German Football At The Olympics : East Meets West In Munich


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East Germany midfielder JUERGEN POMMERENKE of Oberliga outfit FC Magdeburg sails through air after heading the ball downwards in the direction of West Germany goalkeeper HANS-JUERGEN BRADLER (19) of Bundesliga club Vfl Bochum during the all-important Group 1, Second Round Olympic football match in front of a packed house at the Olympiastadion as the 1972 Summer Games from Munich unfolded.
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September 8, 1972 — the 80,000 Zuschauer at the Olympiastadion in Munich provided completely different scenery for a decidedly different occasion from the first of the two so-called “Geisterspiele” at the virtually-empty Walter Ulbricht Stadion in East Berlin almost exactly fourteen years previously as the Olympic football sides for EAST GERMANY and WEST GERMANY take the field for a medal-elimination match at the 1972 Summer Games.

Although it is all but certain that two-time defending Olympic football champion Hungary will defeat Mexico, finish first in their group and, thus, move into the Gold Medal Match there is still much for the Bundesrepublik Deutschland and the Deutsche Demokratische Republik to decide — the winner of this historic, first-ever official all-German affair at the Olympic Games will clinch second place in Group 1 and, therefore, punch a ticket to the Bronze Medal Match.

Given the specifically stated desire of the D.D.R. to defeat their ultimate class enemy in all athletic competition at the Olympics, the opportunity to directly bounce the B.R.D. out of the medal round of the football tournament on home turf at the 1972 Munich Games was really everything the S.E.D. Politburo could have possibly wanted; the West Germans, for their part, were hoping that the individual brilliance of local Bundesliga power Bayern Munich’s 20-year-old superstar midfielder ULI HOENESS might be enough to derail East Germany and its propaganda ministry.

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Following the 1972 Summer Games in Munich, West Germany Olympic forward OTMAR HITZFELD of reigning Swiss champion FC Basel went on to finish the 1972-73 season as the leading goal-scorer in Nationalliga A and later transferred to Swabian side Vfb Stuttgart, then competing in the 2.Bundesliga, to begin the 1975-76 campaign.
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It was the East Germans who benefited from a first boost of morale when JUERGEN POMMERENKE, part of the all-FC Magdeburg midfield selected by trainer GEORG BUSCHNER, got a second chance after his initial effort was blocked and netted in only the twelfth minute. Hoeness did bring the West Germans level just after the half hour mark with a spectacular strike that clearly true international class. The youngster delighted the crowd in Bavaria by exchanging aerial passes with forward OTMAR HITZFELD of Swiss side FC Basel and racing on to lob a leaping, looping volley up and over East Germany’s outstretched goalkeeper, JUERGEN CROY of FC Sachsenring Zwickau.

The blue shirts from the Eastern Bloc retook the advantage shortly after the restart through JOACHIM STREICH, forever East Germany’s all-time leader with 53 goals from 98 full international matches. The 22-year-old FC Hansa Rostock attacker appeared at close range to head home a corner that had been flicked on by still-to-become-famous FC Magdeburg midfielder JUERGEN SPARWASSER in the 53rd minute. Streich’s goal was a team-leading sixth in as many matches at the 1972 Summer Games in Munich.

But, West Germany were not prepared to surrender dreams of Olympic medal glory without a fight. And so the Swiss-based Hitzfeld, the only foreign legionnaire in trainer JUPP DERWALL’s B.R.D. team, arrived at the back post to effectively head a ball from 1.FC Kaiserslautern midfielder HERMANN BITZ past the helpless Croy in the 68th minute. This equalizing goal was Hitzfeld’s fifth of the 1972 Olympic football tournament.

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EBERHARD VOGEL, the former FC Karl Marx Stadt and FC Carl Zeiss Jena forward who was a bronze medalist in football for the “Equipe unifee d’Allemagne (Unified Team of Germany) at the 1964 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, forever remains the second all-time leading scorer with 24 goals from 69 full internationals for the national team of East Germany.
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The score now level again, D.D.R. boss Buschner looked down his bench and sent on veteran international EBERHARD VOGEL of FC Carl Zeiss Jena to see what he might do with twenty minutes to go. The 29-year-old winger was, at that time, in fact the only German in football history ever to have earned any kind of Olympic medal at all. The introduction of experienced Vogel, who had come on as a sub three times and scored a goal against Colombia at the 1972 Summer Games prior to the all-Deutschland Duel in Munich, was decisive.

With a little over eight minutes to play in the match, a long ball out of the back by East Germany defender KONRAD WEISE of FC Carl Zeiss Jena was chested down by Pommerenke on the other side of the midfield stripe. The game’s first goal-scorer quickly turned unmolested and sent a precise ball down the right flank into space for the streaking PETER DUCKE, yet another veteran FC Carl Zeiss Jena attacker. The popular but tempermental 30-year-old winger, 1971 Footballer of the Year in the Deutsche Demokratische Republik, surveyed the situation and sent over a most inviting cross.

Running free in the center about seven or eight yards out was the completely unmarked Vogel, who rose to meet the ball perfectly and power his header past a hapless Bradler as well as book East Germany’s place in the Bronze Medal Match.

After the elimination football contest at the Summer Games in Munich, most West Germans were rather philosophical. The Olympics merely confirmed that the D.D.R. would struggle mightily to defeat the very best of the Bundesliga, went the rationale. Of course, Sparwasser and East Germany would have something to say about that two years later at the FIFA World Cup in Hamburg.

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2 responses to “German Football At The Olympics : East Meets West In Munich

  1. Matt

    damn youve been following Germany for a while huh

    • LOOSE CANNON

      My mom gave me such an “odd-ball’ German first name for a little kid growing up here in America who already had a heavy-duty German last name. I was not so thrilled at first, particularly because it was tiring having to fight all the asshole kids who insisted on calling me ‘Ralph’ intentionally because they knew it pissed me off. (BTW — Fuck you clowns, you know who you are and I am still happy to rumble any time, any place and any where. Leave a comment here and we can set something up. Just like old times, Jerkweeds.)

      My mom told me I was supposed to be proud of my heritage and perhaps the biggest manifestation of that came in the form of following and rooting for German football — although I was three years old at the time of the Munich Games! … The first Olympics I can say I actually remember are the 1976 Montreal Games — the D.D.R. did very well at that football tournament, as we shall be seeing later on!