FC Schalke 04

GERMAN CHAMPION 1934, 1935, 1937, 1939, 1940, 1942, 1958
GERMAN CUP 1937, 1972, 2001, 2002, 2011

Schalke is one of the greatest soccer clubs in Germany. Founded by students in Schalke, a working class neighborhood of Gelsenkirchen in 1904, the club quickly became the dominant force in German soccer, winning the German championship 6 times from 1934-42. Unfortunately, the last title was 1958, although in 1997 they conquered Europe by winning the UEFA Cup, defeating Inter Milan in the finals.

Things really started to take off with the reorganization of German soccer under the 3rd Reich. The new Gauliga raised the level of competition throughout Germany, but it's regional basis also meant that some strong clubs tended to club the competition. The Gauliga Westfalen years were ridiculously dominated by Schalke. From 1933-45, over 12 seasons, the Blues played 189 Gauliga matches, winning 162, drawing 21 and losing only 6. In fact, from 1935-1939 they didn't even lose a game. Their point winning percentage was 96.8%, scoring 924 goals and giving up only 145. The only thing that stopped them was the collapse of the 3rd Reich, although in the 1944/45 season, they played only 2 games, scoring 28 times and allowing a single goal...

After the War, they continued their merry way, blasting the local competition, but the introduction of the new Oberliga West in 1949 was a bit of a cold shower: Schalke finished only 6th.

The 1980-81 season ended the darkest chapter in the history of the club: Schalke was relegated for the first time in history! Management had decided on a youth course (afterall, it worked so well for Max Merkel and Nürnberg in 1969!). Oldies like Abramczik, Fichtel and Helmut Kremers were dumped. The result was a 18th place finish, lincluding an embarassing 0-6 home loss to Bochum and a 1-7 thrashing at Gladbach.

One interesting trend from the late 1990s is that Schalke apparently announced that Dutch would become the official language, replacing German, as there are several Dutch and Belgian players on the squad, along with the head coach, Huub Stevens.

The 1998-99 campaign was a bitter disappointment for Schalke and her fans. They expected to perhaps challenge for a Champions League spot, or at least return to UEFA play. Instead, they battled relegation for about 2/3 of the season, playing like crap. More of the same was in store for the fans next season. Finally, in 2000, they put it all together. Led by the dynamic forwards Ebbe Sand and Emile Mpenza, the Schalkers stormed to the top of the Bundesliga, and were actually champions for about 5 minutes - until the ref in Hamburg cheated and allowed Bayern to score a goal in injury time and squeak to the title. There was a small consolation that the Schalkers won the DFB Cup, defeating sensational Union Berlin. After a repeat in the Cup, and a strong 5th place, Schalke legitimately felt that they would at least challenge for a Champions League spot in 2003. Instead, a poor season, ending in acrimonious harping by fans, players and management. A complete house cleaning was expected for the new season. The 2004 season looked to finally be the one for the major breakthrough. Schalke topped the table, and furthermore defeated rivals Bayern in both matches. But they crapped out down the stretch to lose out.

At the start of the 2006 season, severe financial problems finally came to roost. For years, Schalke had been wasting large sums on worthless players. In addition, the debt accumulated from the new stadium piled up, and there were rumours of a potential financial meltdown. However, things cleared up magically with a major sponsorship deal. The Russian gas-giant, Gazprom, jumped in with a huge cash injection, and that basically set things straight. The deal was heavily influenced by ex-chancellor Gerhard Schröder, who was a consultant for Gazprom. But despite the money, the squad seemed to dick around aimlessly. After several useless coaches, Felix Magath from freshly crowned champions Wolfsburg was given free reins of the club in 2009, amid massive expectations. Instead of delivering, Schalke waffled.

