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HALLESCHER FC

AUGUST 2022

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Founded: Jan 26, 1966
Club Members: 2,150
Nickname: Chemie

Coach: André Meyer
Captain: Jonas Nietfeld

DDR Oberliga Champions: 1
FDGB-Pokal: 2
Regionalliga Nord: 1
Oberliga Süd: 1
Landespokal Sachsen-Anhalt Winner: 9


Website: www.hallescherfc.de

Like many of the former GDR clubs, Hallescher FC's history is far from linear with a constant flux of splits, mergers, dissolutions and name changes - not to mention a more than fair share of real tragedy. But, essentially all of Halle's football clubs can trace their origins back to the formation of Hallescher Fußbal Club Wacker 1900 (also known as Wacker Halle) at the turn of the 20th Century.

Having established themselves as the dominant team in the Saale district, Wacker Halle - along with other clubs from the federal states of Saxony, Saxony-Anholt and Thuringa - competed in the Mitteldeutsche Fußball Meisterschaft  (Central German Football Championship) and lifted the title in 1921 and 1928.
After the Nazi rise to power, football was restructured in Germany with the creation of the Gauliga in 1933 which funnelled clubs into 16 (later to become 18) regional divisions and Wacker won the inaugural Gauliga Mitte  before making it to the National Championship semi-finals the following season. The Gauliga system only lasted for 11 years however before the end of the Second World War, the fall of the Nazi regime and the subsequent Soviet occupation led to all sports clubs being forced to disband - and Wacker Halle were no more. 

With no team to support, the city were on the look-out for an 'ideologically safe' representative - one that didn't have any links to the Nazis as the Soviets intensified their efforts to stamp out fascism. A new club called SG Halle Glaucha (SG stands for 'Sports Community') rose from the ashes in 1946 before changing its name to SG Freiimfelde Halle a couple of years later. In 1949 however, having won the Saxony-Anhalt Championship, Freiimfelde's players suddenly upped sticks and joined ZSG Union Halle - promptly winning the Eastern Zone Championship final with a resounding 4-1 victory over SG Fortuna Erfurt in Dresden.

That year, ZSG Union became one of the founding member clubs of the top-flight DDR-Oberliga and not long after finishing their debut campaign in a strong 5th place came another name change - this time to BSG Turbine Halle. The club lifted silverware in 1952 when they won the DDR-Oberliga ahead of SG Volkspolizei Dresden and defending champions BSG Chemie Leipzig, but form tailed off after title winning coach Alfred Schultz and star players like Otto Knefler defected to the west in 1953. The state - who had total control of everyday life including football - also decided that performances on the field hadn't been good enough and that the fix to the 'problem' would be the formation of yet another club - SC Chemie Leuna Halle - on the 18th September 1954. In a move that foreshadowed the swallowing up of east German football into the west post-1989, the new club (linked to the Chemical industry) were given Turbine's best footballers and its place in the Oberliga, leaving those left behind to fend for themselves as Turbine subsequently plummeted down the leagues.

After winning their first FDGR-Pokal in 1956, there was another name change in 1958 and as SC Chemie Halle they enjoyed moderate success in terms of league position before lifting another FDGR-Pokal in 1962 with a 3-1 victory over SG Dynamo Berlin. It wasn't long however before the trigger-happy state authorities were introducing yet more reforms in a politically-charged move intended to increase the standards of football in the east, leading to yet another case of out with the 'not-so-old' and in with ... a new club. By 1966 therefore, SC Chemie Halle had been replaced with Hallescher FC Chemie (also known as Chemie Halle). 

After a few seasons of middle-order ranking, the club had their best Oberliga season in 1970-71, finishing third behind SG Dynamo Dresden and Carl Zeiss Jena to book themselves a place in the UEFA Cup the following year. It should have been the high point in Chemie's history but tragically it was the catalyst for an event which shocked European football and brought a terrible human cost for the club.

Drawn in the opening round against PSV Eindhoven, they performed valiantly in the first leg holding the Dutch giants to a goalless draw at the Kurt Wabbel Stadion. The second leg, though, never took place.

In the early hours of 28th September 1971, a fire broke out in the Hotel 't Silveren Seepaerd in Eindhoven where the Chemie team were staying before the return match the following evening. With the ground floor ablaze and no conventional means of escape available to those trapped on the upper floors, rescuers were forced to improvise and held out bed sheets tied together for guests to jump on to from windows on the second and third floors. Most of the Chemie party escaped this way but sadly not all. Erhard Mosert, a 20 year old squad player, broke his leg after jumping and the outcome for 21 year old midfielder Wolfgang Hoffman was worse still after he misjudged his leap and crashed through a skylight. He died in the fall. Chemie players Volker Jany and Klaus Urbanczyk bravely stayed inside the burning building to help people escape with Urbanczyk in particular suffering terrible injuries which required an emergency blood transfusion and the amputation of part of his right leg.

