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MAY 2024

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1.FC LOKOMOTIVE LEIPZIG

Founded: Dec 10, 2003
Club Members: 2,861
Nickname: Loksche
Coach: Tomislav Piplica

Captain: Djamal Ziane


Regionalliga Nordost: 1
Landespokal Sachsen Winner: 2


Website: www.lok-leipzig.com

Despite the focus given to clubs in Munich, Dortmund, Frankfurt, Hamburg etc; the city of Leipzig can with some justification claim to be the home of German football. Not only was the DFB (German FA) founded here in 1900, but the city's very own VfB Leipzig (1.FC Lokomotive Leipzig's forefathers) were crowned Germany's first ever league champions in 1902-03.

VfB themselves were formed in 1896 and were perennial title challengers during the early years of the 20th century, lifting the title on three occasions before football, and by proxy the club, was brought to a shuddering halt by the advent of war in 1914. Half of VfB's club members served in the armed forces and tragically four of their 1913 title-winning side lost their lives. As Germany began to rebuild itself after the conflict, VfB moved into the Probstheidaer Stadium which was the largest stadium in the country and symbolic of the club's place in the nation's football hierarchy at the time - but restoring past glories and reconstructing a team ripped apart by war has proved difficult.

Until the Bundesliga was formed in 1963, the German football landscape had been very fragmented and VfB Leipzig, along with other clubs from the federal states of Saxony, Saxony-Anholt and Thuringa; competed in the Mitteldeutsche Fußball Meisterschaft (Central German Football Championship) - becoming its most successful team by lifting the title on eleven occasions. 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. VfB played as a largely uncompetitive side throughout the period although in a throwback to more successful times, the club reached the final of the German Cup (then called the Tschammerpokal) in 1936 where they faced the dominant side of the era - Schalke 04. In one of the great cup upsets of the time, David overcame the Goliath of the Köningsblau  with VfB securing an unlikely 2-1 triumph to take the trophy back to Leipzig. The Gauliga system only lasted for 11 years however before the Second World War, the fall of the Nazi regime and the subsequent Soviet occupation led to all sports clubs being forced to dissolve - and the pre-World War Two VfB Leipzig 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. Thanks to players of the now defunct VfB Leipzig, a new club called SG Leipzig-Probstheida rose from the ashes and applied for election to the country's football pyramid. Over the course of the next few years, the club's name changed to 'BSG Erich Zeigner' (named after a former prime minister and prominent anti-Nazi voice) and then to 'BSG Einheit Leipzig Ost' under which the club secured promotion to the top flight DDR-Oberliga. Shortly afterwards however, Leipzig's football clubs were dissolved once again and the city's footballers filtered into two new ones - SC Rotation Leipzig and SC Lokomotive Leipzig.

Now that Leipzig had become a two-club city, both teams enjoyed moderate success in terms of league position but it was Lokomotive who first lifted silverware by winning the FDGR-Pokal with a 2-1 extra-time victory over Empor Rostock (now Hansa Rostock) in 1957. Despite the fact that Leipzig's football identity was by now in a state of near-constant flux with dissolutions, formations and name changes; fans in the city had embraced their new clubs and over 100,000 of them descended on Leipzig's vast and deep-set Zentralstadion to watch a derby between Lokomotive and Rotation in 1956 - still a German attendance record. However, just as the fanbases were being established, the state - who had total control of everyday life including football - decided that performances on the field hadn't been good enough in the 'Saxon Metropolis' and that the fix to the 'problem' would be the formation of yet another club - SC Leipzig. The new club were supposed to be a combination of Lokomotive and Rotation. However, in a move bearing all the hallmarks that had become de rigeur in state socialist East Germany, the reality turned out to be slightly different as SC Leipzig were allowed to cherry-pick the best players from each side for themselves. Those that remained were left to fend for themselves and went on to form BSG Chemie Leipzig.

Not for the first time, football fans in Leipzig once again had to pledge their football allegiances and form new rivalries - although these probably had a little extra spice to them this time given the sense of injustice BSG Chemie fans could be forgiven for having. Nevertheless, although SC Leipzig reached the cup final in their first year, it was the 'best of the rest' at Chemie who went on to finish the 1963-64 season as East German champions. Before the dust could settle on another cross-town rivalry though, the trigger-happy state authorities introduced 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, SC Leipzig were no more and in their place came 1.FC Lokomotive Leipzig - formed a year earlier and named, like their predecessor SC Lokomotive, after the German state railway and in recognition of Leipzig being a major rail hub and Lokomotive's players technically becoming railway employees.
 
