Monday, January 12, 2009

Positive change appeared in West Germany, though. Professional unified national division was new in West Germany – Bundesliga was launched in 1963. (There was no professional Second Division until 1970s; professional Third Division starts this year – 2008 – for the first time. Germans are methodical and do not rush.) Neither Bayern (Munich), nor Borussia (Moenhengladbach) were considered top clubs and were not invited to the new league. They remained in the regional leagues, but both won promotion in 1964, along with bizarre club – Tasmania 1900 (West Berlin). The strange and politically motivated story will be told later, but because of it Bundesliga was increased from 16 to 18 teams – the format it has to this very day. The newcomers showed their teeth in 1968-69 – Bayern won their first title (in terms of Bundesliga, not counting the preceding years) and Borussia finished third. Next season Bayern finished second and Borussia were first time champions.Second row: Hennes Weisweiler (coach), Netzer, Meyer, Kracke, Wimmer, Spinnler, Volker Danner, Ludwig Muller, Kleff, Wittmann, Schlott (assistant coach)

First row: Zimmermann, Laumen, Le Fevre (Denmark), Sieloff, Schaefer, Dietrich, Kaiser, Koeppel.

These were up and coming people – future European and World Champions, national players of smaller caliber, a coach which will be considered one of the best in the world during the 1970s. Berti Fogts is missing in the photo, but he was in the team anyway. The elegant Dane Ulrik Le Fevre played at the left wing, and probably was underrated even in 1970 – under Danish rules no professional was permitted to play for the national team, and Le Fevre played his last game for Denmark in 1969, before joining Borussia. Next year Borussia were champions again – this time with Jupp Heynckes and Rainer Bonhof in the squad as well. Unlike other ‘new’ champions, Borussia did not lose top players, but increased them. It was also young team, its best years still to come. The core of stars were already making their way into the West German national team and Fogts, Heynckes, Wimmer, Bonhof, Kleff soon became European and World champions. As for Gunther Netzer – he was just the superstar. He did not play much for the national team, largely because of constant disagreements with Helmut Schoen, but was regarded as ‘world class’ player nevertheless – on the same level as Beckenbauer. No wonder he was the first foreign player Real (Madrid) bought when Spain lifted the ban on imported footballers in 1973. Borussia quickly became one of the best teams in the 1970s both in West Germany and Europe. The players were among the biggest stars of the decade, and the rise of Borussia went along with the great years of the national team – West German football on every level was becoming high class, and at least until 1975 – promoter of the ‘total football’. In the second half of the decade the Bundesliga became the top championship in Europe, the dream for a footballer. Even Kevin Keegan went to play in West Germany. The new German champion of 1970 was a sign of positive change, unlike the rest of the ‘new’ champions.
And… look again at Everton. Changes are changes, but something remained – clubs remained ‘traditional’ in structuring the squads: few stars, one or two classy foreigners, and the rest – sturdy professionals. Every team above follows this formula.