Interview with Wilde Horde (1.FC Köln / Cologne - Germany)

www.wh96.de

UT: Tell us a bit of the history of the Ultra movement in Cologne and especially about the Wilde Horde:

WH96: before the WILDE HORDE started, there was another group at Cologne, that had a bit of the ultra touch, the “Ultras C.C.A.A.”, which were founded in 1994. They were, with some exeption, the first group all over the country that used flags and banners and brought Tifo into the stands of Cologne. The founders of WH96 first went with that group, but at the end of the year 1996, exactly in december, they didn’t agree anymore about the way that group followed. Members of “Ultras C.C.A.A.” geared to football and hapenings in Britain, and some younger boys missed a bit of ultra-lifestyle. They secluded themselves and founded a new group, the “Wilde Horde”. The WH96 then started slowly. After one year of existence, the group had had about 30 members, the amount of members rose slowly. The first flags, banners and tifo were shown by the group in the first two years. As the group did follow a new mentality and ideals, the boys moved from the standing places in Südkurve, to upper south, exactly to “Section 24” which was the first official location of Wilde Horde in the old Müngersdorfer Stadion. At the first relegation in the club’s history of our team Cologne F.C. to second Bundesliga in summer of 1998, the group had about 50 members. Since then, Cologne played two years in second Bundesliga. What was bad for the club, was good for WH96 and the rest of these Supporters, who went to all games.

As second Bundesliga games are played on Fridays, Sundays and Mondays or even in mid-week, only the supporters, who are allways and everywhere, went to the away games. Everybody can imagine, that it is not easy to go ta an away game to Cottbus about 600 kilometres away, on a Monday evening due to school, university and work obligations. So, to go down to second Bundesliga was good for the group and the other Supporters who were always there, because Cologne’s fanscene stabilized itself and it was a bit like a family in these first two Second Bundesliga years. When Cologne F.C. promoted back do Bundesliga in 2000, the Wilde Horde had about 120 members and was prepared for Bundesliga and the structure of the group became clear and everything went its way. The first very good tifos were made. As Cologne is a big club with great tradition and history, we always bring many fans to away games. So the Wilde Horde made its way, to what the group is now. In the meantime we got most known and biggest group at Cologne and are very respected all over the country as one of the best organised Ultra Groups in Germany. Our acivities comprise things like to organise our own buses to away games, have a stand at home games, where we sell our scarves, clothes, stickers and tickets for away games. We also have a own magazine called “Mentalita Kölsch” (9 issues already), written by our members. Furthermore we organise a charity campaign at christmas time called “Horde Karitativ” regularly every year. Money or things we collect there, are for children from Cologne, who have social problems.

We actually hold about 350 season tickets at Müngersdorfer Stadion (all members together in separate areas of the ground), 200 of these are in our section, the “Block S3” at Südkurve. The main aims are still, to organise the best support and tifos for our team. We have to “Capos”, who are positioned in front of the crowd in Südkurve, to animate the whole Südkurve for supporting our team Cologne F.C. As you see, the WH96 is very active for his club and his city. At the moment, we have about 500 members! In december 2006, we had our 10-years party with about 500 Guests and made two big tifos at our 10-years home game against Kaiserslautern the same month. 10 years are a long time, but we are motivated to go on. And who knows? We all hope to see Cologne play in Europe sometime, that’s the dream everybody dreams in Cologne. If anybody is interested, just visit our website: www.wh96.de

UT: The name Wilde Horde is very special what does the name mean and why did you chose this name ?

WH96: Yes, you’re right, the name of our group is the most uncommon of the older german groups. As everybody at that time used names like “Brigade”, “Commando” or “Ultras”, we wanted to have a special name, that differed from these general forms of names, that some other groups used. Finding the name, was no special story. Some of the founders sat together drinking some beers one evening and the Name “Wilde Horde” was fixed! The name was found right, to express the motivation of the new ultra generation in Cologne.

UT: In the area of Rheinland are many clubs at home, also the Ruhrvalley isn´t far away, how much is the influence on your daily life and how is the relation to that much clubs ?

