'That's our record Schalke!' - Tasmania desperate to stay Germany's worst club

Schalke are at risk of equalling Tasmania Berlin's record from the 1965-66 season. Source: Getty Images

Tasmania Berlin, an unregarded German football team with the most Australian of names, fear they are about to lose their only claim to fame.

If Schalke don't beat Hoffenheim at home on Sunday (AEDT), it will tie Tasmania's league record of 31 consecutive games without a victory from the 1965-66 season - a record Tasmania are very proud of.

Indeed, so proud that they've even gone so far as to describe themselves as "historic Bundesliga chokers" on their Twitter page and the "worst Bundesliga club of all time" on their website.

But first things first. Where did the fifth-tier club, which is based in the south-east Berlin borough of Neukolln, get its unlikely Aussie name?

Nobody knows for sure but the most readily accepted story is that a group of Berliners, who formed the original club back in 1900, were planning to emigrate to the island and named their new club after it.

Why they would form a football club and then immediately leave has never been satisfactorily explained but the name has stuck, with their fans even sometimes waving flags with images of boxing kangaroos.

Yet, in truth, Tasmania have become famous in German football for only one real reason - their name is synonymous with hopelessness.

"It's become a calling card for us," club chairman Almir Numic told local broadcaster Radio Eins this week.

"If you consider the last few years, we've been getting a lot of attention because of this record. Without this negative record, nobody in Germany or Europe would speak about Tasmania Berlin.

"We've never seen it as a negative thing. There are certainly clubs that would say, 'Why do you see this as something positive?' and I would say, 'Better to have that kind of media attention than no media attention'."

Tasmania fans have been doing their bit to try to hold on to the old Bundesliga record. A small group of supporters tried encouraging Schalke before their game at Hertha Berlin last weekend.

No spectators are allowed at any Bundesliga games due to restrictions and a lockdown against coronavirus, so the supporters held signs outside Berlin's Olympiastadion, proclaiming, "That's our record!" and "Save the record for Tasmania!"

Alas, it didn't work. Schalke lost 3-0.

They were fortunate not to lose by more in Christian Gross' debut as coach. Gross is already Schalke's fourth coach of the season and his team provided little evidence that they can stop the barren run against Hoffenheim.

At least Tasmania had a good excuse for their disastrous 1965-66 season.

They had been promoted to the Bundesliga for political reasons after Hertha had been relegated for making illegal payments to players, and league authorities wanted to replace them with another club from West Berlin.

Tasmania weren't even the first choice, but accepted the league's invitation to play.

They started with a 2-0 win over Karlsruher SC but had to wait another 31 games for their next victory, 2-1 at home over Borussia Neunkirchen in the penultimate round. They finished Bundesliga life with a 4-0 loss at Schalke.

"Our humour, our typical Berliner humour, certainly played a role in us not becoming resigned, but for every game we said, 'Each game starts 0-0'," said Hans-Gunter Becker, who was Tasmania captain at the time.

They subsequently went through financial difficulties until they declared bankrupt and were disbanded in 1973.

Their successors were founded as SV Tasmania 73 Neukolln the same year, when many club officials and players made the switch to the new club, which were then renamed SV Tasmania Berlin in 2011.

They're not too bad now, though. Tasmania are currently top of the fifth-tier Oberliga - only for the season to be suspended after nine rounds due to the coronavirus.

"During the lockdown, we completely renovated the stadium," Numic said.

"You could see the potential behind the club then, the pride that's there - also with the negative record!"

Source AAP