When I saw the flyer for Dynamo v Lichtenberg, I made a decision: I definitely wouldn’t be going to that game. I’d go to Babelsberg, who were playing at the same time, and had never (as far as I know) resorted to breathtakingly tasteless, ignorant, self-obsessed and narcissistic ‘jokes’ in an attempt to get more people to their games.
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, here’s a quick summary: Dynamo fans made a flyer for the Lichtenberg game with the phrase ‘Erich had to take this route too.’ It was a reference to the Lichtenberg 47 home ground being right beside the Stasi headquarters in Normannenstraße, and the route that Stasi boss Erich Mielke would have taken on his way to watch Dynamo. While the club made it clear that fans acting alone were responsible, the response from the Dynamo authorities did not exactly distance themselves from the idea: “The media response was huge. Now lots of people know that we’re playing against Lichtenberg. That’s not usually the case. From this point of view, the action was successful,” said press officer Martin Richter. A bizarre statement, considering how anxious the Dynamo powers that be have been in recent years to remove preconceptions of the club.
So I had made my decision to definitely avoid the game, when, on Friday, I received a beautifully earnest email from a Berlin football fan, asking No Dice to consider coming watch his team. His team? BFC Dynamo. So, like he asked, I considered it. I thought about the Dynamo fans who would glorify the actions of a man so anxious to maintain the status quo of the dictatorship that gave him so much power that he would create a network of informers, one for every four citizens. But then I thought about the Dynamo fans that I have actually met in person, who eruditely reject these asinine portrayals of the club – intelligent, open-minded individuals who wished that Dynamo could be simply a football team.
And so I decided to go to Dynamo, and to go for the fact that, like many of their fans, I simply want them to be a football team supported by people who want to watch football. Despite stupid, attention- and outrage-seeking flyers. And, as it happened, it appeared as though most of the 1,012 present had turned up to watch football too (the few who raised a banner listing the years of the DDR Oberliga title wins aside, with the interesting ‘Zurück zu alter Stärke’ below it (‘back to the strength of old’). With a Mielke banner paraded around that same, sparsely populated section of terrace, one can’t help but think that that the Stärke can’t have referred to footballing dominance).
From the off, the referee Petrit Velici was unnecessarily pernickety, drawing the ire of the home fans for a series of soft free-kicks for and against both teams. Dynamo took advantage of the stop-start openings, Matthias Steinborn finishing excellently under Danny Kempter in the Lichtenberg goal with just seven minutes on the clock. From then on Dynamo looked in control without ever being threatening – Nico Patschinski was isolated on the left wing and was well tracked by Marinko Becke, who was roundly booed at every touch after having made the most of a crunching Christian Preiss tackle right in front of the main stand.
On a rare Lichtenberg attack, Kadir Erdil took a spill just inside the box, and the referee, despite howls of protest, pointed to the spot. It was a soft penalty, but Sebastian Reiniger didn’t care: he smashed it right down the middle, and Dynamo keeper Carsten Busch was lucky to have dived out of the way – it’d have taken his head otherwise. Reiniger’s subsequent Stuart Pearce-like celebration indicated that he was quite pleased at having scored against Dynamo.
After the break, the introduction of Ibrahim Keser to the Dynamo attack added a great deal of dynamism and pace to the previously static frontline, but at the price of organisation and stability: for every penetrating run, Keser also gave Lichtenberg an easy counterattack by losing the ball in risky positions. Frustrating for the home manager, but it certainly made for an enthralling second half. Lichtenberg’s substitute Moussa Doumbia was finding plenty of space in behind the Dynamo defence, and with his best opportunity, nearly broke the crossbar with a thundering effort from close range.
As the clock ticked down, the guests did everything in their power to ensure that the ball was out of play for most of the ticking. Cramps and mystery injuries were rife as Dynamo pushed forward, and, as an injury to Marinko Becke left a huge gaping hole in the centre of defence, Steinborn once more ran clear and tucked the ball under Kempter. The flag was up though, and, although the decision was borderline, the fact that Becke had been lying injured for a good twenty seconds as Dynamo played on meant that justice, perhaps, had been done with a 1-1 draw. The result leaves both teams six points adrift of NOFV Oberliga Nord leader Luckenwalde – for promoted Lichtenberg, a upper mid-table spot is more than satisfactory, but for promotion-hunting Dynamo, unbeaten since the opening day of the season, the inability to finish off the games that they dominate is what sets them aside from their higher-placed rivals.
And now, if I may, a brief conclusion on the flyer controversy before No Dice wipes the Dynamo slate clean once more. If you’re bored of it, feel free to stop reading here.
A variety of statements from fans on Facebook decried those offended by the flyer as not having the capacity to understand irony – itself an ironic statement, and here’s why. Satire requires those consuming the joke to fully understand the standpoint of those making the joke. We, i.e. the non Dynamo-supporting public, are not yet ready to hear these Dynamo in-jokes, because the club, with its Mielke banners and hooligans ready to hijack any big occasion, have not shown us that the club has moved on (and the yells of ‘Schieber, Schieber’ against today’s referee, to me, appeared glaringly free of irony). The bubble of in-jokes and martyrdom that BFC Dynamo exists in cannot last forever. Bursting it from within is the only way it can ever be anything other than what it was.