Ronny was always treated with a certain amount of disdain. He was like the drug dealer at the party whose presense was laughed at by those in the kitchen, but who was necessary to keep the pretty girls there. He was just the little brother of the player that Hertha really wanted to hang on to, they said – the artful Brazilian with the name shared by a renaissance genius and a ninja turtle, Raffael.
There was always something about Ronny though, he has the kind of unpredictability that would enhance any team from the bench, and on Monday night, finally, he may have stepped out of the shadows of his brother. He will certainly be feted for a long time to come. Raffael may have cost millions to sign for an icon of European football such as Dynamo Kiev, but he never managed to do what Ronny will be dining out on in the bars of Charlottenburg for the rest of his life. Ronny is the first man to have scored the winner in a post-war match for Hertha BSC at the home of their rivals 1.FC Union. It is Ronny who silenced the braying of the Alte Försterei.
Okay, he didn’t silence them. It would take a whole lot more for that to happen to these most dogged of fans. In fact, the volume went through the roof as his free kick hit the back of the net as the Köpenickers’ desperately implored their team to show more of the fight that had seen them come back from the first half 1-0 deficit, but it was to no avail.
It is just a single match, but two years ago the draw here that Santi Kolk’s equaliser led to was invigorating, and rapidly turned around the look of Union’s season. This single match runs the risk of destabilising a side that over the last few years had started to seem so balanced. Now Uwe Neuhaus will have to come up with a solidly workable plan. They miss Chinedu Ede, but when one plays two big strikers, but the wingers put in so few crosses to serve them with, then one has to ask questions. Sure, Union fought, they were always going to on a occasion such as this, but the lack of danger in front of goal that they provided is worrying.
In periods Hertha were the more controlled side, playing with patience and at times no little verve. The Wessis that Christopher Quiring seems to be so distasteful of were industrious, pacey, and crucially, patient, but the game as a whole lacked finesse- too much rough and tumble, too many nerves at play in a game that meant so much more than just three points.
Änis Ben-Hatira was a scuryying menace, and it was his work on the left that led to the all too easy opener from Sandro Wagner, skipping merrily into a gap opened up by Peer Kluge that should have already been slammed shut. The young full back Fabian Holland was also excellent, making the art of brushing Patrick Zoundi off the ball look as easy as Jay Z dusting the dirt from his shoulder.
Union had pegged them back in the second half. They were a side reborn, the fire in their bellies finally making it on to the pitch, but it was the shortest man there, the young Quiring, who would score the header to bring the scores level in the end, after Patrick Kohlmann and Adam Nemec had seen tougher chances go begging. Finally Union were penetrating, finally something might happen, but the introduction of Ronny and Adrian Ramos started to turn the tide back in favour of the Blau-Weiss hordes.
Ronny had been on for three minutes when he sized up a free kick, fairly central, from about 20 yards out. There was a bit of shoving in the wall, and the referee pulled it back again. As Ronny and Ben-Hätira stood over the ball, the referee pulled the wall back again, there was a shove or two, but it was fairly innocuous. Then the Brazilian hit it, Marcel Ndjeng had been allowed to drift back leaving the hole that would ruin Union’s evening, the gap that would make history for Hertha. Daniel Haas saw the ball too late, it was struck with such venom, but maybe he should have done better, maybe the hole in the wall should never have been allowed to appear at all – Markus Karl certainly seemed to think so.
Ronny won’t mind, the evening would belong to him. He will always have something over his brother now.