11 people died in the fire and 19 others were injured. One of the PSV players at the time was Guus Hiddink and on the 35th anniversary of the tragedy in 2006, he was instrumental in organising a remembrance match in Germany between Hallescher FC (the modern day incarnation of Hallescher FC Chemie) and the PSV Eindhoven team he managed at the time. 

Chemie never got the opportunity to put the ghosts of 1971 to rest but remained a solid DDR-Oberliga side - spending all but four seasons in the top-flight up until the end of the 1980s despite the rise of hooliganism and widespread corruption destabilising the once-great league. By then however, the winds of change were blowing across Europe as socio-political events superseded sport and as the Berlin Wall fell and a demographic exodus headed west, football across the unified Germany was re-organised. Now known as Hallescher FC, the club began the post-reunification era in Bundesliga.2 but a number of key players and staff had already seized the opportunity to head for better-paid gigs in the west and it wasn't long before the club had begun a slide into the lower tiers - ending up in the fifth-tier Verbandsliga Sachsen Anhalt by the 1995-96 season. 

Struggles on the pitch however were put into perspective when tragedy struck the club again on 26th September 1997. Ahead of the first city derby (Stadtderby) against VfL Halle 96 in many a year, an excited crowd had gathered at the Kurt Wabbel Stadion and to mark the occasion a parachute team was supposed to land on the pitch before kick-off with the match ball. However, something went badly wrong. Matthias Becker was carrying the flags of both teams but his parachute failed to open properly and with the ropes knotted he fell towards the ground, striking a number of people queuing for tickets at the Badkurve corner of the stadiumFour people died in the accident including Becker and an 18 year old youth team goalkeeper for Hallescher FC. 

Recent years have seen a return to form for the club and in 2011 Hallescher finally returned to professional football for the first time in 20 years after beating Holstein Kiel and RB Leipzig to the Regionalliga Nord title. Today, the Leuna Chemie Stadion hosts 3.Liga football and although the focus is success on the pitch, off it there's a real sense of unity between club and supporter having been drawn together by their complex and sometimes tragic history.

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 GROUND DETAILS 

Ground Name: Leuna Chemie Stadion
Built: 2010 - 2011

Year Opened: 2011

Capacity: 15,057 (8,850 standing)
Record Attendance: 15,057 (2011)
Executive Boxes: 8
Media Seats: 36

Construction Costs: €17m
Undersoil Heating: Yes

Running Track: No
Floodlights: 800 lux
LED Video Screen: 30m²

Playing Surface: Natural Grass

Pitch Size: 105m x 68m

Grounds:

Kurt Wabbel Stadion (1966 -  2011)
ERDGAS Sportpark (2011 - 2021)
Leuna Chemie Stadion (2021 - ) *

* Stadium Renamed

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Originally named the ERDGAS Sportpark and built to replace Hallescher's historic former Kurt Wabbel Stadion which had fallen into disrepair, the Leuna Chemie Stadion opened on 17th September 2011 with a public open-day followed a few days later by a friendly match against Hamburger SV. 

The largely pre-fab ground is built a couple of metres below ground level and is notable for having the Kurt Wabbel Stadion's original stone wall and Marathon Gate incorporated into its design. The six larger than life statues which stand either side of the Marathon Gate at the north end of the stadium were created by the sculptor Alfred Vocke and the protected monuments depict a labourer, farmer, researcher, miner, blacksmith and an iron worker. They originally stood in an amphitheatre built by the Nazis near Halle but because of their cultural importance were moved to the Kurt Wabbel Stadion in 1951 before becoming part of the new ERDGAS Sportpark in 2011.

There's also a memorial plaque dedicated to the four people who died when a parachute display over the stadium before an Oberliga Stadtderby  between Hallescher FC and VfL Halle 96 in September 1997 went tragically wrong.

Inside however, like many new-build grounds it's fair to say that it's nothing out of the ordinary - just another of the single-tier, fully covered, box-shaped variety with a bank of obligatory VIP boxes dominating the Volksbank Tribüne (the main stand). The fully terraced HFC Fankurve (Blocks 17-21) behind the goal at the north end of the ground is unsurprisingly the domain of Hallescher's most vocal support and away followings are given the south-east corner between the GP Tribüne and Stadtwerke Tribüne (Block 11).

A
30m² video screen above the away fans and four floodlight masts mounted on the cantilever roof that slant towards the pitch complete the look of the stadium.

