Friday 29 October 2021

When Bayern Lost 7-0!: How Klaus Fischer and Schalke 04 Inflicted on Bayern München Their Heaviest Ever Defeat

On Wednesday night FC Bayern München were knocked out of the DFB-Pokal with a 5-0 defeat at Borussia Mönchengladbach. This was the club's heaviest defeat for 43 years. On that occasion they lost 7-1 at Fortuna Düsseldorf, but the club’s heaviest defeat of all time actually came just over two years prior when they lost 7-0 to FC Schalke 04 in 1976. Here is the story around the biggest loss in the history of Germany's most famous name and also the player who put four past them that afternoon.

Asked if there was a huge party in the dressing room afterwards, Klaus Fischer told 11freunde in a 2009 interview that he couldn't remember. One might assume this bout of amnesia on the subject was due to him having celebrated by drinking copious amounts of alcohol and if indeed that was the case then who could blame him? After all, his side had just put seven past their more than illustrious opponents and he himself had scored four of those seven.

FC Bayern München had lost only one of their opening eight Bundesliga matches of the 1976-77 season. With three draws also to their name, however, it was hardly a near perfect start but, then again, it was also anything but a disaster and certainly gave no indication as to what would follow in game 9. Hoping to improve on last season’s third placed finish, the club were desperate to regain the form that had seen them not only crowned Bundesliga champions for a third successive time just two seasons before last but also attach those league accomplishments with three successive European Cup triumphs between 1974 and 1976. Instead, however, a rude awakening was in store.

Delivering that shock would be FC Schalke 04 – a club Klaus Fischer would spend 11 years at. The Gelsenkirchen based side made the 400-mile trip south to Munich's Olympiastadion having won four and lost four of their opening league fixtures with a 2-0 defeat away at 1. FC Köln preceding their trip to Munich. Since the turn of the decade Schalke had only once finished outside the top half come the end of each season but, a second placed finish and a cup triumph in 1972 aside, they had hardly set the world alight.

Sepp Maier, Franz Beckenbauer, Hans-Georg Schwarzenbeck, Uli Hoeneß, Gerd Müller, and a young Karl-Heinz Rummenigge - It was a star-studded FC Bayern side who walked onto the field in front of over 50,000 spectators at their then Olympiastadion home on 9 October 1976. Opponents Schalke did also have some international stars in their ranks, indeed Fischer, signed from TSV 1860 München aged 20 in 1970, would gain 45 caps for Germany and become Schalke's all-time record appearance holder with 556 games under his belt, his 226 goals a club record in the Bundesliga era. But Fischer aside, Schalke did not quite have the big names FC Bayern did, and as shown, certainly not in recent times had the same successes.

Even at half-time in this fixture no one could have imagined the final outcome. Against a Bayern side playing a 4-3-3 formation with Beckenbauer as sweeper Schalke were ahead but their lead was only by two goals - the rampage was yet to come. A low right footed drive that went through legs of Schwarzenbeck and past goalkeeper Maier saw Fischer give the visitors the lead on 11 minutes with his fifth goal of the season whilst an Erwin Kremers header just before the interval saw Schalke double that lead. 

Whatever Bayern head coach Dettmar Cramer said to his players at half-time it clearly did no good as within a minute of the restart Schalke had scored a third when Fischer headed home to claim his second - a marvelous diving header one must add! 

Cramer had taken charge of Bayern in early 1975 to bring an end to the five year tenure of Udo Lattek who wasn't able to survive a poor first half of the 1974-75 season. Lattek would soon find Bundesliga success at Borussia Mönchengladbach with two straight titles in 1976 and 1977 before returning to Bayern in the mid-1980s to once again win three successive league titles. Although Cramer had helped steer the club to the final two of their three straight European Cup triumphs, further domestic success had alluded him and at the end of the current season he would be out the door.

18 minutes after Schalke scored their third Manfred Dubski grabbed them a fourth whilst three minutes later Fischer completed his hat-trick to make it 5-0 and the travelling support were now well and truly in dreamland. This time it was a kind of scissor kick for Fischer, similar to but not quite the overhead-kick type of goal he would gain a bit of a reputation for with one particular effort for Germany against Switzerland the following year going down in folklore.

It seemed as if five just wasn't enough for Schalke, however. An excellent counter attack via a long ball forward ended with Rüdiger Abramczik grabbing Schalke's sixth on 74 minutes whilst eight minutes later Fischer was ready and waiting to complete the rout when a low cross into the box saw him claim his fourth of the afternoon and his sides seventh. Fischer once said that “Football is a simple sport” and the man born in Kreuzstraßl near the German-Czech border had certainly made it look simple against Bayern that afternoon.

