Hertha BSC – End of Season Report

Let’s get this off to a start by saying that I have been exceptionally lazy at writing stuff on here since the end of the Hinrunde, I have already made a promise to myself that next season, I will resume doing weekly updates. Whether or not that comes to fruition remains to be seen and whether or not anyone other than myself actually cares, is probably already very clear. Anyway, we are now approaching the end of the season and the start of World Cup fever is well and truly setting in, there are still a few more games to be played in the lower echelons of the Berlin pyramid but with regard to the big two, their seasons reached a rather tired climax over the weekend. Neither Hertha BSC or 1.FC Union will be massively upset with their league finishes but there is no doubt that there is massive need for improvement from both clubs if they are going to build on the excellent foundations that they already have in place. First off, here is a summary of the season just gone for the Old Lady from the West.

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For Hertha BSC, the season began in emphatic fashion. Drunk on promotion euphoria and the renewed sense of optimism and excitement that comes with it, the Alte Dame got off to a flying start to the campaign, recording 7 points from their first 3 games and chalking up some impressive results and performances in the process, the crowning moment being a thumping 6 – 1 annihilation of Eintracht Frankfurt on the opening day of the season. Fantastic performances against the likes of Bayern Muenchen and Bayer Leverkusen saw them narrowly (and in the case of the former, undeservedly) defeated. As well as they started, a lack of consistency was the biggest issue for the Herthaner this season. Whereas one week they were able to travel to Dortmund and take 3 points against the eventual 2nd placed side, the next they would bumble around, giving the ball away in the middle of the park, not creating anything and eventually getting stuffed by the likes of eventually relegated 1.FC Nuernberg. Next season, reinforcements have to made in the attacking department, Saturdays game versus Borussia Dortmund saw Colombian World Cup representative and centre forward Adrian Ramos, don the famous blue and white stripes for the final time before making a big move across the country to the Westfalenstadion. His contribution has been of upmost importance to ensuring Hertha BSC’s Bundesliga status, scoring 16 and setting up 9 of the teams 42 goal tally for the season. There is not a doubt about it; this is one hell of a big gap to fill next term and one that can’t be filled with inexperience. It is also of great concern that the other strikers on the books have only mustered 14 goals between the 3 of them in the entire campaign which points to either a system built around Ramos or a massive lack in depth, evidence points to there being a very strong case for both arguments. Further to the worrying lack of goals in a Ramos-less Hertha side, they are also in dire need of some creativity in the Midfield. Whereas last season, they were able to rely on the fan favourite and all-round good guy, Ronny, to create something out of nothing, set up a lot of goals and also record top scorer status from Midfield. There is no doubt about it but this year, he has really struggled to step up to the plate and replicate the exceptional 2.Bundesliga campaign in the top flight. He has only scored 4 times and set up 4 goals which is of great concern to the Hertha faithful and does raise question marks over whether or not he is fit enough, consistent enough or maybe even good enough to perform at the highest level and as to where they are going to find somebody to play the role of last seasons Ronny.

All in all, I think the season for Hertha can be summed up very simply. It’s been inconsistent and frustrating; for every emphatic 6-1 destruction of a side, there is a drab 0-0 with a relegation struggler to provide some balance, for every moral-boosting and high quality away victory against a Champions League finalist, there is a disheartening and flat loss to a far lesser side just around the corner and for every dogged, hard-working and undeserved loss to the eventual league winners, there is an uninterested, demotivating and down-right boring performance against another of the sides who seemingly seem to serve that type of dross up on a regular basis. I think this inconsistency is reflected in their 12th place finish, they spent the whole season always looking slightly too good to be sucked in to yet another unthinkable relegation battle but never good enough to actually mount any form of assault on the Europa League spots that were not too much of an unrealistic goal considering some of the players they have and the encouraging start to the campaign. They need to go away this summer and reflect upon some of the season’s positive moments and take what they can from these sparkles of hope, whilst at the same time creating a culture of consistency and ensuring that they can take points in some of the games against the leagues lesser sides. If they can focus on this and reinforce the squad in the right areas, they stand a chance of improving on this term but it must be noted by Lukuhay and the Ostkurve that a combination of a failure to address the very obvious issues and a poor transfer window, could see Hertha embroiled in yet another fight for top flight survival.

League Position – 12th

Player of the Season – Adrian Ramos – dynamic, cultured and a clinical finisher. It will be interesting to see how he fares in a side in which he is not the only creator and goal scorer.

Average Home Attendance: 51,889 – massively skewed by the tendency for a big away following in the Hauptstadt but for a mid-table side, impressive nonetheless.

Atmosphere: A stark contrast to the depressing, cold soulless bowl I was used to visiting in the 2.Bundesliga. Higher attendances, bigger away followings and some occasional moments of success meant that this time out, the efforts of the Ostkurve filled the vast expanses of the Olympiastadion

Highlight of the Season: Going to Borussia Dortmund and winning 2-1. Only 3 other teams can claim to have achieved that this year and that is something the Herthaner can be proud of.

Hertha BSC, 1.FC Union Berlin and Regionalliga Nordost – Hinrunde Progress Report

This time last season, I’d hit a bit of a dead end. Having moved here alone due to my job, possessing minimal German language skills and knowing absolutely nobody in the city, I had decided to use football at all levels as a thinly veiled cover-up for getting pissed, a vain attempt to meet likeminded people and of course a remedy for the massive Arsenal and Brentford shaped holes that had appeared in my life. Just as I was gaining some momentum in most of these areas, the bastard snow came down and the football calendar was, by and large, put on hiatus for what seemed like an eternity but was in reality only a few months. Although this is still something that is of great concern to me, I have to say that after standing among the Gluehwein drinking masses in the driving wind at Empor v TeBe a couple of weeks back and after losing the feeling in my toes in Zehlendorf on Saturday, I am more than ready for it this year and following the games last weekend, my weekends are now going to be dedicated to other important things such as the mouthwatering Premier League calendar, The Darts and some of the array of Hallenturnier that will take place across the city.

So, it’s Winterpause o’clock and here’s to hoping that this season it remains within the given timeframe. Of course, when it comes to the prolonged winter that often plagues this city or the heavy handed approach given by the Amt responsible for keeping sport pitches open, no promises can be made by the BFV or the DFB, however, we can all say a collective prayer to the weather gods and keep our fingers and toes firmly crossed for the duration.

