Part-Time Supporter

Views of an exiled Linfield fan

Sunday, April 08, 2007

AFFI Chemnitz (Indoor) April 2007




Hancot plays football. For the first time in 2007.


12 of us from Berlin made our way to Chemnitz for our first tournament. We got there late, met our fellow Berliner Tschaika amigos and the organiser, Walter, got a few beers into us, then set off to the, erm, ‘rustic’ surroundings of the B-Hof (farmyard in German) – for rustic, read no electricity, no heating, no lights, no running water and just an elevated open hole for a toilet. The ammonia smell was overpowering, but drinking by candlelight and getting changed and finding our beds in complete darkness had its certain charm…


The others were wakened early by me on the Friday, leading to much grubling and cursing.



No time for (or place to have) breakfast, so off we went to the ultra-modern sports hall for the tournament.


The caretakers were, shall we say, somewhat over-zealous and over-protective of their hall – numerous warnings followed about no ‘street shoes’ anywhere near the hall, that clothes HAD TO be put in lockers, etc. I’d no hall shoes with me but managed to slip the net with my artificial pitch shoes.


We had apparently been given a good group. We had wanted to enter our team as ‘AFFI Berlin’, but as some of the members had played here before with ‘The Running Assholes’, that’s what they called us. Much to our amusement, they had problems with the name, and hence we ran out for our second match under the introduction of ‘Running Ass’. Onto the matches:


Sofa Kicker: 0-0


We were poor, missing a few gilt-edged chances, myself included, even though I shifted the blame onto Kr. in an after-match interview with Doughnut Boy. Sofa Kickers celebrated in frantic fashion after the game, as if they’d qualified for the World Cup, and we soon found out why: the organiser told us they’d never won a game before. Not good.


Flugrunde: 0-7 (SEVEN)


Oh dear oh dear. Conceding seven goals in 10 minutes is a bit embarrassing by anyone’s standards. I was appalling, two attempted passes across my own goal leading to 2 easy goals. I brought myself off in shame. To be fair, W. told us this team had won an earlier tournament and they ended up runners-up overall after penalties, but even so. Oh yeah, they were far too over-motivated in tackling, fouls etc, contrary to the supposed spirit of the tournament.


____ Bastards 3-2


Finally we scored, and managed to win. I scored two (great goals ;) ) and Hotte won the game with a cool penalty. My goals were controversial for our opponents, but only because they didn’t know the rules: a foul was given if the ball directly crossed the halfway line from a goal-kick, but was allowed to do so if taken from the keeper’s hands from open play. We took advantage of this to score, in ‘route one’ fashion, straight from Hotte’s throws: first one, I controlled it on my chest, turned, and volleyed it past the keeper; second one, I did a deft back-header to direct it past the onrushing keeper. Unfortunately the game was not as friendly as it could and should have been.


This result meant we had qualified for the quarter-finals! But first, a mini-tournament was organised for the 4 teams representing AFFI Berlin and Chemnitz. First up, the Berlin Derby against our friends from Friedrichshain, Tschaika Leningrad:


Tschaika: 2-3


This was my favourite game of the tournament, and the only one we really played that was played in the true spirit of AFFI, not taken too seriously, not over-competitive. Possibly that was due to the fact that we all knew one another and were familiar and supported the concept of fair play and fun enshrined in AFFI, I don’t know. We took an early lead thanks to an own-goal from Chrischi, later to be named Keeper of the Tournament, less I suspect to do with his keeping skills than with the fact it was his birthday! Nikita was filming, but didn’t quite film the goal, though his reaction is funny:


(film to follow)


We then went 2-0 ahead through St., but they fought back and scored three. Another attempted back-flick header from the Hancot only hit the post. See their first goal here and a lovely move by Charles le francais, Ronaldinho-esque, around 1m17 in, complete with me shouting ‘Ronaldinho!’, as well as the Hancot in action, white shorts and red socks, with some nifty moves:


(film to follow)

So we went into the losers’ game:


Affi Chemnitz II: 2-0


We won with a long-range beauty from St., and a goal from Marcel, slotting it home after a mazy run and square pass from the Hancot. I was back in the zone (literally!) They had a few players who were a bit reckless, shall we say, but the mood was generally fair and fun.


