TeBe Party Army

E- Block International - A Weblog for "Away Fans" of Tennis Borussia Berlin.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Faggots and Football

Although I was away for a long time from Berlin and my favourite purple and white team, I was asked as both a member of a local civilian volounteers network (against prejudice and neo-Nazi activity in my local area) as well as a member of Tennis Borussia to write a short introduction to the TeBe fan scene. This humble article is to be distributed in a school magazine that promotes tolerance, football being the focus of the new issue. Despite my terrible German, solved by some help from my flat mate and some articles to cut and paste sent from other fans, the difficulty in writing the article was really the mass of material and long history of tolerance within the TeBe fan scene itself. Despite my issues with the way the club has been going the last 12 months, combined with my pessimism with the current management and league position, writing this article was probably the push i needed to venture back to Block E and see how things were going last week, because after a few days of nostalgia and thought a little spark of that TeBe magic returned. I remembered my first ever TeBe game for example, the highlights of which can be seen on Youtube.

Back then I had never heard of TeBe - only having just arrived in Berlin I had ventured along to see Hertha basically just to see their opponents in the Champion's League and trips to the football became an opportunity for myself and the other foreign language assistants to meet up, have a few drinks and try to be Berliners for the day. With nothing else to do that evening, and with a few spare tickets flying around, I went along to see the match and saw Herta destroyed by a team I had never really thought still actually existed. That night I was just as impressed by the passion of the fans and the performance of the TeBe team as i was disappointed with the reaction of the Hertha fans. I had made an attempt to like Hertha, i really had, but i never really felt welcome or even safe among their drunken, foul mouthed, intolerant and sometimes even openly far-right fans. Before I had made an attempt to visit a FC Union match but felt a similar feeling of unease even before I got to the nearest S-Bahn station to their ground, leading me to turn round and head back home. BFC Dynamo were never an option for me with their fans' reputation for hooliganism and rumoured neo-Nazi supporters' clubs, so seeing TeBe that day was the first step on the road towards TeBe, this blog and my love for the club and its fans.

As explained in the article I translated for the St Pauli fan tournament last year (see blog archives) a fan initiative, met with acceptance and also some enthusiasm from the club itself, put the so called anti-discrimination paragraphs into the clubs constitution and as a member of the club, no as a currently rather critical and sceptical member of the club, i am very proud of that achievement. Not just because of the words themselves - many clubs in Germany claim to hold similar values - but because the words actually mean something and are mirrored in the opinions, values and actions of many of the fans in Block E. Rather than always being considered an outsider or constantly fearing some form of "fucking foreigner" comment that I could expect or at least have to fear at other clubs, the worst that happens to me is when fans get drunk and try to practice their English on me, leading to hours of amusing conversations based upon misunderstandings or just general nonsensical rubbish - and if i am ever met with confrontation for not being a true German at away matches then i know that i have the support and solidarity of the other TeBe fans on my side all the time without question. The same goes for any visiting groundhopper or tourist in town wanting to see some football - i am proud of the way that they usually keep to themselves a bit at first, not sure of what the score is, act rather defensively after being spotted but soon find themselves being plied full of drinks and integrated into the post-match talks and socialising as if they had been fans since childhood. TeBe fans are an open, friendly and sociable bunch of people - eccentrics maybe sometimes but people obsessed with lower league German football are bound to be a bit crazy.