WH96: It differs. Firstly, you have the three big rivals Fortuna Düsseldorf, Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Mönchengladbach. For the older generation of Cologne’s Fans, Mönchengladbach probably will be the most hatred of these three clubs, as in the 70s and 80s both Clubs Cologne and Mönchengladbach had very good and succsessfull teams. By the younger generation like us, Bayer Leverkusen is more hatred, because they played very good football in the last ten years since our group and the boys around us go to Cologne Games. Here, you must think of the contrast the clubs have to each other: on the one side Cologne, big club, big city, many fans, big stadium, but playing shite football for the last 15 years, on the other side Leverkusen, small industrial club, small city, only interesting thing is the company Bayer, but playing good football and regularly participating in European Cups. I think Cologne Fans are a bit jealous of Leverkusen, concerning their development. It was hard as a Cologne fan, to see Leverkusen play a Champions League final in Mai 2002, while we were relegating to Second Bundesliga for the 2nd time. But we are proud to be like we are. We do not want to play Champions League just because of a factory’s money and not because of good work done buy our officials of our club, we want to see real football. The thing with Düsseldorf is, that we hadn’t played them for a long time (last game in April 1999), and the rivalry to Düsseldorf more consists of the history between the cities and the differences in mentality of both people of the cities.

It even starts with the different beer brands: we have our Kölsch, they have their Altbier. I think every rivalry to those three clubs is different and special in its form. But games against these three clubs are very special for Cologne’s Fans, Supporters and Ultras! In contrast, the rivalry to Alemannia Aachen is not that intensive for us. There is no real influence in daily life out of matchdays, because on the one hand Cologne is a big city (one million inhabitants) and normally there are not many people from Cologne who go to Mönchengladbach, Aachen, Düsseldorf or Leverkusen to work or study. On the other hand Cologne is a city with a huge university there are some members of other groups coming here. Since Streetart became more popular in the german movemet, the stickerwar broke out. So we keep our city clean from symbols of other groups. But rivalry only “lives” on matchdays most of the times. Concerning the clubs of the Ruhrvalley, there are some special opponents like FC Schalke 04, Borussia Dortmund, VfL Bochum, Rot-Weiss Essen, and some others. Some of these clubs have many fans and a big club history so it is always interesting to play against these clubs. Many Cologne fans, for example, like to go to away games at Bochum because they have one of nicest stadias in Germany for away fans supporting their team. All together, it is quite interesting that about 10 to 12 clubs in first and second Bundesliga are so tight together, while the other clubs are spread all over north, east and south of the country. There are some other ultra´groups in Cologne, from Fortuna Köln and from the Icehockey Club Kölner Haie, but we have nearly no points of contact to them.

UT: Please tell us about other enemies and about the special relation/situation with the Ultras from East- Germany:

WH96: Excepting the rivals near our city or in our region, the Ultras from Frankfurt are not really our best friends. I think this rivalry between both groups goes back to some clashes between the groups and because these groups are in fact two of the best, if not the two best Ultra groups in Germany, while Frankfurt is admittedly a bit better than us. Their home support is fantastic for some years now. In questions of quantity and quality, these two groups are for sure the best Germany has to show. But don’t mind, there are some smaller groups, that are also very well organised and respected. Relation to Ultras from East-Germany is quite strange: since we played some more clubs from Eastern Germany in our season 2004/2005 (Erzgebirge Aue, Dynamo Dresden, Rot-Weiss Erfurt, Energie Cottbus) the East-West conflict came a bit back to football. Since Germany reunited, people from West Germany are a bit having a laugh about people in the Eastern part.

