The Battle of Berne

Berne

This is one of those forgotten battles you don’t hear about in history classes. It was a battle between Hungary and Brazil. But as you can guess from the picture above it wasn’t a battle during any war but fought on a football pitch during the 1954 World Cup in Switzerland.

The score was 43-3 well in free kicks and red cards that was, 3 red cards and 43 free kicks.

The FIFA World Cup quarter-final tie that Hungary and Brazil contested at the Wankdorf Stadium in Berne, Switzerland, on 27 June 1954 did become that battle.

Hungary Brazil

 

Hungary could not avail of their star player ,Puskas, due to injury, but it only took them a few minutes to show they were well able to perform without him.Hungary took the lead in the third minute, with Nándor Hidegkuti scoring. Four minutes later, Sándor Kocsis made it 2–0 to Hungary. Brazil scored via a penalty by  Djalma Santos making it 2-1 at half time.

The Hungarians restored their two-goal advantage on the hour mark when Mihaly Lantos gave Castilho no chance from the spot after Pinheiro handled inside the box. Five minutes later and Brazil were back in the game, right winger Julinho capping a fine solo move with a cross-shot into the back of the net.making it 3-2.Up to that point the match had been feisty and a bit rough but entertaining. The problems began when Nilton Santos and Josef Bozsik came to blows and were sent off.

 

The match then turned into a series of increasingly violent fouls and cynical tactics.With 11 minutes remaining Humberto committed a shocking foul on Gyula Lorant and received his marching orders from English referee Arthur Ellis.

Down

Hungary scored a fourth goal via Sándor Kocsis to make the final score 4–2 to Hungary. The last 11 minutes of the game were little more than a war zone or a battleground  between the two teams.

The match ended in utter chaos as players, team and tournament officials, photographers and bystanders became embroiled in a fight that began on the pitch and rumbled on in the dressing rooms and even outside the stadium.

Batt;e

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Ernest Erbstein-Holocaust survivor who died a tragic death.

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Now that the World Cup Football is well on its way in Russia, it is a good opportunity at one of the sport’s legends.

Ernest Erbstein, aka Ernest Egri-Erbstein was a Jewish-Hungarian football player and  He was involved in  football as a player and coach in several countries,  but he was most noted for his association with Italian football.

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Erbstein moved to Torino in 1938 to  play for the team , but because of World War II and the fact that he was Jewish he returned to Hungary.

He, his wife Jolan and their two daughters all survived the holocaust.

In 1944 he was imprisoned  in a slave labour camp near Budapest along together with another great Jewish footballer Béla Guttmann,who also survived the Holocaust . They found out  that their labour brigade  of Jewish men was about to be deported to a most likely death.

Rather than awaiting the same  fate of their  600,000  fellow Hungarian  Jews, they escaped by jumping from a window.

After the war Erbstein rejoined Torino,  but this time as  a trainer; it would become  one of the most noted spells in Italian football as the Torino side became known as Grande Torino.

Garnde Torino

Erbstein  along with Englishman Leslie Lievesley were co-managers during the 1948–49 season.  On 4 May 1949 while on the way back from Lisbon, the plane carrying Erbstein and the majority of the Torino team and staff crashed  into the retaining wall at the back of the Basilica of Superga, which stands on a hill on the outskirts of Turin.

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Erbstein’s luggage was undamaged. He had borrowed the suitcase from his daughter and had promised to return it to her when he came back from Lisbon.

luggage

 

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Sources

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Haaretz

1942 Coupe de France Final

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It’s May 17 1942, you country is occupied by a hostile foreign nation. Fellow country man are dying on battlefields or being executed for being members of the resistance and other fellow country men are being deported to death camps. What do you do?

Well watch a football match of course.

Since the champions league finals are upon us in less then 2 weeks and also because the World cup is due to start next month, I was inspired to look into sporting events during WWII. I did not expect to find any but I was wrong, for on this day 76 years ago, the ‘Coupe de France Final’ was played in Stade Olympique Yves-du-Manoir, Colombes near Paris.The coupe de France is the competition for the premier league in France.

