In Hipster's Choice we choose a team of our liking and analyze it in many different ways regarding history, tradition and recent or current success. This month our editor Axel goes überhipster and analyzes 3. Liga's newly promoted club Sportfreunde Lotte.
AUGUST: Sportfreunde Lotte.
Normally Hipster's Choice would be about a club you would have heard of in some way or another, but August isn't a normal month (well, it is) so why should Hipster's Choice of the month be any different? I find it amusing and exciting to stroll through the 3. Liga website and check tables and teams. What am I looking for though? I genuinely have no clue whatsoever, but this casual strolling of mine has given me some decent insight in a very underrated and unknown league in Germany. While the two highest leagues in Germany seem to consider themselves special with 18 teams competing for the title, mid-table and relegation, 3. Liga actually has 20 teams and most seasons these 20 teams are very equal in regards of quality. Yes, last season was most certainly a fluke when Dresden won the League in early April as it's normally the tightest of all professional leagues in Germany and therefore probably the most underrated of them all. Every year there are a few new teams, as in every league in Europe, and these teams are always certainly interesting to read about. FSV Zwickau was one of those who got promoted from their Regional league, while Westphalian mini-club Sportfreunde Lotte was another. Aber, what is this club all about? Why have I chosen them as my 'Hipster's Choice' of August? It's time to find out.
Did I mention that Sportfreunde Lotte is a mini-club by all standards? I don't think I did, but it is. One of the smallest clubs to ever have played in 3. Liga and now they are where they are due to a magical season in their NRW-Liga. The club's income is smaller than anyone would imagine and this recent success could mean two things; bankrupcy or cake for all. Let's hope for the latter, I don't like the sound of another small club crashing. Sportfreunde Lotte only had 1330 members in 2012, a number which probably is a bit higher after last season's mad success. this insanely small number of members means that they've got a small, but certainly loyal fanbase with Ultras, as all German teams have, who stand and sing at their small, but cute stadium. Judging from this, Sportfreunde is basically just the normal local German team, the one you'd have half-assed (please excuse the lame profanity) feelings about. However, this is a bit different. Considering the insanely small stature of the club itself and their current status as a team in the league rankings and add to that a bunch of "half-assed" fans. It just doesn't work out. Ergo, to actually work financially and as a team on the pitch, the team desperately needs passionate fans who would do anything for their local club, who would travel the world with them and who would cross seas and climb mountains if it only meant that they could watch them one more time. This is what Sportfreunde Lotte is about. It's a club that epitomizes the very pillars of German football, the one we so deeply adore and cherish. Lotte represent the little guy in today's football, much like Darmstadt still will do in Bundesliga and much like Würzburger Kickers will do in 2. Bundesliga. These are the teams we need in today's football.
Now, their stadium is fun. The name is just long enough to stop you from caring in the mittle, much like Darmstadt's. Stadion am Lotter Kreuz lies inside the city and has a capacity of 7474 (give or take five, you never know when or where the Bratwurst-wagon is going to turn up) which makes it one of the smaller stadiums in all German professional football leagues. However, this small stadium and this concept of being placed inside the city makes the club even more locally endeared. To give you an idea of how small the club is: The stadium has a cafeteria which the club is apparently very proud of. This is not a team with a Bitburger beergarden outside the stadium, this is not a club with a grand museum attached to its pitch. This is a small club, with a small stadium with a cute cafeteria. You would just hope that they haven't given up on their chance on having fun with their name, a lottery in Lotte would be something fortunous I could imagine.
When researching the club and the team beforehand I noticed something quite funny on their website, something that once again proves how small and special this club is. There's a list of players, mostly German, and if you click on one of them it tells you their information. This is apparently very important information for most people: "Name, Date of Birth, nationality, social status, what they like to do on their sparetime, Joined the club in..." I liked reading about the striker who had a wife and two kids, a third on the way, always fun to get to know the players. However, this is another way the club has "forced" itself on the inhapitants of the town Lotte in northern Northrhine-Westphalia. Through personal exposure, the fans get to know the players and can connect with them on different levels. But it can breed lunatics so it's a real Lotte(ry). Sorry.
Why Hipster's Choice?: Sportfreunde Lotte is an intriguingly small, newly promoted side and that is triuly great hipster material, but while scanning through the 3. Liga site I found their name appealing and certainly amusing as "Sportfreunde" means "Sporting friends". There's a very decent German band called Sportfreunde Stiller, but I don't think they're related. However, the size of the club and it's appealing name was what made me interested and thus began the hipster interest of SF Lotte here at Fresh off the Gegenpress.
Key Players: Having lost key defender Jeron Al-Hazaimeh to Preussen Münster, a few new players have to step forward to fill his shoes. Polish midfielder André Dej is one of the most prominent players of this thin, but talented squad, but the biggest and most important players of next season will most certainly be goalkeeper Benedikt Fernandez and striker Kevin Freiberger, with the latter scoring 15 goals last campaign they will have to rely on him to do the scoring.
editor, überhipster and not even a bit amused by the prospect of whales in the Baltic Sea.
image credit: Christof Koepsel, Getty Images (gettyimages.com)