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Dyna-red

Submitted by on June 2, 2013 – 8:00 amNo Comment

Fussball: 2. Bundesliga 04/05, Dynamo Dresden-MSV Duisburg

FC United’s game against Dynamo Dresden scheduled for today, has been postponed due to a water logged pitch.

It was due to be the second and final game of the reds’ post season visit to Germany. Before FC’s trip, I took part in a recon mission to go and meet some of those involved in the club.

Robert Pohl (the head coordinator for Dynamo for the weekend in question) had mentioned that fans would be meeting to discuss the match and events around it, and so I was keen to take part. Therefore I took the rather slow train out east to Dresden.

I arrived in the city, nicknamed “Elbflorenz” (Florence of the river Elbe), as the sun was setting. The mix of snow and stunning architecture along the riverside meant the city reminded me slightly of Prague. It was certainly enough to help me forget the cold I was suffering from. I checked into the my hostel, in the slightly bohemian “Neustadt” part of town, and then caught a rather distinctive yellow tram out to the ground. Unlike our trams in Manchester, the ones in Dresden are fair value and actually run on time – amazing!

The ground was in complete darkness when I arrived, but Robert greeted me at the entrance and we took our places in the press room. We were joined by various Dynamo fans, some there independently, others involved in fan-led projects from supporting the youth teams to antiracism work (1953International).

We provided an introduction to FC and I answered a few questions on my own experience of the Glazer takeover, how our club is run, and what our fans are like. After that, we took part in a brainstorming session to come up with ideas around what could take place on the days surrounding our friendly.

The fans present, were particularly impressed by our pay what you can afford season ticket scheme and the slightly DIY/anti-commerce nature of our club and fanscene. This provided a great deal of inspiration for the ideas that followed.

After the meeting, we headed over to the university district and had a few beers. Dresden’s proximity to the Czech border, means that not only do they have beer from the local area, but quite often Czech pilsner is also on offer. That could prove interesting.

On the second day, I wanted to go and watch some football. With Dynamo’s first team not in action until the Monday, I decided to go and watch their under 17s play against the franchise club RB Leipzig. Unfortunately though, due to the snow, this was off.

Instead I took a walk along the river, enjoying the sunshine. In the summer people sit on the riverbanks, drinking, bbqing and letting off fireworks. This time around though people were out on ski’s! There was also a good fleamarket, with lots of old East German memorabilia on sale. I was less convinced by the old helmets mind.

After a quick look around the ground, I met up with Robert once more. We went for lunch at a pub/restaurant right next to the stadium. The place, set in a park, has a massive beer garden and could provide a good location for drinking on the weekend.

We then wandered back into town, which is walking distance, and took a look around the famous architecture that makes up the city centre. Amazingly, Robert told me that the Frauenkirche, partially destroyed during bombing raids towards the end of the war, had been left unrepaired until after re-unification! In fact, until the 90s, bits of it just lay in a pile in the main square! It has all since been restored, meaning there is plenty to look at, including some wonderfully Eastern Bloc style grand avenues (I have a bit of a soft-spot for communist architecture).

In general, it was a really great trip and I hope to return at least once more before our match. The club’s history is complicated and provides the club with plenty of challenges. Prior to the collapse of East Germany, fans weren’t involved in the running of the club. Perhaps as a result, there is some apathy (at least in comparison to other German clubs) towards taking advantage of the 50+1 rule now in place.

Dynamo Dresden - Stahl Brandenburg 3:1

Likewise many older fans have gone from experiencing Dynamo winning in Europe prior to the fall of the Wall, to years of struggling in the lower leagues, and the club having to sell off much of its assets (merchandising, catering and stadium) to keep the wolf from the door.

Yet there is a great enthusiasm from the volunteers now involved in fan programmes in Dresden. The match in the summer will undoubtedly provide a tremendous weekend, and a fitting end to our mini-European tour. Yet more importantly, the way our club is run and the attitude of our fans, could also help those volunteers inspire other Dynamo fans to take an active role in the club.

Our game will be the centerpiece of a day by fans, for fans. Instead of an understandable alienation and frustration at sporting disappointment, commercialism and (frequent) misrepresentation in the media, perhaps it could be the fans, spurred on by this event, who help coax the club back to its former position as a European giant. Like the restoration of the Frauenkirche, it’s certainly long overdue.

Here is some background on the club:

Dynamo Dresden were formed in 1953, originally as a police side. Their immediate success in the league didn’t please the head of the East German secret police (the “Stasi”), however, and a year later their entire team was moved to Berlin to form BFC Dynamo.

The club, left with only youth and reserve players, dropped down the leagues as a result. They clawed their way back up though, and by 1967 had qualified for the Fairs Cup. The hatred of BFC Dynamo, however, remained.

In the 1970s, Dynamo Dresden, had their glory years, amassing titles and featuring regularly in European competitions.
Despite continuing to produce excellent players, including one of Europe’s finest defensive midfielders in Matthias Sammer, match-fixing by the Stasi and attempts by players to escape to Western Europe took their toll.

Dynamo-Dresden88

Reunification and being thrown into the capitalist world of professional football was not an easy process for Dynamo, like for many former East German sides. Heavily in debt, they lost their licence and had to drop down to the old third division.

Sporting mediocrity continued for a while, nevertheless their fans stuck by the club. Dynamo eventually got themselves back on an even keel.

Qualification for the newly formed third division was achieved, and in 2011 they won the play-off for Bundesliga 2, where they have remained.

The team’s stadium was redeveloped in recent years, so that the famous giraffe-like floodlights are no longer a feature of the ground itself.

Nevertheless, the newly developed Rudolf Harbig Stadium, built on the old site, still offers a famously loud atmosphere, a beer garden next door and is within walking distance from the famous riverside.

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