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The  match was played between,Red Star Olympique and FC Sète. Olympique beat FC Sète by 2-0 via goals scored by Henri Joncourt at 45 minutes, and Alfred Aston at 72 minutes. The attendance was 44,654 and the match referee was Georges Capdeville, the only referee to have ever been in charge in a World Cup final in his native country,in 1938.

On a side note but indirectly linked ,Alexandre Villaplane, who was a former player of FC Sète and had  captained  the French national team during the 1930 world cup, worked actively with the Gestapo and eventually became a SS lieutenant. Villaplane’s unit quickly became notorious for its cruelty. On 11 June 1944, for instance, they captured 11 resistance fighters in Mussidan, a small village in the Dordogne. Aged 17 to 26, the maquisards were marched to a ditch and shot. As well as giving the death order, Villaplane is said to have pulled one of the triggers.

villaAs so many other aspects of life, WWII also had a major impact on football in other European countries, France was an exception to the other occupied nations because of the Vichy regime which collaborated with the Nazis

In one way it was beneficial for the Nazis to allow the football competition continue in France. It was an efficient propaganda tool, because it diverted the attention away from their crimes and atrocities. It gave the population a sense of ‘normal’ life.

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Sources

FFF

The Guardian

 

How the 1953 North Sea flood resulted in a professional football league.

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On the night of 31 January – 1 February 1953, many dykes in the province of Zeeland, the southern parts of the province of South Holland and the northwestern parts of the province of North Brabant ,in the Netherlands,proved unable to resist the combination of spring tide and a northwesterly storm.

It was to become the biggest natural disaster to date in the Netherlands.It was  estimated that  the flooding killed 1,835 people and forced the emergency evacuation of 70,000 more. Floods covered 9% of Dutch farmland, and sea water flooded 1,365 km² of land. An estimated 30,000 animals drowned, and 47,300 buildings were damaged, of which 10,000 were destroyed. Total damage is estimated at 1 billion Dutch guilders.

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Although my hometown, Geleen, in the southeastern province Limburg in the Netherlands, was not directly impacted by the storm and floods. Indirectly it was affected by it but in a positive way.

Geleen is the home of Fortuna 54 which was the first professional football team in the country.

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One of the key players was Cor van der Hart.

Van der Hart was one of the players participating in the Watersnoodwedstrijd(Flood disaster match) of 12 March 1953.This was a match played in the Parc des Princes stadiumWatersnoodwedstrijd_Aufstellung_L'Equipe_1953-03-13-2 in Paris and was played in honour  of the victims of the North Sea flood of 1953, and to raise money for the relief work and survivors of the disaster. Van der Hart, who still played as a professional in France those days, together with several others like Bram Appel, Theo Timmermans, Bertus de Harder and Kees Rijvers  heard the news of the flood  on the radio and realised his home country needed help .The KNVB (the Dutch football association) still prohibited professional players within the country.

Five days earlier, the Netherlands lost 2-1 to Denmark in another match held in Rotterdam. This time at Paris’ Parc des Princes, the Netherlands trailed 1-0 when de Harder tied the game on a 58th-minute goal. Then Appel, who along with Theo Timmermans helped orchestrate bringing this game, scored the winning goal in the 81st minute.

8,000 Dutch fans travelled to Paris to witness the match and saw their team beating the strong French team 2–1 with goals scored by De Harder and Appel.

Watersnoodwedstrijd-1953

 

The match was the breakthrough to introduce professional football in the Netherlands. Only 17 months later the first professional match in the country was played.

When professional football started in the Netherlands Van der Hart returned to his native country to play for Fortuna ’54,

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Fortuna 54 no longer exists ,on July 1 1968  it merged with RKSV Sittardia of the neighboring town of Sittard and was renamed “Fortuna Sittard” and Sittard became the home of the newly founded football team.

In 2001 both towns Geleen and Sittard also merged and formed the municipality of Sittard-Geleen  and is currently  the second most populated municipality in Limburg.