But it is not just a personal thing - the fans have gone out of their way, despite their different political views, to make football an open and tolerant place. They get involved in many anti-racist football tournaments across Germany, they have made banners and taken part in actions condemning racism in football such as showing their solidarity to victims of a violent neo-Nazi attack in a joint action with fans from Babelsberg for example. Despite differences between the two clubs at management level (both facing the dilemma of sharing almost the same facilities in a time of cut backs) TeBe fans have supported their neighbours, the Jewish team TUS Makkabi, when they were faced with scenes of anti-Semitic abuse and threats of violence that many Germans had hoped the country had put behind it. Players in the youth teams have to take part in seminars on tolerance as part of their training and the fans do not expect intolerance from their players. However bleak the finances were looking, TeBe fans have shown support for the womens' teams at club level and a not insignificant number turn up to cheer the TeBe ladies on at home and sometimes away matches. Female friends I have taken along to TeBe always comment on how welcome and accepted they feel there and I am sure that I am not the only TeBe fan who feels not just pride in the lack of racist, anti-Semitic or sexist comments in Block E but also feels precisely at home at TeBe because of the friendly atmosphere that these standards create - without them TeBe is perhaps just another team in the lower leagues.

But there is one last bastion of prejudice in football that even the gloss over publicity of the football association sees as a Pandora's Box - the question of sexual orientation. The FA did recently organise a day against Homophobia in football, a day that ammounted to an evening at the Olympic stadium and the results of which, if any, still remain to be seen. The sad fact is that football is still not gay friendly. If any player did come out i suspect that even the tolerant dad is probably not going to buy the shirt of a "faggot" for his son as a role model. Footballers can get done for drugs or drink driving, be arrested for domestic violence or caught on camera having group orgies with teenagers or prostitutes but they can still remain male role models and dad will buy the shirt - just do not come out seems to be the unwritten rule and according to BAFF some gay footballers who wished to remain very very anonymous would rather get married, parade sexy girlfriends on their arms in the press and settle down with kids that face the wrath of the press and the fans. Cheered and adored by the fans living a heterosexual lie is preferable to coming out and facing the bigotry and hate of the average football crowd. With the influx of talent from across the world the FA had to address racism, the anti-Semitic chants of fans had to be opposed to avoid scandal, a token effort at least against sexism had to be made to get families into the stadiums and because the FA is also responsible for women's football (Germany being world champions of course) but gay footballers, officials and many fans just have to keep their sexuality to themselves it seems and put up with their preferences being used as a form of abuse and symbolic of weakness, lack of team spirit and poor performance.

With the FA unable and unwilling to take radical steps against the deep seated homophobia in football, any movement on this issue has fallen to the fans and TeBe fans have in their own way almost set a precedent in football here in Germany. Even before my time at TeBe fans dressed up in a gender bending action to make a protest against homophobia in football. TeBe fans when subjected to homophobic abuse proudly chant back that "Purple White is Gay" and have banners to match. TeBe is one of the few clubs where LGBT is not an issue, where players, officials and other fans are not abused in homophobic terms. The Party Army fan team was proud to be part of the Respect Gaymes last year in Berlin and even got the chance to be humiliated by one of the TeBe ladies teams, TeBe fans take part in the annual CSD (Gay Pride) events and the womens' team even had a float in the procession i believe. Whereas gay fans at other clubs chose to form their own fan groupings (if they chose to attend at all as gay men) bi or homosexuality has not played a part in the TeBe fan scene directly, because gay and bisexual fans have been able to openly play an equal role at the heart of the fan scene for many years now, sexuality not being an issue for the E Block Party Army.

So with all this information at my hands it was a difficult job compressing this for the school magazine into a few lines and as I said earlier it was this article that partly gave me the incentive to head back to Block E for the match last week. Now although I didnt hear the comments that were made but have merely read some complaints in some mails i was forwarded, i was disappointed to hear that at the last match there was understandable upset caused by one fan abusing the referee, by saying in a rough translation "open your eyes, you faggot!" One of our fans, who himself is gay, asked quite understandably if somebody else could have a word, he himself feeling that the situation might just escalate if he said his opinion in the heat of the moment or even a few days later. This is very understandable and a noble gesture i feel. But the situation has lead to a rather disappointing discussion and although there seems to be a problem with the mailing list at the minute and I, and at least 2 other people i have chatted with cannot seem to enter a discussion there, wanted to post something, the general feeling after the discussion left is that those who feel personally insulted as gay or bisexual fans are annoyed, willing to accept the apology but feel that there is a tendency among the at least not openly gay fans to plead tolerance and suggest that things arent so bad or that there isnt anything in the TeBe idea that would condone such verbal abuse. For this reason my post. Let me make this clear:

