It’s derby day

"I’m an avid moviegoer. For this reason, I can only compare the charm of the local derby in Herne with the wildest gangster movie, which I dreamed about for nights on end," confessed a reader of the Hemer WAZ in February 1955. With this confession stood "W.U., Rudolfstrabe" by no means alone: Derby – that moved the city to the core in the 1950s. Days before, there was only one topic at work, at the hairdresser’s or in the pub, current water level reports about the sporting form of the players haunted the local press organs. In the understanding of the Green-Whites, the rivalry was based on clear social confessions: their "buddy club" against the "patent shoe club" Westfalia, the malocherman team against the better-off "celebrity team," the disadvantaged suburb against the courted merchant class. Finally, at that time, one had the impression that a real Sodinger was talking about a distant city when he went to Herne.

On Sundays, when the SVS received the competition from Herne, the entire district experienced a rush of visitors that is unimaginable today. The main artery between Herne and the former Sodingen office was Mont-Cenis-Strabe, on which the streetcar also ran from 1906 to 1959. In addition, buses were used from 1952 onwards to accommodate modern road traffic. I imagined how many spectators crowded into streetcars and buses at the beginning of Mont Cenis Street, if they were willing to pay the fare of 30 pfennigs. Nevertheless they were overcrowded, so that one had difficulties to be taken at all. Those who preferred to save their money and did not own a car, walked to the stadium. That way I walk on a Sunday in March 2012. What traces of the old times can still be found?

Crowd to the Gluck-Auf-Stadion, 1953. After the game, the players walked back to the clubhouse amidst the departing spectators. Repro city archive Herne

The first thing that comes to mind are the pubs along Mont-Cenis-Strasse, which couldn’t complain about a lack of beer sales. Already at the corner of Hermann Lons-Strabe was the "Haus Fegbeitel", followed by the "Goethe Eck", at the junction to Stammstrabe the restaurant "Jager", a little further on the right side the "Enge Weste". "Blue-white" or "green-white" was the decisive question at every bar in the city. The SVS supporters were not only recruited from their own district. Steiger Hans Hansch, who died in 2009, lived close to the city center in Goethestrabe and recalled the reasons for his footballing partisanship: "I was a miner at the Friedrich der Grobe colliery. It was a matter of course that I, as a coal miner, was a fan of SV Sodingen. After all, as a miner you feel you belong to a pure colliery club. I often watched the home games. Together with my buddy Heinz Grobmann I took the streetcar to the stadium at Holzplatz. The streetcar was completely overcrowded. We walked from the terminus to the stadium, since it was not far. Most of the time, the stadium was already sold out, so I had to pay an extra two marks to the groundkeeper to let us in. On the field the spectators stood closely packed up to the uppermost ranks. Sometimes it was really hard to see anything of the game at all."

In September 1955, a young goalkeeper from the Dortmund suburb of Husen made his debut at the Gluck-Auf stadium: Hans Tilkowski, who had just joined Westfalia from SuS Kaiserau. The 1966 World Cup runner-up still remembers the atmosphere of that game: "It ended 4:4. Eight goals in the premier league is not something you experience every day. I came from out of town and was suddenly thrown into this derby steel storm. The arguments with Sodingen always had a special character. These were close games with heated tempers, often a hard fight by hook or by crook, and injuries were not uncommon. The craziest were Kurt Sopart and Hannes Adamik. When they cried, one had blue and white tears and the other had green and white tears."And because in those days it was already clear in advance that the derby on this Sunday in Herne would overshadow everything else, the Herne soccer district regularly canceled all the games in the district leagues.

Via the Holkeskampring intersection, where Hans Tilkowski lived a few meters away, my path continues to the stadium. I pass a tenement-like housing estate on the right, an unattractive red brick facade, wooden windows, simple wooden doors. In former times the miners of the collieries in the vicinity lived here, sometimes also employees or workers from mining supply companies. The days of this housing estate now seem numbered. Several apartments are already empty. 1) In the meantime, the houses have been renovated and refurbished according to the taste of the time. Jurgen Hagen, May 2020.

Arriving in the district of Sodingen, I discover at the corner of Mont-Cenis-Strabe/Auf dem Rohde a weathered neon sign in the shape of a large A. The Barbara pharmacy used to be located here. Its name reveals that the district was characterized by mining – Saint Barbara is the patron saint of miners. For years, the pharmacy belonged to the former 1. Chairman of the SV Sodingen, Klaus Liemke.

