Glasgow Rangers-Ibrox Park Deadly stadium.

ibrox

Association Football also known as just Football or Soccer is the world’s most favourite sport.No sport united and divides fans like football. Legendary Dutch football coach Rinus Michels famously said that “top football is something like war. And unfortunately like war it has casualties.

There have been several well documented Football disasters over the decades, Hillsborough and Heizel are amongst the most devastating ones.

But very few stadiums top the deadly disasters like the ones in Glasgow Rangers stadium Ibrox Park in Glasgow Scotland.

During an international  football match between Scotland and England in Ibrox stadium on 5 April 1902,the West Tribune Stand collapsed, resulting in the death of 25 fans.

1902

A number of reasons have been considered for the collapse, including heavy rainfall the previous night and the large crowd stamping and swaying as the match progressed. One theory in a report following the event centered around Scottish player Bobby Templeton.bobby

Regarded as an exciting attacking player, he was making his debut for the Scottish national team and had gained possession of the ball moments prior to the collapse.

 

The investigation stated that the crowd’s desperation to see Templeton dribble with the ball caused them to surge forward which may have been a contributing to the collapse.

During 1963, concerns were raised about the safety of the stairway adjacent to passageway 13 (colloquially known as Stairway 13), the exit closest to Copland Road subway station. On 16 September 1961 two people were killed in a crush on the stairway, and there were two other incidents, in 1967 and 1969, where several people were injured.

Unfortunately worse was yet to come. On January 2,1971. 66 fans died in a crush among the crowd at an Old Firm football game.

In the 90th minute, Celtic took a 1–0 lead through Jimmy Johnstone and some Rangers supporters started to leave the stadium. However, in the final moments of the match, Colin Stein scored an equaliser for Rangers.

As thousands of spectators were leaving the ground by stairway 13, it appears that someone may have fallen ,possibly a child being carried on his father’s shoulders, causing a massive chain-reaction pile-up of people.

Among the dead were many children. The youngest child to die was  Nigel Patrick Pickup of Liverpool, age 9.

news coverage

Sheriff James Irvine Smith, in his damages statement, ruled: “The said accident was due to the fault and negligence of the defenders, Rangers F.C.”

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Sjaak Swart-The football legend that nearly didn’t happen.

Swart

For the size of the country it is astonishing how many football greats come from the Netherlands.

Names like Johann Cruijff,Johan Nesskens,Ruud Gullit,Marco van Basten and Arjen Robben to name but a few, but the name Sjaak Swart certainly belongs in that list. Sjaak (Sjakie) Swart was pivotal to the successes of Ajax in  1971 to 1973  the 2 consecutive years when they won the European Cup.

For his 31 caps for the Dutch National team he scored 10 goals.

However the legendary midfielder nearly never kicked a ball, leave alone score goals and win cups.

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Born in in the small fishing village of Muiderberg some 20 kilometres east of Amsterdam in 1938 as Jesaia Swart , the son of a Jewish Fisherman.

His father and he were forced to disguise themselves as non-Jews during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands from 1940 to 1945, hiding from the prying eyes of both Germans and Dutch collaborators, who rounded up any Jewish men, women and children in the country. Living a life comparable to a nightmare , fearing every knock at the the door Sjaak and his father managed to survive the war and the extermination of nearly 75 per cent of the Jewish population of the Netherlands.

The siblings of Louis Swart,Sjaak’s father, all died Louis would never have anymore children because as part of escaping the Nazis he had himself sterilized.

Not much is known about Sjaak’s mother ,all that I discovered it that she lived long enough to hand Sjaak his first Ajax jersey,she died of cancer in 1948. The gift of that jersey by his mother sealed his life long loyalty to the club.

Swart, joined the Ajax academy in 1949.He is still involved in Football today, aged 80.

What I find amazing about this is that although I am a big fan of the men in Orange, the Dutch National team, I never knew that Sjakie Swart was Jewish and had survived the horrors and a most certain death if he had been caught.

It is also an indication that the Holocaust is still in the living memory of so many.

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Sources

Voetbal International

niw.nl

AFC Ajax

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hamburger SV-Altona 93:Final score 4-2. The match on April 29, 1945.

FOOTBALL

There was a bit of a scandal this week in Dublin. On of the Dublin based soccer teams,Ballybrack, pretended that one of their star players was killed in a car crash. The team wanted to postpone an up coming match and came up with the death as an excuse. The ting is though there was no crash, the player didn’t die in fact he knew nothing of this  at all.

This bizarre incident reminded me of another bizarre soccer event. On April 29, 1945 two Hamburg teams, Hamburger SV and Altona 93 played a league match.

 

Some of you might think how bizarre was that.Well, compared to the aforementioned Irish team that was desperate to avoid playing, the 2 Hamburg teams were desperate to play the match despite a remarkable backdrop.

Hamburger SV was without 3 of its star players Rudi Noak, Werner Höffmann and Eugen Kahl, but that wasn’t what made this match so remarkable. The date was April 29 1945. Nearly everyone in Germany must have known the war was coming to an end. Even Hitler knew because on that same day he married Eva Braun, knowing quite well that they would end their lives the following day.

The Dachau concentration camp was liberated by American forces. Nearer to Hamburg about 50 km away at Lauenburg,British forces crossed the Elbe river just a few hours before the match started.

troops

Despite all this ,hundreds of football fans would make their way to the stadium, not knowing what fate awaited them.

Hamburger SV beat Altona 93 by 4-2in what would be the last soccer match of the third reich.

 

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Football in time of Horror-The football competition in Westerbork

voetbal

This must be one of the most amazing events I came across but amidst all the killing,torture,deportations and other horrors in Camp Westerbork, they actally found time to set up a football competition.

The competition was made up of several teams of Jewish inmates and started in spring 1943, it was a welcome distraction and gave some sense of hope of survival.

It must also have been a way of taking a bit of revenge on the members of the OD(Ordnungsdeinst) or Capos some of them also played in the tournament.

Some players did survive the Holocaust but the majority of them died in the extermination camps, along with Han Hollander who had been a famous Dutch sports commentator,with the broadcaster AVRO prior to  the war. He died on July 9,1943 in Sobibor.

han

Juda de Vries, who had been a celebrated goal keeper of HFC Haarlem was send Westerbork in 1942. For a short time he entered the competition, he was transported to Sobibor in May 1943 where he was killed.

Juda

Although the competition was short lived for most it had given them that feeling of ‘normal’ life again, however short lived it was it must have felt magical.

spel

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Sources

NIOD

 

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.

Ern

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.

coach

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.

crash

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

CNN

Haaretz

1942 Coupe de France Final

red-star-olympique-1942-coupe-de-france

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.

2018-05-17

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Sources

FFF

The Guardian

 

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

Watersnoodramp_1953

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.

1024px-North_Sea_flood_of_1953

 

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,

Cor_van_der_Hart_(10_april_1966)

 

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.

sindelar_6

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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