Saturday, November 24, 2012

Bottom is a relative term – 7 clubs, that is ½ of the Oberliga, finished pretty much with the same records, two points dividing 8th and 14th place. Goal-difference decided who was to be relegated and who was to stay. Yet, the parity is also relative, for the only real candidates for relegation were the 'unsettled' clubs. Five clubs normally occupied the mid-table, never going either up or down. Eternals. And above them were the real contenders, also the same season after season – Lokomotive (Leipzig), 5th, Carl Zeiss (Jena), 3rd, Magdeburg, 2nd, Dynamo (Dresden).

1.FC Magdeburg – continually strong in DDR and bronze medalists in 1976-77.

Lokomotive (Leipzig) generally 'muddied the water', never really able to win, but excelling in Cup tournaments. One newcomer joined the club: Dynamo (Berlin) was steadily rising and establishing themselves among the top, although so far they were not contenders. They finished 4th.
Dynamo (Berlin) – coming close, but not yet on top of everybody.
The battle between the usual three suspects ended without surprise: Dynamo (Dresden) added one more title to their collection. They scored a lot, but considering the weak league, it was not a news. Dynamo lost the battle for the best striker, though – Hans-Jurgen Kreische was the usual best goal-scorer in the recent years, but not this one. Joachim Streich, by now playing for 1. FC Magdeburg topped the list with 17 goals. No longer playing for a weak club, Streich flourished and there was more to come from him.

Dynamo (Dreseden) won the league confidently, 4 points ahead of 1.FC Magdeburg. But this was not all – they reached the Cup final as well. Their opponent was familiar: 1. FC Lokomotive (Leipzig). Lokomotive won the Cup in 1976 and were losing finalists in 1973. The Cup tournament was their pond.

1. FC Lokomotive (Leipzig), consistently strong East German team and cup specialists. May be one more trophy? It was practically the same squad who won the year before. In front of 50 000-strong crowd, the first half of the final ended 0-0. Then Sachse scored right after the second-half started, in 46th minute, giving Dynamo the lead. Lokomotive fought back and reversed the result by the 63rd minute – Lowe equalized in the 55th, and then Sekora scored one more. Five minutes before the final whistle it looked like the Cup was going to Leipzig again. But... Weber equalized in the 85th and two minutes later Sachse scored his second goal. 3-2 Dynamo. What a drama! Dynamo (Dresden) kept the result in the remaining three minutes and lifted the Cup for the first time since 1971. They lost three finals after 1971, but not this time.
A double for Dynamo (Dresden). Well deserved. Their biggest star – Kreische – missed the Cup final, but the team was deep enough and led by another East German star – Dorner – more than survived the assault of Lokomotive. Fifth title and third Cup, second double. Dynamo ruled the 1970s, more or less.

And a bit of bitter trivia – here are three unlucky, to say it mildly, players: Gerd Weber, Peter Kotte, and Mathias Muller. National team players all. Nothing bad in 1977, but in 1980 they had an offer from 1. FC Koln (West Germany) when playing in Holland against Twente. The car was waiting for them, to move them from East to West. The three players hesitated and wanted to think the offer over. Fat chance... they were arrested in January 1981. Weber was sentenced to jail, the other two were kicked out from Dynamo and suspended. Traitors, they were judged by East German authorities. Kotte later said that this was the biggest mistake in his life, that he did not accept Koln's offer and just run away with their car from Enschede, never coming back to DDR. For the mistake, he and his teammates paid dearly, but it was still sunny for them in 1977. Unless one sees irony in Dynamo's colours: gold and black.