When the first season of the Bundesliga took place, in 1963/64, modern football fans might have been surprised by some of the names that were chosen to take part. While many of the big names were present, there was no FC Bayern München because TSV 1860 München were the big team in that part of the world at the time. 1. FC Saarbrücken, who are currently in the fourth tier of German football in the Regionaliga Südwest, were relegated by finishing last of the sixteen teams in the competition in that inaugural year. Just above them (along with Hertha Berlin SC) were two teams currently in the 3.Liga; Karlsruher SC and, the other team relegated that season, SC Preußen Münster.
The reason why they are called ‘Preußen’ is linked to a reason that it took until 1963 before a national league was formed. Germany had only been unified into an integrated nation state in 1871, prior to that there had been a series of different sized principalities which bear some similarity to the current federal states (although with some very significant differences). For a lot of people, at the beginning of the 20th Century when many of todays football teams were established, nationalistic pride was about the region as much as it was the country. Football clubs were looked upon with suspicion (gymnastics was often seen as the ‘German’ sport) and so naming your newly established club with a name reflective of your region helped to overcome some of that mistrust, this is what took place with SC Preußen Münster when they were formed in 1906.
This historical background helps to explain the names of a number of clubs. ‘Bayern’ is a German word indicating the state (formerly Kingdom) of Bavaria. ‘Borussia’ (as in Dortmund or Mönchengladbach) is the latin name for the Kingdom of Prussia which led the unification of Germany and existed as a state within the country from the end of World War I until 1933 when it lost independence under the Nazi regime. Fear of Prussian militarism (among other things, including the 4 way division of the country after the war) led to the Allied Control Council Enactment No. 46 in February 1947, which formally broke up the region. Obviously there is much more to it than this however strong connections to local areas, and a mistrust of German centralization, meant that German football was organized by regions. This is also why there are still 21 regional cup competitions which act as qualifiers for the DFB Pokal.
Münster itself has a fascinating history. In 1534 during the time of the Reformation a group of radical Protestants decided that the city would be the ‘New Jerusalem’ and led a coup within the town. Eventually, John of Leiden declared himself King, made polygamy legal (so he could have 16 wives) and ruled the city for just over a year. Eventually the authorities raised an army and retook the town. They tortured John and two of his associates to death and put their bodies in metal baskets that they hung from the steeple of St. Lambert’s church. Although they removed the skeletons after about 50 years the cages themselves still hang there today. Given that Preußen Münster began the day one place away from the bottom of the table you could get the impression, if results went badly against VfL Osnabrück, supporters might be calling for new bodies to be put into the baskets.
A win against VfL Osnabrück is seen as being particularly important given that the two teams are fierce rivals. This dates back to June 24, 1907 and the first game Preußen Münster ever played, where they defeated Osnabrück 5:0. It is helped by the fact that the two cities are only 64 klms [40 miles] apart. Along with Bielefeld they used to form what was called the Bermuda triangle of the third league. Arminia Bielefeld and Preußen Münster also played in the first German football game broadcast on the radio on November 1, 1925. In 2015, film director Milan Skrobanek made a documentary about the three clubs and their environment called Im Derby Dreieck. When Arminia Bielefeld were promoted at the end of 2014/15 that put an end to the triangle, but the ferocity of this Derby remained.
Up until today, all but two of the twelve duels between these two teams in the 3.Liga had at least 11 500 spectators, with many of them being sold out. The exceptions both came in 2015/6 when, because of fears of violence, both home and away games were played spectator free. This week proved a little different. Bild reported earlier in the week that only 8 000 of a possible 14 300 tickets had been sold by Wednesday, with even VfL Osnabrück having 50 tickets still available from their allocation of 1600. Perhaps the relative situations of the two clubs might have played a role. While Münster were in 19th, Osnabrück were only one point and two places above them in 17th. The forecast weather might also have had something to do with it; rain was predicted for most of Saturday. Despite that, I was unable to pre-purchase a ticket because I do not live in any of the local postcodes, so I had to make sure I was at the ground early in case there had been a last minute rush. At least it is easy to do, a number 1 or 5 bus heading south from the Hauptbahnhof drops you outside the stadium which is just over 4 klms away.
Another factor that has been proposed for the low ticket sales this week is the state of the Preußenstadion. When it was first constructed, in 1926, it was considered state of the art and could hold up to 40 000 spectators. The opening day of the Bundesliga was played here back in 1963. It was also the first stadium in Germany with its own railway station, however that has now closed. Over the years security concerns have meant the ground capacity has been continually reduced so that today the number is a third of the former maximum unless special measures are taken. Back in 2008/9 the grandstand was demolished and rebuilt to hold 3000 fans but plans to do a bigger conversion fell through. Recently there has been talk of building an entirely new stadium outside of Münster altogether. Certainly this is the oldest and most dilapidated of the grounds I have been to so far this year with even some of the newer parts looking decidedly creaky.