Adopting a philosophy of developing young talent (many of whom would go on to represent East Germany on the international scene) and playing fast, attacking football; 1.FC Lokomotive (also known as FC Lok) made their first foray into European competition in 1966. They won the UEFA Intertoto Cup that summer becoming the first East German club to grab the ears of a European trophy, and despite falling short in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup later the same year, turned heads by knocking Eusebio's SL Benfica out over two legs earlier in the competition. Lok spent the next couple of decades establishing themselves in the DDR-Oberliga and earning a reputation as a strong cup team - reaching eight finals between 1970 and 1987 and winning half of them. This ability to turn on the style in one-off matches took them all the way to the 1987 European Cup Winners Cup final in Athens where they came up against an Ajax side managed by Johan Cruyff and featuring the talents of Marco Van Basten, Frank Rijkaard, Arnold Mühren and Dennis Bergkamp. Although they were overwhelming underdogs, Lok gave a good account of themselves and only went down to a first-half Van Basten header.

Once again 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. Apart from Hansa Rostock and Dynamo Dresden who joined the Bundesliga, the rest of the DDR-Oberliga clubs were given places in Bundesliga.2 which was increased to 24 teams to accommodate the newcomers. In an attempt to revive memories of former glories, Lok also made the decision to revert back to the name 'VfB Leipzig' and it seemed to have the desired effect as the club won promotion to the Bundesliga in 1993. It wasn't long however before relegation saw them back in Bundesliga.2 where they bobbed about for a few seasons before beginning a slide into the lower tiers. Players and managers came and went as VfB desperately tried to regain their football composure and like many former East German clubs post-reunification, the ever-increasing gap between profit and loss as a result of dwindling attendances and an inability to compete with the riches of clubs in 'the west' became unsustainable. The club entered administration in 2000 and, in 2004, just over a century after being becoming Germany's first ever league champions, VfB Leipzig ceased to exist.

As the previous century had proved however, Leipzig is a fertile breeding ground for football clubs and it wasn't long before green shoots began to emerge. This time a small group of fans had took it upon themselves to resurrect 1.FC Lokomotive Leipzig in 2003 and, under the stewardship of former Lok player Rainer Lisiewicz, began life in the 11th tier 3. Kreisklasse - the lowest rung of the German footballing ladder. Despite their lowly status, Lok were still able to call the Probstheidaer Stadium (by now renamed the Bruno Plache Stadion) home, and as natural heirs to the historic VfB Leipzig they also had the fanbase to fill it. The size of the club playing so far down the pyramid also attracted worldwide media attention which further enhanced its image as a cult club and drew parallels with fellow fan-owned club FC United of Manchester who Lok welcomed to the 'Bruno' for a friendly match in 2006.

Today, Lok have risen to the fourth tier Regionalliga Nordost although the journey hasn't been without its challenges. The association with far-right groups who have used the club as a platform to express their views about Germany's broader social issues has been a particularly difficult one to shake off. The emergence of RB Leipzig across town has also meant a constant battle to win over hearts and minds in order to keep the turnstiles turning and prevent a repeat of previous financial struggles. For many fans from the Probstheida neighbourhood however, Lokomotive represent the real heart and soul of Leipzig football - and given its complex history and the fact 
that its legacy has survived the dissolution of a club, a league and a country; it's a miracle that they exist at all.

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 GROUND DETAILS 

Ground Name: Bruno Plache Stadion
Built: 1920 - 1922

Year Opened: 1922

Capacity: 10,900 (8,450 standing)

Undersoil Heating: No

Running Track: Yes

Playing Surface: Natural Grass

Pitch Size: 104m x 68m

Grounds:

Probstheidaer Stadion (1922 - 1949)
Bruno Plache Stadion (1949 - ) *
* Stadium Renamed

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The Bruno Plache Stadion is the antithesis of corporate football, which can be found - controversially - elsewhere in Leipzig; and with Europe's oldest surviving wooden main stand, terraces, murals depicting the club's emblem and even a Stasi hut used to put Lok's fans under surveillance; it's an old school stadium offering the kind of atmosphere you may have forgotten ever existed. 

Originally known as the Probstheidaer Stadion (but more widely referred to at the time as the VfB Stadion), when it opened in 1922 with a capacity of 40,000 it was the largest club ground in the country. It's fair to say that the stadium has changed very little from it's original design - an oval concrete bowl with a wooden main stand, open terraces, large empty spaces behind each goal and a cinder running track separating the pitch from the stands.

Following the chaos of the war years (during which it was infamously used as a temporary morgue following a devastating air raid over Leipzig on 6th April 1945), the ground was renovated and hosted a number of large-scale post-war events including The Peace Race (an amateur bike ride dubbed 'The Tour de France of the East') and a handball match that attracted 50,000 spectators. It was also renamed in honour of Bruno Plache who, as a member of the banned German Communist Party (KPD) in Leipzig, had led an heroic campaign of underground resistance to the Nazi regime. The Bruno Plache Stadion went on to host some of 1.FC Lokomotive Leipzig's glorious European nights, title challenges and cup magic including the 1977 DDR-Oberliga clash against Dynamo Dresden which attracted 32,000 fans, and the 1983 European Cup ties against Girondins Bordeaux and Werder Bremen.
 

