This is the team that I’ve been looking forward to least. It’s kinda hard to approach a Berliner FC Dynamo game without preconceived ideas of what it might be like. Their fans have a, er, reputation. I’ve only ever known one Dynamo fan, he was a decent chap, but the fans in general have a reputation for being right-wing hooligans.
Looking at the team schedules, working out a plan for My Eleven Berlin Team Project, I kept on planning a schedule and leaving Dynamo until the end. At some point though, I realised I didn’t want it to take on significance. To fear the game, to leave til last, gave it more importance than the other ten games. So I went last night. My sixth of eleven. The game that tipped the scales from less than half to more than half done. Berliner FC Dynamo v. Hertha BSC II (the under-23 squad of big Hertha that play in the 1. Bundesliga), in the Regionalliga Nordost, the fourth tier of German football.
Back in the GDR days, BFC Dynamo won ten championships in a row between 1979 and 1988. They were also the preferred team of the head of the Stasi. I wonder if these two facts are related? There was a slight sense of excitement, though. I still get a bit of a thrill from seeing teams whose names remind me of the European Cup ties of the 70s and 80s. Before the Champions League came along. Indeed, I preferred the European Cup to the Champions League. I like purity in sport. I like the idea of the Olympics being scaled back to only include sports where the highest achievement is an Olympic medal (ie. goodbye football, tennis, and fucking golf), I don’t like playoffs of any sort (the best team over the course of a season should not be forced to deal with the fourth or fifth best team for the sake of entertainment and more money for the league), and I liked it when the European Cup was purely the champions of each European country playing a cup competition (even though the greatest sports day of my life was seeing Liverpool win the Champions League in 2005, after finishing fourth in the 2003-04 season, a massive 30 points behind the winners Arsenal).
The game took place at the Großes Stadion, the big stadium at the Friedrich-Ludwig-Jahn-Sportpark. Literally a three minute walk from my place. There’s an empty little room near the main stand which I always thought might be the ticket office on matchdays, but it was empty when I arrived. I asked a security guy where to buy a ticket, he replied (in English), over there, near the small stadium, behind the police car. I thanked him, he told me I was welcome and “take care.” After buying a ticket (€12), I went back, he frisked me, asked me to remove my cap to check that, and said something about being safe now. My mind raced a bit. He’d mentioned care and safety twice. Did he see that I was apprehensive or was it just that I was obviously not one of them?
It was cool to be inside the stadium. I’ve been before, to watch a Germany v. Netherlands women’s game, but my memory of that is hazy. After painting Mauerpark a lot in the past months, it was genuinely a bit of a thrill to see those floodlights from the inside of the stadium.
I got a beer (€3), wandered around. It was likely paranoia, but I felt like everyone I walked by looked at me like, “why the fuck are you here?” There were lots of shaved heads. I felt 17 again, walking past the Cheltenham Arms on Guildhall Street in Lincoln, hoping that one of the townies wouldn’t kick my head in. Shaved heads, fake tans, bomber jackets, lots of Dynamo hoodies, some guy had a knitted hat with something like the RUN DMC logo that said HOOL IGAN. Another guy had an ICF hat.
Fans were attaching their flags to the fences. One of them was half Union Jack, half St. George’s flag, with the England national team crest in one corner, and the words God bless Berliner Fussballclub Dynamo. The vapers in the crowd blew massive clouds of vape. I turned the wattage down on my thing so my clouds of vapour were smaller. I just wanna be unnoticed. No alpha male clouding. During the game, a bunch of them chanted stuff about being 10-times German champions. Their Germany, East Germany. But, y’know, I support a team that hasn’t won the league since 1990, so I’m not gonna say anything about celebrating one’s past glories here.
I’d already had three beers by half time. And I needed to wee. I have a shy bladder at the best of times. Indeed, I wrote a story about that for baseball Web site Notgraphs a couple of years back. It’s an awful thing to have. I have to play a specific bit of baseball action in my head to stop thinking about needing to pee. That usually distracts my brain enough to allow urine to flow. There was already a queue, though. Five urinals, three stalls. I prayed that when my turn came, I’d get a stall.