I must say that I do enjoy getting to games early, especially when I have not booked a seat but am standing on one of the terraces. You get to experience the rhythms of the support and watch them arrive. For instance the Osnabrück fans were largely there with a good hour to spare, warming up their drums and practicing their chants. Münster’s ultras, in contrast, marched into the Ostkurve with just under an hour before the game (met with applause followed by taunting chants from the opposite end). There was also a fascinating variety of crowd warm up music. As with virtually every other game there was AC/DC (this time ‘Highway to Hell’ rather than the normal ‘Thunderstruck’) but today was the first time in many years that I had heard ‘Teenage Dirtbag’ by Wheatus, and the full version of ‘I’ll Be There for You’ by The Rembrandts was just weird.
Perhaps unhappy at the news that Adriano Grimaldi had not recovered sufficiently from his muscle injury to be able to play, just before the players were about to come out on the pitch some of Münster’s ultras lit something that caused huge billowing clouds of dark grey smoke to cover much of the home end. It was reminiscent of Match Day One at Halle when most of the home end missed seeing their first goal and, lo and behold, the same thing happened today. In what was to become a pattern for much of the rest of the day, Hoffman for Münster made a great run down the right and was able to win a corner in just the second minute of the game. Rizzi swung the ball across and, almost unmarked, central defender Kittner powered the ball into the back of the net (my photo of the corner was just a fraction too early, capturing the ball leaving the boot rather than heading into the goal). A great start for the home team.
For the next twenty minutes Hoffmann, on the right, and Kobylanski, on the left, tormented Wachs and Falkenberg in the Osnabrück defense with incisive runs down each wing. It looked like only a matter of time before another goal would come. Perhaps to try and distract the attackers flares were lit at the front of the Osnabrück support (clearly the punishment being handed out to Röt-Weiss Erfurt is not having the effect of dissuading fans of other teams from lighting them, they continued throughout the game and at one point fireworks were set off firing above the western end goal). On 25 minutes the rain came along with a strong westerly wind driving many of the fans from the front of the grandstand. Not long after Kobylanski won a corner for Münster on the left. When Osnabrück failed to clear Kobylanski sent another cross in and Rühle was unmarked near the right post to score the second goal.
Preußen Münster certainly did not look like a team sitting near the bottom of the league and missing their best player. Kittner and Mai in the center of defense were tall enough to deal with anything in the air, and sure footed enough to read anything coming through on the ground. Osnabrück’s cause was not helped by the wind pushing their long balls too deep so that Krippner in goal easily cleared them up, or allowed them to run out over the line for goal kicks. Even their sideways passing seemed effected, with a number missing the mark altogether and being intercepted or going out for throws. Savran had one chance for them in the 32nd minute, which he skied over the bar. In the end, Coach Enochs must have been relieved to see his players only 2:0 down at half time and make some changes to the team he sent out for the second term.
Those changes had an immediate impact. Alvarez, who had come on for Reimerink exposed Mai with pace through the center. As he made it into the box and looked to shoot Mai clumsily went into him from behind and it was an obvious penalty. Osnabrück’s captain Savran tucked it away into the right corner. However, just a few minutes later a good passing move from Münster saw Rühle break into the box and get the ball around Gersbeck before the keeper brought him down. Penalty for Münster which Kobylanski finished well. Not long after the restart Münster broke down the wings again, Kobylanksi crossed from the left to Hoffmann on the right and he was also brought down, this time by Zorba, in the box for the third penalty in less than ten minutes. However, Kobylanski hit his penalty too much down the center and while diving to his right Gersbeck was able to save with his feet.
The excitement was getting too much for some, and a fight broke out among the Osnabrück supporters, with some climbing over the fence between the two sections at that end to threaten one another. It was getting tougher on the field as well, with the near constant rain (even though it was not terribly heavy) making the field slippery and leading to some mistimed tackles which saw Appiah and Alvarez pick up some more yellow cards for the away team (to add to those given to Gersbeck for the second penalty and Falkenberg in the first half). Münster’s coach took the opportunity to replace Hoffmann, who had caused the defense problems all afternoon, and then 10 minutes later Kobylanki, who had done the same. In the 83rd minute Rinderknecht put the finishing touches to the Münster performance tucking away a low cross after another could series of passes and a run down the wing.
While the numbers may have been down (9313 was the final figure) and the stadium looking old and tired, the spectators who were there (at least in the section of Preußen Münster support where I was standing) were very friendly. Before during and after the game people were chatting animatedly, high fiving, laughing and generally enjoying a great afternoon. The fact that it was the first 3. Liga derby game that Münster have won since February 2015 meant that it was very well received. Lots of buses were waiting outside the ground after the final whistle so it all went very smoothly and the tight security saw the Osnabrück supporters shepherded to the station and onto a special train to take them home. Another great derby game atmosphere and a positive result for the home team, what more can you ask?