Spielvereinigung Greuther Furth (German pronunciation: [ˈʃpiːlfɛɐ̯ˌʔaɪnɪɡʊŋ gʁɔʏtɐ ˈfʏʁt]) is a German football club based in Furth, Bavaria. They play in the Bundesliga, the top tier of the German football league system, following promotion from the 2. Bundesliga in the 2020–21 season.
Founded in 1903, the most successful era for Greuther Furth came in the pre-Bundesliga era in the 1910 and 1920s, when the club won three German championships in 1914, 1926, and 1929 respectively and finished as runners-up in 1920. In the 2012–13 season, the club played in the Bundesliga for the first time, having won promotion from the 2. Bundesliga; it was relegated back to the 2. Bundesliga at the end of the season. On 23 May 2021 they were promoted back to the Bundesliga for the second time.
The origins of SpVgg Furth are in the establishment on 23 September 1903 of a football department within the gymnastics club Turnverein 1860 Furth. The footballers went their own way as an independent club in November 1906, after they did not get enough support from TV Furth. The team played in the Ostkreisliga and took divisional titles there in 1912, 1913 and 1914 before moving on to participate in the Suddeutsche (South German) regional playoffs for the national championship round. Right from the beginning, there was a great rivalry between the SpVgg Furth and the 1. FC Nurnberg, predicated on the historical rivalry between the two neighbouring cities. The club grew rapidly, and by 1914, it had 3,000 members and was the largest sports club in Germany. When the club built their own stadium, Sportpark Ronhof, in 1910, it was the biggest stadium in Germany at the time.
Furth won their first national title in winning the 1914 German football championship under English coach William Townley with left winger Julius Hirsch, who had joined the team the prior season. They faced VfB Leipzig – the defending champions with three titles to their credit – in the final held on 31 May in Magdeburg. A 154-minute-long thriller, the longest completed game in German football history (the 1922 Final was abandoned after 189 minutes due to darkness), ended with Furth scoring a golden goal to secure the title.
The team had a solid run of successes through the 1920s and into the early 1930s, beginning with an appearance in the national final in 1920 against 1. FC Nurnberg, which was the dominant side of the decade. The rivalry between the two clubs was such that a star player with SpVgg was forced to leave after he married a girl from the city of Nuremberg. In 1924, for the first and only time, the German national side was made up exclusively of players from just two sides – Furth and 1. FC Nurnberg – and players of the two teams slept in separate rail coaches.
SpVgg showed regularly on the national stage, advancing to the semi-finals in 1923 and 1931. They claimed two more championships – in 1926 and 1929 – with both of those victories coming at the expense of Hertha BSC. Through this period, the club played five finals in the Suddeutscher Pokal (en:South German Cup), coming away as cup winners on four occasions. On 27 August 1929, the association was joined by FC Schneidig Furth.
German football was re-organized in 1933 under the Third Reich into 16 top flight Gauligen. Furth became part of the Gauliga Bayern, but their success over the next dozen seasons was limited to a division title there in 1935, alongside regular appearances in competition for the Tschammerpokal, predecessor to today's DFB-Pokal (German Cup).
After the war the team struggled through three seasons in the Oberliga Sud (I) before slipping to the Landesliga Bayern (II). SpVgg quickly recovered itself and returned to Oberliga play the next season. They won the title there in 1950 and went on to the national playoffs, advancing as far as the semi-finals before being eliminated 1–4 by VfB Stuttgart. In 1954, two players from the SpVgg, Karl Mai and Herbert Erhardt, were members of the "Miracle of Bern" team that won Germany's first World Cup.
Furth remained a first division side until the formation of the Bundesliga in 1963. The club did not qualify as one of the sixteen teams that made up the new unified national first division and they found themselves playing second division football in the Regionalliga Sud, where they were generally a mid-table side whose best finish was third-place result in 1967. The club played in the 2. Bundesliga from its inception in 1974 until 1983 with their best performance a fourth-place result in 1978–79. They slipped to playing in the tier III Bayernliga, with a short three-year spell in the fourth division Landesliga Bayern-Mitte in the late 1980s. At this time, the club started to have large financial problems. In 1990, Furth celebrated a 3–1 victory in the opening round of the DFB-Pokal play over first division side Borussia Dortmund before going out 0–1 to 1. FC Saarbrucken in the second round. They returned to the Bayernliga (III) in 1991 and the Regionalliga Sud (III) in 1994. But still, the club's financial issues became bigger, and they were forced to sell their ground to the local businessman Conny Brandstatter. As the financial problems continued to grow, the president of SpVgg, Edgar Burkhart, arranged a deal with Helmut Hack, president of TSV Vestenbergsgreuth, to let TSV join the SpVgg and changing the name of the Spielvereinigung to the name SpVgg Greuther Furth, which is still in use. The SpVgg so had the chance to get back in both financial and on-pitch success, while TSV could grow bigger in the city of Furth, then it would have been possible in the village of Vestenbergsgreuth.
