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GROUND // Uhlenkrug Stadion - ETB Schwarz-Weiß Essen 1881 (Germany)

Last week we posted the rewirpowerSTADION of VfL Bochum, a rather modern stadium. But in the very near neighbourhood of Bochum there are dozens of older stadiums with the classic terracing and unique grandstands to be found. In Essen for instance you can find several. One of the most outstanding is the Stadium Uhlenkrug of SW Essen.

Schwarz-Weiß Essen was founded in 1881 already and started off as a gymnastics team called Essener Turnerbund. In 1900 only the football team was created. The team used to be a very successfull one in the German leagues. In 1902 the team started playing in the Ruhr competition and played quite ok. They had to tolerate Duisburger SpV and Essener SV 1899 above them though. In 1909 they were selected to play in the Zehnerleague, a combination of the best teams in each region. They ended second for a number of times and in 1913 the Zehnerleague ceased to exist. Essen TB went back to the Ruhr competition.

During the first Wold War the other teams in Essen (BV Altenessen 06 and Essener SC Preußen 02) made sure the team didn't win any titles, but after WWI Essen TB did win their first title. In 1922 they moved to the grounds where their current stadium is located. In that time the stadium could receive 45,000 people and it was one of the most modern stadiums in Germany. By then the team name was changed into Essener Turnerbund Schwarz-Weiß Essen 1881. The next couple of years SW Essen would win the Ruhr competition several times and in 1924 they first played on the national level. In 1924 they had to change their name into SK Schwarz-Weiß Essen due to the fact it was forbidden by German law to have both gymnastics teams and football teams in the same organization.

Up until 1933 SW Essen would still remain one of the best teams in the Ruhr competition, often winning the league and playing national play offs. Unfortunately they never won any of those play offs. In 1936 the Nazis allowed the team to merge with the gymnastics department again and the old name was rechosen. When WWII started, the team was unsuccessfull and relegated in 1943. They even had to cease activities because they couldn't find anough players. After WWII they started playing football again. By 1949 they played in second national division and after two years they finally came back to first division. By that time Rot-Weiss Essen had become the leading team in Essen. In 1957 SW Essen relegated to second division again only to come back very occasionally.

In 1963 the current Bundesliga was found and SW Essen couldn't qualify for that. The team started playing in the regional leagues, but could go to second division in 1974 when that was created. They stayed there until 1978. Ever since SW Essen is playing in the Oberliga, back then third division. But when Regionalliga was re-introduced in 1994 Oberliga became fourth division and when 3. Liga was introduced in 2008 the Oberliga became only fifth division. SW Essen still plays in that division.

The Stadium Uhlenkrug was banned for competition in 1975 due to decay. Before WWII it was still one of the most modern and one of the biggest stadiums, but by the time the 70s were there there was huge decay. SW Essen had to move to the neighbouring Stadium Gruda for some time. By now the stadium has been renovated (since 2009), keeping it in its old form, but reducing the capacity to little less than 10,000.

Some of the most famous former players are Oliver Bierhoff and Jens Lehmann. Both in the youth teams of SW Essen.


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