Rot-Weiss Essen

Rot-Weiss Essen is a German football club based in Essen, North Rhine-Westphalia.


Early years

The club was formed as SV Vogelheim on 1 February 1907 out of the merger of two smaller clubs: SC Preussen and Deutsche Eiche. In 1910, Vogelheim came to an arrangement with Turnerbund Bergeborbeck that allowed the two clubs to field a football side. The footballers left in 1913 to set up their own club, Spiel- und Sportverein Emscher-Vogelheim, which changed its name to Spiel und Sport 1912 after World War I. Finally, in 1923, this side turned again to Turnerbund Bergeborbeck to create Rot-Weiss Essen.

Breakthrough to the Gauliga

In 1938, RWE broke into top-flight football in the Gauliga Niederrhein, one of sixteen premier divisions formed in the 1933 re-organization of German football under the Third Reich, and came within a point of taking the division title in 1941. In 1943 they played with BV Altenessen as the combined wartime side KSG SC Rot-Weiß Essen/BV 06 Altenessen. The next season this club was in turn joined by BVB Essen, but played only a single match in a stillborn season as World War II overtook the country.

Rise and fall

The club returned to first division football in the Oberliga West in 1948, where a series of solid performances led to a divisional championship in 1952. The pinnacle of the club's success came with a 2:1 win over Alemannia Aachen in the 1953 German Cup final, followed by a national championship in 1955 when it beat Kaiserslautern 4:3. The following season, Rot-Weiss became the first German side to qualify for the European Cup.

Their performance tailed off after this and RWE became just another mid-table side before they were relegated in 1961. The club then played most of the 60's as a second division side, but did manage its first appearance in the Bundesliga in 1966-67. It returned to the Bundesliga for two seasons in 1969-70, and again, for four seasons beginning in 1973-74. Since then Rot-Weiss has been a solid second or third tier club, with just one season spent in the Oberliga Nordrhein (IV) in 1998-99.

The club has been plagued by financial problems that saw it denied a license in 1984, 1991, and 1994, leading to demotion from the 2.Bundesliga each time as a result. Bright spots during this period included winning the German amateur championship in 1992 and an appearance in the 1994 German Cup final, which they lost 1:3 to Werder Bremen.


RWE returned to the Regionalliga Nord (III) in 1999, and dropped still further to the Oberliga (IV) the next season. In 2004, they won promotion back to the 2. Bundesliga, but stumbled to a 17th place finish and were relegated once again. They reappeared in second division play on the strength of a first place Regionalliga finish, but narrowly missed staying up when they lost the critical final match of the 2006-07 season 0:3 to Duisburg.


Rot-Weiss plays in the Georg-Melches-Stadion (capacity 22,500), named for a former club president. Originally the Phönixstraße, the venue is also known as the Hafenstraße for its location.


Although mostly playing in lower divisions, the club enjoys solid fan support, with an average attendance of better than 10,000 per game.

Season Average Crowd Division
2006/2007 13,620 2. Bundesliga (II)
2005/2006 12,287 Regionalliga Nord (III)
2004/2005 14,400 2. Bundesliga (II)

Fortuna Düsseldorf, Rot-Weiß Oberhausen and Wuppertaler SV are hated rivals when they are playing in the same league (as it is actually [2007/2008] taking place). In the past, the local derbies vs SW Essen were big events, sometimes followed by more than 30,000 fans, but with SW Essen now vegetating in the Oberliga Nordrhein (IV), they are not taken seriously by the RWE-supporters. The most detested rivals are Schalke 04, resident in the city of Gelsenkirchen, only 15 train minutes away from the city of Essen. When RWE is playing Schalke, it is called the Ruhrderby (named by the near River Ruhr). It is an event of great interest, even among neutral football fans, and it is also - unfortunately - an occurrence of automatic riots and endless work for the police.

The RWE-followers foster a strong fan friendship with Werder Bremen, and a declining one with Borussia Dortmund. Due to the general improvement in German football, a trip to the Georg-Melches-Stadion in Essen is not as threatening as it once was. However, it is hardly a relaxing day out and sometimes it can be quite intimidating, although the police shows large presence. It is advised to exercise caution around the ground and not to wear the colours of the foreign club, at least when travelling alone.

Team trivia

  • In 1956, the team's home field became the first stadium in West Germany to have floodlights.
  • In November 2005 Pelé became an honorary club member (membership number 23101940).


Current squad

Notable players

External links

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