Football in the Ruhr



Dortmund, Schalke and the Ruhr

The Ruhr is a relatively small river in the north-west of Germany, which gave its name to the Ruhrgebiet, synonymous with being the former industrial heartland of Germany, and before that Prussia. It consists of a whole network of towns and cities, all of which have their local football teams, whose fortunes have varied over the years, partly depending on the economic prosperity of the area at the time. For now will concentrate on the two giants, Borussia Dortmund and FC Schalke 04, as they have come to be in the last 20 years the teams that are the area’s flagships (though many fans of other local teams would disagree).

Dortmund is one of the big industrial centres, and the Borussia bit is a kind of latinised form of Prussia, presumably so named to swear allegiance to the kingdom of Prussia whose heartland was further to the east; it also reflects the fact that a lot of football teams grew out of Gymnasien (grammar schools) and universities at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. The side has a huge local following throughout the 15 million inhabitants of the area, always being one of the main vehicles of local pride: this was an area that defined itself, a few enclaves apart, as fiercely working class and football was its voice. Because of the visibility and regular success of the team, Borussia Dortmund also enjoys huge popularity outside of Germany’s own frontiers. We aren’t specialists in German football, and won’t add any more, but if you are interested, there is plenty more to be had online. We’ll provide here are a few links.



Within the Revier – a colloquial term for the Ruhrgebiet – Schalke enjoys almost as much support, but it is much less visible to the outside world, as on the one hand it has been much less successful, even if present in the Bundeliga almost since its founding. On the other hand, it has the name of a small part of a suburb of a larger suburb of Gelsenkirchen, not exactly a household name outside of Germany. [Add]

There is a very strong rivalry between these two clubs, but I believe that it is without the edge of hatred that exists between some teams wherever football is played (though there is relatively little of it in the UK these days). The twice yearly games between the two clubs are known as the Revierderby.



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