Aside from giving us fans and geeks a bit of respite from the cold weather, the Winterpause also gives players and managers a chance to reflect on what has been achieved (or not achieved) and what can be maintained or built upon when the Rueckrunde kicks off in February.

Here is my report on the season so far for the Berlin teams in the top 4 tiers; this will be followed later in the week with an Oberliga and BerlinLiga round up.

I am also very aware that Hertha and Union still have a game left but I’m off back to England at the weekend so won’t get the chance to add anything to what I’ve already seen so far this season.


Hertha BSC

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Last season, there were few more depressing places to watch football than the Olympiastadion. Friday night games against the giants of Ingolstadt and FSV Frankfurt in front of less than 35,000 supporters, who clearly would have rather been anywhere else but there, gave a poor first impression and generally left me feeling both emotionally and literally frozen.

The feeling around the place seems to have changed quite a lot and rightly so, the attendances are up, the quality of the football is improving and the atmosphere is now even close to rivalling the scenes that take place in Koepenick.

This has been largely down to a surprisingly solid return to top flight football. There is no denying that they’ve struggled against the bigger sides in the league and have had a few runs in which they’ve failed to score any goals for prolonged periods of time but you can’t take away from them their league position and the fantastic early season form that saw them only lose 1 game out of the first 10.

With one game to go before the Winterpause hits the top division, Hertha currently find themselves sitting just outside of the UEFA Cup spots in 7th position.

I think a lot of positives can be taken from the first half of the season but a sense of cautious optimism must be kept in mind amongst the players and the fans who will be all too aware of how their team has a refined knack for inconsistency and how the bottom half of the table is all too close for comfort. If they keep their minds in the right place though, a respectable mid-table finish can be achieved and they can begin to look forward to building upon this and remaining in what is seen as their rightful home in the Bundesliga.

League Position – 7th

Predicted League Finish – 11th

Player of the Hinrunde – Adrian Ramos

Average Home Attendance: 52,352

Highlight of the Season so far: a 6-1 opening day of the season destruction of Eintracht Frankfurt

1.FC Union Berlin

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If you’d have asked any fan of 1.FC Union back in August how they’d want their side to be sitting come this stage of the season , the usual response would be somewhere between not giving a shit as long as they weren’t disgraced and building upon last seasons relatively impressive 7th place finish. Of course some propaganda about collectivism and atmosphere being the top priority would have followed this but despite the thoughts of some fans, this is something that will not be lost in the Alte Foersterei any time soon and the St Pauliisation of the club is still a long way away.

Following a sluggish opening encounter against Bochum and an away game in Bielefeld that was far from impressive, Union kicked in to life in mid-August and the side went on a 6 game unbeaten run sending them to the unimaginable heights of 1st place in the 2.Bundesliga. Similar to Hertha, it has been the leagues big boys that have proved the biggest problem for the Koepenicker and losses at the hands of Greater Fuerth, Koeln and Kaiserslautern really put things in to perspective for them. This is by no means something for the fans of Union to get worked up about though as going in to the last game of the Hinrunde, they still sit in 5th position in the league and are only 4 points behind the 2nd automatic promotion spot. It seems to me that it’s been a season that has, so far, been a resounding success and something that everyone at the club should be very proud of (not to say that the majority of the fans wouldn’t be extremely proud of their club in any other circumstances mind you!).

Upon reconvening for the home game against Dynamo Dresden in February, Union have nothing to lose, in my eyes, they’ve done enough to remain in the top half of the table and they have enough about them to ensure that this isn’t something that will be easily taken away from them. If they continue to play as they are at the moment and continue to record victories against the divisions lesser sides and those who are, on paper, on par with themselves, the results against the bigger sides won’t matter so much and they can focus on celebrating a job well done come May.

League Position – 5th

Predicted League Finish – 7th

Player of the Hinrunde –  Thorsten Mattuschka

Average Home Attendance: 19,798

Highlight of the Season so far: the 3-2 win against St Pauli. Genuinely one of the most incredible matches I’ve ever seen buoyed by an atmosphere that sent chills down the spine.  The 2-1 victory against Fortuna Duesseldorf also deserves a mention.

Regionlliga Nordost

1.FC Union Berlin II

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It’s pretty fucking hard to talk about fans expectations when it comes to the Nachwuchs at 1.FC Union Berlin as there doesn’t really seem to be any at all. For a club that is so vocal in it’s support of “Verein” culture, the turnout at 2nd team games is weak and the care for the side really doesn’t seem to be there whatsoever.

All this aside, they have played pretty well so far this season and currently sit in 4th place. The side has only lost once all season and that was in a very well contested match against the current league leaders, TSG Neustrelitz.

Considering the pre-season transfer market saw them completely revamp their side with quite a few new players and a new manager, they were able to gel quickly and are playing a style of football that seems to beautifully mimic the attacking brand utilized at the Alte Foersterei for 2.Bundesliga games. This has been reflected in some of the high scoring encounters they have been involved in so far.

The team and the handful of fans that attend their matches should be very proud of how much they’ve achieved in such a short space of time and can only look continue in the same vein come February. Of course, winning the league means nothing as they would probably be unwilling to make the jump in to the 3.Liga next year (and, I believe, unable to unless the 1st team get promoted) but it does bode well for the club as a whole to have a strong group of players in reserve, plying their trade at a reasonable level of football.

League Position – 4th

Predicted League Finish – 3rd

Player of the Hinrunde–  David Hollwitz

Average Home Attendance: 425

Highlight of the Season so far: Winning 3-8 away at Germania Halberstadt which saw them score 6 times in the 2nd half

Berliner Athletik Klub 07

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BAK are solid club with clear ambitions of winning the race to become Berlin’s 3rd footballing power. As it stands, they are the highest ranked club outside of the “Big 2” (with the exception of Union’s 2nd team) and are slowly but surely growing themselves a solid fan base across the city, including quite a strong section of fans from other clubs who enjoy the friendly atmosphere and reasonable quality of football.

They won the hearts of many last season when they knocked Hoffenheim out of the DFB Pokal but this season the focus has been fully on the league and despite starting very strongly, their form has started to tail off somewhat and they now sit in 5th place.

