Sunday, February 15, 2009

Soccer Again

From the my last post, I was asked to translate the German parts.
Here is the full song, originally by Frank Zander about Hertha Berlin and with that, sung right before and right after every match played by the Hauptstadtclub (the Capital city club)

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

only at our house, only at our house, only at our house, we don't leave

Alle warten voller Spannung auf das absolute Spiel,

All wait with tension for the absolute play

denn die Jungens von der Hertha haben alle nur ein Ziel

when the young men from Hertha all have only one goal

:Heute wollen sie gewinnen für das blau-weiße Trikot,

Today they will win for the blue-white uniform

sowieso ohoh ohoh, und sowieso ohoh ohoh.Nur nach Hause ...

so how so, ohoh oh oh, and so how so, oh oh oh, only at the house

It's similair to the Arkansas fight song. Here's a youtube video of it being sung at the Olympiastadion. These are mostly Ultras that stand in the Ostkurve (the East Curve, it's the cheap seats...ten euros!). It is also my favorite place to stand. In this Youtube, they are NOT at the Olympiastadion, I can't really tell where they are playing but it is a smaller team.

You can kind of see the different scarves worn by all the people.

However, my blog post today is about a topic that doesn't pertain to just Berlin, but to the entirety of German football, as well as most European nations. It is the structure of the leagues. (I apologize for a second blog post in a row about soccer, but Hertha Berlin just took the top spot in first league Bundesliga this weekend, which is somewhat of a rarity.)

The structure of the league makes it all one entity. It is fairly foreign to Americans, but if there were an equivalent, it would be that all the minor league baseball leagues (triple-A, double-A, single- A, Class A short season, and Rookie) were all owned by Major League Baseball. The significant part of this, is that there is what is known as "promotion and relegation." If a team finishes in the top two places of the second league, it moves to the first league. This goes down all the way to the 7th league, if there is one. (there is in English soccer, for sure) To put it in perspective, say the Northwest Arkansas Naturals finished at the top of double A where they are now. They would move to triple-A. If they won it all there, they could be facing the New York Yankees. It gives the prospect of a small-town playing with the big leaguers, which is what happened when TSG Hoffenheim found a big time investor several years back. Hoffenheim is a town of 3,000 which now plays amongst the Munichs and Berlins of Germany.

With promotion comes relegation. The leagues all have a fixed number of 18. As two come into the league, the bottom two must leave. As you can see with the table below,

Hertha Berlin 40
1899 Hoffenheim 39
Hamburg SV 39
Bayern Munich 38
Bayer Leverkusen 36
VfL Wolfsburg 33
VfB Stuttgart 32
Borussia Dortmund 31
Schalke 04 30
Werder Bremen 27
Koln 25
Hannover 96 21
Eintracht Frankfurt 20
Arminia Bielefeld 18
VfL Bochum 17
Energie Cottbus 17
Karlsruher SC 17
Borussia M'gladbach 13

If the season were to of ended today, Borussia Mochengladbach and Karlsruher SC (Berlin's sister club) would be sent down to the 2nd league. Two members of the 2nd league would come to the first league. This makes for very exciting promotion and relegation races.

Other things to note about this situation:
  • The top three in the league go on to represent the UEFA Champions league which pits Germany's clubs against top teams from leagues across the continent. The winners (and qualifiers) stand to gain large amounts of advertising money, more fans, and international respect.
  • The fourth and the fifth teams in the league go on to represent Germany in the UEFA Cup, which is a similar competition of lesser standings.

I began thinking about promotion and relegation today, when FC Union Berlin (in the 3rd league, similar to the Naturals/Travelers) increased it's lead on first place in the Bundesliga 3, with the good chance of getting promoted to the 2nd league and perhaps one day playing against Hertha Berlin in the first league. Hertha is easy to like/follow in the states, because it is such a big club with international recognition and some games on tv. But, FC Union Berlin represents the east side where I lived and is more of a working man's club, which I identify with.

Here are a few pictures of my time going to FC Union games.

Union is a religion!

(Yes I felt weird taking a picture strangely close to a guys derrier, but it's a great picture.)

Kind of a great stadium, it's the Stadion An der Alten Försterei, or Stadium Near the Old Foresters House. Half is terraced by grass/dirt stands, and the other half is normal stands.
These are the Ultras for Eisern Berlin (Iron Berlin). They are displaying what's known as "tifo" short for the Italian word tifosi, which is any sort of organized display during a football match. It often includes flags, banners, smoke bombs, flares, or anything else to show organized allegiance to the team.

Sorry for the ramble on today, but I've been pretty excited about the results lately.


  1. I admit freely that I know next to nothing about soccer, but I think it's great that you're sharing this. The baseball analogies help. :)

  2. I think "Nur Nach Hause..." more translates to "Only Home...We Won't Go"