Firstly - One of the great things about TeBe is its tolerant fan scene. It is the reason that many of the fans get obsessed about a trivial lower league football team with a fading smell of tradition and a recent history of disappointment, mismanagement and general bad luck and loser status. This fan scene did put anti-discrimination laws in its constitution and has specifically among other issues openly and publicly acted to oppose homophobic and prejudice based on sexuality in football. There should not be a debate about whether this is historical fact or not.

Secondly - If TeBe are ever going to be anything in the footballing world again (and it is according to this blog at least a big if) then they are going to have to decide pretty soon how they want the standards to go. If I want to compete against the teams i mentioned at the beginning for the drunken, intolerant, partially far-right possible support or whether I personally want to pitch TeBe to tolerant, open, friendly and non-prejudiced people. I, by choosing to be a fan of TeBe rather than the others, have already made my decision and if everyone thinks about it then for many they must also realise that they have answered this question with their feet too.

Thirdly - I cannot imagine how shit life must be for a gay or bisexual player or official out there in the homophobic world of football and would personally like to make at least a difference at TeBe. Perhaps the referee or linesman, or even the players who may have ambitions to play at other clubs or at higher levels do not have the desire or even the need to come out. Even if they wanted to we know it would be madness for them and why should they anyway? If the team plays well I love them and their sexual preferences do not play a role - its just football and outside is their own private life. But for those on the pitch i would like them to feel that their sexuality or sexual desires are not an issue here at TeBe because I think the degree of Homophobia elsewhere is simply a disgrace in football.

But fourthly and most importantly for me - As an intelligent human being, I know that whether somebody is gay or not, whether they fancy men or women, define themselves as such or not, or their choice of sexual partners - I know that all these things firstly have no influence on their ability to play football, support a team or do their job as a referee/ linesman or not. To pretend otherwise would be an insult to my own intelligence. And secondly I know that these differences about people, the variations that there are in sexual definition, preference and desire are not just part of people themselves, but are also one of the great and interesting things about humans as a whole and any discrimination based on sexual preference is not just a restriction on my personal freedoms as a person but takes away from the society and - in this case- fan scene i enjoy.

So why this long and boring post? Well a statement was made that was offensive and an apology was made and accepted but the discussion was opened about the definition of tolerance and the E Block identity. Some pleaded for understanding, others were rightly annoyed and the issue was raised about whether this discussion should be held hidden away in a mailing list. I accept the fact that the apology was made and do not want to name and shame the culprit but i sympathise with those who felt upset by the comments and felt that the openly gay fan fraction was being left on its own somewhat. Perhaps this is just to do with a problem with the mailing list because I and two other friends cannot post there at the minute. So by posting my comments here i would like to make it an open discussion and make it clear that i do not find such comments acceptable myself and that it is not a question of "over sensitive faggots" but that the issue of homophobia and discrimination based on sexuality affect us all.

Keep block E gay friendly and against all forms of discrimination would be my motto.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Sunday Update

After today's results the table looks like this:

1. (1.) Hertha BSC Berlin II 18 14 3 1 43:9 +34 45
2. (4.) Hansa Rostock II 18 11 4 3 45:17 +28 37
3. (2.) BFC Türkiyemspor 1978 19 11 4 4 28:15 +13 37
4. (3.) FSV Optik Rathenow 19 10 5 4 25:16 +9 35
5. (5.) Tennis Borussia Berlin 19 10 4 5 43:17 +26 34
6. (6.) Greifswalder SV 04 19 10 4 5 39:21 +18 34
7. (7.) Berliner FC Dynamo 19 9 6 4 32:18 +14 33
8. (8.) Lichterfelder FC 17 8 3 6 27:32 -5 27

