There were more left-wingers and rebels than at a George Best lookalike convention. Drunks too. The Karl-Liebknecht-Stadion was awash with the great unwashed on Friday for a friendly between two teams that stand so closely ideologically, but are still miles apart in terms of successfully capitalising on the image.
Maybe it is too simplistic to read into such fripperies, but the skull and crossbones of St. Pauli is known the world over. The radical image of Germany’s first defiantly anti-racist, anti-sexist and anti-homophobic team is available to buy on Christmas tree baubles the whole year round. It is a master-stroke of coincidental anti-marketing. The club are caught between two worlds, and it can be difficult to align them at times. Not that this should question their intentions. It is just weird how capitalism can work sometimes.
SV Babelsberg 03, on the other hand, have a similar fanbase, but they are in the position the Hamburg club were in some years ago before their fans rescued them. They are on the breadline. Struggling for the scraps from the table. Their losing in the Brandenburg cup final to lowly Falkensee-Finkenkrug hasn’t exactly helped swell the coffers that a new board are hoping to at least balance. Times have been tough for 03.
They stand defiantly on the outskirts of Berlin, as well as on the outskirts of modern football, holding banners of the man their stadium is named for, Karl Liebknecht. You don’t see Christmas trees with pictures of him on them very often, but part of the beauty of Babelsberg 03 is their defiance in the face of the modern game. The fans stand in the wind and the rain, listening to the Specials- it works as well as a metaphor for them as any other.
Now they must also grasp the grim irony that this club full of communist imagery stands to be pushed closer back towards the precipice because it is seen by the ruling party in the region that they claim too much of the commonly available money for sports in Potsdam.
The hosts were all giving though on Friday, as much as they were to the delegation of visiting fans from Partizan Minsk (for whom both Babelsberg and Pauli fans have been fundraising, and ringing bells for for ages), as Pauli hit two in the first twenty five minutes. Fin Bartels caused havoc down the left wing all half, but it was his first time ball lofted over the head of 03’s sleeping right back that set Lennart Thy through after only seven minutes. Marius Ebbers, for once, wasn’t up to speed on the attack, so having no options in the box to cross to, Thy opted to shoot, deceiving the ‘keeper Daniel Zacher, and as the ball sailed forlornly over Zacher’s head one could be forgiven for inferring that this was going to become a rout.
The second came as Bartels skipped inside again on the left, pushed the ball on past Kai-Fabian Schultz to Florian Kringe whose lunging slide, somehow ended in with Christian Groß looking on and wondering how the hell he had a cross whipped past him. Ebbers headed home with ease.
But Babelsberg fought back, and dominated a second half that made up for what it was lacking in finesse with hard running, determined challenging, and a bit of fight that will be needed in the third division this coming season (bearing in mind, that the third division starts next week. NEXT WEEK- in the middle of July!)
Suleyman Koc, a man who has been through enough shit in the last couple of years to make old Besty himself wince, drove down the right wing, skipping inside two Pauli challenges and crossed, picking out the sliding Oliver Kragel, bustling into the box.
Babelsberg had another ruled out for offside, but (and let’s be honest here), I was scarcely paying attention to the fare on the pitch any more. It was a friendly, after all. The noise never abated, the pictures of Liebknecht and the anti-fascist slogans, the skull and crossbones’ and the general raucous mess was far more compelling. I’m sorry, if it’s a decent match report you want, buy Fußball Woche. I was half cut, and still had “Too much too young” on permanent loop inside my head. This was defiantly anti-modern football. It was barely football at all by this point. Babelsberg pressed and pressed, but this was more about the extended party around a pitch.
The flares let off at halftime were all wrong. The green, blue and yellow mixed to form the perfectly shaded black eye in the sky on such a peaceful, warm evening. It was the only hint of violence in the air all night.Tags: FC St. PPauli