It’s 5:20 on Saturday afternoon and forty thousand Fortuna fans are singing local legends Die Toten Hosen’s “Tage Wie Diese”, 40,000 Fortuna scarves are held high as the fans and players celebrate a well-earned victory over VfB Stuttgart. Two goal hero Robbie Kruse is given a microphone and awkwardly leads the Humba, a joyously bonkers celebration of the three points between the players and fans.
This is the fourth Humba in the Esprit Arena this season, Fortuna’s first back in the Bundesliga since 1997, a 16 year spell that reached a nadir with a spell in fourth division Oberliga Niederrhein against such European heavyweights of Borussia Freialdenhoven and Yurdumspor Cologne.
The season has gone well so far, expectations have been exceeded and the relegation places remain consistently just out of sight. The season started strongly, built around a mean defence with new signings centre back Stelios Malezas and goalkeeper Fabian Giefer at the centre of it.
Whilst, the first half of the season saw a strong defence the second half of the season has started with the defence in generous mood, centred largely the hapless Juanan and uncharacteristic mistakes from Giefer. The first two games of the Rückrunde ended in defeat, 2-3 at home to Augsburg and 2-1 to local rivals Borussia Monchengladbach.
The arrival of a similarly out of form Stuttgart represented an ideal opportunity for Fortuna to get the campaign back on track.
Captain, and club legend, Andreas ” Lumpi” Lambertz returned to the side after he was benched against Monchengladbach. Lumpi has played for Fortuna since the dark days in the Oberliga and was praised for his attitude by coach Norbert Meier in the week who said, “He doesn’t get diarrhoea when he doesn’t play. Or lock himself at home, or beat the kid”, a reaction Fortuna’s cough star summer signing Andrei Voronin could learn from.
New signings Robert Tesche and Martin Latka both made their full home débuts and become the latest new faces to introduced to the Fortuna fans. In total manager Wolf Werner has presided over 25 (twenty-five) new signings since Fortuna returned to the top flight. All three played significant parts in this hard-earned victory, Tesche hit the post early on, Latka aided some muscle to the defence and showed a willingness to play the ball out of defence calmly while Lumpi was his usual nuisance in midfield due to his endless running, winning of tackles, constant hustling of opponents which all served to get the crowd going.
Although, the noise from the crowd didn’t reach the levels it has done this season. The Fortuna Ultras are currently on a break, citing internal pressures resulting from the sudden rise to the Bundesliga. The lack of noise eminating from Block 42, the lack of a co-ordination of chants has meant that the atmosphere has, sadly, suffered.
It was one of the veterans of the team that grabbed the glory. Robbie “Skippy” Kruse was signed an eternity ago in 2011 from Melbourne Victory and played only a small role in promotion from the 2.Bundesliga but has flourished in the top flight. He lined up today on the right side of midfield but has also played upfront this season. Wherever he plays your guaranteed he won’t stand still, that his pace will bamboozle defenders and hell draw the fouls from embarrassed defenders.
Skippy was fouled and from Robert Tesche’s resulting free kick the ball broke to and Kruse who managed to scuff a shot passed Ulreich after only ten minutes. His second was a well taking goal resulting from Ken Ilso brilliantly dispossessing Molinaro and chipping through a tremendous through ball which Kruse calmly tucked away.
Stuttgart performance was pretty poor, they snuck a goal back on the hour from Christian Gentner but offered little up front as their forward line, including that of Manchester United loanee Federico Macheda was subdued by the strong performances of Latka, the returning Malezas and by, a back to his best, Fabian Giefer.
One of my favourite Fortuna players, Oliver Fink, was brought on to shore up the midfield. Fink usually spends most of the game making brilliantly timed sliding tackles so to see him dance round a couple of defenders and wallop the ball in was an unexpected Humba securing treat.
With Hoffenheim, Augsburg and even Furth picking up points (ha, Schalke!) this was an important victory for Fortuna.
Follow Fortuna Fan Kenny on twitter @Aitinpot