Neighbourhood Watch

1. FC Wilmersdorf (4:1) SF Johannisthal

 

On Sunday I checked out one of my local neighborhood clubs, 1.FC Wilmersdorf. A short jaunt from my place, I decided it would be the perfect way to ease the literal and figurative hangover from watching Union Berlin score a 92nd minute winner to defeat St. Pauli in dramatic fashion the day before.

1.FC Wilmersdorf play their matches at the Sportanlage Blissestraße located in the beautiful Volkspark in south-central Wilmersdorf. The club in its current form was founded in 1989 after two clubs, Preußen Wilmersdorf and SC Wilmersdorf merged in 1989. The club played in the Oberliga Nordost for a few seasons in the 1990’s, but today they reside in the Landesliga II.

Whilst 1.FC Wilmersdorf isn’t the most appealing option for the neutral spectator; no terraces, no storied history, ‘boring’ neighborhood, etc., I’d recommend it to anyone spending significant time in the city. The Volkspark and its surroundings are quintessential Wilmersdorf, and spending an afternoon taking in a match will give you a good feeling for the district. I’d also say the park is worth a visit on its own. There is a small lake (or big pond), biking trails, basketball courts, table tennis, an urban gym, playgrounds, picnic areas, and cafes scattered throughout. The entrance may be 4 euro, but there were runners and Sunday strollers in the park who watched from behind the fence for free.

The team is currently in good shape, having had won their last 4, including an impressive win against BAK 07 in the Berliner Pilsner Pokal. Their opponents on the day, Sportfreunde Johannisthal hail from the district Treptow-Köpenick (maybe they were also feeling the effects from Union’s big win the day before…?). They are in 9th place, with 10 points so far. They had had trouble finding the back of the net coming into Sunday’s match, with just 12 goals in 9 matches, a trend that would continue Sunday. Johannisthal had a nice aesthetic about them, a Celtic/Fürth-like crest and green on green kits. Found it a sharp look.

The match looked like it was going to be a high scoring affair. I arrived a bit late, in the 10th minute or so, and I was informed it was already 1-1. It had rained the night before, which made the carpet-like ‘kunstrasen’ more like imitation ice than imitation grass. Players  slipped and slid all over the place, and there were a fair share of poor first touches and mishit balls, even for the Landesliga.

However, this did not stop 1. Wilmersdorf from playing an excellent match. They took a 4-1 lead into halftime and never looked back (the match would also end 4-1). Wilmersdorf were able to attack Johannisthal in a number of ways. Although the preferred method was playing through their captain and target man, striker René Robben. I would equate Robben’s style to a poor man’s Sebastian Polter. Robben was credited for all four Wilmersdorf goals on the day (though I think defender Lamin Modou Sanyang was actually the rightful scorer of one of those). The four goal day increases his goal total to 11 on the season, which puts him third on the league’s goal-scoring list.

One of the better matchups on the day was between Wilmersdorf center back Erdal Özdal and Johannisthal striker Julian Karsten Heikenfeld. Both players looked like they would be better suited playing American football.  Each probably would have made a good linebacker had they been born across the pond. Özdal was the vocal leader for his side, and along with showing his experience and physicality, he also added a spectacular assistant to Robben. For someone of his size and stature Heikenfeld was quite comfortable on the ball, showing good skill and hold-up play. Unfortunately he didn’t get much help in the final third.

In the closing minutes the game got a bit chippy, as both sides seem frustrated with the officiating at certain points. I must admit, there were some head-scratchers that were and weren’t called, but that can be expected in the Landesliga. In the referee’s defense, the slippery and unstable conditions made some of the challenges look more malicious than their intent. Ultimately things did not boil over, but there were times when it looked extremely close to doing so.

The win now puts them in fourth place with 22 points, just 5 behind the league leaders Gatow. Through 10 matches they have scored 27 while only conceding 14. Their next league game sees them take on FC Nordost, who currently sit in the relegation zone, so it looks likely that Wilmersdorf will be able to extend their unbeaten run with ease, in the league at least.