Everything You Never Knew You Wanted to Know About Berlin
In an inn Düsterer Keller (also known as Zum Düsteren Keller) in today´s Bergmannstrasse 107 the representatives of six Berlin football clubs establish the Verband der Deutschen Ballspielvereine (Federation of German Ballplay Clubs) – the moustachioed predecessor of today´s Berliner Fussball-Verband or Berlin Football Federation. With its 3,248 teams on the members´ list it came a long way from the initial six.
The original founders of the federation – BFC Preussen 1894, BFC Fortuna 1894, FV Brandeburg 1892, SC Argo, SC Hohenzollern Lichterfelde, Friedenauer SC 1896 – were no longer interested in being members of the Deutschen Fussball und Cricket Bund (German Football and Cricket Federation) after another internal conflict escalated.
DFuCB was itself set up as a result of an internal feud within the very first German football league, Bund Deutscher Fußballspieler (Federation of German Football Players). The bone of contention was the participation of foreign players, particularly English ones, in league games as well as transfer of players between teams. Words such as “nationalistic” and “chauvinism” can be heard rustling like brown leaves in the background…
After similar contentious topics came up again a couple of years later, the dissenting clubs within this time German Football and Cricket Federation itself, finally went on with their own schism.
The six founding clubs´s representatives met in Bergmannstrasse in a by then famous pub cum wine cellar. Düsterer Keller, named after the dark ravine which cleft the earth open under the area of more less today´s Chamissoplatz, was a well known tavern placed in a long and (what else) dim cellar where businessmen of the time met to enjoy their drink.
The fact that they could enjoy it swathed in thick, fleshy clouds of tobacco smoke added to the atmosphere in both literal and metaphorical sense. By the way, Berliners and the residents of Tiergarten (then not part of Berlin yet) were banned from smoking in public places until 1848. Düsterer Keller became a Tabagie (smoking lounge) soon after the ban was lifted.
Verband der Deutschen Ballspielvereine – an organisation which in 1902 was re-named Verband Berliner Ballspielvereine (Federation of Berlin Ballplay Teams) – in 1991 became the above mentioned Berliner Fußball-Verband. It is the umbrella organisation for almost all football clubs in Berlin today.
And why was Düsterer Keller chosen by the six clubs as the birthplace for their new union? Well, the answer might be indeed very simple: it had beer, they knew it and it was on the way back from the pitch.
Up till the beginning of the 20th century most of Berlin football clubs met sooner or later at Tempelhofer Feld to practise and to fight. And for many of the players Düsterer Keller was simply on the way home.