SV Drochtersen/Assel vs. FC Bayern München is undoubtedly the David and Goliath fixture of the DFB-Pokal first, however the hosts the small Gallic village remain positive and full of anticipation. But can they pull off the unthinkable to get the win? FC Bayern München travel to the northern club on 18th August (15:30 CEST) – a place where a game of such magnitude has never been seen.
On the surface Drochtersen does not come across as a place that will shortly host such a big football game. Until now, the village in Lower Saxony, roughly 45 kilometres north-west of Hamburg, with just 11,500 inhabitants, has mainly been known as a tourist spot on account of the four-kilometre long beach on the Elbe, known as Krautsand – a small island on the river Elbe. However, football has been the only talk of the village in recants times. “Ever since the draw revealed we would play FC Bayern München there has been huge anticipation," told Annette Tiedemann, who grew up in Drochtersen and runs a gardening company with her husband., “People are becoming more familiar with Drochtersen again and I no longer have to explain to anyone where the village is!”
The fourth-tier team seem to have a monopoly on pot luck, as just two years ago they hosted fellow Bundesliga-outfit Borussia Mönchengladbach, who only scraped a narrow1-0 victory. Now the record Bundesliga champions and DFB-Pokal winners are coming to town. , “The cup game is a guaranteed win for the reputation of the area,” said Mayor Mike Eckhoff.SV Drochtersen/Assel could have played the game in Hamburg at, for example, FC St. Pauli’s Millerntor Stadion, where they would have seen a much higher attendance; however, the club decided to stay in their own village. Bayern will therefore be playing at the Kehdinger Stadion, a place that is used to hosting Regionalliga games against the likes of SSV Jeddeloh II and 1. FC Germania Egestorf/Langreder.
Normally, a maximum of 3,000 spectators can fit into the stadium. However, thanks to temporary stands, the capacity has been increased to 7,500 for the game against their high-profile opponents, which is still not a lot considering the high-demand for tickets. Unless you are a club member, or work for one of the local sponsors, you have virtually no chance of getting a match ticket – there simply aren’t enough. But that has not dampened the excitement to see superstars, such as Thomas Müller and Manuel Neuer, in action.
Mayor Eckhoff is overjoyed by the way the locals have been preparing for the game: “Even though they can’t all be in the stadium, everyone has recognised the important of this game and is putting their own interests aside. Whether it’s the stewards looking after the parking situation, who may only catch the second half on television, or any others who will be working during the game.” Everyone is hoping that the cup game will have a lasting effect on the local area. “Hopefully more people will be see how beautiful it is here and that you can have a wonderful holiday here by the river Elbe,” said Eckhoff.
Butcher Wolfgang Krause has experienced firsthand the financial benefits that a cup game can bring. Ever since the cup-tie against Bundesliga-outfit Borussia Mönchengladbach two years ago, he has had some of the most well-known stadium Bratwurst in Germany. Krause explains that he has DFB-President Reinhard Grindel to thank for that: “Mr. Grindel was here for a game and he ate one of our Bratwurst, which he was very impressed with. During the cup draw on live television, he then went on to say that he would recommend the Bratwurst at Drochtersen.” You could not ask for better advertisement. “Ever since then, practically every away fan wants to try our Bratwurst,” laughs Krause. The secret behind the great taste is simple: instead of industrially manufactured sausages, the butcher sells only freshly-Bratwurst. “And you can taste the difference too,” he admits. Around600 sausages are sold at a normal league game, but against Bayern it will be five or six times that amount.
SV Drochtersen/Assel, a club which came about as a result of a merger between TVG Drochtersen and VTV Assel in 1977, is a core part of the community. They have been in the Regionalliga since 2015, finishing twelfth last season. If you wander around the streets and mingle with the locals you get the feeling that everyone has some sort of connection to the club. There are many small businesses that sponsor the club, as well as the local sports retailer who have been busy preparing the kits for the game over the past few weeks. The fan shop is integrated into the post-office and is stocked with as much variety as a 2. Bundesliga team, from shirts, coats, mugs and rucksacks, to pennants, flags, mouse pads and flip-flops. All products have the club slogan ‘Wir sind D/A’ [‘We are D/A’] printed on them. Some of the best-selling products are caps, which the club sell about 100 of a year.
The number of products sold ought to increase as a result of the cup game against Bayern. “The whole village is proud of the club. For a place of this size, it is remarkable enough to have a team in the fourth tier, let alone one competing in the DFB-Pokal,” said Mayor Eckhoff. Alexander Neumann knows from experience how much excitement a cup game against Bayern can generate. SV Drochtersen/Assel’s striker scored against the current German champions five years ago for BSV Schwarz-Weiß Rehden, who were 5-0 down at the time. “When Bayern come to village everyone pays attention. Every day there was a television crew on site, which was the case in Rehden and is no different now in Drochtersen,” said the former U20-international. He is always asked by his teammates what it is like to play against the German champions. “I can only say that you spend a lot of the time chasing after the ball and when finally get you have no energy because you have spent the whole time running to get it back,” he said with a laugh. “From a purely football perspective, it’s not really that fun to play against such a dominant team. But it’s an incredible experience.”
It will also be a great experience for the head coach Lars Uder, who took over the reins on 1st July - the game against Bayern serving as an early test for the 36-year-old. Of course, it may well be a slightly heavier defeat than usual, however Uder insists that won’t dishearten his players.“We are still excited for the game. We have many Bayern fans in the squad and now they get the chance to play against their own idols,” the head coach told. “It’s about the willingness and the togetherness of the team. We want to show that we have earned the right to play in this game.” Uder did not want to comment on his desired outcome of the game but “we would love to score a goal.”
No matter what the outcome is, in the grand scheme of things SV Drochtersen/Assel will always be a winner especially as the financial prize of reaching this stage is a welcome boost. “It is not easy for us to meet our required budget in the fourth-tier,” said Rigo Gooßen, who has been club president for 37 years. “As a village-team, we don’t have many big sponsors, but instead we have many small ones, who help massively with our budget. It is fantastic what we have achieved as a village team.”
In the meantime, there is no expectation for promotion into the 3. Liga, as the structure of the club and the budget does not allow it. This game against Bayern will go down in the history books for centuries to come. Unsurprisingly, everyone involved in this match, be it as a player, president, Bratwurst-seller or even as a transport warden, can be proud.