Schalke even makes a world star like Raúl tease his hair
Photo: Bernd König / imago images
Once again, FC Schalke 04 shows everyone what a traditional club it is.
He was relegated that evening to Arminia Bielefeld of all places.
Schalke 04 against Arminia Bielefeld, that was the game that exactly 50 years ago, in April 1971, triggered the Bundesliga scandal, a soccer earthquake that half a century ago brought the club to the brink of self-destruction.
You can go further: 30 years ago FC Schalke rose from the 2nd division, to which it now has to return, 20 years ago FC Schalke finally achieved its big goal, the German championship, for four minutes before then he was again demoted to the master of hearts.
And ten years ago, in April 2011, the club under coach Ralf Rangnick reached the semi-finals of the Champions League sensationally and with an intoxicating 5-2 at Inter Milan.
Schalke in the semi-finals of the Champions League.
It wasn't as incredible as it sounds back then.
The coach of the century and the meat mogul
Photo: Team2 / imago images
Champions League, Rangnick, the past - basically you already have enough set pieces to describe the almost unprecedented decline of this club.
FC Schalke, this glorious club, the club that a decade ago still believed they could afford the commitment of the world star Raúl - this club is so devastated in a relatively short time that you rarely have to watch it.
Athletic, financial, a pile of ashes.
A tragedy in royal blue.
A desolate troop in a desolate stadium
Now the club is leaving the Bundesliga and nobody has any serious doubts about how deserved this relegation is.
A desolate football troop in a desolately empty Schalke Arena, coached by five coaches within a year: David Wagner, Manuel Baum, Huub Stevens, Christian Gross, Dimitrios Grammozis.
Two wins out of 30 games, my goodness, a record where you HAVE to be relegated.
Add to that these humiliating comparisons with Tasmania, which the association had to endure, the group of investors that Ralf Rangnick wanted to stylize as the messiah and which disappeared again after a few days.
Schalke fans are capable of suffering, but at some point a point is reached where the bearable becomes unbearable.
This point was regularly exceeded in the 2020/2021 season.
Schalke versus Bielefeld 1971 - a trigger of the Bundesliga scandal
Photo: Werner Otto / imago images
The fact that this club is now leaving the Bundesliga in all uncertainty as to whether and when it will return cannot make anyone happy.
Not even the fans of arch-rival Borussia Dortmund, who from now on will have to do without their derby, the real highlight of the annual football calendar in the district.
Schalke 04 is the original soup of the Bundesliga.
It would be an exaggeration to say that a Schalke descent will tear the league's heart out, but one or two fingers will be chopped off.
The sun king Günter Eichberg, the meat mogul Clemens Tönnies, the tribune Charly Neumann, Rudi Assauer with his cigar stump, Huub Stevens, the coach of the century and his Eurofighters, what kind of guys, folklore of football.
And at the same time characters in all their ambivalence, they contributed to the glory and the misery of the club at the same time, some more, the other less.
Between megalomania and Ruhrpottscholle, between Raúl and Bentaleb.
Schalke has always shimmered, it even does so in complete failure.
Stumpen-Rudi Assauer and Huub Stevens
Photo: Sven Simon / imago images
At Schalke we were always aware of how special this club is, and maybe this was and is precisely what was fatal.
To be a completely normal club, to be content with midfield for years, that was never enough for the Tönnies and Eichbergs.
Schalke wanted to get involved with the big players, at least with Borussia Dortmund anyway.
When Clemens Tönnies brought Christian Heidel from Mainz to Schalke five years ago, the new manager received power of attorney.
Money is there to be spent.
Ultimately, the club was doomed to decline.
Again and again the Malocher club
On December 19, 2018, there was a moment in the Schalke arena that probably nobody forgets who was there. Mining in the Ruhr area finally said goodbye, a more than 100 year old story came to an end, which was also the story of FC Schalke. The floodlights went out that evening, glow sticks, sparklers and lighters from 60,000 people provided the lighting instead.
On the lawn, where Schalke would then play against Leverkusen, the miners' choir stood between the teams and the officials and sang the Steigerlied.
Clemens Tönnies stood by and sang along with fervor.
But much more.
It was a moment when everything came together that defines Schalke 04.
If you didn't have a tear in your eye, you weren't a Schalke.
An emotional climax.
And at the same time a farewell.
It was as if the miners had not only buried the coal mining industry that evening, but also FC Schalke.
After that it was all downhill.
Down to the last sole.
The association is now paying the bill.
Luck on, the relegated comes.
Lucky on, Schalke 04.