So onto the quarter final:


Compact: 1-1 (1-2 after penalties)


This was probably our best performance, an iron defence keeping out a technically superior team. Their attitude was poor, far too aggressive and win-at-all-costs, and the referee didn’t help. Our equaliser was a peach, straight from a corner, a seemingly mathematically-impossible goal from Jonas. We pressed on, it went to 5 minutes extra-time, and I almost scored with a nice over-the-shoulder turn and volley, but it wasn’t to be. Penalties. Hancot, who had caused Tschaika to be knocked out before thanks to missed penalties, refused to take. St. missed, Hotte scored, and Janine missed, and they scored their first two, so we were out. Too bad.


The semis and finals were unpleasant affairs. Bad sportsmanship, aggression, threats and dirty fouls were de rigueur. It left a bad taste in the mouth. The only positive was the refereeing of Hotte.


Overall, I had fun playing, but the only game I enjoyed was the Tschaika one. The organisers, in my opinion, have a bit of work to do. The message and what AFFI is about wasn’t clear enough; stronger action should have been taken against those teams openly threatening and going over the top (The Makkabi semi should have been abandoned, in fact, Makkabi imo should have been thrown out); there were only 3 teams with women players, none of which were from Chemnitz; and it seems what AFFI was all about – fair play, fun football, non-competitive, mixed football, among other things- were neglected, even though I feel that such a tournament is unique in Chemnitz and progressive in this respect. Much more could still be done though. I was disappointed with getting criticised by the organiser for putting up this flag:





It won't be brought next time, but purely from the point of view that it could be perceived as a national flag, not for any other spurious reasons. I won't be at the next tournament in the summer anyway, as I have to go back to London to work. Maybe a good thing.

We headed off into Chemnitz for something to eat, Borek, pizzas, burgers, chips etc, very nice despite Hotte moaning about how small his pizza was!




Karl-Marx-Stadt

The evening had a reading from Gerd from hi new book ‘Football versus Country Music’ and was very entertaining and well-visited, highlights being Matthaeus and his butchering of the English language. We weren’t up for the punk concert, so headed back to the Alternative Youth Centre, where they re-opened the bar for us to allow us to play table football and pool into the wee small hours.


I woke up early again on Saturday, we were then thrown out of the AYC (a great place to stay, comfy, showers, place to chill out etc) and after a short breakfast in a wee café nearby, we headed off home. An interesting few days.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Linfield vs Donegal Celtic 2007

Yesterday was the first time Linfield played Donegal Celtic at home in a competitive fixture since 1990. At that game, approximately 12,000 were there, it was billed as a Norn Irish 'Rangers vs Celtic', there was major crowd disorder, plastic bullets fired into the Celtic end to restore order, a Linfield fan got onto the pitch and aimed a kick at one of the Celtic players, and it was pretty much a sectarian hate-fest, lots od songs praising terrorist groups and individuals etc etc. It was also damn scary, especially for an 11 year-old kid who was doing ball-boy, to be called back in after 5 minutes, and to have to line up against the wall outside the players' tunnel so as not to be pelted with missiles, while the RUC riot squad filed past, plastic bullet guns in hand.

Shift to 2007. Norn Iron has moved on a lot. Only 3,000 fans there yesterday, Linfield had 4 Catholics in their starting 11, DC fans were welcomed in the Viewing Lounge and have since thanked LFC fans for their efforts on ILF, and there were no major incidents as Linfield, as expected, coasted to a 3-0 victory.

However, fans are still up in arms about yesterday on ILF, 180 posts so far about Linfield 'fans' constantly indulging in sectarian chanting. I listened to the coverage on the radio yesterday, and the usual dirge was clearly audible, 'Billy Boys' including the lovely line 'We're up to our knees in fenian blood' as well as those ecumenical chants 'Stand up if you hate fenians', 'If you hate the fenian b*stards clap your hands', 'Dirty fenian b*stards' etc etc. All this aimed at the largely Republican-leaning DC support, regardless of the fact that Linfield HAD FOUR CATHOLICS IN THE STARTING ELEVEN. The manager, David Jeffrey (DJ), even made an announcement over the tannoy during the first half, appealing for the sectarian songs to stop, which apparently pacified them for 15 minutes, until it all started again. Then Mr. Jeffrey did a very unwise thing. The 'wkd cru' started their song lauding DJ as they always do, and DJ responded foolishly by clapping them to acknowledge their support.