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Manchester United in WWII

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On 11 March 1941 Old Trafford football stadium, the home of Manchester United F.C., was hit by a bomb aimed at the industrial complex of Trafford Park, wrecking the pitch and demolishing the stands. The stadium was rebuilt after the war and reopened in 1949, until which time United played at Manchester City’s Maine Road stadium

A German bombing raid on Trafford Park on 22 December 1940 damaged the stadium to the extent that a Christmas day fixture against Stockport County had to be switched to Stockport’s ground Football resumed at Old Trafford on 8 March 1941, but another German raid on 11 March 1941 destroyed much of the stadium, notably the main stand (now the South Stand).

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Matthias Sindelar-Protest through football.

anschluss

It is often believed that the Austrians accepted the annexation lying down. For a big part that was true however not every one was so enthusiastic about the ‘Anschluss’

Of Czech descent, Sindelar was born Matěj Šindelář in Kozlov, Moravia, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the son of Jan Šindelář, a blacksmith, and his wife Marie (née Švengrová). Sindelar-autDespite occasional claims that Sindelar was of Jewish origin, the family was Catholic.They moved to Vienna in 1905 and settled in the district of Favoriten, which had a large Czech-speaking community. Young Matěj/Matthias began playing football in the streets of Vienna.

Sindelar was spotted playing in the street with a ball made from rags and joined the local Hertha club at the age of 15, a year after his father was killed on the Italian front during World War I. Before long he moved to the Vienna Amateurs, later to be renamed FK Austria Vienna, and soon broke into the first team despite a persistent knee injury. Many put his elusive style of play down to the fear of receiving a career-ending knock to his permanently bandaged knee

He played as a centre-forward for the celebrated Austria national team of the early 1930s known as the Wunderteam, which he captained at the 1934 World Cup.

Known as “The Mozart of football” or Der Papierene – ‘The Paper Man” for his slight build, he was renowned as one of the finest pre-war footballers, known for his fantastic dribbling ability and creativity.

Matthias Sindelar

Copyright Votavafoto Vienna

VOTAVA

Sindelar, an awkward, edgy character, had made clear that he was fundamentally opposed to the Anschluss, but, despite the fact that, at 35, he had begun to wind down his international career, he insisted on playing.

Sport was of course a key element in the Nazi propaganda machine, The 1936 Summer Olympic games gad all been about the Nazi image.

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April 3, 1938, the Prater Stadium in Vienna. For 69 minutes Matthias Sindelar, playing for his national side, does as he’s told. He passes up chance after chance during a ‘friendly’ match against Germany ,who just a few weeks earlier annexed his beloved Austria. This game – designed as a celebration of this ‘connection’ – was an official welcoming back of Austria into the Reich. Having been advised not to score, Sindelar keeps missing the easiest of chances.

Then, in the 70th minute, he tucks home a rebound and scores , much to the surprise of the 60,000 crowd, who are fully expecting the game to fizzle out into a diplomatic 0-0 draw.

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Then his team-mate and friend Schasti Sesta blasts home a free-kick to make it 2-0, and the pair dance a jig of delight in front of a box full of Nazi dignitaries.

Capture

In the months that followed, Sindelar, who never made any secret of his Social Democratic leanings, repeatedly refused to play for Germany. In August 1938, he bought a café from Leopold Drill, a Jew forced to give it up under new legislation. paying DM 20,000  and was censured by the authorities for his reluctance to put up Nazi posters.

On the morning of January 23, 1939, Matthias Sindelar was found dead in his apartment, above the coffee house he had acquired the previous year, lying next to Camilla Castagnola, his new girlfriend. The official verdict was accidental death caused by carbon monoxide poisoning. However, the break-up of the team and city he loved had gradually forced Sindelar into depression and many felt he took his own life in a suicide pact with his girlfriend. There is a third theory, though: foul play. The police investigation was forcibly cancelled by the Nazis after a few months, and the files pertaining to the case disappeared soon afterwards.

Ehrengrab_Matthias_Sindelar

 

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Battle of Santiago

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No this is not a piece on World War 2 or any other war for that matter,although it is often said that football is war.

The Battle of Santiago  is the name given to a particularly infamous football match during the 1962 FIFA World Cup. It was a game played between host Chile and Italy on 2 June 1962 in Santiago.The referee was Ken Aston, who later went on to invent yellow and red cards.

