FC HANSA ROSTOCK
UPDATED FOR 2023-24 - JULY 2023
Founded: Dec 28, 1965
Club Members: 23,700
Coach: Alois Schwartz
Captain: Markus Kolke
DDR Oberliga Champions: 1
Bundesliga.2 Champions: 1
Landespokal Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Winner: 7
Web Site: www.fc-hansa.de
Rostock is a port city, linked to Germany's Baltic coast by the cold, choppy Warnow river and it occupied a key trading position during the glory years of the Hanseatic League, or 'Hansa ' - a trading confederation of merchant guilds and towns in Northern Europe during the late middle ages. When trade shifted to the Atlantic during the 17th century, Rostock slowly lost its importance but evidence of the medieval city state's prosperity and maritime-mercantile influence can still be seen today - not least in the identity of its football club.
The crest of FC Hansa Rostock features a Kogge (cog) - a flat-bottomed, high-sided sailing ship that evolved from Viking long boats to move goods between the ports of the 'Hansa ', and the club's branding and iconology revolves around typical seafaring, swash-buckling slogans with one of the most popular terrace chants being "What Shall We Do With The Drunken Sailor ?" Fan-made graffiti and stickers plastered around the city make clear claims to be 'Baltic Men of the Sea', and together it projects an image that's very different from other fan identities across Germany. Yet, despite all the maritime references, Hansa's origins are actually found a long, long way from the sea.
In state socialist East Germany, Rostock enjoyed a privileged position and despite the straightened economic realities of being on the 'wrong' side of the Iron Curtain, resources were diverted north to rebuild a city shattered by World War 2. It soon became the nation's prime port and until the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, a ferry service across the Baltic to Sweden ensured that it remained one of the few places in the GDR to maintain contact with the 'Imperialistic West'. The grace and favour of the politburo didn't stop with post-war industrialisation either. When the authorities began reshaping East German football in the mid-fifties, they took the view that, as an important regional hub with a new stadium, Rostock should have a decent team. In a move bearing all the hallmarks that would later became de-rigueur in the republic, instead of slowly building a competitive side from scratch, the apparatchiks decided to simply ship one in from elsewhere.
The unlucky club was BSG Empor Lauter who came from a small mountain town near the Czech border in Saxony, and because the region had become something of a football hotbed in the East, the theory went that with plenty of other sides from the area already playing in the top-flight DDR Oberliga - BSG Wismut Aue and BSG Motor Zwickau among them - the loss of one wouldn't be of any great blow. And so, in the early hours of 28th October 1954 - lured by the promise of a new apartment, holidays, better shopping and higher wages - Lauter's players, staff and their families boarded a train for the 300 mile journey to Rostock hoping that the locals wouldn't catch wind of their 'voluntary forced resettlement'. Football fans in East Germany however weren't, then at least, passive recipients of party orders and once news of the squad's clandestine departure got out, there were plenty of them waiting for the 'traitors' at the station where they clashed with police, delaying the train for hours. Although they were ultimately powerless to prevent their team's relocation, the fans' show of strength was enough to persuade several players - including Rudolf Hertzsch, Johannes Friedrich and captain Walter Espig - to stay behind.
Those that remained on board headed north to join the newly formed SC Empor Rostock and after been given Lauter's place at the top of the table, they played their first match, a 0-0 draw with Chemie Karl Marx Stadt, on the 14th November in front of 17,000 people at the Ostseestadion. Over the next decade, they became known as the "Eternal Second " on account of the number of runners-up medals they collected - losing cup finals in 1955, 1957 and 1960 before falling just short in the Oberliga in three successive seasons between 1962-1964.
The state authorities weren't the biggest fans of football - the collective was more important than the individual after all - but they recognised its importance to foreign relations. Football allowed the GDR to not only break through its diplomatic isolation but "highlight even more clearly the superiority of our socialist order in the area of sport ". Showing off in sport would only enhance socialism's reputation - at least, that was the belief of Stasi chief Erich Meike, and he introduced reforms intended to improve the standard of football in the east leading to a case of out with the 'not-so-old' and in with ... a new club. At 6:32pm on 28th December 1965, SC Empor Rostock were consigned to history, and the city's Hanseatic trading legacy was called upon as FC Hansa Rostock were officially founded - one of 10 so-called Schwerpunktclubs (focus clubs) given free reign and funding to cherry pick the best players to foster a strong national side for a nation whose leaders were obsessed with their image.
