Bounty of Babelsberg

This past Saturday I was in Potsdam to visit Babelsberg-BFC Dynamo in a Regionalliga Nordost clash. It was the kind of day that made you realize winter is right around the corner,  or, as the conditions worsened as the match wore on, perhaps already even on the doorstep. A steady, frigid rain persisted throughout the afternoon, and even a gluhwein and krakauer at halftime did little to return the feeling to my fingertips and toes.

*Quick side note here to let you know that Babelsberg has some of the best catering in the Berlin football scene.*

My reward for making the trip and braving the elements was a spectacular match. Not in the same sense as say BVB-Schalke was (my other “reward” for making trip to Babelsberg was missing that 4-4 classic…), but in a lower-league, “bloody hell” kind of way. The match featured 10, count ‘em, 10 yellow cards (including one yellow-red). While the match was physical (BFC has a few players who would have fit nicely into some mid 1990’s English sides), I suspect the referee’s propensity to go immediately to his book after a questionable challenge had much to do with his desire to keep things in check both on, and off, the pitch.

It’s no secret that there’s no love lost between BFC Dynamo and Babelsberg 03. While the two fan scenes, which represent opposite ends of the political spectrum, exchanged verbal volleys during the match, no major trouble ensued. The announced attendance on the day was 2626.

Ultimately, the match ended 1-1. Babelsberg went up 1-0 by way of Tino Schmidt not long after BFC’s Joshua Marques Pereira Silva was sent off for his second yellow. While it looked for a while Babelsberg would extend their lead and secure all 3 points, the insurance goal never came. Instead, BFC equalized in the 89th on a goal from Rufat Dadashov. The game was an up and down affair as both teams had opportunities on the counter.  Each side created enough chances to win, despite the waterlogged and muddied pitch, and the final scoreline could have just as easily been 3-3.

For BFC, the result puts a damper on what little hope they have at catching league leader Energie Cottbus, who are now 11 points clear in the first position. For Babelsberg it will go down as a missed opportunity. The full 3 points would have moved them into a tie for 5th place with 24. Instead, they sit in 8th place with 22 points. Yet, they are just 4 points clear of a possible relegation. This may sound strange, but due to the unique promotion/relegation situation between the 3.Liga and Regionalliga, the (possible) relegation zone begins at 14th place. The number of teams relegated from the Regionalliga Nordost to the NOFV-Oberliga depends on how many teams from the 3.Liga in the Nordost (defined as Thüringen, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Saxony-Anhalt, Saxon, and Berlin) are relegated.

Each team has three match days remaining before the winter pause. Babelsberg has the opportunity to better their position against fellow mid-table sides Berliner AK, Hertha II, and Lok Leipzig. While BFC has Nordhausen, FSV Union, and Luckenwalde, 3rd, 4th, and last in the table respectively.

I’ve already expressed my love for the terrace cuisine at Babelsberg, but that’s not the only reason to head southwest and visit the Potsdam club. Babelsberg really is a, somewhat hidden, gem. The club and fan scene are inclusive and socially active. The club has a sharp aesthetic, with awesome kits and merchandise pertaining to the club’s socio-political views (Lonsdale is one of the club’s sponsors, and they have worked together with the Babelsberg on anti-racism campaigns). The ground is unique in that offers a three unique stands: the main tribune, which has seats and a roof, the stand behind one of the goals, which has terracing and a roof, and the gegengerade, which is uncovered old-school terracing (with some very cool fan artwork). The fourth stand serves as the guest block. I would recommend going in autumn as the stadium backs onto the UNESCO-listed Park Babelsberg, and also for an evening or night game, as the stadium has got some nice floodlights, for the football romantics like myself. To get there take the train to the Potsdam Babelsberg S-bahn stop (S7) and enjoy the scenic walk from the station to the ground (a near straight shot down Karl-Liebknecht Street).

Let me also say if you can’t make it for a match of Babelsberg 03, one of the most successful Women’s clubs in Germany, 1.FFC Turbine Potsdam play at the same stadium, and are certainly worth a visit.