The year was 1969, and it was the scene of yet another Revierderby between Borussia Dortmund and Schalke. The visitors had just taken the first-half lead through Hans Pirkner, and trouble began to brew. First, there was one supporter, and then there were many others. A pitch invasion ensued, and mayhem broke.
The police entered the field of play to restore order, along with their dogs. Schalke defender Friedel Rausch was bitten on the backside; the scar was a ‘souvenir’, he joked. His teammate Gerd Neuser was also bitten on the thigh.
The cities of Dortmund and Gelsenkirchen are separated by two miles of beautiful countryside in the Ruhr region. There is no political divide, nor is there an economic or political agenda for such a rivalry. It is purely based on colour. Everyone is either black-and-yellow or royal blue; there is no middle ground.
Schalke were the undisputed kings of the region in their first meeting in the 1924/25 season. It began eighteen years of derby dominance for Schalke where they won six championships between 1934 and 1942. Dortmund were also ripped apart in three fixtures during that period, 7-0, 9-0 and 10-0. Crushing results but for Dortmund, it brought nothing but respect for their sporting rival.
Dortmund’s victory over Schalke in the Westfalenliga in 1937 changed the dynamic of their rivalry on the field. Dortmund could finally beat their far superior rival. They also claimed their first three national titles in the 1950s and 1960s.
The two were founding members of the Bundesliga in 1963, but Bayern Munich was becoming a force in the Championship. A new rivalry was brewing between Bayern and Dortmund, but Schalke was still the main focus for those in the Ruhr.
Schalke was unbeaten in twelve competitive meetings in the 1970s. It was during this decade that their rivalry showed some compassion. Dortmund was struggling with financial debt, and Schalke helped their club on several occasions.
The Ruhr region’s defining moment arrived in 1997 when both Dortmund and Schalke made the name in Europe. A once hostile rivalry had now developed into a brotherly love in those recent decades. Schalke defeated Inter Milan in the UEFA Cup Final to claim their first continental title.
The following week Dortmund defeated Juventus to win the UEFA Champions League. It led to Germany legend, Franz Beckenbauer to exclaim that “the heart of German football beats in the Ruhr.”
We have also witnessed excellent record-breaking moments in games involving the two rivals. The former Schalke goalkeeper Jens Lehmann, a hero in their UEFA Cup Final shootout victory, was the hero again that December. He equalised against Dortmund and critically became the first goalkeeper to score from open play in Bundesliga history.
However, the Germany international would soon go on to break Royal Blue hearts. He left the club for AC Milan at the end of that season before returning to the Bundesliga just six months later – with Dortmund, where he would win his sole Bundesliga title in 2002.
The record books show that Dortmund has eight league titles to Schalke’s seven, but only during the reign of Jurgen Klopp and their back-to-back titles of 2011 and 2012, did Dortmund finally overtake Schalke.
The Gelsenkirchen’s side last league title was incredibly back in 1958, and like Liverpool in the Premier League, have never been crowned Bundesliga champions. It could have changed in 2007 when Schalke were on the cusp of the trophy. Dortmund though had other ideas on the penultimate matchday, and with nothing to play for, Dortmund ended their rival’s dream with a two-nil win and the title was subsequently lost.
It represented Schalke’s best chance of title glory in recent memory. Now in Bayern and Dortmund becoming two pillars of German football, it remains to be seen whether Schalke can compete with them once more. Dortmund is second, five points behind leader’s Bayern in the Bundesliga standings.
Schalke are sixth, fourteen points behind Dortmund. But if any Schalke supporters are worried about the Ruhr derby, they need not be. Der Klassiker will always remain a classic, but Revierderby will still hold a special place in the hearts of any Dortmund or Schalke football supporter.
The Bundesliga is back on beIN SPORTS catch all the action over the weekend on HD 11 starting with the Revierderby between BVB & Schalke.