In a way, these incidents show us how far we've come; they also show us (by us, I mean Linfield) just how far we still have to go. The songs would barely have warranted a mention the last time the sides met; now, Linfield are rightly shamed by them, and are making concerted efforts to eradicate these morons who are dragging the name of the club throught the mud again and again. During the summer, the True Blues initiative was established to bring Linfield into line with the UEFA 10-point plan; Of the Linfield committee members, Andy Conn, picked up an award from the 'Football For All' awards at the weekend as "Community Relations FFA Unsung Hero"; he has worked tirelessly on cross-community initiatives to promote the good name of Linfield, including a group of Catholic youths from the Republican Poleglass estate who were guests at the last home game and played mini-football on the pitch at half-time; supporters away at Shelbourne last year managed to shout down and drown out a few idiots who were chanting racist and sectarian bile; but still these 6-matches-a-year merchants, plus a few more regular neanderthals, won't accept that society has moved on and singing anti-Catholic sectarian songs when a large amount of your playing staff is of that persuasion is fu cking stupid.

The Management Committee made a statement following the game:

The Management Committee of Linfield Football Club was extremely disappointed at the sectarian chanting of a small section of the Linfield support at today’s game against Donegal Celtic. We have stated before that this will not be tolerated, and it came from a section which does not normally present itself at the Park.

The majority of the support today from both sides was superb.

However, future matches of this category will be all-ticket with identification required.

But ultimately, there's only so much the club can do. It's widely agreed on ILF that the sectarian chanting is out of order and that it has to end, but no-one is really sure how. There's been a lot of soul-searching and head-scratching, and as far as I can see, the following proposals have been mooted (I have given my opinions on each one here):

The stewards should eject these people

Nice idea in theory, but unworkable. Our stewards are volunteers; most are not the most well-built; their crowd-control training is minimal; throwing offenders out and enforcing bans is unworkable without any legislation or way of keeping the offenders banned, which in turn could lead to repercussions and acts of revenge against the stewards within and without the stadium, most of whom are well-known to all Bluemen; stewards manhandling fans can be done for assault; and quite simply, there are too many sectarian singers and not enough stewards, it would be carnage. At the very least, stewards should be used to check those entering the ground properly for alcohol, bottles etc, and anyone looking the worse for wear in terms of alcohol should simply be refused entry.

Employ outside professional stewards

Unworkable and too expensive for IL clubs. The only possibility in NI is EventSec, and they have already proved themselves to be incompetent on countless occasions (23/04/05, CIS Cup Final 2006, Boxing Day 2006).

Bring in the police

This is a good serious possibility, but again I fear it would be too expensive for the financially-troubled IL

Use CCTV photos to name and shame

This is a possibility. The police had their cameras trained on the Alex Russell stand yesterday. Surely they could have identified who the instigators were and used this as a basis for imposing a ground ban for guilty parties. My fear is that Linfield diehards sitting in that stand could be guilty by association and wrongly accused.

Fan Power

Can be effective, but very dangerous. There were apparently at least 30 people involved in this crap yesterday. It would take a large group of people to challenge them and tell them to shut the hell up. Fan power can manifest itself in different ways, though. The simple way to do it is for a group of engaged fans to sit not too far away from these idiots during 'contentious' games eg DC, Setanta Cup, Cliftonville, Glentoran, and to strike up Linfield songs at full belt EVERY time these 'fans' start their sectarian crap. Every time. Hopefully, the respectable silent majority would join in and drown these kids out, and make them realise that their songs are not helpful and not wanted.

Ultimately, it IS up to the silent majority to make it clear that this is not on, instead of sitting there in embarrassed uncomfortable silence. I know there were a few 'exchanges of opinion' in the South Stand yesterday about the matter. Everyone involved in the club can do more. The club can make a serious concerted effort to weed these boys out, they should know who they are. Fans can present a united front, drown them out (probably the safest and most effective method) or shout them down. This is a Norn Iron societal problem; it's not going to go away, and Linfield just appear to be affected more often because of the size and draw of our support. But this type of 'support' belongs to the past.

Something has to be done. I'm sick, sore and tired of Ueber-Prods using Linfield as a platform to display how much their religion and culture means to them by outdoing each other in expressing their hatred of the 'other side'. I know what my culture is and where I come from; I want to support my team. Singing shit that alienates half the team isn't supporting the team in anyone's book. Just stay away, or cut it out.


