The nutshell: 10 Punkte, Hertha BSC’s first few weeks 2016/17

10 Points, one loss, one draw and three wins

Hertha home

Hertha away

Hertha going for the Pokal in Hamburg…. well St Pauli.

It’s actually been a good opening to the season for Hertha and the latest match against Frankfurt was possibly the finest example of how “The Bundesliga is boring” phrase is just a myth. It was probably the best game of the weekend, but yet again was overshadowed in the media by Bayern’s 1-0 last minute victory over struggling Hamburg.

Here’s my new little update blog, my opinion of the team and how they’re doing.

I’ve decided to call it “The nutshell”. So here’s Nutshell Number 1! Lets go!

 

The start of the season: Three wins

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Tor! Julian Schieber scores again against Ingolstadt, for the second game in a row after is 95th minute winner against Freiburg in Berlin

Whilst an early exit from the Europa league left many Hertha fans rather pessimistic about the season ahead, the first three matches of the campaign actually may have boosted their confidence.

The win against Freiburg on matchday 1, after having conceded in the 93rd minute only to win the game in 95th thanks for the determination of Julian Schieber, was probably enough to lift the heads of the fans, many of who felt rather pessimistic about how the season would pan out. Optimism is something I’ve noticed, isn’t huge at Hertha, maybe because of the typical way we tend to put our foot in it and kick ourselves when we’re in a winning position, by almost always letting it slip through our fingers. It’s typical Hertha to throw it away, or fail when it really counts but it might change. Who knows?

It’s not me being pessimistic or cruel, it’s just what fans of the club are used to now. We all know we’re no Bayern Munchen, and we all know we’re not the best club in Germany, we all know supporters of more successful clubs probably point us and laugh when they see what jersey we are wearing. That’s been the case at least wen I’ve met German fans in the UK.

 But…

Faith is something all teams must have.

It did get better. For Schieber in particular. He, once again proved his worth against Ingolstadt away from home on Matchday 2. A game which Hertha dominated even if they struggled to find a way to break through until the second half.

The style of play was once again, attacking, not just defensive, something which frustrated fans during the first half of the first game against Freiburg, the whole way of passing back and not pressing forward. Something did eventually click, the second half of that game was much much better and it was carried over into the Ingolstadt game.

Although I have to admit it seems that Ingolstadt may have a long season ahead of them, as they’ve struggled to make progress much this season and played poorly in their opening games.

But of course there’s no better and sweeter victory for a Hertha fan, than against Gelsenkirchen (Schalke 04).

If you’re a blue and white Berliner, you’ll despise the blue and whites of Gelsenkirchen and with a good reason of course! The arrogant team from near Dortmund, the team that caused Hertha to forfeit their Pokal victory, amongst other things, anyone who loves Hertha… hates Schalke. And they’re not afraid to show it.

So when Gelsenkirchen, who were then and still are, pointless in the table and without so much as a draw, came to Berlin, there was literally only one aim…

Win.

If there is one game in the season, in the Bundesliga, that Hertha must win… it’s against Gelsenkirchen at home.

Schalke don’t give a monkey’s about Hertha, their club was safe in the history between the clubs, but Hertha suffered as a result. For 04, their big game is against Dortmund. For Hertha, we just want to beat them, by any means possible and by as much as possible.

Either Schalke are just extremely poor this season, or Hertha had been injected with a bit of momentum during Matchday 3… it could’ve  been a mixture of both.

Hertha dominated the game and an old face, a much improved Valentin Stocker, managed to get on the scoreboard as well. Totally dominant against a poor Schalke side that are still looking for a point. Hertha were in raptures and Schalke were and still are a mess.

A win against Gelsenkirchen is always worth more sentimentally than any other, because it’s not just a victory for the season but one that personally feels like (revenge in their eyes) but in our eyes, justice.

The battle of the Blau Weiss and Hertha came out on top and in style too.

Every win over Gelsenkirchen is worth more than 3 points in the hearts and eyes of Hertha fans.

And it lifted the spirits no end, since a loss to Bayern was going to be inevitable.

Come on we all knew it would happen.

Perhaps something more worrying was that Kalou and Darida are currently sidelined through injury, the latter out until possibly next year.

Vladimir Darida was injured during a game, tearing a ligament in his foot which required surgery. Although he’s on the mend, he’ll be sorely missed, and I am certainly sending him good wishes and vibes from here in London. Get well soon Vladi.

Bayern…3-3..Frankfurt… What?

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Boring Bayern: Same old same old against the “as always” champions, 3-0 Bayern.

Yawn, Bayern.

Everyone knew we wouldn’t last 90 minutes against the team that has everything.

We’re classed, sometimes I think unfairly, as minows in the league. But Bayern has everything we don’t in terms of money and the ability to attract big names. But Bayern lack something we do have… a stadium atmosphere.

As a friend who has attended a Bayern match said to me today, ‘they’re so used to winning there’s never any fear they won’t get three points’ and to me, that means they don’t understand what it is to hurt when they lose. Part of the passion therefore disappears, along with the fact that the Allianz is huge and the fan section, the Ultras, are a small part of it, it’s the only part of the ground that is making any noise.

I’ve watched Bayern games, and noticed that everytime they score the noise is significantly different to other clubs in the league. When you’re used to winning, it’s no so exciting to see it every week. It’s like clockwork, part of a machine, a routine. You go there and watch the same thing you see every week.

When you know there’s every possibility you’ll lose and it’s more evenly matched, it’s far more fun!

And of course we were going to lose, it was always bound to happen. Bayern have the opportunity to select from worldwide talent, and we simply don’t. Success means money and attractiveness to a host of world class players. We simply don’t have that… not at the moment.

We were just outclassed and there’s never any shame in losing to Bayern. It’s very normal, although last season we were unlucky in the loss to them in Berlin.

What was nice however, was to see Bayern fans were supporting Hertha fans campaign, of being Blau Weiss. This image appeared online not long after the game, so it seems Bayern’s truest supporters have our backs, against the marketing campaign and in the general feeling that Hertha needs to remain blue and white.

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The better game of the two latest games, was away against Eintracht Frankfurt, who in truth were lucky to still have all 11 players on the pitch at full time.

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Pink Panthers: In the words of Mitch Weiser, Hertha in their third kit against Eintracht Frankfurt

The game became tense and pinged back and forth as fast as a tennis rally. First 1-0 for Hertha with a good penalty taken by captain Vedad Ibisevic. Then suddenly before half time it became 2-1. The lead had slipped through our fingers yet again.

A few murmurs of whether or not the pink was a blessing or a curse were beginning  to surface.

But it became 2-2 in the second half thanks to Ibisevic again, who so far this season has been crucial in Hertha’s style, progression and their goalscoring. The new captain was proving the faith Pal Dardai placed in him was well founded.

Then the third goal came for Hertha, as Alexander Esswein, scored a cracking debut goal for the club. So far he definitely seems like he was worth the money Hertha paid for him, but whether or not he’ll continue to make these positive impacts, we won’t know until later in the season.

But Hertha are Hertha… and at 90 minutes, as soon as the 4 additional minutes were added I knew there was going to be a problem and was proven right when Frankfurt equalised in the 92nd minute.

The issue personally for me was that Frankfurt were lucky to still have all 11 players on the pitch. When a clash between Frankfurt defenders and Julian Schieber got too heated, play was stopped, Mitchell Weiser stepped in to defuse the situation and was grabbed round the neck rather forcefully by an opponent. With nasty tackles flying in as well, it’s questionable refereeing, and whether or not he just didn’t have the guts to send someone off or I was seeing something he wasn’t, I’m not quite sure. Sometimes as a referee you just have to produce a red card, and if you choose not to, it’s what we English call “Bottling it”.

Overall, the style has much improved to that first half against Freiburg but there’s always something to work on. Dardai has got a good team, has been working well with decent tactics as well, but there’s still a huge problem we have…

Teething problems: Hertha’s biggest fear (I think)

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Hard to take: Marvin Plattenhardt after the last minute equaliser from Frankfurt.

