The Käthe Tucholla Stadion is nestled away in a curious corner of Niederschöneweide. Sitting directly on the Spree, overlooked by various new build luxury apartments, it is obvious the area is being described as ‘up and coming’ by estate agents all across Berlin. In spite of this, the ground itself has a surprising charm to it. The clubhouse which extends along the entire length of the pitch has rooftop access, which spectators can use to enjoy a slightly more aerial view of the action. Perched atop the roof is a scorecard style scoreboard, a welcome addition to any ground, at any level of football. The whole ambience was closer to that of a cricket ground than non-league football, and should there be any doubts, from an English person, this should be taken as the highest of compliments.
Perhaps though it was just the smell of cut grass and the pleasure of being at a match on a day which was warmer than -5 that put me in such a nostalgic mood, but as the game began and the minutes ticked by, even the match reminded me of cricket. There were no bats of course, and no oversized leg pads, and not a great deal happened. The entire opening forty five minutes reeked of winter break lethargy.
The spectators didn’t seem to mind. Walking around in the sun, beer in hand, it was a match day to remind everyone that though there was still a distinctive nip in the air, warm spring days are just around the corner. The odd wooly hat and scarf could be seen in the crowd, but t-shirts, shorts, (socks) and sandals are just around the corner.
I can’t think of a more pleasant venue for a warm spring day fixture. Köpenick-Oberspree regulars are blessed with all you need to make a day out from a ninety minute event. Though some of the surrounding buildings within the ground have seen far better days, the main clubhouse stands out amongst the most pleasant within Berlin. Those who enjoy sitting by the water relaxing with Fassbier, watching the various boats pass by on the Spree are right at home here. The rooftop terrace and the boatyard provide a perfect location to wave to the party boats and pedalos alike. The brave may even dip a toe in the surprisingly clear water to cool off. No more than a toe though. It’s not that clear.
As the second half commenced there was an immediately apparent gusto which the first half had been sorely lacking. Both teams seemed to become simultaneously aware of their dire need for points should they wish to remain in the Bezirksliga. Kaulsdorf’s form is troublesome, especially given their meagre three point gap from the relegation zone. Their previous four games saw only a solitary point earned, that taken from fellow league strugglers Fortuna Pankow. Köpenick on the contrary, are very much the form team of the relegation contenders. In a dramatic change of fortune from the opening months of the season, they have managed nine points from a possible twelve, scoring thirteen goals in four games. It could well be the form that arrived in time to save their season.
For all the efforts, few chances fell to either team in the opening fifteen minutes after the restart. WIth plenty of energy, but so few goal scoring opportunities, it started to become clear why both teams were languishing at the dangerous side of the table. The turning point fell in the sixty ninth minute, which saw Benny Jünemann lucky to not have his shin split in several pieces in a 50/50 challenge, which he limped away from the worse of the two. The unwarranted calls for a penalty did serve to send the home side into overdrive, the first of their goals coming minutes later through Steven Wise, that after a fantastically squandered chance into almost an open goal. After conceding, Kaulsdorf had little of the game and were lucky to be spared conceding a penalty after a blatant clattering put stop to a wonderfully constructed build up. Not to worry, only minutes later Christopher Schwarz directed the ball tantalisingly close to goalkeeper Jens Hülsebus’ gloves, but his outstretched fingertips could do nothing to stop it sailing into the back of the net and thus sealing another vital three points for the home side.
SSV Köpenick-Oberspree will surely be enjoying the recent run they have put together, and well they should. A couple of more wins under their belt and they may even start to look safe for a second season in the Bezirksliga. Their next opponents TSV Rudow II, also in impressive form, will be no pushover, but with the winter hibernation sluggishness out of their system, it’s certainly a challenge to which they are capable of rising.