The Plate Collection (VfR Mannheim)

At the turn of the 20th century the German Football Association was founded and in its initial membership were no less than three clubs from Mannheim. These clubs were Mannheimer FG 1896, Mannheimer FG 1897 Union, and FC Viktoria 1897 Mannheim. In 1907 SV Waldhof Mannheim were formed and quickly became the leading side in the city. In order to compete with Waldhof the three original clubs merged in 1911 and became VfR Mannheim.

VfR would become very much the contempories of Waldhof in the Nazi instigated Gauliga-Baden. Waldhof won the title in 1934, 1936, 1937, 1940, and 1942. While VfR took the title in 1935, 1938, 1939, 1943, 1944. VfL Neckarau’s (a Mannheim suburb) 1941 success meant Mannheim based clubs won the Gauliga for eleven straight seasons.

The fierce Gauliga rivalry was a prelude to VfR’s finest hour when in 1949 by defeating Borussia Dortmund 3-2 they won the National German Championship. The match held in front of 90,000 people saw the first awarding of the now iconic Meisterschale, the giant studded plate somewhat churlishly referred to as the salad bowl. While 1.FC Nuremberg had won the first post war championship in 1948 the new trophy was first presented to VfR Mannheim. The new trophy had become necessary after the old German National Championship, the Viktoria trophy, which had been awarded since 1903, had disappeared during the war whilst in the care of the last pre-War champions, Dresdener SC. Post German reunification the old trophy was unearthed having been buried in a pile of coal for 45 years. The 1949 title win would become the zenith of VfR’s existence.

When German football was reorganised and the Bundesliga was formed in 1963, VfR were placed in the second tier Regionalliga- Süd. Ten years later VfR dropped to the third tier and began to struggle financially and rebuffed two attempts at a merger with SV Waldhof in 1998 and 2003. Having maintained their independence the club were denied a license and were demoted to the Verbandesliga Nordbaden. That league was won at the first attempt and VfR gained promotion to the Oberliga Baden-Württemberg where they play today despite another relegation in 2009.

The present home of VfR is the Rhein-Neckar Stadion, not to be confused with Hoffenheim’s similarly named modern arena. The current ground was built in 1971 next to the original Stadium Mannheim. The original stadium was opened in 1927 but was cleared in 1992 to make way for the opening of the Carl-Benz Stadion, the home of long time nemesis Waldhof. The grounds back directly onto each other.

Today’s game is a real “six-pointer” the hosts lie next to bottom with 24 points while there are a clutch of clubs, including visitors 1.FC Bruchsal, have two points more, a win is vital if VfR are to stay up. The club are truly convivial hosts, offering us a very welcome beer and telling us of their fundraising attempt to buy a replica of the Meisterschale to celebrate 65 years since their finest hour. I wish them well, it was an amazing title success and sadly one they will not be able to repeat. Even in the fifth tier the club need an annual budget of 450,000 euros to field a reasonably competitive team.

The hosts have a dream start when the referee awards them a penalty after just three minutes which captain Erdogdu gleefully dispatches into the net. Speaking of nets the VfR goalposts are a talking point, a sandy beige colour, like some sort of relic from Operation Desert Storm. The explanation for the colouring is due to the heavy mineral and chalk content of the local water and while the goalposts are cleaned and painted every close season, pitch irrigation sees them colourise during the campaign. While the hosts maintain the ascendancy their lead remains a fragile one until they bring on leader scorer Hans Kyei. A player of some quality he looks a threat every time he goes forward. It is no little surprise when he taps in the decisive second goal five minutes from time. The relief in the small but partisan crowd is palpable. They needed this. And we need clubs like VfR, fiercely independent, belligerent and respectful of their heritage. Wonderful stuff.

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Sunday April 16th 2014 – Oberliga Baden-Württemberg

VfR Mannheim (1) 2 (Erdogdu pen 3, Kyei 85)

1.FC Bruchsal (0)0

Attendance: 550 (at the Rhein-Neckar Stadion)

Mannheim:

1. Levent Cetin, 2. Marvin Pelzl, 4. Norbert Kirschner, 5. Oliver Malchow, 8. Daniel Herm, 9. Kaan Erdogdu (c), 13. Manuel Morilla-Morito, 14. Eric Schaaf, 16. Marko Terzic, 20. Enis Sen, 21. Piero Adragno.

Subs: 22. Robin Albrecht, 3. Dragan Peric, 7. Sven Beier (for 7,89 mins), 11. Hans Kyei (for 14,70 mins), 12. Camilo Dos Santos, 15. Peter Prokop (for 16,79 mins).

Bruchsal:

1. Sascha Rausch, 4. Isa Kaykun, 5. Jan Kahle, 6. Pavlos Osipidis, 7. Denis Schwager, 8. Marco Mayer, 9. Erich Strabel, 10. Sandio Inguanta, 16. Francisco Rodriguez Carmona, 19. Mike Weindel, 23. Georg Dis (c).