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By 1962 the World Cup had recovered from the 12-year hiatus imposed upon it by World War II and had become a fixture.

The 1954 and ’58 tournaments had both been held in Europe.  The nations of North and South America threatened to boycott the tournament—as they had done in 1938—if that trend continued.  Most assumed that Argentina would be the choice, but the Chilean federation mounted an underdog candidacy and ended up running away with the vote.

In this Group 2 clash, already heightened tensions between the two football teams were exacerbated by the description of Santiago in crude terms by two Italian journalists Antonio Ghirelli and Corrado Pizzinelli; they had written that Santiago was a backwater dump where “the phones don’t work, taxis are as rare as faithful husbands, a cable to Europe costs an arm and a leg and a letter takes five days to turn up”, and its population as prone to “malnutrition, illiteracy, alcoholism and poverty. Chile is a small, proud and poor country: it has agreed to organize this World Cup in the same way as Mussolini agreed to send our air force to bomb London (they didn’t arrive). The capital city has 700 hotel beds. Entire neighborhoods are given over to open prostitution. This country and its people are proudly miserable and backwards.”Chilean newspapers fired back, describing Italians in general as fascists, mafioso’s, oversexed, and, because some of Inter Milan’s players had recently been involved in a doping scandal, drug addicts.The journalists involved were forced to flee the country, while an Argentinian scribe mistaken for an Italian in a Santiago bar was beaten up and hospitalised.

Chile’s organization and preparation of the tournament had been severely disrupted by the 1960 Valdivia earthquake, the strongest earthquake ever recorded in human history.

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Articles in the Italian papers La Nazione and Corriere della Sera were saying that allowing Chile to host the World Cup was “pure madness”; this was used and magnified by local newspapers to inflame the Chilean population. The British newspaper the Daily Express wrote “The tournament shows every sign of developing into a violent bloodbath. Reports read like battlefront dispatches. Italy vs Germany was described as ‘wrestling and warfare'”

The first foul occurred within 12 seconds of the kick-off.[1] Italy’s Giorgio Ferrini was sent off in the twelfth minute after a foul on Honorino Landa, but refused to leave the pitch and had to be dragged off by policemen.

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Landa retaliated with a punch a few minutes later, but he was not sent off.

English referee Ken Aston overlooked a punch by Chilean Leonel Sánchez to Italian Mario David, which had come in retaliation for being fouled seconds earlier. When David kicked Sanchez in the head a few minutes later, he was sent off.

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In the violence that continued, Sanchez broke Humberto Maschio’s nose with a left hook, but Aston did not send him off. The two teams engaged in scuffles and spitting, and police had to intervene three more times. Chile won the match 2–0.

When highlights from the match were shown on British television a couple of days later (not the same night, because film of matches still had to be flown back), the match was famously introduced by BBC sports commentator David Coleman as: “the most stupid, appalling, disgusting and disgraceful exhibition of football, possibly in the history of the game.

The small sporting giant.

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The Netherlands although densely populated it is one of the smallest countries on earth. Currently the population is close to 17 Millions. Although it is a small nation when it comes to sports it has punched way above its weight for decades.

Leaving aside the recent disappointing performances by the national football team, tean Netherlands managed to have finalists in most of the major sporting events. Below are just some examples.

Fifa world cup finals 1974 against Germany;1978 against Argentina and 2010 against Spain.. Although the Dutch never won the world cup, 3 times they got to the finals. Several other times they ended in the semi finals in in 2014 they came 3rd.

UEFA European cup 1988. In 1988 they beat the Soviet Union in the European Cup finals.

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Wimbledon, the most prestigious Tennis tournament and most coveted tournament to for players, had a Dutch winner in 1996. Richard Krajicek beat Malivai Washington. Even a female streaker did not deter him from winning the price.

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Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championship

Tour de France, although with all the scandals the shine has gone of it a bit, it is still considered THE cycling event. In 1968 Jan Janssen won the tour,This was repeated in 1980 by Joop Zoetemelk.

In  May 2017 a cyclist from Maastricht won the Giro D’Italia another great cycling event.On the 27th of May 2017, Tom DuMoulin managed to keep on to the pink jersey, making him the winners of Giro 2017.

