Seit vier Monaten tummelt sich auf Twitter unter @DarmstadtFanUK ein englischsprachiger Account über Darmstadt 98. Dahinter steckt mit Aidan ein junger Engländer, der seine Leidenschaft für „The Lilies“ entdeckt hat. Ich fragte ihn wie es dazu gekommen ist, wie er die 98er in der englischen „Diaspora“ verfolgt und welchen Ausgang er für die laufende Bundesliga-Saison erwartet.
[Am Ende des Beitrags ist eine Zusammenfassung des Interviews auf Deutsch.]
Aidan, how old are you, where are you from and what do you do for a living?
I am 17 from a small town which is close to Newcastle-upon-Tyne and still go to school. Next year I will plan to do my A levels.
You surprisingly support Darmstadt 98. Do you also have a favourite club in England?
Manchester City Football Club because my Dad supports them and the first football matches I have ever seen were Manchester City. The first football kit I remember having as a child was the red and black away kit from the 2004/5 season. My favourite City player is Sergio Aguero.
When did you first take notice of the Lilies?
I first came across the Lilies around the beginning of the 14/15 season when they were promoted into the Bundesliga 2. They had a match early in the season against Ingolstadt 04 (finished 2-2 if I remember correctly) which was shown in the UK. Before this I had seen glimpses of The Lilies in the DFB Pokal highlights but hadn’t begun to take notice of them until the mentioned match against Ingolstadt.
Are you interested in German football, or why did you watch the match?
I would watch as many games as I can from any league. Since Bundesliga 2 is very rarely shown on TV I sticked to the match in which Darmstadt competed coincidentally. German football is very interesting to me because of its different style of play. It’s a little less physical allowing more possession and skill on the ball. The depth of quality of German players is higher that English players as well, so it has always been interesting to compare between these two.
So but why do you support the Lilies? What’s so special about them?
I support the Lilies because they are an underdog and they stand out; no other club has a player with such a great beard like Marco Sailer. There aren’t many other clubs that would do yoga in the city before going to training. The performances early in the season (Dortmund draw, Leverkusen win) reminded me that I have seen the club before and that led me to following the club throughout this season. The club has truly grown on me due to some very impressive performances and doing what no one expected Darmstadt to do, compete with the best German teams in the Bundesliga!
Is it possible for you to watch every match of the Lilies on TV?
The Bundesliga is shown in England but it can be hard to keep up with all the Darmstadt matches every weekend! The Friday and Sunday games are always shown on BTSport every weekend but the Saturday games are only shown on an half an hour Bundesliga highlights program on a Tuesday. That means, if I miss this show, I can’t see the highlights!
What’s been your most memorable moment with the Lilies so far?
Since Bundesliga 2 and the promotion were very rarely shown on English TV I have to say winning the first Hessen Derby for 30 years against Eintracht Frankfurt with the Sulu header in the first half. This was definitely my most memorable moment. I hope and believe that there will be more memorable moments to come!
Have you ever been to Germany or even Darmstadt?
Sadly I have never been to Germany. However it is an ambition of mine to see a Darmstadt game in the future! Maybe I can even learn German so I can communicate to the fans of the club.
Have your friends called you crazy, as soon as they heard about your Darmstadt passion?
Oh yes. My friends all support Newcastle and had never heard before of Darmstadt 98! It’s great to be a fan of Darmstadt as its made my friends aware of the club and this season I can annoy them as currently Newcastle have 25 points in 19th and Darmstadt 28 points in 13th. So Darmstadt have had a better season up to now!
Are there more supporters of Darmstadt 98 in England? What are the most popular German clubs?
They are no other fans of Darmstadt that I know of in England. I think this is due to the little coverage of the Bundesliga and the clubs are unlikely to get mentioned with Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund receiving most of the coverage from the English media. Bayern Munich is the most popular German club, especially with Pep Guardiola as manager who this season has gained a lot of media attention. Wolfsburg, Leverkusen and Mönchengladbach are three other popular German clubs due to being in Champions League. In addition these clubs always have players that are rumoured to English clubs which seem to make them the most popular in England.
Are you satisfied with the performance of Darmstadt 98 in the Bundesliga?
Yes. We’ve really proved that we can compete in the Bundesliga despite being favourites for automatic relegation at the beginning of the season. Unfortunately recently we have conceded some late goals like in the 92nd minute against Wolfsburg and the 2-2 draw against Augsburg. In this match we conceded the worst penalty decision I’ve ever seen when Sirigu made very, very minimal contact with the Augsburg player when jumping for the ball. Overall I’m very happy with the performances up to this point despite some frustrating results. We’ve had a good cup run and upset some of the bigger teams. The players have stepped up to the challenge of being in the top division.
