FC Bayern – Miasanrot Advent Calendar, Door 4: Hans-Georg Schwarzenbeck
A guest article by Lukas Tank.
It is 20 March 1976 and FC Bayern München has reached the peak of its long history until that time. Only last week Benfica Lisbon had been dispatched 5-1. After defeating Real Madrid in the semi-finals (yes, such a thing is possible in principle), the season finally ended with the third European Cup triumph in a row.
In the Bundesliga, however, this phase was often an incomparably rougher ride for the Bayern team. The last season had ended in a disgraceful 10th place (in the bottom half of the table!) and that season, too, they would not finish higher than third.
The national top dog of these years was clearly Borussia Mönchengladbach. Having lost Netzer some time ago already, the squad around Vogts, Wimmer, Simonsen and Heynckes dominated the Bundesliga even without the Bundesliga’s most legendary club owner.
Even if the door to the supreme European title remained shut for Gladbach, it is fair to say that on this very cool spring day two superpowers of European football met in Munich’s Olympiastadion – and Bayern were by no means the favourites!
Result? Bayern win 4-0, it’s a display of power especially at the beginning. Player of the match? Well, several players in red shine: Beckenbauer (of course) and Hoeneß must be mentioned. But if you watch the match – it is one of the rare ones of this time preserved in full – you see that one player outshines even the Kaiser on this day. Hans-Georg “Katsche” Schwarzenbeck.
On the one hand, this has to do with his robust defensive performance – no surprise – but even more with the fact that, especially at the beginning, Gladbach consistently put Beckenbauer in a very tight man marking. Bayern thus lose the best defensive playmaker world football has ever seen.
And what does Schwarzenbeck do? He plays the role of Beckenbauer, with the ball! He takes over build-up play, initiates one-twos, pushes up far. The full Franz, and that from the supposedly so footballingly limited aide-de-camp of the great Kaiser.
It is one of the joys of rummaging around football history to witness (re-)live the great heroes of the past performing their much-praised deeds. But it is also one of the joys of suddenly discovering how collective memory has distorted, exaggerated, sometimes even reversed facts.
Katsche Schwarzenbeck was certainly no second Beckenbauer throughout his career. But anyone who can so credibly imitate the great emperor at his peak and in a high-stakes game, I don’t accept any bad word about his footballing class.