German football is up there with any league in the world for both passion and atmosphere. But there are certain games that take on a special aura and make even neutrals sit up and take notice. The special rivalries that have arisen down the years provide the supporters with added spice and have created some memorable stories down the years.
Here, in this new series, we at the Bundesliga Fanatic take a look at some of the fiercest rivalries within German football. First up is the country’s oldest derby- the Niedersachsenderby.
Germany’s oldest ‘derby’ is, contrary to many people’s belief, the Niedersachsenderby which sees Eintracht Braunschweig face Hannover 96. Many sources claim that the Frankenderby between 1.FC Nürnberg and Greuther Fürth is the oldest, but it is beaten by some four years (even though the Frankenderby is the most played) by the clash between die Löwen and die Roten.
It may now be a duel between two rival football teams, but the animosity between the two camps actually goes back hundreds of years to a rivalry between two towns. Here’s a quick history lesson.
Way back in 1140 Henry the Lion, Duke of Saxony, opted to make Braunschweig his residence much to the chagrin of nearby Hannover. For hundreds of years the Löwenstadt enjoyed its status of being the centre of the kingdom of Saxony, but that all changed in the 17th century when George Duke of Brunswick-Lüneberg moved his residence to Hannover leaving the once glorious Braunschweig in the shadow of its neighbour.
A rivalry was born and with the arrival of football to Niedersachsen at the end of the 19th century, there arose another arena in which the two local foes could play out their general dislike for each other. The Fußball- und Cricket Club Eintracht Braunschweig was formed in December 1895 with the Hannoverscher Fußball-Club von 1896 coming into existence a little over three months later in April 1896.
Hannover may have gained the advantage politically, but in the early years of the Norddeutsche Meisterschaft it was Braunschweig who had their noses in front winning the title twice (1908 and 1913). On the national level however, it was Hannover who claimed the big prize first triumphing in the German Championship in both 1938 and 1954.
The rivalry only intensified with the formation of the Bundesliga in 1963. Alongside Hamburger SV and Werder Bremen, it seemed logical that Hannover would be admitted to the newly formed top division. They had a bigger stadium, a higher average attendance, healthier finances and a better historical record than Braunschweig. The reason the DFB opted to hand die Löwen a spot in the Bundesliga baffled many and only served to infuriate Hannover and deepen the rivalry.
Die Roten did take their (rightful?) place in the 1964-65 season having won promotion and on matchday 6 came the first Bundesliga meeting between the two foes at Hannover’s Niedersachsenstadion. The match ended 2-2 with 96’s striker Walter Rodekamp scoring either side of goals from Lothar Ulsaß and Hans-Georg Dulz.
Thus far it is only Eintracht Braunschweig who have actually won the Bundesliga with a victory in 1966-67. The mid to late 1980’s brought decline to both sides, with their meetings limited to Bundesliga II and by 1997 both clubs were playing in the Regionalliga Nord.
Both did ultimately rise again (both were in the Bundesliga for a season (2013-14), and although their meetings are few and far between nowadays with Braunschweig today in the Dritte Liga and Hannover attempting to return to the top flight, the fierce local rivalry remains.
The two foes last met in 2016-17 in the second tier. Violence before the game in Braunschweig marred the day with fans clashing with police, while the return game in Hannover saw the game interrupted by flares and fireworks thrown onto the pitch.
Hannover 96 2 Eintracht Braunschweig 2
Still smarting from being denied entry to the first season of the Bundesliga, Hannover finally met their rivals in the top flight and shared four goals in a 2-2 draw. Walter Rodekamp opened the scoring for the hosts after just three minutes, but they were pegged back by goals from Hans-Georg Dulz and Lothar Ulsaß. With ten minutes left, Rodekamp scored a second to seal a point.
At the end of the season die Roten finished 5th with Braunschweig back in 9th.
07/05/1998 (Regionalliga Nord)
Eintracht Braunschweig 0 Hannover 96 1
The 1997-98 season in the Regionalliga Nord developed into a straight shoot-out between the two rivals. By matchday 33 Hannover were top with a four point advantage, but they had to travel and face second placed Eintracht.
With future coach Dieter Hecking, Otto Addo and Fabian Ernst in midfield along with Gerald Asamoah in attack, Hannover triumphed thanks to a 54th minute Asamoah goal. Hannover were champions and had clinched the title in their rival’s stadium.
29/10/2003 (DFB Pokal 2nd Round)
Eintracht Braunschweig 2 Hannover 96 0
Regionalliga Braunschweig shocked Bundesliga Hannover at 23,000 sold-out Eintracht Stadion. US midfielder Jacob Thomas scored the first with Jürgen Rische adding a 90th minute penalty to send the home fans crazy. It was the first time the two clubs had met in the Cup since 1941.
The match also notoriously provided the Sports Photo of the Year with Braunschweig’s Michel Manzigu having to take evasive action to avoid an exploding flare.
Crossing the Lines
Direct player transfers between the two hated enemies is almost unheard of, but down the years there have been a few notable players/ coaches to have crossed the lines between the two clubs
Michael Lorkoswski won the DFB Pokal as Hannover trainer in 1992 before taking over at Braunschweig in 1997. Willi Reimann played 123 times for Hannover between 1970 and 1974 and later became coach at Braunschweig.
Current Hamburger SV coach Dieter Hecking moved from Hannover to Braunschweig as a player in 1999 before returning to take the trainer position with die Roten in 2006. Marco Dehne played for both clubs as did Hakan Bicici.
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