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Saturday 5th April 2014 ko 18.30

Hessenliga

SV WIESBADEN 1899 0 Pajic sent off 85 (dangerous play)

SV VIKTORIA GRIESHEIM 1 (Starck 27)

Att 290

Entry €7 (all areas)

Programme FREE

Imagine, dear reader you were to settle in the capital of the German state of Hesse. Perhaps you’d be connected to the US military, there are many bases around here, Elvis himself visited here many times during his National Service. You’d be attracted no doubt by the spas, there are still 14 springs flowing today, and the wide boulevards. It is a thoroughly pleasant city, although an essential stop should be the Jewish Memorial on the site of the former Synagogue destroyed in the Kristallnacht pogrom on 10th November 1938. But given that you’re reading this you’ll want to watch some football, and you will have a dilemma.

You’ll head to the Hauptbahnhof and out up the hill and you’ll soon spot a set of modern floodlights, and then a ground to match them. You’ll be attracted to a banner with the legend, “Unsere Stadt, unser Verein, unsere Mannschaft,” or to translate, “Our City, Our Club, Our Team,” and fancy following them. And dear reader, you couldn’t be more mistaken, or be so close (in geographical terms) to being so right.

The club are SV Wehen Wiesbaden, and their stadium, the Brita Arena was built in 2007. The club is actually from Taunusstein, 12 km north-west of Weisbaden and moved here at that time, unable to build a suitable ground of their own at home. The move worked for them, they now play in the 3-Liga, and have played one notch higher, the 2-Liga. If you are no fan of “Franchise Football” then you’ll no doubt be thinking “How does this affect SV Wiesbaden,” and the answer would be as badly as is gets, as the original and genuine Wiesbaden team play right next door,at the Helmut Schön Sportpark, and have suffered greatly as the cuckoos next door have stolen their name, and a fair chunk of their business.

It wasn’t difficult to walk past the Brita Arena, to the homely surroundings next door. The club were genuinely amazed to have a foreign visitor, and pointed out the facilities available, and provided me with a team sheet. Their history is both interesting as it is tragic in recent years. Formed in 1899 they moved through the amateur ranks and during the Third Reich were placed on the Gaulliga, finding the experience difficult, being relegated. After the war they returned to the amateur Oberliga, and despite 2 runner-ups spots during the 60’s the club began to struggle financially, and by 1994 they were liquidated, and restarted right at the bottom of the German game. They’ve played their way back to where they were, winning their Landesliga last season, the Hessenliga is of the same status as the Oberliga, but the unwelcome neighbours next door are a major source of annoyance especially their use of the name Wiesbaden.

To give you an idea of just how much the dislike runs deep, the two sides have been drawn against each other in the Kreispokal, the County Cup, which carries with it qualification to the German cup. The Police have insisted on a full security operation, despite the real Wiesbaden’s lowly status. It seemed rather odd, given the friendly club I was visiting with its principle claim to fame being Helmut Schön. He settled in Wiesbaden managing both the club, the short lived state of Saarland (1950 to 1956), and eventually West Germany from 1964 to 1978, winning the World Cup in 1974 and the European Championships in 1972. His picture is featured on the club ticket.

The game was between two struggling teams, and as expected chances came at a premium. Griesheim, (a district of Frankfurt) won the game when Jean-Marie Starck found himself on the end of a long ball with the home defence AWOL. He fired past Volkan Tekin in the home goal with ease, and despite Wiesbaden’s great efforts, they couldn’t find and equaliser. Their cause wasn’t helped by the late dismissal of Stanhinja Pajic for a over-the-top challenge. Perhaps Wiesbaden may find themselves relegated back, although I saw enough in the team to suggest that maybe they won’t, but this is a club that does the small things really well.  For example the cake on sale is exceptional and their friendly nature, despite being betrayed by the local authorities allowing the Taunusstein cuckoos to nest next door, means I hope the people of Wiesbaden will support them in greater numbers than I saw on my visit.