It all started with a letter to the board of directors of the Bayer works, then called the “Paint factories formerly known as Friedrich Bayer & Co.”. In February 1903 Wilhelm Hausschild, the former secretary of the Wuppertal Gymnastics Association, sent a letter signed by 170 employees to the management of today’s global corporation applying to set up a gymnastics and sports club.
The answer came on 1 July 1904 when one of the first German works sports clubs was established: the Gymnastics and Sports Club of the paint factories formerly known as Friedrich Bayer & Co. or TuS 04 for short.
When the club was founded, there were already demands to include football in the range of sports on offer.
At the start of the twentieth century, football was becoming increasingly popular amongst young men. But the founders of the club, with their commitment to gymnastic traditions, were unable to support these requests.
It all changed three years later: The Gymnastics and Sports Club voted unanimously to set up a football squad and this was founded on 31 May 1907 at the Wiesdorfer Hof restaurant. 23 players and four supporters – today they would be called non-playing members – were part of the 176 strong membership of the gymnastics club. But there was a need for compromises between gymnasts and footballers. The football crazy new members therefore agreed to train once a week with medicine balls.
Their attachment to the company saw them ask for permission to wear the the logo of the paint factories on their kit. At Christmas 1907 the football squad were bestowed with a coat of arms bearing the “Bayer lion with a globe and Mercury’s staff”. The first fixture was played in August 1907 against Manfort Ball Games Club.
A home near the Dhünnaue
Just four years after the club was founded the TuS 04 football team were promoted to the second Cologne district league. The football team then hit a snag. On the one hand, the footballers were unable to find a suitable ground. And the First World War intervened to put a stop to competitive games being played.
Immediately after the war, the footballers soon got back on track and found a home near the Dhünnaue meadows in Leverkusen-Wiesdorf.
The footballers finally split from TuS 04 in 1923. This was caused by the conservative German Gymnastics Association, the organising body for TuS 04, insisting on the separation of gymnastics and sport.
Founding of the “Sportvereinigung Bayer 04 Leverkusen” sports club
The football team now played under the name 04 Leverkusen Football Club and had approximately 150 playing members who were all employed at the works.
Over the next five years the club was expanded to cater for athletics and handball. Boxing was included from the start. These sections covering the different sports of football, athletics, handball and boxing were finally brought together when the “Sportvereinigung Bayer 04 Leverkusen” sports club was founded.