Hamburger Sport-Verein were a 1919 amalgamation of three existing clubs, Sport Club Germania, FC Falke 06 and Hamburger SV von 1888. From here the club took the blue and black colours of their badge from Germania and the Hanseatic red and white representing Hamburg for their kit.
Germania trace their roots back to September 1887 and initially rented a farmer’s field in Wandsbek for their home games. This was vacated in 1892 following the horrific outbreak of cholera in Hamburg which killed 8,000 inhabitants. Germania regrouped using home grounds at Heiligengeistfeld and the Exerzierweide (parade ground) in Altona . Their nomadic existence took them to their first enclosed ground within the Rennbahn Mühlenkamp in 1903. Yet again their stay was short-lived vacating in 1907 when the racecourse was earmarked for expansion. They relocated back to Wandsbek at a ground called Forsthof.
Falke were the most junior of the amalgamating clubs having formed in 1906. Their first ground at Voßberg proved far from suitable and in 1908 they found a pitch in Grindelberg which after having signed a lease, the young squad of players were shocked to be told it did not meet the requirements of North German Football Association (the NFV) and Falke found themselves excluded from matches under the NFV’s auspices. The young players lobbied their parents and relatives for financial backing and soon had a kitty to build a new facility in Stellingen.
Similarly to the other two clubs Hamburger SV 1888 had problems finding a suitable home ground for their matches, it really was a nascent period for football in Germany. Initially HSV played at Moorweide but four years after forming moved to a field in Sternschanze which was also frozen over for use as an ice rink! The pitch was awful and HSV played home games at all sorts of often hastily borrowed pitches including the field at the Wandsbek horse market, a meadow on Sierichstraße, the Borgfelde Eispark, a pasture called Hansaweide as well as the Altona Exerzierweide. In 1897 they found a more regular base at Rothenbaumchaussee but by 1904 they had moved again to a rebuilt velodrome at Helmhuderstraße.
The turning point for football in Hamburg came in 1910 when HSV acquired a bigger piece of land and a year later the new Rothenbaum sports field was opened with a game against Holstein Kiel which drew 1,500 people. Sadly the new ground was severely damaged during World War I and with all clubs struggling for young players, such was the horrific loss of life in the conflict, the sensible option was to merge all three clubs and rebuild the Rothenbaum. By 1922 the stadium had a capacity of 30,000 and was officially re-inaugurated two years later when over 27,000 people watched HSV draw 1-1 with German champions 1.FC Nürnberg. In 1937 two new grandstands were built and the Rothenbaum became the largest club owned ground in Germany. Occasionally though, due to public demand, championship matches would be held at the much larger Altona Volksparkstadion. For example the championship match against Hertha BSC attracted 42,000 to the Volksparkstadion.
The advent of the Bundesliga in 1963 saw the DFB ban HSV from using the Rothenbaum, it still witnessed occasional cup matches, the last being played in 1989. It was demolished amid public outcry in 1994 having never really recovered from losing its’ south stand during a hurricane in 1980.
The old Altona Volksparkstadion was severely damaged during World War II and the city authority vowed to replace it in 1951 and by 1953 the new Volksparkstadion with a huge capacity of 75,000, was opened, having been largely built from rubble from bomb damaged buildings. It became HSV’s home stadium from the advent of the Bundesliga.
Since the merger of 1919 HSV, of course, have enjoyed huge success become a household name all over Europe, not least for the signing of Kevin Keegan in the summer of 1977 and losing to a John Robertson goal in the 1980 European Cup Final against Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest. In the pre Bundesliga days the club won an astonishing 31 regional titles although would only take three overall crowns in the championship play offs. Somewhat surprisingly they have only won three Bundesliga titles including one in 1978-79 when Keegan top scored with 17 league goals for them.
The current Volksparkstadion was built in 1998, well ahead of time for the 2006 FIFA World Cup. It is an incredible arena with additional top class training facilities for almost as far as the eye can see. With Hamburger SV having suffered their first ever Bundesliga relegation at the end of the 2017/18 season it’s 1.FC Magdeburg who make their first ever competitive visit to the Volksparkstadion. There are nearly 50,000 people inside for this Monday night, including a hugely impressive 8,000 from Magdeburg. The visiting fans make a hell of racket all night and inspire their team to a shock win with virtually the last kick of the game. It proved to be a fatal blow for second placed HSV, their season promptly fell apart and they even failed to make the promotion play offs.
To the annoyance of many the Volksparkstadion had displayed a clock that stated “In der Bundesliga seit” and counted up every second of their unbroken membership of the top flight, unrivalled even by Bayern Munich. Interestingly since relegation they have changed the clock to count up the seconds since that historic meeting which resulted in the formation of Sport Club Germania.
Monday April 8th 2019 – 2.Bundesliga
Hamburger SV 1 (Jatta 31)
1.FC Magdeburg 2 (Bülter 60, Türpitz 90+4)
Att:49,823 (at Volksparkstadion)
Entry €26, free programme