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Heaven and hell in Malcha

by josh December 09 2008
SportsNews

beitargarbage.jpg

Some former Beitar fan is going to have a cold winter without his scarf

Beitar Jerusalem likes to use the advertizing/intimidation tactic of calling their home at Malcha's Teddy Stadium hell. It has indeed been hell so far this year, but only for Jerusalem - not the visiting teams. Though the season is more than half through, Jerusalem's corps of insane, obnoxious and xenophobic fans - and, to be fair, completely normal and nice ones, too - have yet to see their team win a game at home. They sunk so low as to tie with lowly Bnei Sakhnin late last month, in what was expected to be a racially tinged blowout. Their season, in the dumps so far, seems to be a continuation of their horrible 5-0 loss to Wisla Krakow over the summer, which many hoped would just be an aberration. Right.

Over in that other ballgame popular in Israel (sorry IFL), though, Hapoel Jerusalem, normally cellar dwellers, has been tearing up the hoops charts. On Sunday they affirmed their league-leading placement by edging out other frontrunner Galil-Gilboa for first place in the Premier League - which they now share with traditional powerhouse Maccabi Tel Aviv. In Euroleague play as well, Jerusalem trounced Larissa, Greece even after suffering a surprising loss to Amsterdam. We at Jerusalemite don't like to toss around the term Cinderella much, but maybe this is proof that the messiah is on his way?

Many have pointed to scandal-plagued fallen billionaire-cum-failed politician Arkadi Gaydamak as a reason for the soccer team's recent failures, as he's been unable to inject the same excitement, and George Stienbrenner-like money into the team, instead saddling them with Marge Schott-like abuse. Of course, Gaydamak is also a major sponsor of the basketball team, too, so so much for that argument.

Jerusalemites are no fair-weather fans. Chances are that even if the soccer team's woes continue, fans will stick with it, and not switch over to burning things in the basketball arena (people yes, things no). While some may ask if Hapoel can continue their high level of play and oust Macabbi Tel Aviv from their usual spot as premier league champs - as Holon did last year - the more prescient question would be, if they do, will anybody care?

Picture of trashed Beitar scarf from Flickr user Odim under a Creative Commons license.

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