Monday, August 08, 2016

RECENT REPORTS:
FC Hertha Zehlendorf 03 - Brandenburger SC Süd 05 (05-06-2016) 
 Harrisburg City Islanders - FC Cincinnatti (07-05-2016)
Wilmington Hammerheads FC - Charlotte Independence (10-05-2016) 
KFUM Oslo - Levanger (22-05-2016)
SV Lichterberg 47 - BFC Preussen (28-05-2016)

UPCOMING REPORTS:
 BFC Dynamo - VSG Altglienicke (15-07-2016)
Energie Cottbus  - FK Teplice (16-07-2016)

UPCOMING GAMES
CS Sedan Ardennes - AS Béziers (02-09-2016)
Stade Français - ASM Clermont Auvergne (03-09-2016)
UR La Louvière Centre - Royal Stade Warremien (03-09-2016)
SV Meppen - FC St. Pauli II (04-09-2016)
FK Teplice - Slavia Praha (10-09-2016)
Viktoria Žižkov - Banik Sokolov (11-09-2016)
Slavoj Višehrad - Králūv Dvūr (11-09-2016)  



INTRODUCTION

The terms "groundhopping" and "groundhopper" can not (yet) be found in any dictionary, yet there are hundreds of groundhoppers around, mostly in Germany. The word combines the terms "ground" and "hopping" and refers to the visiting of different sports grounds -- usually, though not exclusively, football grounds (for a German description, see Wikipedia).

Whereas normal football fans tend to visit only home games of their favorite team, particularly when they live closeby, and more fanatical fans also attend the away games of their team, the groundhopper aims to visit as many different grounds and teams as possible. Moreover, unlike the normal fan, who generally prefers to visit the big teams in football (e.g. Bayern München, Manchester United, Real Madrid), the groundhopper goes for the exotic (e.g. Avenir Beggen, Ozeta Dukla Trencin, Selangor PKNS) and the tiny, such as the third team of the city (e.g. Partick Thistle, Royale Union Sint-Gilloise, Spvgg Unterhaching).

While groundhopping is largely a non-organized activity, by individuals and small groups, there exist a few organizations of groundhoppers. The most famous is the German Vereinigung der Groundhopper Deutschlands (V.d.G.D.): it's website is one of the major sources of information on clubs, leagues, and stadiums in the world. For other groundhopper websites, see the links on the right.

This website provides an overview of the various groundhops of me, Grondhopper. I'm a Dutch academic and football fan, supporting PSV in the Netherlands, Borussia Mönchengladbach in Germany, and the Portland Timbers in the USA. I regularly travel abroad for both work and pleasure, and try to combine these trips with groundhops. In addition, I make several special groundhops every year alone or with one or more of my friends, some of which are active groundhoppers themselves. I have currently visited 405 (!) clubs in 38 countries on 6 continents.

Comments are always highly appreciated. You can post them either here on the site or you can email me at grondhopper[at]hotmail.com.

Hertha Zehlendorf 03 – Brandenburger SC Süd 05 (05-06-2016)

 
Hertha Zehlendorf 03 is a small team from a leafy suburb of Berlin, which at times plays in the first or second round of the German Cup (DFB Pokal). Its stadium is tucked away behind the club offices, where it is part of a football complex with several pitches.

 
Today is the last home game of the regular season in the NOFV-Oberliga Nord. I pay 8 and enter the Ernst-Reuter-Sportfeld, where I find a pretty decent stadium for a team that has never played in the highest divisions. It has one covered and seated stand and one uncovered (standing) stand, both along the long sides of the pitch.

 
There are 105 people, of which 72 are paying customers (according to an official announcement). This includes some 30 away supporters, who have made the roughly one hour trip to the east.

 
Just as I arrive it starts to rain hard and it doesn’t stop during the game. It is relentless and complicates the play after a while. The players seem all local and overall young, combination of mostly “native” Germans and Germans of Turkish decent. Given that BSC is better but too egocentric, and the pitch is challenging for the players, the quality of play is not too high.

 
In the 5th minute the visitors get a good chance. In the 19th minute the Hertha goalie gets injured and has to be changed. Two minutes later BSC has a good attack and the low shot is difficult for the new goalie.

