Not all of Munich behind FC Bayern

One of the biggest dates of the year in European football, and all I can do is grumble. Ever since UEFA awarded Munich the Champion's League Final, a crushing feeling of inevitability existed that the other 'little' club over on Säbener Straße would ultimately be represented in the big game. You know who I am talking about, right?
If you were new to Munich, you might think all the locals loved FC Bayern, a club that exudes confidence and is steeped in tradition. Well, there are certainly people in the city that could care less about football, and such a huge event for them is something merely to be tolerated. But there is another group of people here in the Bavarian capital for whom this weekend is infinitely more painful, infinitely more difficult to endure.

These people are the supporters of the other football club in Munich. The working man's club. The Traditionsverein (traditional club) that has the courageous lion as its mascot. 1860 Munich had its heyday in the mid 1960s, and has had to live in the shadow of its local rivals ever since (except for a few bright blips on the radar here and there). You cannot even call them cross-town rivals - they both call Munich's Untergiesing-Harlaching neighbourhood home.

It is anything but a peaceful coexistence. And while you might think that a true German football fan could put aside his provincial differences and root against the English side Chelsea, you clearly do not know anything about this rivalry.

Einmal Löwe, Immer Löwe

Once a Lion always a Lion. Photo courtesy TSV 1860 MunichChildren in Munich learn at an early age that you are either red or you are blue. If you choose blue, then that is a choice you stick with for the rest of your life. As the team motto states, 'Once a lion, always a lion'.

The casual observer might look at all of FC Bayern's success and wonder why the Lions' fans never consider changing their allegiance to a consistently winning side. A club competes not just in domestically but also on the highest international stage. The very thought of an 1860 Munich supporter doing such a thing is sacrilege.

You see, as strong as his love for his team, he is nearly as passionate about his hatred for the other side. If you ask him, he will probably mention a myriad of reasons. The FC Bayern organisation has unlimited resources, so not only do they develop great talent, but they immediately snatch up any promising player who they see as a threat elsewhere in the German leagues (well, unless Borussia Dortmund gets them first). Another thing he will tell you is that the boys in red are also incomparably snobby. There is nothing as bloated and self-righteous as an FC Bayern fan holding court on the subject of football strategy.

Yet fans of other German clubs dislike FC Bayern. Is it really so different for the fans of Sechzig? I am here to tell you it is infinitely worse to be a local and see all of the pomp and circumstance nearby. To hear your neighbours crow about the extraordinary play of 'Schweini' or wax poetic about the superior talent that Hoeness (or the 'Kaiser' before him) has amassed over the years. Hearing those self-righteous people makes a true 1860 Munich fan boil with anger.

So while most of the city roots for the local team, remember, there is a sizable minority of natives that would like nothing more than a home loss in this 'Finale dahoam' ('final at home' in the Bavarian dialect). They might not be very vocal in their Schadenfreude, but I assure you: they are definitely out there.


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