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Monday, February 05, 2007

just testing...




ajax rock.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

New Banner



Revealed: the new '1st Berlin LSC' banner!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Part-Timer On Tour

Denmark vs Northern Ireland Euro 2008 Qualifier

Copenhagen, Oct 7th, 2006

This fixture just so happened to ‘coincide’ with a trip to Malmoe just across the bridge to visit a friend, so my dad kindly got me a ticket for this game. Let me state in advance that I am no real fan of Northern Ireland (NI), or international football in general, the fact I was born and grew up in Norn Iron, and their status as ‘plucky underdogs’, ie crap, makes them sympathetic in my eyes.

We boarded the train in Malmoe for Copenhagen, and already a guy opposite us asked if we were from NI. Turned out he had fallen for a Swedish girl and had moved to near Malmoe in search of work and to be with the lady, and was off to the game. At the airport, loads more of the ‘Green And White Army’ (GAWA) boarded, but this was nothing compared to the sight that greeted us upon exiting the train and approaching the Town Hall Square. A veritable ‘sea of green’.

We went to pick up my ticket, awaiting me in a local hotel reception, then headed for the more beautiful, touristy parts of the city. Crossing the square we bumped into Bluenose, fellow Blueman and witness of my Irish Cup Final 2006 gurning and drunkness. We arranged to meet up later, he expressed the view that Copenhagen was ugly, (despite only having seen the bit of it from airport to town square…) and we headed on our merry way.

Green shirts and chants everywhere, but all in good spirit. We headed towards the harbour down the main shopping street. It was lovely, nice squares, buildings, a nature photo exhibition, very South Bankesque, picturesque canals, then Christiania, alternative autonomous village, delicious food in qa lush Italian restaurant, blah blah blah

ENOUGH CULTURE. Got back to where the people were gathered, beer in bag, said goodbye to my lovely lady friend, then the drinking and party begun. Except it started to rain. At this stage there was lots of friendly banter going on, bold boasts as to how heavily the opposition were going to get beaten, singing contests, scarves swapped, etc, the usual harmless fun.

At this point I shouls say a word about the ‘Green And White Army’. Ever since the Neil Lennon booing incident and resultant fallout, there have been major moves to eradicate sectarianism, racism from NI matches. With much success, I hasten to add. NI fans were recently presented an award from UEFA for their endeavours, making them the ‘best fans in Europe’. For someone with a Linfield and Rangers background, despite my club’s efforts to get rid of sectarianism, the ultra-PC nature of the NI support somewhat surprised me. To be honest, I don’t know what to make of it all. On the one hand, it is good that every NI citizen can feel they can support the team, and the atmosphere is great; on the other hand, the same 3 songs were sung again and again, the Political Correctness is going too far (no Irish League shirts, flags or badges tolerated, even though these are the lifeblood of the national team) and it all seemed a tiny bit too sanitised and artificial for me.


Eejits doing 'Sit down for the Ulstermen' in the square

Then at 6, the square just cleared.

The NI fans had had permission from the Danish police, especially as they had behaved themselves, to march the 40 minutes or so along the street to the stadium. Shoppers, passers-by and even Danish fans were amazed by this, witness one funny Danish fan and his “Normally we are not walking down the street”

I stayed behind with Bluenose, got another bit of Dutch courage in, and waited for their bus. In the meantime, I seemed to get talking to all the drunk Irish League rockets, a Portadown fan who near fought with me over the assertion that the IL is a bit rubbish nowadays, and some Larne/ lapsed Blueman falling over on the street, most bizarre.

Bus to the ground was a laugh, plenty of waves to the crowds, and singing, though it tended to be those 3 songs again: “Green and White Army”, “We’re Not Brazil, we’re Northern Ireland” and the David Healy “Away in a Manger” classic, which I’ll quote here as it always gets a laugh, it is a bit tedious after the tenth time on a bus though:

“Away in a manger, no crib for a bed
The little lord Jesus laid down his sweet head
The stars in the bright sky, looked down where HEALY! HEALY!HEALY!”

It was a bit of a joke when we got to the ground. Only 2 sets of turnstiles open for 3000+ NI fans, and we queued for a long time in a narrow cramped passageway under the stand for a good 20 minutes. The other disaster was when we got into the stand: the section my ticket was for seemed not to exist, the stewards gave out conflicting instructions, and this eventually led to a free-for-all, people sitting where they wanted. This meant I never did get to meet Colin, the guy I was sposed to be sitting beside who brought me my ticket. We discovered soon after that the away end was a temporary stand on scaffolding. The toilets were pretty old-school as well, one of them saloon bar-esque with the Wild West style doors n all!

