You may have noticed a series of weird and wonderful articles on our sister site Cartilage Free Captain, SB Nation’s blog dedicated to Tottenham Hotspur: late last year, CFC debuted the “Recurrently Generated Football League.” The premise was simple: What would happen when you fed a machine-learning program a list of all the names of English soccer clubs and asked it to generate new club names based on that sample?
The results were spectacular. A full league, from Premier League down to League Two, of absolute hilarity: Clood, Fackenham, Farton, Kickstonians, and Wodgy Villa, just to name some of my favorites from the recurrently generated Premier League.
I wanted to do the same — but in German.
A guide to German club names
Like their English cousins, German club names consist of city names and a wide variety of attributes, but German clubs have even more standard parts (for more detail, check out Wikipedia.de). Let’s break it down into a formula:
[number] + [club abbreviation] + [modifier] + [city] + [founding year] + [team number]
A German club may have any number of these elements. Our own favorite club, Bayern Munich, is officially “FC Bayern München.” That’s a club abbreviation (FC = Fußball-Club), modifier (in this case, the state of “Bavaria”), and the city Munich.
Other clubs are more complicated, take FC Köln, for instance. Its full name is 1. FC Köln 01/07. That includes number, club abbreviation, city, and date — in this case, two dates, referring to the founding years of the two clubs that merged to form FC Köln in 1948 (Kölner BC 01 und SpVgg Sülz 07). 1. FSV Mainz 05 is another club that fits this model.
And there are still other clubs that are more creative: newly promoted Fortuna Düsseldorf has the Roman goddess of luck as its modifier. Did you know that Borussia in Borussia Dortmund and Borussia Mönchengladbach is how you say “Prussia” in Latin? And what or where is Schalke in FC Schalke 04? (Answer: an district of Gelsenkirchen.) The RB of RB Leipzig is a marketing spin on a traditional club abbreviation, substituting Rasen-Ballsport (“lawn-ball-sport”) for some combination of Club or Verein (that’s the V in VfB Stuttgart’s Verein für Bewegungsspiele, “club for movement games”).
Gathering the data
CFC ventured as deep as the 10th league in England to collect the necessary raw data. The Bundesliga is similarly deep. If you want to see what is out there, try navigating to FC Rottach-Egern on the DFB’s club website, fussball.de. It’s a trek. Fortunately, Kicker’s interface makes it much easier to find and view all the many, many little local divisions that cover Germany in a patchwork of FC’s, TuS’s, SV’s, and VfB’s.
The quality of the results created by the learning program is directly proportional to the size of the sample that you supply it to learn from. I initially thought I’d round up only the top three or four tiers: 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Bundesliga, then the top amateur level, such as the Regionalliga Bayern, where Bayern II play.
But one thing led to another and I went virtually all the way to the bottom — at least ten levels down, since FC Rottach-Egern, whom Bayern spanked 20-2 last week, is on my final list. How many clubs did I compile? Oh, only 15,259 clubs, from 06 FC Wuchzenhofen 06 to ZV Feilitzsch.
I didn’t include every single club in the DFB, of course. I omitted about five thousand that either were the second, third, or even fourth teams of small clubs (their names being identical except for the final team number), and I also left out myriad youth teams with identical names to their parent clubs (often prefixed DJK, the abbreviation for the rather fascist-sounding Deutsche Jugendkraft, “German Youth Power.”
Introducing the Computer-Generated Bundesliga
I turned over that data to Dustin Menno at CFC and he sent back the results. We tried several different settings, from “normal” to “batshit crazy.” Then the BFW writing team and I all pored over the lists and picked our favorites. So without further ado, I give you
The Computer Generated Bundesliga
|1. Bundesliga||2. Bundesliga||3. Bundesliga|
|1. Bundesliga||2. Bundesliga||3. Bundesliga|
|SSV Babelsdorf||SC 193 13||ASV Altenkaushausnow|
|FC Budz||SG Bad Berlin||SV Bad Haldenheim|
|Wer-Weiß Dierburger||FSV Bretzenhütte||Motor Burgarten|
|FSV Frankenstein||Einheit Fickenrath||FSV Bingelsdorf|
|1. FC Giemnippel||Bayer Fürnberg Brimlingen||Concordia Gut Neumünde|
|MTV Greif||FC Fremen||FC Fargenburg|
|SV Hirnebruch||Germania Freie Gelb||FC Fripper|
|FC Kale||SV Hockrath||TV Grohn|
|Kumstaden 1910 Gesehorn||FC 08 Inz 17||TuS Huftenhorn|
|SV Türkgücü Leichenrath||SV Juchswalb Wahnerloh||SpVgg Kalterdingen|
|RRK 90 Luty-Gland||VfB Mainch 90 Hoth||TSG Keckenhausen|
|SV Grün-Weiß Mammelsdorf||Lok Traktor Mecking||Liptig United|
|SG Mistoria Neuweiler||Busania Mitterweiler||FC Oberkrunden|
|Plöckstadt Payerstein||1. FC Schnarn||SpVgg Pirk|
|SuS Puttfurt||FC Sombachow||Igrostade-Prebbersdorf|
|SV Suxdorf||SC Spammatal||FSV Rasten|
|Weveler Kick||FC Wommerning||FSG Röversdorf|
|VfL Wups||Würth||FC St. Lanpelda|
Aw yeah: FC Budz and their likely rivals FC Kale. And how about Wer-Weiß Dierburger? Keine Ahnung! Don’t rule out SV Suxdorf, and you can bet that the concessions at FSV Bretzenhütte are legit. Who needs Hertha, when you have SG Bad Berlin? And I honestly don’t know what to make of RRK 90 Luty-Gland, but they sure sound... swell?
I hope you enjoy these fictitious club names as much as we do. Does a particular club speak to you? Soon, you’ll learn even more about their glorious pseudo-history. The clubs above can be regarded as the founding members of our Computer Generated League, established in 1962, just like the real Bundesliga. We intended to simulate the league winners over the years so that we can flesh our the history of these clubs in spectacularly pointless detail.
In the coming weeks, we will feature articles about our personal favorites. But let your imagination run wild in the meantime. What do these names tell you? We’ll be reading your comments... Have fun.