Scenes of the week – #3
Apologies for the slight delay in publish this weeks edition of scenes of the week. I would blame this on website maintenance, but instead I accidentally got quite drunk after work and forgot to write it. Without further ado, here’s a look at the best tifo and the best ‘scenes’ from last week…
Tifo of the week
FC Basel – FC St. Gallen – Switzerland
With the season already over in many countries it was a little more difficult to choose this week, but I really enjoyed this one from FC Basel in Switzerland which was dedicated to retiring captain Marco Streller. He started his career at the club in 2000 where he played until 2004, when he signed for German club Stuttgart. Streller wouldn’t be away for too long, returning to the club he has supported all his life for good in 2007.
He certainly enjoyed great success during his time in red and blue, winning the league seven times and the cup on three occasions. As well as these medals, he also gave Basel’s away support one of the best nights of their lives by scoring the winner away at Chelsea in the Champions League group stages. This was not the only English club that Streller would end up sinking, recently scoring the winner against Liverpool in the same competition.
He had a close relationship with the ultras at the club, often giving his shirt away and making sure to salute the fans after every match – whatever the result.
This was more than enough for Streller to earn a special tribute in his final game, with the supporters producing a giant flag with a picture of him on, along with a banner which translates to “First a player, then a hero….then a legend”. The final part of this message was hung from the roof of the stadium, accompanied by fireworks and a large amount of pyro.
FCB went on to win the game 4 – 3 to sign off another championship in style. The first goalscorer? Marco Streller. He was taken off after 82 minutes to receive this reception, returning to the pitch in tears to say goodbye to the fans one last time. His connection to the supporters and decision to retire at the age of 33 “to retire a good player and not steal money from the bench for the next three years” makes Streller a rare beacon of light amongst the legions of modern footballers who would endorse ebola or beating up their grandma for a little extra money. Happy retirement Marco!
Scenes of the week
FC Kitzbühel vs. Austria Salzburg – Austria
I make no secret of my thoughts on Austria Salzburg, truly one of the most inspirational clubs in world football for the way they have fought back against Red Bull. After coming in nine years ago and completely wiping out the history and identity of the club, the new owner commented:
“Diese Fans gehen mir schon auf die Nerven, die sind vor zehn Jahren noch in kurzen Hosen gegangen und reden von Tradition. Wenn sie einen violett-weißen Klub wollen, dann sollen sie einen gründen.”
In English this roughly translates to “These fans are getting on my nerves by talking about tradition. If they want to support a club that plays in violet and white so badly, they should make one”. So they did. And what a club it is.
Last year I watched them fall just short of promotion to the second division, losing 5 – 2 in the playoff final to F.A.C Wien. Despite the huge disappointment, the atmosphere that day was simply unbelievable. I’ve been to cup finals at Wembley Stadium, stood on the Yellow Wall as Borussia Dortmund, attended dozens of derby matches, and yet there has never quite been something as emotional as the defiant support given that day.
A change in the rules meant that there was no longer any need for a play-off, the Viola simply had to win the league and they would be promoted. Four points clear with two games to go, they knew a win away in Kitzbühel would be enough to see them go up. This would usually be a routine victory, but the pressure of several failed attempts to reach the next step seemed to get to the players as well as the huge travelling support. 10 minutes to go, and the score was still 0 – 0. This would still leave their fate in their own hands with one home game remaining, but after last year nobody wanted to take the chance.
Just when it seemed that nobody in Salzburg would have any fingernails left, the breakthrough came! A goal in the 82nd minute sent the entire club into delirium, with wild scenes on and off the pitch. The violet shirted heroes still had to hold on for another 10 minutes or so with the time added on at the end of the game, but they had come too far to let it slip now. The whistle went, and an explosion of joy erupted on to the pitch. Just look at it:
This was no ordinary pitch invasion. The beloved president of the club who was in floods of tears at the end of last seasons playoff was amongst them, with the players, substitutes, kitman, physio and pretty much every other member of staff from the burger van staff to the tea-lady joining the party. Because they don’t just have a bond with the supporters, they are the supporters. Reaching the second tier of Austrian football isn’t glamorous and won’t matter to the Sky Sports generation, but to these people it means everything. After nine years away, Austria Salzburg are back in professional football, and there’s no stopping them now. Watch out Red Bull, they’re coming for you.
Most other weeks I would have given this to the Stockholm derby, which was also amazing. Check out pictures and videos here on Ultras Tifo.
Matches to look out for this week:
With the season over in most European countries, there aren’t so many this week which will be shown at a reasonable time in Europe. However, there are still some matches well worth watching! All times are CET.