As for the match itself: the Germans would say a ‘Zitterpartie’, in Norn Irish, it was a pure backs-to-the-wall performance. I wasn’t expecting anything else. I don’t remember us having one shot on goal all match. The Danes did all the pressing, passed the ball crisply and swiftly, a few shots past the post in the 1st half but nothing really dangerous. The defence was, and continued all match to have a stormer, especially Aaron Hughes (who later cleared one off the line) and Man U reserve Jonny Evans who competed for man of the match.

The second half, despite a bright start, we struggled to get any momentum, and when we brought Lafferty off for the headless chicken Mandy Smith-esque Steve Jones, we had almost no possession. It seemed a matter of time, the Danes were lurking around the box, looking to go to ground at every opportunity, and when the 6 minutes board went up, I had that horrible sinking feeling, just like the Blues vs FC Copenhagen back in ’93 (we’d have played AC Milan in the next round if the ref hadn’t played so long) but we held on gamely, thanks to Maik Taylor’s saves and a bit of luck.

The fans were great, singing all match, though as we were spread out along the touchline I had the feeling that we couldn’t get any big songs coordinated. The last 6 minutes though was one big continous ‘GAWA’ chant, class. Lawrie seemed to really value the fans. Though I was a bit surprised that the players hardly came over to salute the fans, maybe I’ve been spoiled by the personal touch of TeBe.



We’d been mocking the Danish fans all match for being so quiet, in fact they’d resorted to one of my pet hates, the gimpish countdown to the Mexican Wave (I guess the ultimate sign of stadium boredom, playing NI, I’m not surprised). We were singing ‘You’re not very good’ to them at the end, then stopped, and applauded them for being good sports, to which they replied by applauding us back. Everywhere I’ve read online, there’s been only good things to say about the fans, no doubt some drunkness, but not much else. A few Danish fans shook our hands and said well done as we came out of the stadium. It was great.

The bus back to the airport (Bluenose doing me a favour again) was pure singing, people were elated (with a 0-0! But, as one of my favourite sayings goes, it’s all relative… especially as the Republic got spanked 5-2 in Cyprus :D ) and the crowd outside mainly clapped us, a few moons and fingers but we weren’t exactly singing songs of praise! Then I said my farewells and boarded the train back to Sweden.

Knowing Norn Iron, they’ll undo all the good work and lose the supposed ‘easier’ match vs Latvia on Wednesday!

Match report here.

Reaction on Our Wee Country forum

Monday, June 26, 2006

AFFI-Cup 2006

The 16th AFFI (Antifascist Football Fan Initiative) Cup took place at the weekend. Over 2 days, 32 mixed teams and 9 women's teams played out a tournament in a relaxed, tolerant atmosphere.

It was the first time I could take part, seeing as it always takes place when I'm back working in London, so I was quite excited. I was playing this time for the mighty TeBe Party Army, for only the second time, but I somehow got roped into helping out with setting up and a little with the organisation, not least as one of the teams, the Brandenburg Refugee Initiative (F.I.B.), were almost all from Cameroon and only 1 or 2 spoke German, so I was volunteered as a translator of sorts.

So I was up at 7 and at the Lasker Sports complex with Nikita (whose team played in the woman's tournament on the Sunday, somewhat of a motley crew who ended up winning the 'Golden Pineapple', I'll leave you to work out what place they finished!) at 8.30, where we took an age assembling the gazebos and putting out the tables, benches, and sound equipment. The teams arrived in dribs and drabs, and I was very relieved to see more and more of the Party Army turn up. Doughnut Boy turned up with the FBI boys, went throught the rules with them (eg 2 points for a win, refs only if wanted, any out-of-order comments or abuse meaning expulsion etc) before leaving me with them, as he was off to Leipzig to see Argentina- Mexico, the lucky dog.

The actual football started late, no real surprise there, but the atmosphere throughout was relaxed and chilled, it was great fun chatting with the other teams and having a bit of banter. I'll not go through all the matches in detail, not least cos I was playing, there was so many of them and I can't therefore remember all the details, for most games, I played about half of the 12 minutes, we were in a nice enough group, and were partnered with our friends and therefore rivals, Maccabi Pankow.

