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3,310: Fußball in Berlin, supplementary game No. 6

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I feel like every time I sit down to write a blog post about a football game, the words “another day, another game” go through my head. In a few ways, though, this was nothing like another game. This game was, for more than just footballing reasons, exciting.

SV Babelsberg 03 versus FC Energie Cottbus at Karl-Liebknecht-Stadion. My third Babelsberg game. I had no strong plans to definitely go, but after talking with a Tennis fan the other night, he said it would be worth going. Energie Cottbus has some, er, interesting fans. They were in the 1. Bundesliga as recently as the 2008-09 season. Since reunification, they have spent six season in Germany’s top tier (2000-01 to 2002-03, and 2006-07 to 2008-09). Indeed, they are one of only five teams from the former East Germany to have played in the Bundesliga (the others: Dynamo Dresden, Hansa Rostock, VfB Leipzig, and currently RB Leipzig). After being relegated from the 1. Bundesliga in 2009, they spent five seasons in the 2. Bundesliga before being relegated to the 3. Bundesliga, where they spent two seasons. 2016-17 is their first season in the fourth tier Regionalliga Nordost. Before the game they were in second place, but only one team is promoted. There was a mathematical chance that they could still return to the third tier, but they’d need to beat Babelsberg and win their three other remaining games and hope FC Carl Zeiss Jena lose all their games.

Even for a game starting at 6pm, the train from Westkreuz down to Babelsberg was quite busy. For the two other games I’ve been to, there have only been a few people on the train who looked like they’d be going to the game. This time, it was a good twenty or thirty people, and this was more than an hour before kick-off. There were a few policemen on the platform at Wannsee station and some Energie fans, too. More cops at the Babelsberg station, and a fairly consistent presence along the route from the station to the stadium (they’re both on the same street, about a ten minute walk apart).

I’d stood behind the goal with the home team fans at the last two games, but I wanted to see what it was like with the louder fans in Block M – the Nordkurve – at least once. Compared to what we’re used to with English (and indeed Mexican) football, it’s strange to have the most hardcore fans standing on the side. And they stand on the side in an area nearest the visiting fans who are stood behind the other goal.

More good music before the game: Where Is My Mind?, something by the Ramones, Rock Lobster, Atomic. There was the Siouxsie and the Banshees version of The Passenger, too. For a big chunk of the time, it was like being at a late eighties student disco. The “Songs Since A Musical Accident” clock was reset to zero, though, when they played that Chumbawumba song. They also played Bad Touch by Bloodhound Gang, but I feel there’s a whole blog post n its own to write about that song.

It was a cool crowd in Block M. Lots of tall young lads in black coats and hoodies (I saw one who had placed a small rectangular piece of gaffa tape over the North Face logo on the shoulder of his coat) and a bunch of people in their thirties and forties. Quite a lot of women. Some children. Fun for all the family, in fact. Especially if your idea of fun is chanting and singing songs and waving flags.

There were, I would guess, about 300ish visiting supporters. The majority of them seemed quite happy to support their team, but there was a non-insignificant amount, maybe 20-30%, whose goal seemed to be other things. Those were the dudes who stood at the side closest to the Babelsberg fans, shouting stuff, doing that man thing of having their arms wide open, like, “come on, then.”

Just before kick off, this song came over the speakers. Everyone in Block M gave it some hearty singing along. Flags were waved, and then some flares were waved too. I like seeing flares. It’s quite thrilling, isn’t it? And it was similarly thrilling to be there near it. A bright red core and tons of smoke all around.

After about half an hour, the visitors scored. You could see in their section that the evening wasn’t going to be without incident. A couple of times the stewards who stood on the other side of a fence from the fans looked like they had to keep the fans from coming over. And eventually it kicked off. Flares were thrown onto the field and in the direction of the Babelsberg fans. And some Cottbus fans got over the fence and onto the field. Here’s some footage from a local telly station:

The referee took the players off the field for about ten minutes while things were sorted out. Riot police were there quick sharp. They sprayed what I assume was pepper spray into parts of the Cottbus end.