The diverted resources never quite matched those given to the twin Dynamos (Dresden and Berlin) though and over the next couple of decades Hansa became mired in the mud of mid-table obscurity as falling attendances, the rise of hooliganism and widespread corruption destabilised the once great league. But then in 1991, with the curtain closing on the GDR, the political turnaround matched a turn in Hansa's fortunes as they defied all expectations to become champions of the last-ever edition of the DDR Oberliga (for that season it was called the NOFV Oberliga) - claiming the title with three games to spare after a 3-1 win at the Ostseestadion against nearest challengers SG Dynamo Dresden. Having finally secured their first piece of silverware, Hansa travelled to East Berlin's Friedrich Ludwig Jahn Sportpark a few weeks later for the FDGB-Pokal final against Stahl Eisenhüttenstadt where Jens Wahl's first-half goal was enough to lift the trophy and complete a memorable double. The "Eternal Second " were finally first and they were the last.
Hansa kicked off the 1991-92 season in the new pan-German Bundesliga and, as the Oberliga's last champions, they also had a berth in the final draw of the European Cup before its 'UEFA Champions League' rebrand. Unlike other East German clubs who'd seen key players and staff seize the opportunity to head for better-paid gigs in the west following the fall of the wall, they were able to keep most of their double winners together - thanks mainly to the fee paid by Hertha Berlin for Axel Kruse when his suspension for the treasonous act of Republikflucht (defection) during Hansa's pre-season trip to Copenhagen in 1989 was overturned by the DFB (German FA).
Domestically, Hansa started the post-reunification era well - beating 1.FC Nuremburg, FC Bayern München and Borussia Dortmund in their first three games before their European adventure began with a trip to the Nou Camp to face an FC Barcelona team built around the talents of Michael Laudrup, Hristo Stoichkov, Ronald Koeman and Pep Guardiola. The 'Blaugrana ' were an all-star team and a daunting opponent but confidence was high in the German camp with their coach Uwe Reinders boldly predicting a 2-0 win for his side. Two goals for Laudrup and an own goal by Hansa's Jens Dowe however put Barça firmly in control of the tie and dampened anticipation for the return leg in Rostock. That didn't stop Hansa's board from jacking up ticket prices for the match though and poor advance sales meant that only 8,500 fans were in the Ostseestadion to see Michael Spies' spectacular diving header give the men from Mecklenburg-Vorpommern their most famous, yet ultimately futile victory.
The Catalans took care of more German opposition - 1.FC Kaiserslautern (the 'West' champions) - in the next round and went on to lift the European Cup that season thanks to Ronald Koeman's extra-time winner against Sampdoria in the Wembley final. And Hansa? Relegated from the Bundesliga at the end of the campaign despite a final day victory over Eintracht Frankfurt which denied the Hessen club their first-ever Bundesliga title. However, although the Kogge had capsized, they hadn't sunk and after righting themselves, they outpaced FC St Pauli and Fortuna Düsseldorf to the Bundesliga.2 title in 1995. The transition to the German top-flight was handled much better this time and sixth-place finishes in 1996, 1998 and 2000 marked the club's high-water mark in the Bundesliga during an unbroken 10-year spell which saw Rostock play in seven of them as the only former GDR club in the league - earning them the nickname 'Lighthouse of the East'.
Pride comes before a fall however and Hansa were back in the second-tier by 2005 despite the signing of former Liverpool and Ajax playmaker Jari Litmanen as, along with other clubs in the former East Germany, they struggled to compete financially with their western counterparts post-reunification. Following the sale of star player Oliver Neuville to help keep the Kogge afloat, Hansa returned to the Bundesliga two years later for a single season cameo before chaos and disorder characterised another tumble down the leagues which saw them not only crash into Bundesliga.2, but carry on into the third tier for the first time after losing both legs of a relegation play-off against FC Ingolstadt in 2010.
Hansa regrouped and by the time the 2011-12 season kicked-off, they'd managed to claw their way back into Bundesliga.2. Once again though, the stay was a brief one and, after overextension and mismanagement had brought the club to the brink of bankruptcy, the Rostockers spent the next decade trying to regain their footing in the 3.Liga. After several seasons of middle order ranking, they came close to ending their exile from the Zweite in 2020 with a late run post-COVID shutdown that fell just short in the end, before coach Jens Härtel guided them over the line on the final day of the 2020-21 'Geisterspiele ' season - a 1-1 draw with regional rivals VfB Lübeck enough to secure automatic promotion alongside none other than fellow 'Ossies ' SG Dynamo Dresden.