Here is how the TeBe PartyArmy fared:

vs Taktiker: 0-0 (an older 'troop' but had obviously played together before, Norbert's great keeping already on display as he earned us a point, i played in midfield-ish)

vs Suedschweden: 1-4 They outplayed us, far too fast, too much skill and great passing for us, this team would later go on to win the tournament. Bart scored a great long-range consolation, and Norbert really kept the score down.

vs FIB: 1-1 A good game against the refugee initiative team, I decided to go up front as we had no outlet or out-and-out striker and so were always on the defensive. From a corner, i took a shot that was hadled on the line, Bierverteiler put it in but the whistle was already blown for a penalty. Bierverteiler missed, putting it straight at the keeper, but I ran in to knock in the rebound. We conceded late on, but a draw was fair.

vs Havana Club: 0-3. An embarrassment. We were crap, 3 stupid individual defensive errors led to 3 goals, and they even played 2 kids against us when they went 2-0 up. Nuff said.

vs Maccabi Pankow: 2-1: A win at last! Against our mates, who had started off really well with 2 wins out of 3. From kick off, I managed to beat a few, get to the right byline, cut the ball back for Christian to run in and finish off. 3 minutes later, I beat a few people and put it in. Substituted myself straight after as I didn't want to do any more, where I was accosted by other mates who were fans of Maccabi. Oops...

vs Athletico Chancentod: 1-1. Bart scored another great long-ranger. I missed a sitter one-on-one to win the game late on after Mirko had played me through. That's all.

vs Volks...FC: 2-1 I started on the bench, Volks started really well, Charles, my man-of-the-tournament (who we tried to poach later on, only to find he was under contract :) ) running rings round us helping them to an early lead. I came on, beat round their defender and slotted past Carsten, someone I'd never scored against. Was very pleased with this :) Norbert kept us in the game again with some great saves. Then, with virtually the last action of the game, a cross was put over from Christian, right towards my head (I'd have missed) only for their defender to head it into his own net. We'd won!

However, this late goal was to prove disadvantageous, in my opinion. It meant we finished 4th, above Volks... FC and so we qualified for 'Division 1' the next day, with all the good teams. We really didn't deserve it, and I knew it would mean we'd get spanked by proper teams, as we weren't very good.


I also played for my 'old' team, Tschaika Leningrad, despite being slagged earlier on in the day by BC for being a traitor and for having lied about my allegiances (I hadn't, he was making it up). Their tune soon changed when they got a few injuries. We lost 1-0 vs Anker Friedrichshain and drew 0-0 vs old friends Mega Hudson, I played ok and was thanked later on by Chrischi...

Didn't watch the Germany game, but knew from the roars and firecrackers that they had scored twice, Maccabbi Pankow mates were so peeved that they all cleared off after the 1st goal. Helped with clearing up, then we headed to Tagaung, my dad's old favourite, for a wee review of how things went and many beers while watching Argentina - Mexico.


Sunday

Up at 7 AGAIN, early set-up again. Knackered. Was really flat from the day before, and tbh, not looking forward to the prospect of playing against proper good teams. The girl's tournament was running too and suddenly the organisers realised they had a bit of a problem with too few pitches and too many fixtures. The original plan was scrapped and a new one devised, this meant however that everything started well late and there was a lot of confusion, eg Maccabi and FIB having to change pitches at least twice, and there being huge gaps between our matches cos of the amount of games being played on our pitch. The temperature was 34 degrees, and on the artificial pitch, it was almost unbearable.

Like I said, I really wasn't motivated on Sunday, was tired, sore, knew we going to lose badly, it was far too hot for me, our star keeper couldn't play, the reserve was too pissed to play, plus I was busy trying to sort out the refugee stuff and helping Nikita out over on the other pitches. I think the other boys were relying on me too much, but I had other things to sort out.

For example, I refereed two games over on the pitches where the girls' tournament was taking place, one girls' game between Liga Monsen II and SC Lurich (0-0) and one between Die Tagung and FIB (0-1), no stress or shit from the players and it was fun to referee, believe it or not. I played one game for Tschaika, another draw 0-0, vs the Zeugen Yeboahs (Yeboah's Witnesses!)

