Hertha BSC is celebrating this Saturday. The whole day. From 11 a.m., opening by President Kay Bernstein, until 10 p.m., the fan festival for the 130th club birthday will take place on the Olympic grounds. “We’ve been missing something like this for a long time,” says Sporting Director Fredi Bobic, referring to the coronavirus pandemic: “It’s great that the fans and club managed to organize the event together. We will have a nice day.”
As is not unusual for anniversaries, a look back into the past is also planned. For example, with Axel Kruse, Ante Covic and Michel Dinzey on promotion in 1997. Also present will be goalkeeper legend Gabor Kiraly and Erich Beer, one of the most important protagonists of the club’s heyday in the 70s.
From 1 p.m., the professional team will also train publicly – albeit without a subsequent autograph session due to the pandemic situation – in the amateur stadium. Which is about the present and the future. It is the last training before the first competitive game under coach Sandro Schwarz. On Sunday, Hertha will play second division side Eintracht Braunschweig in the first round of the DFB Cup (6:01 p.m., live on Sky. As part of a campaign by the German Football Association for environmental and climate protection, all first-round games will start a minute later than usual). This game should be the start of friendlier times for the Bundesliga soccer team.
Newly promoted Braunschweig has two competitive games behind them, the start can confidently be described as a failure. Despite a very appealing performance, the first game was 0:2 against Hamburger SV. This was followed by a 0:3 at 1. FC Heidenheim. “We’re not going to be fooled by the results,” says Schwarz. Eintracht countered very strongly, especially against HSV: “That will also come to us.”
Without a doubt, a second division team is one of the toughest draws in this round, in which numerous fourth and fifth division teams are also represented. Irrespective of this, Schwarz emphasizes: “We want to live up to our role as favourites. It’s our aim to start successfully.” Not only that: “Of course it’s also our aim to make it to the final.”
Black recently proved how it’s done in another capacity. With his previous club Dynamo Moscow, he was in the final in Russia at the end of May, losing 2-1 to local rivals Spartak.
The cup final in the Olympic Stadium, Hertha’s amateurs sensationally achieved it in 1993. For the professionals, it has been the unfulfilled longing for decades. “We should all pursue this dream,” says Bobic. He has good memories: winning the cup as a player with VfB Stuttgart in 1997, winning the cup as a sports director with Eintracht Frankfurt in 2018. “It’s a competition that I actually love,” says Bobic: “The further you get, the more magic pulls you in that direction Endgame.” The hardest step is the first.
It was often the last for Hertha. And especially cup games against Braunschweig were mostly rather joyless affairs for the Berliners. There are four clubs against which the Berliners have lost four times in their cup history and thus more often than against any other: Borussia Dortmund, Schalke 04, VfB Stuttgart – and Eintracht Braunschweig.
In 1965 it all started with a debacle in the Olympic Stadium: “Hertha laughed at 1:5 and whistled at,” wrote this newspaper. In 1974 it was Erich Beer at the end of a dramatic game 4-1 after extra time.
In 2004 they lost 3-2 with the then third division team. Bobic came on as a substitute at Hertha in the second half, the decision was made by an own goal by Alexander Madlung. “Today you can laugh about it, back then it wasn’t funny,” Bobic remembers. In 2020 it was 4:5 after a wild game. After all, there was one win in between: 2-1 in 2018.
The next attempt in the cup follows on Sunday. So that’s when the seriousness of the season begins for Hertha. Before that, however, the Fanfest rises. Shortly before the end of the day, a program item is planned on Saturday evening that will delight many fans: At 9.50 p.m., Frank Zander with “Nur nach Heimat”.