Arminia went down in 1971-72, largely due to the great bribing scandal – they were stripped from their all points as a punishment for attempting bribery, but this did not really change anything, for they were last anyway. Since then Arminia was not able to master any strength , quite contrary to their name – the club is named after ancient local chief, Arminius, who defeated Roman legions many centuries ago. Military spirit possessed them at last in 1977-78 and they won the league.
Yet, it was not very promising victory – without strong players, Arminia did not look like a team surviving in the Bundesliga. The signs were clear that the club was joining the ranks of the 'unsettled clubs' existing in almost every country – too strong for second division and too weak for the first, eternally moving up and down. Arminia is doing exactly that up to now, but 1977-78 was good year for them. They may have been even a bit lucky, but nevertheless winners.
There was still one promotional spot left and the second placed of each second division contested it in a two-legged play-off. Rot-Weiss (Essen) against 1. FC Nurnberg. To a point, these two appeared better suited for top flight football than the directly promoted winners – they had more interesting players and also Bundesliga was familiar league.
The first match was played in Nurnberg in front of 42 000-strong crowd. Thanks to 79th minute goal by Hans Walitza, the hosts clinched victory. A week later, June 9, Nurnberg went to Essen hoping to preserve tiny lead. 32 500 spectators attended this time, but both matches were attended by unseemly for second division teams numbers – well, the stakes were high. Once again Nurnberg was the better team – Slobodan Petrovic opened the result in the 29th minute. Rot-Weiss equalized in the beginning of the second half, thanks to Peter Ehmke, in the 49th minute. Ten minutes later Hans Walitza scored again for Nurnberg. In the very next minute, 59th, Hrubesch finally scored – from a penalty. The match ended 2-2 and Nurnberg won promotion.
Nurnberg and Rot-Weiss coming out, led by their captains Slobodan Petrovic (Nurnberg, dark kit) and Horst Hrubesch on the left (Rot-Weiss, in white).
Amusing photo – Hrubesch and Petrovic shaking hands before the match starts. How strange... this is the world-famous Hrubesch, trying to win promotion against a team captained by fairly obscure Yugoslavian. And the obscure Yugoslavian wins at the end...
Hans Walitza puts pressure on Rot-Weiss. He scored two goals in the play-off. Which perhaps was the whole difference between winning and losing: Nurnberg stars scored, but Hrubesch did not. Most likely Hurnberg's defense was able to neutralize him, but after scoring 41 goals during the season he failed in the most important matches – a single goal from a penalty and a mere equalizer. Not good enough – Nurnberg's stars delivered when mattered most.
No wonder they were the happy winners – Petrovic, Walitza and Nurnberg's President delirious after the play-off.
1. FC Nurnberg won promotion and returned to the Bundesliga. By names, may be they were the best club among the promoted – Hans Walitza was not a big star, but he was quite a famous player with clearly top-divison qualities. The imports – Slobodan Petrovic and Miodrag Zivaljevic – were not famous, but still vastly experienced and reliable. Norbert Eder was up and coming promising youngster. Manfred Muller was also reliable goalkeeper, classy enough for first, not second, division football. As a whole, Nurnberg had more strong players than any other second division team and perhaps had the best chance of surviving in the grueling Bundesliga. Of course, it was a dream fulfilled – the club returning to their rightful place after a few years of exile.