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During the 26 summer Olympic games the Dutch have anticipated in they have won 285 medals. 85 Gold, 92 Silver and 108 Bronze.However it is during the Winter games where the Dutch show what they are made of, In the 46 games they partook in they managed to accumulate 395 medals 122 Gold, 130 Silver and 143 Bronze.

Not bad for a small nation, not bad at all.

The Death Match 9 August 1942

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With the  World cup well on its way it is time to go back into darker history of football .

Although as a Dutchman it aches me to admit that the Germans generally put up a good team for the tournament, there is however a black mark in the German football history.

KIEV, Ukraine — There are few striking features about Start Stadium except its disrepair. Wooden planks in the grandstand, like neglected teeth, are mostly loose or missing. Behind the tiny seating area, though, a sturdy column rises and supports a statue. It depicts a muscular, naked man heroically kicking a soccer ball into the beak of a trampled eagle.

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On the 9th of August 1942, a group of men who worked at Kiev’s Bakery #3 took on the might of the Nazi Luftwaffe team and triumphed.  The game was dubbed the “Death Match”.  It was a match that went down in legend and folklore.  It was a match that was used for Soviet propaganda.  It was a match that provided the inspiration for the 1981 film Escape to Victory.  It was a match where the events surrounding the game are still being discussed and debated.  It had come about because of the remarkable feats of F.C. Start.

On the 19th of September 1941 the Nazis successfully invaded and captured Kiev.  A few days after they took over the city, the Nazis slaughtered over 33,000 Jews at the ravine of Babi Yar.

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In their attempts to keep the local population under control the Nazi rulers decided to introduce a series of football matches in June 1942.  It was part of an effort to distract and pacify the populace with a sense of “normality.”  Little did they know that a group of former Dynamo and Lokomotiv Kiev players who worked at a bakery would turn into a symbol of resistance for the people of Kiev.

The formation of F.C. Start effectively began with Nikolai Trusevich.  Trusevich was the goalkeeper of Dynamo Kiev before the outbreak of World War II.  He enlisted in the army to defend Kiev but soon became a prisoner of war and was held in the Darnitsa camp after the Nazi’s captured the city.  Trusevich was eventually released, after signing papers pledging loyalty to the new regime (not that he had much choice considering the alternative), and returned to Kiev.

On August 6, 1942 FC Start played the German team Flakelf. There was an estimated 2,000 spectators in attendance, with each spectator paying a total of five rubles to attend. Zenit Stadium was lined with SS soldiers and police dogs as an attempt to intimidate the Start players.

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(I am not sure if this is an actual picture or from the movie which was made in 2012)

The Flakelf team consisted of German soldiers who manned antiaircraft guns around Kiev. FC Start dominated the first game by defeating the Germans 5-1. The German team would demand a rematch. The “Death Match” or second match took place on 9 August 1942 at the Kiev city stadium against the German team Flakelf, made up of air defense artillery football players.

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With an audience of 2000,the teams met again three days later, in the later so-called “Death Match”. The poster informed that Flakelf had a “strengthened” team but did not reveal any names. But it named 14 Start players, amongst them Lev Gundarev, Georgi Timofeyev and Olexander Tkachenko, Ukrainian policemen under German command.

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The score was 5–3 in favour of Start. Only the first half of the match is documented: The Germans opened the score, then Ivan Kuzmenko and Makar Honcharenko two times marked the 3–1 score for half time. After the match a German took a photograph of both teams showing a relaxed atmosphere. Some days later he offered a copy to former Lokomotiv player Volodymyr Balakin.This photograph was never published in Soviet times.

Afterwards the winners drank a glass of self-made vodka and met at a party in the evening.

There were stories that in the aftermath of the match the players of F.C. Start were rounded up and executed.  That wasn’t the case though as the team played one more game a week after the infamous “Death match,” thrashing Rukh 8:0.