It seems to me that Hertha have a fear of losing…when 90 minutes approaches.

They seem totally comfortable in their winning position until 90 minutes comes and the additional time is announced. If it’s more than 3 minutes, a sort of panic sets in the minds of players and that stems from the belief of “typical Hertha”.

We know that it’s happened before and it could happen again.

We know as fans, that throwing the game away in the last few minutes or in the later stages of the season is considered quite ordinary in our neck of the woods. It happens.

But look at it this way. Two games we’ve conceded in the very last minute, both goals that were similar in the manner they were scored ie headers, both were games that we knew we had 4 or more minutes of added time and whilst we managed to win one of those games, we still conceded as well in that set time.

I don’t know if this overthinking it but this is what I’ve put it down to.

2 minutes of added time in a winning position isn’t bad at all, because you only have to cling to your lead for 2 minutes, but when its 4 or 5 minutes, in the back of your mind you know there is more than enough time for your opponent to equalise. The longer you try and hold on the more likely you are to make mistakes. It only takes a tiny lapse in concentration and then you’ve conceded, and that seems to be what keeps happening. We just can’t hold because there’s the tiny voice at the back of our heads saying “It’s still possible you won’t win” and the more you tell yourself “don’t mess up” the likely you are to mess up. We can’t seem to relax and keep composure  at the very end of a game if the lead is only by 1 goal, knowing we’re so close and yet so far from victory.

Maybe I’m wrong but it is tiny mistakes that have cost us in games we know we should’ve won because we were the better team.

Other than that I’ve seen some incredible football from out players and a great belief as well with several players determined to prove themselves this season. It’s inspiring, but of course as Hertha we have to keep going, keep trying and not let any mistakes get us down too much.

But I think the teams biggest fear is letting something slip when they are fully aware they are capable of it, of obtaining 3 points. And in Frankfurt, the atmosphere turning a bit nasty with a rough few minutes against a team lucky to keep their 11 on the field, might have played a role in the result as well. All these things matter, mentality is easily affected. But in Berlin we pick ourselves up and move on, it’s very Berlin. Remember, we try and build.

Feature: My favourite players… and why

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Here’s a little piece on some of my favourite players from the club… and why. Lets feature at least one from each playing position.

Starting with the goalkeeper.

Rune Jarstein

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Sieg: Jarstein after the victory over Brondby IF in the Europa League qualifier at the Jahnsport Park

Jarstein isn’t too dissimilar in his position to that of his counterpart Thomas Kraft. Both have a similar style of keeping, both make mistakes and both don’t have the best ball distribution. But the major difference between the two is perhaps in their attitudes towards the game and their teammates. Rune is older and maybe also wiser, but Thomas Kraft, who was number 1 for years at Hertha, has a bit of an issue with his temper. If something isn’t going well, Kraft doesn’t always manage to keep a lid on it and runs his mouth, sometimes even at his own teammates. Frustration shows with Kraft and it’s  only a weapon the opponents can use against him, once they’re under his skin he can easily make mistakes or lose concentration, where as Rune Jarstein is known for being calm and collective, level headed and encouraging, and although he does sometimes vent his frustration he’s usually as cool as a cucumber both during and before and after a game. That and the fact he has produced some stunning saves this season and last. He may be a bit older than many of his teammates but he’s definitely wise, so the motto of older and wiser may well fit him very nicely

Marvin Plattenhardt

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Platte: Marvin Plattenhardt, hard at work against Ingolstadt

Defensive rock, who came to us from below, Platte has only gotten better and better since his move from Nurnberg.

It’s not considered at all strange for top division clubs to invest their time, money and effort into young players from the 2nd division, often it’s a method of improving those players and fulfilling their potential. Platte is an example of that. Since he arrived in Berlin he has been a defensive rock as well as fantastic set piece man, with some stunning free kicks and goals to add to his name. With a good sense of humour, a good attitude and an understanding of the club, he’s truly appreciated by supporters. His discipline is good, his tackling is hard but usually fair and his skills continuously improves. Some believed he may be considered for the National team in years to come and I hope that idea is realised in the future.

Platte is also one of the many members of the team that keeps in touch with the fans via social media. It’s a platform of expression for him. And it’s always good to have that connection between players and fans.

 

Fabian Lustenberger (Fussballgott!)

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“Yes coach”: Lusti, listening to coach Pal Dardai

The Swiss International, Lusti had been captain of Hertha through the thick and thin, even when they were relegated into the 2nd division.

Again, a defensive rock as well as displaying his shooting skills against Stuttgart last season but scoring an incredible long range volley at the Olympiastadion, Lusti is technically gifted as well as a legend at the club… for a reason that is nowadays lost on the Premier League in England.

Loyalty.

Fabian Lustenberger has been at Hertha BSC for years and even when he lost the captaincy to teammate Vedad Ibisevic, remained totally loyal and level headed, calm and collected and no one ever believed he’d lose his position at the club. His loyalty has earned him the title of Fussballgott, and it’s well deserved.

Lusti is also an avid user of Social media and often after games will address supporters on Facebook with a long message, usually with a thank you note attached.

Mitchell Weiser

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Who the hell are Gelsenkirchen?: Mitch Weiser scores against Schalke 04 in a 2-0 victory at the Olympiastadion

Oddly enough, Mitch set up a goal against Hertha for Bayern two seasons ago. Maybe he believed he’d never get regular first team action at the Bayern and therefore believed a move would do him the world of good… he was right. Since coming to Berlin, the youngster has shown he’s worth it, scoring, setting up goals and working great defensively as well. He’s become a vital member of the starting 11, known for his defensive skills, his pace and his finishing.

Unlike a lot of young players, Mitch doesn’t strike me as at all arrogant, but rather mature, a young man that understands the game very very well, and appreciates the chances he’s given.

Clinical finisher, great on the ball, he’s extremely highly valued along with Vladimir Darida and Genki Haraguchi in the midfield. He’s got pace and that makes well for the count attacking style Hertha often use. And he’s wise beyond his years, often well disciplined, and like every younger, loses his cool every so often, but hey that’s pretty normal.

 

Vedad Ibisevic

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Vedator, all smiles: Ibisevic sporting the away kit preseason

I make no secret of the fact that Vedad is my favourite Hertha player. The captain was born and represents the country that my family are also from; Bosnia and Herzegovina, and it’s personal achievements along with his Bundesliga triumphs that make him my number 1.

Vedad, unlike many of his German teammates isn’t always a cool and level headed player. He has the trait of having a rather explosive temper. It was seen last season when he received a red card again Schalke and he’s received red cards throughout his career for careless tackles brought on by venting frustration. A snap second and one doesn’t think. It just happens and sometimes it builds a reputation. Luckily with our Bosnian boy, that didn’t happen, he’s not seen as a thug and is well respected.

Sadly, the Balkans is notorious for problems in football, fan and crowd trouble and some rather rough and questionable styles of play from the national team. It’s always associated with violence and sometimes that stereotype of unjust and unfair.

Usually it seems to me that Vedad is actually a level headed guy and pushes his teammates as captain to do their best, but he plays a lot with the heart. He’s experienced as well, and he brings that to the table every game. Whilst he’s skillful, he’s growing older and the clock is ticking for him although he shows no signs of slowing down, he still has the ability to score an overhead bicycle kick as he showed against Brondby. There’s a raw passion and determination to do well in there. But it may be also his backstory that make me personally respect the Vedator.

Being born or alive in Bosnia during the 1990’s wasn’t at all easy. You were lucky to survive. There’s been plenty of rumours about Vedad escaping Bosnia and what happened to his family there, many circulating that he hid whilst his village was burnt to the ground and some of his family murdered.

