I recently went out and bought the latest Football Manager game, without doubt the most enjoyable means to the end of frittering away the last remnants of a crumbling social life I have yet to discover. In my quest to find a club to manage I put the question out to Twitter and got some interesting responses.
The one which most caught my eye was Tim Hill’s suggestion that I manage Dynamo Dresden, a third-tier German club with “a bit of history”. After taking a look at Dresden’s profile, I happily took on the challenge and began life on the lower rungs of the German footballing ladder. It was not until I conducted some extra research a few days later, however, that I discovered just how incredible (and sinister) Dynamo Dresden’s history is.
Originally founded in East Germany in 1950 following the break-up of Dresden’s biggest club, SG Friedrichstadt, on the grounds that it had become too bourgeois, SG Deutsche Volkspolizei Dresden, the club that would later come to be known as Dynamo Dresden, was constructed as an acceptable replacement. As you can probably tell from the name, the club was sponsored by and associated with the East German police force and, likely aided by the regime, won the East German Cup just two years after its formation.
In 1953 the club was officially renamed Dynamo Dresden and was used by the Socialist government as part of a programme designed to promote sport as a nationalistic and inherently political pursuit. Club’s were given formal affiliations to sectors of government, Dynamo coming to be linked with the state security forces, shorthand for the Stasi (secret police). A year later, with the authorities concerned that Berlin was yet to establish a strong football club, Dynamo Dresden was moved to the capital and became known as FC Berliner Dynamo. By 1962, however, the club had reformed in its original home and regularly finished second in the East German top-flight behind the team that had taken on the same name and become the “regime team”, Dynamo Berlin.
As Soviet dogma began to loosen towards the end of the 1980s and Mikhail Gorbachev pursued his policy of ‘Glasnost’ (openness) with a view to removing the USSR from total isolation, so Stasi control of East German sport began to weaken. With the league largely free from the bias and whims of the regime, Dynamo Dresden marched to the league and cup double in 1989, spectacularly repeating the feat in 1990.
After the fall of the Berlin Wall and the merger of both the East and West German leagues, Dynamo Dresden were again renamed, this time as 1. FC Dynamo Dresden, and began life in the reformed Bundesliga. However, failing to cope with the improved competition and saddled with financial problems, the club was relegated in 1994/95 and had its president imprisoned for fraud. Denied the license required to play in the 2.Bundesliga, Dynamo were exiled to the Regionalliga Nordost (third tier), falling yet further into the Oberliga Nordost-Süd before eventually staging an ascent back up the league ladder which saw the club reach the 2.Bundesliga in 2004.
Two seasons in the second tier followed, but the club based at the Rudolf-Harbig Stadion was again relegated in 2005/06, dropping down to the reshaped 3.Liga where they remain to this day. Now managed by former Wolfsburg player Matthias Maucksch, Dynamo harbours an outside ambition of securing promotion to the 2.Bundesliga, currently sitting seventh in the division after 15 games.
Whatever the future holds for Dynamo Dresden, it’s unlikely to be quite as charged with volatility and political intrigue as that which has gone before in the history of this fascinating Saxon club.