MIKE BUSKENS guided Greuther Furth to their long-awaited promotion from the Bundesliga 2 last season . . . but it was an Englishman who masterminded the Club’s first ever national title almost a hundred years earlier.
While the Cloverleaves have been knocking on the door for the last decade in an attempt to join Germany’s elite, in 1914 they were celebrating being top of the tree – and it was all thanks to Lancastrian coach William Townley.
Then, in their original guise as SpVgg Furth, Townley implemented what was known as the “Scottish” passing game. His revolutionary ideals helped the club overhaul reigning champions Karlsruher and earn their maiden title.
They went on to win the German Championship twice more in 1926 (under Townley again) and 1929, before the Third Reich organised a restructuring of the game in the years before World War II. Furth continued as a First Division side up until 1963, when the Bundesliga was formed.
The club was one of the founding members of Bundesliga 2 in 1973, but dropped out of that division and into the lower leagues in what was a difficult period.
In 1996, they joined forces with Fourth Division side TSV Vestenbergsgreuth to form Greuther Furth, and this coincided with an upturn in fortunes that saw them win promotion back to Bundesliga 2.
Before last year’s success, they were regular finishers in the division’s top half, remarkably finishing fifth in seven out of nine years in the 2000s.
Friday’s match will take place at the Trolli Arena, which has been an active sports arena in Germany since 1910. To meet Bundesliga requirements, the ground has undergone an expansion of 3000 seats this summer.
The Trolli Arena sits in the Ronhof district of Furth, with the city itself only a few miles from the large conurbation of Nuremberg in northern Bavaria.
The matches between Furth and FC Nurnberg will be the highlight of the season for many local supporters.
The team is captained by Albanian defender Mergim Mavraj, but its most notable player is Gerald Asamoah. The German international winger signed in January and is remembered by European fans for his lengthy spell at Schalke 04 and his appearances at both the 2002 and 2006 World Cups.
Manager Buskens is also high on Schalke’s appearance list, having spent, in total, eleven years with the Royal Blues as a player. He also managed them between 2005 and 2008, and has been at the helm of Furth since December 2009.