Anyways this is how we played on the Sunday:

vs Humboldthainis: 0-0. Outplayed, Benjamin, new keeper, made a few great saves from long-rangers, but we could have won it at the end when Bart narrowly put it over after bursting through on the right.

vs Soja Project (hosts): 0-2. We were skinned. They were all about 18, full of skills and tricks, and way too hot for us, we were slow, laboured, empty of ideas and chasing shadows as a result. This match really pissed me off. We were rubbish, and out of our league.. At this point I went off for a while, helped out with buckets of water, sorting food out, etc.

vs Schwarze Lunge: 0-1. Same again, outplayed, though they took it easy on us, Benjamin made a couple of good saves, no real chances up front. Not much fun, and sweltering hot. We'd not enough subs left at this point, so I had to last the whole 10 minutes (!)

As last in our group, the highest place we could finish was 13th. Doughnut Boy and his 2 mates over from England, Dan and Mike, arrived to hopefully see us show some sexy football. But our opponents, Jugendklub Friedrichshain, had already gone, so we won by default. We cheered, but I was disappointed.

vs Antifa Kickers Kreuzberg: 1-0. Our last game, and we played well, against a very fair and nice team. I had a shot blocked, rebound came back to me, laid it off to Bart, who finished again with aplomb. I had a gift of a chance late on, when we broke clear from our own 18, the keeper was miles off his line, and I tried to lob him from about the half way line (of half a pitch), but it skewered wide, Geoff Thomas-style.

So we finished 13th. Out of 32. Not bad, but a little generous on our part. We all headed over to the other pitches to watch the finals of divisions 1 and 2. Volks...FC won division 2, and 17th place, deservedly. In the final of the whole thing, most of us were rooting for The Running Assholes, who helped organise this year's tournament and for whom i've played before. And... they lost in the final. for the third time. On penalties. Again.

I disappeared off for a bit of the prizegiving to see how crappy England were getting on, and returned to find that mighty Norbert had been voted keeper of the tournament. Woo hoo! All of our other players had gone, so I went up to get our 13th place certificate, along with a ball, to warm applause. Here it was announced that any profits made from the pre-party will go to helping with the costs for Rene K.'s trial and campaign, a Berlin friend arrested and thrown in prison for as yet unexplained reasons after the CSD in Warsaw, and to the Antirassisti Mondiali in Italy.

Then I headed back for the rest of the England game, had a few chats with new friends and exchanged contact numbers and emails, said goodbyes, then we headed to Tagung for a deserved drink. then to Baiz for the hilarious Portugal Holland battle, then home to bed.

Today, every part of my body hurts, especially my swollen ankle, twisted blocking a free-kick in the last match yesterday. And my sunburnt (almost-)skinhead. But I had a cracking weekend. Photos hopefully to follow from Nikita and Doughnut Boy.

Many many thanks To Nikita, St., Joe, Rene, Chrischi, and co. for making it such a successful and fun tournament. Bis naechstes Jahr...

Thursday, June 08, 2006

There's only one Team in Berlin!

Last night, there was a 'fan song contest' held in Berlin as part of the cheesy build-up for the WORLD Cup. TeBe decided to enter as a bit of fun and to gain some more sympathy and friends.

In the end, there were only 4 fan groups represented: Hertha BSE, Union Berlin, Togo (!) and TeBe (Bayern Munich and Cologne pulled out at the last minute). A few beers to 'oil the voice' and then we arrived at the Kulturbrauerei to be met by a large group of asthetically unpleasing Hertha fans, who were nonetheless friendly enough despite well outnumbering us. A few more beers were fetched then we entered the cavernous Kesselhaus. Bear in mind at this stage that we were only 7, as someone had falsely informed us that only 5 could sing, when in fact up to 20 were permitted... luckily, we got some back-up later after a demo from Doughnut Boy, Red Devil, 'Nikita' and 'Devil'.

We spent an age deciding on the songs to be sung and the order (such prima donnas :) ) and in the meantime some more beers were drunk, either those smuggled in or tasty Staropramen 'taken' from the VIP room :) We had an impressive line-up of songs, 24 in all, not all of which I knew and I had to spend some time learning 1 or 2 new ones, including one in Hebrew:


Thanks to Ultras71 for the list and the pic (he's the eejit on the video clip with the Holland helmet that he got off ebay!)

Loads of TV and radio crews were present, and interviews were given by our senior representatives (eh Ping Ping Alex?!) but I stayed in the background and kept the banner flying high.