 BUYING TICKETS 

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Average Attendance:
2016-2017: 5,488 (3.Liga) 
*
2020-2021: N/A *
2019-2020: 5,812 (3.Liga) *
2018-2019: 7,832 (3.Liga)
2017-2018: 6,108 (3.Liga)

* Season affected by COVID pandemic

Expected Ticket Availability

The club website and online ticket shop are both 'auf Deutsch'  but non-German speakers can get around the issue easily enough thanks to Google Translate which makes booking tickets through the club's new ticketing partner 'egocentric Systems' a very straightforward process. You can have your ticket posted to you (in Germany only and up to six days before a match) or choose from convenient Mobile Ticket or Print@Home options. Tickets can also be bought by visiting the main fan shop WOSZ Fan Shop on Bertramstraße 20 just off Rannischer Platz in the city centre or from the TiM Ticket Galeria Kaufhof Passage (Markt 20–24, 06108 Halle).


Hallescher never come close to selling out their matches and so even when they're deciding Saxony-Anhalt supremacy against 1.FC Magdeburg as they were on our visit, getting hold of a ticket for an afternoon of football at the Leuna Chemie Stadion won't be a problem.

Full-paying adults can expect to pay between €18-28 for seats and €12 to watch the action from the terraces. Family tickets (Block 5) are also available for a not unreasonable €20 (1 adult, 1 child under-16), €38 (2 adults, 1 child under-16) and it's an additional €5 per child (under-16) after that. Discounts for registered disabled people are also available and children under-6 are let onto the terraces free of charge if accompanied by an adult. Chemie  will take an extra €2 off you though if you've left things late and want to buy a ticket from the stadium box offices on a matchday.


PLEASE NOTE: All information in this section is subject to change due to COVID regulations. Please refer to the club website for the latest ticket information.

 GETTING THERE & AWAY 

Stadium Address:

Kantstraße 2,
06110 Halle (Saale)

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BY CAR:

Coming from the A14, take the Peißen exit towards Halle (Saale) and head along the B100 which becomes Berliner Chaussee. After about three miles you'll come to the junction with Dessauer Straße. Take a left here and follow signs onto Paracelsusstraße in the direction of 'Zentrum/Merseberg'. Paracelsusstraße becomes Volkmannstraße as it passes Halle (Saale) Hauptbahnhof on your left and a couple of miles after this, turn right onto Huttenstraße. Take the third right onto Beesener Straße and the Leuna Chemie Stadion will be on your left.
From Halle Neustadt/A38/A143, head towards the city centre along Magistrale over the Elisabeth-Saale and Saale rivers until you reach Glauchaer Platz. Turn right down Glauchaer Straße, follow it as it becomes Böllberger Weg and after about a mile, the stadium will appear on your left.


PUBLIC TRANSPORT:
With a valid match ticket, the buses and trains within Zone 210 (Halle) of the Mitteldeutscher Verkehrbundbund (MDV) local transport network are free to ride around on for two hours either side of the game. From the city centre, Tram 1 (Direction: Südstadt) will drop you off at the Böllberg stop whilst Trams 3, 16 (Direction: both Beesen) and 8 (Direction: Elsa Brändström Straße) will deposit you at Kantstraße. Both stops are a five minute walk from the ground. If you've arrived at the Hauptbahnhof, take Tram 2 (Direction: Südstadt) or 5 (Direction: Merseburg Süd or Bad Dürrenberg Markt) and jump off at Huttenstraße. From here, walk along Huttenstraße and onto Robert Koch Straße until you reach the junction with Straße der Republik. Turn right here and you'll see the stadium ahead of you. The walk from the tram stop should take you about 20 minutes. 


WALKING DIRECTIONS:
You can easily reach the Leuna Chemie Stadion on foot and it will take about 30 minutes or so to walk the  one-and-a-half miles from central Halle. Just follow the tram tracks towards the south along Schmeerstraße, Alter Markt, Rannischer Straße and Steinweg until you reach Rannischer Platz. Cross the square and head down Wörmlitzer Straße for about half-a-mile after which it becomes Straße der Republik and you should start to see the stadium ahead of you. 

 FAN SHOP, MUSEUM & STADIUM TOURS 

FAN SHOP:
WOSZ Fan Shop (Bertramstraße 20, 06110 Halle; 10am-5pm, Mon-Fri; tel: +49 (0) 345 2029966; email: hfcshop@wosz-fan-shop.de)

 FOOD & DRINK OPTIONS 

There's not much choice in the way of food and drink other than at the match-day concession stands hawking typical German football fan favourites, and so the bars and restaurants in the centre of Halle, or even Leipzig, might therefore be a better pre-match option. In the stadium, vendors are happy to take cash in return for your bratwurst and beer pairings - so no need to worry about sorting out a stadium card !

OTHER CLUBS IN THE AREA

BUNDESLIGA: 1.FC Union Berlin, Hertha Berlin, RB Leipzig, VfL Wolfsburg

BUNDESLIGA 2: 1.FC Magdeburg, Eintracht Braunschweig, FC St. Pauli, Hamburger SV, Hannover 96

3.LIGA: FC Erzgebirge Aue, FSV Zwickau, SG Dynamo Dresden

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