Forward With Vorwärts Berlin, East Germany’s Team Of The 60s – Part One

East GermanyHeartily joining in the drunken celebrations as his beloved BFC Dynamo became champions of East Germany yet again was one of the few things in life that appeared to animate Stasi chief Erich Mielke. As that pudgy face broke out into an unfamiliar, if still dead-eyed smile, you could only marvel at the charade on display. How the head of East Germany’s secret police could demonstrate such enthusiasm for a success that he to all extents and purposes had ordered in advance spoke volumes about East German football and the surreal fiction that was the GDR state as a whole.

Vorwärts BerlinIn its final days the East German Oberliga table became a thoroughly discredited recognition of political connivance rather than sporting excellence; where football was played for the benefit of the influential backers of state-sponsored clubs and rarely for the people who actually played or watched the game. And its rotten core was sited in East Berlin.

And yet while BFC Dynamo came to define the game in the GDR, Mielke’s pets were actually East Berlin football’s johnny-come-latelys; the malign and disagreeable version of an earlier and more estimable state-sponsored club shooed off the scene to make way for Mielke’s vanity project. This was a club of some standing, historically recognised as East Germany’s third most successful despite a de facto existence that spanned less than half of the four decades that the GDR Oberliga operated. That club was Vorwärts Berlin and this is its story.

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Star Strip – George Cohen

EnglandEngland international right back George Cohen is the subject of this Star Strip edition and it’s certainly one of artist Bob Bond’s more expansive efforts. While the Fulham man was a fine player and model profession, his life story was perhaps less incident packed than many of the players we have featured in the series. Perhaps conscious of the lack of drama, Bob really goes to town on pushing the abstract and Cohen’s strip duly features a frankly disconcerting frame of the player drawn in a Cheshire Cat style; another of him scattering the contents of his hospital room when celebrating his team avoiding relegation and an odd cameo by the actress Honor Blackman.

Few players who represent their country 37 times and play 500 games in top flight football are unfortunate enough to end their career with just one single medal, but that’s all that George had to show for a career with perennial relegation battling Fulham. At least the one he did win was the rarest medal of them all: a World Cup winner’s medal well-earned for his fine England performances in 1966.

Click image to enlarge

Click image to enlarge

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Ardath’s Cigarette Cards 1936

EnglandOur third published set of 1930s cigarette cards from one of our favourite Flickr accounts features a gallery of some the team cards given away with packets of Ardath cigarettes during a 1936 promotion.

League and non-League clubs from both England and Scotland were included in Scotlandthe 50-strong collector’s series and while they don’t boast the stylised and over-saturated colours of our previously published sets, we think the stark monochromatic look is still very striking.

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Manchester United Vintage 1961-65

EnglandOur second Manchester United Vintage post gathers up another set of retro images from the first half of the 1960s. These were the reconstruction years after the Munich disaster as Matt Busby pieced together the players who would go on to form what would be his second great United team.

Future greats like Law, Crerand and Best established themselves in the first team and the club gradually returned to trophy winning form with an FA Cup success in 1963 and another championship win in 1965.


Daniel Eon’s Unwise Leap into the Abyss

The Darwin Awards is a project that recognises outstanding contributions to human evolution by individuals who self-select themselves out of the gene pool – invariably by their own unnecessarily foolish actions. If there is a non-fatal equivalent in the world of football, the nominations should be handed to players who put themselves out of action by dint of faintly ridiculous, self-inflicted injury. Picking up a strain playing Playstation, dropping bottles of salad cream or aftershave on feet, poking themselves in the eye with aircraft boarding-passes or using an electric drill to drain a blood blister with predictable results – these actions do not reflect well on the intelligence of footballers.

BTLM would like to put forward for consideration to this list the name of 1960s French goalkeeper Daniel Eon. He’s not a well-known player outside his native land, but he’s certainly one who deserves his place in the pantheon of players who picked up the most avoidable of injuries.

Eon was first-choice keeper of long-standing with French club Nantes during their rise to prominence under coach José Arribas. He was a steady presence between the posts as Nantes were promoted to the top division in 1963, became national champions in 1965 and successfully retained the Ligue 1 title the following year. Known for his safe rather than spectacular style, Eon struggled to capture the imagination of successive national team managers and stood third-choice in the international hierarchy behind Marcel Aubour and Pierre Bernard.

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West Germany Vintage 1966-70

GermanyMore West Germany Vintage images today featuring some of the stars of the powerful nationalmannschaft that reached the 1966 World Cup Final and the semi-finals in Mexico four years later.

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Kickers Offenbach Got Kickbacks Often

GermanyNot a tongue-twister, rather the wholly imagined story of a middling German club mired in financial scandal. This is the football headline the dormant sub-editor inside me would love to be able to coin one day so I could boast my own personal ‘SupercaleygoballisticCelticareatrocious’ moment.

Kickers Offenbach logoWere the corruption story to rumble on with influential and connected people further drawn into the murky affair, my follow-up headline could be ‘Kickers Conspiracy’. You see, that’s not as good because it relies on the reader knowing The Fall’s musical canon.

If Kickers Offenbach brought in a renown athletics coach tasked with rapidly improving the squad’s fitness, you could run with the headline: ‘You can’t get fitter than quick-fix Kickers’. That’s a questionable one too as although it’s snappy enough, it depends on people recognising a decades-old British ad campaign for a car repair company.

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