The draw was kind to us. We were due on stage last, time to oil the voices some more and laugh at the others (or shit ourselevs at how we were going to screw up big-style)

Then the fun began. Hertha were up first, and were a bit poo. Too many on stage at once, too many wee girls (nothing against wee girls, but they can't sing football songs, this is a FACT) and too many drunken bums, plus their songs were dull and uninspired.

Then Togo. To be honest, they kicked ass, drums, new songs, dancing, performance-wise, they were the mutt's nuts. HOWEVER, not much in the way of songs, especially not in the way of piss-take songs (their only one was 'South Korea? Out! France? Out! Saudi Arabia? Out! Togo - World Champion!) and imo there should have been a special category for international teams, either way it would have been unfair. But they still rocked the place.

Then a wee DJ break, then Union, our big Eastern rivals. Tbh, I thought they were damn good. They had loads of supporters too, whereas we had, erm, no-one (TeBe doesn't have any fans, after all). Some good anti-Vorwaerts and anti-Dynamo songs, well-sung, they got lots of applause (also from me) after each chant, but imo their songs tending to go on a bit long, and they didn't have enough variety.

Then it was our turn. I thought we were a bit disappointing, possibly cos we were so few, possibly cos the crowd didn't really react much to us or looked non-plussed (we got a few rounds of applause) but we did manage to unite Union and Hertha fans in hatred against us in anti-TeBe songs (lila-weisse! Westberliner Scheisse! which we sang along with to wind them up even more :) ) which I suppose was a success in itself, after all, that's what the piss-take songs were all about... We were led superbly by Ultras 71, a big crazy eejit with a purple wig and Holland helmet (I love you big man ;) )Our repetoire frankly kicked ass, from versions of 'Buffalo TeBe', 'TeBe Party Army', 'God save TeBe' (which I sang for once! All in the cause, but NEVER AGAIN!) versions of the Soviet and Italian national anthems; to a mockery of other fans calling us gay because of our purple colours, with the songs 'lila-weiss ist schwul' (purple-shite is gay) and 'Wir sind TeBe, wir sind TeBo, und wir wollen in euren Po' (We're TeBe, We're TeBo, and we want in your asses!) to the coup de grace, 'Caravan of Love' a la TeBe.

The English moderator guy was a bit of a penis to be honest, he knew his stuff but just talked crap and was a bit peinlich (embarrassing).

We got off stage, got our free beer with our token things, and the wait began. There was a jury of 4 who voted on the whole thing, and they took time to deliberate. Then the comments about each team, which were mostly always complimentary and non-commital, and the results, in order of performance. Iirc, Hertha got 91 (out of 120), Togo 96, Union a bit less, then came our results. The first fu cking judge gave us 11/30, that was it, I thought. Then the others. 29, 29, 30!!! There was a load of celebration, but I was a bit pissed and not too good at the maths, so I stayed seated on the floor and didn't even realise we'd won till I saw all the others storming onto the stage.

So I bounced up and jumped around like a loon. Our prize was 3 little barrels of Becks and and a portable tap-thing. We hoisted them in the air like trophies and sang a few more provocative songs, much to the disgust of most of the other fans, who then left. Others stayed and congratulated us, and interviews were given again.

I was even interviewed, I said sth cheesy and predictable along the lines of:

Interviewer: "So how you going to celebrate then?"
Me: "By drinking every last drop of these barrels now, we have to!"

A video of the event, which is a bit cheesy and hardly features the winners, can be viewed here.

A bit of dancing was done to the Togo beat, then we dropped off the beers at Doughnut Boy's (he better make sure the TeBe fans get to drink it, although the World Cup does begin tomorrow...) and then some more celebratory beers outside the Kastanie with Bronski and Thorsten and co, where I was hassled by some freaky Catholic Jesus freak who called me a fascist because I asked him why he only played me Catholic rebel tunes on the tin whistle he happened to have with him. My repeated question of "I'm an athiest. Are you a Catholic?" soon had the fecker scarpering, though he still managed to give me his card, which is in Mauerpark somewhere!

So TeBe fans managed to follow the players in representing the club prestigiously and winning the trophy. I think some of the players should have been there to support US for once!

"EVERY WOMAN, EVERY MAN, JOIN THE CARAVAN OF LOVE, TEBE, TEBE TEBE!"