Long time Hannover supporter, Ansgar Löcke sums up his club’s Hinrunde for us using five key moments.
I could write a chronological summary of what has encompassed the season so far, with all the high- and low-lights, the odd anecdote as well, rounded off by some more or less useful puns. But I won’t. I’ll let you know about the top 96 moments (just kidding), top 5 moments of the season so far from a supporter’s point of view.
5: Jan Schlaudraff’s goal against Hamburg. The game itself was not good, Hamburg deservedly had taken the lead, our great home record (unbeaten in the league) was threatened and Drobny was in great form that night. He had produced very good saves to keep his side in the lead, but this magnificent strike by „Schlaufi“ was unstoppable. It won goal of the month in Germany and is a favorite to win goal of the season. He needed a goal, so he got himself a goal and his team a draw. Well done.
4: The return of Markus Miller. It is a very special case and was treated brilliantly by Markus, the club, the supporters and everyone around. Of course we have a very high awareness when it comes to mental problems, given what has happened to Robert, but it still was a shock when Markus stepped forward and told the public that he needed treatment. It came as a big relief when he returned a few months later, completely fit again and happy to play again. He showed what a reliable keeper he is in the final group match against Poltava. A very solid performance by the goalkeeper in the 3-1 win, the goal a result of a penalty. We all hope he stays as he is in the future.
3: The game against Bayern. Maybe I only put it in to wind up Bayern fans and their hypocritical opinion towards the whole Pinto/Boateng/Schulz story. Maybe because I thought that it was a fully deserved win. Maybe we were lucky in one or two situations and in most others the referee got the decision spot-on. Or maybe it is always nice to beat Bayern at home and not many teams have done that this season. And I’d like to win against them again in the Rückrunde.
2: The win in Copenhagen and Stindl’s goal. It was a very close call between this one and the 1st spot. But 2nd is still a great spot, ask Leverkusen or Schalke fans. I told the story before, I was able to travel up to the Danish capital and watch the match from the home stand in the middle of drunken Danish ultras. That was fun. Not that much, when they took the lead, but certainly when we equalized and finally got the winner. That was massive. We had more than 10,000 supporters and with that more than a 3rd of all seats in Parken and when Lars Stindl converted one of his chances (normally a miracle in itself) with a smashing volley, it all exploded. He was unlucky that Schlaufi scored his golazo in the same month, otherwise his chances would’ve been good, but ultimately this goal meant a very good possibility of progressing by deciding the race at least for 2nd spot against Copenhagen. We were outclassed by Liege away next, but that night was pure magic.
1: The play-off against Sevilla. Speaking of magic. This one still gives me goosebumps. This fixture had the town of Hannover and all their supporters buzzing. Fans queued for hours at the ticket counters to get any tickets at all, servers crashed online and a few hours after the tickets were up for sale, they were all gone. Clearly the supporters were up for the tie. And so were the players. Sevilla were the clear favorites on the paper, because they have quite a big European history, but the Reds brushed those papers aside that night and just went for it. Schlaudraff scored with a brace to win the first leg 2-1. That result meant that nothing was won yet, with Sevilla having the away goal, but we knew that we could sit back and they needed to attack.
The return leg turned out to be the most nerve-wrecking football match that I can remember. That crowd in Sevilla was wild. Our team was so inexperienced on international level and sometimes was pushed back so far, they nearly joined the supporters in the stands. Moa gave us the lead only for Pogatetz to score an own goal before half-time. In the second half the pressure was enormous. We were denied a clear penalty, Sevilla kept pressing. I remember we had the full support of Germany, especially of the Dortmund fans, because of the way they went out against Sevilla the year before. When the final whistle came after half an eternity, my heart beat was on a very unhealthy level. But it was so worth it. We, the small Hannover side, had beaten the heavily favored Sevilla.
Looking back, it seems fitting, that the first spot is a draw, given that we have 11 draws from 27 games in all competitions this season. But then that can be a good resolution for next year. Not so many draws. I remain hopeful for the rest of the season. Brugge is beatable in the next round of the Europa League, we know where our strengths and weaknesses are in the league, it could be worse. So, bring it on!
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