Like many clubs in the former East Germany however, Lok struggled financially in the years after reunification as association with communism, a general demographic exodus and the lack of footballing success led to falling attendances. As money became tight, the ground quickly fell into a state of disrepair and by 1992 the spartan facilities on offer at 'Das Bruno'  had forced the German FA to revoke the stadium's licence to host matches in Bundesliga.2 - requiring matches to be played instead at the Zentralstadion (now the site for RB Leipzig's Red Bull Arena) across town. Despite VfB's parlous financial state however, a programme of renovation was undertaken including the installation of a new floodlight system in 1997 and they resumed playing matches here until finally being dissolved in 2004. 1.FC Lokomotive Leipzig moved in that year as the newly founded club began life in the eleventh- tier 3. Kreisklass and during their first season attracted an average attendance of 3,000 - a record for that level of German football. Although the stadium has an official capacity of 10,900, the authorities today limit this to just 7,000 - a far cry from when 13,098 spectators turned up to see Lok take on Hertha BSC in a 2005 friendly.

Despite the renovations carried out in the mid-nineties, there are no brave new world stadia amenities on offer at the 'Bruno' and it remains a throwback to the pre Berlin Wall era. The iconic original wooden main stand (Tribüne) is a focal part of the ground complete with pillars to obscure your view and a standing paddock (Dammsitz) at the front. 
The remaining sides of the oval shaped ground offer open shallow concrete terraces only (some fenced off and in need of weeding), with the away support located in the south-east corner. Lok's most vocal support congregate in the 'FanKurve 1966' block at the north end of the stadium and a gravel running track around the perimeter sets the ends behind the goal a fair distance from the action. Four towering floodlights on blue painted stems standing sentry in each corner and an elegant old yellow and blue scoreboard perched alongside an old Stasi hut behind one of the goals completes the look of the stadium. 

 BUYING TICKETS 

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Average Attendance:
2022-2023: 3,470 (Regionalliga Nordost)
2021-2022: 2,549 (Regionalliga Nordost) *
2020-2021: N/A *

2019-2020: 3,225 (Regionalliga Nordost) *
2018-2019: 3,032 (Regionalliga Nordost)
* Season affected by COVID pandemic

Expected Ticket Availability

The club website and online ticket shop are both in German only, but fortunately for non-German speakers, Google Chrome’s translation feature makes booking tickets a very straightforward process. You can have your tickets made available as a Digital Ticket (Print@Home / Mobile), posted to addresses in Germany; or collected at the box office (next to the steam train mural).

If you're not one of those angst-ridden people who need to have a ticket secured weeks in advance, you can also buy them at the fan shop on Schloßgasse (
Schloßgasse 6-8,  04109, Leipzig; 10am-6pm, Mon; 10am-7pm, Tue; 10am-6pm, Wed-Fri; 10am-2pm, Sat. Note: Closed 1-2pm on weekdays) in the centre of Leipzig or from the box office two hours prior to kick-off.


There are also a number of Vorverkaufsstellen (advance booking offices) in the Leipzig area and the list of them can be found here.

Lok's matches very rarely sell-out in the Regionalliga Nordost, and so apart from the hate-filled derby against public enemy No.1 BSG Chemie Leipzig (a rivalry referred to in 2016 by daily newspaper Die Welt as "The German Hooligan Summit "), getting hold of a ticket on any matchday generally isn't an issue. 

For 2023-24, Lok are again adopting a two-tier approach to pricing matches. According to the club website, Chemnitzer FC, FC Energie Cottbus, BSG Chemie Leipzig, FC Carl Zeiss Jena, BFC Dynamo, Rot Weiß Erfurt and FSV Zwickau have been allocated to 'Category 1' and so you'll have to pay an extra €2 to watch Lok take on these teams at the "Bruno".


Roughly speaking for full-paying adults, tickets cost €20 for seats, and  €7-12 to join the 'Blue Side' ultras on the terraces. Reductions are available for students, senior citizens, children, club members etc.

 GETTING THERE & AWAY 

Stadium Address:

Connewitzer Straße 21
04289 Leipzig

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BY CAR:
If you're coming by car from the A9 Berlin-Munich motorway, then take the exit Leipzig-West in the direction of Leipzig/Zentrum. Continue into the centre of Leipzig past the Hauptbahnhof along Tröndlinring and Georgering until to you reach Augustusplatz. Turn left onto Grimmaische Steinweg and after about 200 metres turn right into Prager Straße at Johannisplatz. Follow it until you pass the Völkerschlachtdenkmal (Monument to the Battle of the Nations) before picking up signposts to the stadium. 