They lived communism from east for about 40 years and have only now arrived to the level, people live in West Germany. There is many more unemployment and are much more social problems in the eastern part of Germany, and I think this social difference is shown in football too. Many clubs, who played the European cup before the wall fell, are now only playing in Germany’s third or fourth division but have a big crowd and a long-lasting fan-tradition. Clubs like FC Magdeburg, Lokomotive and Chemie Leipzig, Union Berlin, BFC Dynamo Berlin or Chemnitzer FC, to name some of them, have suffered from the reunion of Germany, as the absence of money caused and causes many problems to these clubs. The style of East German Ultras is more abutted to Poland and Eastern Europe, as West German Ultras lean on examples in France or Italy. I think the “Ossis” as they are called by us are more violent. A fact, possibly become by the sociel problems at that part of the country. I think each style hast its pro and contras. There are some good groups at East Germany, like them from Hansa Rostock, Dynamo Dresden oder Chemie Leipzig. But, at the end, it is difficult to compare these styles of living ultra’!

UT: The Wilde Horde have a friendship with the Supras Auteuil Paris, could you describe how that friendship starts and how the friendship grow and please tell us about other friendships or contacts.

WH96: That’s right, we’re having a very intensive friendship to Supras Auteuil from Paris SG, France. This friendship is lasting for over 4 years now, and we’re very proud to name such an interesting, powerful and experienced group like Supras our friends. Friendship startet in october/november 2002, when a car of WILDE HORDE members went to a home game of Paris Saint-Germain two of them were invited by Tigris to mach against OM at the “Virage Auteuil”. Here we got to know each other. Because during that time there was a real good relationship between the groups at Paris, we watched some matches with the Supras as well and one day we were invited to their local. From day one we found each other very sympathetic and so the friendship begun. In the past four years, this friendship grew by visites of games, football tournaments or parties, where people from each group went to either Paris, or Cologne. In the meantime, two of our members made a part of their studies at Paris and stayed there for about half a year. So the contact between the two groups was very close at some times. All together, you only can learn from such relations and friendships, as these contacts help, to improve many small things in your group like organisation, style or simply the way your group lives. We can learn many things from Supras, just as well they can learn some things from us. Highlight of this friendship definitely were the two birthdays, as Supras had their 15th birthday in October 2006 and we had our 10 years in December 2006. This friendship is definitely very strong and accompanied by high respect from both groups. Further on, we have some contacts to the Ultras of Bayern Munich, exactly the Groups “Munichmaniacs” and, some parts of “Schickeria” as Munichaniacs are almost members in Schickeria (Munich’s main group). But those contacts are only personally and only carried by a part of both sides, while the whole group lives the thing to our friends from Paris.

UT: Are there any other Ultra groups in Cologne and how is the relation to them?

WH96: At our club, there’s only one other real Ultra Group, called “Boyz Köln”. They were founded in 2001 and are quite young. Their average age should be about 18. They must be about 50 lads at the moment. But they improve a lot and we hope, they will go a good and positive way. Relation to them is very good. We visited their 5-years party and they also visited our big 10-years party with almost their whole group. We also already organised some away trips by coach together. They have a good potential. They are young and future will show, which way they exactly will go. There are some other groups in town, too. There are two groups from Fortuna Köln: “Eagles” (one of the first groups in Germany) and “Schäng Gäng” and two groups from the local ice hockey club: “Inferno De La Nord” and “Kölsch Kaos”. But as we mentioned before: We have no pinots of contacts to them.

UT: Please say something about the general scene of cologne and your relation to the other fans ?

WH96: Cologne’s general scene is very large. The club counts about 1100 official supporters clubs, whereas there are no or only few inofficial supporters clubs or groups. So it is quite a real number, which shows, how many people follow Cologne. Unattached of going down to 2.Bundesliga again, a crowd of about 44.000 in average come to every home game. This is brilliant for a 2.Bundesliga team, and is not an exeption at only this running season: we’ve got that crowd in average for about 6 years now. Beside the two “ultra groups” Wilde Horde and Boyz you have some good groups to name: Rheinmacht, Troika Köln, RE7-Crew, Cologne Power East Belgium, Köln-Süd, FC-Forum, High Society Pulheim, Bad GodesberG, Cologne Patriots, ABSCHAUM or Cologne-Billy Goats.

