Zurich Derby – Grasshoppers v FC Zürich

“Das isch GC, di ewigi Nummer Eis
Das isch GC, i de Stadt und i allne Chreis
Zwei Sterne amne blau-wiisse Himmel über eus
Mir verlönd die Festig nie, blibed dir für immer treu

The new GCZ song was released in 2022.

Before derby proceedings begin the song was sang loud and clear with emotion by the home fans.

But despite being the home fans the Grasshopper fans are in the minority today – outnumbered by FC Zurich supporters in a home game in the home stadium of there biggest rivals.

The song describes some of the most important historical moments and symbols that have shaped the Grasshoppers in its long history. Important passages from older chants were also incorporated into the lyrics and the Hardturm Stadium gets a mention.

This is GC – Sunday afternoon in Switzerland on a bright winter afternoon.

A derby is calling.

Grasshopper Zurich v FC Zurich

FT: 2-1

Attendance: 17,300

Letzigrund, Zurich

Swiss culture is distinguished by its diversity, unsurprising given it lies at the crossroads of several European cultures. Switzerland is of course multilingual with several national languages include German, French, Italian and the lesser known Romansh.

Each canton has its unique cultural features and these cultures, customs and traditions differ in different regions of the country; the cultural autonomy can be stark especially so between French, Italian and German speaking regions.

The Swiss Super League is a football league in Switzerland.

It has been played in its current format since 2003-2004 season and clubs from each canton participate in the league system.

Season 2023–24 season is the 127th season of the Swiss top-flight, making it the longest continuously running top-flight national league in Europe.

The most unusual thing about the league is that teams from both Switzerland and Liechtenstein participate in the set up.

However only a Swiss club finishing in first place in the top league can be crowned champion — should a team from Liechtenstein win the title e.g. Vaduz, the honour of Champions go to the highest-placed Swiss team.

Grasshopper has its roots like many places, in the British traditions of football.

English students in an educational institute in Geneva were the original players.

The founding of the Grasshopper Club Zurich was initiated by an English student -Tom E. Griffith a young man who was in Zurich for schooling and sports training and brought the idea of playing football with him. The result was Switzerland’s most traditional and successful sports club and an institution that has developed over the years – the Grasshopper Club Zurich.

One evening in August 1886, a foundation meeting took place in the Café Stäubli in Flössergasse.

A small inn near Pfister’s grocery store was the place where youthful optimism came together with an idea. Imbued with an unstoppable enthusiasm of sporting enthusiasm the young men wanted to create a football club.

The colours would be blue and white – a pointer to Blackburn Rovers a club who that year had won the FA Cup.

Its is unknown how Grasshopper Zurich got its name but like many football clubs several theories exist.

The most credible explanation as to the club’s christening is that the early pioneers wanted to run and jump around in athletic fashion on grass – just as a grasshopper did. Another lesser theory is that they were named after a local rugby club.

For 78 years, between 1929 and 2007, the Hardturm Stadium Zurich was the home of the Grasshopper Club Zurich.

The last game was held on September 1, 2007, in the championship match between Grasshopper and Neuchatel Xamax.

The stadium was subsequently closed for good and demolished a year later.

FC Zurich were founded in the summer of 1896 by former members of the two local clubs FC Turicum and FC Excelsior. Another club FC Victoria joined shortly thereafter.

The debut game was in 1896 an event that saw the team play in the same colours as Grasshoppers. These days FC Zurich use a predominantly white kit although both clubs unusually for city rivals play in blue and white and are known for these colours.

Only 10 years separate these two city rivals, and while Grasshoppers were historically known as the club of the elite and academia (and FCZ were known as the club of the working-class) this is simply not the case anymore.

The derby is unique in Switzerland as it is the only rivalry between two teams from the same city.

Its all a far cry from the late 19th century where the Zurich derby is concerned.

On the surface this is the most expensive city in Switzerland. And while Zurich looks luxurious and upmarket – and even exclusive on the surface – the city’s footballing rivalry now runs very deep.

Essentially Grasshopper are Swiss football’s most successful club. But they have not won the title since 2003 when the league was the National League.

In the Swiss Super League era Grasshopper have not won a single title being a shadow of the side which dominated Swiss football for decades.

In contrast FC Zurich has enjoyed considerable success since the advent of the Super League.

Then there is the shadow of Hardturm Stadium behind this fixture.

During season 2006-2007 Grasshoppers shared use of its Hardturm with local rivals FC Zürich for the 2006–07 season. This led to protests by Grasshopper fans who disagreed with the shared used.

Then at the end of the 2007 season the Hardturm stadium closed for good and Grasshopper moved to sharing the Letzigrund. This is a stadium deeply ingrained in the history of FC Zurich and originally constructed by members of FC Zürich in 1925.

Grasshopper Club has been using it as their home stadium since 2007. 

The contexts of sharing the Letzigrund runs deep in this fixture.

Many Grasshopper fans question why they are even turning up for fixtures at the Letzigrund. In contrast FC Zurich’s support has increased considerably during the Super League era.

FCZ have managed to attract many new younger fans to the club from across all sections of society while the support of Grasshopper has dwindled.

There were about 4 or 5 tifo choreography’s in this installment of the Zurich derby but the first from Grasshopper fans rang ever true given the stadium issues.

‘TROTZ EXIL A JEDEM SPIEL’ (still here despite exile).

Blue and white smoke drifted up from the flags and the anthem rang out from the stadium sound system – the eternal number one to whom they are forever faithful:

Das isch GC, die ewigi Nummer 1 Das isch GC, i de Stadt und i allne Chreis Zwei Sterne am ne blauwiisse Himmel über eus Mir verlönd die Festig nie, blibed dir für immer treu.

It was Grasshopper’s home tie yet three quarters of the stadium was filled with FC Zurich fans.

The bulk of the stadium did not have to wait long to celebrate as the Swiss Kosovar Bledian Krasniqi gave FCZ the lead.

Between that goal and Dorian Babunski equalizing for Grasshopper on 71 minutes there were upwards of 4 or 5 separate instances of pyrotechnic displays from either side.

The real rockets went off in additional time.

Just as the game looked over and destined for a draw Pascal Schurpf drifted through on goal in the fifth minute of added time to win it for Grasshopper.

These two sides play each other a lot – a little bit like Celtic and Rangers in Scotland familiarity breeds contempt. But the difference is both clubs from Zurich are not like the Glasgow giants jousting at the top end of the table.

Young Boys Berne hold sway at the moment and while FCZ have been relegated in recent years its Grasshopper who this season are in realistic danger of the drop.

Both are some way from being the dominant force in Swiss football.