The sunshine over the Sportforum was raging. It was glorious. Herrlich. What a beautiful evening, I said to myself time and time again. But then there were extenuating circumstances: the first half had been a stinker, and an Englishman’s default setting is to talk about the weather. Sadly there were no other Englishmen within blah-blah-ing distance. On the stroke of half time I turned to the older guy sat next to me. “Not pretty, is it?“ “No,“ he replied as if he’d been here many times before, “It’s the cup.“
And how right he was. There was too much riding on this one, the semi-final of the Berliner BFV Pokal, and with it the chance to meet a suspected whipping boy in the final. A win here would mean two things for two teams that have had contrastingly miserable seasons. Türkiyemspor are in the shit, they have accrued two points all season, and with relegation from the Regionalliga Nord they face possible financial oblivion.
The winners of the regional cups get into the first round of the DFB Pokal. The big cup, the proper one with TV money and the chance to host one of the countries’ giants from the Bundesliga, and huge gates that it would bring. That cash could save them. Manager Bahman Foroutan had made his way back across the city, having left BAK a few weeks ago, with this fixture solely in mind. He had only taken thirteen players to last week’s loss in Hamburg, and everybody knew why. Türkiyem’s very existence could depend on squeezing past Dynamo.
BFC themselves wanted this for different reasons. Sure, the cash would be good, but they have got their eyes set on a promotion next year when the regional leagues get reformed. It is better to be inside the tent pissing out, and all that. Heiko Bonan’s squad have won six on the bounce in the league, but it has still been hugely underwhelming for a club like Dynamo. They have never got used to not winning anymore. They feel the sting of jilted lovers every time the press talk about Hertha and Union. They resent other, newer, clubs’ modicums of success. A chance to lift this cup for the first time in twelve years could not be wasted like last year in the final against BAK, and a bit of pride could be restored to a club who feel resented by so many others.
It turned out that pride won out in the end. Dynamo roared out into the second half. Türkiyem’ were left chasing the lengthening shadows on the pitch. David Schimmelpfennig, facing his former employers, was a man possessed. He is little, but with a big man’s heart. He harried the Kreuzberger’s midfield, forcing errors all over the pitch. It paid off. As a corner was palmed out, Türkiyem’s defenders were caught in a fog of intransigence, and the hulking Norbert Lemcke rifled home from outside the box. There was more than a hint of a deflection, but the ball should have been cleared long ago.
Their second was even easier, a long free kick was headed back across goal from the back post and Nico Paepke had all the time in the world to side foot into the empty, gaping net. Türkiyem’s players looked mortified and broken, to a man. Foroutan, on the bench, looked sullen. He’s not one to give up without a fight, but his team hadn’t turned up in this half at all. He likes the ball played on the ground, and possession to be retained. The simple things, you know? But it wasn’t happening. Time and again the ball would be back in their half after a long hopeful hump upfield.
The third came from another set-piece, but was Paepke again with a header this time. Fivat Karaduman should have made it four in the dying minutes but it didn’t matter. Nor did sending Richard Steiner off before anyone realised that he had come on to the pitch at all. At last, Dynamo had made it through a test of character.