With a rock-solid, swept-back silver barnet, Werner “Beinhart“ Lorant is a chain-smoking cross between Swiss Tony and Rutger Hauer. He was the surprise package at a Tennis Borussia Berlin press conference last Tuesday, where he was unveiled as TeBe’s new Sport Director.
They need two hundred grand by tomorrow (April 1) to stave off insolvency, and with it relegation. Working for free at this sleeping (read: catatonic) giant of a club, he says that he is not there to do the job of Thomas Herbst, the first team coach. He’s got bigger fish to fry. The biggest being keeping the club in existence and finding the sponsors needed to pony up the cash.
TeBe have a genuine claim at the seat of Berlin football and have won the Berliner Pokal a record number of times. From the 1930s to the 1950s they were arguably one of the biggest teams here, and even the fact they were in the Bundesliga twice in the 1970s ain’t shit when TeBe can say they started the managerial career of Sepp Herberger.
It seems strange to me that there seems to be no recognition of “Seppi” anywhere in sight. As the most quoted and arguably most successful German manager of all time he is the polyfiller in the huge, fucking wall of German football iconography, and it seems strange to me that he is not held up as a huge part of the campaign to save Tebe.
But the coincidence of a St. Pauli game fit the mood perfectly. They – even the second team come attached with a couple hundred drunken punks – are to be the model for the new way forward for clubs and their fans in German football.
Hagen Liebing, the press officer certainly sees this as part of a fan led change to the club and not necessarily as a marketing decision.
“It should not be for us to decide if we are a ‘kult klub’.“ He’s right about that, the coolest kid in the park doesn’t need to shout about himself, and there are aspects of the St. Pauli “branding” which do grate. A genuine fan culture is now exploited for every penny of merch at the Millerntor, and they still can’t finish building the stadium. Liebing is no fool though, he sees the “potential within that to reach more fans“ – and more fans means more cash. A disastrous attempt at big spending in the 90’s led to the current problems and they have no choice other than to look for an aternative direction. At 50 cents, a programme though theres no wonder they’re skint.
It ain’t quite the beautiful game down in the Regionals, but TeBe have got a couple of decent attacking players in Timo Breitkopf and Timur Özgöz and a solid ‘keeper in Mirco Langen and were worth their win on Saturday. Their 2nd goal was a beautiful farce and I could hear the giggling of the new management behind me as the St. Pauli left back, Marlon Krause, under pressure from precisely no-one, decided to test his own keeper with the most woefully hit back pass since Philip Neville played for England and the resulting corner led to Emre Anuk heading home. St Pauli got one back, but it was too litte too late.
I went to the press conference but footballing platitudes are the same in all languages. I also got lost in the belly of the stadium but I’ve got to keep this short. Basically, you are more likely to get a happy ending in a Mormon massage parlour than you are in football, but at TeBe, they are desparately trying to engineer one for themselves. You can look here, here and here.