Luckily, Vedad did and escape the war as a child, went first to Switzerland and grew up in the US where he began to play football. Representing his nation at the world cup must’ve been an incredible honour but to core their first world cup finals goal ever? A beautiful moment, but the horrors of war never leave you, yet Vedad came out of it and now endorses several charities as well, and has made a great success of his life playing the sport he loves. To me, Vedad is the type of player to look up to ad aspire to be. The idea that no matter what has happened to you in the past you can make it if you give it everything. Someone that is a survivor and fought hard to make it, that loves the game and gives it everything in every game.

And being part Bosnian myself, I’m proud to say we have a Bosnian at Hertha.

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Torschutze: Ibisevic and Esswein after the second goal against Frankfurt

 

Julian Schieber

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Supersub: Schieber scored twice in two game after coming off the bench against Freiburg and Ingolstadt.

When I think of Schieber, one word comes to mind.

Determination.

When Schieber was out injured for so long, it’s easy for him to start believing you may never play for the club again or you no longer have anything to offer. Whilst Julian is skilled and with a fierce shot, when you’re sidelined for so long it’s very easy to believe that the skill becomes lost, but with Schieber that isn’t the case.

His successful preseason was the boost he most likely needed. I think Julian believed, somewhere in the back of his mind, that he had to prove himself to the coaching staff, that he was worth taking a chance on and when he came on against Freiburg, his sheer determination to score even when it seemed all hope was lost at 95 minutes, he was the one so so determined to make sure we’d get the three points that he never gave up on a chance that looked as though it was gone. After so long out of the team, he more than proved he is still worth taking a chance on. Not only did he work hard to get into the scoring position, he finished as well, under immense pressure.

There kind of determination and that belief is admirable, along with the fact that like many of his teammates, he’s comes across as down to earth and doesn’t come across as at all arrogant and understands what a good performance means.

 

The market problem: Pink? English? And why at heart, pink is not the problem

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Rinky dink pink: Alexander Esswein wearing the rather despised pink third shirt

Already so early in the season, there’s been fan protests against two matters that were beyond supporters control.

The first is with the new pink third shirt.

Personally, I like the colour, but the idea behind it I’m less of a fan of.

There seems to be a marketing campaign set up by those above, to make Hertha more attractive to football fans world wide but the truth is you should want to support Hertha and be a fan for a good reason, not because they’re internationally attractive.

I’m a fan of Hertha from the UK, because I absolutely adore the city and the club that represents them. I’m made to feel welcome at the Olympiastadion because that is my reason. People understand that I’m not some glory fan looking for victory but more someone that loves the sport and loves the city and so they welcome me and respect me like many of fellow English Hertha fans.

Changing the colour of the third shirt doesn’t bother me too much. The reason, is that it was the third shirt. Had they changed the home colours, I’d have been furious and there’d probably have been a riot. I understand the annoyance because the fans were never asked, never considered and never approached about the colour, the management from above decided on it by themselves. No Hertha fan would ever approve a bright pink shirt.

Sportingly, Mitchell Weiser has seen the lighter side of the situation and refers to Hertha in pink as the “Pink Panthers”.

Whilst the players, who were part of the chants of “Blau! Weiss!” in the Ostkurve after matchday 1 and the victory over Freiburg, are fully aware of the fans concerns and their determination to keep Hertha blue and white, they too must make the most of a situation they cannot control.

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Nur Ech In Blau Weis: only true in Blue and White, Hertha fans have made their feelings known.

But again it’s the idea behind it.

To have such a bright coloured shirt for a club that is notorious for being blue and white and the third kit usually Red and Black, it’s a huge change and not a welcome one.

It reminds fans that the decision made on the kit wasn’t theirs at all, as though that part of the club is out of their hands. Part of the German tradition is that fans and members are allowed to have a say on most decisions and on this one there wasn’t a choice. The pink is a bright reminder of that and a hint at additional fears that club will focus so hard on trying to become more internationally attractive and friendly, that they’ll give up the rights of the fans to have voting shares (Like RB Leipzig have) and the club will no longer be in their control. I think the fear could be that this is how a take over begins.

And the idea of a marketing campaign is absurd to Hertha fans, because most of us feel we don’t need one.

If you love the city and enjoy it, and love the club and share its values, that should be enough. You shouldn’t be attracted to a club for any other reason. Hertha may want to attract new fans just as any other club does… but a marketing campaign that costs money really isn’t the way to go about it.

That may be another point. This campaign… it costs money, and may well be very unsuccessful.

The other change, the new Motto? That I understand a lot more.

Whilst I fully support the message behind it, which I think has been lost in translation (We Try We Fail We Win… aka we support this team no matter whether we win or not) I do understand why Germans aren’t especially happy with it.

Someone pointed out somewhere online “Why is our motto in English?”

A great point! Why?

Last season, Aus Berlin Fur Berlin was the motto…it’s still German. I’m English and even I believe any motto associated with a German club with German traditions should be in German. You don’t see English clubs with Spanish or German Mottos (Only Latin which was considered part of English Culture)

Again, trying to attract English fans or fans outside of Germany? People shouldn’t want to come to support Hertha because they can understand the language. My German is passable but I couldn’t live in Berlin properly (Or at least I’d feel very uncomfortable) because I understand only a little of the language. But that doesn’t mean I have ever felt excluded at Hertha. In fact many fans are fascinated to see English fans at their home matches. They don’t need a marketing campaign to attract fans, that’s how clubs worldwide work and Germany prides itself on being different to them.

And I agree. Hertha BSC are a German club therefore should be associated with a German motto.

Youtube has also started to feature “Hertha calling”, an English series of videos which I actually enjoy, but I think some fans are starting to believe Hertha is trying too hard to become internationally attractive.

Someone commented on there “As if there are Hertha fans in England”. Although English is the most widely spoken language in the world.

There are fans here, the majority of them like myself, support the team for good reason (At least I think we do), for the right reasons.

We’re not RB Leipzig, or Leverkusen or Wolfsburg ect, we dont need sponsors, or marketing campaigns, no matter the decent idea behind him.

We just need to be allowed to be the club we are. Successful or not.

But always in Blue and White

 

Overall

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95: the very last minute goal from Julian Schieber sparked massive celebrations

It’s been a good start to our season.

Fans are still insistent that we are Blau Weiss!  and that’s always good, because blue and white is Hertha, but maybe the Bundesliga is changing? With RB Leipzig in existence, with these little marketing ploys? Of course fans will react and protest.

Just look at the Koln fans stopping the Leipzig bus reaching their stadium. Fans are angry. They don’t want to lose the league and tradition they have.

Good for them! So long as people stand up and are heard, German football will never become like the MLS or what the Premier League has become.

But the football matters most and that has been pretty good so far.

We have to keep this up and above all, believe that we can succeed! We have the ability, whether or not everyone knows it yet.

And as per usual, Hertha will have some ups and downs but so far this season looks promising.

So long as we don’t look like relegation contenders it’s all fine by me, although an ambition not to relegated isn’t held high in regard.

We as a team have potential, so lets hope the staff, players and coaches realise that potential and try and use it best they can.

As for where we will finish? My prediction in 9th or 10 by April.

In the Pokal? Who knows? St Pauli haven’t had the best of starts to the season but by the team Hertha pay them a visit, it might change. You know what they say about underdogs.

Ha Ho He

 

 

 

More than a game: Hertha BSC, ist Blau Weiss

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Here’s the truth in a nutshell.

We are not the best team in the world, or the best team in Germany. Sometimes we are not even the best team in Berlin…

but we are a team, and that’s what makes life so much more interesting. Constantly winning is boring. Never knowing if you will is exciting.

“The 90 minutes on the field… that’s the game, but everything that surrounds that 90 minutes, before, after, during the match? That’s more than a game”

That’s what I’ve always said about football. At its core it really is just a sport that otherwise doesn’t mean the world will end if you lose, but passion that surrounds it far surpasses it being merely ‘just a game’

Maybe that’s what makes Hertha BSC so unique too. The fans are always 110% behind the team even when perhaps the team don’t deserve it.

