Derbies: Im Westen nichts neues

(work in progress)
Im Westen nichts neues ("Nothing new in the West") is the title of Erich Maria Remarque's grand novel of the First World War. It took the standard report of "nothing new on the western front", while in fact quite a bit might have been happening in the day-to-day humdrum. This is somewhat like the state of the derbies in German football; in general nothing is happening, although occasionally there might be something worth checking out...

Many countries have glorious derbies that split the city and cause excitement for soccer fans not only locally, but across the land. Think of the Celtic-Rangers lovefest in Glasgow, Liverpool-Everton, Man City- Man Utd, Tottenham-Arsenal, Roman Abramovich's money vs. everybody. Or Inter-AC in Milan, Lazio-Roma. Boca-River and many others in Buenos Aires...

Now strictly speaking, in order to be a real derby, you have to have a couple of critical aspects. 1) You have to be in the same city. So while Barcelona vs. Real Madrid is the biggest game in Spain, it's a rivalry rather than a derby. 2) You have to have massive support. So although the ASV-WSV derby in Wuppertal is certainly more important than some worthless boring match such as Lazio-Roma (and recognized as such by all sane, knowledgeable soccer fans), the sad fact is not enough people know about it, due to the international Jewish-Bolshevist-right-wing-communist-international capitalist media conspiracy that you can read about in the pages of in that shining example of investigative journalism, Bild-Zeitung...

Now where are the equivalent derbies in Germany? Well in short, there are very few, and they tend to be regional rather than city based. This article therefore concentrates on the essentially non-existant city derbies that mostly happen in flights of imagination...

First, a few words on the semi-derbies that actually exist. Perhaps the only real city derby worth mentioning is München's Bayern vs. 1860, although this one is a bit infrequent, since half the time 1860 is in an inferior division. Honrable mention probably goes to Berlin's Union vs. Dynamo, although this is more a hatred rather than a derby, and just about every Dynamo match is this type, given the history of the club. The main regional face-off in Germany is without doubt the famous Ruhr clash, the Revier-derby between Borussia Dortmund and Schalke 04.. Since both clubs are usually in the upper half of the Bundesliga, this is a big match played in front of packed houses in huge stadiums. (Dortmund's "Westfalenstadion" draws about 80,000 and the "Arena Auf Schalke" about 65,000.) Other decent regional clashes include Werder Bremen vs. Hamburger SV and perhaps Gladbach vs. 1.FC Köln and 1.FC Nürnberg vs. Bayern. Clubs like MSV Duisburg or VfL Bochum would desperately like to have derbies against their Ruhr region enemies like Schalke or Dortmund, but these clubs evidently think them too lame and not worth the bother.


Berlin's derby scene is influenced by the historical partition of the city and the domination of Hertha BSC. Hertha really doesn't have any contenders, so they can waltz along in mediocrity as there is really no challenger to their pre-eminence. The heated rivalry between Union and BFC Dynamo stems from the the GDR days, where Dynamo was favored by the officials to the point of cheating, and everybody else had to grin and bear it while they were reemed up the you-know-what. Much of the rivalry is kept alive by the militant nature of the Dynamo fans, who have a generally bad reputation in the east. Several fan groups have taken a distaste to Tennis Borussia, although this is a more recent phenomenon. This is mostly motivated by jealousy, as in the late 1990s, TeBe was the beneficiary of huge sponsorship income and attempted to buy their way to the top. They were actually successful, although as soon as the sponsorship dried up, they fell back into mediocrity. So I would expect this to die out within the next few years, as everybody forgets what they were so angry about with TeBe. Although West Berlin had it's own Regionalliga division in the 1960s-70s, with several contesting clubs, such as Wacker, Tasmania, Blau-Weiss, TeBe etc., these matches were largely miniscule affairs, as there was hardly any interest in the Berlin liga.


In the 1930s-1940s, Dresdner SC was one of the top German clubs, with massive support. After the founding of the GDR, they wallowed in obscurity, toiling as Lok Dresden in the lower divisions. Instead, Dynamo Dresden rose to take their place among the elite in the GDR. So with reunification and the reconstitution of Dresdner SC, a rivalry could arise like the Phoenix-from-the-Ashes, right? Well, like all the other constant Phoenix-from-the-Ashes poppycock bandied about the ex-GDR, this one also has proved illusory. For one thing, 40 years of GDR history had firmly established Dynamo as a "people's club", and since their success, unlike their Berlin namesake, was largely legitimate, they maintained their support. Furthermore, the Regionalliga Nordost was hardly the venue to develop a strong derby, and in any case, DSC soon disappeared back into obscurity.


