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Borussia Dortmund

One thousand of the greatest days in the stadium

Philips have just launched a new shaver. Lufthansa have laid on a double-page advertisement for a new type of aircraft: “965 km/h top speed. Pop over to the Far East. Then later, see South America.” Deutsche Bundesbahn are looking for employees. The OPEL Manta is advertised as “now DM 366 cheaper”. And PUMA is “simply better.” All of this can be seen by flicking through the 8 April 1974 issue of kicker.

The McDonnell Douglas DC-10 has long been consigned to the history books of passenger aircraft. Its last commercial flight was some eight years ago. The last Manta was released in 1988, but is still a cult hit, just as PUMA continues to be “simply better” and Deutsche Bahn are still desperately looking for employees.

What you won’t find out by scrolling through that issue is that six days earlier, a new football stadium was opened in Dortmund.   But the news has not been entirely forgotten. Editor-in-chief Karl-Heinz Heimann – the inventor of the Torjägerkanone awarded to the league’s top scorer – notes in a column: “The World Cup is moving inexorably closer. And the final World Cup stadium is now ready: the Westfalenstadion in Dortmund – the only pure football arena in the country.” 

On 2 April 1974 – just 72 days before the start of the World Cup – the Westfalenstadion will get its grand opening for the friendly match against Schalke 04. Although the national trade press seem to have little interest in it, that date is one of the major milestones in the history of Borussia Dortmund. A turning point for the cash-strapped club at the time, who are toiling in the second tier, dreaming of bigger things. “For Borussia, the Westfalenstadion was the key to returning to the top tier,” emphasises the goalkeeper at the time, Horst Bertram, 73, who was between the sticks for the first game. Without this stadium, BVB would not have become the third largest football club in the world today, after Bayern Munich and Benfica, with the 154,000 members they currently boast. “Financially, the Westfalenstadion proved to be a real gold mine,” even kicker noted three years after the opening, when Borussia finished their first year in the Bundesliga after their return to the top table. Sporting director and record-setting player Michael Zorc, 59, pointed to another aspect: “That it was built in the first place, but also that it was expanded in the way it was. It is a unique selling point that we have the biggest stadium in Germany. But it’s nothing without the fans. If the atmosphere were not the way it was until the outbreak of the pandemic, it would not have that power of attraction either. This stadium always plays a role when BVB are looking to sign new players. Everyone has a great desire – as was the case until two years ago – to play in front of 81,000 fans every 14 days.”

Another milestone was the renaming of the stadium to SIGNAL IDUNA PARK on 1 December 2005. The involvement of the sponsor and partner has made a decisive contribution to putting BVB, who at the time were in severe danger of bankruptcy, on solid financial footing. 

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The first game – a washout

“Burgsmüller with a mental block,” was the title of the short match report in kicker on the Regionalliga home game against Bayer 05 Uerdingen on 7 April 1974. If Manfred Burgsmüller had found the net that day, Borussia Dortmund would have really blown their big home premiere at the Westfalenstadion, because the man who went on to become BVB’s record goalscorer was still playing for the club from Krefeld at the time. In any case, the first competitive game in the new stadium ended 0-0, “because both teams created some very good chances, but did not know how to use them,” said the sports magazine: “Both goalkeepers had a quiet afternoon overall. You could say that sharing the points was a failure in more ways than one for BVB, because they did not understand how to advertise themselves in front of a packed house at home.”

Some 18,000 spectators flocked to the stadium in sunny spring weather – exactly twice as many as in the previous game, the last home game in the Rote Erde, two weeks earlier against Rot-Weiß Oberhausen. After the season’s record attendance on Matchday 8 against Wattenscheid (25,000 fans), interest was dwindling. There were 3500 empty seats in each of the home games against SVA Gütersloh and Alemannia Aachen in the 73/74 season. But, with the new stadium, fans returned to BVB. “It felt brilliant,” says Horst Bertram, the 23-year-old goalkeeper at the time, looking back at game number one: “A pure football stadium, no running track, so the fans were right at the edge of the pitch. That was a very special experience for me – it was for all of us.”