“We Try. We Fail. We Win”… more the former than the latter, but whatever we do we do it as a team,together, even suffer defeat. It’s not a phrase appreciated by all sadly tarnished by a marketing campaign for the club means it lost a little of its meaning.

It became slightly lost in translation but the idea is “We try, sometimes we fail and some times we win, but we give it everything and always with heads held high with the belief that we can achieve.

People always ask, “why support a team as crap as Hertha Berlin? ‘

And I never usually get offended. Those asking are usually Bayern Munchen supporters wondering why a English person didn’t opt for glory and trophies… for one, I’m not a glory hunter. I don’t care about winning titles although it is nice, but I care about good football and a good set up, about friends and about supporting a team regardless of their win or loss.Why support Hertha? It stems from a love of the city itself. Here’s a personal account of why

Displacement: identity crisis

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Overdressed: Me, outside the Olympiastadion just before my first game vs Stuttgart

Who the hell am I?

Well my name is Anna, I’m a girl (Yes and girl that loves football and understands the offside rule very well), I was born in Nottingham (Simply because the local hospital was full), raised in a small town in Northamptonshire and now live in London as a student.

Well I say London, it’s Brentford, so technically Middlesex but we do have a tube station and are in the London Fare Zone so, I guess it counts. I work at Heathrow airport, I love football and music, play several instruments and love and Support two clubs.

In England: Manchester United… and in Germany, Hertha BSC.

There’s a quick overall view of me then, but where does this love of Hertha and Berlin come from?

It’s quite simple.

I may have a British passport but my surname is far from British. In fact, it hails from Eastern Europe, as my Grandfather was born in and later fled the Former Yugoslavia. Born in Banja Luka (Now part of modern day Bosnia and Herzegovina), the city was attacked during World War II, and he , took it upon himself as a”Slav”, therefore hated by the Nazis and their allied fascist Croat government, to join the Partizan group fighting against the invasion.

God knows what he saw there, or how many people that suffered under those circumstances but after the war he fled and ended up here in the UK, passing through

Germany as he went. He had the choice of staying in Germany of moving to Britain and chose the latter. He got married, my Dad was born, blah blah blah.

But he kept his surname which never bode well for my sister and I. In school we were easy targets for torture and bullies.

A constant wave of racist comments and attacks meant that I, throughout the majority of my youth, ended up feeling ashamed of my own family. It took almost 15 years to realise that it was them in the wrong not me. But this wasn’t the only problem.

On top of that, my mother is ill, as is still deteriorating still with an incurable illness, my family on both sides were at war with each other, and everyone at school was telling me that I was an illegal immigrants that they were going to report to the authorities if I dared stand up to them… and I was diagnosed as being on the Autistic Spectrum, perhaps the symptoms progressed because of the isolation caused by everything else.

Moving to London provided some comfort, some freedom from a cage I suppose but the feeling of displacement and self loathing had already set in and once there is hard to escape, especially when you have no where neutral to totally escape to.

But there was something, two things really… to focus on. The first being music, the second football. I play four instruments and studied music practice for 3 years at college, gaining and distinction grade. It was one place, for the first time in a long time I felt there were some like minded people in the world. There was a level of acceptance. I wasn’t a freak there like I had been in school. “The girl that likes boy things and has an illegal immigrant family” was what I was made to feel as. At college I just “Anna the guitarist”

Then there’s football.

My father and I used to watch our non league local team as often as possible, it was only later when money became an issue, even with a non league club and the atmosphere became rather toxic, that we stopped. We also used to watch the show “Match of the day” together each Saturday, catching up on the Premier League.

I grew up watching the magnificence of Manchester United, what drew me to them wasn’t the victories, but the style and the passion of the team, the genius of Sir Alex Ferguson and the desire to always do your best.

But United would be overtaken in my heart by another club. Although United will always be in my heart and soul.

And it wasn’t football that first took me to Berlin.

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Manchester is red: Man Utd were always and are still my Premier League club. Me a Old Trafford for the first time… but we lost.

Berlin: The place to be

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By night: The infamous Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburger Tor)

  My first encounter with the German capital was a bit unorthodox. It wasn’t related to

football in the slightest and I never even travelled into the city centre to see the world famous land marks like the Brandenburg Gate. In fact I’d never even been abroad before without my parents.

In fact it was music that took me, and a few friends, to the city. Our favourite band were playing a host of European dates in April 2013. The issue was that their only UK date was at the rather brutal “Download Festival”. 90,000 people in a field? Mosh pits? and whole load of waiting around for the one band you want to see preceded and followed by and whole load of bands you just don’t give a toss about.

Not my thing at all.

However they were playing a list of dates on their own, across Europe. We had to choose a city, a choice between Amsterdam and Berlin and Berlin was cheaper and easier to get too and around and we

already friends here in Germany that we could meet up with.

So Berlin was chosen.

The show was at the Columbiahalle near Platz Der Luftbrucke, not far from the old

Tempelhof Flughafen.

And it was great fun. The Germans were welcoming and although security were strict our German friends happily helped us with the language, and everyone around us was as happy to be there as us.

An encounter with a local once inside the venue, pretty much summed up everything.

The gentleman was stood behind me, he heard that I was from the UK, and he was instantly excited and intrigued. He asked me why I was there, and was impressed we’d travelled just to see the band play there. We even had a laugh about football, about how England and Germany are still bitter rivals in the national game. The entire false perception that Germans are miserable and never smile was gone. He was a true gent with a great sense of humour, and the same can be said for many others the we encountered that day.

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Good memories: 3 Doors Down were the band I saw in Berlin, the reason for my first visit at the C-Halle

But I never had the chance to explore the city properly. We never ventured beyond
Tempelhof because we simply didn’t have the time.

So I pledged to return… and a year later I did exactly that, only this time I was there to see the city.

And it was magnificent. I could say the rest is history but not quite.

WWII history has always been an interest of mine and of course Berlin is riddled with it. What’s also incredible is that the city has accepted its dark past and chosen to push past it. Once one of the most dangerous and intolerant places in the world, it has become the total opposite. It’s not only tolerant, it’s open. It’s immigrant and gay friendly, it’s part of every day Berlin life and I love it.

I did what every tourist does of course, sightseeing the the classic walking tours. But also, I arrived during the period of the 2014 World Cup. Before departing London Luton that day I’d actually purchased a Germany away shirt, and happily wore it to the public viewing at the Brandenburger Tor.

It was strange, because as soon as I arrived at Schonefeld I ran into trouble. My mone wasn’t being accepted in the ticket machines just inside the tunnel that leads to the S-Bahn Station. A local standing behind me could see I was struggling, and offered me a

hand. I didn’t even need to ask, he just offered with no questions.

It wasn’t the only time this happened that night either. Despite meeting some English speakers to go watch Germany’s match in the last 16 of the World Cup Vs Algeria, there were 500,000 Germans there. And it poured with rain for about half an hour.

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Return: Returning to Berlin, an experience during the world cup at the Fanmille, Deutschland gegen Algerie

 Disastrous perhaps but not as disastrous as the game itself. Germany struggled to break

Algeria down despite creating numerous chances and having the lions share of possession. However, in extra time they did manage to break down the Algerians when Andre Schurrle and Mesut Ozil scored, despite the Algerians scoring a late late consolation they held on and there was a huge party in the city centre.

It struck me immediately how very different this culture was in Germany compared to England. Maybe it’s because Germans are used to drinking more beer and have a tolerance for it, but even the drunk locals were not a threat to people. I never once felt uneasy, it was a relaxed and safe atmosphere. In England, drunk locals means big trouble, and usually ends up in a scuffle and a number of arrests.

But getting out of Alexanderplatz at 1:30am was a challenge. My U-Bahn line was suspended. And I’d never used a bus in Berlin and had no idea where I was going. So once again, a local young lady helped me out, without even the need to ask for help. She even ensured that I got off at the right stop. A few local lads questioned why I

supported Germany, I gave a simple answer: I love it here.