7-0 the final score - FC Bayern München's heaviest ever defeat, FC Schalke 04's biggest ever win. Today that record still stands for Bayern, Schalke broke theirs with an 11-1 DFB-Pokal win over FC Teningen in 2011. 

Two years earlier Bayern, then league champions, had seen themselves mauled 6-0 by Kickers Offenbach but, having hoped that nightmare was a one off, here they were having suffered an even more horrifying fate. Having conceded 18 goals in their opening eight league matches they’d now conceded over a third of that total in one game alone.

In terms of what do you do after a 7-0 drubbing, the answer for Bayern was a 5-1 home win against fellow Bundesliga side Hamburger SV in the second round of the DFB-Pokal whilst the following month they would defeat Brazilian side Cruzeiro Esporte Clube over two legs to win the Intercontinental Cup and be considered world champions of club football. Unfortunately, their domestic cup run would come to an end at the quarter-final stage, however, as would their hopes of a fourth successive European Cup triumph. A 3-0 aggregate defeat against Dynamo Kyiv their undoing there. The club's Bundesliga form would in the short term recover very well from the 7-0 humiliation with an unbeaten run of five wins and a draw following that disaterous afternoon. Later, the club’s form would be mixed, however, and Bayern ended the season in seventh place.

Schalke would lose as many games in the rest of the season as they had in the eight preceding the Bayern one - a further four in total. An excellent run of form that would see them finish runners up to Gladbach in a thrilling title race which saw Schalke finish only one point behind the Udo Lattek coached champions.

In the longer term, Bayern, who interestingly gained revenge by defeating Schalke 7-1 the following season, would eventually be crowned Bundesliga champions again three years later. A second successive triumph would follow but that same season, 1980-81, would see Schalke relegated and Fischer leave for 1. FC Köln. 

I think we've all lost count of how many more Bundesliga titles FC Bayern München have won in the decades since then, that 7-0 humiliation having had no bearing whatsoever on the 45 years that have followed. The same can also be for FC Schalke 04. They would soon return the Bundesliga and have remained in the top flight for most of the years since, with Fischer even taking temporary charge on a couple of occasions. But Schalke faced Bayern on that sunny October afternoon having never won the Bundesliga and all these years later are still yet to win it. Schalke may have been far superior on the day, but in the end, it is Bayern who went on to dominate German football whilst Schalke were left in their shadows.

Monday 18 October 2021

Football by the Seaside as Marske United's Unforgettable FA Cup Journey Continues

Marske United's run to the fourth qualifying round of the FA Cup has been nothing short of spectacular. A thumping 7-0 win over league rivals Pickering Town was followed by an almost as impressive 6-0 win over lower tier Seaham Red Star before two astounding wins against higher league opposition.

First up were South Shields of the Northern Premier League Premier Division (level 3 in the non-league pyramid) who sit one tier above Marske from Division One East of the Northern Premier League. South Shields are backed by a wealthy businessman, rich by non-league standards at least, and have recently turned professional. Their meteoric rise was halted by COVID but the club are favourites for the title this season and were top of the league at the time of facing Marske. Despite being heavy favourites, however, the visitors were dispatched of 3-0 to set up a home tie with National League North side Chester in the third qualifying round.

Two divisions above Marske, Chester did well to come away with a 0-0 draw and were totally outclassed during a replay in which Marske hammered them 4-0 on a night when the visitors could have easily had 5 or 6 if not more. Absolutely incredible stuff.

Marske-by-the-Sea is a fairly uneventful place and "Where's that?" is a not uncommon response when this coastal village just a few miles south of Middlesbrough and 25 miles north of Whitby comes up in conversation. Thankfully for them, their football club is just about beginning to put them on the map because, and I don't want to seem disrespectful, probably nothing else will.

I have nothing against Markse it is in parts a quaint little village but in reality, probably not a lot happens there. Indeed, for a seaside town/village it is, quite honestly, a little bit boring. It may be beside the seaside but you can hardly call it a seaside resort. It has a beach but there is no pier and the seafront certainly isn't lined with hotels, amusements, bars and restaurants. I had a little walk down myself when I visited and before I'd even reached the seafront, the hustle and bustle of the village centre had completely disappeared and I found myself completely on my own in a windswept scene of nothingness. But maybe Marske beach is good for dog walking, who knows?

