TSV 1860 Munich out to enjoy revival of city rivalry in Bayern Munich clash

MUNICH -- Five decades ago, there was only one club worth talking about in Munich: TSV 1860. They were the best team in the city and a founding member of the Bundesliga thanks to their success in the 1963 Oberliga Sud that saw the country's football authorities -- reluctant to have two clubs from the same city -- leave Bayern out.

As Bayern were still making do with changing in wooden huts on Sabenerstrasse, "The Lions" starred in a European Cup Winners' Cup final at Wembley in 1965 (though they lost 2-0 to West Ham), won the 1965-66 Bundesliga and were denied back-to-back titles by Braunschweig with their newly promoted city rivals languishing in sixth spot.

But then the ultimate "noisy neighbours" rose from obscurity to dominate European football. Bayern finished above 1860 in 1967-68 -- sparking a shift in power that has never returned to what it was.

These days, with 1860 on Grunwalder and Bayern still on Sabener, the two teams' headquarters are less than a mile away from each other. However, in 2017, these two city rivals are light years apart.

On Sunday, 1860's first-team face FC Bayern's second string in Germany's fourth-tier Regionalliga Bavaria. But with Bayern booming and revelling in their status as one of the elite clubs in the world, many fans would rightly insist there is no rivalry. Let's face it, Bayern fans in China, America or Qatar will probably not even know of 1860's existence -- though that doesn't prevent the regular derogatory TSV chants at each Bayern home game, with 7,000 fans on the Sudkurve wishing the club "Tod und Hass" (death and hate).

"At the moment there isn't any serious rivalry," Thomas Hitzlsperger, former Bayern midfielder and current TV analyst for 1860 games, told ESPN FC. "1860 fans can only celebrate when Bayern lose and clubs like PSG put one over them. That, however, is a minor consolation. Bayern fans on the other hand fluctuate between disinterest and schadenfreude on the subject of 1860."

1860's fall from grace is hard to capture easily. The general ineptitude and financial mismanagement that has crippled the club is still ongoing and it is painful for many on the Blue half of the city.

"In recent years, reading about [1860 Munich] is more like watching bad reality TV," Bayern fan Sebastian Brueschwiler says. "They're not run professionally and keep shooting themselves in the foot -- meaning the gap between the teams is just too great."

The power shift began in 1967-68 but was cemented in 1968-69 with Bayern's first Bundesliga title. Crucially, up and coming stars such as Gerd Muller, Uli Hoeness and Franz Beckenbauer had all turned down the chance to join 1860 and by the time Bayern moved into the Olympiastadion (built for the 1972 Olympics), then racked up three straight Bundesligas (1972-74) and European Cups (1974-76), 1860 had plummeted into the Regionalliga South.

Living in the shadow of big brother Bayern, 1860 returned briefly to the top table in 1977, famously retrieving a 4-0 deficit against Arminia Bielefeld in the playoffs, before dropping down again after only a season -- all the while beset by crippling financial problems. They came up again for a two-year stay but fell all the way to the Bayernliga (the fourth-tier) for the 1982-83 season after being denied a licence.

Parallels with 2017 abound: not just with the licence difficulties, but that season 1860 played in the same league as Bayern's reserves and actually finished behind the Amateure.

The club had to wait until 1991 for second division football once again, before rising again to the top flight in 1994 under president Karl-Heinz Wildmoser and fiery old-school coach Werner Lorant.

Pele even played for 1860 in that era... Abedi that is. And on the pitch, 1860's fortunes steadily improved to claim a fourth-place Bundesliga finish in 1999-2000 -- all the more memorable for a first league double of wins over Bayern, who still cruised serenely to their 15th league title while their rivals reached the Champions League qualifiers. (Though they then lost 3-1 on aggregate to David O'Leary's emerging Leeds United, a side that went all the way to the semifinals that season.)

Those victories at the turn of the millennium remain 1860's last over Bayern in professional football and the clubs' first teams have not met in the league since April 2004. A month later, 1860's relegation was sealed by Cameroonian striker Francis Kioyo's dramatic last-minute penalty miss in the Olympiastadion against Hertha Berlin, and they haven't been seen in the top flight since.

Yet from 2004-05 both Munich clubs staged their home games at the Allianz Arena (built for the 2006 World Cup in Germany) and held an equal share in the stadium before Bayern acquired their destitute local rivals' shares for €11 million in 2006. Though they allowed 1860 to stage home games there as a tenant up until this year.

However, 1860's financial problems still cut deep. 1860 have enjoyed a prodigious reputation for producing good young talent over the years -- most recently, Kevin Volland, the Benders (Sven and Lars) and Julian Weigl -- yet have always been forced to sell at a pittance, just to stay afloat.

"The 'Lions' youth academy work used to be high quality but the effects of the club's mismanagement are now even noticeable there as well," Hitzlsperger said.

And, after staving off relegation from the second tier by the skin of their teeth in successive seasons, years of mismanagement finally took their toll in 2016-17.

Ironically, in a season that was supposed to bring back the glory days after the arrival of Jordanian investor Hasan Ismaik, 1860 were relegated from the second tier in May and immediately dropped another level for failing to transfer around €5m to the German Football Federation (DFB) for a third-division licence.

Ismaik had hired former Porto coach Vitor Pereira in December, invested heavily and promised to lead the club back to the top. He even brought in former Liverpool CEO Ian Ayre as managing director. But, amid chaotic scenes on and off the pitch, Ayre quit on the eve of 1860's relegation showdown with Regensburg after only eight weeks in the job. And the club were left to rebuild again.

Now, Sunday's derby against Bayern at the Grunwalder Stadion -- where both clubs shared a ground between 1925 and 1972, and where both teams now play their Regionalliga matches following 1860's eviction from the Allianz Arena -- gives the fans something to look forward to.

Sunday's clash is slightly different to what has come before, however, as it sees table topping 1860's first-team play Bayern's second string, who are languishing in 10th spot, already 16 points behind.

"Over the years, the clash between the reserves has turned into a pretty big game for the city, but now it is an entirely new situation," German football writer Uli Hesse said.

In this league, at least, 1860 are the dominant force. Indeed, having returned to their spiritual home, 1860 are riding the crest of a wave. Every home game is sold out at 12,500 and, despite losing at Augsburg last time out in front of a record Regionalliga crowd of over 20,000, the club look certainties to win the league this season.

The city council has repeatedly stated that it cannot permit the staging of big, professional games at the Grunwalder because the security situation can't cope with it. But there have been smaller derbies played there since 2011, between the club's reserves sides, and they are always feisty affairs.

"Warring fans seemed oblivious to any play on the pitch," Ken Macbeth, an 1860 fan, told ESPN FC of last year's game. "Many were only there for violence and to rush the big fences."

A clash against Bayern is always likely to raise the spirits of 1860's long-suffering fans and they will enjoy seeing their side compete against the best again, even if the opponents are not of the ilk of Thomas Muller, Arjen Robben or Manuel Neuer.

"Given the excitement that this game has generated, I would certainly say that this is a fully fledged derby and a return to their roots for 1860 to a certain extent," Manuel Veth, 1860 fan and Futbolgrad Editor, told ESPN FC. "Nowadays amateur football has enjoyed a big revival in Germany. Hence, with this being an amateur derby, with all the added attention 1860 are getting, I can sense a real sense of excitement in both camps."