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Gone But Not Forgotten - The Lost Class of 63/64

Jon Hartley takes a look at the clubs from the first Bundesliga season that you may have forgotten about.

Sixteen teams made up the first season of the Bundesliga, but of those clubs that kicked off the inaugural matches on the 24th of August 1963, only 10 still call the top flight ‘home’. Of course, only Hamburg have been ever present in the Bundesliga since its inception, but it might surprise new followers to German football that Bayern Munich weren’t in that initial pack. Bayern were fighting it out in the Regionalliga Süd at the time and were very much the small fry in Munich. The team that captured the imagination of the city was 1860 Munich and they were selected as one of the club to take part in that first season.

Other members of the Class of 63/64 include Eintracht Braunschweig, Meidericher SV (aka MSV Duisburg), SC Preußen Münster, 1. FC Saarbrücken and Karlsruher SC,  but unfortunately they join 1860 in a group that took part in that first season but no longer grace the top-flight. Despite no longer being first division clubs, there are some interesting stories of what happened next from these Bundesliga pioneers.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="609" caption="MSV Duisburg v Eintracht Frankfurt - 31st August 1963"][/caption]

As recently as 2009, Karlsruhe were a first division side, as were Duisburg the season before that. It also must not forgotten that MSV also made it to the DBF Pokal Final last May, though they may want to wipe their own memories of being thrashed 5-0 by Schalke in the Olympic Stadium. Both of these sides currently reside in the second division, and didn't have the best of times in the first half of the season - Karlsruhe are currently bottom of the 2.Liga on goal difference (level on points with Hansa Rostock). If the club do get relegated, it will only be the second time since the advent of the Bundesliga that the club has dipped as far as the third tier of German football. Indeed, this club have had their moments of glory. They twice graced the last 16 of the UEFA Cup during the 90s and also made it to the semi-finals, but unfortunately now those times seems so long ago. Things haven't been that much better for Duisburg. MSV start the second half of the season in 12th, and life at the club hasn’t been rosey since their trip to Berlin. Coach Milan Sasic was fired in October following the club’s Pokal defeat to fourth division Holstein Kiel, and was replaced by Oliver Reck, who was the goalkeeping coach under Sasic.

Two of the forgotten clubs in that ‘Class of 63/64’ did actually go on to win the Bundesliga title. 1860 Munich and Eintracht Braunschweig both won the title and did it in quick succession. 1860 kicked it off by winning in 1966, but this was the pinnacle for the club before they were dwarfed by their city neighbours Bayern. The following season it was Braunschweig’s turn to win the title, while 1860 narrowly missed out on a second successive championship. They were the runners up and just 2-points behind Eintracht, for whom this was also the highlight of their history.

Both of these clubs have long traditions in the top flight. Braunschweig were in the 1.Bundesliga for all but one season between 1963 & 1985, but from there it all started to go sour. By the time the mid-90s came around the club had dropped as far as the third division and have only as recently as last season got themselves back up to the 2.Liga, having ‘yo-yoed’ for the best part of a decade. They will be pleased with their return to the 2.Liga, and come back from the winter break in 8th place. 1860 have had their low points as well, but were a top flight club until 2005. Since then the club have been through the ringer in terms of financial problems, but since investment last year, it looks like the future of the club may well be secure.

Probably the least fashionable clubs of our bunch are FC Saarbrücken and Preußen Münster. Both are currently in the 3.Liga, but out of the pair, it is Saarbrücken who have the better record in the Bundesliga with a grand total of five seasons in the division. Unfortunately for Saarbrücken, their record doesn’t read that much better than the Münster-men whose only season in the Bundesliga was that landmark season in 1963/64. In fact, it was these two clubs who were relegated at the end of that campaign. And how different life could have been for poor Münster had they managed to survive. They finished the season one point behind third from bottom Hertha Berlin, and it was these two clubs who faced each other on the final day of the season. Münster won that game 4-2 having been 2-1 down just before the half hour, but the victory made no difference and Münster were relegated…what would have happened had they not taken the drop? Would we be talking about Hertha Berlin as a forgotten club of German football?


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