Eintracht Braunschweig (of course also known as Braunschweiger Turn- und Sportverein Eintracht von 1895 e.V.) are a club that have been tangentially mentioned here already through Retro Shirt Reviews #1, so it is truly a glorious occasion that they can now take pride of place as the featured side in this edition of Pyro On The Pitch.
The scene was February 1998 and the heroically unglamorous Regionalliga Nord, part of the third tier of German football at the time. Eventual league winners VfL Osnabrück played host to their biggest rivals for dominance, the aforementioned Eintracht Braunschweig.
Statistically, Eintracht were the best supported team in the Regionalliga Nord for six of the first eight seasons since the league began in 1994. For most of it’s existence, the club had been Bundesliga regulars with a national title win in 66/67, but a decline in the mid-80’s would see them bounce between the 2nd and 3rd tiers for the next couple of decades.
Eintracht Braunschweig supporters celebrating in 1967
While the Regionalliga Nord featured many smaller clubs and some B-teams, such as Hamburger SV II and Werder Bremen II, Braunschweig’s major rivals Hannover 96 were also present. As for Osnabrück, they too possessed one of the bigger support basses in the league, despite having never reached the top tier of German football. And so, combined with the fight for the league title, Eintracht’s visit to their Stadion an der Bremer Brücke was always going to be a big occasion.
We join the action in the 89th minute with Osnabrück leading 1-0. Perhaps in an attempt at one last passionate push to motivate their players to pull a goal back, or more likely in a display of joyous abandon in the face of inevitable defeat (aka “fuck it”), the Braunschweig ultras have decided that it’s pyro show time. You can’t blame them really as it would have been a waste to have come all that way with all that pyro and not use it just because the team hadn’t performed. A fabulous red glare can been seen in the sections of the ground close to the Eintracht end:
Some great banners are also on show such as the above “Braunschweig ‘Family'” and “Cor Leonis” (“Lion Hart” in Latin):
As Eintracht prepare for a free kick we can see that at least one flare has already been launched pitchward, of course amidst much booing and whistling from the home supporters. An as of now unidentified man casually tosses one off to the side (a flare that is, to the side of the pitch):
The classic 20th century football sound of police dogs barking can be heard as police keep a watchful eye on Eintracht supporters perched high atop the perimeter fence.
If you thought we were done with pyro on the actual pitch here, you’ll be happy to hear that you are very wrong. As the game enters injury time and Eintracht attack again, a flare has now been launched into a very prominent position on pitch. Perhaps not ideal for the players to have to deal with as they attempt to find their way through the Osnabrück defence:
As we showed back in Pyro On The Pitch #5, a little bit of intensely burning flame on the playing surface wasn’t really a big deal back in the day. Here, the referee shows tremendous discretion as he at first appears to go to blow his whistle upon sight of the flare, but realising that the supporters cerebral placing of the flare is merely an extra-dimensional part of the game, he allows play to go on.
Sure enough the flare burns out with seconds as play goes on around it, proving the referee right for not holding play up. The ref probably had experience with such instances in the past and was more than likely able to identify the brand of flare and it’s specific characteristics from quite a distance away. Similarly the players must be commended for not being phased in the slightest, although as mentioned it really wasn’t that big a deal to these real 20th century pros, and it only goes to show the decline of the game that I would even feel the need to commend them for playing around such a natural element.
So Osnabrück don’t feel too left out, I will mention there is a nice terrace running all along the side of the pitch. The sight of people standing in a side-stand like this I’m sure is even more foreign to modern eyes than than standing in the ends:
Also a small mish-mash of their flags (of course there could be many more hung off camera):
The Braunschweig end is by now an impressive chaotic collage of blue, yellow and red, along with a lot of smoke:
More police can be seen tentatively keeping an eye on things as the pyro goes on til the final whistle, but the last of the main action is over:
With their side defeated, the Eintracht fans show themselves as jolly good sports and give their team a very positive reception despite the loss: