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.

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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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The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

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The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” is a poem and song by Chicago born Gil Scott-Heron. Scott-Heron first recorded it for his 1970 album Small Talk at 125th and Lenox, on which he recited the lyrics, accompanied by congas and bongo drums. A re-recorded version, with a full band, was the B-side to Scott-Heron’s first single, “Home Is Where the Hatred Is”, from his album Pieces of a Man (1971).

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The song is a fusion of Jazz,Funk and early Hip Hop, it has been re-released for the movie Black Panther.

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Ironically a revolution of sorts was televised, a sort of ‘revolution’ by Gil Scott-Heron’s own father Gil Heron.

Gil Heron (9 April 1922 – 27 November 2008) was a Jamaican professional footballer. He was the first black player to play for Scottish club Celtic.

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Heron was born in Kingston, Jamaica. During the second world war he joined the Canadian air force, where his footballing talents began to make a wider impression. In 1946, he signed for Detroit Wolverines, who played in the short-lived North American Professional Soccer League, which they duly won in its inaugural season, with Heron as top scorer. He was then transferred to Detroit Corinthians, who played in the larger American Soccer League.

Celtic had a history of making lengthy American tours and doing some scouting at the same time. The goalkeeper Joe Kennaway was an earlier product of this strategy. Although they did not play Detroit Corinthians on their 1951 tour, a scout learned about Heron’s prowess and was sufficiently impressed to invite him to Glasgow for pre-season trials. He made an early impression, scoring twice at a public trial at Celtic Park and was soon dubbed “the Black Arrow”. He made his debut on 18 August 1951 in a League Cup tie against Morton at Celtic Park and scored in a 2-0 victory. However, he was competing for the centre-forward role with John McPhail, a Celtic hero of the era.

By the end of the season, Heron’s star had faded and he was transferred by the club to Third Lanark, subsequently moving again to become the first black player to sign for Kidderminster Harriers.

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However, the folklore surrounding Heron’s brief football career in the UK lived on. He was a skillful player, a natty dresser and a colourful personality in an era of cloth caps and physical football. He was capped by Jamaica at football and excelled at cricket, playing for leading Glasgow clubs while resident in the city.

 

 

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Matthias Sindelar-Protest through football.

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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

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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.

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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.

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The curse

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Don’t worry I have suddenly turned by page into some paranormal or horror blog site. But today was an important day in the Irish sporting agenda.It was the day of the All Ireland GAA senior Gaelic Football final between Mayo and Dublin(again).

Mayo did not win the final since 1951,and today was no exception, this is believed to be due to a curse.

The Curse of ’51 allegedly prevents Mayo from winning the Sam Maguire Cup(picture above} ever again, or at least until the death has occurred of every member of the last winning team from 1951.

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It remains unbroken—despite the team reaching the final on eight occasions since then, they have either completely collapsed on the day or been undone by a series of other unfortunate events.

The legend tells us that while the boisterous Mayo team were passing through Foxford on the victorious journey home, the team failed to wait quietly for a funeral cortège to pass by on its way to the graveyard. The presiding priest consequently put a curse on Mayo football to never win a subsequent All-Ireland Final until all members of the 1951 team are dead.

In 1989, Mayo reached their first All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final since their last victory in 1951 only to lose to Cork. In 1996, a freak point by Meath at the end of the final forced a replay, which saw Mayo concede another late score that would deny them victory. Kerry bridged an 11-year title gap against them in 1997 with a three-point win, before torturing them by eight points in 2004 and thirteen points in 2006

Mayo returned to the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final in 2012. Even with Taoiseach Enda Kenny in Rome seeking divine intervention through Pope Benedict XVI the day before,

the “Kafkaesque black farce”continued from where it had left off—with Donegal allowed bridge a 20-year gap between titles, helped in no small part by a nightmare opening quarter for Mayo as Michael Murphy—whose father is from Mayo—launched a rocket of a shot into the goal after three minutes. Then, in the eleventh minute, Colm McFadden seized the ball from the grasp of Kevin Keane and slid it into the net for a second Donegal goal. Mayo only got on the score sheet after sixteen minutes and never led at any point during the match. They eventually lost with thirteen points to Donegal’s two goals and eleven.

They lost again in 2013, this time by a single point to Dublin.

They qualified for the 2016 Final on 18 September 2016 where they faced Dublin the curse seemingly struck again when they scored two own goals in the opening half before drawing with Dublin in the last few minutes of the game. They faced Dublin again in a rematch on the 1st October 2016 but lost by a point.

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Following the death of Fr Peter Quinn in January 2016, there now only remains 3 living members of the 1951 All Ireland winning team, Pádraig Carney, Paddy Prendergast and Dr Micky Loftus of Crossmolina.

Today they lost again to Dublin by 1 point. So the curse has not yet been lifted.

Mayo however is not the only team to be cursed, following are a few more examples.

The Boston Red Sox

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Some allege that there was a curse placed on the Boston Red Sox, who failed to win a World Series after 1918, apparently due to the selling of Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees.

