Wednesday 28 July 2021

The History Makers: Those Original Sixteen Bundesliga Clubs and Where Are They Now?

First mooted in 1932 but rejected by the local associations, Germany's first national football division finally appeared on the scene for the 1963-64 season with the best teams from the varying regional divisions selected to join. Gone was the old end of season national championship for the regional league champions and in its place was a 16 team top flight division known as the Bundesliga. But what of those inaugural 16 teams? What happened to them and where are they now? James M. Gowland takes a look.

Borussia Dortmund

Since its formation, Dortmund have spent only two seasons outside the Bundesliga. The club had a solid start to life in the new division with finishes of 4th, 3rd, 2nd, and 3rd but then began to struggle. However, after a brief second tier spell in the mid-seventies, they were soon back in the top flight and have yet to leave. The club now has five Bundesliga titles to their name but did not manage to win their first until 1995. The last of those triumphs came in 2012 under current Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp but they have only once finished outside to the top four since, managing to finish runner up five times over that same period.

Eintracht Braunschweig

Braunschweig won the Bundesliga in 1967 but were relegated six years later. The club have spent only a limited number of seasons back in the top flight since, spending most of their time in the second and third tiers. Last season they were relegated from the 2. Bundesliga.

Eintracht Frankfurt

Despite having never won it, Frankfurt, who finished third in the inaugural season, have barely been out of the Bundesliga since it was created. The club actually managed to last all the way until 1996 before suffering their first relegation. It only took a couple of seasons for Frankfurt to return to the top flight and although they've suffered a few more relegations in the years since, it never seems to take them long to find their way back to the top table.

Hamburger SV

Until 2018, Hamburg held the record for never having missed a Bundesliga season but a disastrous 2017-18 season saw the club relegated to the second tier for the very first time and they have been stuck there ever since. The club have six Bundesliga titles to their name the last of which came way back in 1983.

Hertha BSC

After trying to bribe players, the Berlin side were forcibly relegated from the Bundesliga in 1965 and replaced by fellow Berlin side Tasmania who went on to have the worst season in Bundesliga history. Hertha were not out of the Bundesliga long, however, and have spent much of their history since then back in it. There has though been a few notable spells outside of the top flight including a brief period in the third tier in the 1980s. Hertha have never won the Bundesliga but were runners-up in 1974-75. That lack of a top flight title is rather unusual for the number one side of a capital city.

1. FC Kaiserslautern

Two times Bundesliga winners, Kaiserslautern were first relegated in 1996, five years after their first title. Two years later in 1998, they became the to date the only newly promoted side to win the title at the first attempt. The club has struggled over the past 15 years or so, however, only briefly appearing in the top division, and currently ply their trade in the 3. Liga.

Karlsruher SC

Karlsruher lasted five seasons in the Bundesliga before being relegated and have been in and out of the Bundesliga in the years since. They most notably sat at the top table for 11 seasons straight from 1988 onwards. The club last graced the Bundesliga with their presence in 2009 and currently sit in the second tier.

1. FC Köln

Köln were the Bundesliga's inaugural champions finishing six points ahead of the runners-up in that first season. The club won the title again 14 years later in 1978 but have yet to win another championship since although they do have five runners-up finishes to their name. First relegated in 1998 they have now become a bit of a yo-yo club and last season only survived relegation from the Bundesliga thanks to winning the relegation play-off.

Meidericher SV

Now known as MSV Duisburg, the club finished as runners-up in that inaugural season and spent 19 seasons straight in the Bundesliga before relegation in 1982. Duisburg have spent the odd season back in the top flight since but have mostly been plying their trade in the second and third tiers. They currently sit in the 3. Liga.

1860 München

FC Bayern München may be the Bundesliga's most successful side of all-time with a record 30 titles to their name, but it was actually their nowadays less fashionable rivals 1860 who were the city's sole Bundesliga representative for its first two seasons and first side from Munich to be crowned Bundesliga champions. 1860 won the Bundesliga title in the division's third season, three years before their city rivals first won it, but are still waiting for that elusive second title. The club were relegated from the Bundesliga in 1970 but have been in and out of it in the years since with promotion in 1994 seeing a ten-year stint at the top table. Having since then dropped down the divisions, 1860 currently ply their trade in the 3. Liga having recently spent a season in the fourth tier Regionalliga Bayern.

