In the end Moussa Doumbia was an inch away from never having to buy a drink in certain parts of Lichtenberg ever again (although considering who they were playing, it remains only parts). He launched his huge, gangling frame towards the back post where the equally enormous, shaven headed Sebastian Reiniger had somehow managed to conjure a cross across goal.
Time stood still as the Ludwig-Jahn-Sportpark suddenly fell silent for a second that lasted a lifetime. He stretched one of those incredible extendo-limbs as he flew through the air, desperately trying to get the critical touch (and all that was needed was a touch) on the ball. But anyone who remembers Paul Gascoigne's similar, though not as airborne, lunge against Germany in the 1996 European Championships will know how this story ends. Doumbia just couldn’t get close enough, no matter how hard he tried, and BFC Dynamo had hung on through a tremendous, tremulous second half to beat SV Lichtenberg 47 to win the BFV Berliner Pilsner Pokal 1-0.
BFC had rounded off another season of Oberliga drudgery and mediocrity with a glorious celebration befitting the “zehnmal meister” song that their fans had sung louder and louder throughout the second half.
BFC will be playing in the big cup, the DFB pokal next year, with all its possibilities of a Bundesliga side to come to Berlin, whilst Lichtenberg will have to return to the Oberliga with all those thoughts of what could have been. It could have been a giant killing, it could have been a defining moment for this small old club. But they can be proud that they played their part in a fantastic cup final whose raucous, explosively loud atmosphere belied all of the things that so often are attached to games at this stadium
There’s a hoary old joke that often sums up the experience of watching football in the Ludwig-Jahn-Sportpark. It goes along the lines of “What did the guy in the Jahn-Sportpark say to the bloke sat nearest him? Oi, over here!”. Alright, it doesn’t work written down, you have to cup your hands and shout the “Oi”, but you get the point. It’s huge bowled expanses are all too often completely empty when it comes to games of football, even the last few cup finals have been lacking in sheer weight of numbers. It is a stadium unloved by many, a temporary, stopgap bowl, but of course it has also been home to some of BFC’s biggest nights in Europe. Sure, they might not talk about beating their neighbours SV for years to come in the same way they talk about facing Nottingham Forest there, but last night the 6,300 punters did it justice.
Before the match I had said that the worst thing that could happen in the game, for the neutral, would be an early BFC goal, and sure enough after five minutes Kevin Gutsche took a touch after Christian Preiss’s marauding run down the right and cutback, and finished neatly and calmly past Danny Kempter, SV’s keeper. Dynamo could now play it patient, but Lichtenberg never gave up, they hit the post, had a bullet header cleared off the line, and only a remarkably, strong-wristed, point blank save by BFC keeper Carsten Busch denied them the parity that they will fell they deserved. They never let their heads drop until that final heartbreaking whistle at the end of five furious minutes of time added on. BFC were just too good, too strong, and had that little bit of extra fortune on the night in the end.
The fingers of the weinrot and dirty white smoke bombs in the BFC stand reached, with the incredible, primal roars of noise, into the heavens as their heroes cavorted around on the pitch in front of them in their sparkling white, champions T-shirts. It had been a predictable scoreline, but that was forgotten after such a breathless game, such a compulsive spectacle of attacking intent, cut and thrust, last ditch challenges and constant drama.
The cup grew a little more glorious again last night.