But there are so many other Supporters Clubs, so don’t mind if I forgot one. Relation to this clubs is great. We organised some bus trips together and due to the new Supporters-Club-Association, which was founded at the beginning of last year contacs affiliated and the tenor is: Only together, it is possible to change things for us and improve! Everybody respects each other. Even if there are conflicts you can speak to each other with respect and resolve crucial situations. Furthermore, we have a big Supporters Organisation, called “Fan-Projekt” that has about 5.300 members. This organisation is more an official organisation, run by the club Cologne F.C. itself. They organise ticketing for away games, or care for disabled fans at home games, for example. The also pose the official chairman of all supporters. Relation to this organisation is positive, but critical at some times.

UT: What is about the hooligan movement in Cologne or generally in Germany, it become smaller, right?

WH96: The hooligan movement in Cologne had a big tradition in the late 70’s, 80’s and the 90’s too. Cologne always had many violent fans, and was very respected in the whole country, for their mob. This type of fan movement went very quiet since it was decided, that Germany was to organise the world cup in 2006. But I think, hooliganism “died” a bit in the whole country because of high police presence and severe punishments for bad behaviour. In comparison to the late 90’s, you now get a stadium ban much quicker in Germany, and laws are hard for football fans, who cause trouble in or around grounds.

But at some interesting games like those against Mönchengladbach, Düsseldorf, Leverkusen or other regional enemies like Schalke activate many lads. If Cologne would play european cups again, I could happen, that many old boys would come back and hooligan scene would revive again. Same as the ultra or active scene, Cologne’s hooligan scene is very large and you have many groups, which are seperated. It is complicated to understand their organisation. Some known groups are: Streetfighters, Northside Boyz or Südstadt Boyz. I think, hooligan movement is more active in the eastern part of Germany, as the clubs there play at a lower level and social development and problems are different to West Germany.

UT: How is your opinion about violence and are you an violent group ?

WH96: Violence is not THE most important part for our group. For us, it is more important to stay critically to the club’s progression, support our team as good as possible and be responsible for our colours and stands, at home and away. In the past, there were some clashes with other ultra groups. If we get attacked, we don’t hesitate to fight. But we’re not a violent group and violence is not the first priority for us, anyway it’s sometimes a matter in our group.

UT: Cologne is a very special town in Germany, the people of Cologne have their own dialect, carnival etc. , the people have an own mentality, how much this factor influence the Wilde Horde ?

WH96: Cologne’s mentality is very special, for a city. Normally, you have bigger country parts or counties, that have an own mentality, and not a single city. But you have many people here, who are very proud of everything that concerning THEIR city. The influence to our group is intensive. We ware proud to represent the colours and things of our city. Almost every tifo has something to do with our city. A pitty that we must admit the city is our only pride at the moment, as the team is shite. To see the pulsating life at Cologne, I can only advise every reader of this interview to come to Cologne at carnival, which is always held the middle of February and lasts six days. The city goes crazy at that time of the year! Cologne is very multicultural and you have a high number of immigrants from all parts of the world. I think the people from Cologne are very particular in their mentality and the same counts for our group or whole scene.

UT: How is the relation to your club ?

WH96: Relation to the club is ok. We have a good relationship to the official chairman of the supporters clubs. Regular meetings are held four or five times a year. Though we are real fans and not only “customers”, we criticise many things concerning all topics between fans and the club. Due to some incidents at away games, the club personalised all away tickets for our fans. This meant, that everybody, who wanted to order tickets for away games, had to give his personal details like name, address and date of birth. Many fans didn’t agree with that and this was the reason to found a united Supporters-Club-Association. We hope to get a better standing for our requests and wishes at the club’s side, when working together.

UT: The modern football evolves more and more, how the scene is affected by this development and what do the WH against them ?