Compared to the Premier League: Do you think the Lilies would be competitive?
This is a tough question; the Premier League is unpredictable as proven by the fact that Leicester is 1st in the league. I think that Darmstadt would be in a similar positon to Bournemouth around the 14th position, ensuring survival. As long as Darmstadt could finish ahead of Newcastle in the Premier League I would be happy.
Do you have a favourite player?
This is going to sound like an obvious answer but Aytac Sulu has been incredible this season. He’s been fantastic defensively and scored some important goals for the club. His leadership has been crucial this season and he is the most underrated club captain in Europe in my opinion. He’s been with the club through Division 3 and Bundesliga 2 and has proved himself entirely worthy of the captain’s armband. Sandro Wagner is also one of my favourites due to his goal scoring ability and I have to mention Marcel Heller. If he played for any other Bundesliga club I wouldn’t like him. He is very frustrating to play against, assisting and scoring goals whilst being known for going down rather easily, the villain of Darmstadt for the opposition. Mathenia has also been impressive, making crucial saves in big games but there are so many high quality German goalkeepers Mathenia is overlooked.
Will the Lilies avoid relegation?
I think (and hope) yes we can avoid relegation. With currently just 6 points covering 17th to 9th, this is one of the tightest Bundesliga relegation battles I’ve ever seen and it will be very tough with every goal and point being so important. Every goal matters as there is a chance it could go down to goal difference. The next few games will be telling with plenty chances to grab points against teams like Ingolstadt, Hamburg and Köln. And not to forget the home fixture against Eintracht Frankfurt which this season could decide who gets relegated between the two clubs. We do finish with two tough fixtures against Hertha Berlin away and Borussia Monchengladbach at home where we may have to steal points to ensure survival. Even if we finish 16th in the play-off position I think we can win because of the quality we have shown in the Bundesliga.
Aidan, thanks a lot for the enriching interview. It’s great to know an English fellow supporting the Lilies!
Die wichtigsten Stichpunkte ins Deutsche übersetzt:
- Aidan ist ein 17-jähriger Schüler, der in der Nähe von Newcastle im Nordosten Englands lebt.
- In England unterstützt er – wie sein Vater – seit jeher Manchester City.
- Die Lilien verfolgt er seit ihrem Zweitligaaufstieg.
- Aidan verfolgt so viele Fußballspiele wie möglich und interessiert sich deshalb auch für den deutschen Fußball, den er gerne mit dem englischen vergleicht. Dabei „stolperte“ er 2014 zufällig über ein Spiel der Darmstädter in Ingolstadt.
- Er mag die Lilien, da sie ein Underdog sind und in der Bundesliga herausstechen.
- Die guten Resultate zu Beginn der Saison und die starken Leistungen seither haben ihn zum Fan werden lassen.
- Aidan verfolgt die Spiele so oft es geht im englischen TV.
- Sein bislang denkwürdigster Moment war der 1:0-Sieg gegen die Eintracht.
- Er würde gerne einmal nach Darmstadt kommen, um ein Spiel zu besuchen.
- Seine Freunde sind alle Fans von Newcastle United und halten ihn für ein wenig verrückt, da er Darmstadt 98 unterstützt.
- Er ärgert sie dann immer, da Darmstadt bislang besser in der Tabelle platziert ist als Newcastle in der Premier League.
- Aidan kennt keine weiteren Lilien-Fans in England. Dort sind die Bayern, Dortmund, Wolfsburg, Gladbach und Leverkusen die bekanntesten deutschen Klubs.
- Er ist zufrieden mit der bisherigen Saison, da der SVD gezeigt habe, dass er mithalten könne, selbst wenn die Ergebnisse zuletzt aufgrund der späten Gegentreffer etwas frustrierend waren.
- Er glaubt, dass sich die Lilien in der Premier League in der gleichen Tabellenregion aufhalten würden.
- Aytac Sulu ist sein Lieblingsspieler, ein wahrer Kapitän. Sandro Wagner mag er aufgrund seiner Treffsicherheit. Marcel Heller findet er ebenfalls gut und Christian Mathenia hat schon einige wichtige Paraden gezeigt.
- Aidan denkt und hofft, dass die Lilien die Klasse halten. Jetzt kommen die entscheidenden Spiele und selbst, wenn es in die Relegation ginge, glaubt er an den Klassenerhalt.