 
Only after one half hour do the hosts get their first good chance but the finish is weak. But at least the game gets livelier. In the next minutes both teams get more or less good chances. In the 38th minute Hertha has a good counter, including a smart through ball, which is controlled with the right foot and finished with the left: 1-0 Hertha!

 
The goal strengthens the home team, which creates several more chance before half time. As BSC puts more pressure on the hosts, Hertha counters, but finishes poorly. In the 46th minute a low shot from 20 meters is saved in the low corner by the goalkeeper. The corner is headed over. Half time score: 1-0.

 
The second half starts where it ended. In the second minute a slow attack by Hertha ends with a low shot in the corner that beats the goalie: 2-0. It takes everyone by surprise. This lowers the pace of the game even more, as both teams seem to have accepted the Hertha win. In the 60th minute a blunder by a BSC defender leads to a short from 5 meter at the crossbar. Six minutes later the visitors finally have a half decent chance but the low shot is stopped by the goalie.

 
In the 78th minute Hertha has a great counter, which pout two players in front of the poor BSC goalie, who pass and score: 3-0. A couple minutes later BSC pulls off one last attack. A free kick at the edge of the penalty box lands on the crossbar. The final action is for the hosts, however. A great through pass puts the striker alone in front of the goalie, he gets around him, and finishes coolly. 4-0 is also the final score.



Hertha Zehlendorf 03 is a good example of the superior accommodations of German football, even at lower divisions. Its ground would be among the better ones in second divisions of many European countries. They don’t attract many fans though, and mainly from the district. Still, a nice groundhop.

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Berliner Pokal Finale: Lichtenberg 47 – BFC Preussen (28-05-2016)



During the regular season amateur teams (i.e. teams below the three professional Bundesligas) play a cup tournament within their state that ends, after the regular season, with the state cup final. I am going to the Berliner Pokal Finale (Berlin Cup Final), which is played at the Friedrich-Ludwig-Jahn Sportpark, with a capacity of just under 20,000, the second-largest stadium in the city – after the Olympiastadion, home of Hertha BSC.



The stadium is situated in a larger sports park with various pitches on which a broad variety of football teams play games – men and women, boys and girls. It is easy to reach with the metro (U2). I buy a ticket for €15 – the guy asks me which team I support and when I say I’m neutral, he gives me a black ticket, which is for the BFC Preussen – red are for Lichtenberg 47.



I enter the stadium an hour early and there are already hundreds of fans. All fans around me wear black-and-white BFC Preussen outfits, including many football outfits, as there are at least 4-5 full youth teams in the stands. I stand out like a sore thumb with my red-white Portland Timbers shirt, but no one cares.



The Berlin Cup Final is played between Lichterberg 47, which plays in the Oberliga, and BFC Preussen, which plays one division lower in the Landesliga. Consequently, L47 is the big favorite and has also brought most of the fans. The official number, which seems quite realistic, is 3,874 people – an absolutely impressive number for an amateur game. I guestimate that 60-66% are L47 fans in red.



The fans are predominantly white and male, as well as fairly working class, but there is a serious minority of minorities, most notably of Turkish decent, not surprising in a city with such a huge population of Turkish immigrants and their offspring. Although Lichterberg 47 is from the former East and BFC Preussen from the former West, there are few notable differences between the fans.



The first ten minutes the underdog are a bit better, but L47 gets the best chance. In the 14th minute there is a tackle in the L47 penalty box, but no penalty (good decision). Five minutes later a corner is headed in hard and high by a BFC striker: 0-1. The fans around me go crazy, the other fans are in shock.

  
Surprisingly the game doesn’t change much. BFC remains a bit better and L47 doesn’t pressure too much. The fans are happily basking in the warm sun, although the conditions are perfect on the pitch, where it is not that warm. The pace is relatively slow while the passing is not too accurate. Much of the game is between the two penalty boxes as both teams have a hard time creating chances.
 


In the rest of the first half both teams create a couple of half-chances, including a semi-volley and a shot on the post by BFC and a ricochet L47 shot that is saved by the BFC goalie. Half time score: 0-1

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The first good chance of the second half is again for BFC, but the header goes just wide. This not withstanding, L47 has much more possession, but little precision and urgency. This leads to an oddly calm and uneventful game for much of the second half.



In the last fifteen minutes most of the BFC players are exhausted and can barely stay on their feet. Finally L47 starts to pressure more, but the precession is still lacking. Still, with an exhausted BFC defense, and more and more high balls, it remains very tense until the end, five minutes into extra time.




