The Kampfbahn Glückauf is a monument that symbolises the place of football in the working-class culture of the Ruhrgebiet. It stands in the former mining community of Gelsenkirchen, amongst houses and pubs that were once occupied by men who extracted coal from nearby pits. It was the home of Schalke FC, originally Westfalia Schalke, a club founded in 1904, when games were played on the uneven surfaces of fields on the outskirts of Gelsenkirchen. The club’s greatest successes were achieved in the 1920s and 30s, during the 25-year captaincy of the locally-born Ernst Kuzorra (1905-1990), who favoured the short-passing mode of playing that came to be called Schalker Kreisel. The club had close links with local industry. The team was often called Schalker Knappen, the word ‘knappe’ denoting a miner who had completed his apprenticeship.
During the First World War the management of the Consolidation colliery leased a sports ground to the club, but in 1927-28 a new stadium, the Kampfbahn Glückauf was erected, with financial assistance from the colliery and the Mannesmann company. There were seats for only 1200 spectators, but 35,000 were able to stand on the high earthen banks that ringed most of the pitch. The expression in Gelsenkirchen meaning to go to a football match was ‘auf Schalke gehen’. The stadium was damaged by bombing during the Second World War but the players were engaged in the process of rebuilding, and it re-opened in 1946. Some extensions were made in the following decades, but in 1973 the club moved to the Park Stadium that was erected for the World Cup of 1974, and in 2001 moved again, to a new ground called the Arena AufSchalke.
The historic stadium of 1927-28 is now a protected monument. It is used by youth teams and by FC Schalke 04 reserves, and during the World Cup of 2006 was the venue for a ‘fan-fest’.