TeBe have been offered a life line again with T-spor dropping 2 points against Spandau but Rostock's win against Rathenow makes things tight at the top for the third spot and Greifswald getting an unexpected point at Hertha leaves a fair few teams with a reasonable fighting chance. Here the weekends results in full:

LFC Berlin 1892 - BFC Preussen 2 : 1
BFC Dynamo - Tennis Borussia 2 : 1
Hertha BSC II - Greifswalder SV 04 2 : 2
BAK Ankaraspor 07 - TSG Neustrelitz 0 : 5
Ludwigsfelder FC - SV Germania Schöneiche 1 : 2
FC Hansa Rostock II - FSV Optik Rathenow 1 : 0
Türkiyemspor 1978 - Spandauer SV 1894 1 : 1

At the beginning of the season, Jim and I predicted that Hertha and Rostock should (as 2nd teams of larger clubs) be able to take 2 of the top 3 places and that the contenders for the next spot(s) would be between the two traditional Berlin teams, TeBe and BFC Dynamo, as well as 1 of the Turkish teams and perhaps 1 or 2 of the teams from smaller towns in Brandenburg or Mc-Pomm. I personally would have guessed at Torgelow rather than Greifswald but otherwise our predictions are as good as Jim's reputation would have lead you to expect (Shurely shome mistake, ED).

Saturday, March 29, 2008

TeBe at BFC Dynamo

Well it is too early to really report anything but the score with only a few eye witness reports online so far. TeBe apparently played awfully and lost 2-1 against BFC Dynamo in a match that (as we reported in the last post) is crucial for gaining the top three places and therefore could decide the fate of both of these famous sleeping giants of German football. I guess if you read between the lines of the last post then I could say that I told you so, but on this miserable day that doesn't give me any comfort. The news yesterday that the football league had decided that TeBe did not illegally play Fuss against T-spor meaning the points remain with us is nice news but rather overshadowed by this defeat.

The table looks like this now:

1. (1.) Hertha BSC II 17 14 2 1 34 41:7 44
2. (2.) Türkiyemspor 1978 18 11 3 4 13 27:14 36
3. (3.) FSV Optik Rathenow 18 10 5 3 10 25:15 35
4. (4.) FC Hansa Rostock II 17 10 4 3 27 44:17 34
5. (5.) Tennis Borussia Berlin 19 10 4 5 26 43:17 34
6. (6.) Greifswalder SV 04 18 10 3 5 18 37:19 33
7. (7.) BFC Dynamo 19 9 6 4 14 32:18 33
8. (8.) Lichterfelder FC 18 9 3 6 -4 29:33 30

Out of a deep love and affection caused by the hospitable nature of our old Stasi friends in East Berlin, some TeBe fans call BFC Dynamo the bowling ball club, which gave me the idea of spicing up todays ticker with some Big Lebowski quotes from favourite scenes. Well until more reports from fans come in or i feel the need to start putting blame where i see it, i will let the cast of the aforementioned film express how i feel about the result and TeBe's current situation in their own words..... not for kids though.

Indeed. Took the word right out of my mouth.

EDIT: Ok some reports are now in and it seems that TeBe played too many sloppy passes that did not connect, could not get a single decent cross or corner in, lacked midfield completely and were rubbish up front. That was pretty much our match analysis of the last game.

To make things worse a young Griesert scored the winner for BFC, a man that used to be a TeBe regular and back in the days was with Thiam and Fuss a talent that Jim and I really thought was playing a league under his class. Well he became unhappy at TeBe this season and apparently played shite, moved to BFC and has scored the winner against us. Nice one.

Match Day 20 | Sa, 29.03.2008 | 14.00 | Sportforum Hohenschönhausen

BFC Dynamo - Tennis Borussia
BFC Dynamo 2:1 (1:1) TeBe

Ref: Christian Schößling
Goals): 1:0 (5.) Rudwaleit, 1:1 (26.) Kukulies, 2:1 (75.) Griesert

Oh I need to play that Big Lebowski clip again.... F**K F**K F**K!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Home Neustrelitz.

