading member of the ultras group The Unity, envisioned a grand spectacle that would energize fans and intimidate opponents.

Lorcher and his group undertook the ambitious project of transforming the Südtribüne (South Stand) into a sea of yellow. They contacted a Danish retail chain and purchased more than three miles of cloth, producing 4,000 flags.

“We rented sewing machines for weeks on end and then had to learn how to use them. It was hard work, but we had lots of fun,” Lorcher told Hesse.

By the end of the 2004-05 season, the Südtribüne was adorned with yellow flags before a crucial home game against Hansa Rostock, symbolizing the fans’ unwavering support despite the club’s dire situation.

 Banners displayed messages like “At the end of the dark alley shines the yellow wall” and “Yellow Wall, South Stand Dortmund.”

The transformation of the Südtribüne into the Yellow Wall was not just a visual spectacle but also a strategic move. 

After Borussia Dortmund won the Champions League in 1997, the club expanded the south stand, making it the largest terrace in Europe. 

Despite financial challenges and the pressure to convert terraces to seated areas following the Hillsborough disaster, the club maintained the Südtribüne as a standing terrace, recognizing it as a vital part of their identity and fan experience.

Today, Signal Iduna Park, as the stadium is now known due to a sponsorship deal, boasts the highest average attendance in the Bundesliga, surpassing even Bayern Munich. 

The Yellow Wall has become a symbol of Dortmund’s resilience and passion, attracting fans and sponsors alike. Companies such as Evonik, Brinkhoff’s, and Wilo seek to associate with this authentic representation of Dortmund’s working-class roots.

The Yellow Wall remains a testament to the dedication and vision of a 19-year-old fan who saw beyond the club’s immediate struggles and helped create one of football’s most iconic and intimidating atmospheres. 

Visitors to the Westfalenstadion face a simple choice: join the party on the terrace or watch its brilliance from afar.

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