Saturday, October 11, 2008

Club Focus - 1. FC Koln

Next month I'll be going to Germany for some work related stuff, and although it is highly unlikely that I'll get to a game I thought I'd look at the local team, who are 1. FC Koln.

Die Geissbocke or 'Billy Goats' as they are known got their nickname when circus ring master Carola Williams gave them a billy goat as a mascot in 1950, whose name was Hennes. Nowadays Hennes has his own fashion label with the fan friendly club doing their own merchandising under the label.

Koln, who last season averaged an attendance of of 43,741 in 2 Bundesliga and gained promotion were formed in 1948 when Kolner Ballspiel club and Spvgg Sulz 07 merged to form what has become one of the best supported clubs in the Ruhr Valley.

Kolner BC themselves were formed in 1901 when they split from the more gymnastically inclined sport club Borrusia Koln. In 1912 they became the Westdeutsher Champions and in 1920 lost the league final to a club who have become one of Koln's bitterest rivals, Borussia Dortmund.

Spielvereinigung 1907 Koln - Sulz were established in 1907 (funnily enough given their name - I wonder why so many German teams decide to put a number in their names?) and on New Year's Day 1919 merged with Hertha Sulz to form Spvgg Sulz 07.

After several changes to the German League and World War 2, the 2 teams came together and formed 1.FC Koln in the 1949-50 season. They started off in one of the hardest leagues in Germany at the time, the Oberliga West. In 1954 they managed to win the first division championship and reached the German Cup final where they lost to VFB Stuttgart. After relegation they won the 2nd division in 1960. In 1962 and 1963 they reached consecutive German Cup Finals beatin Nuremberg in 1962 and losing to Borussia Dortmund in 1963.

In 1964 the Bundesliga began and Koln were among the founder members. In the early years they were one of the most succesful clubs in the league, in terms of the number of points won. Apart from coming runners up in the league and many competitions they were crowned German Champions in 1962, 64 and 78 and won the German Cup in 1868, 77, 78 and 83 and played in the UEFA Cup Final of 1986. They also lost a 2nd replay in the quarter final of the European Cup Final to Liverpool on the toss of a coin, and strangely the fans now have an affinity with Liverpool fans.

In 1988 they were relegated for the first time and have been a bit of a yo-yo club since. This season they are playing in the top level of the Bundesliga after winning promotion last season.

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