Munich - True ‘fan friendships’ are a bit of a dying breed these days, but one that's showing no sign of dissolving is the unique bond between FC Schalke 04 and 1. FC Nürnberg.
Through thick and thin
Countless myths surround the origins of the unlikely accord between the two clubs. One tale has it that during a game in the late 1970s, a group of Schalke fans confronted a number of their own supporters who were trying to enter the Nuremberg stand in search of trouble.
Whatever its origins, this affinity has gone through thick and thin over the past three decades, even when the two clubs were playing in different divisions. Nuremberg have spent many a season in Bundesliga 2 - where Schalke themselves resided for a good chunk of the 1980s. Not that a league would separate the two sets of fans.
"I can well remember Schalke's encounters in Bayreuth, which is just a stone's throw from Nuremberg," says Jürgen Bergmann, FCN's fan liaison officer. "We used to go to their stadium and support Schalke as well as we could." And a good 1,000 Club diehards travelled to Milan in 1997 to witness Schalke's famous UEFA Cup final success against FC Internazionale Milano.
"A matter of course"
"The permanence and intensity of our Fan-Freundschaft is unique in the world game," Bergmann believes, pointing out that "what's most fascinating is the way it endures. Even for the younger generation it's a matter of course to have an affinity to Schalke 04.”
Rarely will you hear Nuremberg fans directing taunts such as “You’ll never win the league” towards their Royal Blue counterparts, and that really says something at a time when the true meaning of ‘fan friendship’ has become blurred or even lost for so many of today's younger supporters.