Verein für Leibesübungen Bochum 1848 Fußballgemeinschaft is a German professional football club from the city of Bochum in the state of North-Rhine Westphalia.
The men’s team currently plays in 1.Bundesliga, the highest level of league-football in Germany. Despite its long history, the club has not won any major silverware.
The football team is part of a wider sports club, with the football section accounting for about half of its 5000 members. It also has departments for athletics, badminton, basketball, handball, fencing, gymnastics, handball, field hockey, swimming, lawn tennis, table tennis and volleyball.
The colours of VfL Bochum are blue and white in accordance with the city flag. It plays its home-games at Ruhrstadion. Over the years, the team has featured in 35 seasons of 1.Bundesliga since its inception. With Westphalia being a hotbed of football, it lies in the shadow of Bayer O4 Leverkusen, BVB 09 Borussia Dortmund and FC Schalke 04.
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VfL Bochum is among the oldest surviving sports organisations in Germany and indeed the world. It traces its origins to 26th July 1848 when an article in the local newspaper, Märkischer Spercher, called out for the creation of a gymnastics club. Turnverein zu Bochum was formally established on 18 February 1849.
On 28th December 1852, the club was banned due to political reasons before re-establishing itself on 19th June 1860. It was later reorganised as Turnverein zu Bochum, gegründet 1848 in May 1904. The football department of the club came into being on 31st January 1911.
The Early Years
8 years later on 1st April 1919, the club joined together with Spiel und Sport Bochum 08 to become Turn- und Sportverein Bochum 1848. On 1st February 1924, the two clubs split to form Bochumer Turnverein 1848 as the gymnastics department and Turn- und Sportverein Bochum 1908 for the outdoors sports including football.
By 1933, the Nazi Party took control of the country and brought in a new structure for football with 16 regional leagues in the 1st division known as the Gauligen. It forced Bochumer Turnverein 1848 to merge with Turn- und Sportverein Bochum 1908 and Sportverein Germania Vorwärts Bochum 1906 to form VfL Bochum on 14th April 1938.
VfL Bochum entered the top-division in Gauliga Westfalen and ended as runners-up on its maiden appearance in 1938/39. With the start of World War II, organising football teams became increasingly difficult for the German clubs and VfL became part of the wartime side Kriegsspielgemeinschaft VfL 1848 along with Preußen 07 Bochum.
The Post-War Era
After the end of World War II, the club reassumed its former identity as VfL Bochum and featured the 1945/46 season in the 1st division with Landesliga Westfalen. The club stayed in the league but dropped down to the 2nd tier after the creation of Oberligen as the new top-division of league-football.
The team played in the 2nd division for the next 6 years, moving to 2.Oberliga West in the 1949/50 season. In 1952/53, the club won the league-title to secure its passage to Oberliga West. It spent the following two seasons in the top-tier before dropping back to after getting relegated at the end of 1954/55.
The club returned to Oberliga West after a year’s absence and remained there for 4 more years. In 1960/61 the club finished in the bottom-3 and was relegated back to 2.Oberliga West once again. After spending the next 2 seasons in the 2nd division it was relegated from 2.Oberliga West as well.
Entering the Bundesliga
In 1963/64, with the start of the Bundesliga as a new national league with a single division to serve as the new top-tier of German football, VfL found itself competing at the amateur-level with Verbandsliga West in the 3rd division. The club won the league in 1964/65 to move back up to the 2nd tier.
In the next 3 years, VfL was part of Regionalliga West and quickly moved up the table. It qualified for the DFB-Pokal in 1967/68 and reached the final for the first time, losing 4-1 to North-Rhine Westphalia rivals 1.FC Köln. In 1968/69, the club finished the league as runners-up, but it was not enough to qualify for the promotion-playoffs.
Keeping up its recent progress, VfL duly won the Regionalliga West title in 1969/70 but could not progress from the playoffs. It won the league again in 1970/71 and on the second time of asking, was able to earn promotion to the top-flight after a gap of 10 years.