I didn’t get a stall. I stood there, with the pressure of a line of Dynamo fans behind me. I couldn’t go. I stayed there long enough for the people either side of me to have finished and been replaced, so that nobody next to me would noticed I’d phantom pissed, zipped up and left. Bladder still fit to burst. I waited until a couple of minutes into the second half before returning. No queue, four empty urinals. And I was free. I more or less skipped out of the gents, with the joy of a dog that’s just done a poo.
I got another beer and took some photos. I looked up at the second tier of the main stand. Got my phone out to take another photo (below) and while still holding the beer, tilted my hands upwards to take the picture. And what then happened was like those comedy moments where someone is asked the time, and they twist their wrist and pour drink all over themselves. Fairly sure nobody saw me doing it, thankfully, but one of my trainers was now soaked.
It was 0-0 and fairly uneventful until the 78th minute. The visitors scored. The handful of Hertha fans (I’d guess about 60 or 70) celebrated in their section. Six minutes later it was 0-2. And four minutes after that, 0-3. The attendance: 668, next door neighbour of the beast.
The Eleven Berlin Teams Project:
Hertha BSC v Eintracht Frankfurt, (25/02/17)
FC Viktoria 1889 Berlin v 1. FC Lokomotive Leipzig (18/03/17)
FC Hertha 03 Zehlendorf v SV Lichtenberg 47, (19/03/17)
Berliner AK 07 v FC Schönberg 95, (22/03/17)
VSG Altglienicke v FC Viktoria 1889 Berlin, (25/03/17)
Berliner FC Dynamo v Hertha BSC II, (29/03/17)
The Eleven Berlin Teams Project (supplementary game):
SV Empor Berlin v 1. FC Union Berlin, (23/03/17)
Remaining home games to see:
1. FC Union Berlin
Hertha BSC II
CFC Hertha 06
SV Lichtenberg 47
Tennis Borussia Berlin
Well, that’s it then, innit? I still hold out some hope that the UK government will come to its senses and send the EU another letter:
Soz, we were being dicks.
We would like to stay.
Luv Theresa xoxo
But that’s not very likely is it? While we were giving the EU that letter, I was having lunch with my friends Johnny and Tanja. In 2000, Johnny sent me an email, we chatted, I visited Berlin, and a couple of months later I was working at his Web design company and living here in Berlin. The timing of our lunch was a coincidence, but it was heartbreakingly ironic.
They gave me a chance to get out of the UK, and I’ve been an immigrant ever since. Of course, I’m white and British, so I’m an ex-pat, it’s only brown people or people from countries that we don’t like that are immigrants. My seventeen years of being an immigrant have been wonderful. It would be wrong to say I know how a Polish or Bulgarian immigrant in the UK feels or a Mexican in the US, but the contrast is stark between the way I have been treated as an immigrant and the clear message sent by that fucking vote last June in the UK. It’s a disgrace.
One thing I’ve never forgotten, back in the last decade after Poland had joined the EU, I was back on the island and a British person mentioned that there were too many Polish people around. I said they were here for the same reason I was in Germany, and by the same rules that allowed me to live and work in Germany. And that person said, “well that’s different.” I still find it hard to believe those words came out of someone’s mouth.
17.4 million people voted to leave the EU. Those people are guilty and they should never be allowed to forget what they did and why they did it.
And while we’re on the topic, I saw several images around the Internet of the EU flag with one star missing. That’s inaccurate. We were one of 28 countries. The stars never represent countries anyway, but even if they did, our leaving would represent 48% of a single star falling off the flag. That flag will live on longer than the fucking union jack.
On a much lighter note: here’s Peter pain au chocolat.
The song in my head when I woke up this morning
Loaded Mouth, the Savage Lovecast theme by the Popovers. Nice wee song, that. Can’t find it online, but you probably know it anyway. One of the people in that band died from ALS and made a series of short videos about what he went through. It’s well worth watching.
On this day
Worst band I’ve ever seen, 30 March 2016
Here’s an interesting Wikipedia article