Early years
The Hamburger Sport-Verein (HSV), can trace its roots as far back as the 29 September 1887 merger of Der Hohenfelder Sportclub and Wandsbek-Marienthaler Sportclub to form Sportclub Germania zu Hamburg. The current club was formed as Hamburger Sport-Verein in 1919 through the union of three city teams severely weakened by World War I: Sportclub Germania zu Hamburg; Hamburger FC (1888); and FC Falke Eppendorf (1906). The club colors were the Hanseatic red and white in honor of the City of Hamburg, with the blue and black of the oldest of the founding clubs, Germania, being used on the team crest. It is through Germania that HSV can lay a claim to being the oldest team in the country. However, other clubs may dispute that honour, as Germania was formed originally as an athletics club and did not begin to play football until 1891, when a half-dozen Englishmen joined the club, bringing with them their enthusiasm for the game.
The newly formed Hamburger SV quickly became competitive and contested the 1922 national final against 1. FC Nuremberg, who were playing for their third consecutive title. The game was called off on account of darkness after three hours and ten minutes of play, drawn at (2:2). The re-match also went into extra time, and in an era that did not allow for substitutions, that game was called at (1:1) when Nuremberg was reduced to just seven players (two were injured, two had been sent off!) and the referee ruled they could not continue. Considerable wrangling ensued over the decision. The German Football Association (Deutscher Fußball Bund) awarded the win to Hamburger SV but urged them to refuse the title in the name of good sportsmanship—which they grudgingly did. Ultimately, the Viktoria trophy was not officially presented that year.
The club's first unblemished success on the pitch came in 1923 when they won the national title against Union Oberschöneweide. They failed to defend in 1924 against Nuremberg, but lifted the Viktoria again in 1928.
During the Third Reich, HSV enjoyed local success, first in the Gauliga Nordmark, from 1942 in the Gauliga Hamburg, taking out the league title in 1937, 1938, 1939, 1941 and 1945, but on national level the club was a failure. Its main rival in the Gauliga in those years was Eimsbütteler TV.
Post war play in the Stadtliga Hamburg saw the club take out the championship there in 1946. The club also won the championship of the British occupation zone in 1947 and 1948, the only two seasons this competition was staged.
Hamburg became the first German team to tour the United States after the Second World War in May 1950 and came away with a 6–0 record.
Playing in the Oberliga Nord after the resumption of league play in postwar Germany in 1947, Hamburg became a frighteningly dominant regional club. In sixteen seasons from 1947–48 to 1962–63 they laid claim to the Oberliga title 15 times, only posting an uncharacteristic 11th place finish in 1953–54. During this period, they scored over 100 goals in each of the 1951, 1955, 1961, and 1962 seasons. However, national titles were harder to come by. Their last championship in 1928 was followed by a long drought not broken until 1960, after losing final appearances in 1957 and 1958. In the 1961 European Champions Cup competition, Hamburg were knocked out by FC Barcelona in the semi-finals. Hamburg had beaten BSC Young Boys from Switzerland and English champions Burnley on their way to the semi-finals.
 Entry into the Bundesliga
Soon after, Germany's first professional football league, the Fußball-Bundesliga, was formed and HSV was one of 16 clubs invited to join that first season. Hamburger SV currently holds the distinction of being the only original Bundesliga side to have played continuously in the top flight – without ever having been relegated – since the formation of the league in 1963. They had shared that special status with Eintracht Frankfurt and 1. FC Kaiserslautern until 1996, and with 1. FC Köln until 1998. Altogether, 49 other sides have come and gone since the league's inception. The Bundesliga celebrated its 40th anniversary on 24 August 2004 with a match between "The Dinosaur", as the club has been affectionately nicknamed due to its old age, and Bayern Munich, the league's most successful side. What is even more remarkable is a related, but less well-known, distinction HSV holds: they have played in the country's top flight league continuously since 1919, never having experienced relegation.
HSV went undefeated between 16 January 1982 and 29 January 1983—a string of 36 games that still stands as a Bundesliga record.
