Tasmania fears losing 'Bundesliga chokers' badge to Schalke
BERLIN (AP) — Tasmania Berlin fears losing its notoriety if Schalke finally takes away its record for the longest winless run in the Bundesliga.
If Schalke doesn’t beat Hoffenheim at home on Saturday, it will tie Tasmania’s league record of 31 consecutive games without a victory from the 1965-66 season.
Tasmania is proud of its record, even going so far as to describe itself as “historic Bundesliga chokers” on its Twitter page. It also describes itself as the “worst Bundesliga club of all time” on its website.
“It’s become a calling card for us,” club chairman Almir Numic told local broadcaster Radio Eins this week. “If you consider the last few years, we’ve been getting a lot of attention because of this record. Without this negative record, nobody in Germany or Europe would speak about Tasmania Berlin.”
Tasmania, which is based in the southeast Berlin borough of Neukölln, now plays at fifth-tier level.
“We’ve never seen it as a negative thing. There are certainly clubs that would say, ‘Why do you see this as something positive?’ and I would say, ‘Better to have that kind of media attention than no media attention,’” Numic said.
Tasmania fans have been doing their bit to try to hold on to the old Bundesliga record. A small group of supporters tried encouraging Schalke before its game at Hertha Berlin last weekend.
No spectators are allowed at any Bundesliga games due to restrictions and a lockdown against the coronavirus, so the supporters held signs outside Berlin’s Olympiastadion saying, “That’s our record!” and “Save the record for Tasmania!” while displaying Tasmania scarves, flags and banners.
It didn’t work.
Schalke lost 3-0 and was fortunate not to lose by more in Christian Gross’ debut as coach. Gross is already Schalke’s fourth coach of the season and his team provided little evidence that it can stop its barren run against Hoffenheim.
“One thing we shouldn’t forget: We managed the record in one season, while Schalke will do it – could do it – over two seasons,” Numic said.
Schalke, which hasn’t won a league game since Jan. 17 last year, is a seasoned Bundesliga contender, backed by energy giant Gazprom. It has just four points from its opening 14 games this season.
The Gelsenkirchen-based club’s plight is far worse than Tasmania’s given the historical differences between the clubs.
Tasmania was clearly out of its depth when it was promoted to the Bundesliga for political reasons in 1965. Hertha had been relegated for making illegal payments to its players and league authorities wanted to replace it with another from West Berlin in what was West Germany’s soccer league at the time. Tasmania wasn’t even the first choice, but it accepted the league’s invitation to play.
Tasmania started with a 2-0 win over Karlsruher SC but had to wait another 31 games for its next win, 2-1 at home over Borussia Neunkirchen in the penultimate round. Tasmania finished with a 4-0 loss at Schalke.
“Our humor, our typical Berliner humor, certainly played a role in us not becoming resigned, but for every game we said, ‘Each game starts 0-0,’” said Hans-Günter Becker, who was Tasmania captain at the time.
Tasmania went through financial difficulties until it was declared bankrupt and disbanded in 1973. Its successor was founded as SV Tasmania 73 Neukölln the same year, when many club officials and players made the switch to the new club. It was renamed SV Tasmania Berlin in 2011.
Tasmania is currently top of its fifth-tier Oberliga but the season was suspended after nine rounds due to the coronavirus. The players can’t train together due to restrictions.
“We’ve learned to cope with the pandemic. For the first two weeks of the first lockdown it was very quiet at the club. We sat down with some club officials and the coaches and came up with a plan for renovating our stadium,” Numic said. “During the lockdown period, while respecting the coronavirus restrictions, with fans, with members, with parents and with coaches on board, we completely renovated the stadium. You could see the potential behind the club then, the pride that’s there – also with the negative record.”
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