Starting the season on an unbeaten run of 10 games, BAK really looked as if they were the team to beat. They have, however, had some relatively poor results of late including back to back losses at the hands of TSG Neustrelitz, VFC Plauen and Wacker Nordhausen. Recording these results going in the Winterpause is a far from ideal situation and the players and fans will be hoping that there side can come back rejuvenated for the “Derby” against Viktoria in February and that the team can start the Rueckrunde in the same emphatic fashion as they did at the beginning of this season.

League Position – 5th

Predicted League Finish – 3rd

Player of the Hinrunde  –  Christian Siemund

Average Home Attendance: 1,208 in the Poststadion

Highlight of the Season so far: Winning 3-1 against Magdeburg in the Friedrich Ludwig Jahnsportpark

FC Viktoria 1889 Berlin Lichterfelde-Tempelhof e.V

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Still the football club with the catchiest name in Berlin, FV1BLTEV came in to this season with high hopes and ambitions to rival BAK for that much coveted “3rd Power” title. Formed after a merger between the Traditionsverein FC Viktoria Berlin and the well set up Lichterfelder FC 1892, the club have an enviable mix of history and infrastructure that was supposed to set them in good stead for the season(s) ahead.

In terms of the football, the FV1BLTEV experiment has spluttered and stuttered in to action and has not quite reached the exciting level that the founders of the fusion club would have hoped to have been able to attain in order to grow the supporter base of this new club. Their home form has been particularly disappointing and they’ve been unable to win once at Stadion Lichterfelde throughout the Hinrunde which is not ideal for a new club looking to bolster their home support.

Currently sitting firmly in mid-table, the season has been neither massively disappointing nor any good. They managed to achieve the bizarre record of drawing 9 out of the first 15 games which, depending on how you look at it, can be seen as an indicator of their defensive resilience and ability to hold out the opposition or as a failure of their strikers and their inability to close off games.

I think it is probably a case of “what could have been” for Thomas Herbst’s side and it will be hard for them not to dwell on the fact that a lot of these draws will be viewed as points dropped rather than gained, particularly as their 3 wins have come against 3 of the leagues bottom 4 sides. Aside from this, it’s not a terrible first showing in the Regionalliga for the new club and they can be encouraged by the fact that they’ve only lost 3 matches all season. This, coupled with the fact that Hertha II and Lok Leipzig are already finding themselves cut adrift at the bottom of the table, should be enough to ensure that they will have a place in the Regionalliga Nordost and with that, a platform to build upon come the end of this season.

League Position – 11th

Predicted League Finish – 14th

Player of the Hinrunde –  Uemit Ergirdi

Average Home Attendance: 809

Highlight of the Season so far: The 1-2 away victory in the Amateurstadion against the Hertha BSC II team

Hertha BSC II

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Considering last seasons impressive 6th place finish, you’d have been forgiven for thinking that this was a side that would be at least in the running for a top half finish and potentially more. Well, as we reach the halfway stage it’s got to be said that they have been far from impressive and have limped in to the Winterpause with only 8 points, having only been out of the relegation zone once all season.

With only 2 victories all season, it’s hard to take many positives out of the overall situation that they find themselves in. In order to remain in the division next term, the second half of the season has to see some dramatic improvement and results against the other teams who find themselves at the wrong end of the table are going to be vital and decisive to their league position come May.

The only positive that can be taken out of it is that attendances are up and have increased for the 2nd year running. It’s hard to see how this will be maintained if the results keep going in the wrong direction.

League Position – 15th

Predicted League Finish – 15th

Player of the Hinrunde –  Fabian Holland

Average Home Attendance: 550

Highlight of the Season so far: a 5-2 home victory against a recently relegated SV Babelsberg 03 side is undoubtedly the best performance and result of their season so far

 

Photos are included with thanks to Ian at No Dice Magazine (www.facebook.com/nodicemagazine)

Weekend Preview

FBL-EUR-C1-DORTMUND-ARSENAL
Afternoon and apologies for the irrelvant photo of the greatest man that ever lived, I haven’t quite calmed down from Wednesday night yet. In the last week I’ve been on an International break with a football-beer-herb holiday to The Netherlands. We took in games at Almere City and Amsterdam FC but the highlight was the Spakenburg Derby. For anyone who has not heard of this fixture before, it’s quite possibly the most delightfully strange excuse for a piss-up and a dig at your neighbours that football has to offer. Spakenburg is a village in the north of the country with only 20,000 inhabitants and 2 football clubs. On Derby Day, everyone takes a side and nearly half of the village pack in to either the stadium of Spakenburg FC or IJsselmeervogels. Last Saturday saw the latter mentioned side hosting the match in a “Rood v Blauw” battle for local supremacy. The football was pretty awful with neither side really getting a foothold on the game but the real spectacle took place in the stands and on the pitch before the game. Only in the lower depths of European Football could you find something so bizarre it makes even a hardened follower of the BerlinLiga question their sanity. In the build up to the game, we were treated to the wonderful scene of a group of Smurfs (the derogatory nickname for “Die Blauwen” given to them by the ‘Vogels), being chased around the pitch by a giant Chicken and a priest. Seriously, baffling stuff but bloody good fun to watch nonetheless. Unfortunately, due to a few too many Jupilers the night before, I was unable to attend the post-match party but the members of our group who went have been singing Dutch-Gabba-Schlager and shouting “Ik hatte smurfen” ever since the game finished so I can only assume it was craziness in it’s highest form. Basically, every one should already be booking their flights and hotels for the return leg. Possibly the best derby in the world.  Here is a little taster of the weirdness courtesy of YouTube.

