Sunday 23rd October 2016 1.30pm (German Local Time)
Regionalliga Nordost (Step Four)
Berliner FC Dynamo 5 FC Schönberg 95 2 ht: 2-1 att: 612 Entrance €12 Programme €2 Coffee €1.50 Beer €2
Rockenbach de Silva 29, Göwecke 33, Srbeny 59 (pen), 70 Pröger 61: Dippert 35, Steinwarth (pen) 53
There are three Berlin clubs in the North East Regionnaliga. Two of them were at home on the Sunday; after we arrived on Saturday afternoon for four days’ family holiday in the German capital – Berlin AK07 and Berliner FC Dynamo (the other, FC Viktoria 1889 Berlin, were away). The big clubs Berlins Hertha and Union of the 1st and 2nd divisions respectively had played on the Saturday.
Despite Berlin AK07 being the older club, Berliner FC Dynamo’s fascinating history and quintessentially East European ground with comcomitant communist era floodlights decided it for me.
Berliner Fussball Club Dynamo e.V., the Wine Reds, were founded 50 years ago in 1966. They won the Deutsche Democratische Republic (DDR) Oberliga 10 seasons running from 1979 – 1988. BFC Dynamo was reputedly the favourite team of Erich Mielke, the head of East Germany’s Stasi (the secret police) and the team’s success was allegedly helped by obedient referees. Cough cough Man Utd 1990s cough. The referees’ behaviour reportedly angered the country’s ruling Politburo. The supposed manipulation of the 1986 championship match between BFC Dynamo and Lokomotive Leipzig, which ended in a 1–1 draw, led to nationwide protests and resulted in sanctions against referee Bernd Stumpf.
BFC were hated and maligned during this period by many East Germans. Added to this, their fans were well known to be, in the large majority, skinheads and right-wingers with far-right political views. While the club have many rivals, such as local team Berlin AK07, bizarrely they have friendly relations with Aberdeen. (although they did beat them in the European Cup in 1984-85 on penalties). Other English teams they have played in Europe are Cardiff 71-72, Liverpool 72-73, Nottingham Forest 79-80 and Aston Villa 81-82.
The club’s ground is the Friedrich-Ludwig-Jahn-Sportpark. It is situated just inside the old East Berlin, so when they played in the DDR Oberliga, while the wall was up 1961-1989, its proximity to the wall meant it was policed heavily, due to the paranoia that the crowd may surge the wall and enter the West.
After the wall came down and Germany unified, with football in the East being of a lower quality, BFC were placed in the third tier of German football in 1990. Along with many other East German clubs they changed their name; to distance themselves from the past, and in some cases remove the name forced on them by the communist era. They became FC Berlin. However, like many others of these clubs, they found more value and fan recognition in the names, colours and crests they had played under in East Germany and so in 1999 changed their name back to Berliner FC Dynamo. They struggled in the new German league, losing a lot of players to West German teams and have gone down as far as level five.
The team played their games at the Sportforum Hohenschönhausen between 1992 – 2014, but after promotion to the Regionalliga Nordost in 2014-15, announced a move back to their iconic Jahn Sportpark. They were sitting in sixth position in the regional fourth division coming in to this game, with Schönberg sitting in 13th (out of 18). In Germany, regionalisation starts at step four, where there are five divisions – North, North East, South, South West and Bayern (meaning Bavarian).
The Friedrich-Ludwig-Jahn-Sportpark is about a half hour walk from central Berlin. From Alexanderplatz you can either walk up Schönhauser Allee or take the fantastic Untergrundbahn (U-Bahn) service, the U2 line (don’t stand too close to The Edge), three stops to Eberswalder Strasse, which drops you outside the ground, pretty much. Next to the stadium, on Sundays, is a magnificent market in Mauer Park, where my wife was delighted to spend the two hours I was at the match for.
The first thing to strike me about the ground was the magnificent hulking floodlights, so iconic of Eastern European football fields. These had a sturdy triangular facade of lights supported by chunky tripods, leaning into the ground. Stunning floodlight architecture that whets the appetite for the rest of the stadium.
It is an all-seater, with an eight-lane athletics track circling the pitch. The main stand is two-tiered, with an oval of seating skirting the rest of the pitch; open at both ends but covered on the other side. The seating in the rest of the ground was in lurid hues of red, green and yellow – two rows of each alternating, until a final single row. Eight bands of two-row colour, plus a final one, making 19 rows in total.
Despite a capacity of 19,708, only 612 were in attendance. This was their lowest crowd of the season. Their average is 2,103, with crowds ranging from 600 to 3,500. Their average is the fourth best in the division, after Energie Cottbus, 5,008, Lokomotive Leipzig, 4,239, and league leaders Carl Zeiss Jena, 3,649. Most were seated near the middle, opposite the main stand. They had a big market stand, acting as their club shop selling matchday programmes, hats scarfs, t-shirts and replica shirts. There was also a beer stall and a coffee and sausage stall.
It was a great open game. Both sides had good chances to score in the opening stages but BFC opened after half an hour when a through ball led to a chase between Rockenbach de Silva and Kostman, in the Schönberg goal. De Silva just poked the ball through Kostman’s legs before crashing into him, with the ball rolling into the net. 1-0. A few minutes later Göwecke scored a sensational effort, similar to Van Basten’s strike in the Euro 88 final. The ball was crossed over to far side of the area where Göwecke volleyed it into the far top corner. Great technique – he let the fast ball do all the work as his foot passively guided it back across goal into the net. 2-0.
While the crowd were still buzzing from the wonder strike, Dippert for Schönberg, ran on to a through ball, rounded the keeper and got one back. Schönberg were back in it going into the break.
At half time I had a bratwürst in a small roll, so the ends stuck out either side and a Veltins lager. Something that hits you about Berlin in general in the amount of graffiti everywhere. Virtually every public wall, underpass and disused building was covered entirely. I wandered out at half time and noticed the stadium covered in it. Strangely, when graffiti covers an area entirely, it’s not unpleasant – far worse is a lone swear word or graffitus.
More beer and snack stalls sat outside the perimeter of the ground, and despite there being toilets inside the ground, a lot of fans used the outer wall as a urinal, looking out over the suburb of Prenzlauer Berg.
Shortly after the restart Schönberg were awarded a clear cut penalty which Steinwarth converted comfortably (see pic below).
A few minutes later BFC were awarded their own penalty, somewhat dodgy decision I believe. It was duly dispatched and then two minutes later Pröger tapped in a cross that confused everyone. A great solo effort made it 5-2, Srbeny cut through the left side, beating the right back, honed in on goal and scooped it into the far top corner. There was still 20 minutes left but the game slowed down a bit. Schönberg should have made it 5-3 on 90 but the ball ricocheted off a defender and over the bar.