Hindsight is a powerful thing. Who could have possibly weighed up the odds yesterday afternoon that after the match i might have actually preferred to have stayed in and watched Germany win or England lose? Yes after almost 9 months away from live football, I finally turned up to my first home game of the season - a previously postponed match against Neustrelitz given a second try last night. Freezing cold, a little snow and a rather empty stadiom was greeted with no goals and nothing really amazing or interesting to report.

Team: Hampf - Wanski, Below, Mohra - Schrödter, Petrowsky, Ergirdi, Aydin (53. Can) - Fuß, Kukulies (70. Kalkan), Savran
Referee: Klemm (Grönitz)- Öhme, Stahlmann
Crowd: 401
Bookings: Kukulies - Zelm, Mätschke, Duggert

How many season tickets some of the fans have bought now I do not know but it is the only way that i can explain the 401 apparent crowd that were there. The stand was almost empty and i guess that most of the OAPs are season ticket holders, there were a few from Neustrelitz there but I would have guessed more round the 300 mark. Tricky of course to say in freezing conditions as many would have been hiding in the toilets or the bar that little bit longer to keep warm.

But 400 would not be a bad guesstimate for the number of chances that TeBe made and then did not score from. The first 15 or 20 minutes was almost good - both teams playing some almost OK football and the tactical chess like start of a good game was starting to form. But after the aforementioned 20 minutes it seems that Neustrelitz couldn't be arsed after all and it was defence defence for them, playing a kind of 8-2-0 tactic all within their own half. The only murmurs from them came through counter attacks, their players reading bad passes from the TeBe midfield and running the counter with the aim of getting a free kick or a corner. I remember a few wide free kicks, the odd awful corner and 1 shot on goal. Credit should however go to Timo Hampf in goal once again for TeBe as it was balls freezing out there and despite having hardly anything to do he kept concentrated and kept a clean sheet. A lesser man may have decided "f**k this for a game of soldiers" and just gone home sometime during the second half - certainly a few of the fans did just that.

So with hundreds of chances and Neustrelitz reduced to weak counter attacks, why the hell did TeBe not get the 3 points? I really cannot answer that and this being my first game and also a surprise considering their recent form I cannot make any great judgments here. The first half was almost difficult compared to the second as by then Neustrelitz were hardly doing anything - it was literally just TeBe pressure and chances for large parts of the game. All in all though the standard of football was awful, Neustrelitz were more awful sure but it was all pretty bad. Most TeBe corners didnt deliver, those that got in the mixer were not well headed or brought under control, those that fell for longer range shots were either hit amazingly wide or passed back across due to presumed lack of confidence. TeBe had a few nice free kicks though, Fuss can still hit them, but nothing very dangerous for the keeper last night. The pressure built up and up and it seemed that Neustrelitz would have to crack eventually. I could say we needed 95 mins, perhaps 100 but to be honest, despite their apparent recent run of form, the strikers didn't look like they would score if we had kept playing for another few days. Some nice width using moves on the side rarely delivered a good cross and by the end there were so many players in the Neustrelitz area that everybody was falling over each other and nobody had any room to get a powerful on target shot in to trouble the keeper. As for the TeBe defence - well they played well at the back but I didn't really see anyone able to come up and cause trouble at corners or move forward and take a long range shot on target.

