Dortmund and Schalke are separated by a mere 32 km, but the rivalry between the two clubs is so much more than just a clash of local clubs.
Most derbies played in the Ruhr region are classified as Ruhr derbies, however this one is almost always referred to as the Revierderby, because this is the derby where hating your rival is equally as important as loving your club.
When the clubs first met in 1925, not many could have predicted how fierce the rivalry would grow, but with the help of a number of intense and significant matches, it has become arguably the biggest derby in German football.
There have been spells of pure domination in the fixture, most notably when Die Königsblauen won 4-0, 7-3, 9-0, 7-0 and 10-0 in succession. The latter being the biggest win in the history of the rivalry.
A number of memorable matches have also helped spice up the rivalry. For example, their meeting in 1969, when an overcrowded Rote Erde saw fans get so close to the pitch that the managers couldn’t see the pitch from their dugouts. With disaster imminent, Schalke took the lead and a stream of away fans flooded the pitch.
Desperate to drive the fans off the playing surface, stewards accompanied by German shepherds charged at the fans, but they weren’t the only ones in the firing line. Famously, the dogs ended up biting a couple of the Schalke players as well, including captain Friedel Rausch, on the backside. In response the Schalke president rented four lions to welcome their rivals the next time the teams met at their hunting ground.
Fast forward a couple of years and Dortmund were to gain another reason to dislike their neighbours as a match-fixing scandal saw numerous Schalke stars banned for taking bribes. Still to this day BVB have the nickname ‘FC Meineid 04’ for their rivals, which translates to ‘FC Perjury 04’.
Despite S04’s early dominance in the fixture, Dortmund have had the better of fixture in recent years, and there are two matches that both sets of fans will remember very well.
The first one was labelled the Mother of all Derbies and took place in May 2007. Die Königsblauen were on track to win the title for the first time in 49 years with two games remaining.
Having occupied the top spot for the past three months, S04 were just one point clear of Stuttgart going into the round and a win would take them one step closer to the Bundesliga title, however this was to become one of the most painful games in history for the Schalke faithful as Dortmund beat them 2-0, effectively ending their title dreams.
If crushing their hopes wasn’t enough, the BVB fans wanted to rub it in even further on the final day of the season. A large banner was created reading “Ein Leben Lang, Keine Schale in der Hand”, meaning “A whole life without a German league title”, and an aircraft was hired to fly it above Gelsenkirchen.
The two sides met again the following year in a game that would include absolutely everything. As the match entered the last 30 minutes it was a comfortable affair for Schalke and they were 3-0 up at the Westfalenstadion, but the action had only just started.
Scoring two goals in three minutes, Die Schwarzgelben pulled it back to 3-2, and if that wasn’t enough Schalke managed to pick up two red cards in quick succession. In the 89th minute Dortmund’s Alexander Frei got the equaliser and the team were looking to complete the comeback by adding a fourth.
With the stadium rocking, and everyone awaiting a generous chunk of additional time, the referee absurdly decided to blow the final whistle without adding any stoppage time despite four goals, two red cards, numerous substitutions and other stoppages – understandably sparking outrage among the home fans.
Though many might think that Dortmund vs. Bayern Munich is the country’s premier match-up as the two have fought for the title in recent years, it does not possess the tension and history of the Revierderby.
And nothing sums it up better than boyhood fan and former Dortmund player Kevin Großkreutz’s answer to being asked what he would do if his son became a Schalke fan: “Adoption”.