There was a second delay when things kicked off again just after the start of the second half. After having flares thrown in their direction a few times, someone from the Babelsberg fans set one off in the Cottbus direction. There was a collective groan amongst the Babelsberg fans. That, and the way some of the fans at the front of the section were seeming to calm people down, to stop them also trying to get over the fence, was good to see. A bit of self-policing.

There were some Nazi salutes from the Cottbus fans. Someone had a flag that simply had the letter “H” and the number “8,” which could mean “hate” or I guess it could be a Nazi thing similar to the number “88.” Apparently, there was some chanting of “Arbeit Macht Frei” too which, really, for fuck’s sake…

It was pretty full in Block M. I knew that if I went for a wee, I’d likely not get back in, but needs are needs, and I needed. Of the sixteen previous games I’ve been to during this project, I’ve missed five goals while having a wee. And I missed another at game 17. The Babelsberg equaliser. I returned to Block N, the section covering the other half of that side of the field. Still busy but not as rocking as Block M.

Just after the 90 minute mark, Babelsberg scored. The referee blew the whistle, the game was over. Seemed he’d had enough, hardly any stoppage time at all. Babelsberg fans were happy, the players very happy. And me too.

I’ve never enjoyed the way that modern football has introduced that thing at the start of the games where teams line up for the cameras and the people in the fancy seats. It makes sense at national games where anthems are played, but for club football, it just stinks of marketing. But when a team scores in the last minute and the whole lot of them run over to where their hardcore fans are, that even things up a bit. The TV camera, sponsors, rich people can have the nice clean presentable moment at the start, but they’ll never be as close as the Babelsberg players and Nordkurve were on Friday night, the players jumping around with one of the Nordkurve banners.

There were a lot of police along the walk back to the train station. Seems like they’d organised things, blocked off and guarded side streets to make sure Cottbus fans didn’t get near the Babelsberg fans walking towards the train station. There was a minimal presence at the train station, so I assume they were holding the Cottbus fans back until they could be fairly sure Babelsberg fans and regular civilians were gone.

Feels weird saying it when there were nasty things going at times, but it was definitely one of the more enjoyable games I’ve been to in my life, but really, that was entirely due to the great atmosphere in Block M. Those Nordkurve people know how to make a football game a great experience and I feel lucky to have experienced it.

The Eleven Berlin Teams Project:
Hertha BSC v Eintracht Frankfurt, (25/2/17)
FC Viktoria 1889 Berlin v 1. FC Lokomotive Leipzig (18/3/17)
FC Hertha 03 Zehlendorf v SV Lichtenberg 47, (19/3/17)
Berliner AK 07 v FC Schönberg 95, (22/3/17)
VSG Altglienicke v FC Viktoria 1889 Berlin, (25/3/17)
Berliner FC Dynamo v Hertha BSC II, (29/3/17)
Hertha BSC II v FSV Union Fürstenwalde, (1/4/17)
Charlottenburger FC Hertha 06 v 1. FC Frankfurt, (2/4/17)
1. FC Union Berlin v Erzgebirge Aue, (5/4/17)
SV Lichtenberg 47 v SV Victoria Seelow, (14/4/17)
Tennis Borussia Berlin v FC Hansa Rostock II, (15/4/17)

The Eleven Berlin Teams Project Supplementary Games:
SV Empor Berlin v 1. FC Union Berlin, (23/3/17)
SV Babelsberg 03 v Berliner AK 07, (7/4/17)
SV Babelsberg 03 v Hertha BSC II, (20/4/17)
FC Strausberg v Tennis Borussia Berlin, (23/4/17)
Tennis Borussia Berlin v Charlottenburger FC Hertha 06, (26/4/17)
SV Babelsberg 03 v FC Energie Cottbus, (28/4/17)

Written by Craig

April 30th, 2017 at 4:21 am

Posted in Blah blah,Sports

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