Prior to the start of the 130th Hamburg Stadtderby this past September at the modest Millerntor Stadion, supporters of SV Hamburg set off blue smoke bombs to let the fans of FC St. Pauli know just exactly who is boss of football in the north German city. (Axel Heimken/DAPD)
In contrast with the world’s other top-shelf professional leagues — England, Italy or Spain — the Bundesliga in Germany has always been short with the intense intra-city derby game.
The German first division has long hosted great regional rivalries, such as the recent Revierderby contested between Borussia Dortmund and Schalke 04 Gelsenkirchen or, perhaps, the Bavarianderby featuring Bayern Munich and 1.FC Nuremberg.
But all-metropolitan matches are quite another story, traditionally speaking, at least in terms of the German top flight.
Teams such as FC St. Paul of Hamburg or TSV 1860 Munich may find themselves promoted to the Bundesliga from time to time, but usually make a quick return to the second division.
Berlin is, of course, Germany’s largest city and have had clubs such as Hertha SC Berlin, Tennis Borussia Berlin and the departed SpVgg Blau-Weiss Berlin in the Bundesliga before. The realities of the Cold War and two separate entities known as East Berlin and West Berlin for decades had its effect, however. A most fierce intra-city rivalry existed on the eastern side of the Iron Curtain during the days of the old Deutsche Demokratische Republik between the FC Dynamo Berlin, sponsored by the Stasi (state secret police), and 1.FC Union Berlin.
Disco dancing on the sideline by FC Che Guevara, er, ah, FC St. Pauli trainer HOLGER STANISLAWSKI, itself, will not be enough to sustain Bundesliga status come the end of this season. (John MacDougall/AFP/Getty Images)
The Hamburg Stadtderby is always of particular interest, in part due to the David and Goliath nature of the affair. Indeed, SV Hamburg have won 89 matches and lost just 23 games to FC St. Pauli since the rivlary first got underway back in 1919. Die Rothosen are currently in the midst of a 33-year unbeaten run against the notorious Kult Klub.
SV Hamburg, who were originally founded in 1887, are one of Germany’s oldest and most successful clubs. Die Rothosen have won the national championship six times and also claimed the prestigous UEFA European Cup in 1983. HSV players such as UWE SEELER and MANFRED KALTZ are legendary.
Even Der Kaiser, FRANZ BECKENBAUER, spent some time with Hamburg SV upon leaving the New York Cosmos of the old NASL and won the Bundesliga title in 1982.
Meanwhile, FC St. Pauli trainer HOLGER STANISLAWSKI has proclaimed his support for three current club players — FLORIAN BRUNS, RALPH GUNESCH and CARSTEN ROTHENBACH — who were questioned by police recently in connection with an on-going match-fixing and illegal betting scandal.
Former FC St. Pauli striker RENE SCHNITZLER has already admitted to accepting money for the purposes of influencing matches.