Against all expectations the underdog from the Landesliga defeated the favorite from the Oberliga. The BFC Preussen fans and players were ecstatic, while the Lichtenberg 47 fans were stunned and the players exhausted. For the first time since 1981 The Prussians are the best amateur team in berlin again!

 
Overall this was an excellent experience, once again confirming that nothing beats football in Germany. Although this was a local amateur game, there were almost 4.000 really fanatic supporters in the stadium who made it feel like a Second Division professional game. And this all with very affordable prices for entrance and food and drink.

KFUM-kameratene – Levanger (22-05-2016)



For business in Oslo I initially have a hard time finding a game in or around the city of a team I haven’t seen on one of my previous trips. In the end, there are two games, but at the same time, so I have to choose one. I choose to see KFUM-kameratene Oslo, which is the local sport branch of the YMCA in Oslo, which plays in the Obos Ligaen (Second Division).
 

I take a tram from downtown, which takes me to the affluent and green outskirts of the city. After a 10 minute walk uphill, I get to the KFUM Arena. When I had done my research into the club, I had been a bit disappointed that they played in an “Arena,” as I associated it with a new, soulless, prefab sports arena. Not so much… I doubt the term “arena” has ever been used so liberally as by KFUM.



After buying a General Admission ticket for 150 NOK (ca. $18) in a small tent, I walk over to a fairly basic pitch with just one stand of bleachers, which seem to have become permanent without the necessary intent. There are some 350 people on this stand, although some 100 arrive during the first half hour of the game. Most people are affluent, white, young males, although there are also some women and a few non-whites. A small group of ca. 50 has banners and a couple drums and, at times, sings.



On the only other stand, a very small bleacher behind one of the goals, some 50 away supporters have come together, also sporting some banners and sometimes singing. Given that Levanger is 575 km to the North of Oslo, roughly a 7.5 hour drive, I assume most of the fans are Levanger transplants in Oslo, the capital of Norway.


The game is played on astroturf, which is not surprising given the harsh climate in Norway. This generally improves the quality of play, as the ball is more predictable and easier to control. And, indeed, the quality of the game is pretty decent, although passing is soft and predictable. KFUM has various black players, who seem foreigners, as the loud and lively goalkeeper shouts his direction in both Norwegian and English.



After an entertaining but fairly harmless first ten minutes, KFUM sets up a slow attack through the center, which end with a soft finish that is just enough to cross the line: 1-0. The home fans are delighted!

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Although Levanger is not much weaker, KFUM gets at 2-0 five minutes later. A free kick is shot hard into the wall, and in the second rebound it is shot in he high corner. A few minutes later Levanger finally gets its first chance, after a corner in the 20th minute, and a minute later a good attack leads to a brave safe by the KFUM goalie.



The best chance is for the hosts, however, after the Levanger goalie blunders terribly in the 43rd minute, but KFUM cannot finish. Just before half time the guests get another chance, but the hard shot goes just wide. 2-0 is the half time score.



After a very uneventful half time break, with absolutely nothing happening on or off the pitch, the game restarts with a vengeance. In face, I miss what produces the chance, but see a KFUM player score from close by: 3-0.



While it is absolutely clear that the game is over, Levanger keeps playing, although without much precession or urgency. The fans remain in good spirits too, despite the fact that it hasn’t stopped drizzling. Overall, it is mild, grey, and wet – a miserable November day in Athens, an average May day in Oslo. In the 74th minute KFUM gets another corner and scores from a header in the rebound: 4-0.



Even with 4-0 down the game continues to be entertaining, with Levanger slowly and cautiously attacking, and KFUM countering whenever they can. From the play it looks like the score is just 1-0. I become fixated on the home goalie, who shoots every kick straight out of the sideline. Amazing! In the 88th minute KFUM adds one last goal, from an effective counter with a hard low finish: 5-0. As the referee is clearly a sadist, he gives four minutes extra time to a game that has been over for 44 minutes and, surprisingly, all people stay in the stadium despite the depressing weather. Nothing happens and so the final score is 5-0.



KFUM was one of my more enjoyable groundhops in a while. A real small team with truly local fans, who enjoy the experience and make it enjoyable for others. The play wasn’t bad, even if slow, and with five goals, who could complain?