I felt sorry for Christoph Menz on Sunday. It was his last day at the Stadion an der Alten Försterei, as MSV Duisburg turned up for the last home game of the season, and he had to watch from the stands, fidgeting around in his smart shirt tucked into his smart jeans. Menz has been the man to call on in times of crisis for 1.FC Union for so long that, now he is on his way, it feels like he has been taken for granted. He has always just turned up and done his job. Your fullback’s knackered? Menz’ll do it. The sechser been sold? Menz’ll do it. Emergency centre-half? Menz’ll even do that. While his gelled hair and boyish face don’t ever seem to change, his spot on the bench has been worn down like a rock by the tide, the spot in the corner where he made his shuttle runs in hopeful expectation of getting a nod from Dirk Zingler or Andre Hofschneider to finish his warm up and slot himself into whatever position needs filling is a well worn furrow. read full article
There is an old Chinese curse, “may you live in interesting times”, which, apparently, is often allied to another, harsher, one “May you come to the attention of those in authority”. For the fans of BFC Dynamo the two are intrinsically linked with the BFV Pokal, more so than for the fans of possibly any club currently playing football today. They would love to be dealing with the double edged sword of interesting times again, but few are as aware as they are about the attentions of those in authority that they can bring.
On Thursday came the first of two back to back games against Lichterfelder FC, the quarter final of the Pokal before they meet on Sunday again in the league. The cup is the last chance BFC have got of ending their season on a high note, and that they ran out 3-0 victors was hardly surprising. They were faster, stronger and more determined, even without Björn Brunnemann pulling the strings in midfield. But still they were dogged by occasional doubts, and lapses of concentration. Their fans will be hoping that the tale of next season will be that of their better moments, moments of clarity and vision, moments of battling and pressurising the opposition, and not the moments where they switched off or where their nerves in front of goal got the better of them. Interesting needn’t mean that the opposition get let off the hook too often either. read full article
As pieces of music appropriate to the setting go, this was one of the clumsiest, but then the actual name of the place felt all wrong too – the Nordend Arena is, indeed pretty far North, but it certainly ain’t an arena. The sun was warming the backs of a couple of hundred fans, young and old, men and women. Blankets were laid out in places, buckling at the corners underneath the carefully laid out Tupperwared lunches. Bottles were lazily swigged at, bringing that happy warm sense of reassurance that only the first cold beer on a warm summer’s afternoon can truly deliver. I sparked another fag, took another deep swig and allowed the Sunday lunchtime revery to seep in. This was a derby, Concordia Wilhelsmruh vs Einheit zu Pankow, but it felt as far away from the narcissistic, vitriol driven derbys of footballing folklore. It was different; pastoral. Gentle. read full article
Maybe the players of BFC Alemannia 90 were distracted by the districts around the SV Sparta Lichtenberg pitches at Fischerstrasse – in a forgotten about space tucked between Ostkreuz and the hundreds of sprawling, gardened plattenbau of Rummelsburg – that were all slumbering through the warm spring afternoon. Sedate is not the word for this place on a Sunday. The Klingenberg power station was still chuffing away in the distance, but even the plumes of steam that permanently pour out of the huge chimneys there, disseminating over the Spree and the high rise flats to the north, seemed to be a bit half arsed, as if they were also just going through the motions. read full article
There is an old phrase that springs to mind when talking about Sundays game between TeBe II and Partizan Minsk: writing about the match itself is like dancing about architecture. Partizan won 2-1 in the end but the score meant as little to the couple of hundred fans brave enough to turn out as the stadium announcer’s tongue-tied pronunciation of the Belarusian players names. They, like the game, were reduced to a string of syllables, just noises with some awkward pauses and the legs of stuttering silences left out hanging, just waiting to trip the next guy to attempt them up. read full article
Few fixtures in the 2.Liga are so sodden with the dynamite fuelled, dirty glamour of 1.FC Union vs St. Pauli. To say there is a strong friendship between the clubs would be to miss the point, but they do share an uncanny ability to transform a simple game of football into a screeching, raucous mess of noise and colour. The smiles on the faces of the bottle collectors outside the Alte Försterei – for whom the intermittent patches of snowfall only added to the impression for them that Christmas had come early as their bags and carts overflowed with the discarded detritus of blissful drunkenness – were matched by the mixing sets of fans roaring through the forest. The chill in the air was forgotten amidst the stink of dope and the cacophony of clinking bottles. read full article
No Dice is a partner of the 11mm football film festival, March 14. – 19. at the Babylon Kino, Berlin, Mitte. You can see the full programme for the festival here.
