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German Football History – Born in Lueneburg

German football history is always started with Konrad Koch in Braunschweig. Yet this is merely a myth. A myth that has spread all too easily. Not least through a cinema film about Konrad Koch with Daniel Bruehl or through a documentary by the TV station NDR that will not be broadcast until summer 2020.

The beginnings of the sport of football in Germany lie in Lüneburg.

🇩🇪 Hallo! Diesen Artikel gibt es auch auf Deutsch. Wechsele hier zur deutschsprachigen Version.

The Beginning of German Football History

Football historian Hans-Peter Hock came across an article in the English weekly The Field, the farm, the garden. The country gentleman’s newspaper of 04.09.1875. This reported that at the end of August a football match under FA Rules had taken place at the Johanneum school in Lüneburg. At a time when rugby-like rules were still being played in Braunschweig or even Dresden. (Because Konrad Koch introduced rugby to Brunswick, not football. It used to be called only both football).

This football club at the school of Lueneburg was founded in 1874 and probably only existed for a short time, although there were more games in 1875. This is attested not only by The Field, but also by the local newspaper of Lüneburg.

But it is for earliest mention of a football game being played in Germany.

The protagonists in Lueneburg were the German teacher Wilhelm Karl Philipp Theodor Goerges (1838-1925) and the young English student Richard Ernest Newell Twopeny (1857-1915), who had previously gone to school at Marlborough College. (N.B. Twopeny emigrated to Australia with his family in May 1876, became a journalist and secretary of the South Australian Football Association).

My collection of links for German football history is online here.

German football history – founded by Englishmen

In Lüneburg and numerous other German towns, it was mainly English people who brought football and other sports to Germany. They were business people, holidaymakers, schoolchildren and students, and they naturally played their favourite sports in their free time in Germany. That’s how football came to Germany – and many other countries around the world.

The reaction of Braunschweig

Naturally, people in Braunschweig were not very enthusiastic about this newspaper find and the indication that that football which Konrad Koch introduced to Braunschweig was rugby. A mistake brought about by the German words. The German word football means only association football. However, the English word football meant both association football (➡️ football) and rugby football (➡️ rugby) until the 20th century.

Thus Brunswick insists on Koch’s broad-mindedness in having included „football as a pedagogical tool in everyday school life“. In doing so, they overlook the fact that football (and here indeed literally football) was also played at school in Lüneburg.

„If Lüneburg was indeed the first place where a football game was played according to modern English rules, we are pleased about this and it is further proof of how progressive the teachers in northern Germany were in dealing with the then new subject of ball sports. In any case, there must have been a burgeoning enthusiasm for ball sports in many places in Germany at that time. This does not change the fact that the initiative of Konrad Koch from Braunschweig to include football as an educational tool in everyday school life paved the way for the long and successful development of this sport in Germany. To this day, this can be seen in the German set of rules for football that he formulated, from which, for example, the offside rule that is still valid today comes.“
– Statement by Braunschweig’s Stadtmarketing GmbH for the TV station NDR.

In fact, for German football history, Braunschweig was just one place among many, and Konrad Koch just one person among many, where rugby football quickly became popular. But it was his views that were most clearly handed down.

Let’s hope that Lueneburg will go down in German football history on a broad basis, but without diminishing Koch’s commitment

The Source

The Field 46, 1875, p. 272:

„Lüneburg College Football Club. – Football has now become quite a popular game here, and the adoption of the Association rules has effected a decided improvement in the last year’s somewhat irregular play here. Out of a school of 600 boys, there is naturally a good deal of good material, and the vigour with which pick-ups have been played since the end of the holidays shows well for the coming season. The school has also secured a new and very good ground close to the town, which was inaugurated on the 28th, by the match Classical v. Modern School. Each side had unfortunately lost two members at almost the last moment, and the game was reduced to nine a side, in spite of which a capital match ensued. Modern won the toss, and, there being little or no wind, chose the top goal, Jochmus kicking off for Classical punctually at 5. At first the ball has a tendency to go out, and in the first twenty minutes did not go near either goal, till a long kick from Twopeny, well followed up by the forwards resulted in a goal kicked out of the scrimmage by Behling. Classical now played up very hard, and made more than one shot at goal. A. Crohen being at last rewarded with success. The ball having been kicked off by Twopeny, he followed it up, and after a short dribble secured a second goal for Modern by a near left-footer. From this point the Modern forwards worked very well together, Clausen’s charging being especially good. Behling, after a nice dribble, made a capital try at goal, the ball hitting the post; and immediately afterwards a fine long kick of Twopeny, who kicked very straight and far throughout, brought him another goal. Modern now entirely assumed the offensive, and were only kept out of the Classical’s goal by F. Jochmus and H. Crohen’s good kicking. Soon afterwards the inattention of the Modern goal keeper resulted in a goal neatly kicked after a short dribble by A. Crohen. The game was now kept pretty even to the end, Twopeny securing an easy goal off a free kick. A capital goal kicked by Kühns just before time was disallowed, as he was off side, and a very pleasant game was ended at 6:30, Modern being left victors by four goals (Behling 1, Twopeny 3) to Classical two (A. Crohen 2).

For Classical the two Crohens, Jochmus, and Kühns are worthy of mention, while for Modern their captain (half back), well backed up by Behling, Clausen, and Waldmeister as forwards, played the best. Altogether the play showed great promise, though the „off-side“ rule is not very strictly attended to.

Modern: H. Distel (goal), R. E. N. Twopeny (Marlborough College, captain), and R. Heiptker (half backs), E. V. Clausen, A. V. Behling, H. E. Waldmeister, R. Distel, J. E. Wolfson (Bradford), and W. Hanke (forwards). Classical: F. Jochmus (captain, goal), A. Crohen, and H. Crohen (New York) (half-backs), A. Bever (Bradford), and G. Kühns, Mahlsohn, H. Jochmus, G. Heine, and E. Hanke (forwards).

The following are the committee for the present season: R. E. N. Twopeny captain, F. Jochmus hon. sec., A. Crohen treasurer.“

Kategorie: English


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