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Anyway, that is all besides the point as its only bloody Friday again and it is nearly time for another weekend of excess fussball, bier und wurst consumption and to make matters better it’s a Friday night with a floodlit BerlinLiga game. I love Fridays at the best of times but love them even more when Tennis Borussia Berlin are playing as it means I get to rant about them on here without feeling at all biased and get to spend an evening drinking beer in the best possible surroundings with some of the finest people in this city. Last time I wrote a preview on a TeBe game (or at all for that matter), it was in the build up to the SFC Stern 1900 away game and I may have confidently (and maybe a bit arrogantly) predicted that since improving the discipline of the side, TeBe had started to look like real title contenders and that there was some sort of belief amongst both the fans and the players. Well, 3 red cards and 2 losses later, it is safe to say that I had completely misjudged the situation. The Stern game was a complete farce from start to finish and the ill-discipline displayed by Fabien Thokomeni and Tom Kirstein was typical of a team that has, once again, failed to learn from their mistakes. This stupidity and complete lack of professionalism was compounded further as TeBe saw Daniel Bongartz dismissed early on in last Sundays 0-1 defeat at the hands of TSV Rudow. All this aside, they will be looking to bounce back tonight and use the increased atmosphere a Friday night game at the Mommse brings to get back to winning ways. Tonight’s guests are Fuechse Reinickendorf Berlin who currently sit in 13th position in the BerlinLiga table. The Foxes struggled to get off to a good start but will be very encouraged by their performances of late recording 13 points from their last 5 games. In all honesty, unless TeBe have been completely bollocked by the boss and spent the last week at some sort of Football Brat Camp, I can’t see passed the away side getting a result and effectively halting TeBe’s title ambitions. To go from contenders to mid-table obscurity in the space of 3 weeks would be a real shame but they can’t blame anyone but themselves and they will have to go along way to redeem them selves this evening. The game takes place at the Mommsenstadion (nearest S-Bahn – Messe Sud) and kick off is at 19.00pm.

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Tomorrow, there is, for some reason far less games than usual across the city and if I can muster the courage to drag myself out of my inevitably hungover pit, I will be heading along to Rotation Prenzlauer Berg against TUS Makkabi II, however, the game of the day takes place the Stadion An Der Alten Foersterei (nearest S-Bahn – Koepenick) as 1.FC Union Berlin will be looking to record yet another home victory following their 4-0 away defeat at the hands on 1.FC Koeln on Monday evening. Still riding high in the league, there is no disgrace in the Koepenicker losing to the best side in the division and the fans, players and the club as a whole can be very proud that they have been able to maintain their high flying start and still sit in 2nd place in the league. The only cause for concern for Uwe Neuhaus and his side is that the recent games they have lost have been against the other teams who are fighting for promotion. These results aside, they are still in a commanding position within the league and tomorrows match gives them a fantastic chance to add 3 valuable points to their tally. This is not to say that KSC won’t put up a challenge though, they have been a bit of a surprise package in their first season back in the 2.Bundesliga currently sitting in 5th place in the league and on a run of 3 games without a loss. They will also be well backed in numbers and in noise tomorrow as their fan freundschaft with Hertha BSC usually swells the KSC away following for games in the Hauptstadt. The game kicks off at 13:00pm and there are still limited tickets available in all areas of the stadium.

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Sunday sees a nearly full BerlinLiga calendar as well as mouthwatering ties in the Regionalliga, Oberliga and beyond. The top game of the day takes place at the Ernst-Reuter Sportfeld (nearest U-Bahn – Onkel Toms Hutte) as Berlin Liga leaders Hertha 03 Zehlendorf welcome 2nd placed Sparta Lichtenberg, one of the most surprising teams to be included in a top of the table duel. Hertha 03 are certainly the team to beat this season and have scored more goals than anyone else in the division. Currently, 03 are on a run of 5 straight wins in all competitions and have only lost once all season. I can’t deny for a second that with the stadium they have and the team currently signed up, that they would do very well in the Oberliga and if they can keep this run going in the Winterpause, it would be very hard to see passed them lifting the trophy come May. Sunday’s guests are enjoying their time in the BerlinLiga since being promoted from the Landesliga last year and they have managed to record 8 victories in the process. There is no doubt that they fully deserve their high-flying status but they won’t mind me saying that tomorrow will be the sternest test they have faced thus far. Kick off is at 14.00pm.

So, thanks for reading and apologies for waffling on, the Friday caffeine rush and anticipation for the weekend does get the better of me from time to time. Good luck to all the teams involved this weekend and as always, I hope that you enjoy yourself at whatever games you end up at.

Viel Spass!

Photos are included with thanks to Ian at No Dice (www.facebook.com/nodicemagazine) and Felix at Groundhopping Etc. (www.facebook.com/groundhoppingetc)

Club and Stadium Report: BSV Eintracht Mahlsdorf

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Better late than never (work over football is something I have never quite been able to understand), here is the next Club and Stadium report from the many I have got along to so far this season. A couple of months back, I undertook a two match Ost-Berlin Sunday which ended up at a very one-sided match between todays profiled club. Eintracht Mahsldorf and VfB Hermsdorf. Here is a report on their Am Rosenhag home and the history of their club.

The (brief) History

originally founded in 1896 as a Gymnastics club, BSV Eintracht Mahlsdorf is one of the oldest recorded sport clubs in Berlin. It was not until 1912 that they opened their Footballing division, although this did not see them partake in any competitive matches as the fledgling sides progress was rudely interrupted by the outbreak of the First World War. From 1916 onwards, they were more heavily involved in football and since then it has been one of the most important sports for the overall association. Since the end of the Second World War, Mahlsdorf have consistently had a football division and during the decade following the end of the war, they played some high profile Berlin Cup games including wins against the once prestigious Hertha 03 Zehlendorf and Spandauer SV.

During the DDR years, the club was known as Medizin Lichtenberg, Medizin Marzahn and also Medizin Berlin and they were playing their football at the lower levels of the stated structured footballing pyramid.
Following the collapse of the DDR, they reverted back to their original name of Eintracht Mahlsdorf and in the following years, they have now formed as a club independent of the overall BSV Eintracht Mahlsdorf sports club. Currently they have over 300 members across multiple different age groups, meaning that they are well represented across the Berlin football landscape. Today, the first team sit in the BerlinLiga and despite a fantastic start to the season; recent results have meant that they have lost the top spot.

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 The Stadium

Desolate, bleak, cold and exposed are all words that can be used to describe the home of BSV Eintracht Mahlsdorf. With 2 pitches, one grass, one artificial they are equipped to deal with matches even in the winter. The grass pitch is a simple affair, surrounded by a running track. There is no stand to speak of and the chances of catching pneumonia or drowning on a rainy afternoon are very high. Best place to stand is, obviously, in close quarters to the Beer and Grill as, if I am honest, there is very little else to take in when it comes to the stadium (aside from top-end BerlinLiga action, of course).
With regards to the artificial pitch, it is also another rather bleak affair with not a lot to speak of in terms of Stadium architecture or cover. I genuinely don’t think even the most hardened of Groundhopper could find a reasonable excuse to attend a game here in the depths of winter.