Fullname Fußball-Club Gelsenkirchen-Schalke 04 e.V.
City Gelsenkirchen. Pop: 272,445 (2002). Schalke is the working class neighborhood where the club started.
Address Postfach 200861, 45891 Gelsenkirchen.
Phone: (0209) 700870 Fax: (0209) 7008750
Colors Blue shirt, white shorts, blue socks. Famed uniform. On the road usually white shirt, although sometimes yellow.
Nickname Die Knappen
Stadium Arena "Auf Schalke". Capacity: 61,010 (44,796 seats)
This state-of-the-art stadium was completed in 2003 and is one of Germany's most beautiful stadiums. Financed by the club, it remains to be seen whether the debt service will become a crushing burden. From 1974-2003, the club played in the Parkstadion (Capacity over 71,000). The Parkstadion was built for the 1974 World Cup, and was one of those typical ugly concrete structures. Until 1974, Schalke's home was the legendary Glückaufkampfbahn. This is still used by the amateur squad. Built in 1928, it had a capacity of 35,000, although it has since been reduced to only 5,000.
Tickets Prices range from 8 euros for standing room, up to 77 euros for the choicest seats (2004). Schalke draws large crowds, especially given the spanking new stadium. Expect tickets to be hard to come by.
Supporters Schalke's fans are legendary, with massive support throughout Germany, but obviously the stronghold is the Ruhr. The new Arena Auf Scalke has boosted attendance, to an average of over 61,000 in 2004. The Fan-Initiative has it's own web page (see below).
Friends "Fan-friendship" is strong with 1.FC Nünberg and is one of the longest in all Germany. Others to a lesser extent include Wuppertal (many WSV fans are also Schalke fans) and FC Twente (Holland). Twente supposedly has an "official" friendship with Duisburg, but nobody cares, on either side.
Foes The number one foe is Borussia Dortmund. Schalke fans are definitely uncompromising in this regard, Dortmunders usually referred to as "Lüdenscheid" or "Doofmunders". Bayern München, obviously. 1.FC Köln is also a fierce rival, and for some reason Hertha BSC likes to scrap with Schalke.
Heroes Over 30 German internationals. The famed players are too numerous to mention, but some of the bigger names are Klaus Fichtel, who played 477 Bundesliga games, longtime German international forward Klaus Fischer, the club's leading Bundesliga scorer, and many German internationals. From the 70s, dribbling king Reinhold "Stan" Libuda (24 caps), named after Sir Stanley Matthews. Fritz Szepan was the star of the legendary teams of the 1930s, along with Ernst Kuzzora. From the same period, Adolf Urban, who apparently died at Stalingrad.
Zeroes Jens Lehmann, was capped twice in the 90s as a keeper. Then he transferred to Dortmund! Conversely, the famed Heulsuse der Nation (snivelling whiner of the nation) Andy Möller was at hated Dortmund, and then transferred to Schalke for a couple of good seasons. So he's at least partially forgiven by Schalke fans. Some players from the early 1970s accepted bribes, but managed to get away with slaps on the wrists.
Beer Veltins seems to be the top choice, as they are the current main sponsor. Stauber is also mentioned.
Grub and Pub You can get a decent bite at the stadium, at the Gastätte Zum Parkstadion. The Schnitzel mit Pommes (cutlet with french fries) has been recommended. Also Bratwurst, Frikadellen, Pizza, etc. As far as bars and pubs, Auf Schalke on Uechtingerstraße and the Pulle-faß. The Schalke Fan-Initiative also runs a place, Fan-Laden. Another possibility is the Gastätte Bosch, which is locatedon Kurt-Schumacher-Straße across from the old Glückaufkampfbahn stadium. This is sort of an unofficial club hangout.
The Net Schalke has a pretty strong presence on the web. The official page is www.schalke04.de . The Schalke e-mail list has around 1,200 members, mostly in Germany, and it's own web page, www.schalke-mailinglist.de. Also a good location to pick up spare tickets at reasonable prices. A nice English fan page is available at www.schalke04.co.uk

Recent History:

2013-14 (I)     Bundesliga      3rd
2012-13 (I)     Bundesliga      4th
2011-12 (I)     Bundesliga	3rd
2010-11 (I)     Bundesliga      14th

2009-10 (I)     Bundesliga      2nd
2008-09 (I)     Bundesliga      8th
2007-08 (I)     Bundesliga      3rd
2006-07 (I)     Bundesliga      2nd
2005-06 (I)     Bundesliga      4th
2004-05 (I)     Bundesliga      2nd
2003-04 (I)     Bundesliga      7th
2002-03 (I)     Bundesliga      7th
2001-02 (I)     Bundesliga      5th     DFB Cup Winner
2000-01 (I)     Bundesliga      2nd     DFB Cup winner

1999-00 (I)     Bundesliga      13th
1998-99 (I)     Bundesliga      10th
1997-98 (I)     Bundesliga      5th
1996-97 (I)     Bundesliga      12th    UEFA Cup Winner
1995-96 (I)     Bundesliga      3rd
1994-95 (I)     Bundesliga      11th
1993-94 (I)     Bundesliga      14th
1992-93 (I)     Bundesliga      10th
1991-92 (I)     Bundesliga      11th
1990-91 (II)    2.Liga 		1st

1989-90 (II)    2.Liga    	5th 
1988-89 (II)    2.Liga    	12th
1987-88 (I)     Bundesliga      18th
1986-87 (I)     Bundesliga      13th
1985-86 (I)     Bundesliga      10th
1984-85 (I)     Bundesliga      8th 
1983-84 (II)    2.Liga    	2nd 
1982-83 (I)     Bundesliga      16th
1981-82 (II)    2.Liga		1st 
1980-81 (I)     Bundesliga      17th

1979-80 (I)     Bundesliga      8th 
1978-79 (I)     Bundesliga      15th
1977-78 (I)     Bundesliga      9th 
1976-77 (I)     Bundesliga      2nd 
1975-76 (I)     Bundesliga      6th 
1974-75 (I)     Bundesliga      7th 
1973-74 (I)     Bundesliga      7th 
1972-73 (I)     Bundesliga      15th
1971-72 (I)     Bundesliga      2nd 
1970-71 (I)     Bundesliga      6th

1969-70 (I)     Bundesliga      9th
1968-69 (I)     Bundesliga      7th
1967-68 (I)     Bundesliga      15th
1966-67 (I)     Bundesliga      15th
1965-66 (I)     Bundesliga      14th
1964-65 (I)     Bundesliga      16th
1963-64	(I)	Bundesliga	8th

2000-01	(I)	Bundesliga	2nd	DFB Cup winner
2001-02	(I)	Bundesliga	5th	DFB Cup Winner
2002-03 (I)	Bundesliga	7th
2003-04 (I)	Bundesliga	7th
2004-05 (I)	Bundesliga	2nd
2005-06	(I)	Bundesliga	4th
2006-07	(I)	Bundesliga	2nd
2007-08	(I)	Bundesliga	3rd	
2008-09 (I)     Bundesliga	8th
2009-10 (I)	Bundesliga	2nd
2010-11 (I)     Bundesliga	14th
2011-12 (I)     Bundesliga

(c) Abseits Guide to Germany : www.abseits-soccer.com