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Jacob Sweetman: Exile on lame street

"Squeaky bum time" is how Alex Ferguson described this time of year, but the only real squeaking seemed to be coming from the door shutting behind Hertha in the Bundesliga... So this week, I'm going to talk about Türkiyemspor.

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Photo courtesy of Türkiyemspor

“Squeaky bum time” is how Alex Ferguson described this part of the football season, but the only real squeaking seemed to be coming from the door shutting behind Hertha in the Bundesliga. “Too stupid to be rescued” was how the Berliner Kurier described their draw against Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday.

They are still adrift at the bottom with Schalke and Leverkusen to play before they have to face the ugly spectacle of Franck Ribery bearing down on them with his scoring boots on for the last game of the season (sorry). Bizarrely, Hertha can decide the title over the next three weeks before their exodus begins and can look forward to a derby with FC. Union next year. And what a derby it will be. Union themselves secured their future in the zweite Liga with a fantastic victory over St Pauli featuring the free kick of the year from Torsten Mattuschka in front of a sold out Alten Försterei. I have been reliably informed that next season Hertha’s fans may well desert them quicker than you can say Arne Friedrich.

But this week, I’m going to talk about Türkiyemspor. The Kreuzberg Nationalmannschaft, as it were, in exile. As always St. Pauli come up as the torchbearers of the new football, but since the 1970s Türkiyem’ have been, well, like Kreuzberg. A multikulti team for a multikulti city. They even quote Marcel Proust in their programme.

At a press brunch on Wednesday, I was just getting over the fact that I was allowed past the doors and into the private lift at the exclusive Capital Club (not to mention the fact they provided their own pens for pretend jounalists) before I was spongeing a fag off management and hearing about how much good work they do towards a future where gays are accepted in football. I raised this as a question to Jörg Steinert from the Lesben-und Scwulenverband (Gay and Lesbian Federation) who was there to highlight the good work being done. He agreed with me that German football on the whole does seem a bit more progressive in these matters than England, but I still found it surprising considering the luddites we usually deal with. Again – even in exile, I suppose, this is still Kreuzberg.

Of course, they don’t play in their spiritual home any more, and a move out to Köpenick or Charlottenburg is out of the question, so the biggest hope is that the city can find some space in the former Templehof grounds for a ground and training pitches. For the time being though, they are stuck in what the Union fans call “Tierpark” (as the former home of BFC Dynamo) but what most of us know as the Ludwig Jahn Sportpark, called home by many at various times but unloved by all-Unions average attendance more than doubled on moving back to Köpenick, and if a home could be found at Templehof for Türkiyem their’s would rise twentyfold.

That night was the “home” game against Hamburg II, and a point was all that the top brass semed to hope for. They conceded that an away victory against HSV earlier in the season was “a bit lucky” and a draw would be enough for now to avoid getting sucked into the dogfight at the bottom. Hamburg scored with their only real chance of the game and Türkiyem missed two golden opportunities in the last five minutes to equalize. It wasn’t a disgrace, but humiliation followed on Saturday with a 4-2 loss at rock bottom Goslarer SC. Next week come – you guessed it – St Pauli II for a chance of further ruminations about the soul of football, and a chance to pick up some vital points to make sure they don’t end up in the Oberliga, and the financial bullshit that will come with it next year.

Their community work goes on unabated, and this is exemplified by their support for a five year old boy, Julian from Steglitz, who is fighting leukaemia. The whole 1st team will be at the Athene-Grundschule, Curtiusstraße 37, in Lichterfelde from 10 til 4pm to see if any of them fits as a blood donor for this poor little kid. They are encouraging more support on the day for this, and if you are coming over all Sting-like and need an incentive then they will also be doling out a few tickets for the following days St Pauli fixture.

Get yerselves down there, and get involved. It would be trite of me draw a parallel between a little boy dying and a football team needing sponsors (sorry Liverpool fans, Bill Shankly was wrong), but I will just urge you to show your support for both. Some fights are worth winning.