Home » The Bremen Bridge myth: VfL Osnabrück is 125 years old

The Bremen Bridge myth: VfL Osnabrück is 125 years old

by admin
The Bremen Bridge myth: VfL Osnabrück is 125 years old

As of: April 16, 2024 3:19 p.m

VfL Osnabrück is 125 years old and is in danger of being relegated from the second division for the eighth time. An elevator team with tradition and myth that celebrated successes, continued to defy bad times – and once even received animal support.

Heaven and hell, promotion and relegation in constant alternation – the madness has a tradition at VfL Osnabrück. Even after 125 years, not much has changed. The purple-whites currently have to forego birthday presents – at least of a sporting nature – and instead deal with the threat of relegation from the second Bundesliga.

However, a gloomy mood is not to be expected at the celebrations of the club, which was formed on April 17, 1899 from the merger of Antipodia and Minerva to form FC 1899 Osnabrück. The club, which later merged into the physical exercise club, which today can rightly be described as an elevator team, is ultimately used to suffering.

Predicate: stand-up man

The Lower Saxony team has “survived” relegation seven times and has always returned proudly and successfully to the lower house of the Bundesliga. Anyone who is so steeled will not let another setback get them down. “VfL is something of a stand-up man,” says sports journalist Harald Pistorius, who has accompanied the club in good times and bad for 44 years. He reported on sporting ups and downs with Joe Enochs and Daniel Thioune, who left their mark in Osnabrück as players and coaches, on idiosyncratic presidents, worries about their existence, but also on triumphs and bankruptcies. Everything “that characterizes the club and also its fans,” said Pistorius in the NDR interview.

The stage: Bremen Bridge

The stage for this is called Bremer Brücke, the purple-white stadium, a myth. A “central place,” says 71-year-old Lothar Gans, who has remained loyal to the club as a player (1975-1984), manager, sports director and now in an advisory role.

A veteran who has experienced just about everything in his home in the middle of the Schinkel working-class district, which is reminiscent of the urban flair of stadiums in England.

The stadium at Bremer Bridge was expanded at the beginning of the 1970s.

“The Bremer Bridge is the heart of the club, the emotional home,” says David Kreutzmann. He is a fan representative for VfL Osnabrück, Ultra, an expert on VfL history and a guardian of photographic rarities dating back to the year the stadium was founded in 1899. He even has photos of the construction of the stadium that show how Morast was drained by the city’s garbage disposal with hundreds of loads of household waste. “A layer of topsoil on top,” says Kreutzmann, “unthinkable from today’s perspective.”

Gerhild Gierschner – lifelong loyalty

Almost completely destroyed in the Second World War, football returned to the Bremen Bridge in 1947. 92-year-old Gerhild Gierschner, who was infected with the “VfL virus” by her father as a child, still remembers the years when fans huddled in the trees or stood close to the pitch. Today, the club’s stickers and devotional items adorn “Aunt Gerhild’s” rollator, as the stewards affectionately call her. Truly lifelong loyalty.

See also  A seriously injured man after a car accident in Hafencity | > - News

Club loyalty is a valuable asset that VfL visibly preserves. The “Heroes of the Bremer Bridge” are emblazoned larger than life on the facade of the arena. VfL is particularly proud of its national player “Hannes” Haferkamp. The “Fritz Walter of the North” played four international matches and might have been part of the “Miracle of Bern” at the 1954 World Cup if tuberculosis had not thwarted his ambitions.

Dream of the Bundesliga – still unfulfilled today

Walter Wiethe is also considered an idol. From 1963 to 1972, with his wit and speed, he helped shape VfL’s golden era in three northern championships.

In the 1968/69 season the club even knocked on the door to the Bundesliga. 33,000 spectators came to the Bremer Brücke for the first promotion duel against Rot-Weiß Essen. President Friedel Schwarze, a mechanical engineering entrepreneur, had a tubular steel stand built specifically for him. “Of course I would have liked to become a Bundesliga professional,” says Wiethe. At his farewell game he exchanged the pennant with “Emperor” Franz Beckenbauer – a consolation. “It was wonderful to play here – an oasis of well-being.”

FC Bayern Munich and Franz Beckenbauer came to Walter Wiethe’s (l.) farewell game in 1970.

Lothar Gans also knows that the career he started in Osnabrück in 1975 has had a lasting impact on his life. The midfield and defense strategist was a guarantee of reliability. But just before the cup clash with Bayern Munich, he broke his fibula and had to watch his colleagues’ “sensational” 5-4 victory in the second round game in 1978 on the radio. The elation was followed by sadness for the rest of the season. The specter of relegation could only be banished because FC St. Pauli did not get a license.