1. FC Nürnberg

Known as Der Club due to their all-conquering side of the 1920s, they won their first and only Bundesliga title in 1968 only to be relegated the following season. The club did not return to the top table until 1978 but since then have spent more seasons in the Bundesliga than out of it. In the very recent past, however, the club have found themselves struggling at the bottom end of the 2. Bundesliga.

SC Preußen Münster

Runners up in the 1951 German championship, Münster have achieved little since. Founding members of the Bundesliga, they were relegated at the first attempt and have yet to return. They currently play in the Regionalliga West.

1. FC Saarbrücken

Saarbrücken finished rock bottom of the Bundesliga in its inaugural season. They did manage a couple of seasons back in the Bundesliga in the late 1970s and were promoted back to the top flight again for one lone campaign in 1992, but have spent most of the Bundesliga era in the lower divisions. Promotion from the Regionalliga Südwest in 2019-20 means they now play 3. Liga football.

FC Schalke 04

Schalke, last crowned German champions in 1958, are probably the biggest name side never to have won the Bundesliga. The club have seven times finished runners-up, however, and infamously thought they had won the title in 2001 only to see FC Bayern pinch the crown away from them with a dramatic stoppage-time goal in Hamburg. Last season Schalke suffered relegation from the Bundesliga thanks to finishing rock bottom with just 3 wins and 7 draws. Prior to last season, the club had previously been relegated three times although despite this had spent only five seasons away from the top flight. Financial troubles, however, suggest that their recent fourth relegation could well bring a longer stay away from the Bundesliga than they have previously seen.

VfB Stuttgart

Three times Bundesliga champions, Stuttgart last won the title in 2006-07. The club have spent only four seasons outside the Bundesliga since its formation with the last of those coming as recently as 2019-20.

SV Werder Bremen

Having spent only one season outside the Bundesliga since its formation, the club were relegated for a second time just last season. Bundesliga champions in only the league's second season, the club have four Bundesliga titles to their name, the last of those coming in 2003-04, and have seven times finished runners up.

Monday 12 July 2021

A Brief Look At The Crazy Recent History of SC Paderborn 07

Last season SC Paderborn 07 finished ninth in the 2. Bundesliga in what was a rather sedate campaign compared to those of recent years where dramatic had been very much an understatement!

"To have a comeback you have to have setback", are words once spoken by Mr. T of "I pity the fool" fame, and this seems to ring true with SC Paderborn 07. Due to financial issues elsewhere the club made the most of surviving what should have been a third straight relegation in 2017 by following it up with back to back promotions to head back to the Bundesliga after a crazy four years away.

Based in the town of the same name that sits at the source of the River Pader, this small-time club from the eastern part of the North Rhine-Westphalia region of Germany worked hard to gain a seat at the top table of German football for the first time in their history in 2014 but from there it all went wrong. Paderborn did not dine at the top for very long, and when they were booted out they fell so far back that within a couple of seasons but for the grace of God they would have ended up playing regional football. Almost as quickly as they fell, however, was their rapid rise back that took them once again to the top level of German football. Of course, they were again relegated at the first attempt but last season's mid-table finish in the 2. Bundesliga has brought a rare calm to end the wild antics of the past decade.

SC Paderborn were formed in 1985 after a merger between 3 local sides and first reached the second tier of German football in 2005. Paderborn became regulars in the second division before eventually making it to the top flight. In the 2013/14 went on to make history under coach André Breitenreiter when a second-placed finish that season saw Paderborn, for the first time in their history, promoted to the Bundesliga.

Playing at their compact, modest, but modern Benteler-Arena, Paderborn were a team that had a very small budget to go with their rather small stadium and weren't expected to hang around in the top flight for very long. Paderborn looked like they might prove the doubters wrong, however, as they started their league campaign with a bang, remaining unbeaten after four games and finding themselves top of the Bundesliga. Things then calmed down a bit but a fairly successful first half of the season saw the club enter the winter break in 10th position.