Here is the eleven who started Borussia Dortmund’s first match in the Westfalenstadion: Horst Bertram, Wolfgang Berg, Peter Czernotzky, Egwin Wolf, Mirko Votava, Helmut Schmidt, Burghard Segler, Willi Mumme, Helmut Nerlinger, Josef Votava, Hans-Werner Hartl. The coach was Dieter “Hoppy” Kurrat.

100 bottles of beer for the first goal

On 28 April 1974, the first of 2173 BVB goals to date in the new stadium hit the net: it was Burghard Segler who managed it in the 33rd minute of home game against Schwarz-Weiß Essen, pulling his side level at 1-1. Segler also made it 4-2 (final score 4-3), but was not the first BVB player to bag a brace, as goals two and three came courtesy of Horst Bertl, who would go on to celebrate great success with HSV. Segler’s first goal saw him win 100 bottles of beer from Stifts brewery.

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The record breaker

Michael Zorc was on the pitch or on the bench for 793 of the 999 BVB games to date. No one has played more games here or overseen more games as an official at the club than the former midfielder and current sporting director, who first came to BVB as a youth player in 1978. On 16 January 1982, he took to the pitch for the first time in the home game against the table-toppers at the time, 1. FC Cologne (a 1-0 win). He can still remember that game today – as if it were yesterday: “I nodded the ball on, and Bernd Klotz scored the goal.”

He would go on to put on the black and yellow shirt in 274 home games (playing 22,080 minutes) and score 95 goals, including all four BVB goals in the 4-2 win against Bayer Uerdingen on 3 May 1988. Only one BVB star has managed to score more in a single Bundesliga match: Manfred Burgsmüller struck five times in the 11-1 thrashing of Bielefeld.

He remembers one of his 95 strikes particularly fondly because – and this was rarely the case in his 274 home games – he only came on as a substitute, during the game with FC Schalke 04 as the guests at the Westfalenstadion on 3 May 1997. He had Jens Lehmann and the Südtribüne in front of him when he struck the winner in the 84th minute, making it 1-0. The most emotional moment came almost two years before that: on 17 June 1995, Michael Zorc became the third BVB captain to lift the Meisterschale awarded to the league champions, following in the footsteps of Adi Preißler (1956 and 1957) and Willi Burgsmüller (1963). He experienced that moment as “a childhood dream come true. Together with the fans on the pitch, a massive sense of belonging.”

In addition to the 793 games as a player and as a club official, he also enjoyed a few as a fan. In November 1974, Michael Zorc was present as a spectator for the first time, attending the cup match against SpVgg Greuther Fürth along with more than 40,000 fans on a Wednesday evening (a 1-0 win for BVB).

The record goalscorer

“Hey, Manni, Manni! Manni, Manni, Manni, Manni Burgsmüller…” He a crowd favourite, the idol of an entire generation, although he never won a title with BVB. “Manni Burgsmüller was the face of Borussia Dortmund in the mid-70s and early 80s,” says Dr. Reinhard Rauball, paying tribute to Manfred Burgsmüller, who died in May 2019 at the age of 69: “He had everything that a goalscorer needs. A nuisance for the opposition on the pitch, off it a very pleasant, funny and no-nonsense guy – the type of guy you want to be around.” Burgsmüller scored 104 goals in his 123 matches for BVB in the Westfalenstadion – including five in the record win against Bielefeld. He was willing to forego goal number six and thus the Bundesliga record when he left the penalty for the 11-1 final score in the 90th minute to his teammate, Lothar Huber. 

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Biggest home win

It is not the 11-1 against Arminia Bielefeld (6.11.1982), nor the 8-4 against Legia Warsaw (22.11.2016) that is the highest scoring of the 998 games to date – rather it is the 14-1 victory in the DFB-Pokal on 5 August 1978 against BSV Schwenningen. BVB even played almost 15 minutes with ten men, as coach Carl-Heinz Rühl had already made the two permitted substitutions when the double goalscorer Joachim Siewek was forced off injured with the scoreline at 12-1. Wolfgang Vöge scored six of the goals. In goal was 17-year-old Eike Immell, who would go on to make his Bundesliga debut a week later in the 1-0 win against Bayern Munich.

