Note: This weekly series will look for teams outside of the top flights of European football to find true underdog stories of clubs well below the radar. Clubs will be featured based on performance in the various tournaments that happen concurrently with the league seasons, or even strong runs in some of the leagues that dot the European football landscape. Chances are, these clubs will be years away from finding a home at the top flights of football – if they are ever able to get there – but it doesn’t mean they don’t deserve attention from time to time. If you happen upon a team that you think might qualify, feel free to drop me a line on Twitter @GuruEbby or @SportMuseNet!
Young Boys of Bern
Nickname: The Yellow-Blacks
Founded: 14 March 1898
Location: Bern, Switzerland
Team Colors: Yellow and Black
Ground: Stade de Suisse (since 2005)
Current League: Swiss Super League
Reason For Notice
With the Champions League kicking off this week, I thought I would preview another long-shot club in the tournament, this time a club that has made the Champions League Group Stage for the first time in their history. Unlike previous entry in this series Red Star Belgrade, who had to play through multiple qualification rounds to reach the group stage, Young Boys entered the tournament during the playoff round, the last round before the Group Stage. They defeated Dinamo Zagreb of Croatia in that round, securing a berth in the Group Stage
The Young Boys started out as a sort of youth club affiliated with FC Bern, who provided grounds, changing rooms, and equipment. They eventually struck out on their own in 1901, leasing their own grounds separate from FC Bern, which was shortly after they were admitted to the Swiss Football Association on their own accord. They’ve been a top club ever since.
They found success in the mid-20th century under the management of Albert Sing, who joined the club in 1951. Over the next 13 years, Sing led Young Boys to four league titles and an appearance in the European Cup (precursor to Champions League), where they reached the semi-finals during the 1958-1959 season. After the departure of Sing in 1964, however, the club fell from it’s previous level of success, going without a league title until the 1985-1986. But that would be the last time they found any level of success in the league, and even faced some difficulties during the 1990s.
In 1997, Young boys developed financial difficulties, and, for the first time since 1946-1947, were relegated to the National League B. The stay in tier 2 was short, with a championship in 1998, but further financial difficulties led them back down a season later. They were able to win another championship that season, returning to the Swiss Super League, where they have stayed ever since.
They moved into the Stade de Suisse for the 2005 season, and the new stadium led to renewed success. They finished that season in third place, which qualified them for the UEFA Cup (now Europa League), where they lost to French power Marseille. They continued to finish near the top of the league over the next decade, finally breaking through with a championship last season, their 12th championship overall but first since 1986. This qualified them for the Champions League Play-off Round, which is where they are today.
Young Boys begin their long-shot climb through the Champions League later today against Premier League club Manchester United. It will be their first of six matches in the Group Stage, and they will kick it all off at home. Over the next four months, they will play through the Group Stage, and while they would be thrilled to advance to the knockout phase, though they should be totally pleased with a third-place finish, which would result in a move to the Europa League.
In league play, Young Boys are currently in the midst of defending their Swiss Super League title, and they’ve got off to a great start, winning all six matches on the season with a goal differential of +15. This is under a new manager, with Gerardo Seoane taking over before the season. After their Champions League match tonight, they return to league play on Sunday, with a home match against FC Basel, currently the third place team in the league, and hope to continue in their unbeaten ways.
Update on Last Week’s Club
Last week, I profiled Bath City, a member of the National League South. This past weekend, they played a match against Oxford City, which resulted in a win for the Romans. They currently sit in 5th place in the league, with 18 points through 10 matches. This currently puts them in position to qualify for the National League South playoff, but there is still another 32 matches yet to play. This weekend, they play their first qualification match in the FA Cup against Banbury United from the Southern League Premier Division (7th tier), and their next league game the following Saturday against Welling United.
Until next time…
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