In order to enjoy football, you don’t have to support big, successful teams. Sometimes, it is enough to look around and become convinced to support a small club, a street away. It’s not always „love from the cradle”, but does it really matter?
It’s 25th of May 2014. In the flat of Malterstraße in Dresden, Mirko altogether with two blokes are watching the 41st round of Serie B match AS Cittadella vs. Empoli FC. The match is really important to him, because he comes from Italy and is a big fan of Empoli, which is One step away from a desired promotion to Serie A. The game ends of 2-2, which is a result that doesn’t let the fans celebrate – they have to wait one week to a game against Pescara Calcio. And so, having watched the ‚lost match’ against Cittadella, which left Empoli’s fans in uncertainty, between beers, cigarettes and chit-chatting, there appears one thread. Mirko tells me about his football fan experiences connected with Empoli, and about how the city lives and breathes football. He says, that Tuscanian people are known in the entire Italy because of their friendly attitude to the others, and that being an ultra in these areas is somehow the best style to tell my friends: „Hey, we are here together, everybody for ourselves, regardless of anything” – Mirko accentuates.
„After having drunk several beers, a ridiculous idea appeared: why not to find any local team, that we could be supporting and which would get the possibility of living through all these emotions? After moving to Germany, I’ve been missing a kind of peculiar Italian love to football. To be sure in Dresden you can meet one of best German groups – Dinamo Dresden group of supporters. Although, theoretically, I could go to watch a game with friends. We assumed that we aren’t interested in following that way” – Mirko mentions. They didn’t want to pretend to be supporters of a club whose city they have so little in common with – most of them didn’t come from here and didn’t feel the vibe of this city. They came to a conclusion that they would get more fun of finding an amateur team, where they could find people like them, not celebrities, who earn in a month the amount they would like to earn in their lifetime. They desired that the stadium felt like home; they didn’t want to be anonymous. They cared about being easily recognisable by the people associated with the club.
They spent all night till dawn, thinking about their dreamed-of club. They started to verify, which of many teams from Dresden would express their character and would let them meet the plan. They decided to support SpVgg Dresden-Löbtau. From the start, they had good feelings about this team. „It became the only candidate to be our club. The fact, that we could have tested and seen live some matches a few hours after our insane idea was born, was an additional advantage”– They highlight. In line with expectations club itself evoked only good emotions. It’s been modest and small, but with really beautiful surroundings, friendly people working in the club, altogether with the players, varying so much. Both, on sport and personality levels. That all had a unique beauty.
Of course, the bar nearby the stadium wasn’t without significance, being an ideal place in which one could meet after a match and spend some more time than only match 90 minutes. That way, having a hangover, a decision on choosing Löbtau was made.
„Initially, there wasn’t any cheering during the matches. – We were trying to find the way to attract at least some friends more to our group and try to make our dreams come true” – Mirko acknowledges. During summer break a piece of information about a forthcoming friendly match in small village Lichtenberg appeared. Then, they got the idea to go there and see their team. But going there only to see a match? Nonsense. That’s why we came to an idea: fuck it, let’s surprise them with our cheering – they admit and they exactly did it. It was their first time when they were supporting their team. Mirko stated, that till the end of his life he won’t forget about surprised faces of the players. Probably, they didn’t expect, that anyone would cheer them so spontaneously and gratuitously, especially in a low league, and specifically in Kreisoberliga Dresden which is the 8th level of football in Germany…
Klein Garten Block and Sasha’s Boys sector
The name of a sector, where they take seats during matches also shouldn’t be banal. From German, „Kleingarten” means small garden of vegetables most often looked after by the elderly. One can find such gardens behind the backs of supporters in the stadium of Löbtau team, and hence there is such a reference. „Block” in the name of sector refers to Dinamo Dresden ultras sector, namely „K-Block”. Fans from KleinGartenBlock use also the short form of their name – „KGB”. And that majority of supporters come from post-communist countries, it makes the story humorous, bringing a smile to their faces.
In spite of the atypical name of supporters’ sector, more unconventional is how they call themselves, namely „Sasha’s Boys”. The reasons are many as usual, but the one which is the most appealing is that it’s a direct reference to a porn star. „Sasha Grey has always been an independent woman, capable of deciding about her own life. She wanted to be a porn actress – and she became one; she wanted to become an artist – and she fulfilled her plan. The same about some of her other passions she decided to follow. And although her career in porn industry changes the way we perceive her, it’s worth acknowledge, that she’s been doing things, she really wanted to do in her life” – They admit. Sasha’s Boys turn attention to the fact, that there are many independent women in Dresden or those who want to prove their values at all costs. They reckon that their ‚Sasha’ is a plea to those women, which sounds, more or less, like that: „Saxon women, do you want to be independent? Ok, but remain womanly. Stop being rude and aggressive, take care of yourself and don’t wear Jack Wolfskin’s jackets” (KGB sector fans claim that they are trekking-use only).