Some people in England say that you cannot support Germany or a Germany team

‘Because you are English, what about the war?'(Firstly, just shut the fuck up, the war ended 70 years ago and modern day Germans shouldn’t be targeted because of something they actually didn’t do!), but for me the truth of the matter is that Germany and more so Berlin, accepted me when no one else would. No one in Berlin ever made me feel like I didn’t belong there, in fact Berlin was open, in a way just like London is open.

But with Hertha, it would take a little while longer to find Hertha.

Hahohe, thank you BSC:

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Love at first sight: First glimpse inside the Olympiastadion on Matchday. (vs VfB Stuttgart)

 It was actually my dad that first mentioned Hertha BSC to me. I should perhaps thank him now for that.
When I arrived home from Berlin for the first time, I was still living outside of London. Returning after the trip everyone was hearing about what a great experience it was and how much I wanted to return. But my dad was the first person to ever saying anything about Hertha.
“Do you know Berlin’s team? Hertha is it? I was surprised you didn’t know about them”.
He did briefly mention FC 1. Union Berlin as well but lets not talk about that.
Ironically, the very last place I’d visited in the German capital before leaving, was our home. The Olympiastadion. It was around 9pm and dusk, the sun was setting and the stadium, as it so often does, looked stunning in the sunset.
I just remember glancing up at it and thinking to myself “One day, I must go inside and see a game there”. It was the Die Nationalmannschaft that actually entering was my initial thoughts when thinking about football in Berlin.
But my dad’s comments got me thinking about Hertha. And I started doing a little research.
Were they a successful team? No
Had they won anything recently? Not really they were in the Bundesliga 2 the previous

season
Famous players? None really.

but… youtube was my friend. I found several videos of the fans of Hertha, I could see immediately that despite not being a huge success like Bayern, this was a team that people adored. It was a team the represented the city I love, and it was a team that brought people from Berlin together… regardless of the results. And to me, as a fan of the game, that is what football is. You Try, You Fail, you pick yourselves up and start again.

And so, the story begins.

Being Autistic means something else is attached too. People on the spectrum become very attached to things.

We so often need something to invest our time and attention to, something to love and focus on, this was mine. Football had always been there somewhere in my life but there was always something missing, a togetherness and a passion that wasn’t present in the

Premier League. The Bundesliga fundamentally represents something I profoundly believe it… that the fans are the heart and soul of the club.
Two different worlds: The English Premier League and the Bundesliga

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Passion: The Hertha Ultras in the Ostkurve vs Stuttgartt 

There is an ever increasing problem with the Premier League and it escalates ever season: Money, supporters lack of control.

In England, an owner of a club can make huge decisions without the need of support from those that know the club best: Its supporters. The people that spend hundreds of

thousands a year on tickets, shirts, merchandise, traveling the country, traveling abroad to cheer on their team. It so often now feels like all that doesn’t register with many owners and those on the executive board. They have not come from terraces. Perhaps with

Manchester United it may differ. We are a club that is proud of the youth academy and seemingly tries to give something back to supporters however the ticket prices are still high and the amount of cash being dished out makes the working class feeling nauseous.

The fans have no control over what the club spends its cash on or over decisions that are made over ticket prices ect.

In Germany, aside from one club (Yes RED BULL Leipzig I mean you), this is unthinkable.

Germans know full well what the sport means to the country and what clubs mean to their fans. Memberships are high but not extremely costly as they are in England. Ticket prices are extremely low compared to the Premier League.

Here’s an example of mine.

If I wanted to attend a Manchester United Premier League game (Take away membership fee as it isn’t really needed in Berlin), compared to Berlin….the cheapest ticket would probably cost 23 Euros/£17 for a seat near the Oberring standing(15 Euro Ostkurve and Oberring free standing sections are usually reserved for season ticket holders just as the Stretford end of MUFC is) .

A ticket to a Utd game in the same category would be £35 for a seat above the Stretford fans or up high somewhere.

The best place to be in any game is with the Ultras but traditions in England and Germany are totally different. In England, even in the fan sections we remain seated for the majority of the game, except for when something exciting happens. Every now and then a chant will occur and fans will sing, but otherwise it is almost silent.

In the Bundesliga there is no such thing as a quiet moment and Ultras would probably smack you in the face if you asked them to sit down. In Berlin, the fan section is known as the Ostkurve, or East Stand. But every club has it’s own section of the stadium for its most loyal and adoring supporters. In Berlin, the Ostkuve, in Dortmind the Sudtribune or Yellow Wall, Bayern has the Sud Kurve, Werder Bremen also has an Ostkurve and the list goes on and on.

These fans will sing, shout, chant, cheer, jump, dance, whatever you like, from about 30 minutes before kick off until 10 minutes after the final whistle, maybe longer depending on the result. This unique approach and passion from supporters also rubs off on the players. For instance at the Olympiastadion, the players will always approach the Ostkurve at the end of the game, as well as warm up near the area before the game. If Hertha win, there might be a “Stimmung” celebration with the fans in the Ostkurve, where the players and fans celebrate together.

What does this show? It shows that the players understand not only what they mean to the fans but also how much the supporters love their club. They have the Hertha flag etched into the hearts, their blood is Blau Weiss. It is an understanding between fan and player that is sometimes not visible at all in English clubs. Hertha players are probably paid significantly less than EPL players. They’re not poor by any means but the club chooses to spent its money more carefully. Perhaps its why so many of our players are grounded people.

Something else that’s a huge difference and another reason that the fan and club relationship might differ in the two countries, is that most German clubs if not all, hold open training session, or public training. Other than a few days before a match, where the training is closed for understandable reasons (Don’t want any spies keeping an eye!

actually it’s nice for the players not to be watched, and to be very focused), training is open to the public meaning fans can watch and get up close and personal with the players. This would never happen in the Premier League. And it’s not all to do with fame. Even Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund hold public training session although it’s a little more restrained than Hertha’s would be… we don’t have any hugely famous names at our club where as Bayern have the likes of Muller, Lewandowski, Neuer and Lahm, huge names and highly established International footballers. We have, perhaps lesser known players but very down to earth guys that always put in a shift, the likes of Plattenhardt, Lustenburger, Schieber and Ibisevic that either rose from the lower leagues or have quietly been going about their work.
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Work hard and play hard: the day after Hertha’s win vs Freiburg I attended a training session, mainly the bench, but seen here three first teamers, Left to right: Fabain Lustenberger, Marvin Plattenhardt and Sebastian Langkamp.

Fan culture is England is very strained. You find fans fighting in every club that’s in existence but hooliganism is still present here, there’s a lot of negative chanting slagging off opponents, even opponents that’s aren’t playing… I’ve never felt that in Germany at all. The only team Hertha fans might trash talk is their rivals Union. Its merely banter and harmless.
Despite their being clubs that do detest one another such as Schalke and Dortmund, and I know Hertha fans despise Schalke… it’s never got to the point I’ve felt unsafe, but at a United game I’ve felt the atmosphere become less than friendly before.

Major differences including the fact that a German football law means that members aka the fans must own 51% of the club, means that the fans have a louder voice in German clubs than English clubs. Big decisions cannot (usually) be made without the expressed

approval of the members first. A few teams are becoming an exception. Although Bayern is a members club some lesser known teams, perhaps Wolfsburg because of the input from Wolkswagen, and more so “Red Bull” RB Leipzig, which reportedly has a tiny number of members and the club is mainly controlled the way a EPL club is… but the owner. And the fact they insist RB doesn’t mean Red Bull to the point where RasenBallsport the official name, means virually nothing. They are probably hated by the majority of football fans in Germany.

The Bundesliga may sometimes be a little one sided, as Bayern so often win everything with Dortmund in second behind them to the point it gets a little boring, it has something that is certainly missing from the Premier League.

Atmosphere and passion. The focus is on the fans not always the game, it’s about the fans connection with the club… the way I believe it should be.

Eins: First Hertha game

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Together: Hertha celebrate with fans after a win against Stuttgart.My first Bundesliga game, my first Hertha match, was against VFB Stuttgart in September 2015. Bear in mind I’ve since been to 7 Hertha games.

