Sunday, October 9, 2022

Tennis Borussia 1 at BFC Dynamo 4 (Regionalliga Nordost) - October 8, 2022

When I initially considered this trip to Germany, I had seen that Hertha Berlin would be home on Saturday. But if I had done just a little bit more research, I would have seen that their opponent, SC Freiburg, was participating in the Europa League and would play on Thursday, necessitating that their match against Hertha would be moved to Sunday. So I had a free Saturday and spent some time looking at other sporting options in Berlin. Like most European nations, Germany has several levels of pro soccer and I discovered that a fourth-tier club had a home game just 30 minutes from my hotel. Moreover, the venue was an old East German ground that was opened in 1959, the sort of place that I always enjoy visiting. Certainly not as historic as Hertha's Olympiastadion (though I did get there later), but still worth a visit.

I took a couple of trams to reach Sandinostrasse, where the Sportforum Hohenschönhausen is located. This is a collection of 35 sports facilities that includes the football stadium that is the home ground of Berliner Fussball Club Dynamo, commonly referred to as BFC Dynamo. The club was established in 1966 (the best year in which to be established) and was one of the top teams in East German football, winning 10 consecutive league titles between 1979 and 1988. In those days, East German teams participated in European competition, and BFC made the quarterfinals of the European Cup (the predecessor to the Champions League) twice, losing on aggregate both times, to eventual winners Nottingham Forest in 1980 and runners-up Roma in 1984. After reunification, the club has moved between the third and fifth level in German soccer and are currently defending champions of the Regionalliga Nordost, one of five fourth-tier leagues in the country. They lost the promotion playoffs to third-tier Oldenburg, so remain in this league for another season.

Disembarking from the tram, I followed the crowd, past a relatively large contingent of police, picking up a general admission ticket for 15 euros. There have been hooligan incidents in the past and with the visitors Tennis Borussia also from Berlin, perhaps there was some concern of violence, but I didn't notice anything worrisome. Note the claret ticket above; this is one of the main colours of the team and I was fortunate to have a Stadium Journey hat in just that shade that allowed me to fit in.

After being frisked upon entry, I made my way around to the GA section. Along the way, I stopped to take a picture from behind one of the nets to give you an idea of the entire structure. The word stadium here is a bit much, this is really just a ground with a few seats along one side. It was opened in 1959, and the team has played elsewhere on occasion, returning here just last season after six campaigns at Friedrich-Ludwig-Jahn-Sportpark.

The general admission area is really just a large cement block with rows for standing, with bars every couple of rows that you can rest on. This is certainly one of the most basic venues I have visited and I enjoyed it immensely.

Across the way is the VIP tribune, where you get actual seats, though even there most fans preferred to stand. No idea how much tickets were to sit there.

There were some visiting fans in the end zone at the far end of the stadium, next to the very simple scoreboard. They had not shown up when I took the picture above.

A beer stand is just behind the GA section, while another was down on the grass below along with a BBQ stand selling fresh brats and burgers for 3 and 4 euros respectively. Very good as you would expect in Germany.

I had arrived quite early and bided my time as fans slowly joined. By the time the match kicked off, there were over 1.400 on hand and they added quite a bit to the atmosphere. The crowd was definitely a bit rougher than what I had seen in Magdeburg and at the basketball the day before, but they were not in any way causing trouble. In the end, I was quite happy to see an event at this unique venue and I got a match that was rather entertaining.

The Game

Tennis Borussia was formed in 1902 as a tennis and ping-pong club and the name still applies to their soccer club over a century later (Borussia is the Latinized form of Prussia). They came in at the bottom of the table in the league with a single draw from 7 matches, while BFC wasn't much higher with just 6 points.

The home side got off to a flying start when Andreas Pollasch drilled a shot from 30 yards out that hit the underside of the crossbar and bounced in for a surprising and spectacular goal in the 9th minute. I haven't seen a lot of soccer in my time, but this was one of the best goals I have witnessed. You can see it in the highlights at around 35 seconds. A few minutes later, a long pass off a midfield throw-in found Amar Sujic behind a napping Borussia defense and he passed to Christian Beck who tapped home to double the lead. In the 27th minute, a seemingly harmless pass into the box was tipped home by Chris Reher to make it 3-0, and just four minutes later Beck added his second on a header off a cross. Four goals in 31 minutes! Glad I didn't show up late.

The second half was rather mundane by comparison, though Borussia did manage a goal midway through to avoid the shutout. There's the final below, with a few of the visiting supporters trying to ignore it as best they could. Who says German is hard to learn? Heim and Gast are pretty obvious, I think. Also, note the ladder next to the scoreboard; this was used by the operator to reach the platform and change the score after every goal. Oh, and if you are looking for the game clock, there isn't one, other than the watch on the referee's wrist.

In the end, this was a very memorable afternoon. The quality of soccer wasn't bad at all, probably more possession oriented than even that in MLS, though obviously one match is not enough to tell. Who knows, with these cheap flights to Berlin, I might be back to watch more.

Best,

Sean


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