Image from footyheadlines.com
A football kit can be many things to many different people depending on how you look at it. To some it can be simple way to distinguish between two groups of eleven men chasing a football. To others, the football jersey can tell the story over a hundred years in the making with every small detail woven into the colours, the crest, and even the small designs within the shirt. Different clubs can do different subtle things depending on what means the most for them when it comes to things like stars, patterns, and anniversaries, however each one can help tell the deeper story of that club. Here is the story that is behind the kit of the German Bundesliga’s side, Borussia Dortmund.
To start, where does the club get its very eye-catching color scheme of the bright yellow and black which have given them the German nickname of “Die Schwarzgelben”? Well, the club haven’t always dawned the bright colors we recognize on most European nights today. The club originally took to the pitch wearing a strip of blue and white with a red sash running across from the clubs founding in 1909 to its merging with three other local clubs in the year of 1912. When the clubs were meeting, it was all almost unanimously decided that the club would take the colours of a merging club “Britannia” and dawn their lemon-yellow strip. The decision to keep these colours has remained a popular choice by the early heads of the club and still prove to be the iconic colours we recognize today. There have been many variations over the years of the profound black and yellow, but no matter the pattern, the colours have remained completely untouched from the 1912 debut.
The club crest tells a very similar story and in the football world a quite rare one as well. The club’s full name was decided to Ballspielverein Borussia Null-Neun Dortmund at the pub of Zum Wildschütz after a group of young men belonging to the Catholic church who were part of its “Trinity Youth” program and played must to the dismay of the local priest, wanted to form a genuine football club. It was decided the club would focus mainly on sports that would include that of a ball, ousting popular sports at the time like track & field or gymnastics. This led to the first part of the name being “Ballspielverein”, or Ball Game Club. The next part of the name “Borussia” comes from the Latin word for the Region of Prussia which is an empire that more or less would make up Germany. However, the name really has very little to do with the club other than the fact that “Borussia Bier” was brewed in the city of Dortmund and was being drank at the founding of the club. (This isn’t the only case of someone looking at something and naming a German club after it. Berlin outfit “Hertha Berlin” was named when the founders saw a steamboat named Hertha in the River.) The numbers of 09, or Null-Neun auf Deutsch, would stand for the club’s year founding. The last part of the name Dortmund represents the city in which the club was founded and only added at the very end of the discussion. The club uses the name to form their crest which is a simple enough design featuring a black and yellow circle with the letters “BVB” for “Ballspielverein” with the numbers 09 at the bottom. The badge has been used relatively untouched since 1945 besides when at one point in the seventies in which it was changed to a Lion to please a tobacco sponsor of the club. This is a feat very few of the top clubs in Europe can boast as to keep their same badge for so long.
The club has been won many major trophies in its 121-year life, including 3 German Football Championships in 1956, 1957 and 1963, 5 of the Bundesliga Meisterschale, 4 DFB Pokal Championships, 1 UEFA Champions League, 1 Intercontinental Cup, and a UEFA Cup Winner’s Cup. So, what do the two stars above the crest represent for the club. It is often assumed that they stand for Klopp and Dortmund’s tremendous double of the league in 2010/11 and 2011/12 but the club has won multiple other Bundesliga’s in the 90’s and early 2000’s. It could be seen as a star for each European triumph like Nottingham Forest does with the European final wins over both Liverpool and Juventus. One of these assumptions is almost correct in that of relating to the Bundesliga, but it is a little more complicated than that. In Germany, the stars system works in a slightly different and peculiar way. A football club earns one star for each 3 Bundesliga titles that it may win, the second is won when a club reaches its 5th secured title which Dortmund managed to in 2012. This leads to the two stars being proudly boasted above the crest of the kit.
No more than a group a young-men being fed up with the Catholic Church members looking down on them playing football in their youth group and organizing a club to play freely led to a club that can be argued to be at the elite top of Europe. The outfit simply decided on a name which merely based on the beer they drank as they inadvertently wrote history and now the black and yellow play week in and week out in front of and average attendance of 80,520 fans which is the highest in Europe. The sea of black and yellow comes from a much smaller story than you may thing but has evolved over the years to be a spectacle in support and the iconic sea of colour is one that cannot be missed.
Author: Riley Moore @Riley_Mooooore