Sixty years of Bundesliga: A look back at the best of the best

DWnews || Shining BD

Published: 8/24/2023 6:02:44 AM
The broken goal at Bökelberg Stadium is one of the iconic moments from the 60-year history of the Bundesliga

The broken goal at Bökelberg Stadium is one of the iconic moments from the 60-year history of the Bundesliga

In 60 years, the Bundesliga has created numerous iconic stories. Always packed to the brim with emotion, some have been funny, some have been tragic and some will live forever in the folklore of Germany’s top flight.

The broken post of Bökelberg

In German football circles, they talk of goals "falling," but on April 3, 1971, in a match between Borussia Mönchengladbach and Werder Bremen, the phrase became literal.

"I heard a crack and the post tipped to one side," recalled Gladbach's Herbert Laumen.

While trying to get his head to the ball in defending a cross, Laumen himself landed in the back of the net at one end of Gladbach's stadium at the time, which was known as the Bökelberg

"A little later I was lying like a fish in the net, I couldn't get out on my own," he said.

Back then, there were no replacements for the goals and attempts to repair it using nails failed. As a result, it became the first match to be abandoned in the history of the Bundesliga. Bremen were awarded a 2-0 win despite the score being 1-1 at the time of the post being broken. It also saw Germany’s top-flight transition from wooden goalframes to the aluminum ones still in use today.

The Kutzop penalty

In 1986, Werder Bremen were well on course to be crowned Bundesliga champions. On the penultimate matchday of the season, all Bremen needed was a win against rivals Bayern Munich to wrap up the title. The game was stuck in a goalless deadlock until the referee awarded Werder a penalty in the 89th minute. 

Jean-Marie PfaBayern goalkeeper Jean-Marie Pfaff didn't stand a chance, but Michael Kutzop's penalty still missedImage: Liedel/Kicker/IMAGO

Replays would show that it was the wrong decision, as Bayern defender Sören Lerby had actually been hit in the face. The ball was kicked away in anger, which meant that Bremen's penalty specialist Michael Kutzop had to wait a long time before placing the ball on the spot.

"Maybe I had too much time to think," he recalled later. "The Bayern players said nice things in my ear and stepped on my feet, but that's part of it somehow."

His penalty beat Bayern goalkeeper Jean-Marie Pfaff, but came back off the post as the game ended 0-0. A week later, Bayern were crowned Bundesliga champions thanks to their superior goal difference after Bremen lost their final game in Stuttgart.

"Even today I can still hear the ball hitting the post," said Kutzop, who took 40 penalties during his football career. All but one went in.

Schalke's four glorious minutes

From ecstasy to devastation — that was the emotional rollercoaster Schalke rode on May 19, 2001. The Royal Blues won their final game of the 2000-01 season, and when league leaders Bayern Munich fell behind in the final minute against Hamburg, all of a sudden Schalke were in first place.

False news then began to spread that the game in Hamburg had ended, meaning Schalke had won the title for first time in 43 years and the first time in the Bundesliga era. The fans stormed the pitch in a state of euphoria to celebrate with the team before the big screen in the Parkstadion switched on to show live pictures of the game in Hamburg.

The nationwide outpouring of sympathy was of little consolation to Schalke and chairman Rudi AssauerImage: Norbert Schmidt/IMAGO

Tens of thousands of Schalke fans were left stunned as Patrick Anderson scored from an indirect free kick to level the score at 1-1 and crown Bayern champions, four minutes and 38 seconds after Schalke own celebrations had begun.

"I no longer believe in the football gods," Schalke chairman Rudi Assauer said afterward.

The Royal Blues are still waiting for their first Bundesliga title, but after the nationwide outpouring of sympathy, will always be remembered as the Meister der Herzen — the people's champions.

Referee Ahlenfelder's sense of time

According to the official rules, a football match should last 90 minutes, divided into two halves of 45 each. Back on Nov. 8, 1975, Bundesliga referee Wolf-Dieter Ahlenfelder demonstrated a different interpretation of the rules when he blew for halftime of a game between Werder Bremen and Hannover after just 32 minutes.

Apparently, the referee was not quite sober in his third Bundesliga appearance.

"A beer and a Malteser [brand of brandy] with lunch, that's allowed, isn't it?" Ahlenfelder was quoted as saying later.

"We are men and we don't drink Fanta," he said, referring to a brand of orangeaid. When the players protested, he blew his whistle a second time and allowed at least 11 minutes of the missing 13 to be played until the break. 

Wolf-Dieter Ahlenfelder went down in Bundesliga history for all the wrong reasonsImage: Ferdi Hartung/IMAGO

There were no repercussions for Ahlenfelder, who continued to referee top-flight matches until 1988. The DFB (German FA) explained that the referee was ill and had taken cough syrup, but rumor has it that to this day you can order an "Ahlenfelder" in pubs around the Weserstadion in Bremen. What do you get? A beer and a shot of Malteser, of course!

Bitten in the butt

The Revierderby between Borussia Dortmund and Schalke 04 on Sept. 6, 1969 was a heated affair even before a dog got involved. When Schalke fans ran onto the pitch to celebrate their side taking a 1-0 lead, chaos broke out and a steward's dog got caught up in the moment. Rex the German Shepherd was gnashing his jaws and ended up biting Schalke player Friedel Rausch on the bottom.

A painful derby experience as a dog takes a bite out of Friedel Rausch's bottomImage: Horstmüller/IMAGO

"I didn't know what was happening to me. Suddenly someone shouted: 'Watch out, the dogs are loose,' and then the hellish pain started," Rausch recounted. Since there were no substitutions allowed at the time, he had to continue playing after receiving a tetanus injection. 

The game ended in a 1-1 draw, with Rausch receiving DM500 (€256, $277) in compensation and a bouquet of flowers from Dortmund.

"The next few nights I could only sleep on my stomach," Rausch recalls. When asked what would have happened if the dog had bitten at the front instead of the back, Rausch claimed Rex "would have lost all his teeth."

Three phantom goals, one replay

Today, thanks to the wonders of technology, it is possible to determine exactly whether the ball has crossed the goal line or not. That was not yet the case in 1994, when Bayern defender Thomas Helmer poked the ball past the post after a corner kick in Nuremberg on Matchday 32.

Thomas Helmer's phantom goal went inches wide, but still countedImage: Sven Simon/IMAGO

However, because the linesman thought the ball had gone in, the referee gave the goal. Bayern went 1-0 up in an eventual 2-1 win, but because the television pictures clearly proved the mistake, relegation candidates Nuremberg lodged a protest. The match was replayed as a result with Bayern winning 5-0 and Nuremberg being relegated at the end of the season. 

There have been two other phantom goals since the Bundesliga's inception. In 1965, Dortmund's Reinhold Wosab hit the outside of the net against Karlsruhe, but a hole in the net saw the ball go in. The same happened in 2014 with a header by Leverkusen's Stefan Kiessling at Hoffenheim. Both times the goal was given, but despite protests neither game was replayed.

Shining BD