Subs: 30. Nikolai Gogol, 2. Advan Halili, 11. Valencia Rivada (for 10,62 mins), 13. Burak Güner, 15. Oliver Kraut, 17. Sinan Telle (for 23,82 mins), 22. Mattia Trianni (for 8,46 mins)

Yellow cards: Kaykun, Osipidis (Bruchsal)

Gallery

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Mannheim ticket 001

The Uninvited Guest (SV Wiesbaden)

The original club were formed as a football offshoot of a gymnastics club Wiesbadener Turngesellschaft in 1899. Five years later the football section broke away forming Sportverein Wiesbaden 1899. Prior to World War II the club were only sporadically successful and when the Nazis reorganised football in Germany in 1933, SV Wiesbaden were placed in the new Gauliga Südwest/Mainhessen but could not compete and were relegated in their first season in the competition. After two runners up places in the Deutsche Amateurmeisterschaft in the mid 1960’s, the club began to struggle and were relegated to the Amateurliga Hessen. In 1970 bankruptcy saw the club fall even further to the Landesliga Südhessen.

The 1980’s and early 1990’s the club enjoyed better times, investment bought dividends as the club consolidated in the Amateur Oberliga. However, the investment was withdrawn and in 1994 the club had no option but to close down and reform at the lowest level. To their immense credit the reformed club have worked their way back up through the Landesliga and Verbandesliga and winning the latter in 2013 saw the club back in the fifth tier, Hessenliga.

Despite the steady climb up the rankings, the modern era though has been somewhat sullied by the actions of a club called SV Wehen Taunusstein. In 2007 the club literally moved lock, stock and barrel from Taunusstein right next door to the ancient home of SV. Unable to build a stadium to suit their burgeoning needs in their home town of Taunusstein, the club applied to Wiesbaden City council who gave them permission to build a new arena, the Brita Arena, in the city. The relocated club rose as high as 2.Bundesliga and despite relegation to 3.Liga the club has tempted much support and advertising away from the city’s traditional club SV. Much to the chagrin of SV 1899, the interlopers have added Wiesbaden to their name since 2007. In addition the fact that Wehen now market themselves with the strap line “Our city, our club, our team” must be a particularly bitter pill for the old club to swallow. A forthcoming Kreispokal cup match with their less than welcome neighbours at the Helmut-Schön is sure to be an interesting encounter.

SV Wiesbaden play at an athletics stadium adjacent to the Brita Arena with an impressive capacity of 11,500. Now over 100 years old the Stadion an der Berliner Straße was originally opened in 1907. SV have played there since its’ inauguration. The stadium underwent some renovation work in 2008 when the roof of the grandstand was replaced with and eye-catching wavy pediment. In 2009 the stadium was renamed the Helmut-Schön Sportpark in honour of the man who guided West Germany to World Cup success in 1974. Schön started his coaching career in Wiesbaden in 1951 and died there in 1996 aged 80. A legendary figure in the German game he won 16 German caps (scoring 17 goals!) before managing the national team for 14 years between 1964 and 1978. His image adorns the match ticket issued for home games. The stadium has also hosted American football since 1984, the club being second tier side Wiesbaden Phantoms.

Both SV Wiesbaden and guests SC Viktoria Griesheim are struggling in the lower reaches of the Hessenliga and it shows in a game where real chances are few and far between. The visitors score the only goal of the game with a real piece of quality finishing from Starck. His celebration saw him kick the corner flag out of its hole and instead of the referee booking him he had to rather sheepishly go and restore it to its original position. The hosts chances of taking anything from the game effectively disappeared when Pajić was sent off for an overly robust challenge. Down to ten men SV did throw the kitchen sink at the visitor’s goal but just couldn’t find a goal. A competitive game and a club with a interesting ancient and modern history, this welcoming club is more than worthy of greater patronage than it currently gets.

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Saturday April 5th 2014 – Hessenliga

SV Wiesbaden 1899 (0) 0

SC Viktoria Griesheim (1) 1 (Starck 27)

Attendance: 290 (at Helmut-Schön Sportpark)

Wiesbaden:

30. Volkan Tekin, 2. Nico Haupt, 4. Marko Kopilas, 6. Christopher Hübner ©, 7. Philipp Reichardt, 9. Younes Bahssou, 12. Jonas Grueter, 16. Joseph Olumide, 21. Christian Demirtas, 22. Sascha Amstätter, 24. Strahinja Pajić.

Subs: 1. Pero Miletić, 5. Milosz Adam Freund, 11. Sebastian Gurik (for 7,61 mins), 14. Elmir Muhić, 17. David Schug (for 22,61 mins), 19. Ivan Rebić (for 2,83 mins), 26. Mirko Dimter.

Griesheim:

22. Stefan Scholz, 4. Fabian Windeck, 5. Joerg Finger, 6. Fabian Walter, 7. Yannik Brehm, 8. Kevin Jung, 9. Lukas Goerlich, 10. Jean-Marie Starck, 13. Dominique Jourdan, 15. Martin Schwarz, 21. Fabian Hinterschied.

Subs: 24. Robin Schwarz, 2. Kevin Miller, 3. Efkan Erdem (for 13,68 mins), 11. Kamil Kwiaton (for 9,58 mins), 20. Mark Dillmann (for 8,88 mins).

