There are some days when you’re tired of football. Too many crap things happen in a sport you try to love but these days spend a lot of your time just trying to endure. It’s refreshing then that there are those days, those teams and those matches that can just remind you.
Last Saturday THC Franziskaner hosted St Gabriel’s FC, who had arrived in Berlin to celebrate St Patrick’s Day and the 30th birthday of a couple of their players, for what we can call an international exhibition match. Everything was right about the day. The sky was unseasonably and ridiculously blue. There was beer on tap, bratwurst on the grill, and even cake up for grabs. Cake is rarely available at football and I can’t understand this from a country which places so much importance on cake. I had some, it was chocolate and cherry. Not even the cherries could ruin this day. I picked them out and was happy to be eating chocolate cake at a football match. More of this please, Germany.
A mention has to be made to the people who brought their dogs with them. If I had to give a quick list of things that I enjoy taking photos of most at matches (other than the football) it would most certainly include dogs. Umbrellas are also up there, but it wasn’t raining and the sun wasn’t quite intense enough to warrant an umbrella (even for an Irish person).
A lack of players on the side of THC led to a few of the guys from the nearby refugee centre being invited to play, as well as a referee calling in sick (hungover…probably) leading to a replacement in the form of THC’s Bohni. This would turn out to be a stroke of luck for THC, as the refugees were pretty bloody good! Bohni was a decent ref too, try as he might to keep up with the play with his recently operated on leg (gute besserung). What there was no lack of was spectators. St Gabriel’s had brought a contingent of around 30 fans with them, and THC brought with them their loyal group of supporters who were in such good spirits I even managed to forgive them for showing up with a couple of vuvuzelas.
The St Gabriel’s fans too were quite wonderful. It’s really not that easy to scream ‘break his fucking legs’ from the stands, yet still make it sound lighthearted and friendly. They pulled it off though, quite often. The stands too were as colourful as the language with irish flags hanging all around, leftover from what I can imagine had been a fairly eventful St. Patrick’s Day. The Irish Sector of Kreuzburg had been well and truly established, and though it may have only lasted a couple of hours, it was wonderful to witness it whilst it was there.
The best games I go to are those in which the football is secondary to the fans. This is never a slight on the game, but simply reaffirms my belief that football without fans, or rather, without fans who truly care and enjoy the day, is completely pointless. This day was the most shining example of that. The match itself was also excellent though, with some pretty impressive moments from both sides (though not so much the own goal which saw THC take the 3-2 lead). THC had gone 2-0 down and I don’t think anyone expected them to come back from that. They had been fairly outplayed throughout the first half, and had even managed to miss a penalty. I too missed the penalty as I was chatting to someone on the touchline. It really was a very social day.
But as the game rolled on THC staged their comeback. A couple of lovely little moves resulted in the match being tied level at 2-2. A less impressive moment resulted in an own goal and a goalkeeper scrambling and flailing to prevent the ball going over the line. A valiant attempt, albeit in vain. A draw may have been a fairer result, but then, if it had been a draw, the promise of a re-match in Ireland may never have been promised. That’s a match that you really should get to.
As that match ended another began as the THC Frauen 7s took to the pitch. There’s not a lot to say about that particular game. They lost, quite impressively. 19-0. What there is to say is this. If you can lose that heavily and still smile, laugh and enjoy the experience, you are doing something very right. Watching a team being so ruthlessly torn apart would usually be painful, but the attitude of the THC Frauen made it at the very least quite a painless experience, I wish all football could be this enjoyable. Sadly it is not, but I do know that if you want to experience it, THC Franziskaner are there to provide it. If you’re in Dublin, then you really need to go to visit St Gabriel’s FC, who I’m quite sure can do the very same.