Grasshoppers

Though it hasn’t been as successful in recent history, Grasshopper Club Zürich is a marquee name in Swiss football. With 27 Swiss Championships and 19 Swiss Cups, they’re still the most successful club in the country. They’ve also had a number of notable appearances on the international stage, including a UEFA semi-final run in 1978. They have a competitive inter-city rivalry with FC Zürich.

Basic facts

Founded: 1886
Country: Switzerland
City: Basel

Home grounds

Hardturm (1929–2007)
Letzigrund (2007–)

Main trophies

Swiss Championship: 27
Swiss Cup: 19
Swiss League Cup: 2

Prominent players

Alfred Bickel, Marcel Koller, Viorel Moldovan, Stephan Lichtsteiner, Kim Källström, Ricardo Cabanas, Nikola Gjorgjev

Club records

Most games played: Alfred Bickel (405)
Top goalscorer: Alfred Bickel (202)

History

Early exploits

Grasshopper was formed in 1886 by an English student named Tom E. Griffith. Thanks to a donation of 20 francs, the club purchased a blue-and-white kit inspired by Blackburn Rovers, which soon became one of the symbols of the club. The origin of the name Grasshopper is shrouded in mystery, but one popular explanation ties it to the club’s energetic play style early on. In its first official match, Grasshopper drew 0-0 with ETH.

In 1898, the club won the inaugural Swiss Championship. They claimed three more titles before being forced to withdraw from the league due to not having a suitable stadium. They rejoined in 1916, winning another title in 1921. They proceeded to win three more titles and four cups under the legendary Hungarian manager Izidor “Dori” Kürschner during the late ‘20 and early ‘30s. During this period, the club finally got its own venue -- the Hardturm Stadium.

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Domestic dominance

Even after Kürschner’s exit, Grasshopper continued to play a key role in Swiss football. From 1937 to 1956, they claimed an additional 7 Swiss Championships and 9 Swiss Cups. However, the double in 1956 signaled the end of their title aspirations for a while. The late ‘50s belonged to Young Boys, and the following decade saw Grasshopper play second fiddle to various rivals, including Zürich and the emerging Basel.

Despite a relative lack of silverware, the club returned to the top of Swiss football in the ‘70s. In addition to two championships, they also started making their mark in European competitions. In 1978, they made it all the way to the UEFA Cup semi-finals, where they lost a closely contested match to Bastia due to an away goal rule. A year later, they defeated Real Madrid in the European Cup, but lost in the quarter-finals to eventual winners Nottingham Forest.

Later history

The following two decades were also bountiful for Grasshopper, as they claimed another eight Swiss Championships and five Swiss Cups. In 1995, they also became the first Swiss club to take part in the newly formed Champions League; however, they failed to record any victories. Their second appearance went more smoothly, as they won three matches and came very close to qualifying for the knockout stages. In the deciding match, they lost to Ajax 0-1.

The club started off the 21st century on a positive note, winning two titles in 2001 and 2003. However, those turned out to be their only major trophies until they claimed the Swiss Cup in 2013. In the meantime, Grasshopper became the first Swiss club to go public, under the name of Neue Grasshopper Fussball AG. Two years later, the club shut down the Hardturm and moved to the Letzigrund, the home ground of FC Zürich.

By Martin Wahl

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Logo

Grasshoppers logoold Grasshoppers logoThe evolution of Grasshopper's logo is common. Because of the need to display a logo that is clear on smaller graphic formats, Grasshoppers is one of many clubs that have stylize their logo with less details occupying it. Older versions of the logo displayed a large green grasshopper. In later versions, the grasshopper would take lesser space before disappearing completely.

Grasshopper Club Zürich timeline

1886 The club is established.
1898 First time national league champions.
1926 First Swiss Cup trophy.
1927 Winning their first Double (Swiss championship and Swiss Cup).
1929 Hardturm Stadium become the club's first regular venue.
1973 First Swiss League Cup title.
2007 The club move to the Letzigrund.
2019 The club is degraded from the highest division for the first time in 70 years.

Trivia

Football clubs also founded in 1886

Arsenal FC logoArsenal FC
Queens Park Rangers logoQueens Park Rangers FC

Football clubs ordered after establishment

References:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grasshopper_Club_Zürich
https://www.gcz.ch/en/new-stadium/the-history-of-hardturm/the-history-of-the-stadium/