Heading from the A14 Halle-Dresden motorway, take the Leipzig-Mitte exit before joining the B2 in the direction of Leipzig/Zentrum. Follow it all the way to the junction with Prager Straße. Turn left and follow Prager Straße until you pass the Völkerschlachtdenkmal (Monument to the Battle of the Nations) before picking up signposts to the stadium. 

From the A38 Göttingen-Leipzig motorway. exit at Leipzig-Südost and head in the direction of Leipzig/Zentrum. Turn left onto Prager Straße and after a couple of miles, turn left onto Döser Straße and then first right onto Connewitzer Straße.

Parking is available at the ground if you're lucky enough to be classed as a 'VIP' or have a parking permit. Otherwise, the club recommend parking a 15-minute walk away at the OBI-Baumann DIY store (a bit like 'B&Q' for English readers of the site) on Chemnitzer Straße. To get there, tap Chemnitzer Str. 6, 04289 Leipzig into your Sat-Nav. 

PUBLIC TRANSPORT:
From Leipzig's Hauptbahnhof, take tram 15 which runs every 10 minutes (Direction: Meusdorf) and jump off at the Probstheida stop. From here, double back on yourself and walk up Prager Straße, turn left onto Dösner Straße and then right onto Connewitzer Straße where you'll find the ground a short distance further on your left. You can also take your pick from Buses 74, 75, 76, 79, 106, 108, 141 and 690 which deposit fans at the Probstheida stop. The whole journey from Hauptbahnhof to turnstile should take around 30 minutes. Unlike previous years however, match tickets can't be used on the Leipziger Verkehrsbetriebe (LVB) travel network.

WALKING DIRECTIONS:
You can reach the 'Bruno' on foot but it's a bit of a hike and will take you well over an hour to cover the four miles from central Leipzig. Let Google Maps plan the route for you if you're feeling energetic ... or instead, spend the time enjoying pre-match Saxony pub grub and beer in the city centre before heading to the ground by tram.

 FAN SHOP, MUSEUM & STADIUM TOURS 

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FAN SHOP:
To save you trekking out to the ground for all your Lok shirts, mascots, scarves, stickers, pennants etc there's a conveniently located store in the centre of Leipzig (
Schloßgasse 6-8,  04109, Leipzig; 10am-6pm, Mon; 10am-7pm, Tue; 10am-6pm, Wed-Fri; 10am-2pm, Sat; Note: Closed 1-2pm on weekdays). On a matchday, there's also a 'pop-up' fan shop at the ground and it's open until about an hour after full-time.


STADIUM TOURS:
Stadium tours are conducted in German and English (on request). There isn't a schedule so to arrange a tour, drop André Göhre at the club an email (andre.goehre@email.de) or ring him (+49 (0) 341 869990) and explain what you're after. Further information about what you can expect on a tour can be found here.

 FOOD & DRINK OPTIONS 

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With the city centre so close, many fans head there in search of pre-match pub grub and beer before making their way out to the ground. One of our favourite bars in Leipzig, and the whole of Germany, is the Bayerischer Bahnhof (Bayrischer Platz 1, 04103 Leipzig; 12pm-10pm, daily) - an old train station converted into a micro brewery and restaurant serving over 100 varieties of craft beer. Locals also head for the best GOSE beer in town at the Ratskeller (Lottestraße 1, 04109 Leipzig; 4pm-10pm Mon-Wed; 12pm-10pm, Thu-Sat; 11am-4pm, Sun)  although be aware of the early closing time on a Sunday !

For live football on big screens, cheap beer and a free chat with some of Leipzig's support, make your way over to the Joseph Pub (Josephstraße 44-46, 04177 Leipzig) or the Kildare City Pub (Barfußgaßchen 5-7, 04109 Leipzig) which, you've probably already guessed, are both Irish-style pubs in the city centre.

Ouside the 'Bruno', a number of mobile vendors offering the typical German football fayre set up in order to feed and water the pre-match party. And keeping in line with the honest football and down-to-earth nature of Lok, you can pay for your cold beer and burnt bratwurst using good old fashioned cash - no faffing about with pre-payment stadium cards here !

OTHER CLUBS IN THE AREA

BUNDESLIGA: 1.FC Union Berlin, RB Leipzig
 

BUNDESLIGA 2: 1.FC Magdeburg, FC Hansa Rostock, Hertha BSC

3.LIGA: FC Erzgebirge Aue, Hallescher FC, SG Dynamo Dresden

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