Wednesday, October 30, 2013

May be Koln was infavourably judged so far – their 1977-78 season was truly fantastic: not only champions, but winning the Cup as well. A double! Does not happen every day. Cup and regular championship always differ, which looks like surprise – but these are fundamentally different competitions. Underestimate, negligence, unlucky mistake, and a might team would be gone. Bayern did not even reach the ¼ finals. Borussia (Moenchengladbach) was eliminated in the ¼ finals by Werder (Bremen), a team having miserable season otherwise. Schalke 04 and Fortuna (Dusseldorf) were unable to beat each other after overtime in Gelsenkirchen and had to play a second leg in Dusseldorf – Fortuna won at home, but minimally: 1-0. Koln had it much easier... they hosted the worst team in the Northern Second Bundesliga, Schwarz-Weiss (Essen). Worst, but not in the Cup, where they heroically reached a level Bayern was not able to reach... but the team was very weak, unfortunately. Koln easily won 9-0. No mercy, just hunger. Koln had it tougher in the ½ finals - they still had lucky draw: hosts again. Werder, however, was not easy and Koln clinched 1-0 victory. Fortuna destroyed MSV Duisburg 4-1.

The final opposed two of the top German clubs this year. Similar in a way – not having exceptional cluster of big stars and depending on collective play and spirit – both were ambitious enough. Fortuna was so far climbing up for a few years and perhaps it was time to finally blossom and begin winning. Koln had enough motivation of their own. They won 2-0.
Flohe proudly lifting the Cup. Now, this was familiar... Koln won it in 1976-77 too. They just kept it in their hands.

Sad day in Dusseldorf, but still it was not a bad season for Fortuna – they finished 4th in the Bundesliga and Cup finalists. They were one of the most stable teams during the 1970s, and actually improving year after year. Not long ago Fortuna was seen as possible third great German club in making. Perhaps 1977-78 made clear they were not going to be great... by now it was very experienced team, but actually reaching the peak of their potential and most likely decline was coming, if not started yet. The club somehow did not add great new talent to already familiar for years squad – and it was clear by now that Daniel and Baltes were not going to become better players, let alone stars. Zewe, Seel, and the Austrian Hickersberger were getting too old to build a team around them. Neither was first-class star – Zewe and Seel were second-echelon: even when they played for the national team, it was clear that they were not going to be influential regulars, but replaced at the first moment younger talent was at hand. The only player for the future was Allofs – which meant that a new team had to be started. Fortuna were brave, but... no more.

Koln had perhaps their best ever year. A double! May be they were also a great team? 2 Cups and 1 title in two years – hard to be dismissed. Hard to ignore.

Cup winners! What a season for the Billy Goats! What a year for a club very young by German standards – 1. FC Koln was found in 1948, as a merger of two hardly remembered local clubs – Kolner Ballspiel-Club 1901 and SpVgg Sulz 07. The 'baby club' quickly started winning and distinguished itself as the first Bundesliga champions – hence, the constant hopes and longing for another title. Finally wish came true and who was the prime mover and shaker? Who was the reason for the great success? Hennes IV the Great, of course! To enemies it was a joke, for it sounded as a joke... back in 1950 the owner of a circus brought a gift to the club during Koln's Carnival – a goat. It was presented to Hennes Weisweiler, a star player of the club and very young coach. Hard to tell who was more surprised – the man or the goat: the animal immediately urinated on the shirt of Weisweiler, trying to keep him in his hug. This was seen as significant omen and the goat was named Hennes. He became the live mascot of the club, always present at games and traveling with the squad to away games. The goat was incorporated in the club's logo, rather strangely stepping on the Koln's famous cathedral. The club was nicknamed 'the Billy Goats'. But it was not just a fancy whim... the goat had luxurious life by goat standards, but he was expected to work. To influence and win games and trophies. The pressure was big . Goat life is short. By 1977 already the forth Hennes was reigning.

Hennes IV was honest – he worked hard and delivered. He won the Cup in 1976-77. Now he aimed higher – and produced a double. No other Hennes managed so much – immediately Hennes IV became Hennes IV the Great. Certainly he had the look and appearance of greatness. Forget Hennes Weisweiler and players – it was Hennes IV the Great who led the club to a double. He won it. But it was tough and difficult life with such responsibility: Hennes IV the Great did his best, worked hard... until his heart burst from the pressure. Hennes IV the Great died from cardiac arrest a few years after his great success. He is fondly remembered and set as an example to every new Hennes. Later ones also perished from heart attacks, alas, without victories. The greatest of all goats set very high standards indeed.