The second half of the season, however, saw Paderborn drop right down the table. Paderborn were losing games whilst the teams below them slowly began to pick up points and overtake them. After a 6-0 defeat at home to FC Bayern in February, the threat of relegation was becoming deadly serious. Things were now beginning to turn out how people had expected before the season started. More defeats followed and in March Paderborn finally entered the bottom three where come the end of the season they would still be, ending the season in last place. But that was just the beginning...

After relegation Breitenreiter moved on to Schalke 04 and Paderborn continued to struggle with interim boss Markus Gellhaus lasting only till October after the club took just 10 points from their opening 11 matches. This dreadful start meant that when in a surprise appointment pundit Steffen Effenberg left the tv studio and took over at the club they were already sliding towards another relegation. Effenburg described himself as the 'New One' but there wasn't really anything new about his Paderborn team as the dismal results continued. He did not last the season. Academy coach Rene Müller took charge for the final ten games but could not stop the unthinkable and the club finished rock bottom for a second season running.

With so many players having jumped ship, Paderborn entered the third tier 3. Liga with a squad barely recognisable from the side that had played in the Bundesliga only two seasons earlier. This new unsettled side did not fare any better than the teams of the two previous campaigns and after a disastrous start to the season, Müller was eventually sacked in November after Paderborn lost 6-0 to Sportfreunde Lotte, a newly promoted team playing in the third tier for the very first time. Müller's replacement was out the door by Easter and Paderborn went into their final game of the season with relegation a real threat. Drawing 0-0 with VFL Osnabruck as the game came to a close they thought they were safe but an 84th-minute goal for Werder Bremen II in their match with Aalen saw Bremen finish a point ahead of Paderborn who dropped to 18th (out of 20) and took the final relegation spot.

Having played in the Bundesliga just two seasons previously, Paderborn would be playing next season in the semi-professional fourth tier Regionalliga West, a fall from grace of mammoth proportions. At least that's what was supposed to happen...  TSV 1860 München, however, would hand them a reprieve!

Having just been relegated from the 2. Bundesliga, 1860 München were due to financial problems not able to obtain a license to play in the 3.Liga for the following season (basically their owner wouldn't stump up the fee for a license). Not being able to play in the 3. Liga meant Munich's second club would have to settle for a place in the Regionalliga and Paderborn would be given a reprieve and stay in the 3. Liga at 1860 München's expense. No club had ever been relegated from the Bundesliga to the Regionalliga in three consecutive seasons and Paderborn's men in black and blue had been set to be the first, but thanks to a serious stroke of luck a third successive relegation would not be coming to the mouth of the Pader and boy would they make the most of it!

Having taken charge late on in the season and tried his best to save Paderborn from relegation, Steffen Baumgart remained in charge for the season of 2017-18 that followed, and after drawing their opening match the club then won 7 in a row as they stormed to the top of the table. Paderborn remained top for much of the season before eventually finishing in second. After missing out on a third successive relegation thanks to circumstances elsewhere giving them a stay of execution they had produced the most remarkable of turnarounds to secure promotion back the 2. Bundesliga. It really was a script you couldn't write.

During the first half of the 2018-19 campaign, it looked like too many draws might stop Paderborn from progressing beyond a mid-table finish during their first season back in the second tier, but winning their final two games before the winter break and 5 out of their first 6 when the league restarted put them firmly in title contention. Although nervy finish saw them lose two out of their last three matches they secured promotion back to the Bundesliga thanks to finishing above third placed 1. FC Union Berlin on goal difference. 

Of course, Paderborn are now back in the second tier and perhaps the Bundesliga and Paderborn are not a good mix as during 2019-20 the club managed to win only four league games and finished rock bottom of Germany's top flight once again, some 17 points off guaranteed safety. But having since survived a season back in the second tier with what was by their recent standards a rather unremarkable campaign, maybe they can finally settle down to a few years of stability. After all, many Paderborn supporters may feel that the past decade or so has not exactly been good for the old ticker.