The Way

As well as being desolate in terms of the Stadium, it’s also as close as you can get to the Ost-Side of Brandenburg whilst still remaining in Berlin meaning that it is a bit of mission in comparison to other grounds in the city. There are a few ways to get there and it largely depends on where you are coming from. If you are coming from Alexanderplatz, it is possible to take a 26 minute S-Bahn journey directly to S-Bhf Mahlsdorf which is a 10 minute walk away from the stadium located on Melanchthonstrasse (exit on to Hoenower Strasse and turn right on to Am Rosenhag, the ground is on the corner of Melachthonstrasse and Am Rosenhag). This is probably the best and most efficient route. I made the mistake of taking the M6 tram all the way back from the ground through the never-ending concrete jungle that is Marzahn-Hellersdorf. Unless you are a fan of long winded tram journeys through increasingly desolate and depressing (no offence, local residents!) areas of town then I would not advise this route in the slightest.

The Food

Not a great deal on offer in the stadium when we visited but you could grab a Bratwurst for €2 from the grill. Further to this, they also have an extensive menu on offer in the Clubhouse. Example from there is Schnitzel and Fries for €7.50 and Boulette and Potato Salad also priced at €7.50.

The Drink

0.4l of Radeberger is available for €2.40. They also have a selection on behind the bar and this includes Berliner Pilsner (0,5 from the tap €2.70), Meininger Pilsner (0,4 from the tap for €1.50) and Erdinger Hefeweizen (0,5l bottle for €2.20)
The Tax

€6 for full paying adults.

The Fixture List
http://community.fussball.de/de/verein_ergebnisse/bsv-eintracht-mahlsdorf/66011361.html

 

 

Photos are included with thanks to Ian at No Dice Magazine (www.facebook.com/nodicemagazine) 

Weekend Preview

It has been a while since I have written anything on here, the reason being that I had a sudden realisation as to just how much of my life is consumed by football thinking too deeply about it, too much of the time. That and the  small fact that my boss took some level of objection to me using company time to write about the lower levels of Berlin football, I mean, what sort of person would not totally and wholeheartedly understand my reasons and needs for doing this? Some people eh?! 

Anyway, since my last blog a lot has happened in the world of Berlin football and the BerlinLiga is really heating up again and is shaping up to be as close as last seasons final table. At the moment, just 4 points separate the top 9 in the league and already the pulses are racing and the thoughts of fans and managers are turning to “what might be come May”. If like myself, you spend a great deal of your time talking with fans of the clubs and über-fans of the league, everyone will tell you that the unthinkable is possible and the dizzy heights of the Oberliga and away games in Altludersdorf really aren’t that far out of reach, even for some of the smaller teams currently embroiled in the top of the table battle. It may be too early in the season and far too close a league to make any predictions but I feel that having watched as many games as I have so far this season (over 25 in this league alone) that I am entitled to at least an educated guess as to how it could pan out. My thoughts are that despite the solid start to the season, Eintracht Mahlsdorf are a fading force and the fragilities of their once solid defensive line are becoming more apparent. This was evident last week at the Mommsenstadion where TeBe were able to slice through them like the birthday cakes being consumed in great volume on the terraces. This leaves it to one of the chasing pack to mount an assault on Mahlsdorf’s early season prowess and my prediction lies with either Hertha 03 Zehlendorf or TeBe. Hertha 03 were the most active side in the league over the summer, signing just about anyone with a bit of class looking for an out from one of the leagues lesser sides. They have looked solid and somewhat unbeatable so far this season and have not been shy in front of goal. Currently sitting in 2nd, they have a superior goal difference compared to everyone except for Mahlsdorf and have won every single game since the beginning of September.  TeBe are, however, a resurgent force,  a few weeks back there was a lot of discontent amongst the E-Block faithful and a sense that the team could be more focussed and disciplined was felt around the Mommsenstadion, in the pub and across the internet. They’ve bounced back very well from a couple of minor hiccups at the beginning of the season and are now unbeaten in both league and cup competition since the 1st of September. This, in my eyes, has been down to a renewed sense of togetherness between fans and players which coupled with some fantastic performances from Robert Scholl, Hamdi Chamki, Alexander Kynass and that man, Micha Fuss has meant that TeBe really do look a force to be reckoned with. I also believe there could be some tenuous link to an article written by No Dice following the loss to Hermsdorf (http://www.nodicemagazine.com/2013/09/23/hermsdorf-harmony-offers-lesson-to-toiling-tebe/) in which the downfalls of TeBe were heavily examined. They’ve improved in every area discussed since it was published.

So, ramblings on the past aside, it’s time to look ahead to the weekend in which we see another full and exciting fixture list across the city.

Tonight, the aforementioned title challengers, Hertha 03 Zehlendorf welcome TUS Makkabi to the Ernst Reuter Sportfeld (Nearest U-Bhf – Onkel-Toms-Hutte – U3) in a top v bottom BerlinLiga clash. Tus Makkabi have looked nothing short of dreadful in recent weeks and have currently only notched up 1 point to their tally throughout the season. With the league already shaping up to be very close at the top end of the table, the fans at Makkabi will be massively concerned about in which league they will be playing their football next season and really need to start recording some victories soon or else they could be out of it even going in to the WInterpause. Hertha 03 will be looking to continue their impressive run of form and both fans and players will be expecting nothing less than 3 points tonight. Even the most optimistic advocates of competitive football won’t be able to see passed a comprehensive home victory this evening.. Kick off is at 7.45 and entrance will, I believe, be €6. Be sure to order a Pommes Mountain as well. You will not be disappointed by quality or quantity.

