Wednesday, August 18, 2010
TSV Eintracht Braunschweig – SV 1916 Sandhausen (03-08-2010)
Being for business in Berlin, I made sure to rent a car so that I could see some games. I was happy to see that Tuesday evening featured an official home game of Eintracht Brainschweig in the 3. Bundesliga (Third Division). When I was young, the Braunschweiger Turn- und Sportverein Eintracht von 1895 e. V., as they are officially named, played in the 1. Bundesliga (First Division). The club will forever be in my mind for awful foul on its Swedish player , Hasse Borg, who broke his leg live on tv in the 1981 season.
I drove the 236 km from Berlin to Braunschweig in 2.5 hours, as there were many road works on the Autobahn, which meant that I arrived rather late. Fortunately, someone pulled out just as I drove up, so I could park at a 5 minute walk of the stadium. After a 15 minute wait in the very slow line, in the cold and rain, I got a ticket for 15 Euro for the new Nordkurve (North Stand).
The Eintracht Stadion, also called Stadion an der Hamburger Straße, is a classic German stadium, which means that it has a broad athletic track between the stands and the pitch. In fact, the stadium hosted the German athletic championships this year. For this first home game of the 2010-11 season 19.000 people showed up, filling much of the 24.000 capacity stadium (this despite the fact that it was still summer holidays in Germany). A tiny section of some 35 fans had made the 425 km trip from Sandhausen in the south of Germany.
There was an excellent atmosphere in the stadium, reminiscent of Bundesliga games in the 1970s and 1980s. Throughout the stadium you could see the yellow and blue of Eintracht, while the hardcore fans stand together in one section, singing and chanting the whole game long.
After the various games in Norway it was good to see a real grass pitch again. As this was the first game of the season, the pitch looked beautiful, even if it was a bit slow. In combination with the slow pace of the players and the bad passing, particularly of Eintracht, this led to some pretty poor football with, unsurprisingly, very few chances.
One of the Sandhausen players is whistled at every time he touches the ball. It turns out that he used to play for Eintracht, but changed this summer… “für die Kohle” (slang for: for the money), my neighbor says with disgust. He is at the game with his brother and their four boys, all the way from Bremen (175 km northwest); they have been Braunschweig supporters since their youth, but moved north twenty years ago. While their sons have become Werder Bremen fans, the two brothers remained loyal to their youth love.
Leaving aside some half chances, mostly the result of bad defense, it would take till the 43rd minute for a real goalkeeper’s safe: after a header of Eintracht. In the next couple of minutes an Eintracht player gets twice alone in front of the goalie, but shoots wide. Then, three minutes into extra time, the home team scores unexpectedly: 1-0, half time.
The second half sees more space for Eintracht to counter, but they are too poor to capitalize on it. Consequently, most of the game is in between the two penalty boxes and consists of slow and often bad passing. Still, the atmosphere in the stadium remains very lively and enjoyable.
In the 76th minute a good Eintracht attack is cleared in the last instance, while in the 81st minute a good attack of the home team dies in indecision. Sandhausen, on the other hand, pressures, but doesn’t create real chances. As I have a long drive back to my hotel in Berlin, and I expect heavy traffic around the stadium, I decide to leave early.
As I walk away from the stadium, I hear the place erupt. In the 86th minute Eintracht scored its second and deciding goal: 2-0 is also the final score. All in all, despite the bad football, Eintracht Braunschweig is a real Traditionsverein (tradition club), which is a must visit for any real groundhopper.