Photo: Carsten Schmale, Gesellschaft für Stadtmarketing Siegen
Siegen means “win” in German
Siegen-Wittgenstein is right up at the top of the “groundhoppers’” lists. While the southernmost district of Westphalia may not be visible on higher-league football maps, football fans always enjoy coming to the region. This is due not only to the clubs at the top of the league, SF Siegen and TuS Erndtebrück, who play in the upper Westphalian league, but also the B-listers, TSV Siegen.
But why do so many “hoppers”, as they call themselves, like to come to Siegen to watch a local league game and cross the “ground” off their list? Quite simply because as well as the passion for visiting as many sports grounds, stadiums and arenas, from amateur level to Champions League, as possible, the TSV from the village of Trupbach attracts football enthusiasts with its amazing history. From 1987 to 1996, the club was the FC Bayern Munich of women’s football. Today, the club no longer has a women’s team, and the gloss has faded over the years, but the trophies from the past can still be seen in the club house. Siegen became the German champion six times, with five DFB German Football League cup triumphs.
It’s worth taking a look back, when the club slogan was “Siegen heißt gewinnen” (“Siegen means winning”). The town, with around 100,000 inhabitants, became famous throughout Europe thanks to the success of the TSV. Even Silvia Neid, who later became the trainer of the federal world champions, played here and scored enough goals to put herself and the entire region on the football throne. The instigator of the team’s success was the local wholesale flower trader, Gerd Neuser. He used to be active on the tennis scene, but his wife Rosi was one of the talented football goalkeepers, leading him to switch sports. In July 1985, Neuser brought in national players Neid, Petra Bartelmann, Andrea Haberlass, and of course his wife, to Siegen, and in so doing, changed German women’s football at a stroke. The road to triumph began. However, it was not long until the team met a sad end. In 1996, Neid ended her career and the TSV was no longer able to meet its financial obligations. To save itself, the entire women’s team switched to the “Sportfreunde Siegen” club next door, but after just four years, its fortunes declined, and it ended in the Westphalian league.
Even so, the team’s glorious history attracts hoards of “groundhoppers”. One of the most prominent “hoppers” is currently Kevin Kühnert. The federal chairman of the SPD youth organisation Jusos says himself that he always combines election campaign tours with “groundhopping”. It’s not clear whether he has already visited Siegen. If not, he’s certain to make the trip to the region, since in the women’s football scene, a visit to Siegen is a must.