Written by: Jiri Prochazka
The History of AFC Universe Frankfurt e.V.
Actually, everything really began in 1991. For the first time, it was possible to watch professional football in Germany. At that time, the league was named WLAF (World league of American football). A Frankfurt team bore the name GALAXY and attracted thousands of fascinated fans. After 2 years, the operator, the NFL, decided to suspend operations and for the first time angered thousands of fans of this great sport.
In 1994 the league came back as the NFLE (NFL Europe). Many changes were made in the league in the years up to 2006, many concepts, many teams. At the end of 2006, only the Hamburg Sea-Devils, Cologne Centurions, Amsterdam Admirals, Berlin Thunder, Dusseldorf Rhine Fire and Frankfurt GALAXY are left. Frankfurt GALAXY wins the World Bowl that year.
One season later, in 2007 (the league is now called NFL Europa), the league starts again with the same teams in the running. This time the Hamburg Sea Devils have their noses in front and win the title. This happens in an exciting World Bowl on the 23rd of June, 2007 in the Frankfurt Commerzbank Arena. However, in the evening rumours were already flying around that it could be the last World Bowl in the still young history NFL Europa.
On the 29th of June 2007 a certain Mr. Bergheim calls a telephone press conference at which he announces that the owners of the league have decided to cease operations for cost reasons. A slap in the face of all football fans in Germany! Disappointment and frustration are everywhere, the emotions boil over, many bitter tears are shed. No matter whether burgundy red, purple and orange or any other colour; all the fans hold together. Nothing helps. The league is history!
Despite fierce opposition from other groupings a number of GALAXY fans decide to try to maintain the fan culture which was developed in the 17 years of the league. They conducted numerous talks with fans as well as with officials at many levels of the league. The result: the American Football Club Universe Frankfurt is founded on the 18th of July 2007!
The aims are clear from the outset. The fan culture should be maintained, the fans of Frankfurt GALAXY should not break up. How can this be achieved? After thorough consideration, the answer to this question was: our own club and our own team have to be created. In purple and orange, with matchdays and power party, shows etc.
A big challenge to be sure but which, within the shortest period of time, finds hundreds of supporters who are prepared as club members to contribute, also financially.
The Executive Committee is formed. Names like Daniel Benetka or Martin Latka are on the list. From the outset, some friends are also present from the ranks of the fans. Amongst them, Sandhas - the creater of the choreos - spokespersons from some of the GALAXY fan clubs, as well as representatives of the virtual GALAXY world. All believe in the success of the idea.
Others follow quickly like Ralf Kleinmann, Dr. Raussen etc. Also Mr. Hosack has already agreed to support the idea. Numerous events follow. A stand at the Museumsuferfest as well as at the Gallus Stadtteilfest presented the AFC Universe Frankfurt to a wide audience. The first highlight occurs on the 15.09.2007 in Lampertheim. The GALAXY-Rocknight takes place. More than 300 enthusiastic GALAXY fans celebrate a gigantic party till the wee hours.
Here we go! The first season begins.
At long last, on the 11.05.2008 the long march begins. The first regular season game of the "new" Men in Purple in the Landesliga Middle is ready to start. Ralf Kleinmann makes the first kick-off in the history of the club. Daniel Benetka is a guest, Slawomir Rybarczyk stands on the sideline as a coach and Martin Latka is in purple on the field. The fans go wild. The opponent is the Giessen Golden Dragons. After the pre-season game against Augsburg was won, the players around Head Coach Markus Grahn have to swallow a bitter defeat. The guests from Giessen win by 31:7. For the fans a new "archrival" has been found. Giessen becomes the new "Rhein Fire" for the Universe!
The home matches take place in the Ginnheimer Niddapark in front of 1,500 spectators. The stadium of the SV Blue-Yellow is bursting at the seams. The neighbouring allotment holders experience a new world. The Galaxy stadium announcer, Steffen Popp, remains loyal to the purple dream and presents all the Universe gamedays.
The further course of the season shows that there is clearly a lot of potential in this team. For example, they win by 61:8 against the Rhine-Main Firehawks. A deep fan friendship with the Firehawks already developed after the first game, so that, since then over and over again, numerous purple fans fill the stadium of the Firehawks. Already, in the first visit, Universe photographer "Lucky" gets the job of operating the scoreboard of the Münsterer.
Then bad news comes for the fans! With great elation the away game in Giessen is won, but shortly afterwards disillusionment follows; the game is forfitted with 20:0 for Giessen, supposedly because of a rules infringement regarding the use of an ineligible player. A long argument with the Football Association begins.
Unflustered by the incident, Frankfurt Universe fights on and wins all the remaining games. The 16th of August is for the men in purple, however, a pitch-black day - the playoff game in Giessen is lost by a score of 28:13. At the end of the season they rank 2nd in the table.
The fans and executive committee have already resigned themselves to the fact that there must probably be a second season in the Landesliga Middle. Then the wonderful news arrives! Due to the pullback of a team in the Oberliga, the 2nd-placed team of the Landesliga Middle will also be promoted! THAT IS UNIVERSE!!! The mission "Promotion, Baby" is achieved! In 2009 Universe will play in the Oberliga Middle! Happily, this also means derbies again against Giessen! The fans are excited.
The German Bowl in the Frankfurt Commerzbank Arena is approaching and Universe, of course, doesn't let the opportunity go by to present itself at the game. Brunswick Lions play against the Kiel Hurricanes in the final. Quickly, friendship is achieved between the fans from Kiel and the Universe fans, so that nearly the whole block cheers on the green from Kiel. Unfortunately, unsuccessfully; Brunswick wins the bowl. Nevertheless, the fans are still happy and maintain this further fan friendship intensively. A spontaneous grill party after the game remains in good memory to many.
Highly motivated, the Universe team begins training in 2009 for the new Oberliga season. Numerous new players announce their interest and are also integrated into the team. They notice that Universe offers a professional training program. New coaches also arrive because they want to be a part of the team.
The Oberliga season 2009 begins. In the first game at home Universe beats the Heiligenstein Crusaders by 44:8. This promises to be a great season and it also becomes a great season. All the games are won, among them, two games against the "archrivals" Giessen Golden Dragons. Especially enjoyable is that the Men in Purple can celebrate their promotion after a victory in Giessen because, one game before the end of the season, it is certain: UNIVERSE WILL BE PROMOTED ONCE AGAIN! The last gameday brings a climax. With a slim 18:16 victory against Bad Kreuznach, Universe achieves a perfect season! No games lost!!! The mission "Promotion, Baby, Part II" is achieved!
The fans and the team celebrate this gigantic success with a fantastic party till the wee hours. In 2010 Universe will play in the Regional League Middle.
To be continued...
Translation by John Dack