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Tomorrow, I will, of course be visiting SFC Stern 1900 as they welcome TeBe for an overly friendly affair that usually ends in drunkenness and debauchery in the stands and the fantastic clubhouse.  This is, however, by no means the game of the day. This “accolade” goes to Berliner AK 07 as they welcome Carl Zeiss Jena to the Poststadion in a top of the table Regionalliga Nordost clash as 2nd play against 4th. BAK have started the season very well and are of the belief that they have enough, both on and off the pitch, to successfully place themselves in the national league system next term. At the moment, they are 1 point off of the lead, with a superior goal difference. They are so far unbeaten this season but face a massive test in a travelling Jena side that have only lost once so far. It should be an intriguing affair and the atmosphere and general good feeling around the club is ever-growing and a win tomorrow will go a long way to continuing the upward trend and of course, cementing themselves at the top of the table (all depending on how Neustrelitz get on away at VfB Auerbach tonight though, of course!).

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Finally, Sunday sees another enticing set of fixtures including a full BerlinLiga programme (with the exception of Stern v TeBe). Again though, it is the Regionalliga Nordost that provides us with the game of the day and for me, this will be at the Amateurstadion in the Olympiapark (Nearest U-Bhf – Olympiastadion – U2) as a Berlin derby of sorts takes place as FC Viktoria 1889 Berlin Lichterfelde-Tempelhof e.V (known as FV1BLTEV from here onwards) visit the Hertha BSC second team. In terms of league standings and the overall make up of the table, this game has little significance. Hertha fans have been vocal in their criticism of the 2nd team this year as they have failed to get any form of momentum behind them and currently find themselves topping the relegation zone in the division, having only recorded 6 points. FV1BLTEV, have managed to record 7 draws out of the opening 10 games. Although they can be encouraged by the fact they have only lost twice all season, their inability to convert draws in to wins is cause for concern for Thomas Herbst and his team. This Sunday should, however, offer a great chance for them to get their second win of the season so far and a bit of one-upsmanship over their West Berlin contemporaries. The game kicks of at 13.30 and is €8 in.

So, best of luck for your teams this weekend (unless you are one of the 40 Stern Supporters) and I hope that wherever you end up that the weather holds out and the beer is cheap and plentiful. Full fixture list at the bottom of the page and I should have some more Stadium Reports and Groundhop plans up over the course of the weekend.

Viel Spass!

Full Berlin Fixture List (Bundesliga – BerlinLiga)

BerlinLiga
Tonight
19:45     FC Hertha 03     –             TUS Makkabi    

Saturday
 14:30    SFC Stern 1900 –             Tennis Borussia Berlin 

Sunday
14:00     SV Tasmania Berlin        –             Füchse Berlin Reinickendorf    
14:00     SV Sparta Lichtenberg  –             Berliner SC       
14:00     SC Gatow            –             Nordberliner SC             
14:00     SC Staaken         –             SV Empor Berlin             
14:00     VfB Hermsdorf –             1.FC Wilmersdorf          
14:00     BSV Eintracht Mahlsdorf –   TSV Rudow
14:30     SF Johannisthal               –             Köpenicker SC

Bundesliga

Saturday

15:30     Bayern München            –             Hertha BSC

2.Bundesliga

Sunday

13:30     1.FC Union Berlin            –             FC Erzgebirge Aue

Regionalliga Nordost

Saturday

13:30     Berliner Athletik Klub 07             –             FC Carl Zeiss Jena

Sunday

13:30     Hertha BSC II     –             FC Viktoria 1889 Berlin
13:30     VfB Germania Halberstadt          –             1.FC Union Berlin II
13:30     SV Babelsberg 03            –             FSV Wacker Nordhausen

Oberliga

Saturday

14:00     Brandenburger SC Süd –             SV Lichtenberg 47
14:00     RSV Waltersdorf             –             Torgelower SV Greif
15:00     FSV 63 Luckenwalde      –             VSG Altglienicke

Sunday

14:00     FC Pommern Greifswald             –             BFC Dynamo
14:00     SV Altlüdersdorf             –             BSV Hürtürkel

It’s Friday…..

The weekend is here again and a tantalising set of fixtures lie ahead of us over the course of the next few days. It’s been an exciting start to the season across the divisions and we currently see 2 of Ost-Berlin’s big boys leading their respective divisions as 1.FC Union Berlin’s 1-0 win away in Ingolstadt last Sunday took them to the unprecedented dizzy new heights of 1st place in the 2.Bundesliga whilst BFC Dynamo stretched their winning streak to 5 games out of 5 to put them in a comfortable and commanding position at the top of the Oberliga Nord. With these facts in mind, both of these clubs feature in what must be the games of the weekend in der Hauptstadt.

It all begins tonight down in Koepenick in what is probably the biggest game in Germany this weekend, as league leaders, 1.FC Union Berlin welcome last years relegated side and early season favourites Greater Fuerth to the Alte Foeresterei. This match is, even at this early stage of a long campaign, a massive 6 pointer in the promotion stakes and will be the first great indicator for Die Eiserner as to whether they are going to be able to sustain their fantastic start to the season and really compete with some of the bigger names and bigger budgets in the division. Union will be buoyed by the fact that they have been able to grind out some hard fought wins in some very even matches and will hope that the momentum from last weekend and the inevitable noisy buzz around the ground will help them to push on and continue with a home performance in the same vein as the home victories against St Pauli and Fortuna Duesseldorf.  Team news at the moment is that Union will be without 2 first team players this evening as Mario Eggiman and Björn Jopek are still out with long term injuries. Otherwise, they are at full strength and will know that on their day, in front of a packed home crowd, they are very well set up to beat anyone. The fun starts at 18.30 and the game takes place at the beautiful Stadion An der Alten Försterei (https://berlinhopper.wordpress.com/2013/09/12/club-and-stadium-report-1-fc-union-berlin/) Tickets should be available at the Union Tanke although it is advised to get down their early as the top of the league fever is likely to make this game a sell out. If you fancy a beer with an international crowd, there is a large group of people from England and Sweden including myself meeting in the Abseitsfalle before and after the game.

