This week there was some good news for BFC Dynamo and it was a long time coming. The Hohenschönhausen club resemble a deposed king, kicking around a housing estate, his back bowed by the weight of his finery. He lost his crown in a fight a while ago. Reputations can take a long time to forge, but they can take much longer to shed. Dynamo have been trying to do this for some time, but it’s hard.
Their hugely impressive manager Heiko Bonan announced his departure a couple of weeks ago almost as an aside. It was in a press conference after a draw with last year’s Oberliga winners Torgelow and he was getting towards the end as he dropped his bombshell. He was off to Saudi Arabia to join the Dynamo legend Thomas Doll in charge of Al-Hilal, reigning champions in the oil rich state.
He had fashioned a team that were playing well, though still needed to score more goals. Shirgo Biran was brought in from Dynamo Dresden to do this. Unfortunately, just before Bonan announced his departure he was just talking journalists through Biran's cruciate ligament tear that had just happened. It never rains...
But playing well is never enough for some. The scenes from the DFB Pokal first round of boneheaded, scumbag Dynamo fans attacking Kaiserslautern fans in the Ludwig Jahn Sportpark seemed to break Bonan's heart. His team had finally won some silverware to get there, and he felt they desperately needed this opportunity to prove to the world that they had changed. I was at the press conference the day of the Berlin Pokal Final and he was effusive and convincing. "This is not a Nazi Verein” he repeated. Dynamo was changing.
After the Kaiserslautern game, he looked crushed, having seen all his hard work go to shit. All the time and patience he had spent. All of the programme notes and the campaigns were meaningless if a minority (and that must be stated, they were a minority – and mostly just thugs who don't attend smaller fixtures) of idiots couldn't wait for the chance to get stuck in to some nice, juicy, Bundesliga fans. The players looked fed up. After all, this was their biggest day. The country would be watching.
For Dynamo, the Jahn-Sportpark is like the special dining room of a mad old lady. She keeps the best China in there, and only takes off the dust sheets when an important guest comes round. It's rarer and rarer nowadays that she gets the chance. It was here that they played legendary matches in Europe against Nottingham Forest and Aberdeen. The beautiful floodlights almost entirely embody most people of a certain age's ideas of the former East.
A vision represented by drizzly Wednesday evenings on TV and floodlights that summed up the well held stereotypes of entire countries. It is here that they are being made to play the next two "home” matches in front of nobody. These Geisterspielen were a penalty from the DFB for the Kaiserslautern game alongside a hefty fine.
But home is the ground at the Sportforum on Hohenschönhausen – where they hope to get back to some good times. It was on the same grounds that the GDR started the long process of training (and doping) so many Summer Olympic and Winter Olympic athletes. It is here that Dynamo beat their neighbours, BFC Oranke, to get there campaign in the local cup off to a start again.
Oh yeah, the good news. They announced the new managers name this week, Igor Lazic. He's a bit of a journeyman, but played with some distinction including 11 matches for the former Yugoslavia. The club will be desperately hoping that his appointment can bring BFC Dynamo back a little bit of normality.
And they will be desperately hoping that they get another chance to show themselves in a better light.