Nurnberg rank as one of Germany’s oldest clubs, with a rich history and tradition to match. The club, nicknamed FCN for their full German name, 1. FC Nürnberg, and also widely known simply as Club, has been in existence for 110 years. Hailing from the fiercely proud Franconia region of Bavaria, their sole European success was the Intertoto Cup in 1968, but on the domestic stage, they rate as one of Germany’s most successful outfits.
Up until 1987, Nurnberg led the way in Germany with nine league titles. They have also won the DFB German Cup on four occasions, most recently in 2007. FIFA.com turns the spotlight on one of the Bundesliga's elder statesmen and looks back at its long and fascinating history.
Birth of an institution
As far back as 1888, pupils at two Nuremberg grammar schools and a technical college began using their afternoons off to play football – the variant then known as 'German football' and which bore a strong resemblance to rugby. A games instructor supervised the sessions, and by all accounts, the youngsters threw themselves into their sport with great determination and enthusiasm.
The years passed, and football cemented its position as the favoured sporting discipline in Nuremberg. In April of 1900, a group of interested parties sent out invitations canvassing support for the founding of a club. On 4 May, 18 men gathered at the Burenhuette tavern, and FC Nurnberg was born.
Making of a legend
The first official match was an away fixture in Bamberg on 29 September 1901, in which Nurnberg duly defeated FC Bamberg 2-0. FCN then took on the same opponents in their inaugural home fixture and won 5-1. The first defeat in an official fixture arrived in November of the same year, Bayern Munich consigning them to a bruising 6-0 reverse.
However, Nurnberg would dominate the Bavarian football scene between 1905 and 1910, the period in which their regional successes would earn them the nickname Club. The outbreak of the First World War put an end to the annual German championship play-offs, so their triumph in the south German championship for 1915/16 represented the highest honour available at the time.
Club enjoyed a truly golden era in the 1920s, winning five German championship titles between 1920 and 1927. A Hungarian pair by the names of Peter Szabo and Alfred Spezi Schaffer were the chief contributors to the unprecedented run of success, the latter also spending a period as player-coach.
The men from Franconia first won the German cup in 1935. Just a few months later, Nurnberg beat Fortuna Dusseldorf 2-1 in the national championship final to seal the club’s first double. FCN won the cup again in 1940 with a 2-0 victory over Waldhof Mannheim, although the next trophy would not arrive for another eight years.
In the period following the Second World War, FCN rated as established members of the German football elite, claiming their seventh championship title in 1948. However, a barren spell was to follow as the club struggled to replicate the triumphs of earlier decades. A new and exciting team returned to winning ways with a championship in 1961 and a cup triumph in 1962.
After the formation of the Bundesliga in 1963, Nurnberg required five seasons to return themselves to the very top of the pile. However, that was to be their last trophy for fully 39 years. The following season, Club contrived to be relegated as champions, a thoroughly unwanted and still unique achievement.
Nurnberg battled to recover their top flight status for eight seasons, and were finally successful at the ninth time of asking in 1977/78. The euphoria soon wore off, and FCN were back in the second tier just a season later. Nurnberg consequently became known as an 'elevator team', too good for the second division but not good enough to secure a solid berth in the top flight.
The lowest point in the club’s proud history came in 1995/96. They had been relegated from the Bundesliga two seasons before that, and now dropped all the way to the third tier after finishing a dismal 17th in the second division. The shock brought FCN collectively to its senses, and they were back in the top flight just two seasons later.
After further ups and downs, legendary coach Hans Meyer finally seemed to have banished the inconsistency and led the men from Franconia to sixth spot in the Bundesliga in the 2006/07 campaign. Even more significantly, FCN won the DFB German Cup, their first taste of silverware since 1968.
Alas 'elevator syndrome' was to strike again, and just 12 months after triumphing in the cup final in Berlin, Nurnberg were back in the second division. That left the club in possession of another unwanted record - that of seven relegations from the top flight.
Nurnberg returned to the top flight in 2009, finishing third in the second division and beating Energie Cottbus in a reinstated promotion/relegation play-off. After a nerve-wracking campaign accompanied by the constant spectre of relegation, FCN finished 16th in the 2009/10 Bundesliga standings and were again forced into a play-off, this time to preserve their elite status. Once again, they proved the masters of the two-legged, sudden death format.
Three matches into the new season, coach Dieter Hecking’s side are 15th after two draws and a defeat. Their solitary and clear target for the season is to retain their place in the Bundesliga.
Nurnberg’s home is the 48,553-capacity Easycredit-Stadion. Its predecessor, a municipal stadium, was constructed on the same site between 1925 and 1928, and boasted a maximum capacity of 50,000. A major reconstruction programme was implemented between 1987 and 1991, temporarily reducing the capacity to 44,833. During work on the arena, renamed the Frankenstadion at the time, the original main stand collapsed - the plan had been to retain the 1928 structure. Further modernisation took place after 2003 in readiness for the 2006 FIFA World Cup™. The stadium naming rights were sold in 2006, when it took on its current name.