Welcome to Volume Two of my blog paying homage to the football clubs I've visited all over the world and the wonderful people responsible for keeping them going and their maintenance.

Since I was a little lad I've been fascinated in football and more so where games are played. With my love of travel and curiosity of the game I wanted to visit as many grounds and see games wherever possible.

I was fortunate that my Dad also loved the game and spent so much of his spare time taking me to matches. As I got older the boundaries widened owing to my location and increased wages to Europe and indeed the world. The sight of a stand or a floodlight pylon in the distance immediately heightens my senses and eagerness for a closer look.

I hope this site gives you the chance to share in my pleasure and experiences and maybe one day set you on the road to adventure. If you get half as much out of the hobby as I've done, I can guarantee some great memories, good friends and stories to pass on to future generations.

Give your local club a try today. They'll be delighted to see you!

Everlasting thanks primarily to my late and very much missed and dearly loved parents; my Dad Bob Bernard and my Mum; Ann, who put up with endless years of football chat and my brothers Nick and Paul who gave me the chance and encouragement to do what I have. Thanks to all my friends who offer encouragement and Sally and Stan who inspire and give me great pride. Stan is showing a keen interest in my hobby as he grows into a young man!

Please feel free to post any comments (please use sensible language - I want everyone to be able to enjoy reading) or ask any questions relating to visiting grounds or events. If you want to see any ground reviewed please let me know. It will take quite some time for everywhere to appear, but make sure you keep having a look as the site is continually updated.

If you click on a lot of the pictures you will get a larger version on your screen.

I have also added links to video clips on YouTube where appropriate for those of you who are bored of reading or are filling in time at work. I haven't always gone for the most obvious choices, but items that will be in some cases unusual but always historically interesting.

Click to see volume one of HAOTW.

Rob Bernard


November 2018

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Berliner FC Dynamo (Germany)

Berliner FC Dynamo is a semi-professional football club from the German capital of Berlin who were originally formed in 1949 as Sportgemeinde Deutsche Volkspolizei Berlin.

In 1953 they took the place of SC Volkspolizei Potsdam in the DDR-Liga, the old East German league, as the club was based in communist East Berlin. Both clubs merged to play as part of the Sportvereinigung Dynamo Sports Club as SG Dynamo Berlin, which was changed to Sport Club Dynamo Berlin on the 1st October 1954.

Politics back in those days under communist rule played a significant part in sport. Several players had been ordered a few years earlier to leave SC Volkspolizei Potsdam to join Dynamo Dresden in order for them to displace the popular club of the bourgeois, SC Dresdner.

In 1954 Dynamo Dresden players were ordered to move once again, this time to Dynamo Berlin. In 1959 Dynamo lifted the FDGB-Pokal, the East German Cup. The club had played their home games at the Walter Ulbricht-Stadion, which would later become the Stadion der Weltjugend.

The club moved to Sportforum Hohenschönhausen, which had facilities for several sports as well as a stadium for Dynamo. In 1967 the team were relegated to the second tier, a year after the club had been re-organised and renamed as Berliner Fußballclub Dynamo (BFC Dynamo).

Within a year Dynamo were back in the top flight with the highly disliked boss of the Stasi secret police; Erich Meilke as a supporter, which didn’t aid the club’s popularity.
The DDR-Oberliga was the top division in East Germany with Dynamo completing a highly impressive ten consecutive league titles between 1979 and 1988. It is said that this was achieved with the assistance of some obedient refereeing and helpful transfers from other clubs!

The ruling Politburo were alleged to be unhappy with the situation as the dislike of Dynamo grew across the state. A championship deciding 1-1 draw against Lokomotive Leipzig in 1986 led to nationwide protests and sanctions against referee Bernd Stumpf.

Their reputation was hardly aided when the team lost a game 1-0 away to SV Lichtenberg 47. Their Hans-Zoschke-Stadion was overlooked by the headquarters of the Stasi. Erich Meilke watched on from his office window. He ordered that the stadium be torn down, but it was saved as Zosche’s widow Elfried appealed to Communist party boss Erich Honecker.

Lok had led the infamous match 1-0 having had a player sent off harshly, until the 94th minute when Dynamo were awarded a questionable penalty to level. It was later learned that Stumpf had worked for the Stasi under the cover name "Peter Richter" since the end of his army service.

Dynamo added further FDGB-Pokal’s in 1988 with a 2-0 victory over FC Carl Zeiss Jena at the old Stadion der Weltjugend with Thomas Doll netting one of the goals. The trophy was retained in 1989; this time with a solitary Andreas Thom goal defeating FC Karl-Marx-Stadt.

After Germany was re-unified in 1990, the club renamed themselves as FC Berlin in an attempt to distance themselves from the past. The club were admitted into the third tier of German football for the 1991-92 season, where they won the NOFV-Oberliga Nord at the first attempt.

In 1999 they returned to their BFC Dynamo title as the team won the Berliner Landespokal with a 1-0 victory over Türkspor Berlin at Friedrich-Ludwig-Jahn-Sportpark in front of just 1,888 fans. The club no longer had their powerful patrons and their best players were snapped up by Bundesliga clubs. The team were relegated on a couple of occasions to find themselves playing in the fifth tier and were declared bankrupt before reforming in 2001.