With former glory, a unique heritage and a large fanbase that refused to abandon ship in the rough seas of the post-reunification years; it might only be a matter of time before the Kogge are ready to set sail for the Bundesliga again.
Ground Name: Ostseestadion
Architect: Beyer + Partner Rostock
Built: 1953 - 1954
Year Opened: 1954
Renovations: 1968, 1970, 1973, 1991, 1992, 1996, 2000 - 2001
Capacity: 29,000 (9,000 standing)
Executive Boxes: 26
Construction Costs: DM 55m (2001)
Wheelchair Spaces: 75
Undersoil Heating: Yes
Running Track: No
Floodlights: 1,700 lux
LED Video Screen: 42m²
Playing Surface: Natural Grass
Pitch Size: 105m x 68m
Ostseestadion (1954 - 2007)
DKB Arena (2007 - 2015) *
Ostseestadion (2015 - ) *
* Stadium renamed
Standing on the site of a former Nazi parade ground, the Ostseestadion (Baltic Sea Stadium) rose from the ashes of World War 2 in the early-fifties as East Germany's leaders diverted some of the nation's scarce resources to turn Rostock into an important regional hub. The regime lacked the funding to start building showpiece stadiums however and members of the National Aufbauwerk (NAW) - a voluntary movement that took part in the collective rebuilding of East Germany - were called upon to carry out 230,000 hours of unpaid work on the project.
Despite the efforts of the volunteers though, the new venue was still under construction when it opened on 27th June 1954 for the final of the GDR youth football championship between Einheit Schwerin and Chemie Zeitz. With a capacity of 18,000 and part of multi-sports complex called the Sportforum which also included a swimming pool and an ice hockey arena, the Ostseestadion embodied the Stalinist aesthetics of stadium design behind the Iron Curtain - a concrete oval with open terraces, large empty spaces behind each goal and a six lane running track separating the pitch from the stands.
Newly formed BSG Empor Rostock became tenants later that year and the nascent club played their first match, a 0-0 draw with Chemie Karl Marx Stadt, in the stadium on the 14th November in front of 17,000 spectators. Like many clubs in the former East Germany however, the club struggled financially as the bleak austerity of communism meant that there was no money available for ground development and it wasn't until they'd been consigned to the history books and replaced by FC Hansa Rostock in the mid-sixties that work to address the spartan facilities was carried out. The main stand was given a roof in 1968 to finally offer spectators some protection from the elements before Hansa marked the 21st anniversary of the GDR by turning on the Ostseestadion's emblematic high angled floodlights for the first time in a match against DDR Oberliga high-flyers 1.FC Magdeburg in October 1970.
Apart from the addition of a new scoreboard in 1973, further development of the Ostseestadion was then put on hold as football stadiums in the GDR began reflecting the state of a country that had been in steep decline. With clubs lacking resources for ground improvements, dilapidated wooden stands in arenas like Lok Leipzig's Bruno Plache Stadion or Rot Weiß Erfurt's Georgi Dimitrov Stadion dominated the scenery of late-socialist football in Germany's East. Floodlights had become a luxury; rusty fences were the norm.
In 1991 however, when the Kogge unexpectedly won the last ever edition of the DDR Oberliga and sailed proudly into the Bundesliga, money was found to upgrade the floodlights which at 1,380 lux became the brightest in Germany alongside those at Düsseldorf's Rheinstadion. The grandstand was then given a revamp taking the total capacity to 25,577 before work during the nineties saw the club acquire a new video screen and install undersoil heating.
Despite the renovations though, the Ostseestadion was beginning to show its age and in September 1998, the club announced plans to completely demolish the ground and build a modern football-only venue on the site. Work started in early 2000 with the removal of the marathon arch from the old north curve and over the next 16 months, because it was being carried out in stages i.e. stand by stand, Hansa were able to continue playing their home matches without disruption.
