In a special feature, the Proact's PA announcer Howard Borrell looks at the rise of German side SV Darmstadt 98, with the club from Chesterfield's twin town incredibly now promoted to the Bundesliga.
Forget Bournemouth in the Premier League, this fairy story beats it! Darmstadt - known as the City of Science - managed to engineer their way to the top flight on the last day of the German League season.
Until Tobias Kempe scored the only goal of the game against St Pauli, who themselves were desperate for points to avoid relegation, after 70 minutes, the Lilies (from their logo the Fleur De Lys) were sitting in fourth place in the live Bundesliga 2 table. The decisive strike edged them above the two famous key challengers Karlsruher and Kaiserslautern to clinch second spot and an amazing automatic promotion.
Nothing surprising about that you may think, but don’t kid yourself. Two years ago SV Darmstadt 98 were relegated to non-league football – in Germany football is regional below the national third tier. The twist came when they were reprieved after their deadly rivals, Offenbach Kickers - and believe me the rivalry is probably stronger than our hostilities with Mansfield - were denied a licence for the following season after their finances were examined and considered to be less than stable. Meaning that the Lilies gratefully retained their place in Bundesliga 3.
You would have assumed the following season would have been one of consolidation after such a close shave, not a bit of it! The Lilies clinched promotion to Bundesliga 2 in the play-offs by beating Arminia Bielefeld who were relegated from Bundesiga 2 after their two-legged play-off defeat.
Again, surely they would struggle in the next level? Wrong again, they took the league by storm and were in the top half all season and around the automatic places for most of it - until that dramatic finale.
How did they do it you may ask. No simple answer, but it was certainly wasn’t by splashing the cash - they don’t have any to splash.
Instead, their inspirational manager Dirk Schuster got together a squad of players that would metaphorically die for the club. The fans couldn’t believe their strong start and when at the beginning of May they beat their closest rivals in consecutive games, they must have really started to believe.
Darmstadt's ground is not a patch on the Proact but is to be rebuilt stand by stand. Whether they will still be in the top flight when it’s finished, only time will tell.
Darmstadt run a tight financial ship and pay as little in wages as they can get away with. German clubs, generally, pay less than in the UK but it doesn’t seem to have thwarted their ambition.
Come on the Lilies !
Watch out for a fuller update in the matchday programme early next season.