At the ash dump

The old Gluck-Auf-Kampfbahn was located at the height of today’s Mont-Cenis-Strabe 218-228. I search in vain for remains that could remind me of the old sports field. In the 1970s, a kindergarten, single-family houses and condominiums were built on the site. I go into the cul-de-sac to the right directly onto the site of the former pitch. Behind bushes at a playground I find a relic of bygone days: the boundary wall to the old square is still partly in place and serves as a demarcation for the surrounding properties. The square, which I know only from photos, was already built in 1923 by the Mont Cenis colliery. It was a cinder square, which was slightly filled up on the side. At the beginning of the 1950s, this "ash dump" no longer met the requirements of the times. About 5.Association members put in 000 hours of voluntary work to restore the pharmacy. 6.000 cubic meters of earth, to enlarge the playing field and to increase the capacity of 10.000 to 16.000 spectators. Only those who know that there was once a sports field here can imagine the cramped conditions in which soccer was played at that time.

A stone’s throw away from the old sports ground lived Hannes Adamik, the great symbolic figure of the SVS, until his death in 2005. His house at Liebigstrabe 4c is a typical colliery house, "divided into four parts. Two entrances are on the right, two on the left. Smaller gardens belonged to them, two to the front and two to the back. Without further ado I call at "Adamik". Wife Renate Adamik opens the door for me and invites me in delightedly. The house is still furnished as it was during her husband’s lifetime. I have the impression that he could come in through the door at any time and we chat about the "good old days". In these four walls, time seems to stand still and history is preserved. Hannes Adamik had a large collection of photos, newspaper clippings and other memorabilia relating to the history of SVS. But in keeping with the tradition of the old fighter, the family does not like it when strangers press for insight.

I walk back to Mont-Cenis-Strabe and after a short time I reach the former stop "Denkmal", which was located at the level of the restaurant "Haus Wiesmann". Here was a "diverter" for the streetcars, because the track was one lane in total and thus two streetcars could meet at this point to either continue the journey in the direction of Herne or Castrop-Rauxel. The "Haus Wiesmann" is the former clubhouse of the SV Sodingen and a meeting place for generations of miners, pigeon fanciers and soccer fans. Every Wednesday, a regulars’ table of former "Puttrologen" took place here and, after a few Pils and Korn, the dusty stories from the coalfield were brought to the table: "Mont Cenis, Mont Cenis, I’ll never forget this Putt." 2) The traditional restaurant was demolished because of the redevelopment of the square in 2015. Jurgen Hagen, May 2020.

In the direction of the Amtshaus I recognize an old, weather-beaten advertisement on the right side, which advertised paint in better times. What busy times those used to be! A plethora of grocery stores, butchers, barbers, clothing stores, furniture stores and two movie theaters were present. The district was self-sufficient, so residents did not have to go to Herne or Castrop-Rauxel for shopping. In the meantime, most of the business premises have been closed or otherwise occupied, and in some cases houses have been demolished. I pass the old Mont-Cenis head office, which is on the right side and now used as a practice and residential building. There is not much left to see of the mine shaft. A completely new city center has been created; the former colliery site now houses the training academy and a district center with various stores and apartments. Only the mark control in the direct access road to the colliery is completely preserved. There is a commemorative plaque there, which refers to the historical context.

The lifestyle of the old mining district

Now I turn right into Max-Wiethoff-Strasse. These side streets near the center and the stadium were home to many pubs; the club pub where the players had a beer with their fans, the traffic pub where bowling took place on Tuesdays after training. The "Deutsche Haus", Am Kricken 6, has been preserved almost in its original condition, but the restaurant has been closed for years. On the wall of a house, an old "Consum" advertisement with mallets and iron has survived. The feeling of life in the old Ruhr area, with its characteristic proximity to the colonies and colliery settlements, is virtually inscribed in the rows of houses In der Falsche and Am Kricken. "You actually knew everybody. I was approached at every corner, always talking about the last game and already about the expectations for the upcoming game. That’s how all the talks went," Leo Konopczynski recalled in one of the last conversations I had with him before his unexpected death in 2003. At that time, he also looked back on the local derby with a certain old age: "On Mondays, we often went to the ommes Knapp restaurant in Herne-Mitte and met many Westfalia players there, including Kurt Sopart and Gunter Grandt. I would like to note that the rivalry that was so hyped up between SV Sodingen and Westfalia Herne actually did not exist among us players at all. This has been partially created from the outside."Konopczynski lived at Handelstrabe 38, directly opposite the cradle of the association, the "Haus Ropertz" pub.