Costing DM 55 million and with a capacity of 29,000, the 'new' Ostseestadion officially opened on 4th August 2001 for a Bundesliga match against Bayer 04 Leverkusen (Bayer won 3-0) and it's a football-only venue offering a superb view of the action helped by the fact that the front rows of the stands are a few metres above pitch level. It's a fully covered, single tiered affair with closed corners which helps generate the brilliant atmosphere that Hansa's fans are known for.
The fully terraced Südtribüne (Blocks 21-25) behind the goal is where Hansa's most vocal support - the 'Suptras ' (a mash up of 'Supporters' and 'Ultras') - belt out noisy renditions of 'Mein Rostock', 'What Shall We Do With The Drunken Sailor?' and the old terrace favourite "Haaaansa-aaa !"; while away followings do their best to be heard in the south-east corner of the ground (Blocks 19-20).
Unlike most new-build grounds which have phased out traditional floodlight pylons in favour of budget-saving illumination along the roof, the iconic 56-metre high Soviet-era masts installed in 1970 have been kept as a legacy of the 'old' Baltic Sea Stadium and they bend inquisitively over its latest incarnation. Their days as an emblem of the city's skyline however appear numbered because they're in need of urgent renovation and will no longer have an operating permit after 2025. In 2019, Hansa's members voted overwhelmingly to replace them with replica masts although the cost is thought to be a prohibitive €6.6 million.
Apart from SC Empor Rostock and Hansa home matches, the Ostseestadion also hosted eight GDR internationals including the 'Socialist Derby' against the Soviet Union in 1980 which finished 2-2 and, post-reunification, the German national team played at the stadium in 2002 and 2006. Amatuer side SV Warnemünde played their DFB-Pokal first round match against Champions League winners Borussia Dortmund here in 1997, and the likes of Tina Turner, Helene Fischer, Rammstein and Hansa Rostock fan, Marteria, have all rocked the Ostseestadion on their world tours.
2022-2023: 24,671 (Bundesliga.2)
2021-2022: 15,638 (Bundesliga.2) *
2020-2021: N/A *
2019-2020: 10,094 (3.Liga) *
2018-2019: 13,874 (3.Liga)
* Season affected by COVID pandemic
Expected Ticket Availability
Hansa are the flagship club of the Baltic Sea coast with one of the most vociferous and feared fanbases in Germany. In 2007, the stubborn passion and pride FCH fans have for their club was highlighted when a national survey found that nearly 2 million of them followed the Kogge, and judging by the impressive numbers they take to away matches, who are we to argue?
That's not to say that getting your hands on tickets for an afternoon of football at the Ostseestadion is too much of a challenge - but because of the insular, far right politics of a sizeable minority in Rostock; it's probably best to get yourself organised and buy in advance when left-leaning arch-rivals FC St. Pauli visit for the 'Politisches Derby' (Political Derby). SG Dynamo Dresden aren't overly popular here either and the local police will ensure that the Suptras aren't the only ones turning out in big numbers for this clash.
The club website is all "auf Deutsch" but to save you having to learn German, Google Translate makes short work of navigating the online ticket shop operated by Hansa's ticketing partner 'LMS Sport'. For a €2 surcharge, tickets can also be bought at the box office which opens on the stadium's northern forecourt about two hours before kick-off, or from the fan shops in the centre of Rostock and Ostsee Park shopping centre (see Fan Shop, Museum & Stadium Tours box below).
Ticket prices depend on security costs for a given matchday with the visits of FC St. Pauli, Dynamo Dresden and 1.FC Magdeburg likely to see these go up. Hansa will announce these on their website in the run-up to each match.
Discounts are available for children, students, seniors, disabled persons, unemployed people etc. Free 'Lap Tickets' are also available for fans aged 5 and under - although be aware that these don't entitle them to a seat of their own and, as the name suggests, they must sit on mum or dad's lap throughout the game.
Information about visiting the Ostseestadion for fans with disabilities can be found at:
GETTING THERE & AWAY
Heading along the A20, come off at the Rostock West exit (Exit 15) and follow the dual carriageway B103 towards Warnemünde. After five miles, take the exit 'Reutershagen, Südstadt, Zoo/Darwineum, Stadion, P+R' and follow Barnstorfer Ring for about half-a-mile until you reach the junction with Rennbahnallee. Turn left here and follow Rennbahnallee for another half-a-mile as it becomes Trotzenburger Weg. Turn right onto Kopernikusstraße and the Ostseestadion will be on your right. If you're coming from Wismar along the B105, follow it under the B103 where it becomes Hamburger Straße and after a couple of miles, turn left onto Tschaikowskistraße. At the second set of traffic lights, go right onto Kopernikusstraße and the stadium will be on your right.
