1974 World Cup – Part 1
To commemorate my 10 years of blogging and to reminisce why I fell in love with the beautiful game 40 years ago, I’m going to tell the story of the 1974 World Cup Finals. From memory, but helped by no little research.
1974 World Cup – Part 1
West Germany was chosen as the host nation by FIFA in London, in the week leading up to the 1966 World Cup Finals, in fact hosting rights for the 1978 and 1982 tournaments were also awarded at the same time. West Germany agreed a deal with Spain by which Spain would support West Germany for the 1974 tournament, and in return West Germany would allow Spain to bid for the 1982 World Cup unopposed.
West German football had come a long way since the end of WWII. Excluded from international football until 1950, with none of the three new German states, West Germany, East Germany and Saarland accepted into the 1950 World Cup qualifiers, yet just four years later the West Germans produced one of the competition’s biggest ever shocks by winning the 1954 World Cup in Switzerland.
Fast forward 20 years to 1974 and the DFB had started to show early signs of that German mentality and meticulousness that are now synomous with them and the world’s sporting stage.
The West Germans were favourites to win the newly commissioned solid gold FIFA World Cup Trophy on their own patch after winning the 1972 European Championships. 15 other nations joined them including their neighbours from behind the red curtain, East Germany. Missing were many of the previous generations best footballing countries, such as England, knocked out by Poland on that dark night in the previous October. Also missing were Mexico, France and Hungary, showing early signs of the Magyars eventual decline.
The USSR also failed to make it, after they refused to play a 2nd leg Intercontinental Play-Off game in Santiago. After a 0-0 draw in Moscow, the Soviet Union refused to play the return due to the recent Chilean coup d’état and left-wing prisoners being executed in the Santiago stadium. Mind you, they never told anyone and Chile ran out onto the pitch in front an expectant crowd to be met with no opponents. Chile were awarded the tie.
The newspaper column inches leading up to the ’74 World Cup were dominated by the threats of terrorism, the Munich Olympics was two years before and was mostly remembered for the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes by Palestinian terrorists. Also with the Cold War at it’s height, the qualification of East Germany and then the pairing of them in Group A would mean the first meeting of the seperated countries and this only added to the political spicyness.
Security was tight around the team’s training camps, and amongst squads money was at the very top of most agendas. There were sponsorship disputes, bonus disagreements and Johan Cruyff refused to wear the three-stripe adidas logo on his orange jersey as he had his own kit agreement with Puma. If you look at any of the footage you will clearly see Cruyff’s adidas kit containing only two stripes!
Nine venues were used including the Olympiastadion in West Berlin, a political enclave surrounded by the Soviet occupied East Berlin. It has been Hertha Berlin’s home ground since 1963. Also used was Munich’s Olympiastadion, built for the 1972 Olympics and where the final took place and Hamburger SV’s old Volksparkstadion, now called the Imtech Arena.
Signal Iduna Park, Borussia Dortmund’s stadium was built for the finals, and was called then the Westfalenstadion. The now bulldozed Rheinstadion, built close to the Rhine, and the home of Fortuna Dusseldorf saw a couple of 2nd Round West German games, the closed and now partly demolished Parkstadion in Gelsenkirchen, home to FC Schalke 04, was also built for the finals and witnessed Yugoslavia’s 9-0 win over Zaire.
Eintracht Frankfurt’s Waldstadion now known as the Commerzbank-Arena was a host stadium, as was the Niedersachsenstadion, now branded the HDI Arena and home to Hanover 96 and finally the Neckarstadion in Stuggart, home to AFB and now called the Mercedes Benz Arena, but from between 1933 and 1945 it was called the Adolf-Hitler-Kampfbahn.
Tip and Tap were the World Cup mascots, two boys with WM 74 displayed across West German shirts. WM stands for Weltmeisterschaft (World Cup) and was also on the official logo (top left). Tip and Tap hugged each other tightly, missing only a stein of bubbly beer in each hand, but they were said to represent harmony, unity and fair play.
With numbers on the backs of player’s shirts for the first ever time and with glorious technicolour in people’s living rooms, and not the grainy black and white from 1970, the festival of football was ready to begin with the first game kicking off on June 13th, 1974 with Brazil opening things up as they will do 40 years to the day in Sao Paulo in a matter of weeks.
Part 2 to follow.