DAS WUNDER VON BERNE
An epic tale from November 20th, 2016
It’s not usual for any of the Hurricanes to get up on a Sunday at around 8 am, pack their boots and eat something for breakfast. Coach Guillaume Hounsome, as always, told everyone to meet an hour and a half before the match, only this time Kickoff was at 10:45 am. Not exactly the type of conditions you’d like to play football: early, hungover, and of course as we live in Hamburg - cloudy and cold. The Hurricanes were about to face the undisputed leader of the Kreisklasse B3, Tus Berne’s 4th team. During the first encounter in August, the men in pink lost 1:3, a match in which Berne was clearly the dominant side and goalkeeper James Schramm saw a red card. Berne had a 10-point lead against the pinks in the table, and though they were favorite to win this game, the ‘Canes were hoping to build upon a run of six games unbeaten. This was without a doubt THE top match of the league.
As the lads started to arrive and the groundskeeper opened the guest’s changing room, Callum Sutch approached Guillaume to tell him he could only play the first half. Some of the lads could understand his reasons, as that day FC St Pauli were playing vs. Fortuna Dusseldorf at 1:30 pm and Callum had tickets. This wasn’t the only obstacle that Guillaume was facing in the attack, as the club’s top scorer Nikolas Liebsch and strikers Jesper Damgaard and Lukas Henkel were also away for the weekend.
Callum Sutch dribbling a Berne defender.
After everyone had their jersey and number assigned, Guillaume gave probably the most convincing, magnificent and motivational speech ever: “…forget about them being top of the league, forget about them being unbeaten, believe me, if we play things right today, I’m more than sure we can even win the league. I believe in you guys…”. Everyone wanted to stand up, scream out “HURRICANES” on three, and even jump just before assistant manager Tom Hobbins brought everyone down to earth again: “Listen guys, I want to add something else. Berne have scored on every single match until today and they are undefeated. Which means, they will score today as well! And you need to be prepared for that...” The team felt like a bucket of cold water had been thrown on their heads.
Guillaume starting XI was: James Schramm in goal, Sam Lovett and Niek Minderhoud at the back with Cory Schulz and Thomas Ostendorf as full-backs, Ahmad Khan and Jesper Jensen sharing the midfield, Páidí Scully and Oscar Fernández Peña as wingers, with Sholto West playing behind striker Callum Sutch (4-2-3-1).
On the bench were John Elflein (DF), Ed McCole (DF), Benoit Poulet (DF), and Matthias Hahn (FW).
Right from the first whistle the men in pink were more dangerous and took control of the game. Berne didn’t expect a team to be so aggressive from the beginning as they were used to playing teams who would sit back and play with a long ball style. The pinks were not only superb winning first balls and 50:50 challenges through Lovett, Minderhoud and Jensen, but were circulating the ball quickly on the ground in the middle of the park with Ahmad and West.
The breakthrough came in the 28th minute, Oscar Peña drove with the ball from the right wing, dribbled and cut to the left to cross it to Paidi Scully, who was heading to second post. The ball was partially cleared by a Berne defender but only as far as where Sholto West was, who took the ball directly on his chest and volleyed it with his left foot from 25 meters! No chance for the goalkeeper as the ball hit the back of the net. The Hurricanes led 1:0 at halftime thanks to what can only be described as a GOLAZO from Mr. West.
There was a substitution to be made at half time… Matthias Hahn replaces a Callum Sutch, who goes straight to the changing room and sprints to catch the bus. It was the first time he was watching St Pauli play.
Thomas Ostendorf & Callum Sutch juggling with the ball
Niek Minderhoud passing the ball.
Knowing that Berne was going to come back, the Pinks tried to be careful and started the second half more conservatively. The rain also played its part and who doesn’t love to play football on a cold rainy Sunday morning in Hamburg!? At around the 50-minute mark, a bad pass from Niek Minderhoud landed on Patrick Masch’s feet, Berne’s striker, who didn’t hesitate and was to able to beat James Schramm and level the game. With the scores level at 1:1, playing at home and with 40 minutes left on the clock you would think the momentum would have been on Berne’s side, however that was not really the case. For the next ten minutes, the game was pretty even, both sides playing with a lot of respect towards the opponent. “Come on guys, we are doing just fine! Our second goal is coming!” was the shout of encouragement from trainer Guillaume Hounsome.
In an attempt to upset Berne’s defense, coach Guillaume had Peña and Scully to switch sides. This tactical change worked almost immediately. In the 69th minute, Oscar Peña receives the ball in the last third, takes on Berne’s right back, then cuts inside and from just outside the box he shoots. The shot was going to be on target, only for it to hit Matthias Hahn on the way, the minor deflection gives Berne’s keeper no chance and shouts of “YEAAAHHHHHHH!” chorus from the men in pink. Both Peña and Hahn run to celebrate with their bench.
Match-winner Oscar Peña
With the aim of sealing the victory, Guillaume brought on John Elflein and Benoit Poulet, two more defensively minded players for Oscar Peña and Cory Schulz - who had put in a massive shift sprinting up and down the left side of the pitch. The match ended 1:2 for the Hurricanes!!! After the final whistle was blown, both teams greeted each other after a tough game. The Pinks then headed to the changing room to sing that one catchy record that has become a ritual for the club when celebrating a victory (or when enjoying a night out in Paddy’s!).
After the shower, many of the players stayed for a beer at Berne's clubhouse. It was a perfect excuse to celebrate such an epic win at the opponents bar and also, the FC St Pauli vs Fortuna Düsseldorf match was about to start. Later on every one felt sorry for Callum, given the fact that he went through all that struggle to watch FC St Pauli live for them to lose the encounter 0:1.
Captain Jesper Jensen had this to say in his post-match interview:
“It was unbelievable! 90+ minutes fight and many bad burns from that pitch, a terrible team talk from Tom and an inspiring one from Guillaume, 51 beers at the bar in Berne later and we got what we came for - a very deserved three points. We were the better team today. Even the Berne players admitted it after the game. Now seven wins in a row which is incredible. We are on a great run and seem unstoppable, but we must remember that we will have to fight hard for every point in this league.
I could not have thought of a better way to celebrate my 36th birthday than with these guys today. It's so enjoyable to play with them all. I’d like to thank them for their commitment, attitude and hard work.”
Jesper Jensen in the duel.
This game was a big turning point in the season and perhaps Tom Hobbins' speech wasn't bad after all, it made the lads aware about the worst possible outcome and hence they were able to switch on and be prepared to face these kind of problems on the pitch.
Surprisingly, Berne started to drop points afterwards and the Hurricanes in the midst of a series of wins had their sights set on the top of the table. The Kreisklasse B3 was decided during the penultimate gameweek of the season. The Hurricanes beat Meiendorf 4:0 and Berne lost to midtable TSV Sasel. The table showed that the Pinks topped the table on 57 points, with second placed Berne with 54. This is why this performance against Berne is now known among our club as “Das Wunder von Berne” or the miracle of Berne. Had we not beaten the undefeated league leaders on this cold Sunday morning in Berne, they would've had a 13-point cushion and we would have had to focus on holding onto third or fourth place.
As of 2020, this is the only amateur title that the Hurricanes have in their trophy cabinet. It is also one that reminds us that we are a young club, but one with great ambitions to keep developing and integrating people through the medium of football.