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Before the sale, the Red Sox had won four titles in seven years (1912–1918). After the sale, the Yankees went on to win 27 World Series Championships. The “curse” was broken when, after 86 seasons, the Red Sox defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 4 games to 0 in the 2004 World Series

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Hibernian F.C

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Scottish football side Hibernian endured a 114-year wait to win their third Scottish Cup, eventually doing so against Rangers in the 2016 final.

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Prior to this success, Hibs had lost an agonising ten straight Scottish Cup finals in a drought stretching back to 1902. Hibernian’s hoodoo was made all the more noteworthy by their relative success in other major Scottish footballing honours – the Leith side won four league titles and three league cups whilst remaining fruitless in their search for Scottish Cup glory. In spite of remaining a prominent force within Scottish football and building notoriously excellent sides such as the Famous Five and Turnbull’s Tornadoes, Hibs were for so long unable to lift the oldest trophy in world football.

Some Hibs fans attributed the absence of Scottish Cup success to a curse which a gypsy woman allegedly placed upon the club during the chairmanship of Harry Swan.Whilst renovation works were being carried out at Hibernian’s Easter Road stadium in the 1950s, a harp crest – which had been displayed on the South Stand symbolising Hibernian’s founding Irish roots – was removed and subsequently did not reappear when work had finished.During the 2015-16 season, Hibs’ modern day badge (which includes the harp) was placed upon the facade of the West Stand at Easter Road.Less than eight months after the harp had been reinstated onto the walls of Easter Road, Hibernian were once again Scottish Cup winners after more than a century in the making.

Birmingham City F.C

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English football side Birmingham City F.C. played 100 years under an alleged curse from 1906 to 2006.As the legend goes, the club moved from nearby Muntz Street into its current location at St Andrew’s, building the stadium on land that was being used by the Romani people.

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After they were forced to move, the angry Romani people put an 100-year hex on the stadium.

Throughout the years many Birmingham City managers would try to remove the curse but with little success. Former manager Ron Saunders tried to banish the curse in the 1980s by placing crucifixes on floodlights and painting the bottom of his players’ boots red. Another manager, Barry Fry, in charge from 1993 to 1996, urinated in all four corners of the pitch after a clairvoyant said it would break the spell. On Boxing Day 2006 the curse was finally lifted and on that day Birmingham City celebrated a 2–1 win over Queens Park Rangers F.C,and would eventually win a place in the Premiership. Just over four years after the alleged curse ended, Birmingham City finally won the first major final in their history – beating Arsenal 2–1 to win the League Cup at Wembley.

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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.

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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.

Eddy Hamel- Player of AFC AJAX,killed in Auschwitz.

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AFC Ajax is one of the most well known football clubs in Europe if not the world.Aside from dozens of national trophies it also won 12 international trophies, a feat repeated by only a few other clubs.

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Historically, Ajax was popularly seen as having “Jewish roots”. Although not an official Jewish club like the city’s WV-HEDW, Ajax has had a Jewish image since the 1930s when the home stadium was located next to a Jewish neighbourhood of Amsterdam-Oost and opponents saw many supporters walking through the Nieuwmarkt/Waterloopleinbuurt (de Jodenhoek—the “Jews’ corner”) to get to the stadium.

Die-hard Ajax supporters call themselves “Joden” — Dutch for “Jews” — a nickname that reflects both the team’s and the city’s Jewish heritage. This nickname for Ajax fans dates back to before World War II, when Amsterdam was home to most of the Netherlands’ 140,000 Jews.

The club  has an academy where it draws most of its players from but it has also always attracted foreign players. Eddy Hamel was no exception.

Hamel was the first Jewish player for Ajax. Born in New York City, New York, he moved to Amsterdam in his teenage years. As a right winger, Hamel became a first team regular for Ajax. He was the first player with a Jewish background who made it to the first team, and to date only three others have followed in his footsteps – Johnny Roeg, Bennie Muller and Daniël de Ridder. Hamel was a fan favourite and was cited by pre-World War II club legend Wim Anderiesen as part of the strongest line-up he ever played with.He was Ajax’ right winger from 1922 to 1930.  He scored eight goals in 125 league games.

After his retirement as a player, he managed RKV Volendam, in 1935 they became champion and he also managed  Alcmaria Victrix for three years and continued to play in an Ajax veteran squad.

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Hamel was also to become the club’s only war victim who played for the first team of Ajax. In 1941 all Jewish players were dishonorably discharged from their clubs as decreed by the Nazi’s.He possessed a United States passport, which he could not produce when Nazi Germany invaded.

In October 1942 Eddy Hamel and his family were arrested and deported to Westerbork to the “English Baracks” where he meets and befriends Leon Greenman.

He was murdered in the Auschwitz concentration camp on 30 April 1943. In the TV document Auschwitz: The Forgotten Evidence, fellow inmate and friend  Leon Greenman said he was in front of Eddy when he told him he had an abscess in his mouth, while in a regular medical selection queue, while Leon passed that selection Eddy was sent to the gas chambers because of his abscess.

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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.

monument

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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