Not to say I wasn’t prepared for the game, I’d done my research from how the fans behave to the learning the lyrics of our club song Nur Nach Hause, significant to me because personally, Hertha feels like home.

I suppose the thing I wasn’t prepared for was the chain smoking lady standing next to me. And I was alone. It was before I met my Hertha friends, which was much later in the season.

By this point I’d been watching Hertha on a TV screen for a year or two. So… the game?

I was stood in the Oberring Osttor, near enough next to the Ultras and we stood the entire 90 minutes and then some. The only reason I felt out of place was probably because I was alone and my German was extremely lacking, but I suppose football is a language we all understand. When the team came out, the place erupted and it didn’t halt or falter for 90 minutes. It left me partially deaf for a few hours afterwards.

It was also my first glance at a Hertha Choreo, “Fur uns bist du die Hochte Karte”(For us you are the highest card). A beautiful display that was actually below me, of three cards, the Jack, King and Queen, and the song following it, “For us you are the highest card, Jack, King and the Alte Dame”… which is Hertha’s nickname “(Alte Dame meaning Old Lady)

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(Image does not belong to me), Choreo vs Stuttgart: “Fur uns bist du die Hochte Karte”

Then the game.

It was a bit scrappy at times and neither team really dominated the game, until Genki Haraguchi scored the opening goal only for Bosnian Toni Sunjic to equalise… and then up stepped Fabian Lustenberger.

It must’ve been seconds before half time but Marvin Plattenhardt’s free kick was blocked and ball popped up in the air, only to drop to Lusti on the edge the box. For lack of a better explanation, he just hit it… hard.

From where we were standing, at the opposite side of the stadium, and with the running track increasing the distance, it looked for a moment like it was going way way wide, it was swerving so much… only it swerved and went into the top corner instead.

Lustenberger is not known for scoring goals at all… but he scored a screamer.

2-1 at halftime. 2-1 at full time. But from then on Hertha were enjoying a decent season.

Home wins against Schalke and Bayer Leverkusen meant that at Christmas we were in third place and within a shout of the Champions League… only to be typical Hertha and screw it up in the second half of the season, but that’s Hertha for you.
Zwei, Drei, Vier, Funf und sechs: Two to six, the highs and lows

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Good season: Hertha drew 0:0 with Dortmund in the league.

It wasn’t just Bundesliga games I have attended and not all the games have even been at
the Olympiastadion. My problem isn’t that I only have weekends off work like many, but

the opposite, I work 3 days a week that shifts a day each week; 3 on 3 off. I could be free for a game one week and not the next. It’s annoying and prevents me going to watch the team as often as I’d like… don’t think I haven’t considered moving to the city.

The second match for me, was the first time I met a group of people, that I end up hanging out with every time I return. They’re good people, true fans, awesome Germans, and they

seem to find it fascinating that an English girl likes Hertha BSC. A lad maybe not so much but a girl? We are a very rare breed. But I really appreciate having friends like them.

The second match was a big one too… because the giant bees that are Borussia Dortmund

came to Berlin. Amazingly we didn’t get thrashed, the game ended in a goalless draw and

there was a huge chance right at the death for Hertha to actually win it. But a point against Dortmund was great. Anything but a loss vs BVB is a victory.

The third game… Dortmund again only this time it was something rather special and it

wasn’t a Bundesliga match.

For the first time in decades Hertha BSC had made it to the DFB Pokal Halbfinale (The DFB Cup semi final), aka the German FA cup. Admittedly we’d had an easy run up until that

game, but we were there, playing well in the league and truly believed we had a chance to make it to the final. Not only because we had the ability, which we do, but because the semi final was at home, in front of a sold out crowd and in the home stadium. The

Ostkurve was so packed we couldn’t even get inside. We had to watch from the disabled

viewing platform at the top of it.

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Special game: The DFB Pokal semi final against was the first major semi final for the Hertha first team in decades and a special occasion.

But it wasn’t to be. With a new shirt specially made for the game, and a confidence of a

winning side, things started to go downhill in the season from that point.

Dortmund weren’t just too strong, Hertha lacked pace and creativity and after going 1-0 and missing a golden opportunity to equalise, it was quickly 2-0 and then 3-0.

Oh well… we tried.

That’s a sort of philosophy of Hertha… we tried, and we failed but we go again.

Only the fourth game for me at the Olympiastadion was three days later in the Bundesliga against.. FC Bayern Munchen.

And everyone was a little deflated after the Cup loss. However we went into the game

strong, we had chances, we actually dominated possession and then… Bayern scored. One was lucky, a deflection off a defender took it past Thomas Kraft in goal, and the second was a great strike.

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Hertha BSC vs giants, FC Bayern Munchen

From then on we struggled in the league to keep up with the pace of other teams.
Monchengladbach, Leverkusen and Mainz 05 all played better than us, we lost at home to Darmstadt on the final day of the season and we were

leapfrogged in the table and finished 7th meaning a UEFA Europa League qualification

spot and a game against Danish side Brondby Copenhagen… at the Jahn-Sport Park near Gesundbrunnen in the eastern part of Berlin.

My next game… and lucky enough to see a “sehr schon tor” by my favourite player, Vedad Ibisevic (the Bosnian of course!), leading to a 1-0 win… only Hertha would become Hertha against in the away leg.

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(Image belongs to Hertha BSC) Vedad Ibisevic scores an overhead kick against Brondby IF

I regard myself as fortunate not to have been in Copenhagen to witness Hertha’s disastrous time in Europe. Not only were the team abysmal defensively, but several Brondby ultras proceeded to attack Hertha supporters, to go in hand with them causing mayhem in Berlin as they threw flares onto the pitch during the match leading to a break in the game and players walking away from the field.

Luckily for me I was busy watching West Ham’s campaign in the same competition, lucky for them they won that round but the last hurdle was too much and they crashed out of the competition in the following and final play off round. My phone was receiving a poor signal. I got notifications that Brondby scored, Ibisevic had equalised and that Brondby

scored again, but Hertha still lead on away goals, only Brondby scored again, all three through Celtic reject and when I got home and dare watched the so called “highlights” I was horrified

Brondby had not created ANY of their own goals. All three of their goals had come from

huge mistakes from the Hertha defence. Firstly they couldn’t clear the ball, secondly,Plattenhardt’s attempt to clear by putting the ball out of play went badly wrong when he misjudged the ball and it grazed the edge of his boot, putting it directly in the path of the opponents striker and thirdly, a stupidly naive pass between Skjelbred to Langkamp lead to the ball becoming loose and Kraft scrambling back into his goal to try and save as they

gave the ball away nearly inside their own penalty area. A total nightmare and to follow

and bad 4-1 loss in a friendly against Napoli.

But then the season started. From Ostkurve and later to the Oberring, we switched positions to get the best view of this one as it wasn’t sold out.

Time for the first match of the season against FC Freiburg.

New season: Spieltag

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Switching positions: From the Ostkurve to the Oberring. WIth a great view of everything.

First half against promoted FC Freiburg? Boring as hell, as dull as dishwater… but then we moved, things got better. Hertha began to attack and press and eventually were rewarded with a great goal from Vladimir Darida.

And then typical Hertha…
90mins 1-0 Hertha, 5 minutes of added time.

90+3

Hertha 1-1 FC Freiburg.
Oh dear. And it looked as though the team were stuck with an opening day draw against a newly promoted side…

And then Schieber happened.

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Hertha 2-1 FC Freiburg.

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(Image does not belong to me), Hero: TOOOOOOOOOR, Julian Schieber scores in the 95th minute to give Hertha a 2-1 win after Freiburg had equalised just a minute earlier.

