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Photo by Ian Stenhouse
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When Blanche DuBois said that she had "Always relied on the kindness of strangers”, she didn't really mean it. She had been taken advantage of all her life. They kicked her when she was down, and then, at her lowest ebb as her mind wandered off to a soft southern evening on the porch of a house that existed only in her imagination, they lead her down the garden path. Strangers can be bastards alright.
Ask Türkiyemspor. They need help; they need an arm around the shoulder and a pot of gold. So what did the Under 23's of Hansa Rostock give them on Friday night? A pasting, pure and simple. That 1. FC Union II beat Torgelow on the weekend meant that the famous old club from the north, with the boat on their badge, sailed happily to the top of the table.
There of course is no room for sentiment in football. You might as well ask Stanley Kowalski for a warm and tender embrace. It was cold in the Jahn-Sportpark, the wind whipping round the uncovered stadium, with its momentum never being broken by the rows and rows of empty seats – all 18,980 of them. The kids – and most of them are kids – of Türkiyem' trudged off, with the metaphor of Emre Demir having to jog back to the dugout to ask for the keys to the dressing room when he was substituted lost on no-one.
It wasn't a great advert for the beautiful game. Türkiyem' started positively, but they had a lack of discipline at times that would have made Silvio Berlusconi weep. Demircan Dikmen on the left of midfield exemplified this. He danced around the Hansa captain Max Kremer in the first five minutes three times, but as his tricks failed to come off – one notable exception being a beautiful through-ball to Kemal Atici that the striker couldn't quite beat the 'keeper to – he retreated into his own shadow. Kremer came more and more into the game, as Dikmen's head dropped and his shoulders shrugged, and after 15 minutes he found himself in acres of space on the touchline. He cut inside and squared simply to Manfred Starke who hammered home his shot under the crossbar.
The Türkiyemspor keeper, Erkan Türkoglu, is excellent. He has been consistently superb when his side has been under all sorts of pressure, but it's difficult sometimes. He must have felt like King Canute trying to hold back the sea. The sign of a decent 'keeper is often how he deals with the ball hit at him from close range. He has to send it out of danger. To reflect it out with a leg, a face, an arse... it doesn't really matter, but just before half-time he excellently parried Marcel Kunstmann's right footer but could only watch despairingly as Lucas Albrecht slotted home for 2-0. It had fallen for him on a platter. Türkoglu did better when faced with a one on one. He is quick off his line, and sure in his tackling. Sometimes it's just not enough.
Türkiyem' changed shape in the second half, but it didn't work. The midfield suddenly was empty. Bereft of fellow players. When the defenders had possession there were no options other than to hit it long. The ball, as is the way of these things, came back every time. Albrecht slid in for his second goal after nice work from Maximillian Rausch.
That Türkiyemspor pulled a goal back through Murat Yilmaz mattered not a jot. Hansa merely had to wait to pick off these most gracious of hosts. Their fourth coming as Sueleyman Kapan passed the ball straight out of defence, to the feet of the onrushing Patrick Kühn. Kapan was already crumpled on the floor with cramp, and maybe a hint of shame, as Kühn bore down on goal, scoring easily. It was a gift. A geschenk. Or, as I learnt from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Un Cadeaux.
Hansa simply had it too easily on Friday night; they can sit and enjoy their stay at the top of the league for the international Pause, and will harbour all of those hopes about further kindnesses of strangers. Türkiyem', meanwhile, will be carted off, all the while dreaming of a sunnier porch. It may at the moment, however, exist only in their minds.
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