September 24, 2017

Dynamo Dresden: Beast from the East

Whisper it quietly, but something is stirring in the Bundesliga 3. Dynamo Dresden, one of the most popular and successful clubs in East German football, are currently tearing through the rest of the division and are already 11 points clear of their nearest rivals with only 16 games played.

The Beast from the East

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The club wanted a fresh start for the 2015/16 season, since the 2014/15 season was seen as a major failure for team from the east. Having just been relegated from Bundesliga 2, Dynamo harboured ambitions of gaining promotion back to BL2 at the first try, but their hopes were all but dashed even before the winter break, they were a team without direction, struggling for any form of consistency on the field.

Inconsistency off the field didn’t help matters either for SGD, as manager Olaf Janßen was sacked before the season had even begun, and his replacement Stefan Böger only lasted until the following February.

Assistant manager Peter Németh took over until the end of the season on an interim basis and somewhat steadied the ship, winning 4 of their last 6 games. Dresden eventually finished the season in a disappointing 6th place, 18 points off of Champions Armenia Bielefeld and 15 points of 2nd place MSV Duisburg.

Dynamo's 6th place finish in the final 2014/15 Bundesliga 3 season. (Table courtesy of Google)
Dynamo’s 6th place finish in the final 2014/15 Bundesliga 3 season. (Table courtesy of Google)

The club wanted stability and a new direction for the coming season, Nemeth stepped back into the assistant manager’s position to provide some stability while Uwe Neuhaus, the former Union Berlin Coach, was appointed as manager and given the task of providing some direction.

The club cleared out a number of players; no less than 14 players left the club, but only 8 were brought in, mostly on free transfers and loan deals. Thereupon, Neuhaus immediately indicated to the board that he felt his squad had more quantity than quality.

So Neuhaus started his rebuilding of the team from the back; Goalkeeper Janis Blaswich was brought in on loan from Borussia Mönchengladbach along with Defenders Giuliano Modica from Kickers Offenbach and Fabian Müller from Erzgebirge Aue to help shore up a leaky defence that had conceded 48 goals last season.

In midfield, experienced central midfielder Andreas Lambertz made the moved from Fortuna Düsseldorf and has been an almost ever-present and a dominant force in the centre of the park. Aias Aosman from Jahn Regensburg has injected a creative spark into the team with 4 assists and 3 goals, while striker Pascal Testroet brought in on a free transfer from Armenia Bielefeld has managed to get on the score sheet on 7 separate occasions.

Clearly, these new faces are an upgrade over many of the players the club let go during the summer; these new players added to the talent already in the team. Defensive colossus and captain, Michael Hefele, young gifted left winger Marvin Stefaniak and star man Justin Eilers have led to the club, blowing away any and all rivals in their way and are looking dead certain to win the division and promotion back to the Bundesliga 2.

Eilers has been especially impressive this season, the former Eintracht Braunschweig, VfL Bochum and VfL Wolfsburg man has scored a league leading 14 goals in 16 appearances, averaging just over a goal a game, he has also chipped in with 3 assists.

However, the attacking midfielder is out of contract next summer and is attracting reported interest from Bundesliga club Hannover 96. Recently, he was linked with a 1.5 million transfer during the winter break, but stated that he will remain in Dresden until at least the summer in hopes of seeing Dynamo regaining promotion back to BL2.

Dynamo kicked off their league campaign with an impressive 4-1 home win over Stuttgart II, a 1-1 draw in Northern Bavaria against Würzburger Kickers and then a 3-1 win over Rot-Weiss Erfurt put them top of the table, a position the team has remained in since August 13th.

At the moment, SGD are playing football not like a team which was recently assembled over the summer, but rather and experienced and cohesive unit. Averaging over 3 goals per game with a goal difference of +21, their only defeat this season came in a surprise 0-1 home defeat by East German rivals FC Energie Cottbus.

Beyond this season, Dresden is, of course, one of the great traditional homes of German football.

Dresden English FC was founded in 1874 by Englishmen living and working around Dresden and is considered the first modern football club in Germany and likely the first outside Great Britain. The club now known as SG Dynamo Dresden has quite a storied and incredible history.

An early stylized depiction of the "English" Dresden football club.
An early stylized depiction of the “English” Dresden football club – cup trophies included.

Formed back in the 1950s, Dynamo the club came to be linked with the state security forces, shorthand for the Stasi or “secret police.” With the backing of the regime, Dynamo became the biggest team in East Germany. Dynamo are 8 times DDR League champions (East German Premier League), and are also 7 time FDGB-Pokal cup winners.

Dynamo Dresden, the 1977 FDGB Pokal winners.
Dynamo Dresden, the 1977 FDGB Pokal winners.

Since the reunification of Germany, Dynamo have found life a lot more difficult, being financially unable to compete with the other top level clubs in Germany.

In total, Dynamo has only managed to spend four years in the Bundesliga. Each time, the club struggled against relegation, before finally being relegated for good at the end of the 1994/95 season.

But things got worse. In 1995, the club were denied a licence to play in Bundesliga 2 and had to drop down to the Regionalliga Nordost after accumulating debts of around €10 million euros.

Dynamo have been involved in their fair share of controversies over the years, which included the club being banned from European competition after their fans rioted after a European Cup defeat to eventual winners Red Star Belgrade.

Additionally, the club’s former president Rolf-Jürgen Otto was jailed for embezzling around €3 Million Deutsch Marks from the club over the years. Moreover, as recently as 2012, Dynamo were banned from playing in the DFB Pokal due to the abuse of fireworks during the 0-2 defeat in second round match against Borussia Dortmund; this ban was later reduced from a 1 game suspension to a game behind closed doors. The club offered the fans virtual tickets for this game which completely sold out – creating the first sold-out ghost game in history.

The club have most recently made the news for a more positive reason, unveiling a banner which was 450 meters long, cost supporters about €25,000 and took about 2 years to make! Just in case you haven’t been on social media recently and somehow missed it here’s what I am talking about.

This dedication and fanatical support is something that sets Dresden supporters apart from the rest. Regularly supported at home by over 27,000 raucous fans even while competing in the lower levels of German football, a visit to “K-Block”, the 9,000+ all standing section behind the north goal where the Dynamo Ultras stand is as intense an experience as you will get in German football. For the fans of Dynamo “K-Block” is more than just a stand – it’s a cult.

Dynamo Dresden K-Block_Ultra

If the first 16 games of this season are anything to going by, the fans on K-Block will be singing all the way to the Bundesliga 2 next season, and no doubt setting their sights firmly earning a position back in the Bundesliga where the club haven’t manage to be in over 20 years.

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Part time football writer - From Bray, County Wicklow Ireland You can follow me on twitter - @jay_walker_83