Schalke is one of the greatest soccer clubs in Germany. Founded by students in Schalke, a working class neighborhood of Gelsenkirchen in 1904, the club quickly became the dominant force in German soccer, winning the German championship 6 times from 1934-42. Unfortunately, the last title was 1958, although in 1997 they conquered Europe by winning the UEFA Cup, defeating Inter Milan in the finals.
Things really started to take off with the reorganization of German soccer under the 3rd Reich. The new Gauliga raised the level of competition throughout Germany, but it's regional basis also meant that some strong clubs tended to club the competition. The Gauliga Westfalen years were ridiculously dominated by Schalke. From 1933-45, over 12 seasons, the Blues played 189 Gauliga matches, winning 162, drawing 21 and losing only 6. In fact, from 1935-1939 they didn't even lose a game. Their point winning percentage was 96.8%, scoring 924 goals and giving up only 145. The only thing that stopped them was the collapse of the 3rd Reich, although in the 1944/45 season, they played only 2 games, scoring 28 times and allowing a single goal...
After the War, they continued their merry way, blasting the local competition, but the introduction of the new Oberliga West in 1949 was a bit of a cold shower: Schalke finished only 6th.
The 1980-81 season ended the darkest chapter in the history of the club: Schalke was relegated for the first time in history! Management had decided on a youth course (afterall, it worked so well for Max Merkel and Nürnberg in 1969!). Oldies like Abramczik, Fichtel and Helmut Kremers were dumped. The result was a 18th place finish, lincluding an embarassing 0-6 home loss to Bochum and a 1-7 thrashing at Gladbach.
One interesting trend from the late 1990s is that Schalke apparently announced that Dutch would become the official language, replacing German, as there are several Dutch and Belgian players on the squad, along with the head coach, Huub Stevens.
The 1998-99 campaign was a bitter disappointment for Schalke and her fans. They expected to perhaps challenge for a Champions League spot, or at least return to UEFA play. Instead, they battled relegation for about 2/3 of the season, playing like crap. More of the same was in store for the fans next season. Finally, in 2000, they put it all together. Led by the dynamic forwards Ebbe Sand and Emile Mpenza, the Schalkers stormed to the top of the Bundesliga, and were actually champions for about 5 minutes - until the ref in Hamburg cheated and allowed Bayern to score a goal in injury time and squeak to the title. There was a small consolation that the Schalkers won the DFB Cup, defeating sensational Union Berlin. After a repeat in the Cup, and a strong 5th place, Schalke legitimately felt that they would at least challenge for a Champions League spot in 2003. Instead, a poor season, ending in acrimonious harping by fans, players and management. A complete house cleaning was expected for the new season. The 2004 season looked to finally be the one for the major breakthrough. Schalke topped the table, and furthermore defeated rivals Bayern in both matches. But they crapped out down the stretch to lose out.
At the start of the 2006 season, severe financial problems finally came to roost. For years, Schalke had been wasting large sums on worthless players. In addition, the debt accumulated from the new stadium piled up, and there were rumours of a potential financial meltdown. However, things cleared up magically with a major sponsorship deal. The Russian gas-giant, Gazprom, jumped in with a huge cash injection, and that basically set things straight. The deal was heavily influenced by ex-chancellor Gerhard Schröder, who was a consultant for Gazprom. But despite the money, the squad seemed to dick around aimlessly. After several useless coaches, Felix Magath from freshly crowned champions Wolfsburg was given free reins of the club in 2009, amid massive expectations.
Fußball-Club Gelsenkirchen-Schalke 04 e.V.
272,445 (2002). Schalke is the
working class neighborhood where the club started.
Postfach 200861, 45891 Gelsenkirchen. |
Phone: (0209) 700870 Fax: (0209) 7008750
Blue shirt, white shorts, blue socks. Famed uniform. On the road usually
white shirt, although sometimes yellow.
Arena "Auf Schalke". Capacity: 61,010 (44,796 seats)|
This state-of-the-art stadium was completed in 2003 and is one of Germany's most beautiful stadiums. Financed by the club, it remains to be seen whether the debt service will become a crushing burden. From 1974-2003, the club played in the Parkstadion (Capacity over 71,000). The Parkstadion was built for the 1974 World Cup, and was one of those typical ugly concrete structures. Until 1974, Schalke's home was the legendary Glückaufkampfbahn. This is still used by the amateur squad. Built in 1928, it had a capacity of 35,000, although it has since been reduced to only 5,000.
Prices range from 8 euros for standing room, up to 77 euros for the
seats (2004). Schalke draws large crowds, especially given the spanking
stadium. Expect tickets to be hard to come by.
Schalke's fans are legendary, with massive support throughout Germany, but
obviously the stronghold is the Ruhr. The new Arena Auf Scalke has
boosted attendance, to an average of over 61,000 in 2004. The
Fan-Initiative has it's own web page (see below).