No real reliable derby here. The city is dominated by Hamburger SV, although on occasion there have been forrays into the top flight by the "cult" club, FC St.Pauli. During the times when SP was in the Bundesliga, these were huge matches, usually held in HSV's Volksparkstadion, since SP's Millerntor was too small a venue to accomodate the demand for tickets. However given the collapse of St.Pauli on the field and in the board-room, it is unlikely to see this derby revived in the near future.

Hamburg Bundesliga derbies

1977-78	HSV - St.Pauli	0:2, 3:2
1988-89	HSV - St.Pauli	1;1, 2:1
1989-90	HSV - St.Pauli	0:0, 0:0
1990-91	HSV - St.Pauli	5:0, 2:0
1995-96	HSV - St.Pauli	1:0, 1:1
1996-97	HSV - St.Pauli	3:0, 2:2
2001-02	HSV - St.Pauli	4:3, 4:0


This city is dominated by 1.FC Köln, and comparison with the 2nd club Fortuna is hardly relevant, as Fortuna was only in the Bundesliga in 1973/74. And FC made short shrift of their neighbors, thrashing them 5-0 and 2-0. However, the derby did have a glory day in 1983 as the two squared off in the DFB Cup final, in Köln no less. Although this ended in a 1-0 FC victory, Fortuna, despite having their usual tiny contingent of fans, gained everybody's cheers through their strong play and were unlucky not to win. The decline of fortunes of the Geisböcke ("Goats") saw 1.FC drop into the 2.Liga, and in 1998/99 and 1999/00 they met again. Here Fortuna did much better, winning 3 of the 4 matches. But then the paths diverged, as FC went back up, and Fortuna were relegated down to the 3rd division.


In the late 1980s, Stuttgarter Kickers faced off with VfB, but in reality, the city is dominated by VfB, so there really isn't much to write home about.

1988/89:	VfB 5th, Kickers 17th	VfB wins 4-0, 2-0
1991/92:	VfB 1st, Kickers 17th	VfB wins 3-1, 3-1

They also met in the 2.Liga from 1975-78.


Again, this is going to be fairly lopsided, as FC Bayern are one of the dominant clubs in the world, and TSV 1860 is like a gnat on an elephant's bum. Half the time, you'd not be even able to watch this derby, as 1860 is a typical elevator team. However, unlike the second sister counterparts in Köln or Stuttgart, 1860 has massive support, and when they do meet, probably the majority favor 1860 as the underdog. Until recently, 1860 had done a respectable job in the direct match, although the only time they finished ahead of their rivals was in the first couple of years. In recent times, the suburb club SpVgg Unterhaching has arisen, even making it to the Bundesliga. They clearly garnered support as the underdog in the matches, which proved to be amazingly competitive. There isn't been anyone else in the local soccer scene. Wacker München was probably the 3rd force, but has virtually disappeared from view, not that they were any good.

München Bundesliga derbies

1965-66	Bayern - 1860	3;0, 1:3
1966-67	Bayern - 1860	3:0, 0:1
1967-68	Bayern - 1860	2:2, 2:3
1968-69	Bayern - 1860	0:2, 3:0
1969-70	Bayern - 1860	2:0, 1:2
1977-78	Bayern - 1860	1:3, 1:1
1979-80	Bayern - 1860	6:1, 2:1
1980-81	Bayern - 1860	1:1, 3:1
1994-95	Bayern - 1860	1:0, 3:1
1995-96	Bayern - 1860	4:2, 2:0
1996-97	Bayern - 1860	1:1, 3:3
1997-98	Bayern - 1860	3:1, 2:2
1998-99	Bayern - 1860	3:1, 1:1
1999-00	Bayern - Unterhaching	1:0, 2:0
	1860 - Unterhaching	2:1, 1:1
	Bayern - 1860		0:1, 1:2
2000-01	Bayern - Unterhaching	3:1, 0:1
	Bayern - 1860		3:1, 2:0
	1860 - Unterhaching	0:2, 2:3
2001-02	Bayern - 1860	5:1, 2:1
2002-03	Bayern - 1860	3:1, 5:0
2003-04	Bayern - 1860	

Not only were these matches tight, but in 2000, Unterhaching did the ultimate an won the title...for Bayern! On the last day, they stunned leaders Bayer "Luserkusen" 2-0, thereby handing the title to Bayern. And the next season, although they were relegated, they defeated Bayern in one match and swept both against 1860. Although after relgation, everybody expected Unterhaching to vanish, they have bounced around in the 2.Liga, so who knows, they could make it another trio sometime in the future.

(c) Abseits Guide to Germany