Wednesday, February 3, 2010

West Germany was: shirt advertisement was firmly established and unlike other countries, no club thought itself too proud to refuse. And unlike Austria, sponsors were not simply saving clubs from bankruptcy – the German system was sound and sober: sponsor money went for better teams, better stadiums, better youth system, financial stability. Nothing extravagant and hardly any ‘shopping spree’ – only five foreigners were bought in 1973, for example: 3 Swedes, 1 Dane and 1 Yugoslav. Big names – zero. True, the Germans took the cream from Atvidabergs FF (Sweden), and the club was never to achieve success again, but who cares? Swedes were amateurs… Torstensson and Sandberg were strong players, Benno Magnusson – so-so, Ralf Edstrom went to Holland – good bye, Atvidabergs FF. Welcome better Bayern, which took the lion’s share of the new recruits – to Johhny Hansen three new foreigners were signed: Conny Torstensson, Viggo Jensen (Dane from Odense), and Dusan Jovanovic (from OFK Beograd). Only Torstensson played. But as a whole West German football was getting better and better – competitive league, attacking fast football, high scoring, excellent fitness. After 1975 West German league was arguably the best in Europe and the place to be – 1973 was yet another step in the right direction, seemingly the only European country capable of grasping and employing quickly the total football.
Bayern and Borussia split championship and cup, the Bavarians getting the upper hand with their third Bundesliga title – Borussia had only two, but won the cup for consolation: they did fare greatly in the championship, finishing fifth. At least their ‘strategist’ Netzer was voted the footballer of the year, just like in 1972. Schalke 04 and Hertha ended miserably at the bottom, barely escaping relegation – both clubs suffering from the 1971 bribing scandal, in which the at least Schalke 04 was not main protagonist, but along with Hertha (who were) had the most suspended players (however, returning already to the pitch one after another). Hamburger SV were having measly seasons – they finished 14th, unlike Schalke 04 and Hertha, for entirely sporting reasons. The usual suspects were relegated - Eintracht Braunschweig and Rot Weiss Oberhausen. RW Oberhausen never returned to Bundesliga again.
1.FC Koln and Fortuna Dusseldorf took 2nd and 3rd place respectively – both clubs played significant role later in the 1970s, seemingly increasing the number of strong German teams – but neither club quite made it. Wuppertaler SV were surprise 4th – but it was overachievement. It is worth noting that some familiar name today – Werder Bremen and VfB Stuttgart – were mid-table clubs and Borussia Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen – were not even playing in the Bundesliga. 1045 goals were scored in the season – the highest number so far in the history of league, and still one of the highest all-time numbers. Only 5 players were red-carded and sent off – the lowest ever number in the history record (shared with 1970-71 season). Attendance is another all-time record: the average of 16 387 per match is the all-time lowest… which produced sharp outcry of concern: what is wrong with German football? Well, attendance was steadily declining since 1965 and finally hit rock bottom. Next year jumped sharly up, though.

It was perhaps the finest ever season of Bayern (Munich): leaving the second in the table, 1.FC Koln 11 points behind (2 points for a win), almost perfect home record – 19 wins and only one tie, scoring 93 goals when receiving only 29. Just to illustrate the difference: the second best scoring team, Borussia (Moenchengladbach) scored 82 and they were considered the most attacking minded club at the time. As for defense: Fortuna (Dusseldorf) had the second best – punctured by 45 goals. Gerd Muller scored ‘only’ 36 goals (not his best at all), once again the Bundesliga top-scorer. It was the year Udo Lattek’s boys played the closest to Ajax’s total football. Which ironically enough gave them the idea to modify it in unseemly way…

Top, left to right: Seifert, Beckenbauer-captian, Roth, Hoffmann, Krauthausen, Hansen, Muller, Schwarzenbeck, Hoeness, Breitner, Maier, Udo Lattek – coach.
Bottom: Rybarczyk, Zobel, Zimmermann, Jorg, Durnberger, Rohr, Weiss, Wildgruber, Obermeier. Six European champions and at least two world-best players at their posts – Maier between the goalposts, and Beckenbauer in the libero position. The team was getting fine tuning more than sharp changes: the right wing was considered their weakness and Conny Torstensson, impressive in both club and national team, was signed.