Apart from that reason, there was one more connected with their first Löbtau match. „We were talking about one of our best players, whose name is Sasha Birk and this funny situation, gave us a lot of joy and strengthen our belief that the only right name for our group is ‚Sasha’s Boys’ ” – They recall.
What do they get from being in such a small ultras sector? „It gives us, simply, a lot of fun. The fact that it all started spontaneously and to what extent it developed, to something, that brings fun to many people: players, club workers and the whole community associated around amateur football in Dresden. What’s interesting, even local media more often pay attention to Löbtau club, but the most important thing is how many things we did for ourselves. I think, that I and my friends did something really crazy. Something which a lot of people don’t have the courage to do” – Mirko surmises. Sasha’s Boys supporters are aware of that there are a lot of fanatics from lower football leagues (they are called „edel-fans”). „They aren’t as silly and crazy to get involved and pay attention to details so much as we are”- fans from KGB sector admit. The other mentioned groups rarely have their own flags, banners and a plethora of chants. Additionally, among Löbtau fans there are representatives of different nations. There are: Germans, Italians, Polish (called „Oberschlesische fans”), there is also one Luxembourgian, and from time to time someone from the Czech Republic or Belarus. Perhaps, in different parts of Europe such mixture of cultures is something commonly found and normal, but taking into consideration fact, that Dresden and the entire region are quite conservative, introverted for other regions, and that Germans exclusively play for SpVgg Dresden-Löbtau, those who come from Saxony is an exception of its kind. It’s also worth paying attention to the fact, that most of Sasha’s Boys’ chants include grammatical mistakes. „We don’t change them because it’s our style”- they admit. In their opinion, football should be for everyone, regardless the differences which divide us.”
It’s also worth to take a closer look at ultras sector attendance data. Its record was noted three times and it’s 13 people, whereas the lowest attendance noted was when 2 supporters appeared in the stadium, and that negative result happened 3 times. On average, however, on matches there are about 5 or 6 people and this number doesn’t depend on the opponent or on the significance of a match. There isn’t a pattern. For instance, a friendly match played in the middle of winter in Hamburg (600km from Dresden) attracted 6 people.
„We’ve got an impression that everybody reacts positively to us, maybe except for referees, but it’s normal. We noticed, that our cheering influences motivation in our rival team. Probably, because of the fact they can feel to the lowest extent as professional football players” – KGB fans claim. When it comes to SpVgg Dresden-Löbtau players, they are enthusiastically biased towards them and when there is a birthday celebration of ‚Sasha’s Boys’ members or any other occasions, they turn up at the fans’ parties and drink beer with them. However, fans of this small ultras sector kindly recall what happened in the last season, after the match against Loschwitz, saving them from relegation. Löbtau was losing 1-3 at halftime, but the match happily ended 4-3. After this match, everybody could have free beer and food, and celebration time ended at dawn.” – It was one of the best matches in our lives – Mirko claims.
My game with Sasha’s Boys
I had an occasion to experience first-hand for myself, that even though everything looks unbelievable, it’s real. I experienced all of these positive emotions during SG Weixdorf (20/03/2016). Before, I had known its vivid history only from photographs and brief accounts. During this match real sports emotions weren’t missed, and cheering was accompanying players for the entire 90 minutes. After the match, one of the players came to their sector and thanked us for the support. Signs of gratefulness on behalf of the chairman and the coach weren’t missed – one could feel an authentic, family-like atmosphere of this club. The match itself ended in a defeat 2:3, and there was a total number of 25 people in a game, including 6 of KGB sector. The awful weather and early time (11:00) didn’t disturb them in any possible way. After the match, we went to a bar near a forest in order to eat a Sunday lunch, drink beer, and simply spend some time together. Kind of regular, but so many positive emotions was accompanying it, the ones that I haven’t experienced for so long.
And though, from the perspective of someone incidental Sasha’s Boys is a bunch of weirdos, who simply mess around during matches. Thanks to that I could accompany them from the beginning of a day. I saw there isn’t a randomness in it. Each of them treats his club seriously (however, big doses of humour and of entertainment during their cheering aren’t the things which are missed), and cheering accompanies SpVgg Löbtau players during every match, even when there are only 2 people. „Because what can you do when you can’t live without football?” – that sort of question I heard from Mirko. And if the whole idea of finding a new club arose quickly and alcohol was present, there was one aim: do something different, extraordinary, and something which at the same time brings unconstrained joy, something which is a perfect occasion to meet friends. Everything was coming down to one thing – football.
This is a translation of my text from 31 March 2016. You can find the original Polish version HERE.