Among the many reasons I love international football (and there are many, many) are the priceless team names like Grasshopper Club Zurich. Yes, there is actually a professional soccer team called “Grasshopper Club.” This is not a joke.
League: Swiss Super League (the highest level of Swiss professional football); relegation to the Challenge League
Nicknames: GC, GCZ, Grasshoppers
Silverware: 27 Swiss top flight championships; 19 Swiss Cup championships
True Fact(s): Grasshopper Club is the oldest professional football club in Zurich; the club shares a great rivalry (as well as a stadium) with FC Zurich.
Lame (But True) Fact: The origin of the club’s name is not known but is believed to have derived from the way the players jumped up and down in celebration after they scored a goal. Oh the 1880s were heady times, my friends. Skiddley-boo!
Notes: In addition to having an awesome name, Grasshopper Club is also the most historically successful Swiss Super League club, having won the national championship a whopping 27 times and the Swiss Cup (the equivalent of England’s FA Cup) a total of 19 times. Unfortunately, they have not won the league since 2003, despite finishing second in the 12/13 and 13/14 campaigns, both times to FC Basel, who have won nine of the past 10 SSL campaigns.
Apparently the club hit some financial hard times (either because they stopped winning, or which caused them to stop winning) shortly after their most recent Swiss title, which resulted them nearly getting relegated in the mid-2000s. While it seems they have stemmed the slide, the club has not yet returned to it’s rightful place at the top of the Swiss league, and to this day does not have it’s own stadium, sharing one with cross-town rival FC Zurich, and was at one point quite recently having trouble paying the city of Zurich its rent payments for use of the stadium.
Overall, Swiss football seems to have hit a bit of a rough patch in the past 8-10 years as poor financial condition, lack of effective marketing, and hooliganism have tarnished the sport’s reputation in it’s own country, with average match attendance at just under 11,000 in 2017 (which apparently is low, historically). Average attendance at a Grasshopper Club match is 7,820. To put it in perspective, the top-drawing club in the Swiss League – FC Basel – draws on average 26,671 fans to their games and with a population of less than half that of Zurich.