In August 2004, HSV was upset in the early rounds of the German Cup by regional league side SC Paderborn 07. The match became one of the most infamous in recent football history when it was discovered that referee, Robert Hoyzer, had accepted money from a Croatian gambling syndicate to fix the match, which he did, awarding two penalties to Paderborn and sending off Hamburg's player Emile Mpenza. The resulting scandal became the biggest in German football in over 30 years, and was an embarrassment to the country as it prepared to host the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
 2006–07 UEFA Champions League campaign
Hamburg competed in the UEFA Champions League in the 2006–07 season for the first time since 2000–01, after they finished third in the Bundesliga. They beat CA Osasuna on away goals in the third preliminary round, and competed in Group G alongside Arsenal, FC Porto and CSKA Moscow, but finished a disappointing last and were thus eliminated.
 2006–07 Bundesliga campaign
The Bundesliga campaign started rather poorly for Hamburg. After a successful 2005–06 season, when they finished third in the league to qualify for the UEFA Champions League, they spent the first half of the season hovering around and in the relegation zone, with only one win (2–1 in against Bayer Leverkusen) to their points tally. A series of crippling injuries to the star players along with the departures of two of their best defenders, Khalid Boulahrouz and Daniel Van Buyten, severely influenced Hamburg's league campaign, with fans fearing that Hamburg's proud stay in the Bundesliga might be drawing to a close, as the club occupied the bottom spot of the league table after the first half of the season.
On 1 February 2007, the coach, Thomas Doll, was sacked and replaced by the Dutchman Huub Stevens. Stevens' disciplinarian style seemed to grab HSV by the scruff of the neck and shake them about, as the club went seven games undefeated and conceded just one goal between 10 February 2007 and 7 April 2007. During this streak, HSV lost their first home game of the season against Borussia Dortmund and won away to arch-rivals Werder Bremen and Schalke 04 — two sides who were 2nd and 1st, respectively, when HSV came to town.
However, despite this good run of form (which would come to a crashing halt at home to eventual Champions Stuttgart in April), HSV still were not safe from relegation due to the teams below them also collecting points. At one point in March, 12 teams were involved in the relegation scrap with a gap of 10 points separating 18th placed Borussia Mönchengladbach and 7th placed Hannover 96.
HSV seemed to gain more success on their travels than at home, as wins at Borussia Mönchengladbach (which virtually relegated Borussia at the time), Bayern Munich, and 1. FC Nuremberg gave HSV valuable points whilst the home games in this period were the previously mentioned defeats to VfL Bochum and VfB Stuttgart, as well as a disappointing draw against fellow strugglers 1. FSV Mainz 05. Ironically, it was the 3–0 home defeat to Bochum on 5 May that mathematically secured HSV's Bundesliga status as struggling Alemannia Aachen (16th) and Mainz (17th) also lost their games on the same weekend and despite the points difference only being six points with two games left, the goal difference was too large to make up by either club.
With their status safe, HSV were now among a small pack of clubs – consisting of Borussia Dortmund, Hannover 96, Arminia Bielefeld and Bochum — that were chasing 7th place and the qualifying spot for the following season's UEFA Intertoto Cup. With one game left, and following the 0–3 upset by Bochum, HSV surprised in-form Nuremberg to win 2–0 in the Southern sunshine. One week later, a resounding 4–0 home win (HSV's first since 1 April) over relegated Aachen coupled with Dortmund's 2–1 defeat in Leverkusen and Nuremberg's 3–0 win in Hannover meant that HSV had somehow slipped in at the last possible moment to snatch 7th place, moving from 18th place and certain relegation on 10 February 2007 to 7th place and two games away from UEFA Cup football on 19 May 2007.
 Recent seasons
Year Division Position
1999–00 Bundesliga 3rd
2000–01 Bundesliga 13th
2001–02 Bundesliga 11th
2002–03 Bundesliga 4th
2003–04 Bundesliga 8th
2004–05 Bundesliga 8th
2005–06 Bundesliga 3rd
2006–07 Bundesliga 7th
2007–08 Bundesliga 4th
2008–09 Bundesliga 5th
2009–10 Bundesliga 7th