Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The other two unfortunate losers were different.
Tennis Borussia from West Berlin finished 17th. They managed to get promoted in 1974, when the winners of the Regional leagues competed for promotion for the last time. TeBe were not big club and, to a point, reaching the top level of German football was sheer luck. Good luck lasted only one season – they were down immediately. Hardly a surprise, but TeBe maintained the momentum – they were to return to Bundesliga soon. From the perspective of the club, the mid-70s were the best years.
Unlike Wuperttaler SV, TeBe squad was more interesting: little known goalkeeper – Birkenmeier – was to gain some fame across the Atlantic Ocean. By the end of the 1970s, he was a teammate of Beckenbauer and Co. in Cosmos New York. He became the best goalie in NASL for several years. Of course, the better future was unforeseeable in 1975, when Birkenmeier had the unpleasant task to retrieve balls from his net. Many of them… If the goalie was yet unknown, another player had huge reputation – Karl-Heinz Schnellinger returned from Italy and one of the greatest stars of the 1960s joined TeBe for his last season. Schellinger was unable to save his new club from relegation and retired.
The 16th place went to VfB Stuttgart.
Unlike the other two losers, Stuttgart were old timers: one of the original members of the Bundesliga. Perhaps nobody expected the home town of BMW to be a weakling in football, but VfB were mediocre mid-table club so far – their best place was 5th. This season they ended in the relegation zone and moved down to sample the new Second Bundesliga. Hard to believe today.
Whatever the reasons were, VfB Stuttgart had mediocre squad – few of the boys got better reputations and that well after 1975. Yet, it was curious fall – VfB Stuttgart were not good, but they were not among the group of unsettled clubs, hopping up and down year after year. It looked like the Stuttgarters were stable mid-table club, but playing with fire eventually burned them.