04 fan friendship questions: Iron Blue Heidelberg and Hearts
Almost every Schalke fan knows about the fan friendships with 1. FC Nürnberg, FC Twente and Vardar Skopje, but away from these well-known relationships within the fan scene, there are numerous friendly links with fan clubs or individual Royal Blues that aren’t so well known. We want to introduce them to you with our ‘04 questions’ series.
We kick things off with the “Iron Blue Heidelberg 1983” fan club, who have close connection with fans of Scottish club Hearts of Midlothian. There is now even the “Iron Blue Edinburgh” group as a result, made up of both S04 and Hearts supporters.
How did you and your Scottish friends come together?
Schalke played in Edinburgh during our UEFA Cup campaign in November 2004. We just had a great rapport with the Scottish fans at the pubs in the city, as well as the stadium. We managed to stay in touch over Facebook and build our relationship.
What happened next?
A few years later, a few Hearts supporters came to our traditional end-of-season party at the final home game of the campaign. They were really impressed by the Schalke Mile; they couldn’t believe that a part of the city could be so influenced by football. As time went on, we visited Scotland a few more times too, and being in the Hearts stadium supporting the team on Boxing Day was a special experience.
What kind of things have Hearts fans been passionate about in recent years?
That has to be fighting for the club’s existence. After the much-despised Lithuanian owner Roman Romanow’s company went bankrupt, the club had almost €30 million of debt. An insolvency administrator was appointed and after being docked 15 points, there was no way to avoid relegation. However, the joy of being promoted back to the Premiership in 2016 with a team made up of several local youth players was even greater.
What are some other important issues for your fan club?
We’re worried about the growing commercialisation in football. We get the feeling that the traditions are losing their value and that business takes priority. We’d rather have a Schalke that is rough around the edges with flaws, and with that comes emotion. It’s either that or no football. Identification is more important to us than success.