GROUND // Stadion am Schloss Strünkede - SC Westfalen 04 e.V. Herne (Germany)

Herne is described as groundhopper heaven and this is mainly for one big reason - the stadium am Schloss Strünkede. In theory the real name of the stadium is ABISOL-ARENA (since 2012), but it's better known as Stadion am Schloss Strünkede as it was named since 1910, the grand opening of the stadium. Some people also call it the Westfaliastadium after the team that is playing in the stadium; SC Westfalia Herne.

SC Westfalia Herne was founded in 1904 already and included football, triathlon and swimming. The team was founded by some upperclass students from the school at Schloss Strünkede and the original colours were red and white. In 1914 the colours changed into the current blue and white. In these first years the team did quite well and gained some competition by new teams such as Germania Herne (°1909) and SV Sodingen (°1912). During WWI and the French occupation of the are in 1923 the team was dissolved, but still carried on playing unofficially. In 1925 they picked up where they left off by merging with Fortuna Herne to become Westfalia-Fortuna Herne. In 1931 the team name became Westfalia Herne again. Up until the 30s the team only played in the regional leagues. But during the 30s the team promoted to the national leagues and even first division. The 30s proved to be a very successful decade for Westfalia and they only had to endure Schalke 04 as a better team.

After WWII Westfalia kept playing good football and had great results in the German leagues (second and first division). But just when the going got tough (by creating the Bundesliga), Westfalia fell through and relegated. The next 2 decades Westfalia would go up and down between second and third division. By the end of the 70s petrol company Goldin Imperium (and their money) made sure Westfalia could play in second division (the team name was even changed into SC Westfalia Goldin Herne). Unfortunately for the team their sponsor went bankrupt in 1979 and that caused the team to withdraw from competition in 79-80 and started again the next season in third division. But this also meant the end of the great results. During the next decades Westfalia would slip to fourth and fifth division and even lower. The real dark year was 2009 when the team had to file for bankruptcy. They managed to survive (luckily), but up until now they are still playing in the regional leagues, waiting for a return to the great 70s successes.

The stadium was built in 1910 and had massive renovations in 1932 (to accomodate speeches, or at least so we heard?), 1950 and 1976. The capacity is 32,000, but when we were there (just after a game of the team) team officials told us there are only a good 300 spectators lately. It's a shame we missed the game. You'll see in the pictures as well we could only get into one part of the stadium. Team officials wanted to close down the stadium and we weren't allowed in the rest of the stadium anymore. In 1960 the stadium am Schloss Strünkede had 35,000 visitors during the 3-4 defeat against Hamburger SV in the German play offs.

Anecdote: SC Westfalia Herne was part of the movie Theo gegen den Rest der Welt, a movie about Theo wanting to visit the game of the century between Westfalia and FC Schalke 04 but misses the match due to his truck being stolen. The game is pure fiction.