Schalke ’04 v Borussia Dortmund
Ground: Arena Auf Schalke, Gelsenkirchen
For my second game in my weekend in Germany I traveled from Bremen down to Gelsenkirchen, close to the Dutch border, for the biggest derby in German football. I was lucky enough to be able to get tickets for the “Revierderby”, the game between the arch rivals Schalke ’04 and Borussia Dortmund. From the moment I arrived in Gelsenkirchen it was very clear a big game was on. Several hours before kick-off there were already many people around in the centre and there was a heavy police presence. I took the tram to a supporters pub near the ground. The brilliant thing in Germany is that your match ticket is automatically a day ticket for local public transport. The advantages of that were clear as there wasn’t a traffic chaos around the ground like you’d expect for a game as big as this.
FC Schalke ’04 was founded in 1904 as Westfalia Schalke by a group of high school students. In their early years, they were mainly playing in unofficial local leagues. In 1924 they were renamed FC Schalke ’04. In 1927 they reached the highest tier in their region, where they quickly became a dominant force. In 1929 they won their division for the first time. Their most successful years were under the Nazi regime. The leagues were reformed into 16 equal regional leagues followed by a national championship. They were runners up in 1933 and won 6 national championships, the first in 1934 en the last in 1942, making them the most successful club of that era. They won the double in 1937. After the war, Schalke declined as German football was weakening, it took until the mid-1950’s to become a regional force again and in 1958 they won the German championship again, the last to date. When the Bundesliga got formed in 1963, Schalke were one of the members. In 1972 they finished second and won the German Cup for the second time. In 1982 they relegated to the 2. Bundesliga for the first time. They returned the next season, but got relegated again and returned immediately again. In 1988 they relegated for the last time, returning in 1992. Their only European trophy was in 1997, when they won the UEFA Cup after beating Internazionale on penalties. The club became a strong force in German football again since, finishing as runners up 5 times, including last season. They also won the German cup 3 more times, the last one in 2011. Schalke is owned by its members, of which there are 155,000, making them the 4th largest club in the world and the 2nd largest in Germany.
Schalke played from 1927 at the Glückauf-Kampfbahn stadium, which is now being used by a lower league side. In 1973 they moved to the Parkstadion, which was built for the 1974 FIFA World Cup and also used for Euro 1988. In 2001 they moved to the Arena auf Schalke, a ground with a capacity of 62,271. The North Stand is terracing with a capacity of 16K. As standing is not allowed in European matches, the capacity is reduced to 54,740 for those games. From the outside the stadium doesn’t look that attractive. However, when inside, it’s a very impressive stadion, especially due to the standing on the North Stand, where the most fanatic fans are who were creating a good atmosphere.
The games between Schalke ’04 and Borussia Dortmund are always big, it’s the biggest derby in German football. Both clubs are from the densely populated Ruhr region. The derby is called the “Revierderby”. The game was sold out in no-time, it’s usually very hard to get tickets for these games, which is why I couldn’t let this chance go! The atmosphere was great as expected, with both sides constantly making noise. Dortmund have been dominant so far this season and leading the league with a 7 point gap, while Schalke have been struggling and were in 12th place. BVB took the lead early on and were clearly the better side. Schalke did equalise in the second half though when they scored a penalty after VAR in the 61st minute. In the 74th minute the guests scored a second goal and they ran out deserved winners. This game was very enjoyable and the trip to Germany was great, definitely worth repeating!