Yes, I know I'm not really selling the place to you but the football should win you over and for anyone visiting the Teesside area I would definitely find time for a visit to Marske United. Also, to be fair, although Marske may not have the charm of Whitby down the coast or razzmatazz of other places by the sea it is, nonetheless, definitely a world away from the smog and grime industrial Teesside stereotype which other parts of the area more than live up to. It does, as well, have a beautiful looking old church and, also, I managed to get some excellent Fish & Chips from a takeaway called Sea Mist in the Village centre. So there you go people of Marske, I have at least said a few very nice things about your humble abode because all in all, it ain't too bad really.

Having defeated Chester, Marske, who sit near the top of their division, would have to face Gateshead FC in the fourth and final qualifying round of the Emirates FA Cup with the Tynesiders making the 50 mile drive south for another all North East affair. The all-ticket match would be a complete sell-out with a well above average 1,320 in attendance and a few pre-match arrivals who had not realised this finding they could not enter. Having myself paid in advance £10 for a ticket online, however, I was all good to go.

Marske United's home ground is called Mount Pleasent and is only a few minutes walk from the village railway station. From said station, you can hop on a train to Middlesbrough a few stops up the line or stay on until Darlington slightly further afield on the east coast mainline that runs from London to Edinburgh.

The ground itself is a fairly basic affair but does have one main seated stand and some covered terracing. Other facilities include hot food catering serving burgers and pies, teas and coffees, and a can bar at one end of the ground as well as the main bar outside. Getting your hand stamped on entry allows you back into the stadium if you decided to head back out again to the main bar which is essentially nothing more than an extra-large Portakabin. But in said bar, you can, at least, sit down and watch the half-time scores come in on the telly. Nonetheless, the ground has a unique charm that only a non-league ground of such standing can have and besides as for alcohol, there are also several pubs in the centre of Marske and another one next to the train station.

The match was a huge occasion for the hosts with a place in the first round proper of the cup at stake and there was a raucous atmosphere well before kick-off as I sat reading my copy of the excellent £2 Seasider matchday programme.

At kick-off, I was standing near most of the large contingent of unsegregated Gateshead fans who were stood behind the goal. From all sides, the crowd were just as vociferous as earlier with drums and horns evident from one small group of home supporters at the opposite end. The Tyne-Tees rivalry was also evident too, particularly from the home followers who chanted 'soft Geordie b***tard' every time a Gateshead player went down. 

Both goalkeepers were in action early on as there was chances at both ends but as the first-half wore on it was Gateshead who began to take control. The match was goalless at half-time, however, and although Marske were probably the better side in the second-half, as the game wore on it looked increasingly like the match would end in a goalless draw. Unsurprisingly, despite the Gateshead 'keeper being forced to make a brilliant save in stoppage time, 0-0 was ultimately how it ended. Back to Gateshead for a replay.

I immediately left at full-time and was able to make it onto the station platform several minutes before my train arrived. As far as matchday experiences go this had been a cracking afternoon, albeit no doubt enhanced by the nature of the occasion. This was all set in a village that ain't so bad after all and maybe one day I'll be back for another 90 minutes of on pitch action.

Finally, of course, as I said earlier, not many people have heard of Marske and indeed the Peterborough United fans who jumped on my train at Middlesbrough after a 2-0 defeat at the nearby Riverside Stadium had themselves no clue. But whilst the people of Marske-by-the-Sea will, I'm sure, sometimes claim to live 'near Middlesbrough' hopefully continued success for their football club will mean the village of Marske-by-the-Sea can get a mention in its own right! After all, as football trips go you could do a lot worse than a game in this village by the sea!

For the record 555 Marske fans travelled up to Gateshead for the replay but their epic cup run finally came to an end as I witnessed a 3-2 win for the hosts.

Monday 11 October 2021

Faroes Flashback: When Scotland Suffered What Some Called Their Worst Result Since 1872

Tomorrow night Scotland travel to the Faroe Islands for what should seemingly be a routine World Cup qualifying victory, but just over 19 years ago things weren't so simple. In September 2002 Scotland went to the Faroes to face the side considered one of Europe's minnows and left very much with egg on their faces. Here is the story.

‘Faroe misery for Scots’ was the headline on the BBC website when Scotland drew 1-1 away against one of the minnows of European football in 1999. But that was nothing compared to the uproar after the pair met again three years later when Scotland headed back to the Faroe Islands for what was an even more lacklustre performance. Once again it would be a case of two points dropped for the visitors but if it were not for a second-half fightback it would have been so much worse.