The building, located directly on the corner of Saarstrabe, is in good condition, the restaurant operates under the name "Haus Wenzel" and today again serves as a clubhouse. 3) In October 2015, the traditional pub finally closed its doors after 105 years. Jurgen Hagen, May 2020.

Via the Gerther Strabe I reach the Kurt-Edelhagen-Platz. With his swinging dance music, the big band leader provided the soundtrack to the Sodingen soccer miracle, although the conventional jukebox hits were more popular in the local pubs. While the Green-Whites were fighting for the German championship in May 1955, all of Paris was dreaming of love, at least according to Caterina Valente, who occupied the number one spot on the German hit parade for months with this hit song. The singer was discovered by none other than Kurt Edelhagen, the boy from Bornig.

On the square stands the Amtshaus in its original condition. Gerdi Harpers resided there in the 1950s. His comfortable office job was a municipal favor to the inconvenient suburban association. Harpers did paperwork, issued passes and just looked sleek. After that, the Amtshaus served as a local police station until the 1990s and is now a popular youth meeting place. At the rear of the building was the club’s display box, where match reports and standings were posted. Although the box has been dismantled for years, the dowel holes and the contours are clearly visible to the initiated. The "Budchen" is also present unchanged. At home games, the spectators flocked here, many a DAB or Schlegel beer bottle has been emptied here. Today it is called "Heike’s Budchen". However, there are no miners standing there anymore, who wash down the coal dust with beer and grain after their shift is done. The landmark of the site is the high bunker, which has been painted in a friendly manner in the meantime, but has never lost its threatening element.

At the goal of the walk

I have now almost reached the destination of my Sunday walk. At the height of the Ringstrabe I turn left to walk along the old footpath to the stadium. Nowadays, Mont-Cenis-Strasse is cut on its axis from south to north by Sodinger Strasse. This was not the case until the 1960s, so the pitch was accessible via various footpaths. The footpath is preserved and is only crossed by Sodinger Strabe. From the Ringstrasse one can see directly the main entrance of the square, which has been abandoned in the meantime, the obligatory ticket booths have been dismantled. The front entrance area looks unkempt and is only used for storage purposes. The old offices and dressing rooms have been preserved almost in their original condition, including the gray paint. However, the square is now accessed via the street "Am Holzplatz", because that is where the parking spaces were created.

The impressive colliery shafts 2/4, which were visible in the old press photographs immediately behind the square, have long since disappeared. Instead, there is a neat residential building there. From their second-floor windows, local residents can watch state league soccer for free on Sundays; not that there aren’t any seats left downstairs, home games rarely have more than 100 spectators these days.

For four years, the Greens of Mont Cenis remained unbeaten against the men from Schloss Strunkede in the Oberliga West, but then in the 1958/59 season they suffered two defeats, with the 1:4 home debacle on the 12. April 1959 was groundbreaking. Double goal scorer Gerd Clement& Co. sent the SVS as already determined Westmeister definitely direction 2. League West. In the run-up, the national sports press had orated about a possible "shift", but this only showed how little people in Munster or Cologne understood the intensity of Herne’s prestige duel. Once again, the usual traffic chaos had occurred on the Ringstrabe, the vehicles stood in long rows along all the streets near the stadium, coming from all directions, both from Castrop-Rauxel and from Herne-Mitte, Once again, a specially set up police security service had tried, mostly in vain, to regulate the parking situation so that at least a passage was possible.

Abandoned little shop at the Mont-Cenis-Strabe, repro city archive Herne

Every home game was like a fair

At the end of the afternoon I stroll undisturbed back towards Herne-Mitte. Sodingen won the home match against SC Weitmar 45, 120 spectators were counted. On Mont-Cenis-Strabe 331 an abandoned "Bude" catches my eye. In the past, people used to line up here to drink a quick beer after the game and to digest the match in heated discussions. For the operators, every home game was like a fair, the decisive weekly turnover was made on one day. Now the place is deserted, the booth has been closed for years, ivy overgrows the brickwork. In 1962 at the latest, after the promotion and relegation of the Green-Whites, the glorious soccer days of the SVS were over, but also overall Herne soccer was never to reach this top class again. It was not until 30 years later that the paths of the two opponents crossed again for a league match, at that time in the fourth-class Verbandsliga. In 1990, the Adamiks, Konopczynskis and Harpers turned up their noses at "Viertklassigkelt". From today’s perspective, this itself sounds like a dream.

Wolfgang Bruch 4) First publication of the text in: "The Comet of the West. The story of SV Sodingen. Pages 145 to 151. Adhoc Publishing House, Herne 2012. Publication of text and images on this page with kind permission of the author.

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