Record attendance

After the completion of the third expansion at the start of the 2003/2004 season, the stadium had space for 83,000 spectators for almost two years. The subsequent reconstruction work with a view to the 2006 World Cup would see almost 2,000 seats removed. SIGNAL IDUNA PARK is “sooold ouuuut” with 83,000 fans six times in total – for the first time on 30 January 2004 against Schalke 04, which remains the last home defeat on a Friday evening to this day. All in all, only the home games against Schalke and Bayern are sold out during these two seasons, as well as the games against VfB Stuttgart (6.3.2004) and Hansa Rostock (1.5.2004). That fact was worth €250,000 on Germany’s version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire?.

The missing home game

Saturday, 23 April 77. Ninth-placed Borussia Dortmund play host to Eintracht Braunschweig, who lie just one point behind league leaders Borussia Mönchengladbach in second. After 30 games, BVB had already scored 67 goals – a record for newly promoted sides – with 40 of them coming in their own stadium. And they still have a chance of qualifying for the UEFA Cup, as they sit just two points behind the European places. But on Matchday 16 Of the 1976/77 season, they fail to find the net. The attacking efforts are thwarted by the playing surface, which is no longer fit to bear that name. Their best chance had fallen to Peter Geyer, who missed after finding himself in space in front of keeper Bernd Franke. But the away side were gifted an even better chance in the 73rd minute. The 44,855 paying spectators hold their breath when midfielder Helmut Nerlinger trips on the treacherous surface, setting Danilo Popivoda an empty lane into the box. On the edge of the box, the Yugoslav plays the ball around the out-rushing Horst Bertram, leaving him with just the empty net in front of him. He pulls back his leg to shoot, but his standing foot slides away with the turf – the roots have been devoured by worms. He falls flat on his face, and Hans-Joachim Wagner can clear the ball. “Popivoda’s legs sank into the sand and so he fell over,” was Bertram’s memory of that curious scene. 

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In early May, the excavators move in, tearing up the pitch, which is then replanted by specialists from England. For the last “home game” of the 1976/77 season, Borussia Dortmund have to move to the Parkstadion in Gelsenkirchen. That doesn’t go down well with the team at all. Horst Bertram had this to say: “We actually found it stupid – having to go to Schalke of all places. That was enemy territory for us. Why didn’t we just move the game to Bochum?”

Walter Maahs, the CEO at the time, chartered 20 buses to bring some of the fans there. 25,000 fans follow their team, who still have a chance of UEFA Cup qualification after a 3-2 away win at TeBe Berlin on Matchday 32. Burgsmüller gives BVB an early 1-0 lead, and they put their foot on the gas. Despite missing a number of chances for goal number two, after Heinz Simmet had drawn the “away” side level at 1-1 on 58 minutes, BVB go all out-attack, and concede yet another goal on the counter attack, Roger van Gool finding the net with one minute to go in regulation time. 

Milestones and records

BVB have played against 152 different opponents in the Westfalenstadion / SIGNAL IDUNA PARK, coming up against Bayern Munich (54), Werder Bremen (47) and VfB Stuttgart (45) most often. There have been 607 BVB victories to date. 15 games went into extra-time, with six going all the way to the penalty shoot-out. In total, there have been 41 different results. The most frequent scoreline for BVB is a 1-1 draw (107 times). The most common results that have sent the fans home happy are 2-1 (93 times) and 2-0 (91 times). The Black and Yellows have failed to hit the net in just less than every ninth game (114 games). The Westfalenstadion was sold out for the first time on 23 June 1976 in game number 45, when some 54,000 fans celebrated a return to the top division after the 3-2 victory against 1. FC Nürnberg. The 1000th goal was scored by Andreas Möller (in the 1-1 draw with Kaiserslautern in 1988). BVB’s 1000th goal was struck by Steffen Freund in a 6-0 win over Frankfurt in 1996. The most home games in a season to date came in 2015/16, when BVB played hosts for 26 games.
Authors: Boris Rupert, Danny Fritz

This week, we want to celebrate 1000 home games in the most beautiful stadium in the world, culminating in a live show on BVB-TV on Thursday afternoon, looking back at special games and visitors that have played in many of the 999 games to date.

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Source: BVB

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