Whilst Scotland participated in the very first international football match against England almost 150 years ago, the Faroe Islands are relative newcomers to the international scene. Having not joined FIFA until 1988, when they faced Scotland at home in a Euro 2004 qualifier on 7 September 2002 it was just ten years since they’d played their first ever competitive match.

The Faroes had stunned the footballing world when they defeated Austria 1-0 in that first ever game in 1992. But for those living on this small rocky outcrop of Islands about 450 miles north of the Scottish capital of Edinburgh, it would be 21 defeats and one draw before they next won a meaningful contest. Even then it was only against the tiny enclave of San Marino, at the time ranked second worst in all of Europe just above Liechtenstein. The Faroes would win just five more times in their first ten years of competitive action, once more against San Marino and twice against both of Luxembourg and Malta, two also very lowly ranked sides. This was a team of part-timers who lost to everyone bar the few most woeful of sides and they went into the Scotland game ranked as low as 123rd in the world.

Scotland had narrowly missed out on a play-off place in World Cup 2002 qualifying and, under the guise of German manager Berti Vogts installed at the beginning of the year, the Faroe Islands match was the first game of what they hoped would be a promising Euro 2004 qualifying campaign. All expectations of a solid start in that opening group match were soon quashed, however, when in front of about 4,000 hardy spectators, Scotland found themselves two down after just 12 minutes thanks to a brace from the Faroes' Jon Petersen. The home fans were left in dreamland as they wildly waved their flags for each goal.

Albeit all friendlies, Vogts had lost four of his first five games in charge and such a disastrous start against the Faroes did nothing to ease the pressure already slowly starting to mount on him. Vogts hadn't done himself any favours in the build up to the game by criticising the choice of venue from the hosts in what some might have considered getting his excuses in early. But surely even he can't have expected such a horrendous beginning from his side. 

Now reachable via a seven mile car tunnel, at the time getting to the host venue of Toftir would have involved a ferry ride from the Faroe Islands' main city of Torshavn to what some might have considered barely more than a hamlet. Whilst consolidating his thoughts on that journey, however, one can't imagine Scotland's main man in the dugout thought anything less than a win was possible. 

2-0 would end up being the half-time scoreline in what was turning out to be one of Scotland's most embarrassing shows. The BBC website stated in their match report that the Faroes had 'looked superior for long periods' in that opening 45 minutes and they weren't wrong. The Independent even went as far as to say it was 'the most ignominious first half in Scotland's history.'

No matter what happened in the second-half nothing would be able to hide what had happened in the first but in the end, Scotland were at least able to save face a little. First, a Paul Lambert strike on 62 minutes gave the visitors hope and then with seven to play Barry Ferguson saved Scotland's blushes by grabbing an equaliser. The captains of Scotland's two Old Firm giants Celtic and Rangers had both united for the cause with the goals that turned a catastrophe into a slightly less disastrous bad day at the office. 

It was still a terrible result, bad enough for Rob McLean on commentary duty for BBC Scotland television to describe it as 'Inept, woeful, pitiful', but it had come very close to being even worse. Nonetheless, it was still, according to The Scotsman at least, 'Scotland’s worst result since 1872.' 

Bert Vogts meanwhile was seemingly perplexed as to how his side had been so abjectly poor. "I can't understand what happened," he exclaimed before agreeing that the performance was "Not good enough for international football."

In a post match poll, conducted by the BBC, 64% of fans said Vogts should lose his job and although he ended up hanging around for another two years before his eventual resignation in 2004 they were not very happy ones. By the end of his tenure Scotland had failed to qualify for the European Championships, only picked up two points from their opening three qualifying matches for the 2006 World Cup, all against lesser opposition, and dropped to a record low of 77 in the FIFA world rankings. His final match in charge was a 1-1 draw in qualifying against Moldova who would end up finishing bottom of the World Cup qualifying group with seven defeats from their 10 games.

Scotland defeated the Faroes 3-1 in the return match and a further three matches against the same opposition in the years since have seen Scotland score a total of 11 goals without reply. Neither side will forget that September 2002 clash, however, and especially not Scotland. For the Scots, the match would come to epitomise probably more than any other what ended up being easily the most impoverished period in their footballing history. Part of an almost 22 year period where, after the 1998 World Cup, they missed out on qualification for no fewer than ten major tournaments, that afternoon in Toftir was arguably the lowest moment of it all.