WH96: Like everybody in Germany or Europe who really loves football, and not only consumes it like a cinema film, we are not amused about how things go on in times of modern football. As Germany in total has a very big active scene (many fans go to away games, football is by far sport Nr. 1 over here) you have many fan-organisations who care about these problems. Initiatvives like “Pro Fans” or “B.A.F.F.” were founded to fight against things like racism, kick-off times, and all problems that affect the life of the groups and active fans. Two demonstrations against modern fooball and for traditional football culture were organised by all groups and fans all over the country and some groups are very committed. Problems became more seriously, when Germany was chosen to host the World cup last summer. We are worried about how things process concerning modern football, and it is very important for us as group to countervail.

UT: One point of the modern football is the increasing repression by the government, maybe you could they some examples of Cologne for repression (e.g. how many stadium-bans Cologne have) and where are the problems with repression in Germany (stadium-bans, forbidden choreos, etc.) ?

WH96: : It is crazy how police and officials of german football association and league association create dramas! Sometimes you feel more observed as football fan, than a criminal. An example is, that at home games we can do what we want: tifos, flags, banners, nothing is a problem. When going to away games, it is the opposite: you hardly get anything allowed. The persons that are responsible for security always have excuses, which don’t have a sense at all. Our group is, like almost every bigger group in Germany, struck by stadium-bans. We have about 5 at the moment. That’s not a high number in comparison to other scenes or groups. Problem is, that it always hits persons, who are very engaged in the group.

So, the group is hardly affected by stadium-bans. We have the opinion, that to ban somebody from a stadium is not the right solution to solve the problem. You even make problems bigger if you throw somebody out of his social environment or subculture. Stadium-bans are rarely declared for violent behaviour. Often, small things last, to get a stupid ban. This topic will be an important one in the next months, as some scenes want to change the terms of reference concerning bans. We think, only all scenes can change something together. We will see what will happen until summer. Sad truth is, that nothing changed after the world cup.

UT: Please tell us bit of the organisation and structure of Wilde Horde (like away games. Sections, etc.)

WH96: We have a directing committee, consisting of seven persons. Furthermore, we installed an advisory board (nine persons) which supports and controls the directing committee in all important tasks of the group. We have seven sections. Meaning of these sections, is to group members of certain areas outside of our city. As we have about 500 members, many members of our group are spread all over the region. At the moment we are highly working at the group’s structure, to improve some small things and to ease the access for new members or interested persons. But too early to say anything definite.

UT: Is your group your scene/group influenced by politics ?

WH96: Some groups have more an alternative left touch, some rather follow a right-wing tendence, but there are no real ideals behind these meanings. It is logical, that nobody forgets his political position when watching 90 minutes of football.However, we are proud to say: no politics in our stands – 100% for our scene and our club! Cologne is in fact non-political at football. Politics can have a negative influence to a scene. Football should, for us, always stay in foreground.

UT: What are your future plans? How do you want to widespread the Ultra mentality ?

WH96: Our plans for the future are our aims: to stay critical to modern football and to do everything we can, to solve the problems. To unite our stand and all supporters. To spread the Ultra mentality in our scene. To stay critical to the things going on at the club. And definitely to relive better days with our club, hopefully in Europe…

UT: What is your opinion of the Ultramovement in Europe, which scene are in your view the best and which scene have a good development?

WH96: Europe: one continent – many mentalities – but everybody inspires in his own way. I think football is loved and lived in Europe, than in no other of the world. Southern Europe, for example countries like Greece, Italy or Eastern Europa definitely live the ultra way of life more extreme than a country like Germany. But don’t forget, that the ultra movement in Germany is quite young. The first groups were founded in middle of the 90’s, a time where groups in Italy or the rest of southern Europe existed for almost 30 years. German scene has a huge potential and it would be interesting to know, were we will be in ten or fifteen years. As we follow France, due to our friendship to the lads of Supras Auteuil, we would say that France is a very interesting scene. Groups and Stands in Marseille, St. Etienne or Paris are very impressive!

UT: Maybe you could speak finally one sentence to the user :

WH96: Football is life – the rest is merely details! Never forget, where you’re coming from and always stay rough and fight to resist!

Thanks WH we wish you the best for the future, it was an honour to do that interview!

(This interview was done in January 2007)