These days, the Winterpause in Germany often sees Bundesliga teams head out to warmer climes overseas for a mix of training, relaxation and the occasional promotional match against Middle Eastern, East Asian or North American opposition. For instance, over the 2012/13 winter break Bayern would travel to Qatar, where they played a series of friendly matches against local team Lekhwiya Sports Club and even league rivals Schalke 04.
Back in the late 1980s and all of the 1990s things had been very different however, with German clubs competing in a number of indoor tournaments across the country.
There were a number of qualifying events through the winter break leading to a final competition and the award of the DFB-Hallenpokal, with the series also being known as the Hallen-Masters. FC Bayern had never really bothered that much with these winter-warmer tournaments: the competition had taken place for fourteen seasons between 1987 and 2001, and while the list of champions had included the likes of FC Bayer 05 Uerdingen, Hansa Rostock and even local city rivals TSV 1860 and SpVgg Unterhaching, Munich’s biggest team had only ever reached one final in 1997, where they were defeated by 1. FC Kaiserslautern.
I had been part of a university study group in Berlin in January 1994, and among the sites on our itinerary was the site of the famous wall, the Reichstag and the grey and rather grim environs of Hohenschönhausen – the headquarters of the infamous Staatssicherheitsdienst or Stasi. On my own personal list was the veritable old Deutschlandhalle, which was hosting the Berlin leg of the Hallen-Masters. Finally, I would get to see Bayern play for real. Yes, it wouldn’t be at the Olympiastadion or even on a proper pitch, but I didn’t really care. I made sure to pack my Schal and an appropriate Trikot – at the time I had only three to choose from, and picked the white away one.
With my being based at a hostel in the West End close to the Olympiastadion and Theodor-Heuss-Platz, the Deutschlandhalle was perfectly located: it was as if they knew I was coming. In fact, it was so close that I didn’t even need to bother with using the U-Bahn. There were no other takers, as everybody else for some bizarre reason had preferred to spend their Friday evening in the dark East Berlin club jungle rather than watch an indoor football tournament – not that this really bothered me that much. I pulled on my Trikot and grabbed my winter coat, hat and slightly frayed red FC Bayern scarf.
After a bracing fifteen-minute walk, making my way to the box office and handing over the grand total of thirty-five Deutschmarks, I was in. Bayern were one of six teams in the tournament alongside hosts Hertha BSC Berlin, Bayer 04 Leverkusen, Eintracht Frankfurt, Werder Bremen and guest side Spartak Moscow, and the first instalment of the three-day tournament schedule included six matches, with Bayern – now under the stewardship of Franz Beckenbauer – involved in two of them.
I took my seat alongside a small group of local Hertha fans, who were somewhat surprised to see a lone British FC Bayern supporter at an otherwise obscure indoor tournament right in the middle of the chilly Berlin winter. As I quickly discovered, there were hardly any Bavarians who had made the journey to the German capital, let alone fans from further afield – I was probably the only one. This is perhaps hard to imagine today with Bayern being such a popular brand with millions of supporters from all around the world, but back then things were a little bit simpler. Bayern had always been a well-known club, but were far from the international phenomenon they are today.
While today one could expect more than a smattering of overseas supporters, it was a very rare occurrence back in the early 1990s. Of course, for me this was a good thing: if such an event were to be held today, it is very unlikely that I would have been able to turn up on the day and buy a ticket at the door.
The tournament’s opening match was an exciting 2-2 draw between Beckenbauer’s side and Frankfurt, with goals from Jorghnio and Christian Ziege for Bayern. I had an excellent view from the Obergeschoss or upper tier, though my rather primitive camera was unable to do the event any real justice. Oh to have had my SLR or even my iPhone.
Hosts Hertha then beat Spartak 2-0 to loud applause from the Deutschlandhalle crowd, and after Leverkusen pipped Bremen 3-2 Bayern were back in the arena to take on Spartak. While the opening match had been a tight affair this one gave me plenty of reasons to cheer a little, as Bayern turned out a convincing display to dispatch the Russian champions 3-0. Markus Münch opened the scoring and Jorghino scored his second of the tournament before Marcel Witeczek wrapped things up.
With Bremen beating Frankfurt 3-0 and Hertha going down 2-0 to Leverkusen, the overnight standings saw the Werkself at the top with four points, followed by Bayern on three with Berlin and Bremen both on two and Frankfurt on one. Spartak were left propping up the table, with no points and no goals from their two matches.
As I made my way back to the hostel taking in the crisp late evening January air, it felt good. The Bayern team had not exactly set the world on fire, but I had finally got to see them properly. In the end, I wouldn’t miss out on the night time entertainment either: when I returned there were a few people milling around, and we all decided to head out to a local Kneipe around the corner – where we stayed until at least three in the morning.
The Deutschlandhalle was built in 1935 for the Olympic Games the following year, where the boxing, weightlifting and wrestling events were held. As well as the Hallen-Masters, the versatile, 10,000-seat arena played host to a number of events over the course of seventy-five years, from music concerts through to tennis, basketball and ice hockey tournaments. In 1938 the famous female pilot Hanna Reitsch demonstrated the first indoor flight in the arena in a Focke-Wulf Fw 61 helicopter, while in 1970 Jimi Hendrix made his penultimate concert appearance there.
By 2009 the building had become outdated, and despite some local protests was finally demolished in 2011. The site was eventually used for the construction of a new conference centre, the City Cube, which was opened in the spring of 2014.
Taken from Rick’s (almost finished) FC Bayern fan history, The Pain and the Glory: My Thirty-Three Years with FC Bayern München
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