After this evenings antics, it is hard to imagine what sort of state I will be in come the morning but what better tonic for a hangover is there than a trip to the lovely and characterful Hans-Zoschke Stadion, home of SV Lichtenberg 47. Tomorrow, “Siebenvierzig” welcome BFC Dynamo who, as mentioned earlier, are on a fantastic run of form and really are the team to beat in this seasons Oberliga Nord. At this stage of the season, it is hard to see passed Volkan Ulic’s boys in this rematch of last seasons Berliner Pokal final. The home side have struggled to get out of the blocks as quickly as they would have hoped for and have so far struggled to replicate last season’s heroics under the recently departed Daniel Volbert. With only one win under their belt,  Lichtenberg need to start picking up points soon if they are to push themselves in to a top of the table battle as opposed to a scrap for relegation. One talking point tomorrow will be the return of last season’s best player and for me, one of the best young talents in Berlin football at the moment, Lukas Rehben. A favourite at 47 last term, Rehben is a tricky little player with bags of pace and he has been sorely missed by Lichtenberg in the opening few games. It will be very interesting to see how he performs against his former club but one can only expect a warm welcome for last season’s player of the year. Dynamo’s excellent form is well documented so far and with a solid defensive unit only conceding 3 goals so far this season, they really are on track to find themselves in the already Berlin dominated Regionalliga Nordost next year. Football aside, we should expect a good day out at the Zoschke tomorrow as BFC Dynamo have seen crowds soar this season and I can’t see the short trip from Hohenschoenhausen to Lichtenberg being much of an issue for the hardened, vocal and dedicated following in Weinrot-Weiss. The match kicks off at 14:00 and takes place at the Hans-Zoschke Stadion (nearest S-Bahn/U-Bahn – Frankfurter Allee or Magadalenastrasse).

Finally this weekend, with the risk of sounding like a broken record, Tennis Borussia Berlin make the trip up to the VfB Hermsdorf in a BerlinLiga clash on Sunday afternoon. After last Friday nights fantastic win at home to Staaken, TeBe really are looking like a very formidable side and I truly feel, despite the inherent pessimism in Eichkamp, that they are one of the favourites to lift the BerlinLiga trophy. Similarly to Union, they do need to play one of the other top sides in the division to really prove themselves but in the meantime, if Mickey Fuss keeps banging them in, Fabien Thokomeni keeps bombing down the wing and delivering beautiful crosses and Alexander Kynass keeps putting up a massive, attractive, human barrier in front of the goal, TeBe will do no harm to their promotion dreams. Following last weekends thumping 5-0 defeat at the hands of league leaders Eintracht Mahlsdorf, the Arsenal lookalikes from Hermsdorf will be looking to right so many wrongs and get their campaign back on track. They were truly awful last time out and managed to completely lose focus after the first goal had gone in. If they perform like that again, it could be a long hard and potentially devastating season for the BerlinLiga’s longest serving club but as any league regular can tell you, it is a very open division where anyone can genuinely beat anyone else so although last weekend they were absolutely deplorable to watch, it’s impossible to say what type of Hermsdorf side will turn up on Sunday. The game kicks off at 14:00 and will take place at the Seebadstrasse Stadion (nearest S-Bahn – Berlin-Hermsdorf).

So, as always, I wish you a great weekend of football action and hope that wherever you get to that the weather holds out and the goals are as free flowing as the beer.

Viel Spass!

Review: 1.FC Union Berlin v Fortuna Duesseldorf

A.F
When I started this blog all of 7 days ago,  I promised myself that I would avoid writing too much about 1.FC Union as there are already some top quality English language materials on the subject of all things Eisern available that are well written and comprehensive in their content (check out www.union-berlin.com and of course, http://www.nodicemagazine.com). However, after heading along to the Stadion An der Alten Försterei for last nights 2.Bundesliga duel against Fortuna Duesseldorf, I could not resist but to share my experience. In all honesty, this is acting as some sort of therapy that I have found myself needing to go through today as I battle my way through a rather dull day in a poorly air-conditioned office, coming to terms with what I witnessed last night.  I also promised a lot of my friends that I wouldn’t over romanticise about football and would not write anything that could be classed as self indulgent wank. Look away now guys.

The night began early with some pre-game beers during an all-important and routine trip to the Abseitsfalle with some of the ever-growing army of English Unioners, spirits were high and conversations were had on topics as diverse and opinion splitting as Unions chances to build on the 2 relatively successful years in the 2nd flight of German football, the many reasons why Arsenal are completely and utterly fucked, safe standing in the English game and Marmite. After a short walk to the ground, I took up a position next to the scoreboard in Sektor 2, an area of the ground that I usually tend to avoid due to my opinions on Ultra fandom (a story for another day) and soaked up the last hour leading up to the kick off. As it always is with Union, the atmosphere builds and bubbles as kick off approaches with the usual array of punk rock classics, Union focussed rock songs and chants of “Union, Union” all culminating in the quite frankly mental sight of seeing 20,000 Ost-Berliners completely losing their shit to what can only be described as a punk rock infused rap metal power ballad in the shape of Nina Hagen’s Eisern Union.

"Schulter an Schulter für Eisern Union"

“Schulter an Schulter für Eisern Union”

After one of the most powerful renditions of this song I’ve heard in the dozens of times I’ve been along to the A.F, the teams got under way and despite being made to play on the back foot for the opening exchanges, Union were able to settle in to the game nicely and created a number of good chances early on. Fortuna looked a well organised unit for the best part of the first half and looked very dangerous on the counter attack, however, time and time again, we saw Christian Stuff and the Union defence that he held together working tirelessly to close down the on rushing hoards of Turquoise (in the top 1 of the worst kit I’ve seen all season contest). Union were then able to really settle down and get a hold on the game and this was rewarded when Köhler whipped the ball in to the box to be met by the towering head of none other than my personal favourite Unioner and the hero of last seasons Berlin Derby, Adam Nemec. This is when the atmosphere turned. A very standard first half display of noise just seemed to boil over in that 1 second when Nemec met the ball with his head and this set the tone going forward and provides a lot of justification as to why the focus of this report shifts a little bit from here on in.

