With the 60th season of the Bundesliga upon us, I thought it would be a fun idea to take a trip down memory lane. In the past 59 seasons, we’ve seen 56 teams, some still here, some long gone and some fresh faces. We will have a look at the clubs with the longest stays in the league so far* and talk about how things are going for them so far and where they’re at now.
(*I’ll only discuss the 11 teams that have stayed in the league for more than 40 seasons as of the 2021-22 season.)
(Edit: Out of consideration to herr Polo, I decided to give a trigger warning for Werder Bremen content.)
The team with both the oldest and longest allegiance to the Bundesliga is... not Bayern Munich. Werder Bremen, with 57 (!!!) seasons in the Bundesliga so far, takes the honours. They have been in the league since the inaugural season in 1963, with JUST two exits and consequent re-entries along the way. Die Grün-Weißen are arguably a legendary German club, with a pretty awesome trophy cabinet. They’ve won the Bundesliga four times, the Pokal six times, the DFL-Ligapokal once, the DFL-Supercup thrice, and the European Cup Winners’ Cup once.
They recently spent some time away from the Bundesliga and are returning next season, having placed table second in the 2. Bundesliga.
Bayern Munich. The face of the Bundesliga. The league’s most successful team and one of the greatest football teams of all time, Bayern needs no introduction. They’ve played in the Bundesliga for 57 seasons, the same as Werder Bremen, albeit having stayed for longer in recent decades. Having grabbed another Bundesliga trophy, Bayern seem to be unstoppable in Germany and, a force to be reckoned with on the European stage.
Of late, the spirit at Bayern has been faltering. Gusts of wind trying to turn down the blazing inferno, and I think this is the time to remind ourselves of the meaning of “Mia San Mia” and who better to explain this, than dear Louis van Gaal.
“Mia san mia and I am who I am. Assured, arrogant, dominant, honest, hard-working, innovative, but warm and family-oriented – that about sums up my personality, and that’s why I think I’ll fit in here. The culture at Bayern Munich and the Bavarian attitude to life are made to measure for me.”
I have been asked by non-Bayern fans on how Bremen and Bayern have an equal number of seasons. This is because Bremen have only been relegated twice since the inception of the Bundesliga, hence have been around for 57 seasons, while Bayern only became a member of the Bundesliga in 1965 and have never been relegated.
Bayern were not in the Bundesliga in its inaugural season. The Bundesliga only accepted a certain number of teams from each Oberliga division (Nord, Süd, West, Südwest and Berlin), more specifically only 5 teams from Süd: Eintracht Frankfurt, Karlsruher SC, 1. FC Nürnberg, 1860 Munich, VfB Stuttgart. The criteria for aforementioned selection were based on their success on the field, economic criteria and representation of the various Oberligen. Bayern were placed 6th in Oberliga Süd and hence didn’t make the cut. However, local rivals 1860, despite being placed 7th made it owing to them winning the Oberliga Süd in 1963 and the fact that the DFB allowed only one club per city also played a role. Bayern were only accepted into the Bundesliga in 1965, after having shown considerable success.
Ballspielverein Borussia Dortmund, alias BVB, have played in the Bundesliga for 55 seasons. An extremely confusing phenomenon of a club with its sporadic rises and falls, Dortmund is among the founding members of the Bundesliga. Die Schwarzgelben, arguably are Germany’s second greatest football team, having have won eight Bundesliga trophies, five DFB-Pokals, one UEFA Champions League, one Intercontinental Cup, and one UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup. While the ongoing argument is that Dortmund is not giving Bayern much-needed competition in the title race, it’s undeniable they’re an extremely consistent team. It takes otherworldly consistency to make second place nearly every season (no, I’m not trolling the team, just making a glass half-full argument). The future is, nevertheless, extremely bright for them. A fantastic transfer window along with Bayern potentially losing its biggest goal-scorers, means this is Dortmund’s time to shine. Let’s see what they bring to the plate this season.
VfB Stuttgart have spent the same number of seasons in the Bundesliga as Dortmund, with 55 years in the top flight. It is one of Germany’s most successful clubs with five Bundesliga titles, most recently in 2006/07**. Apart from the Bundesliga, they’ve won the DFB-Pokal three times and the UEFA Intertoto Cup three times. However, since 2010, they have been in steady decline, often flirting with relegation and even descended to the 2. Bundesliga. The only successful campaign they’ve had lately is the 2011-12, where they made it to a European spot by end of the season. One can only hope that this historic team try their best to break free of their bad form and show signs of returning to their old form.
(**The 2006/07 win was quite an interesting one, after a truly pathetic campaign in 2005/06 and a less than appetizing start to the 2006-\/07 season a steady climb in the latter parts of the season helped bag the Meisterschale.)
Yet another club with 55 seasons in the Bundesliga is none other than Hamburger SV (HSV). Up until the 2017–18 Bundesliga season, HSV remained the only team that had played in every season of the Bundesliga since its foundation in 1963. HSV have won the Bundesliga six times, the DFB-Pokal three times, the Ligapokal twice, the Intertoto Cup twice and the European Cup twice. HSV’s last major trophy was the 1986–87 DFB-Pokal. In the 2021-22 season, Die Rothosen missed their promotion spot, making table third in the 2. Bundesliga. They subsequently lost the two-legged relegation playoff against Hertha Berlin 1-2, and will spend yet another season in the second division.
(Being a die-hard St. Pauli fan, Hamburg losing out on promotion and the tears of salty Hamburg fans give me great joy. I regret nothing.)
Edit: Fun fact; Stuttgart has the record number of Intertoto Cups with 3, HSV and Schalke have 2 each.
I’ll be back with part 2 of “the Bundesliga’s biggest guns circa 1963” in a while. For now, I’ll leave you with this legendary quote by Gary Lineker.
“Football is a simple game; 22 men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans win.”
Check out part two, which will be released tomorrow. Thanks for reading and as always, leave your comments and musings down below.