This bought further issues as the club tried to retain their famous emblem. It had been bought as everything was sold off by the buyer to André Sommer and Rayk Bernt and their marketing firm Ra-Be GmbH, who took a percentage of all merchandise sales. The pair had served as directors during the club’s bankruptcy and added further concern to the authorities with their connection to violent fans groups and gangs.

Another Oberliga title followed, but immediately ‘Die Wein Reds’ went back to the fifth tier, before fighting back to lift the Verbandsliga Berlin crown in 2004, as upgrade works were carried out at Hohenschönhausen, in readiness for more Oberliga football.

Controversy returned to the club that year as the Deutscher Fussball Bund introduced the Verdiente Meistervereine, which was a system to honour successful clubs. It was decided to award clubs one star for three titles, two stars for five, and three stars for ten. The stars could then be displayed on crests and team shirts.

Dynamo petitioned to have their East German titles acknowledged, but they received no reply. The club decided to act and added three stars to their jerseys. However, the DFB decided that the stars would only count since the 1963 formation of the Bundesliga. The DFB later accepted all title wins from 1903 in both East and West Germany.

The crest saga continued until 2009, when the club decided to design a new one featuring the Berlin bear. Another Berliner Landespokal was added in 2011 as SFC Stern 1900 were defeated 2-0.

A further Pokal win came in June 2013 as BFC Dynamo defeated SV Lichtenberg 47 1-0, to gain a place into the following seasons DFB-Pokal. The visit of VfB Stuttgart drew a crowd of 9,227 to Friedrich-Ludwig-Jahn-Sportpark.

The 2013-14 campaign saw Dynamo waltz away with the Oberliga title. Players contracts were extended and a deal was signed to move full time to Friedrich-Ludwig-Jahn-Sportpark, which was used for a couple of seasons in the glory years as well as for all European ties.

Thomas Stratos replaced Volkan Uluc as Head Coach in the 2014-15 season as Dynamo ended in a fifth position in the fourth tier Regionalliga Nordost. The team went on to lift the Berliner Landespokal 1-0 against Tasmania Berlin on home territory in front of 6,914 fans.

Berliner FC Dynamo will play in the Regionalliga Nordost in the 2015-16 season.

My visit

Saturday 10th October 2015

Having landed at Tegel Airport on a beautifully sunny Saturday lunchtime on a German Wings flight from Heathrow, I now had to get my skates on, as my schedule was very tight as we landed twenty minutes late,

My destination was the match in the second round of the Berliner Landespokal between SV Lichtenberg 47 and VfL Neukölln. My forward planning had estimated I could just about fit in a visit to Friedrich-Ludwig-Jahn-Sportpark on route, but it was now going to be tight.

The bus ride was quick, helped by the fact that the airport was located close to the centre compared to many other cities. Before long I was at Jungfernheide S Bahn station. Once I worked out which platform I required, an S 42 train soon turned up for the fifteen minute journey to Schönhauser Allee.

I’d decided not to print maps and rely on my memory and signs for the trip. While this could be risky, it also made it a challenge. Surely the enormous floodlights would be a give away?

As it transpired, the signs for Max-Schmeling-Halle were plentiful and I was approaching the stadium in around ten minutes. The hall was named in honour of the former German heavyweight boxing world champion. Friedrich Ludwig Jahn, who the stadium was named after was a nationalist of former gymnastics educator in the 1800’s.

Apart from the two arenas above, there were also plentiful facilities on artificial surfaces for football and hockey around the complex. This meant the gates were open as competitors walked around.

I was slightly sceptical as to whether I’d gain access inside the stadium. Although Dynamo were drawn at home in the Pokal against FSV Hansa 07, the game at been moved to their Sportforum base. It was only that change that made me plump for the Lichtenberg game.

Once I saw a man at the top of the terracing setting up a stall I was very hopeful, and sure enough a gate was open. I climbed the steps to get a great view from behind one end.

Friedrich-Ludwig-Jahn-Sportpark really was a fine arena. A single tier of multi coloured seating ran round the athletics track, with only breaks for vehicle and competitor access. The far side had a cantilever roof with reached the bends at each end. The far end had the distinctive Berliner Fernsehturm TV Tower as an imposing backdrop a couple of miles away at Alexanderplatz. The crowning glory was the magnificent cantilevered Main Stand raised above the eastern side.

A few more people were walking around the concourse at the top of the seating tier setting up, for what was obviously a forthcoming event. Security was in place at the vehicle entrance to the park as I followed the signs to the U Bahn.

Within a few minutes I reached Eberswalder Straße and its raised track above Schönhauser Allee to catch the train to Alexanderplatz, to change and reach my afternoon’s live entertainment. 

When I eventually reached my accommodation of the Ibis Hotel opposite the main railway station I flicked through the TV channels. There on Eurosport was live action from the Friedrich-Ludwig-Jahn-Sportpark in the shape of the German Bowl, the country’s grand final of American Football between the New Yorker Lions of Braunschweig and Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns. It appeared after research that the arena was used regularly to stage the games of Berlin Adler in the same competition.

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