"Fan-friendship" is strong with 1.FC Nünberg and is one of the
longest in all Germany. Others to a lesser extent include
Wuppertal (many WSV fans are also Schalke fans) and FC Twente (Holland).
Twente supposedly has an "official" friendship with Duisburg, but
nobody cares, on either side.|| Foes
The number one foe is Borussia Dortmund. Schalke fans are definitely
uncompromising in this regard, Dortmunders usually referred to as
"Lüdenscheid" or "Doofmunders". Bayern München, obviously. 1.FC
Köln is also a fierce rival, and for some reason Hertha BSC likes to
scrap with Schalke. || Heroes
Over 30 German internationals. The famed players are too numerous to mention, but some of the bigger
names are Klaus Fichtel, who played 477 Bundesliga games, longtime
international forward Klaus Fischer, the club's leading Bundesliga
and many German internationals. From the 70s, dribbling king
Reinhold "Stan" Libuda (24 caps), named after Sir Stanley
Matthews. Fritz Szepan was the star
of the legendary teams of the 1930s, along with Ernst Kuzzora. From
the same period, Adolf Urban, who apparently died at Stalingrad.
Jens Lehmann, was capped twice in the 90s as a keeper. Then he
transferred to Dortmund! Conversely, the famed Heulsuse der Nation
(snivelling whiner of the nation) Andy Möller was at hated
Dortmund, and then transferred to Schalke for a couple of good seasons.
So he's at least partially forgiven by Schalke fans. Some players from the
early 1970s accepted bribes, but managed to get away with slaps on the
Veltins seems to be the top choice, as they are the current main
sponsor. Stauber is also mentioned.
|| Grub and Pub ||
You can get a decent bite at the stadium, at the Gastätte Zum
Parkstadion. The Schnitzel mit Pommes (cutlet with french
fries) has been recommended. Also Bratwurst, Frikadellen, Pizza,
etc. As far as bars and pubs, Auf Schalke on
Uechtingerstraße and the Pulle-faß. The Schalke
Fan-Initiative also runs a place, Fan-Laden. Another possibility is
the Gastätte Bosch, which is locatedon
Kurt-Schumacher-Straße across from the old Glückaufkampfbahn
stadium. This is sort of an unofficial club hangout. || The Net
Schalke has a pretty strong presence on the web.
The official page is
www.schalke04.de . The Schalke e-mail
list has around 1,200 members, mostly in Germany, and it's own web page,
Also a good location to pick up spare tickets at reasonable prices.
A nice English fan page is available at www.schalke04.co.uk
1963-64 (I) Bundesliga 8th
1964-65 (I) Bundesliga 16th
1965-66 (I) Bundesliga 14th
1966-67 (I) Bundesliga 15th
1967-68 (I) Bundesliga 15th
1968-69 (I) Bundesliga 7th
1969-70 (I) Bundesliga 9th
1970-71 (I) Bundesliga 6th
1971-72 (I) Bundesliga 2nd
1972-73 (I) Bundesliga 15th
1973-74 (I) Bundesliga 7th
1974-75 (I) Bundesliga 7th
1975-76 (I) Bundesliga 6th
1976-77 (I) Bundesliga 2nd
1977-78 (I) Bundesliga 9th
1978-79 (I) Bundesliga 15th
1979-80 (I) Bundesliga 8th
1980-81 (I) Bundesliga 17th
1981-82 (II) 2.Bundesliga 1st
1982-83 (I) Bundesliga 16th
1983-84 (II) 2.Bundesliga 2nd
1984-85 (I) Bundesliga 8th
1985-86 (I) Bundesliga 10th
1986-87 (I) Bundesliga 13th
1987-88 (I) Bundesliga 18th
1988-89 (II) 2.Bundesliga 12th
1989-90 (II) 2.Bundesliga 5th
1990-91 (II) 2.Bundesliga 1st
1991-92 (I) Bundesliga 11th
1992-93 (I) Bundesliga 10th
1993-94 (I) Bundesliga 14th
1994-95 (I) Bundesliga 11th
1995-96 (I) Bundesliga 3rd
1996-97 (I) Bundesliga 12th UEFA Cup Winner
1997-98 (I) Bundesliga 5th
1998-99 (I) Bundesliga 10th
1999-00 (I) Bundesliga 13th
2000-01 (I) Bundesliga 2nd DFB Cup winner
2001-02 (I) Bundesliga 5th DFB Cup Winner
2002-03 (I) Bundesliga 7th
2003-04 (I) Bundesliga 7th
2004-05 (I) Bundesliga 2nd
2005-06 (I) Bundesliga 4th
2006-07 (I) Bundesliga 2nd
2007-08 (I) Bundesliga 3rd
2008-09 (I) Bundesliga 8th
2009-10 (I) Bundesliga 2nd
2010-11 (I) Bundesliga 14th
2011-12 (I) Bundesliga
(c) Abseits Guide to Germany : www.abseits-soccer.com