The anniversary is coming! No matter how VfL Wolfsburg performs. At the end of the coming season, VfL can look back on 25 years of the Bundesliga! In one piece. Of the current Bundesliga clubs, only FC Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Bayer Leverkusen and Eintracht Frankfurt can claim that. But besides Wolfsburg, only Leverkusen and Munich have never been relegated from the upper house. 25 years of the Bundesliga – before the anniversary comes, we’ll take you on a little journey through time. Match day after match day. In the last second division season.
25 years – not a very big anniversary in many areas. Rather unusual in the Bundesliga. Exceptionally consistent. Because only eleven clubs from a total of 56 Bundesliga clubs since 1963 have played more than 25 seasons in a row in the upper house.
The little VfL Wolfsburg. For a long time he was number 5 in the north – behind Bremen, HSV, Braunschweig and Hanover. Feared in the Oberliga, but in the 2nd Bundesliga the team from Elsterweg was only six years of its history, in the Bundesliga the wolves were not known at all. Wolfsburg stood for Volkswagen. Period. Until there with a trainer Uwe Erkenbrecher, manager Peter Pander and officials like Wolfgang Heitmann and Manfred Aschenbrenner Visions gave and in 1992 again succeeded in promotion to the 2nd division.
A single-digit position was the goal of VfL for the 1996/1997 season. A decidedly cautious and perhaps also realistic view after a troubled 18 months, in which only Gerd Roggensack led VfL into the 1995 cup final as the successor to Eckhard Krautzun, who had made it to the quarter-finals. The semi-final 1-0 at the higher class 1. FC Köln with a goal from Siggi Reich remained the highlight under Roggensack. For promotion, he no longer led the team that had long been promoted.
Roggensack had already been replaced by ex-HSV professional Willi Reimann in October 1995 after a home 0: 5 against Bochum. With his stoic manner, the gnarled Hanseate was able to advance a team that was very well-known on paper, so that it remained unbeaten 14 times in a row in the second half of the 95/96 season. Then it went into a very special season.
The fourth day of the second division season 1996/97
What was like that before: Eintracht Frankfurt had won its catch-up game against Mannheim during the week and was now in the top group. Matthias Stammann got fit after his knee arthroscopy and was given a joker against Gütersloh. And the transfer game for Bulgarian international striker Peter Mihtarski continued. He had convinced in a test game, coach Willi Reimann saw in him a “first division player”, but the longed-for striker addition was still missing for the fourth game.
The game: Wolfsburg’s coach Willi Reimann did not experiment with line-up. Instead of the defensively stronger Ulf-Volker Probst, Sead Kapetanovic was allowed to start again in the right midfield. Reimann: “We are well staffed, the team is working. Only Jens Keller’s short-term absence from illness meant that Stefan Meißner came in, Roy Präger, who had previously been at the front, took over Keller’s place in midfield.
It was a blockbuster game on paper. Newcomer Gütersloh (broke in 2000, re-established under the same name and today fifth division) came with coach Hannes Linßen as a surprise team without defeat and without conceding a goal, the VfL beckoned to jump to the front of the table. And not even 4,000 fans lost each other in the VfL stadium. For comparison: On the same day of play, 7,500 fans saw Mainz 05 against the pointless bottom light Rot-Weiss Essen.
Such a sight was not unusual for the Wolfsburg professionals, they still stepped on the gas. After he had headed Gütersloh’s Jens Tschiedel after a first corner, defensive tower Holger Ballwanz was no longer in the way of the header in the next corner – 1-0. Today’s fan representative played like crazy, cleared the game, even steered the game and was dangerous for goals.
Präger also turned up a lot against his ex-coach in Fortuna Cologne times. The blonde’s soaring, sometimes decried as a chance death, began in those days. Linssen once said of him: “A very good player, but too weak in midfield and too harmless in a storm.” The latter should change tremendously in the following months …
Back to the game: Präger’s cross after the break took Chad Deering directly – Tschiedel falsified into his own net. Preliminary decision. Piotr Tyszkiewicz made everything clear four minutes later. He had changed the way he played, had become more helpful to the team, more diligent. The Pole: “I had to learn that, I had to part with the pure executor role.” The result: “I have a completely different level of acceptance, I feel like the team is on the right track. We have heart.” Coach Reimann was able to calmly watch the game in his red tracksuit from his regular seat on a wooden chair a bit away from the coaching bench.
VfL Wolfsburg – FC Gütersloh 3-0
(24. August 1996)
VfL: Zimmermann – Maucksch, Tomcic, Jensen – Kapetanovic (46th Probst), Ballwanz, Deering, Dammeier, Präger – Tyszkiewicz (83rd Butrej), Meißner (73rd Stammann).
Gutersloh: Teuber – Tschiedel, Böger, Konerding – Landgraf, Lewe (74. Flock), Meyer (74. Ellguth), Choroba, Bonan – van der Ven, Papic (56. Ekmescic).
Referee: Dr. Door (Griesheim). Viewers: 3900.
Tore: 1-0 (15th) Ballwanz, 2-0 (53rd) Tschiedel (own goal), 3-0 (57) Tyszkiewicz.
Yellow cards: Ballwanz, Tomcic / Konerding, van der Ven, Bonan, Ellguth.
WAZ player of the game: Ballwanz.
The table of the 2nd league 96/97 after matchday 4
1st entry Frankfurt 8: 4 10
2. 1. FC K’lautern 5-0 9
3. Carl Zeiss Jena 7: 3 7
4. VfL Wolfsburg 6: 3 7
5. Fortuna Cologne 8: 6 7
6. FSV Mainz 05 4: 3 7
7. SV Meppen 5: 3 5
8. Unterhaching 3: 2 5
9. Lübeck 4: 5 5
10.FC Gütersloh 2: 3 5
11. Stuttgart Ki. 7: 6 4
12. FSV Zwickau 5: 5 4
13. Hertha BSC 2: 3 4
14. VfB Leipzig 4: 5 3
15. VfB Oldenburg 4: 6 3
16. KFC Uerdingen 3: 7 3
17. Waldh. Mannh. 5: 8 2
18.Rot-Weiss Essen 2:12 0
In an AZ / WAZ series, we trace the path to promotion – follow it match day after match day parallel to the new Bundesliga season. We don’t yet know what the end of the season will be in 2021/22; all the fans know what was the end of the season in 1997. But some were still young then, some not even born.
You can take part in this journey through time. Feel free to send us emails if you also like photos (as files, no originals, please; to [email protected]) with your special memories of games, or post them on the corresponding match day in the sports buzzer post that will appear at Facebook.