Benjamin Köhler floats the ball in to the box and sees Nemec head it home

Benjamin Köhler floats the ball in to the box and sees Nemec head it home

Nemec celebrates

Nemec celebrates

After a quick half time pint and a fistful of cigarettes, I was ready to take in the 2nd half but no amount of nicotine and alcohol could prepare me for what was about to happen. The building and bubbling atmosphere I referred to earlier went passed boiling point, stopping somewhere miles after the thermometer had exploded under the weight of its own job and throughout the second half the noise reached a level that left even the most boring of Groundhoppers completely speechless. Relentless chanting from all 4 sides of the stadium meant that the cauldron of noise that is the Alte Foeresterei was transformed in to quite possibly one of the greatest and loudest sights that there is in Football. Some sort of football match was being played on the pitch as well and just 10 minutes in to the 2nd half, Union were awarded a free kick to the right hand side of the area. This was floated in by none other than the Fussballgott himself, Torsten Mattuschka, whose pass was duly met by that man Nemec again. Now, this is  the point when what I can only describe as complete pandemonium took over, the whole ground was rocking from kick off onwards and we were now in a situation where Union were 2-0 up against one of leagues big boys, on the T.V and in front of a full house. There was no other outcome to be expected. The next 35 minutes saw some unbelievable scenes on the terraces as what seemed like the whole of Koepenick was singing Zombie Nation and Unser Liebe etc… All I can remember of the game from this point on is that Daniel Haas made a save that seemed to feel more important than the 2 goals and was celebrated by Unioner across the stadium accordingly. Oh and Fortuna scored a goal following some pretty shocking Union defending but that was such an unimportant footnote on the overall evening, I am not even going to go in to detail.

A perfect cross that is, again, met by the towering presence that is Adam Nemec

A perfect cross that is, again, met by the towering presence that is Adam Nemec

The game ended 2-1 and was celebrated throughout the stadium as despite the late kick off time, every single Unioner remained in the ground long after the final whistle. The whole team, including Uwe Neuhaus who was coaxed out of the dressing room by some repetitive screams of his name, celebrated in front of the Wuhleseite faithful and even engaged in some quite impressive rave moves to the tune of the whole stadium continuing their Zombie Nation rendition.  This was a night in which Union as a collective continued to amaze me, the team continuing to amaze their supporters and it was obvious for all to see that this feeling was very much mutual.  The smiles on the faces of new boys Martin Dausch and Damir Kreilach during the post match celebrations speak volumes that back that previous statement up.

Final Score

Final Score

The players line up in front of the Wuhleseite and celebrate with the fans

The players line up in front of the Wuhleseite and celebrate with the fans

So, to conclude, it was another night at the Alte Foeresterei where football ended up playing second fiddle to the complete mayhem going on around the pitch. There is no denying that this was a resolute and battling performance from an Union side who are starting to find their feet a little bit and that they deserve great credit for the performance put in and the result achieved, I just wonder if I’d have enjoyed myself to the extent that I genuinely needed a cigarette, a cup of tea and a lie down if the Unioner were not the Unioner. No matter what your thoughts are on the club, the collective mentality and the die hard attitude of some elements of the support, there is no denying that on nights like last night, there is no club in this city, maybe this country, maybe this entire world that comes close to mirroring Union.

Fucking awesome.

Photos included in this article are taken by Felix at Groundhopping Etc (www.facebook.com/groundhoppingetc and http://www.union-berlin.com) and Ian at No Dice Magazine (www.nodicemagazine.com and http://www.facebook.com/nodicemagazine). Thanks a lot for passing them over.

BerlinLiga – Matchday #1 – 11/08/2013

With only 3 games starting on Saturday, it was a busy opening Sunday across the city and there were plenty of good games to look forward to in the BerlinLiga.

Our game of the day took place at the Blissestrasse Sportanlage as we attended 1.FC Wilmersdorf v Stern 1900. A decent sized crowd of 95 paying customers and about the same again in Club Members and Berlin Liga season ticket holders watched on as Wilmersdorf pushed and made plenty of chances, only to be denied time and time again not only by Fritz Waldhecker in the Stern goal but also by the defence, by the woodwork and, at times, by being their own worst enemy.  It was Stern though who left with the points, despite the pressure from the home side and the lack of creativity from last seasons 3rd placed team, a penalty was awarded shortly before half time and was blasted in to the bottom right hand corner by the Stern 1900 defender, Benjamin Nebus.

The  pick of other matches took place in Hermsdorf as VFB welcomed SC Staaken to their Seebadstrasse Stadium. It was 1-1 at half time with goals from Felix Klunter for Staaken (21 minutes) and Florian Venz for the home side (37 minutes) separating the two sides at the break. As the end of normal time approached, the scores stood at 2-2 thanks to 2nd half goals from Martin Haustein (58 minutes) for Hermsdorf and club captain, Florian Schwarzer for the visitors (80 minutes) but this game still had more to give right up to the final whistle as is exemplified with the fact that both teams managed to snatch another goal each deep in to stoppage time. Fabrico Hennings must have thought he had grabbed all 3 points for the home side in the 91st minute but an equaliser with what was almost the last kick of the game from Ehnan Bahceci meant that Staaken travelled home to the Berlin-Brandenburg border with a point in hand.

In the other games taking place we saw Eintracht Mahlsdorf deliver a 4-1 drubbing to one of the leagues new teams, Sparta Lichtenberg. Another of the leagues new boys fell foul to the experience of one of leagues older hands as SF Johannistahl were beaten 0-2 at home to SC Gatow (http://www.nodicemagazine.com/2013/08/12/a-meeting-of-old-sportfreunde-and-new-challenges/ – English language match report here!). In other results we saw a shock 3-1 win for TSV Rudow over TUS Makkabi as one of last seasons struggling sides comprehensively beat last seasons runners up and finally, Tasmania Berlin were defeated 2-0 at home to Hertha 03 Zehlendorf who have been the notably more active of the sides in the transfer market over this summer.

Preview of Empor Berlin v Reinickendorfer Fuechse is to follow tomorrow + a preview of all of Wednesday and Thursdays Berlin action will follow later in the week.

Hallo und Herzlich Wilkommen…..

With in excess of 300 Football Clubs in the city, Berlin is sometimes overlooked as the groundhoppers paradise that it is. In order to raise awareness of the fantastic weekends you can have here and to assist people in planning a trip to the city, we have decided to put together this blog and a Facebook Page. Our aim is purely to provide people with English language information about a football scene that we are in love with. We are not journalists, we are not here to offer opinions, we are here to provide interested people with the all important information about the clubs, the stadiums, the fixtures and the beer. Our main focus will be on the BerlinLiga  but we will also provide you with the fixtures and results of the “big 2” in the city and of course on the multiple clubs in the Regionalliga and Oberliga. Hope you enjoy it and any contributions or suggestions would be more than welcome!