Yellow Cards: Reichardt, Grueter (Wiesbaden), Windeck, M.Schwarz (Griesheim).

Red Card: Pajić (Wiesbaden).

Gallery

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Wiesbaden prog

Wiesbaden ticket

Not For Sale (SV Sandhausen)

SV Sandhausen 1916 are based in the area of Baden-Württemberg just south of Heidelburg. From a modest formation in 1916 the club have really come to the fore since the turn of the 21st century. Rapid promotions saw Sandhausen playing at their highest ever level when, in 2005, the ambitious owner of TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, Dietmar Hopp, a software entrepreneur, opened negotiations with Sandhausen and near neighbours FC Astoria Walldorf. The aim of the negotiations was to form a Heidelberg based super club with an aim of Bundesliga 1 status. A name had even been proposed, FC Heidelberg 06, but after fierce resistance from the supporters of Sandhausen and Astoria the plans were shelved.

Hoffenheim would go onto claim their place in Bundesliga 1, bankrolled by Hopp whose generosity extended to the funding of a new stadium.

Sandhausen regrouped and barely had the dust settled on their continued independence when the DFB announced the formation of Bundesliga 3 for the 2008/9 season. Independence had always been a source of pride for the club, apart from a brief wartime merger with TSV Walldorf and VfB Wiesloch to for the short lived KSG Walldorf-Wiesloch. By 1945 Sandhausen had demerged and by 1951 had returned to its original moniker.

In the 1980’s and 1990’s the club dominated the Oberliga Baden-Württemberg, being crowned champions five times between 1981 and 2000, in addition were three runners up slots. Promotion to the the then third tier Regionalliga Süd. In 2011/12 Sandhausen won the Bundesliga 3 and with it promotion to their highest ever playing level.

Needless to say the club’s rapid elevation in playing status has seen their once modest home of the Hardtwaldstadion substantially modernised. Home to SV Sandhausen since 1951 the ground initially had a clay surface and remarkably it was some ten years before turf was laid at the venue. The current elevated main stand was built in 1987 and affords fine views of the pitch and the surrounding forest. Floodlights came to the Hardtwaldstadion as recently as 2001 and in the last couple of years two new stands have been erected replacing temporary bleacher style seating to either side of the existing main stand. There is a large temporary seated stand behind one goal and uncovered terracing down one side and the far end. All in all the improvements now give the venue an impressive capacity of 12,100 and it now also boasts undersoil heating. As the club look to consolidate in 2 Bundesliga there is even talk of a third new stand to be built at the western end of the ground with a further 3,000 seats.

Today’s game sees visitors St.Pauli impressively fill the uncovered terracing and the end sector of the temporary stand. They are the boisterous flag waving collective of diaspora you would have expected them to be. Their support is bludgeoning and unrelenting and they are superb at what they do. Sandhausen have their own “ultras”, comparatively sedate, housed in one of the new permanent stands.

The first half was instantly forgettable being both low on technique and any semblance of drama. Thankfully the first half gave way to a robust and combative second period. The hosts found themselves 2-1 up thanks to some calamitous St. Pauli defending. However that “cultest” of cult clubs gave us an epic comeback with goals from Schachten and Rzatkowski within two minutes of each other sealed an, at times, unlikely looking away victory.

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Saturday April 5th 2014 – 2.Bundesliga

SV Sandhausen (0) 2 (Blum 50, Adler 70)

FC St.Pauli (0) 3 (Gonther 55, Schachten 77, Rzatkowski 79)

Att: 8,050 (at Hardtwaldstadion)

Sandhausen:

33. Manuel Riemann, 5. Daniel Schulz, 6. Denis Linsmayer, 7. Marco Thiede, 18. Matthias Zimmermann, 21. Manuel Stiefler, 24. Simon Tüting (c); 25. Danny Blum, 27. Seyi Olajengbesi, 32. Timo Achenbach, 8. Nicky Adler.

Subs: 1. Marco Knaller, 10. David Ulm (for 18,81 mins), 14. Tim Kister, 17. Florian Hübner (for 17,88 mins), 20. Eke Uzoma, 26. Radoslav Jovanovic (for 8,71 mins), 31. Stegan Kulovits.

St.Pauli:

13. Philipp Tschauner, 9. Christopher Nöthe, 10. Christopher Buchtmann, 11. Marc Rzatkowski, 12. John Verhoek, 14. Philipp Ziereis, 20. Sebastian Schachten, 23. Marcel Halstenberg, 26. Sören Gonther, 27. Jan-Philipp Kalla, 29. Sebastian Maier.

Subs: 6. Florian Kringe, 18. Lennart Thy, 19. Michael Gregoritsch (for 9,56 mins), 24. Florian Mahr, 25. Kevin Schindler (for 14,69 mins), 30. Robin Himmelmann, 35. Tom Trybull (for 29,84 mins)

Yellow Cards: Tüting (Sandhausen), Nöthe and Kalla (St.Pauli)

Gallery

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Sandhausen prog

Sandhausen ticket