This post is a part 2 to Club Comparison, England and Germany; an entry that was very popular. In that post, we tried to match DFB and FA clubs based loosely on their characters and identities. In this post, we take a look at some of the German clubs that simply stand out too much to be coupled with an English equivalent. Enjoy.
In 1904, a group of employees of the Bayer GmbH chemical works pushed for the company to create a sports team. The forerunner of Bayer Leverkusen was born, although at the time the club ran a variety of sports (something common amongst German Football clubs). It took a long while for Bayer Leverkusen to establish itself as one of the Bundesliga big boys it is now. But throughout their history, Bayer Leverkusen have always been connected to Bayer GmbH in a way that is almost inconceivable in the UK (but not elsewhere). The company sponsors the whole team and stadium from its glossy headquarters- in Leverkusen. This small town in the Ruhrgebiet boasts attractive Football and high attendance year in year out, hand in hand with one of the world’s largest chemical manufacturers.
You must know about Sankt Pauli. You really must. Your cousin probably went on a stag-do there. A team from a dirty neighbourhood in Hamburg eternally plagued by fires, recession and social decay was taken over by Marxists, punks, transsexuals, prostitutes and anarchists as a vehicle to get around the problems they faced. The neighbourhood of Sankt Pauli may see better times now but the hardcore have not stopped fighting against fascism, sexism and homophobia. Those in Hamburg who want to watch good sport follow HSV. Those who care more about core values and principles than a scoreline follow Sankt Pauli. Except their followers come from the whole of Europe, not just Hamburg. Left-Wing to the bone marrow. There is nothing similar. But you already knew that.
1.FC Union Berlin
An old DDR team destined to stand in the shadow of their cross-town rivals; 1. FC Union Berlin can’t match Hertha in terms of assets, infrastructure or investment. As Berlin continues to experience immigration, scores of Football-keen people looking for a new team in their new home will pick Union, which will help supply funds and cash needed to finally break the glass ceiling and get into the 1. Bundesliga. However, Hertha will also grow in terms of fanbase and success; the favourite child constantly eclipsing the runt. But Union fans really are something special; during renovation in 2007/08, the fans actually built the stadium themselves to spare the club expenses. Literally did the bricklaying, plumbing etc. The Stadion an der alten Försterei is a gem of a stadium, simply for this reason. Is there any other club that can boast fans like that?
When you think about it, a really weird club and a really weird city. The majority of people who learn geography through Football clubs (those who think Chelsea and Aston Villa are cities) will assume that Wolfsburg is a big populous swanky town. Makes sense right? I mean they have a team that plays Champions League! But the city and club were simply built by Volkswagen. VW is the only major employer; a huge proportion of Wolfsburgers work directly or indirectly for Volkswagen. The HQ and all the execs are there, quietly building cars and manipulating emissions data. Volkswagen still owns the Wolfsburg Football team, and will continue to use the team for marketing purposes with the money and Bendtners pouring in. It’s just funny how it’s always “Nein zu RB” and not “Nein zu VW”.
A club named after a boat. No shit. Back in the 19th century, 4 Berliners founded a Football team named in honour of a boat they used to sail on. The club has changed names a couple times but now for decades has stuck with “Hertha”. Hertha BSC is another great example of how politics have influenced Football. West Berlin escaped the misfortunes of the DDR thanks to dollars pumped in during the Cold War. The Football club naturally followed suit, and has since benefited from its position in the more affluent West than Ossi teams. A garish neon light advertising a strip club in the middle of an Iranian desert. Hertha is a first division stalwart, despite not having won much. But with the ever increasing influx of young people, Hertha’s fan base (ditto 1. FC Union’s) will continue to grow, bringing investment. Hertha should slowly creep up to the top of the league. Give it 10 years.