The project to honour Borussia Dortmund's founder

Posted by Stephan Uersfeld

Patrik Stollarz/AFP/Getty ImagesThe titles and European success enjoyed by Borussia Dortmund would not have been possible had it not been for Franz Jacobi.

Zum Wildschutz. A pub just off Dortmund's Borsigplatz, on a street leading towards the gates of the Westfalenhutte, Dortmund's biggest employer. Smokestacks signal the way to the steel works. It is a cold and cloudy day. A group of 18 men have gathered inside the pub to discuss the foundation of a football club. It is late December and outside the vicar is banging against the door to try and prevent the inevitable. The vicar does not succeed and inside the pub the 18 men are left looking for a name for their new baby.

They agree upon Ball Spiel Verein and high on beers, only five days before Christmas, they decide that the local brew shall be the eponym. They order a new round of beers and toast to Ball Spiel Verein Borussia.

Fast forward some 57 years. An old man, way into his 70s sits in the stands of Glasgow's Hampden Park and witnesses Borussia winger Stan Libuda lobbing the ball into Liverpool's net. Fourteen minutes later, this old man celebrates the first European title for any German team.

The old man in the stands of Hampden Park is Franz Jacobi, the founder of Borussia Dortmund. The man who gave birth to one of the greatest football clubs in Europe. Many famous Borussen followed Jacobi. August Lenz became Dortmund's first Germany international in 1935. The picture of Adi Preissler lifting the silverware after Dortmund’s first championship in 1956 is one of the most iconic picture in the club's history.

Names like Lothar Emmerich and Siggi Held will always be connected to the 1966 European Cup Winner's triumph. Michael Zorc never played for another club other than Dortmund for all his life, winning the Bundesliga and the Champions League as the club's captain. Kevin Grosskreutz could be set to become the next Borussia Dortmund legend.

But whereas Borussia Dortmund fans might have heard the story about that day when Borussia Dortmund was founded, the life of the founding father of Borussia Dortmund has never been documented.

A few facts about his life have survived: He became the club's president in 1910 and only stepped down 13 years later for strategic reasons, with the new president Heinz Schwaben also being one of the directors of Dortmund's Union Brewery. But Jacobi remained a strategic consultant for Borussia Dortmund, and after World War II was an important man, who guided Dortmund to European success in the 1960s. Jacobi died, aged 90, in Salzgitter, Lower Saxony in 1979.

"Without Franz Jacobi," Jan-Henrik Gruszecki explains, "and the other 17 founders, those stories would not have been written. Without Franz Jacobi and the others, we would not be able to proudly walk around Germany and say: 'We have been the first big German club, we were the first winners of a European Cup.' Without Jacobi no August Lenz, no Adi Preissler, no Michael Zorc and no Kevin Grosskreutz."

Gruszecki, a studied historian and a leading figure in Dortmund's fan scene, is one of three Borussia Dortmund die-hards who have now set off for a journey that could end in one of the most interesting football documentaries in a long time. "Am Borsigplatz geboren -- Franz Jacobi und die Wiege des BVB" (Born at the Borsigplatz -- Franz Jacobi and the cradle of BVB) sets out to take a look at the man who gave birth to one of Germany's biggest football clubs.

Gruszecki is joined by the author Gregor Schnittker -- who only recently published a book about the history of the Borussia Dortmund fans, co-written with the one and only Uli Hesse -- and Marc Mauricius Quambusch, a TV producer and also a passionate Borussia Dortmund supporter and fan activist, who has made a name for himself as the leading figure behind the "Kein Zwanni" campaign, fighting the price hikes in German football.

"We are fortunate to be able to witness maybe the best time in the club's history," they explain. "Eight years after waking up in intensive care, Borussia Dortmund is back on top: Two championships, one domestic double and reaching the Champions League final within only three years. Not living on tick but with a young and hungry team put together by the smart leadership. Borussia Dortmund thrills millions of people all over the world," the filmmakers continue. All of that built on the foundation of the 21-year old Jacobi and his 17 young cohorts who founded Borussia Dortmund over 103 years ago.

The trio is now looking for the help of all Borussia Dortmund fans in their quest to generate at least 120,000 euros to finance the project. Via a crowdfunding platform they have until September 5 to collect the money, with a funding goal of 250,000 euros. Over the course of only a couple of days, the three Dortmund fans have already acquired some 16,000 euros. "We are knocked over," Gruszecki says. "It's money from the upper floor of Dortmund's office and from a 17-year-old fan from the Sudtribune. We are supported by all walks of life. Incredible!"

If by early September enough funds have been raised, the filmmakers hope to create a unique documentary that will be fundamental for all Borussia fans, today and in the future. "We hope to create a film that could also be shown on the History Channel," Gruszecki says. Depending on the actual funds raised, the format of the documentary will be developed. "If we reach the funding goal of 250,000 euros, then we will be able to shoot some scenes as re-enactment and through animation can breathe new life into places long gone."

"Really, we should have done this film some 34 years ago," Gruszecki says.

But they are doing it now and one can only keep the fingers crossed they can fully start working on this unique project in September 2013.

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