Football matches between the traditional North Rhine-Westphalian clubs Rot-Weiss Essen and Prussia Münster rarely go without serious riots, due to the bitter rivalry between two fan camps ready to escalate. It is therefore comforting that the emotionally hottest duel has long been held this Saturday over a distance of 70 kilometers. In the long-distance duel, both are about promotion to the third division. For Essen, it is the most important match in the club’s recent history, and one does not know how the disappointment of the fans would unleash if Essen narrowly failed to move up for the third year in a row. “Our audience is even more emotional than elsewhere,” says CEO Marcus Uhlig.
The last direct duel between Rot-Weiss and Prussia ended three months ago with a catastrophic bang: A fireworks display from the Essen fan block caused the match to be stopped shortly before the end – the score was 1: 1. Two Prussian players suffered a trauma, Münster was subsequently awarded victory by the sports court.
That is one of the reasons why the ultimate showdown is now taking place. Before the last match day, both are right at the top of Regionalliga Vest. Should Essen (against Rot Weiss Ahlen) fail again and Münster (against 1. FC Köln II) rise at last, this should ultimately be attributed to the fireworks display, to the insane act of a previously convicted lone wolf from Marl, which the authorities did not once attributed the Essen fan camp.
The season lasts nine months and both have played 37 games. After two 55.5 hours of fourth division football, the cases will now be settled within 90 minutes. When it comes to goal difference, Essen is practically three goals ahead (two with difference plus several goals scored). The stadium on Hafenstrasse is sold out on Saturday with 16,500 spectators, Preußenstadion with 14,300. Both clubs could probably have sold twice as many tickets. If the case was settled according to historical justice, Essen should win. For while the Munsters only play in the fourth division for the second year in a row, the Red and Whites have tried to leave the fourth division for eleven years.
Most recently, Essen’s misfortune had peaked. Two years ago, the season was canceled due to Corona, before Essen could start a final sprint – instead, SC Verl rose as the Western representative in the relegation against Lok Leipzig. A year ago, the Sovereign Esseners had been weakened for a long time right at the end of the season, Borussia Dortmund II being the receiver. Between February 2020 and February 2021, Essen had not lost a competitive match in twelve months and had thrown out Arminia Bielefeld, Fortuna Düsseldorf and Bayer Leverkusen in the DFB Cup. But the again narrowly missed promotion then hit the club and the fans.
The ace would fail for the third time – the coach was even changed the week before
It could also have been the fear of the third unfortunate promotion failure in a row that prompted those in charge in Essen to release head coach Christian Neidhart and appoint their sporting director Jörn Nowak for just two remaining games of the season as team manager. “We wanted to put an impulse back,” says CEO Uhlig. According to Uhlig, “this move worked well” in the 3-0 victory in Rödinghausen on Saturday, “now it’s about doing the same against Ahlen.”
The Munsters were well on their way to becoming leaders in the table before playing 0-0 at SC Wiedenbrück last weekend and losing first place to Essen. “Then we had to shake ourselves,” says Prussia’s sports director Peter Niemeyer. But now we have to put it all together again. “Basically, both traditional clubs, Preußen Münster and Rot-Weiss Essen, at least belong to the third division,” says Niemeyer. The disagreement between the clubs in the regional league is generally great: “The third league has a different dimension and is a great incentive for us.”
Both clubs had their best times in the 1950s. Münster lost the final of the German Championship against Kaiserslautern in Berlin in 1951. Essen won the trophy against Alemannia Aachen in 1953 and became champion against Kaiserslautern in 1955. In 1963, Prussia Munster was a founding member of the Bundesliga, but was relegated directly and never returned. . Essen played in the Bundesliga for seven years, but was relegated for the last time in 1977.
The fireworks three months ago no longer play any major role for any of the clubs before the showdown. “It was silly for everyone involved, but it’s now shelved,” Niemeyer says. In Essen, they only want to decide after the season whether they want to sue the perpetrator. If Rot-Weiss does not step in, the damage could be huge, six-digit, maybe seven-digit, but there would still be nothing to pick up from the perpetrator.
As they learned in Essen, promotion to the third division is hard work. This week they had to avert a final excavation from Münster. One of three SC Preussen fan representatives joked cynically on the internet: “On May 14, please throw fireworks at the Ahlen players, but only if necessary and if you do not find an Essen idiot; promotion will be celebrated in Münster. ” The fan-officer was relieved of his duties by Preußen Münster the same day.