The Bundesliga Journey
In 1971-72, VfL began its first campaign in Bundesliga and went on to take a respectable 9th place finish. The club asserted itself in the top-flight over the next few years and became an established side, albeit mostly in the lower-half. Its best performance in the 1970’s was finishing on 8th spot in 1978/79.
Bochum continued to ply its trade in 1.Bundesliga throughout the 1980’s as well but was not able to finish any higher up the league-standings in this period. It did however reach the final of the DFB-Pokal in 1987/88 but failed to pick up its first major trophy after losing 1-0 to Eintracht Frankfurt.
VfL Bochum regressed in the next few years and ended 1988/89 on 15th spot, barely managing to escape the drop on goal-difference. In the subsequent campaign, it fell down to 16th in the table and had to survive relegation via the playoff with a 2-1 victory on aggregate over 1.FC Saarbrücken.
In the next two seasons, Bochum narrowly avoided finishing in the bottom-3 of the Bundesliga by just a couple of points. However, the club ended the 1992/93 season in 16th position once again and this time, with the dismissal of the promotion-relegation playoff, was directly relegated to the 2nd division.
VfL Bochum had not found any corporeal success in a very long time. Despite playing in the top-tier for 20 straight years, it did not lift a single trophy. And while in the past few decades football clubs of North-Rhine Westphalia have risen to the forefront, Bochum have fallen behind its traditional rivals.
A Yo-Yo Club
After starting 1993/94 in the 2.Bundesliga, Bochum promptly won the league-title to secure an immediate return to the top-flight. However, its stay lasted only a solitary season after it only managed to take 16th position in 1.Bundesliga and had to come back down to the 2nd tier.
Bochum went on to clinch the 2.Bundesliga title in 1995/96, again at the first time of asking, to seal its return to the top-division. As a newly-promoted side in 1996/97, VfL caused a major splash by taking 5th place in the 1.Bundesliga, earning its best-ever display in the division.
This qualified the club for its maiden UEFA Cup appearance and it went up to the 3rd round, going down 4-6 on aggregate to AFC Ajax before ending the 1997/98 season in mid-table. However, Bochum finished the 1998/99 Bundesliga season in 17th spot and was relegated to the 2nd division once more.
In 1999/2000, Bochum earned another instant promotion to the top-flight, this time with a runners-up spot in 2.Bundesliga. But it remained in 1.Bundesliga for only one season and ended the 2000/01 campaign in 18th place to be sent back into the 2nd tier for yet another time.
Bochum finished 2001/02 in 3rd position of 2.Bundesliga to secure an instant passage to the top-flight once again. After taking 9th place on its return to 1.Bundesliga, Bochum improved to 5th spot in the following 2004/05 campaign, matching its best performance in the current top-flight.
VfL returned to the UEFA Cup in 2005/06 before bowing out in the 1st round to Royal Standard de Liège. Domestically, it ran into a dreadful run of form after autumn while it improved considerably by spring, it only managed to get 16th spot in the end and was dropped into the 2nd division yet again.
Bochum again ensured a swift return to the top-tier by winning the 2.Bundesliga for the 3rd time in 2006/07. It then finished the 2007/08 Bundesliga campaign in 8th position but moved steadily down the table in the next couple of years. At the end, it was directly relegated after ending the 2009/10 season in 17th spot.
The Last Decade
Unlike the previous times it was dropped into the 2nd tier, VfL Bochum was able to get an immediate return to the 1.Bundesliga on this occasion. It could only summon a 3rd place finish in 2.Bundesliga for 2010/11 and then lost the promotion-playoff with a 1-2 defeat on aggregate to Borussia VfL Mönchengladbach.
By the end of the decade, VfL Bochum had spent 10 consecutive seasons in 2.Bundesliga, turning into a mid-table side that usually ended close to the bottom-3. But in 2002/21, Bochum improved remarkably and won the league once again to earn promotion to the top-tier after more than a decade.
On its return to 1.Bundesliga, Bochum began the 2021/22 season quite sluggishly and lay in the bottom-3 during the opening months. Its form improved with the coming of winter and remained steady enough through the 2nd half of the campaign to eventually end up 9 points above the drop-zone in 14th position.
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