Tasmania Berlin fear losing their notoriety if Schalke 04 finally take away their record for the longest winless run in the Bundesliga.
If Schalke do not beat TSG 1899 Hoffenheim at home today, they will tie Tasmania’s league record of 31 consecutive games without a victory from the 1965-1966 season.
Tasmania are proud of their record, even going so far as to describe themselves as “historic Bundesliga chokers” on Twitter. They also describe themselves as the “worst Bundesliga club of all time” on their Web site.
“It’s become a calling card for us,” Tasmania chairman Almir Numic told local broadcaster Radio Eins.
“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,” he said.
Tasmania, who are based in the southeast Berlin borough of Neukolln, now play in the fifth tier of German soccer.
“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 record. A small group of supporters tried encouraging Schalke before their game at Hertha BSC last weekend.
No spectators are allowed at any Bundesliga games due to COVID-19 restrictions, 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 did not work.
Schalke lost 3-0 and were fortunate not to lose by more in Christian Gross’ debut as coach.
Gross is already Schalke’s fourth coach of the season and his players provided little evidence that they can stop the 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, who have not won a league game since Jan. 17 last year, are seasoned Bundesliga contenders, backed by energy giant Gazprom. They have just four points from their opening 14 games this season.
The Gelsenkirchen-based club’s plight is far worse than Tasmania’s given the historical differences between the two.
Tasmania were clearly out of their depth when they were promoted to the Bundesliga for political reasons in 1965.
Hertha had been relegated for making illegal payments to their players and league authorities wanted to replace them with another club from west Berlin in what was West Germany’s soccer league at the time.
Tasmania were not even the first choice, but they accepted the Bundeliga’s invitation to play.
Tasmania started with a 2-0 win over Karlsruher SC, but had to wait another 31 games for their next win, 2-1 at home over Borussia Neunkirchen in the penultimate round of matches.
They 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-Gunter Becker, who was Tasmania captain at the time.
SC Tasmania 1900 Berlin, as they were then called, went through financial difficulties until they were declared bankrupt and disbanded in 1973.
Their successor, SV Tasmania 73 Neukolln, was founded the same year, when many club officials and players made the switch to the new club.
The club was renamed SV Tasmania-Gropiusstadt 1973 in 2000 and then SV Tasmania Berlin in 2011.
Tasmania are top of the fifth-tier Oberliga, but their season was suspended after nine matches due to the pandemic. The players cannot 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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