Fin Bartles knows that a right mix of ingredients is required for a special derby: a good atmosphere in the stands, but also pure willpower from both sides to bring commitment and passion onto the pitch. Bartels knows what he is talking about. He has only ever played for clubs from Germany’s northern region and has gathered plenty of Derby experience.
WERDER.DE spoke with Bartels on the differences between the derbies in northern Germany, switching clubs to join a true rival and the derby with the most tradition: Werder against HSV.
WERDER.DE: Fin, how come no one has ever dubbed you ‘Mr. Northderby”?
Fin Bartels: “I don’t know (laughs). I’ve amassed quite a few derbies in northern Germany by now. Wherever I’ve played, there were always at least one or two intense games.”
WERDER.DE: You’ve played in four different derbies in northern Germany. Everything began with Kiel against Lübeck. Do you still remember your first derby experience?
Fin Bartels: Yes of course. Those were my first appearances outside of the youth level. Even if things seem a bit smaller compared with today, it was still an incredible experience to play a derby in front of 10,000 spectators. My whole body was tingling.
WERDER.DE: You even played for both sides in the derby between St. Pauli and Rostock.
Fin Bartels: That is true. That encounter was far more fierce than Kiel against Lübeck, although both cities aren’t exactly in close proximity to one another. The explosive nature of those games was more attributed to the political views of each club. Both clubs have a very different philosophy.”
WERDER.DE: In Rostock you didn’t exactly remain a fan favourite after joining St. Pauli. How difficult is it to switch teams between two derby rivals?
Fin Bartels: Obviously I thought twice about the move. A factor that played into my decision was certainly our relegation, which was unfortunate. I received a lot of criticism for my decision and some of the comments were below the belt. My appearances in Rostock afterwards were not exactly met with applause, but it’s something I had to go through. The move made sense for me from a sporting aspect. I found a great club in St. Pauli and I don’t regret the decision.”
WERDER.DE: That means we have to be worried that you will one day play for our derby rival?
Fin Bartels: (laughs) "No, I can definitely rule out that I will ever play for Hamburger SV in my career.”
I think the fans would also miss this Derby if it were gone for the anticipation and the emotions.Fin Bartels
WERDER.DE: Are you able to relate to Aaron Hunt through your experiences? After three missed opportunities, he is set for his first north derby for HSV.
Fin Bartels: No matter how many games he’s played in his career, returning to his former club on Sunday will not be a normal match for him. He will be full with adrenaline and emotions. For us it will be important to keep him under control, since he’s been in good shape lately.
WERDER.DE: Let’s get back to your derby history. What’s the difference between the city derby HSV against St. Pauli and the northern derby?
Fin Bartels: We were always the underdogs against HSV, who were playing for the Europa League at the time. That gives the derby a completely different character. Every non-HSV fan in Germany was likely rooting for us in that game and we had nothing to lose. After winning the derby at HSV we strolled through the city brimming with euphoria.
WERDER.DE: What was your most extreme derby moment?
Fin Bartels: It was definitely a great experience to win the derby at HSV. It was one of the most emotional moments in my career. Unfortunately, we only managed to secure one point from the next ten games and eventually faced relegation. Maybe we celebrated the victory a bit too much.
WERDER.DE: The northern Derby is traditionally the encounter between Werder and HSV. Is this match-up simply of a different calibre than others, also for derby experts such as yourself?
Fin Bartels: Definitely. Just look at the tradition of both teams, who have been in the Bundesliga for ages and face each other year for year. There is so much history in this game. There is always something at stake, whether it’s a battle in a European competition or whether both teams are fighting for survival in the league. You can only emphasise that this game is THE northern derby.
WERDER.DE: Kiel and Lübeck haven’t played each other in a while and the same applies to Hamburg’s derby between HSV and St. Pauli. As a Werder player, do you hope that HSV manages to avoid relegation in order for the northern derby to take place again next season?
Fin Bartels: Yes, even it’s a bit difficult to do (laughs). I think the fans would also miss this encounter, the anticipation and the emotions. Something would be missing.
WERDER.DE: Your personal record with Werder against HSV is not great. From five games you’ve only participated in one victory. Surely you look forward to Sunday and the chance to improve your record, right?
Fin Bartels: Absolutely. It’s time to improve that record and we’ll start on Sunday.
WERDER.DE: What type of game do you anticipate?
Fin Bartels: Both teams are in good shape at the moment and both teams have enough confidence to keep the ball rolling instead of just fighting and battling for the ball. That’s the basis for every derby. No one can allow himself to not give 100 percent, but it’s easier to play well when you’ve experienced success lately. I hope that it will be a good and interesting football encounter.