When two Germanys collided in a World Cup derby

Team 33's Raf Diallo on the 1974 clash between East and the West on The World Is A Ball

BY Raf Diallo 14:58 Wednesday 20 April 2016, 14:58 20 Apr 2016

The teams from West Germany, in white shirts, and East Germany line up for the national anthems before the start of the Football World Cup Group 1 match at the Volksparkstadion, in Hamburg, on June 22, 1974. The match ended in a 1 - 0 win for East Germany. From left to right West German team; Uli Hoeness, Paul Breitner, Berti Vogts, Jurgen Grabowski, Wolfgang Overath, Gerd Muller, Heinz Flohe, Hans-Georg Schwrzenbeck, Berhard Cullmann, goalkeeper Sepp Maier and captain Franz Beckenbauer. Referee

When communist regimes began to erode in Eastern half of Europe, the end result tended to be the break-up of vast conglemorates of nations.

The break up of the Soviet produced a myriad of new states, while Czechoslovakia split in two.

In a longer process, Yugoslavia has been breaking into a host of new nations since the early 1990s - with football briefly playing a minor role.

Germany however was reforged in the union of East and West in 1990. The political and cultural divide had been the case since the post-war era when German football had been split into the West, East and Saarland.

The latter national side was absored into West Germany in 1956, leaving only one side for the Soviet-backed East to vie against.

And in a major competitive environment, only once did East and West come to blows on the football field in Germany's ultimate footballing derby.

On this week's Team 33, we were joined by United We Stand fanzine editor Andy Mitten to talk about the global derby games he has visited over the years.

Germany - the West, whose achievements form the basis of the current unified team's history - hosted the 1974 World Cup and as fate would have it, were grouped with the East, who were qualifying for the first and only time.

Alongside the two German teams in Group A were Chile and Australia, who both would play first before the ultimate international derby clash in Round 3.

West Germany, staffed with talents like Franz Beckenbauer, Paul Breitner and Gerd Muller, were reigning European champions and had reached the 1966 World Cup final and 1970 semi-finals.

The East's pedigree was far less evident, given their inability to qualify for previous major tournaments.

The West beat both Chile and Australia by a 4-0 aggregate score, whereas the East was held by Chile in a 1-1 draw to row in second by the time the final group A clash came around.

Thus, the West was assured of a place in the next round even if they fell to their neighbours in that final match.

But it was more than a matter of points, but rather a matter of pride for both teams. 


Like chess pieces they met in Hamburg's Volksparkstadion, with the West in white and the East in a navy reminiscent of the Scotland colours.

The West's manager Helmut Schon, who had led them to European glory in '72 and would soon follow that up with World Cup glory was in fact a child of the East.

Born in Dresden during World War 1 when the two country's were previously unified under the German Empire moniker, he had defected to the west in 1950. 

Given the scope for defections at the time, the 2,000 East Germany fans who travelled to Hamburg were also vetted by the Communist Party in advance.

It was they who would have the first - but not last - laugh. In a tightly contested game in which the West created the majority of the chances, as you can see above, Jürgen Sparwasser got the winning goal for the East.

The midfielder who defect west 14 years later, when he latched onto a long ball, out-flanked the West's defence and fired high into the net.

The 1-0 win would have immediate consequences for both sides. On one hand it was political capital for the East but by pipping the West to top of the group, they in fact landed themselves in a tougher second round pool against Brazil and the Dutch Total Footballers.

For the West, it meant a slightly easier route to the final but also proved to be the kick up the backside they needed en route to World Cup glory. 

You can read more from The World Is A Ball series every Wednesday on Newstalk.com. To find past articles, head to the Team 33 show page.


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