Julian Schieber, injured for much of the previous seasons, came on as a substitute. Having played well preseason his chance to prove himself came in the opening game with almost the last touch of the match. Freiburg having just equalised, couldn’t deal with Genki Haraguchi’s blocked shot which scuttled around and ricocheted around the box until it fell at Schieber’s feet. He held, then turned and managed somehow to squeeze it under the keeper and sending the Olympiastadion into total insanity. It was one of craziest but best

ending’s to a game I’d ever seen. And it ended 2-1 thank God!

Moments like that are part of the reason Hertha is my club. A win so hard fought for like that meant more than it would to a team like Bayern, who are so used to victory.

Hertha is something I enjoy investing my time in. A club where the fans and players matter. Where winning is more a bonus than a must. Where we are used to failing but every now and then have a little spark that lifts us up and regardless, the fans stand by the team and the city.

Hertha BSC: A brief history

Who on earth are Hertha?
What an odd name for a football team
Well, every team has its story.
Hertha was founded by two brothers who gave the club their colours, blue and white.

The name Hertha comes from a ship, hence the flag and later and more ironically the anthem “Nur Nach Hause”.

The club was founded in 1892, and hasn’t stopped since. Despite being German champions in the 1930’s the club slipped into a downward spiral afterwards, bouncing between leagues, at one point having to move stadiums because the Olympiastadion simple was too big, and the crowds consisted of just 5000 people. A low point, but things got better.

Promoted, Bundesliga team again, in the 90’s Hertha enjoyed success. Despite not winning the league and losing out several times to other clubs, BSC played in the Champions League even managing a 1-1 draw with Barcelona. But again disaster struck with relegation to Bundesliga 2 later on

after a controversial game with Dusseldorf.

But Hertha are Hertha and they fight. And so they were straight back up to the top tier and have stayed there. In 2015/16 they even got the chance to play in Europe again… but you’ve heard how that ended.
But where?

 

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Hause: Berlin’s Olympic Stadium (Olympiastadion)

Hertha’s home is the gorgeous and classic stadium that is the Olympiastadion, in the West of Berlin. 75,000 capacity, it rarely sells out for Hertha home games unless there is a special occasion such as the DFB Pokal semi final in which Hertha lost to Dortmund, or games in the league against Dortmund and Bayern.

During matches that may not be sold out like the Europa League qualifier, or friendly matches, we play… and the Jahn Sport Park… Here

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Jahnsport-Park in East Berlin is the stadium where generally smaller matches such as friendlies are played

The Olympiastadion, unlike the Signa Iduna park in Dortmund or the Allianz Arena in Munich, has a ton of history attached to it and certainly not all of it is good.

During the 1936 Olympics, the Nazis were at the height of their power. Pre World War II, it’s notorious for being a huge propaganda campaign for Adolf Hitler, and is famous for scenes it looked as though Germany would win gold, Hitler was out of his seat only for Jesse Owens, not a favourite amongst Nazis as he was a black American runner, snatched it at the last moments and became the Olympic champion. Year after the war, a streetleading to the Olympiastadion would be named in his honour, named “Jesse Owens Allee” it can be found whilst walking from the S Bahn station towards the stadium.

Oddly it is also the only major sporting venue to still exist and be used consistently for events, that was designed by Hitler’s personal architect Albert Speer. The design is very dark and rather intimidating but inside it has completely changed. For the 2006 World Cup the stadium was renovated. The running track is now blue and white which fits with Hertha’s home colours perfectly.

There is a roof too giving it it’s now very unique look.

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Aus Berlin, Fur Berlin

The stadium itself is split like any stadium. The more central and lower down you are the more expensive the ticket it. But the cheapest tickets for any game are 15 Euros, usually in the Ostkurve and Oberring just above it. For big matches such as Dortmund and Bayern the prices rise but not significantly.

The Ostkurve, literally the “East stand” or “East curve” along with the section directly above it, are what are known as “Free seats”, meaning if you have a ticket for that section you can stand wherever the hell you like. These blocks are for the Hertha Ultras, the ones that start singing on a Saturday afternoon at about 3:00pm and don’t stop until 6pm. It’s where you’ll see the famous jumping beans (as my mother calls them) and where the noise comes from. There’s even sometimes coalition between the Ostkurve and Oberring, with the clubs chant of “Ha Ho He”…

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Ultras: The Ostkurve is the home of Hertha’s biggest supporters

 The view isn’t the best, both sections are directly behind the goal opposite the Marathontor, (The Marathon gate or the little gap that is filled with seats for big matches aka Bayern and Dortmund). The higher you are in the Ostkurve the better and the lower you are in the Oberring the better.

But what is “hahohe”? What on earth does the Hertha chant mean? As far as I can tell…

absolutely nothing. It’s just chant that rhymes with “BSC”. So hahohe, Hertha BSC! is used. It’s shouted everytime after a goal during the Tor hymne as well.

However there is a more meaningful song that does make sense.

The club adopted the anthem from Frank Zander, a Hertha fan, that used the melody of

Rod Stewart’s “We Are Sailing”… ironic too as Hertha was named after, well a ship!

The song “Nur Nach Hause”, in English “Only home”, is a song that is sung every home match as the team enters the field. When the fan section is full and everyones holding their blue and white scarves aloft, it’s really and truly something beautiful to see.

The words are quite simple

Here’s the lyrics and a translation.

Nur Nach Hause, gehn wir nicht (Only home, we do not go)


Nur nach Hause, nur nach Hause, nur nach Hause gehn wir nicht

Nur nach Hause, nur nach Hause nur nach Hause gehn wir nicht

Nur nach Hause, nur nach Hause, nur nach Hause gehn wir nichtnur nach Hause, nur nach Hause, nur nach Hause gehn wir nicht

Alle warten voller Spannung

Auf das absolute Spiel

Denn die Jungens von der Herthahaben alle nur ein Ziel: Heute wollen sie gewinnen

Fur das blau-weisse Trikot Sowieso oh-oh oh-oh

Und sowieso oh-oh oh-oh


Only home, only home, Only home, we do not go,

Only home, only home, only home we do not go,

All wait in anticipation,

For the absolute game,

For the boys from Hertha, have only one aim,

Today they want to win, for the blue and white shirt,

But anyway… Only home we do not go
It’s usually sang loud, proud and with the blue and what scarfs of the fans held in the air. As if they were singing a national anthem


The song is sung during games too if the ultras feel like it. Against Bayern in 2016 whilst losing 2-0 the Hertha fans burst into song and the FC Bayern supporters looked a little shell shocked. A team used to always winning was watching the fans of a team used to losing, still cheering on their team despite being behind.

Hertha fans in the Ostkurve have several traditions as many Bundesliga clubs do.

Part of the reason I love this team is because of this culture.

Whilst standing in the Ostkurve, I linked arms with a total stranger, but because he was in blue and white it meant he was a friend. Link arms then jump. The same happened at the
Jahn Sport park with a young lady. Total stranger. But blau weiss means friend (unless its
the blue of Schalke or Hamburg! Yuck!)
The together in jumping usually happens as the team is about to make their appearance onto the pitch. Unless there’s a choreographed piece then it’ll happen afterwards.

Tifo’s or Choreo’s are a traditions in Europe and especially in Germany. Works of art
displayed in fan sections in supporter. Dortmund’s are always particularly impressive as
are ours. Vs Stuttgart and Dortmund in the Pokal they looked stunning.

dortmund choroe
Shuss. Tor. Hurra…: The huge choreo in the DFB Pokal Finale vs Dormund, the words referring to a song that was released when Hertha’s reserve U23 team reached the final of the cup.

Players: Not the most gifted but the most true.

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Berlin is crazy in blue: the 2016/17 team in the morning paper, Berliner Morgenpost.

We are not the richest club.

Directors made huge mistake a few years back by borrowing a lot of money to buy star names only to end up in such big debt the club nearly collapsed. They are lucky Hertha still exist.

But in more recent years the club has learnt from its mistakes and spent wisely, however it means we don’t tend to get in big star names and we certainly don’t attract them with the triumphs we’ve had or the trophies we’ve won.

Instead we invest in potential. Youth, second division players and they develop.

