FC Hanau never got the chance to play BFC Viktoria Berlin for the German league title in 1894. Fate conspired to deny them glory and their rivals were crowned instead. Now, 113 years later, the two teams meet again.
Boots and balls may have changed in the last 113 years but rivalries remain
If revenge is a dish best served cold then it is unlikely there is a chillier plate of vengeance than that being served up this Saturday by two of Germany's oldest soccer teams.
Some 113 years after their championship deciding game was postponed, the current teams of FC Hanau 1893 and BFC Viktoria 1889 Berlin will face each other again to play for what both sides have called "the moral victory."
In 1894, both sides were primed to win the German championship title. The season rested on the last game between the team from Hessen and their rivals from Berlin. The winner would literally take it all.
Travel troubles deny Hanau a title shot
Unfortunately for Hanau -- in those innocent days when soccer was a game and not a marketing exercise -- financial constraints meant that they could not afford to travel to the capital for the deciding game. As a result, BFC Viktoria were awarded the title without even having to muddy their boots.
Zwanziger and the DFB are major backers of the game
The default championship loss has rankled with Hanau 93 for over a century but there is no animosity ahead of the game this weekend.
"We only want to make the outcome clear to all," said Hanau's chairman Thomas Tamberg.
The German Soccer Federation (DFB) has also welcomed the rematch.
"I think it's a great idea that these two clubs come together to replay the unusual finale of 1894, to find the moral victor after all these years," said DFB president Theo Zwanziger, the event's patron. "The final underlines Germany's huge soccer tradition."
Down-at-heel teams bank on nostalgia
While the outcome is a matter of pride for both teams, it also has an economic aspect that the two teams cannot ignore in their current positions. Hanau are no longer a professional club after dropping out of the league structure into the amateur game following the 1978/79 season. Tamberg hopes that the media interest in the game could help in bringing people back to Hanau, increasing the club's profile and hopefully kick-starting its long journey back to the professional set-up.
Confident BFC Viktoria plan to celebrate at City Hall
BFC Viktoria have also seen better days but the Berliners are at least still in the professional league, albeit in Germany's fifth division -- two classes above Hanau who languish in the Hessen regional amateur league. As such, BFC are the clear favorites ahead of the game on Saturday and are so confident that they have already booked Berlin's iconic red brick City Hall for their presentation event.
Interest in the game is high with an estimated 3000 fans expected at the Herbert-Dröse stadium. Half of those already have tickets. Some -- ten fanatics in all so far -- have even succumbed to the nostalgia of it all by snapping up the princely-summed 1,894 euro ($2615) VIP spots to watch history in the making from the luxury seats.
Berlin's hottest ticket?
Völler is unlikely to go and support the other Hanau team
Hanau have also been pressuring celebrities and sporting personalities to attend. The DFB's Zwanziger has put his weight behind this push by leaning on former Germany striker, national team coach and world champion Rudi Völler to make an appearance.
Völler, however, despite being a born and bred Hanauer, started off his career with 93's bitter rivals TSV 1860 Hanau and his loyalties remain there. The fans of 93 know that very well.
It won't really matter who's there for FC Hanau 1893 if they lose the game. The result will stay the same. Hanau will remain the German league runners-up of 1894.