Pyro in Postdam is written by Jack Gillies exclusively for Covert Football Trips following his latest experience in the German Capital City to see Babelsberg 03.
Pyro in Potsdam
Potsdam is known for its grand Prussian architecture, the infamous bridge of spies and for being the Brandenburg state capital but there is something missing from that list of Potsdam highlights and that is a certain football called Babelsberg 03!
Babelsberg, as the name may suggest, hails from the Western district of Babelsberg, a leafy working-class suburb right on the boundary with Berlin. Babelsberg are a club with a lot of tradition, history, and a unique fan base who a very proud of the morals and rich footballing history their club has come to represent coupling all of this with a stadium named after one of Germany’s most famous political figures Karl Liebknecht and it is easy to see why the club are so popular.
I was recently in Berlin and decided to head a long to Babelsberg’s Regionalliga Nordost show down against Chemie Leipzig (another club with a rich history especially in the former DDR and a loud fan base) as luck would have it the game was also marking Babelsberg’s 120th anniversary which marked the foundation of the original iteration of the club in 1903.
With Chemie in town and the club marking their 120th anniversary the night promised to have a special atmosphere, but I was no where near prepared for just how crazy the atmosphere would be (more on that later) Babelsberg headed into the tie a wounded animal after a heavy Brandenburg Derby defeat against Energie Cottbus while Chemie Leipzig had gained a bit of confidence holding a strong Greifswalder FC side to a 0-0 draw. Babelsberg were hoping they could use the big occasion to bounce back, and they certainly did!
Pre-match at the Karli (as Babelsberg fans affectionately call their stadium) is always worth showing up early for with plenty of food and drink stalls dotted around the stadium Babelsberg also have a generously stocked club shop underneath the main covered terrace where I bought myself their special 120th anniversary shirt and a scarf there is also plenty of hats, scarfs, pins, and badges to buy as well!
I would also fully recommend picking up a Babelsberg program. Each one has a unique theme based on the opposition and at 2 Euros the value, even if you don’t speak German, is fantastic. (FYI the cover was adorned with a Chemie Leipzig witch brewing a chemical concoction which I will admit to getting a bit of a giggle at)
Back to that atmosphere I was building up and well I don’t think words would really be able to do it justice, but I will certainly give it my best shot! From my position in the main terrace behind the goal I could see a Tifo being set up by the Filmstadt Inferno (Babelsberg’s main support group) as the club anthem blasted out the badges of the three iterations of the club were hoisted up: The original Babelsberg from 1903, BSG Motor Babelsberg which was what the club was called in the DDR era, and of course Babelsberg 03. As these badges were hoisted up we were treated to a fireworks and pyro show from the Filmstadt Infero. It really was spectacular and really captured just how much of a milestone the club were celebrating.
For the full 90 minutes both sets of fans were in amazing voice Babelsberg are unique in the fact that they have two Ultras groups that stand in completely opposite sections of the stadium the Filmstadt Inferno occupy the large uncovered terracing and are the larger group while the smaller group behind the goal is made of the younger supporters no matter who you stand with you are going to get treated to an amazing show!
I would also like to take this opportunity to say full credit to Chemie Leipzig fans who despite the poor result travelled in their numbers on a Friday night and didn’t stop bouncing and singing even when the second Babelsberg goal hit the back of the net they were giving it their all in the away end! Real fans if ever I have seen them as I said it will always be lively when Chemie are in town.
Back to the game itself and to use one of the biggest football metaphors out there it was ‘a game of two halves’ the first half was extremely even with both Babelsberg and Chemie testing each other out and getting a few half chances here and there but Chemie’s iron defence didn’t look like budging and at half time you could say the Saxons would have been the happier of the two sides. However, the second half came to life with Babelsberg quickly asserting themselves in the game and eventually that paid off as Regionalliga Nordost veteran and goal machine Daniel Frahn managed to squeeze an intelligently played ball through the keepers’ legs to give Babelsberg the lead and sent the Karli into raptures. Listen to Jack’s live commentary immediately after the goal below.
Chemie Leipzig had a few stabs at an equaliser, but Babelsberg showed more of a cutting edge and in the 84th minute Wegner buried his chance to make it 2-0 and put the icing on the 120th birthday cake. Babelsberg bounced back from their derby defeat and made it a birthday to remember as fans left the Karl Liebknecht Stadion very happy indeed!
Again, suck in the atmosphere…
This game of football between two proper Working class East German sides is what in my opinion makes lower league football in Germany great. Just over 4000 fans came to a 4th division game and created an atmosphere that could rival most topflight clubs with it being such a special occasion for the club. The noise, the pyro and the tifo were all simply amazing and we were also treated to a thrilling game of football that had plenty of chances and plenty of drama!
Babelsberg should be on any German football enthusiasts list and if you are in Berlin or indeed Potsdam you have the perfect excuse to go!
Hear Jack’s final thoughts on the match below…
A match ticket at Babelsberg costs 15 Euros on the day at the gate queues for the Tageskasse (pay at the gate) can be long so I recommend getting to the stadium in plenty of time depending on what window you go to you can either get a ticket for the open terracing or the covered terracing behind the goal. I fully recommend getting a ticket for Section O behind the goal where you can take in the atmosphere from the Filmstadt Inferno on the open terracing which can get quite crowded. As with all terraced stadiums I recommend heading in and picking a spot nice and early so you can get the full benefit.
As previously mentioned, a program costs 2 Euros, Beer costs 4 Euros plus the 1 Euro Pfand (deposit) for the plastic cup and food prices range by item and stall but typically you are paying around 3,50 Euros.
Getting to the stadium:
If you are staying in Berlin like me then the Karl Liebknecht Stadion is very easy to get to. You just need to get the train to Babelsberg S-Bahn station which is served by the S7 line to Potsdam Hbf and from there the stadium is a 10 minute walk straight up Karl Liebknecht Strasse (please note the train from central Berlin takes around 53-54 minutes so allow yourself plenty of time)
Alternatively if you are staying in Potsdam itself you can either jump on the S7 at Potsdam Hbf heading in the opposite direction towards Ahrensfelde or the area surrounding the stadium has great bus links with the rest of Potsdam and the outskirts of Berlin so you aren’t stuck for choice!
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