Farke’s on a horse? The story behind the chant bringing added fun to Norwich City’s promotion push
- Credit: SV Lippstadt 08
Daniel Farke on a horse? David Freezer finds out the story behind the terrace chant which is fast becoming a popular part of Norwich City’s push for promotion.
You may have heard City fans singing about ‘Farke on a horse’ recently and been left wondering why.
The tale stretches back to Daniel Farke’s time at SV Lippstadt 08 in Germany, the club where the Norwich boss first cut his teeth as a coach – and where he’d played in his younger days.
Thilo Altmann, president of Lippstadt, takes up the story, explaining: “The photos of Daniel on the horse were taken on his departure. During his time in Lippstadt, the then club president, Kai Hartelt, gave him the nickname “Winnetou” because of his hairstyle.
“At the club parties or the title celebrations, jokes were often made about it so then it became a running gag. And so it was finally the idea that Winnetou should make his last ride into the stadium on a real horse!”
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It turns out Winnetou is a fictional Native American character who featured in several novels which proved popular in Germany, written by Karl May in the 19th century – with the chief protagonist having long, dark hair.
The character also starred in a series of films in the 1960s and certainly bears at least a passing resemblance to Farke, when looking at older photographs of the City coach, particularly when clean-shaven.
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While this may all sound slightly obscure, it’s clear from watching the photos and videos of that 2015 farewell that it was all very much a warm show of appreciation for their former striker.
And it’s those images that started to circulate among Canaries supporters on social media in recent months, as their affections for Farke grew in similar fashion as the current promotion push took shape.
Supporters group Barclay End Norwich posted the lyrics on Twitter last week, as questions kept coming their way, to the tune of Waterfall by the Stone Roses...
“Farke’s on a horse,
What a great team to support,
We’ve got Leitner, Buendia and Rhodes,
Teemu Pukki cant stop scoring goals.
The greatest in East Anglia,
We’re going up.”
Farke played the majority of his career for Lippstadt as a striker, with two brief spells towards the end of his playing days, proving prolific at lower levels – also playing for SV Wilhelmshaven, Bonner SC and SV Meppen.
After starting out with Paderborn, Farke began with Lippstadt in 1999, playing in the Oberliga Westfalen, the fifth tier of German football and the highest level of the Westphalia region’s football system.
According to stats website Transfermarkt.co.uk, Farke managed 86 goals in 145 league games in total for Lippstadt, a town to the east of Dortmund where the Rummenigge brothers, Karl-Heinz and Michael, were born and played their youth football for the club – before they went on to play for Bayern Munich and West Germany.
Farke took over as coach in 2009 and also operated as sporting director, leading his team to promotion from the Westfalenliga in 2012 and then straight on to the Oberliga Westfalen title in 2013 to earn promotion to the fourth tier, also reaching the semi-finals of the Westfalenpokal.
Lippstadt slipped straight back down from Regionalliga West though – the level where Farke would later coach Borussia Dortmund II – and the emotional goodbye, complete with horses and local performers dressed as Native Americans, followed as fifth place in the Oberliga Westfalen was sealed by a 3-1 home win over Rhynern.
In the team that day, defender Eddie Riemer and midfielder Christopher John, who are now both on Farke’s coaching staff at Norwich following John’s arrival in November.Lippstadt president Altmann continued: “It’s a big pleasure to see that Daniel’s work is so successful and popular in Norwich. Daniel was for many years a special striker in our, and other, clubs and scored many goals in his career.
“After his playing career he continued his work as a coach for seven-and-a-half years in our club and after his time we were sure that his way would be successful in higher levels and at bigger clubs.
“Many people and supporters look regularly to his situation. Our biggest newspaper in our town sometimes write after weekends about the results of Norwich and Daniel’s chance with Norwich to play next season in the Premier League.”
It was all a bit of fun but it seems that affection for Farke has now travelled across the North Sea, after translating his obvious coaching talents to the English game with the Canaries.
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The ‘Farke on a horse’ story even came up in one of the Canaries head coach’s recent press conferences.
“To be honest it is a small story in Germany,” he explained with a smile. “Actually I am quite scared of horses. I would never go on a horse but our chairman, when I worked for a small club in Germany’s fourth tier, I was there for a while and it was a pretty successful period.
“After my last game, he had this idea to bring me on a horse and have a lap of honour on this horse in front of a nearly full stadium. It was a local theatre production and they all turned up dressed in the costumes and they had a spare horse.
“When he asked me to sit on this horse and ride to get a standing ovation I couldn’t turn it down. I had to overcome my feeling of being scared. It was good fun but I am pretty sure I wouldn’t win the big race at Cheltenham!
“Someone told me about a nice song the fans have of me on a horse.”
So will the German be seen on a horse at Carrow Road if his team can seal promotion to the Premier League?
He added: “I’ll have to see what Stuart Webber’s plans are! Sometimes he is unpredictable. I don’t think you will see me on a horse again.”
• Take a look at some of the videos above and below for an example of the chant, the Lippstadt farewell in question, a loving tribute to Farke’s playing days and more photos