So the table looks like this now:

1 Hertha BSC II 17 14 2 1 41 : 7 34 44
2 Türkiyemspor Berlin 18 11 3 4 27 : 14 13 36
3 Optik Rathenow 18 10 5 3 25 : 15 10 35
4 FC Hansa Rostock II 17 10 4 3 44 : 17 27 34
5 Tennis Borussia 18 10 4 4 42 : 15 27 34
6 Greifswalder SV 04 18 10 3 5 37 : 19 18 33
7 BFC Dynamo 18 8 6 4 30 : 17 13 30
8 Lichterf. FC Berlin 1892 17 8 3 6 27 : 32 -5 27

Well the glass is half full or half empty I guess. 2 points off a second place is really nothing but with the retraction of Yesilyurt out of the league meaning no relegation this season and the redrawing of the tables next season anyways, there are only a few teams with any great interest in getting points, which is now making every point against the lower clubs essential and all the top matches crucial. TeBe have to be bitterly disappointed with this result, a loss of 2 points is the only way to see it. They lost to Neustrelitz at the beginning of the season in a run of fixtures that still might possibly cost them a spot in the top 3 and could quite literally mean the end of the club. Last night they made all the chances and despite a terrible performance, a stream of bad passes and stupid high balls again, they should have come away with the points as 1 goal was all they needed against an even worse Neustrelitz team. This means the big match at BFC Dynamo at the weekend is of course crucial - a loss for either teams could mean the end of either clubs, both legends in the tradition archives of German and European football. A draw is probably not enough for either team but a loss for BFC is certainly the end - a loss or a draw and TeBe could still do it but the numbers game is slipping away then. The BFC game was always going to be an important one but losing these 2 points last night will have only increased the pressure unnecessarily on the players.

Just as with the players, it is hard also to judge the state of the fans after such a prolonged absence. Despite the cold and the other matches on TV that night there was a reasonable turn out, a nice mix of old faces and even a few newer ones. I do feel like a bit of a traitor, sodding off for such a long time and it is true that TeBe has certainly lost a little something for me. The Neustrelitz 8-2-0 did not make for a beautiful game but apart from the odd nice move i was really unimpressed by TeBe and i hope that this was a bad day that will be put behind them. Some friendly pub league ice-hockey teams could probably scored a few of the chances against Neustrelitz last night - this really was not the best start to a renewal of my live football career after my time away. Andi P was of course missing, the beer and sausage stands have moved a bit around and Biber is back in his beer hut - otherwise things were very similar to usual. There was of course one other surprisingly minor difference: The Treasure AG advertising boards, which really could have been designed by anyone in 5 minutes who knows how to do circles on Windows Paint..... but enough of that today, I am depressed enough after that result without getting into other dark clouds.

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Sunday, March 09, 2008

Tuerkiyemspor 0:1 TeBe

Fuss celebates (thanks to tebe.de for the pics)

Katzbachstadion, Saturday 8th March 2008

Team: Hampf - Wanski - Below - Mohra - Can - Petrowsky - Kukulies (Kalkan)- Ergirdi - Schrödter - Savran - Fuß (Kessler)

Scorer: Fuss (87.)

Attendance: 505 (approx. 200 TeBe)

Great result, not so great performance. Apparently. But that matters not, as TeBe take all the points in a veritable 6-pointer against the team 2nd in the league, a team that had recently beaten both Hertha II and Hansa II.

Jubilant Party Army

Schrödter apparently played well, Fuss was back on form apart from his corners, and Timo made some important saves, but apparently Tuerkiyem played conservatively for the draw and it was a poor game. Another downside is that most of the sides in the top 7 all won. The table's looking quite tight, here it is:

1. (1.) Hertha BSC Berlin II 16 13 2 1 40:7 +33 41
2. (2.) BFC Türkiyemspor 1978 17 11 2 4 26:13 +13 35
3. (6.) FSV Optik Rathenow 17 9 5 3 24:15 +9 32
4. (3.) Greifswalder SV 04 16 10 1 5 35:17 +18 31
5. (4.) Hansa Rostock II 15 9 3 3 41:15 +26 30
6. (7.) Tennis Borussia Berlin 16 9 3 4 38:15 +23 30
7. (5.) Berliner FC Dynamo 16 8 5 3 29:15 +14 29

So the promotion dream lives on, probably till mid-April with some silly draws and defeats against struggling teams.

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