Parking is limited at the ground itself though, and Hansa suggest that drivers use the car parks at 'P+R Groß Schwaßer Weg' (Groß Schwaßer Weg, 18057 Rostock), Parkplatz Zoo Rostoock (Gartenstadt, 18059 Rostock) and Platz der Freiheit (18057 Rostock, Germany) directly opposite the Ostseestadion off Kopernikusstraße.
Unfortunately, there's no agreement in place between Hansa and the Verkehrsverbund Warnow (VVW) transport association and because it isn't bundled up in the price of your match ticket, you're going to have to cover the cost of getting to and from the game by public transport. Schade!
Using the S-Bahn from Rostock Hauptbahnhof, take S1 (Direction: Warnemünde), jump out five minutes later at Holbeinplatz and walk 10 minutes along Hans-Sachs-Allee to the ground. Another option is to use Tram Lines 3 or 6 (Direction: both Rostock Neuer Friedhof) which pull up at the 'Zoo' stop and from here it's a 10-minute walk via Rehnbahnallee and Trotzenburger Weg to the stadium. Bus 25 (Direction: Thomas Morus Straße) will also drop you off right outside the ground at the conveniently named 'Ostseestadion' stop.
The Ostseestadion is in the Hansaviertel district of Rostock, a couple of miles from the city centre and unless you have time on your hands, heading there using public transport or even shelling out for a taxi is a better option.
If you do fancy a walk though, come out of the Hauptbahnhof onto Konrad Adenauer Platz and turn left towards Goethestraße. Follow Goethestraße to the junction with Südring and turn left. After 50 metres, leave Südring by turning right onto Borenweg which takes you to the entrance of Lindenpark. Take the first left and follow the path through the parkland to the junction with Saarpl.
Turn left here onto Parkstraße and just past the Parkstraße S-Bahn station, you'll come to the junction with Dethardingstraße. Turn right here and then bear left at the Mykonos Restaurant along Strempelstraße which leads you to a roundabout. Head straight over the roundabout onto Kopernikusstraße and the Ostseestadion will be on your left. The walk from station to stadium should take about 40 minutes.
FAN SHOP, MUSEUM & STADIUM TOURS
Don't head to the Ostseestadion hoping to stock up on Kogge merchandise - not because Hansa are making some kind of defiant stand against over-commercialism in football, but simply because they've opened a couple of shops in the centre of Rostock instead.
Fanshop in der Breiten Straße (Breite Straße 12-15, 18055 Rostock; 10am-7pm, Mon-Sat)
Fanshop im KTC (Kröpeliner Straße 54, 18055 Rostock; 9:30am-8pm. Mon-Sat)
There's also an additional shop in the Ostsee Park shopping centre north-west of the city:
Fanshop im Ostsee Park (Ostsee Park Straße 3, 18069 Lambrechtshagen; 10am-8pm, Mon-Fri; 9am-8pm, Sat)
Hansa legend and a member of the 1990-91 double-winning squad, Axel Schulz (not to be confused with the former German heavyweight boxer of the same name), is your guide around the Ostseestadion and he'll show you the away dressing room (the Hansa changing room is off-limits), players tunnel and press area before making a detour to the VIP boxes. There's even a chance that he'll take you to see the Rostock players being put through their paces in a training session.
Information about prices and how to book can be found here.
FOOD & DRINK OPTIONS
Generally speaking, the centre of Rostock is probably your best bet when it comes to pub grub and beer. However, the Hansa-Fanhaus, just a corner kick from the ground behind the red brick Neptun-Schwimmhalle, is the official club hangout and a good place to head for if you want to join up with the Kogge support for a quick beer before the match. Another popular meeting point is the Haltepunkt Rostock Sportsbar on Kieler Straße (Kieler Straße 14, 18057 Rostock).
In the stadium, the usual German football fayre (bratwurst, frikadelle, chips, oversized pretzels etc) are offered up and the Rostockers, being of a no-nonsense type, will let you pay for your bratwurst and Lübzer Pils pairing with cash if you want, as well as contactless methods like debit/credit cards and mobile phones (Apple Pay/Google Pay) etc.