Mitchell Weisser and Marvin Plattenhardt are two great examples of that. Along with names like Niklas Stark and Fabian Lustenberger. Lustenberger, captain until this new season, has been a Hertha player now for years. He’s known as our “Fussballgott”, loyalty means something in Germany.

Rune Jarstein, formerly a bench warmer, proved he is more than capable of the number 1 position, pinching it from Thomas Kraft after the latter was injured last season and Rune took over with great success.

As long as the team plays as a unit, it’s a belief that we can take on anyone. These players aren’t huge names but they’re (mostly) good at their job, they’re great players and have ability, they’re just not as well known because there’s no trophies attached.

Perhaps the biggest name at the club currently is Salomon Kalou, best known for his days at Chelsea, or Vedad Ibisevic, who was a pain in the neck for Hertha when he played for VfB Stuttgart. Both have been successful in their career domestically and internationally.
The current team looks a bit like this,
The current team looks a bit like this,
Goal keepers (Torwart)

Rune Jarstein (Norway )
Thomas Kraft (Germany)

jarstein
22 number 1: First choice goalkeeper for this season Rune Jarstein. Jarstein impressed so much after an injury to Thomas Kraft last season, he’s currently the first choice keeper from Pal Dardai

Defenders
Fabian Lustenberger (Switzerland)
Sebastian Langkamp (Germany)
Marvin Plattenhardt (Germany)
Niklas Stark (Germany)
Per Ciljan Skjelbred (Norway)
Peter Pekarik (Slovakia)
John Anthony Brooks (United States of America)

platte
Marvin Plattehardt

 

lusti
Fabian Lustenberger (Fussballgott)

Midfield
Jens Hegler (Germany)
Genki Haraguchi (Japan)
Alexander Esswein (Germany)
Vladimir Darida (Czech Republic)
Mitchell Weisser (Germany)
Ondrej Duda (Czech Republic)
Alexander Baumjohan (Germany)
Maximillian Mittlestadt (Germany)

Vladimir+Darida+Hertha+BSC+Team+Presentation+fvcndxHCHGKl
Vladimir Darida

 

weiser
Mitchell Weiser: Formerly of Bayern Munchen, he set up a goal against Hertha before he left Bayern to join us.

Strikers
Salomon Kalou (Ivory Coast)
Vedad Ibisevic (Captain) (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Julian Schieber (Germany)
Valentin Stocker (Switzerland)

Julian+Schieber+Hertha+BSC+Team+Presentation+_bTdcRP5Et3l
Julian Schieber

 

<> on July 12, 2016 in Berlin, Germany.
Salomon Kalou: Known for his time n England with Chelsea FC, where he won the UEFA Champions League.

 

vedad
New captain: Vedad Ibisevic

 

Manager: Pal? Dardai! Pal? Dardai? Pal????? DARDAI!
Pal Dardai, also known as Mr Hertha, the most capped Hertha player ever he
coached the U19 before becoming a success with his native Hungary National team and
then Hertha’s first team.

pal
Pal Dardai: Dardai dedicated almost his entire career to one team:… Hertha BSC

 

pal player
Player, Captain, coach: Pal Dardai was Hertha’s most capped player ever. A Defensive midfielder he didn’t score too often, but his leadership lead to some bright years for Hertha in he 90’s and early 2000’s

 

pal vs freiburg
That kind of guy: The 95th minute goal against Freiburg in the opening days of the season was enough to send Pal just a little crazy. 

Berlin: Mein Zweiterszuhause

DSCN3665
Berlin Bear 

 This was well and truly one of the times I seriously considered not boarding the plane back to London Luton Airport. I just didn’t want to go home, perhaps to escape a 3am wake up and a 5am start, but the weather had been sweltering, I’d been hanging out with friends I there was a sense of freedom.

I can walk about the city without a single care in the world and the freedom of feeling totally safe and at ease. Certain areas are very familiar now. It feels rather strange to know areas of a city in a country you don’t reside in.

Of course there are areas you should never venture into alone especially at night but it’s the same in any European city.
Everyone has a place they feel most at ease. A place they love because of it’s people and culture, language and tolerance. A place they feel probably more at home than their actual home.For some it’s New York, London, Paris, Amsterdam…
For me it’s Berlin.
From the moment I first arrived there I felt more accepted than I ever had in my home town. London my be different, it is a lot like Berlin with it’s political views. But the place I came from? No no.

For nearly 18 years a constant wave of bullying, hatred, racism and intolerance towards people with a slight difference in their mental health, meant that my sister and I were both left teetering on the edge. Dark thoughts occur when such things happen for years.

One never simply “gets used to it” and no one should have to.

But in Berlin? No one bothers me, and when someone is interested in a little tourist wearing a baseball cap, it’s usually with a genuine interest.
Berlin is the city you can be free to be who you want to be. Hertha embraces that. Hertha in a nutshell, is Berlin. Gegen Rassismus, fur tolerance.
A phrase blazed across the Olympiastadion.
When the refugee crisis happened, it was around the time we played Stuttgart in my first match in Berlin, and the time when Munchen Hauptbahnhof was flooded with people fleeing war.
Two young boys in front of me, perhaps between the ages of 15 and 18, were holding a banner reading “Refugees Welcome”.

This is Hertha, this is Berlin.
When it was German reunification, 25 years since the Berlin wall fell, Hertha had a game at home against Hamburg. For the afternoons Choreo, it was a beautiful display of the city, colourful depictions of it, and the wall separating it. When the players came out to the anthem “Nur nach hause”, the fans moved, the wall fell, Berlin was one city. And the banner across the top of the Oberring and bottom of the Ostkurve read this.
“Wir vereinen Ost und West. Denn… Hertha steht fur ganz Berlin!”
in English…
“We united East and West. Then… Hertha stands for the WHOLE of Berlin”
That is Berlin… das ist Hertha.

chorgeo hambur
“Hertha stands for ALL of Berlin”

When people ask “Why do you support a team like Hertha?” usually followed by some insults like “They’re shit!” or “They win nothing”.

It’s a simple reason for me. I don’t like losing, no one does, but it happens. To win all the time is boring, it sets an arrogant mentality and when one gets cocky or punches above their weight they become detestable sometimes. Berlin, we know where we stand.

Whilst I have much respect for BVB and their fans and for Bayern’s achievements and always lend them my support in the champions league, why didn’t I choose to support them?

Easy.

I’m not a plastic fan that is tempted to support a team because of the consistent success or because they can afford the worlds best players. I need to feel a connection to the team.

I’ve no interest in Dortmund or Munich as a city really.

At Hertha we do not have the leagues best players, but they put the effort in, the fans stand behind them regardless of a win or loss. To me that’s football. Success counts for little, you need to be a team. And you need to stand by them through thick and thin. You need to feel what it is to lose because you can truly appreciate the win.

And the last reason, why Berlin? Why Hertha?

Everyone else.

I said there before somewhere and it sounds a little soppy and weird, but it’s true.

I said “Berlin and Hertha, were there for me when I otherwise felt totally abandoned and alone.” Hertha, regardless of a win or loss, the fans, made me feel far more less alone, at the darkest of times. Times get tough? Look forward to your next trip to Berlin? Something bad happens? Go see Hertha and see your friends.

If I can link arms with total strangers inside the Olympiastadion, a place I don’t even fluently speak the native language, it proves two things.

One: There’s some good left in the world, and I’m extremelyfortunate to know others both in Germany and England (and a few other countries) that support Hertha BSC.
2) Football is a language everyone can understand if they love it. It’s suppose to unite people and so often does. It’s why I love it. It’s why I love Hertha.

It’s like a little family really.Everyone knows each other, you see another person in the blue and white shirt and you smile at them.

In Berlin and Hertha, I feel like I’m a part of something bigger, something meaningful and something great.

And it’s pretty awesome

And that’s why I’m a fan of Hertha BSC.
Danke.

Here’s some Hertha and Berlin pictures for you all to enjoy