Karl-Liebknecht-Stadion, Potsdam – Babelsberg
3. Liga: SV Babelsberg 03 – FC Hansa Rostock 0-2
If you are a policeman in Babelsberg or surroundings and wanted to spend a day with family or loved ones today you would be in for a surprise. The arrival of Hansa Rostock in the otherwise peaceful suburb of the Brandenburg capital Potsdam makes it feel like an occupied city. Over 600 police have been mobilized so the passage of the 2,500 strong Hansa-Legion can be done without incident. At first sight this is perhaps an exaggerated measure for a match in the third German Division were it not for the fact far left and extreme right ideologies face each other this afternoon. The friendship between the home supporters and the radical left fans of Sankt-Pauli gives ample reason to classify this match as a Code Red. The hardcore fans of FC Hansa number quite a number of right-wing radicals. Games between the club from Rostock and the ultra left-wing Sankt-Pauli with no riots and bloodshed are unfortunately more exception than rule. So everyone is hoping that, today at least, the sporting spirit will rule inside and outside of the stadium.
The match between the two clubs from the former GDR is a highlight of the still young season for newly promoted “Nulldrei”. Because renovation works have reduced the already small stadium capacity, I’m already on the hunt for a ticket the day before yesterday. The only presale point in Berlin only had reduced fare tickets on offer. Because I am neither student nor pensioner nor a retired war veteran I therefore have no option but to take the S-Bahn in the direction of Potsdam to buy a ticket at one of the local presale points.
The roots of SV Babelsberg 03 are in the hamlet of Nowawes where 107 years ago the “Sport-Club Jugendkraft 1903” was founded. A merger with “Fußball-Club Fortuna 05” in 1919 led to the birth of “SV Nowawes 03”. A new merger, this time not between clubs but between the municipalities Nowawes and Babelsberg, gave the club its current name in 1938, “SV Babelsberg 03”. A new merger a few years later would again cause a name change, this time to: “Sportvereinigung Potsdam 03”. In GDR-times the club went by “BSG Motor Babelsberg” but after the fall of the regime the former 1938 name was dusted off and on 10 december 1991 SV Babelsberg 03 was again a member of the German FA. When this name change happened the Potsdammers played in the Landesliga Brandenburg on the 5th level. After the name change the Blue-Whites booked some strong seasons which even led to a one-time stay in the 2nd Bundesliga. The highlight for the modest club from Potsdam. A huge debt brought the Nulldrei back to reality. Over the past few seasons they were active in the Regionalliga Nord where they, despite competition from Chemnitz, Halle and Magdeburg became champions last season. Although belonging to the territory of Potsdam Babelsberg remains a village club whose only ambition this season is to maintain themselves on the 3rd level.
Their home games “les Bleus” play in the small Karl-Liebknecht-Stadion. The in 1976 built “Karli” is a typical GDR-product. Of the 1800 seats on the main stand 1000 are covered by a corrugated roof. The other 800 seats remain uncovered. Behind both goals as well as to the long side opposite the main stand were until recently three terraces with 17 rows for another 12,650 spectators. The terrace behind the goal along the street had to give way for a to be constructed covered terrace and as a result the stadium capacity for the time being is lowered.
The most striking feature of the Karl-Liebknecht-Stadion are the flood lights. Because the adjacent castle gardens became a world heritage site by UNESCO it means ithe countryside surroundings are also protected. However, there’s no professional football without an artificial light installation. Hence the option for pliable light poles that only “disrupt” the view of the protected landscape at evening matches . It might seems strange but the small Stadium on the outskirts of the city has more than once formed the scene of European top-class football over the past few years, not by SV Babelsberg 03 itself but by another occupant of the stadium, the professional women’s team 1. FFC Turbine Potsdam. Yesterday, when I made a walk through the park, I saw some players of this German Top Club train. To my delight they did not conform to the cliché of the average female football star.
To stay one step ahead of the masses I take the S-Bahn in the direction of Babelsberg around noon in Berlin. I have the “pleasure” to share the vehicle with a dozen noisy Rostock fans. They are not really dangerous but neither are they sober. Their prominent presence moves some people to take seats elsewhere. When we get off the train in Babelsberg, we are met by a horde of armed police agents and a camera crew of a regional television station. The road from the station to the stadium is dotted with armored police vehicles, agents in combat equipment and some Malinois who obediently sit in their cage waiting for a little action. But for now everything stays quiet, there’s even some small talk between the fans of both sides.
One hour before the kick off I enter the “Gegenrade” with a cup Rex Lager . It is a radiant late summer’s day and the sun burns bright on the stands. The stadium is nicely filled for this contest between two 3rd League neophytes. Where the home club was promoted from the Regionalliga to the 3rd League, the visitors relegated for the first time in their existence from the 2nd Bundesliga to the third level. That the Hanseaten, despite an exodus of players, do not plan to stay for more than one season in the 3rd League is clear. The completely rebuild squad started off strong at the new season bringing Hansa after 6 rounds on a provisional second place barely one point behind Kickers Offenbach. In contrast to Hansa Rostock the ambition of the home team is just survive and play on the third level again next season. Babelsberg began the season with 3 wins and as many defeats and because of this occupy an unexpected 7th place in the rankings.
Who is David and who is Goliath is clear before the match has even started. While the visiting support has a Champions League feel, a boy with the look of a boy scout leader tries to inspire the home fans to an equally great vocal performance. The average Babelsberg supporter unfortunately seems for more interested in a lazy football afternoon. Dozens of mobile phones and cameras register, full of admiration, the spectacle in the Rostock part of the stadium. The by some home fans sung “Sankt Pauli! Sankt Pauli! ” is greeted with laughter from the visiting fans. When the players enter the field and a dozen flares light up behind the goal the few doubts of which fans were the most fanatic are put to rest. Hansa Rostock may be playing on the third level, on a fan level the Boys from the Coast are still top class.
The match itself will be broadcast live on television and in charge is the excellent female referee Bibiana Steinhaus. The visitors who, for the occasion, are completely in red take control of the match and it only takes 10 minutes before midfielder Ziegenbein beautifully curls the ball in the upper left corner from the right and sends the Hansa supporters in overdrive. I’m expecting a walk over from the ex-Bundesliga club but Hansa does not take any risks and seems satisfied with the 0-1 scoreline. Babelsberg is a few sizes too small and when around the hour mark attacker Schied doubles the score nobody is spending another euro gambling on a win for the “Nulldrei”. Hansa Rostock takes the Brandenburg hurdle without much trouble and after the final whistle the players are celebrated as heroes by the Hansa Legion.
Not only the Hansa supporters sigh a breath of relief but probably also the forces of law and order and the local population. Both clans, despite different political ideas, leave the stadium brotherly after a sporting contest. The few detainees this afternoon were mainly people lighting flares.
“Fußball-Woche: Sonderheft 2010/2011”
“Die Blauen sind noch zu grün”. MEYER Ulli in Fußball-Woche, jg. 86 – nr. 37 – 13/09/2010
“Willkommen unterm Wellblechdach”. SKRENTNY Werner in “Das große Buch der deutschen Fussball-Stadien”, Die Werkstatt