Football in Leipzig is most famous at the moment for people hating RB Leipzig for having money and therefore being evil, or some other form of twisted logic. On Sunday the ‘big’ Berlin vs Leipzig match was BAK v RB Leipzig II, whilst a few kilometres away in the shadows of the beautiful Maifeld, Hertha II were hosting Lokomotiv Leipzig.
Lokomotiv Leipzig have the makings of a perfect hipster club. In the shadows of a richer and more successful club, supporting Lokomotiv has the potential to have high levels of hipster cool. Their name too, just oozes hipster appeal. Whilst their richer neighbours have wings, a locomotive is an old greasy dirty machine, outdated yet full of character. The equivalent of hipsters’ love for using typewriters, even though they also own a Macbook, iPhone and iPad. All that dirty locomotive grease could be used as beard oil too.
They are of course by no means a hipster club. The political leanings of the fan base are a bit too far to the right to appeal to that demographic. Not that Lokomotiv need a new wave of support from the hipster community. They already have a large and loyal band of support, so much so that they are the record holders for the quite fantastic achievement of largest crowd at a non league match. The size of the crowd is so impressive it needs a bit of a backstory, a bit of a build up.
FC Lokomotiv Leipzig haven’t always been so named. Like many clubs with a bit of history, there have been various mergers and the occasional bankruptcy. The founding form of the club was the far more mundanely named VfB Leipzig, and in 1903 were the first winners of the German League, the ‘Viktoria Meisterschaftstrophäe’. It wasn’t until 1966 that they took the name Lokomotiv Leipzig. That too didn’t last, as they would switch back to VfB Leipzig in 1990. No wall, new name. The bankruptcy came in 2004, at which point a group of fans decided they wanted their club back, and wisely chose to use the Lokomotiv Leipzig name.
Alright, with the (abridged) history lesson out of the way we arrive at 2004, when during a Kreisliga match they received a crowd of 12,421. For any German readers, that’s 12.421; the decimal placing is important here. 12.421 is probably the average number of supporters you see at a Kreisliga match. 12,421 isn’t that far off the average attendance of the Bundesliga 2. A truly phenomenal crowd.
Sadly they did not quite bring that many fans to Berlin, but it was a decent crowd nonetheless and those who did make the trip were vocal enough for a crowd twice their size. They also brought a few flares with them, much to the annoyance of the Berlin constabulary.
My only previous visit to the Amateur Stadion was over a year ago and was memorable not so much for the almost unimaginably one sided match which Hertha lost by four goals, but instead the quite enormous wild boar which walked out in front of me as I made my way to the bus stop. My memory may have caused the size of the animal to be somewhat exaggerated, but I’m fairly certain it was about as big as a baby elephant. Neither a boar nor such a one sided display would make an appearance on this trip to Hertha II.
Leipzig were undoubtedly the better of the two teams over the opening 45 minutes and got themselves two goals to for their efforts. The opening came after 21 minutes and rather satisfyingly their second after 42 minutes. Ronny Surma’s opening goal was deemed worthy of a flare to be ignited by the band of travelling fans, or the ultras as they no doubt demand to be referred to as. Not the most impressive of pyrotechnic displays, but of course the act was more to signify defiance towards the nearby police than anything. Sadly 21 minutes later when Djamal Ziane doubled the lead, there was no such display from the Lok contingent. Jubilant cheering, yes; defiant fireworks, no.
The second half saw intermittent rainfall and a Hertha resurgence, but neither were of particular strength, and though Hertha made a decent effort to chip away at Leipzig’s lead, their only goal would come five minutes after the break through Fabian Eisele. For all the chances that came after their goal, Hertha never looked dangerous enough to worry Lokomotiv too much. It was rather Leipzig who looked most like scoring as they broke forward on the break.
Lok’s victory in Berlin would see them move above Hertha II. Of the five places directly above them stands another four Berlin teams and one closer closer rival from Leipzig. Lokomotiv may need some of their energy if they are to continue their climb up the table.