A sunny May afternoon in Germany’s second city could be spent enjoying a renowned local beer, taking in the iconic harbour as you watch the ships navigate their way down the river Elbe through to the North Sea.
Yet four years ago, across the city within the boundaries of the leafy Volkspark, a seismic shock was about to occur at the home of Hamburger Sport-Verein (HSV).
It was an event that had never been seen before and a capacity 57,000 crowd at the Volksparkstadion became increasingly incensed as the impossible became a reality.
During the latter stages of a difficult clash with Borussia Mönchengladbach, HSV (the only club to have been a mainstay in every edition of the Bundesliga) were about to have their fate sealed and drop out of the top flight.
The irony of it all is that the club had installed a large clock in the northwest corner of the ground in the successful years prior. The clock marks the time (down to the second) as a show of defiance in relation to never having been relegated and to goad rivals in equal measure.
For many, especially the most vocal of the HSV support in the Nordtribüne, it was too much to take.
The referee was forced to suspend the game as the expectant riot police and horses lined up to face the wall of pyrotechnic devices and shower of missiles that encroached the field of play.
Shortly after, it was confirmed. The 1983 European champions were down.
How could it be that a club that once had Franz Beckenbauer, Kevin Keegan and in more recent times Rafael van der Vaart, Vincent Kompany, as well as Son Heung-min donning ‘Die Rothosen’ find themselves in this predicament?
The summer of 2018 was a sobering one for Hamburg as the realisation that visits of fellow giants Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund were to be replaced with trips to rural Aue and unspectacular Darmstadt.
HSV began their era in the second tier as the bookies’ favourites to bounce back yet over the last three seasons they summoned their inner core value of consistency. Unfortunately, this has seen Der Dino’s finish in fourth each season. Just a place outside of the top three promotion contention. Remarkably, twice missing out by just a solitary point.
Fast forward to today and as we approach the final round of fixtures in a particularly strong ‘Zwei’ campaign, they sit pretty in third place behind a notable Werder Bremen outfit and a solid Schalke 04.
This year is different as the chance of promotion is firmly in their own hands. Despite doing their best at times to remain in the obscurity, four straight solid wins have propelled HSV into a prominent position.
After an indifferent start, HSV have slowly but surely picked off the Bundesliga 2 riff-raff (which included bitter cross town rivals St. Pauli) and given themselves the best possible shot of returning to the big time at Hansa Rostock on Sunday.