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  • Jacob Sweetman: Down, not out, with Paris in Neukölln


Jacob Sweetman: Down, not out, with Paris in Neukölln

The semi-finals of the Berliner Pilsner Pokal sprung a surprise or two. And the final will see Tasmania try to wrestle back their good name from the one thing that everybody only knows about them. Just like Paris Hilton. The Sportsdesk explains.

I was back again. Time flies in this city and once again the Sportsdesk found itself on a gorgeously warm, late spring evening watching the semi-finals of the Berliner Pilsner Pokal. The cup – and we shall just call it that from here on in – is a fantastic affair. A rollicking, see-sawing battle fought out by everyone outside Berlin’s top two sides over the course of the season. It is as passionate as it is tense. The guarantee of entry into the DFB Pokal, the national cup, for the next season promises gold beyond most of these institutions wildest dreams, it can secure a side’s future for years to come with the single swish of a boot or glancing flick of a lanky strikers haircut.

But there still be monsters there. Over the last few years BFC Dynamo have strode over it like a behemoth, as have BAK 07, and all the odds were on a final between the two at the Jahn Sportpark later on this month. But that was the obvious way forward and it ignored the central tenet of knock-out, football. In the cup, every dog can have their day.

And yesterday the dogs won out. Viktoria ground BFC down – they were so defensive they may as well have utilised that tragically unused formation, the goal-line human web – and won on penalties. And across town, at the Werner Seelenbinder Sportpark Tasmania came back from being a goal down to knock out a crestfallen and badly listing BAK.

Tasmania now have got a real chance to give people something else to talk about when it comes to this dainty little flower of a club from Neukölln. Maybe, just maybe, in the build up to the final nobody will mention the first thing that springs to mind when one thinks of Tasmania: by which I mean, of course, that season. In 1965/66 they accepted the opportunity to become West Berlin’s representatives in the Bundesliga. And they stunk up the place like an Eastern Barred Bandicoot’s carcass in a sweat shop. Tasmania are record breakers. They lost 9-0 at home to Duisburg, they collected only a single point on the road throughout the whole season, won only two games and lost 28. When Borussia Mönchengladbach came to Neukölln in January 1966 only 827 bothered to come along to see it.

And it is still the main thing that people think about when they hear the name Tasmania. The poor sods. Tasmania, presumably, are not too happy about this. So, an aside, if you please.

A couple of years ago there were billboards all over Mumbai heralding a momentous event: Paris Hilton was to be DJing at a festival. At last, I thought to myself, she is getting a chance to express herself, and the good citizens of that insane, teeming, city would be the lucky ones, they were the privileged few who would be able to sneak a quick peek at the genius hidden behind that brilliantly erected façade.

Paris Hilton, you see, is probably the last great artist that humankind has produced. No one has shone such a light onto the degradation and the pointlessness of life in the twenty-first century. Nobody has sacrificed their own image so selflessly to enable us to be able to strip back the layers and layers of bullshit that we surround ourselves with on a daily basis. She bestrides a line of writers and painters and playwrights and sculptors and musicians and poets stretching back hundreds of years, and like them all, she held a mirror up to us. The reflection, needless to say, was far from pretty.

But nobody recognises the steps that this warrior princess with golden hair and a brilliant mind made. They only ever talk about the past. But such is life, it is always the way. Paris Hilton’s sex tape was her single season in the Bundesliga, as Tasmania’s season in the Bundesliga was their sex tape.

Alright, make of that nonsense what you will, but maybe in the inane ramblings of a Sportsdesk with a hangover and 700 words to kill, there is a kernel of truth. Certainly 2014 could turn out to be the year when Tasmania give the world something else to talk about apart from their ability to crop up as the answers in pub quizzes with depressing monotony. If they can find a way past the massed ranks of Viktoria in the final in a few weeks time maybe, just maybe, they will be showing the country on national TV that they have changed. Just like Paris Hilton playing some bad records off an IPod shuffle on a beach somewhere to a load of overpaid idiots in Mumbai, Tasmania will be able to show their true colours at last.