Pistorius: “It will never be boring at VfL”

“It never gets boring with VfL; sometimes it’s even tiring,” says Harald Pistorius. The brother of Defense Minister Boris Pistorius has experienced many notable presidents and interviewed them for the “Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung”. First and foremost, Hartwig Piepenbrock, who turned a family-run building cleaning business into a corporation with billions in sales. “And,” said Pistorius, “VfL also wanted to run it like a company.”

See also  Riding an e-scooter: What is allowed and what is not | > - Guide

Piepenbrock – President with Puma on a leash

“He was the man who ensured that VfL was able to play a role in the Second Bundesliga,” explains the 67-year-old.

Piepenbrock, who died in July 2013, was not only president from 1971 to 1996, but also an important sponsor – at times the Bremen Bridge even bore his name. A controversial boss with undeniably unusual methods. When a change of supplier (from Adidas to Puma) threatened to fail in 1979, he quickly borrowed a real puma from a private zoo and strutted across the lawn with the big cat on a leash. “He didn’t even have a muzzle,” Gans remembers.

It is rather unusual for the president of a football club to be in the team photo: Hartwig Piepenbrock (r.) with the Osnabrück second division team from the 1977/1978 season.

Piepenbrock played by his rules, dreamed in vain of the Bundesliga and made headlines. “It was enough for me today,” was the motto after a defeat at newly promoted FSV Frankfurt. According to Gans, the boss became terribly angry and could hardly be calmed down – and sent seven players a warning, which was later withdrawn. In 1983, in front of the camera, he quoted from the document: “According to paragraph two of the contract, they are obliged to use all their strength and sporting abilities without restriction for the club. They have repeatedly failed to fulfill this obligation.”

The low point: manipulation and betting fraud

In 2009, allegations of manipulation and the ultimately proven involvement of two VfL players in betting fraud caused one of the darkest moments in the club’s history. “I couldn’t believe that players we see here week after week did something like that,” says equipment manager Mario Richter, who still shudders at the thought. “Yes, that shook the club to its foundations,” says Pistorius. He experienced how the careers of two players (Thomas Cichon and Marcel Schuon, d.Red.) therefore ended prematurely.

Goose and shock avert bankruptcy

But that’s not enough. Just three years later, the lights on the Bremen Bridge were in danger of going out completely. Old debts were oppressive and almost drove the club into bankruptcy. “The club was on the edge of the abyss, centimeters away,” says Pistorius. And Gans adds that sometimes shortly before the end of the day he didn’t know how the club was going to pay the salaries: “That was the worst thing for me.” Together with Gerd-Volker Schock, Gans managed to prevent the exit thanks to a financial injection from the city.

See also  FAQ: That would mean a cooperative for FC St. Pauli

Thioune – Osnabrücker with “purple-white” blood

“I think in some cases they even used their private assets as a guarantee,” recalls Daniel Thioune on NDR. The former player and coach is a true Osnabrück native “with purple-white blood,” as he says himself. He absorbed the myth of the Bremen Bridge with his father at an early age. When VfL prepared to be promoted to the second division in the 1999/2000 season, the successful striker had to miss the game due to injury. “I was just there, not in the middle of it.”

Promotion after a penalty thriller

Both games against Union Berlin ended 1-1 after extra time. Decision from the penalty spot. The Bremen Bridge was boiling.

Coach and manager Gans stood on the sidelines, pale with nervousness, and thought about the 6.7 million (then still German marks) that the winner would collect from the pot of TV revenue. Money that would relieve cash-strapped VfL of their worst existential worries.

Pure tension and then this: goalkeeper Uwe Brunn takes the ball when the score is 7:7 and wants to shoot. “My God, it won’t work,” he thought, says Gans. But Brunn scores confidently. Even better: he saves the penalty from Union keeper Kay Wehner. The fans storm the pitch – Osnabrück is in the second league! “An incredible story, I still get goosebumps,” says Joe Enochs, who scored the 5-4 goal and later also worked as VfL coach.

Pistorius ennobles Thioune: “Extraordinary”

But someone else left the most memorable footprint as a coach for Pistorius. “Daniel Thioune has certainly celebrated the greatest success here as a coach in recent years,” said the long-time VfL companion, paying great tribute to him. “Building a new team, being promoted in the 2018/19 season and then staying in the league – that was extraordinary.”

With the images of the cheering PK in mind again, the euphoria with countless champagne showers in mind, the current coach of Fortuna Düsseldorf is happy to pass on the praise: “It was brutal what this team delivered over 38 match days.” It was indescribable when the fans stormed the pitch and once again conjured up the myth of the Bremen Bridge. Continuation cannot be ruled out – despite the somewhat clouded sporting mood for the club’s 125th anniversary.

This topic in the program:
sports club | 14.04.2024 | 11:35 p.m

You may also like

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More

Privacy & Cookies Policy