Most people who know me will testify, i'm a groundhopper. Most people who know me may testify i'm slightly mad. Either way, I travel around various football grounds of this island and, sometimes, beyond to watch the beautiful game.
Most of my travels encompass the non-league game and, with my inane ramblings, I will attempt to show you where my travels take me and, also, try to show you that there is footballing life beyond the so-called "best league in Europe"
I hope you enjoy reading!
Wednesday 18th May 2011 Berliner Pilsner Pokal Semi-Final Steglitzer FC Stern 1900 2-1 VSG Altglienicke (AET 1-1 90mins) Attendance: 450
The last game of my trip was to witness a little bit of history in the semi-final of the Berlin Cup. Steglitzer Fussball Club Stern 1900, to give them their full name, were taking on VSG Altglienicke for the right to play Dynamo Berlin in the Final on June 8th, and with it not only some silverware but an automatic place in the first round of the German equivalent of the FA Cup.
The game was taking place at Stern’s tiny Sportzplatz ground on Kreuznacher Street, which was absolutely packed to the rafters for the game, but there were only around 400 present. That gives you an idea of the size of the club and of the occasion.
The ground had no cover, or indeed anything that you would recognize as a football stand. There was a small terrace with seats bolted on and a little bit of hard standing by the clubhouse. The pitch was also an artificial surface but none of your modern day 3G technology, this was your 1980’s Luton Town model. I dread to think of the poor players slide tackling on this surface!
The game was not the best i’ve ever seen, in fact it was utter dross, but the tension of occasion did keep everyone on the edge of their seats (if you were lucky enough to claim one). After an uneventful opening period, the homesters took the lead after 34 minutes when Christoph Hampel fired a superb 20 yard shot into the top corner, which the ‘keeper never saw.
This goal opened the game up and both teams started to play some football. Altglienicke levelled just before the break when a glorious through ball split the home defence and Thomas Tomkiewicz beat the ‘keeper at his near post.
The second half was a total non-event and the game seemed to be not only heading to extra time but also to the dreaded penalty shoot out. It was in the first period of extra time that the eventual winner came. After 111 minutes the ball was crossed in the Altglienicke box and substitute Patrick Mattern volleyed home what proved to be the winner. There was one more chance for Altglienicke to savage a draw when a long range effort was tipped over the bar by the home goalie.
There were wild celebrations at the end as the Stern players and fans celebrated reaching their first ever final.
FOOTNOTE: Dynamo Berlin beat FC Stern 3-1 in the Final.
For another take on the semi-final, click on this link....
Tuesday 18th May 2011 Berlin Bezirksliga SC Union 06 Berlin 2-1 Weißenseer FC Attendance: 35 (h/c)
SC Union are one of two clubs that were formed from the original ironworks team SC Olympia 06 Oberschöneweide, who were based in the East of the city.
This club was a reasonably successful outfit until things came to a head when they reached the regional league finals in 1950. The team was refused permission to travel by the Soviet authorities, so the team fled to the West to take part in these finals and then became known as Sport-Club Union 06 Berlin.
This club was successful until the building of the Berlin Wall, actually playing in front of healthy crowds at the Olympiastadion, but the decline was such that today the club plays in the regional Berlin Bezirksliga (step 8) in front of paltry clouds (today was no exception as I counted 35 hardy souls present). The club that remained in the East eventually became known as 1.FC Union and are now an established Bundesliga 2 side.
SC Union play their home games at the Poststadion, which is also an athletics stadium and is only a 15 minute walk from the main Berlin Hbf. This evening was their penultimate home game of the season, where they are mid-table, and they were playing bottom of the table Weißenseer FC.
Weißenseer took the lead after 11 minutes when Grunow scored direct from a corner. ‘The Eisern’ were level after 28 minutes when Albers fired a shot from 20 yards which the ‘keeper let squirm away from his grasp.
There was plenty of neat football played but both teams wasted loads of chances. The homesters got the winner two minutes from time when a corner fell to Yüksek Schober in the six-yard box and he made no mistake, firing through the ‘keepers legs.
An enjoyable evening and a bonus game for me, as I only found out about this on the Friday before I departed. Admission was 3 euros, but no programme was produced, however they do usually issue and were happy to give me some copies from earlier in this season.
The ball is about to drop into the net, direct from a corner, to give Weißenseer the lead.
Sunday 15th May 2011 2.Bundesliga Hertha BSC Berlin 2-1 FC Augsburg Attendance: 77,116
This game was the original reason for this excursion to Berlin.
Apart from the obvious reasons of visiting an iconic, historic stadium, when the trip was booked way back in January, the teams were neck and neck in the race for the Bundesliga 2 title, so this game looked like shaping up as a championship showdown.
However as the season progressed, Hertha slowly edged in front and wrapped the title with a couple of games to go. Augsburg also confirmed second place and promotion so this game therefore took on the role of an end-of-season party.
Both teams were going through the motions as the hard work had already been done and the teams were locked at 1-1 until Levan Kobiashvili scored the winner from the penalty spot in the 74th minute.
Pierre-Michel Lasogga gave Hertha the lead when he bundled in a corner from a couple of yards out in the 44th minute. Augsburg were level on the hour when Stefan Hain shot home. The game was petering out to a draw but Kobiashvili’s intervention sparked the party.
The Bundesliga 2 championship shield was presented and the majority of the 77,116 crowd went wild.
The ground is an awesome arena and quite a sight with all the flags being waved. The only slight disappoinment for me, from an asthetics point of view, was that the famous Marathon Gate had been 'filled in' with temporary scaffold seating.
Saturday 14th May 2011 Oberliga Nord/Nordost Berliner Fussball Club Dynamo 3-1 Brandenburg 05 Sud Attendance: 341
Is there possibly a club with a more notorious history than Dynamo Berlin? Founded in 1966 they became the representatives of the East German Ministry of Interior Police aka The Stasi. They won the GDR championship 10 years in a row from 1979 to 1988, a European record, amid accusations of dodgy penalties, dodgy time keeping, disallowed goals. I suppose when faced with threats from Erich Mielke a referee has to do what a referee has to do!
These days they find themselves playing in the Oberliga in front of a few hundred fans. They too have a reputation that precedes them, for which I had been warned before I left home, and in the crowd of 341 today there are officially no away fans. There was another groundhopper though!
Dynamo were 7th at the start of play and the opposition from Brandenburg were 6th, so it was an end-of-season nothing game but was actually a reasonable spectacle to watch.
Dynamo took the lead in the 7th minute when Nico Paepe fired home. Robert Scholl equalised for Brandenburg after 16 minutes before Richard Steiner gave the homesters and interval lead with a goal after 35 minutes. Brandenburg should have been level though but Stefan Voss saw his penalty saved.
The second half was very much a none event and but it wasn’t until the 83rd minute when Dynamo finally secured the points when Scholl bagged his second goal of the game.
I enjoyed my day at the Sportforum, which is a proper old fashioned ground with banks and banks of open terracing. The beer was flowing all afternoon and i’m happy to say no trouble was experienced whatsoever.