On the 18th of August 1942 the Gestapo arrived at Bakery #3 and read out a list of names who were required for questioning.  The names were of the players of F.C. Start.  The Gestapo wanted to prove that the players were agents of the NKVD, the secret police, and knew that the organization had links to Dynamo Kiev prior to the war.  Apparently a picture of Nikolai Korotkykh in an NKVD uniform was discovered and he was tortured to death.  The story goes that his sister had turned him in after being interrogated by the Nazis.

The remaining members of the team were sent to a concentration camp at Syrets.  It was there, six months after they had been arrested, that Alexei Klimenko, Ivan Kuzmenko and Nikolai Trusevich met their fate.  The commander of the concentration camp, Paul Radomski, had ordered the prisoners of the camp to line-up and decreed that every third one would be shot.  There are differing reasons given for his decision to exact punishment, ranging from revenge for attacks by Soviet partisans to retribution for prisoner disobedience.  No matter what, they were three pillars of the F.C. Start side were felled.  Trusevich, it was said, was wearing the goalkeeping top he wore for F.C. Start in the final moments of his life.nikolai-trusevich

 

Makar Goncharenko, Mikhail Sviridovsky and Feodor Tyutchev, who were in Kiev as part of the work squad, took their opportunity to flee fearing that they would be killed if they returned to Syrets.

The reports give several reasons for the execution:

  • A conflict concerning the dog of the camp commandor Paul Radomski: Some prisoners were said to have beaten it with a shovel in the camp kitchen. On this situation one of the prisoners had attacked an SS soldier.Radomski
  • Punishment for the escape of some prisoners.
  • Disobiedience of prisoners who were ordered to hang other prisoners who tried to flee from the camp.
  • A sabotage act of partisans on a tank repair facility

After the fall of the Nazis the Soviet government initially played down the story of F.C Start with the exploits of the team only being recognized and broadly told in the late 1950s.  The regime soon came to realize the propaganda value of using the legend of F.C. Start to further their ideological cause. From then on the Soviet government used the story of F.C. Start for their own purposes.  They promoted the myth that a number of the team were immediately shot after the game and died for their ideology and ideals.  Indeed, when Goncharenko was discussing the aftermath of game in 1985 he claimed that Trusevich’s last words were “long live Stalin, long live Soviet Sport.”  Again, there are differing accounts of exactly what words, if any, Trusevic uttered.  Goncharenko may have felt obliged to give the regime’s version of events..

After the publication of a report in a German newspaper repeating the Soviet version a case about the “Death Match” was opened by the prosecution office of Hamburg in July 1974.As Soviet authorities did not collaborate on the case, it was closed in March 1976. In 2002 the Ukrainian authorities informed Hamburg about their new investigation. So the case was reopened, but finally closed by the investigation commission in February 2005. The commission was not able to find any connections between the game and the execution of people who participated in it, nor any person responsible for the executions being still alive. Radomski had been killed on 14 March 1945.

Either way one can not help but wonder if these men were killed because of the match.

Many may never have heard of this story while some may have forgotten it but the city of Kyiv shall forever remember this incredibly brave group of eleven men who stood for everything the city believed in, the men who held this city together through one year of the war, the men who defeated Germany, the men who expressed themselves through the sport they loved, the men who wanted to free Ukraine!

Two movies were inspired on the event. Although the 1981 one movie “Escape to Victory”directed by John Huston is only very loosely based on the match, the only similarities it has is a match between Germans and Non Germans during WWII. In the movie the Germans play allied POWs.

EscapeToVictory

In 2012 the Russian movie “Match” ,which is actually based on the event , caused quite some controversy in the Ukraine.

Regulators said the film could incite aggressive fans just weeks before Ukraine hosted several games played by Germany’s national team during the 2012 European Championship from June 8-July 1.

‘There always are people – hooligans – who use football to spill out their aggression and some of those people may be influenced by (the film),’ said political analyst Volodymyr Fesenko.

 

In the Dynamo Kiev Stadium  in Kiev a monument has been erected depicting some of the players reputedly executed by the Nazis.

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Whether the players were eventually executed or not I don’t really know for certain, but given the fact that the Germans were defeated twice must have been a blow to the Nazi propaganda machine and therefore it would not surprise me in the slightest that the  men were killed because of this.

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