Photo courtesy of www.unveu.de
Robert Hoyzer is the dirty word in German Football. The referee who got caught fixing matches he had bet on is a name that will ring around stadiums for years to come as fans vent their disappointment at other officials, such as Sascha Thielert – the man in black on Sunday as 1.FC Union Berlin played Arminia Bielefeld. It wasn't criminal, but he had just lost control of a match that Union had expected to win easily. The fans were livid, and he was whistled and jeered from the pitch like a gay Arab delegate to the Republican Party. “Hoyzer, Hoyzer” came the cry from the stands: the ultimate insult.
But let's not suggest a lack of perspective in the terraces. We do, after all, live in a country where the death of a polar bear gets a 12-page pull out in the paper, but the cruise missiles raining down on Libya seem to barely warrant a mention. Perspective? It's overrated.
After two respectable goalless draws in the preceding weeks Köpenick was looking forward to a nice easy romp against the worst team in the league. A few goals in the sunshine and then back home for a nice dinner and a snooze with a three point cushion. But this is Union, a team so predictably- but somehow gloriously – contrary that one knew it was never going to be as easy against Bielefeld as it should be.
After four minutes the plane had already flown into the mountain. Christian Müller picked up a throw in near the half-way line out to the left-wing. He meandered forwards, sashaying and dropping a shoulder, nothing too menacing. But he kept going, Dominic Peitz trailed in his wake as he bore down on the Union goal. And he kept going, Müller slotted home with ease. It was just four minutes in, and the beautiful new pitch – that had been laid so Union could finally start to play football again – had helped the smooth and easy progress of a goal that was never supposed to happen.
FC Ridiculous had done it again and it was up to Halil Savran to make amends. He has had a tough year since signing from Dynamo Dresden. This was only his fifth start, and when he has been playing it has been to do the hard running – always doing so without the whinging that can come with young men with too much money. He has trained like a banshee and been utterly selfless for the team. Nobody really expected the beautiful finish he conjured up for the equaliser, as he turned Mattuschka's pass and swept low and hard into the far bottom corner of the goal. 1-1. Game on, and a perfect retort from the man who was rumoured to be heading for the door already as Union step up their search for a goal scorer for next season.
Things were starting to happen. The game was getting bogged down with fouls and the lush turf was being rolled around on more than played. John Jairo Mosquera summed up the contradictions in his game within about a minute. A beautiful one- two with Mattuschka threading the ball through the eye of a needle before, a minute later, giving away a simple pass. Must it always be so difficult?
Yes, in a word. On 22 minutes it was 2-1 to Bielefeld as a long free kick was wafted in from the right. Onwards it sailed past the two Arminia players attacking the far post and in, practically unimpeded. There was more than a hint of offside, but again it was really poorly defended.
And then the fun started. Thielert was already losing control of the game. There was little momentum, as the whistle was being blown every minute for the next niggly foul. As Bielefeld's assistant coach petulantly threw the ball at the back of Peitz from the touchline, captain Torsten Mattuschka saw it and waded in. He pushed the coach and got pushed back. It was stupidly innocuous. Brainlessly harmless. Immediately everyone was there, the crowd were screaming for retribution and the ref didn't know what to do. It took a couple of minutes to calm everyone down, but then the red card came out for Mattuschka. Down to 10 men after 26 minutes, this looked like a classic Eisern set piece.
As I said earlier the Mosquera conundrum is a strange one. He doesn't score enough goals, but his equalizer on Sunday was a joy, taking a delicious ball from Chinedu Ede, he drew the keeper out, rounded him and slotted home. It looked so easy, but he doesn't do it enough. As Thielert then showed him red 20 minutes later his running and ability to hold the ball up were lost to Union, battling on. By now it had become a shower of yellow cards, the crowd were incessant in their derision of the hapless ref. Cups were landing on the pitch, and the fouls kept coming.
There was a final chance for Björn Brunnemann, Geoff Thomassed out for a throw in the last minutes as he went through on the keeper, but then the game was gladly over. Thielert got out of there as quickly as his little legs would carry him, and the Union players left the field wondering what had just happened. In the end, a point almost seemed decent.