Meanwhile, the small village team of TSV Vestenbergsgreuth was established 1 February 1974 and debuted as a fourth division side. They advanced into the Amateur Oberliga Bayern (III) in 1987, just as SpVgg Furth was descending to play in the division the more junior club had just escaped. TSV took part in the national amateur playoff round in 1988 and 1995. Their best performance came in the 1995 DFB-Pokal when they upset Bayern Munich 1–0, and then beat FC 08 Homburg 5–1, before being eliminated in the third round of the competition by VfL Wolfsburg on penalty kicks.
SpVgg Greuther Furth
At the time when Vestenbergsgreuth's football branch was incorporated in 1996, in which TSV's football players came over to Furth, both clubs were playing at about the same level in Regionalliga Sud (III). The SpVgg was runner-up behind long-term rival 1. FC Nurnberg in the division the next year, and so earned promotion back to the 2. Bundesliga after 18 years, and played in the second tier at the first time since 1979. At this time, the Sportpark Ronhof, now called Playmobil Arena, faced the first major redevelopment since the post-war years and the construction of the old main stand in 1950. They built new stands on three of the four sides of the pitch, a roofed seating stand on the opposite side of the main stand, an uncovered terrace in the north end, and an uncovered mixed standing and seating area in the south of the stadium, as well as installing floodlights in the Ronhof the first time ever. With the modernized stadium and a clever transfer strategy, they have consistently finished in the top half of the 18-team table in the 2000s, despite having one of the lowest budgets most of the time. On 1 July 2003, the club added former workers' club Tuspo Furth to its tradition through a merger. In 2008, the stadium faced another redevelopment, as the standing terrace in the north got a roof, and a VIP building was installed near to the old main stand. With this work, the main stand became the last piece of the stadium that has not been redeveloped. In that time, Furth has come close to renewing its ancient rivalry with Nurnberg at the Bundesliga level, narrowly missing promotion in each of the first two seasons of the 2010s. On 23 April 2012, Furth finally gained promotion to the Bundesliga in the 2011–12 season, they eventually went on to win the 2. Bundesliga. With promotion, the 1998 built south stand was demolished, and a new one was installed, gaining a capacity increase from 14,500 to 18,000, as well as providing a roof on the south for the first time.
However, Furth had a difficult first season in the Bundesliga as the club amassed only four victories in the 34-game campaign, one of them at the ground of their rivals FC Nuremberg, when the de facto relegated side won 1–0, giving the fans of the Kleeblatt a peaceful feeling about the relegation. The club also set an infamous record by becoming the first club in Bundesliga history to not win a single home game during the regular season. The club finished last in the league and was relegated back to the 2. Bundesliga.
The following season, despite not aiming for promotion, the club was a strong contender for a direct return to the Bundesliga. A third place in the final standings qualified the team for the promotion play-offs where it faced Hamburger SV. After a 0–0 draw in Hamburg, the club missed out on promotion on the away goal rule when the return leg ended 1–1. Since then, they struggle to be as strong as they were before the Bundesliga promotion, and they nearly got relegated to the 3. Liga in the 2014–15 season, when only a narrow win against later promoted Darmstadt on matchday 33, and other teams not winning on matchday 34 kept them in the league. In the same season, on early matchday 2, they gained a historic 5–1 home victory in the Frankenderby, their highest-ever home win in a derby. The following two years since then, the Spielvereinigung finished mid-table, with not having either fear of getting relegated or gaining promotion. In early 2016, the 1950-built main stand was demolished, and the construction of a new main stand started. This period of their newer history is characterized by the relegation of FCN in 2014, and both rivals playing each year since then. In the 2016–17 season, the Kleeblatt won both derbies the first time since the 70s, and finished above Nuremberg for the first time since the 1950s. Before the 2017–18 season, the construction of the new main stand was finished. With beating Fortuna Dusseldorf 3–1 on matchday 6, the Shamrocks managed to become leader of the all-time league table of the 2. Bundesliga.
SpVgg Greuther Furth II
Furth also fields a strong reserve side which has played in the Oberliga Bayern (IV) since the 2001–02 season and finished second there in 2006–07. A second place in 2007–08 meant the team was qualified to play in the Regionalliga Sud in 2008–09.
This page also has a version in other languages: Гройтер Фюрт (русский)