By Oliver Trust
The phenomenon of rivalry might be part of sports and football in particular, but German football seems to live up to it. International football followers might have heard about the clashes when Atletico Madrid is challenging Real or Celtic Glasgow, and the Rangers are crossing swords.
But what is all that compared to what is triggered off when German rivals go into battle? Tens of thousands of police forces have to turn up to maintain public peace when a sport is getting downgraded to a crucial and fundamental issue.
The phenomena is not always a case of gloom but can create exhilarating episodes.
The most common cases Borussia Dortmund and Schalke 04, Bayern Munich and 1860 Munich, FC St. Pauli, and the Hamburger SV, the Karlsruher SC or the one of Hamburg and Bremen and Hannover against Braunschweig at times provide the best entertainment.
The slap in the face for German football icon Franz Beckenbauer in his hometown Munich has not been forgotten. At the age of 13, the 1974 world champion and 1990 world champion coach battled for a little local club, SC 1906 Munich, against a youth team of 1860.
The gifted talent’s move to “the Lions” seemed a done deal until an opponent in the 1860 shirt hit his cheek. Beckenbauer changed his mind and joined 1860’s rival Bayern starting a magnificent international career.
Fans of Dortmund and Schalke don’t even mention their rivals’ town name. Instead of talking about Borussia vs. S04, they are using names of nearby cities to mock their opponent. Schalke fans call Dortmund Ludenscheid-North. Dortmund supporters retaliate by calling Dortmund Herne-West. Ludenscheid is a town south of Dortmund, while Herne is a city west of Gelsenkirchen.
Where the countries biggest port is located in Hamburg, fans of St. Pauli, a city suburb, and the richer and bigger HSV face each other.
In advance of one of the recent derbies, police found man-high straw dolls painted in the colors of the St. Pauli club hanging on several bridges around town.
Like in Hamburg, often, the stories based on the underdogs struggle against a potent antagonist. Players scoring goals turn into lifetime heroes.
Examples of traditional rivalry can be found down to the lowest leagues when neighboring meet on the pitch.
In the countries North, a ball of paper became famous when Bremen played Hamburg. Thrown down to the pitch from the public galleries, a Hamburg player failed to clear the game ball colliding with the paperwork causing a corner. Bremen scored the winning goal. The corpus delicti meanwhile found a prominent place in Bremen’s club museum after a fan bought it at an auction.
Choosing the wrong club can easily change things for the worse.
To break an unwritten law, not to join a rival, affected the coaching career of Winfried Schaefer. After developing the Karlsruher SC to a solid Bundesliga club in his 12-year long era, achieving the Euro League semifinal in 1994, Schaefer joined regional rival Stuttgart in 1998. He lost his job after only five months. The club was forced to sack him after massive fan protests.
Transfers between Schalke and Dortmund happen rarer as a solar eclipse people say. “In these unique games, you can gain immortality,” former Schalke professional Kevin-Price Boateng said. Some are convinced a win in a derby is of more importance than the title. Enditem