“Matchday” will be screened on Saturday 16. March at 21.30 in Kino 1 before the screening of 1:1 – Thierry Henry.
A patient crying on his psychiatrist’s couch… a dentist, checking the time and leaving his charge half way through his surgery… a guy watching his Bayern supporting girlfriend ironing his Trikot… a concierge giving the rag to his boss to finish off his polishing job on the hotel sign…
At times one needs to remind oneself that Germans sometimes move to Berlin too. It’s not just people like me – the modern day pestilence of Neukölln – who have travelled across the continent to come here. It is Germans too. And whereas the foreign football fan can always have a tawdry little affair with another club whilst living here (all the time saying “nothing will change when I get home to the one I love, this shirt, this other colour on my back, is just a fling, it’s not love”), one needs to remind oneself that it is different for those German migrants to the Hauptstadt. They can’t just shack up with and support another team, just because they live here. It is still too close to home, there are too many conflicting emotions involved. read full article
Photo courtesy of Tobi at www.unveu.de
It was an interesting moment, if not necessarily a season defining one. Björn Kopplin played a simple ball to Baris Özbek, overlapping on the right hand side. He skipped onto it, took a couple of extra touches darting forwards and chipped a beautifully weighted, perfectly imagined, simple high ball towards the back post, and easy as you like, Adam Nemec met it with a powerful header that roared past Martin Männel and into the goal. On Friday evening, Union Berlin were 1-0 up against the Saxon punchbag Erzgebirge Aue after less than five minutes.
Just seconds before I was bemoaning to myself that there was less natural width on the Union team-sheet than could be seen on Kate Moss’s hips after a speed bender. But that was before Union had demonstrated a principle, conceived by Leonardo da Vinci in the 1480s with his Aerial Screw, refined by Sir Alf Ramsey in the 1960s with his proto-diamond formation, and butchered by R Kelly in the 1990s with his hellishly bland take on R & B. Da Vinci was all about torque and Ramsey was all about Nobby Stiles, Kelly was all about little girls, but they all understood that one doesn’t necessarily need wings to fly. read full article
No Dice is a partner of the 11mm football film festival, March 14. – 19. at the Babylon Kino, Berlin, Mitte.
You can see the full programme for the festival here and for the short film festival here. You can watch the film itself here.
“One day if I score, I’ll be so happy I could fly”.
With the hacking coughs from the fags we can’t give up, we often forget. With the lower back pain from the interminable hours sat resentfully at desks, we often forget. We often forget that all the shit in life is merely background noise, just a bit of mindless, repetitive filler there to make the highs, the joy, the excitement seem all the better. In football, that simplest of games, we get so caught up in all of the other stuff – the referee’s mistake, the defender’s lack of pace, the inept manager, the arsehole opposition – that the true beauty of the game, inherent in what we’ll call the brother and sisterhood of the lonesome goal, is what we often forget. read full article
Picture courtesy of www.unveu.de
On Friday, sat in the portakabin media centre in Köpenick that still stands a testament to the differences between his club and the one that his side faced last night, Uwe Neuhaus listed some statistics from Hertha’s season so far. It ran like an old fashioned ticker tape, recording profits and losses from a time worn age. “Hertha are the clear promotion favourites. They have the least goals conceded, the most goals scored, the most goals from set pieces, from free kicks…”. Off the top of his head it went on and on as he played down his sides chances in the big match on Monday night, as he tried to take some of the pressure off the shoulders of his charges as they approached the derby. read full article