Gladbach vs Dortmund, Matchday 34 Bundesliga 77/78

Goals were always to be expected, really. In December 1977 their first meeting in the season had ended 3:3. Through 33 matchdays, whenever Dortmund were on the pitch, matches saw an average of 3.51 goals scored. For Gladbach that figure rose to 3.58.

Goals were desperately needed to. Not for Dortmund, mind. The Westphalia outfit sat neatly in eleventh place (of 18), about as many points away from the drop as from European football. Gladbach, however, with one matchday left, were tied on points for first place with rivals Cologne. Their problem: sporting a goal-difference of +30, while Cologne boasted a +40.

Moreover, Cologne were playing away to St. Pauli. Hamburg’s second team had just been promoted to Bundesliga 1 the summer prior. Straight back down they went in last place. Little help was to be expected from St. Pauli. Little hope remained for a fourth Gladbach championship in a row.

Gladbach legends exit the stage

A proper send-off, then, is what Herbert “Hacki” Wimmer and Jupp Heynckes will have hoped for. From the mid-60s onward the pair had combined for more than 800 appearances in the white & green kit. This was to be their final match for Gladbach. 38.000 fans had travelled to nearby Düsseldorf to see them off. The Bökelberg, Gladbach’s homeground, was being renovated, thus the game was moved to the Rheinstadion. It should prove to be a worthwhile trip.

Just moments after kick-off, Danish international Allan Simonsen picks up a stray pass in midfield, swiftly sending compatriot Carsten Nielsen & Herbert Wimmer down the left half-space. Wimmer lobs a cross into the box, where Heynckes is waiting at the penalty spot. Seemingly floating, Heynckes loops a header over Dortmund’s keeper Peter Endrulat into the goal to open the scoring.

It was Bundesliga goal number 216 for Heynckes and not his last on the day. In the summer he would transition into a coaching role in Udo Lattek’s staff. The remaining 89 minutes might as well serve as the template for a testimonial match.

The first minute opener was not the gut punch one might have expected. Dortmund replied well, enjoying spells of possession, moving the ball through their ranks at a decent pace. While in possession they trusted a very high back-line, even pushing all outfield players into the Gladbach half during a few of their longer moves.

The “home” side in contrast kept eleven men behind the ball. Wilfried Hannes was tasked to man-mark Wolfgang Frank. Hard man Berti Vogts picked up the other Dortmund centre forward Peter Geyer, no doubt spurned on by having received the honour of being crowned “Gladbach Player Of The Year” before kick-off. Not that he would ever let on. Hans-Jürgen Wittkamp played a free role in the middle of defence.

Dortmund rooting for Gladbach?

In the lead-up to the match it was claimed, Dortmund players would rather see Gladbach crowned champion than Cologne. Why that should be the case is anybody’s guess. Gunning for their sixth title in nine seasons Gladbach were hardly the loveable underdog. If the voices claiming such favoritism were coming out of Cologne rather than Dortmund itself, it might have served to prevent a somewhat lackadaisical approach of the BVB to their final, yet unimportant match.

And yes, during the first ten minutes it was indeed Dortmund taking the game to Gladbach. The men in yellow & black were not yet dangerous but trying to get forward and in command. Until Heynckes picked up the ball in the centre circle during the 12th minute. A first one-two with Christian Kulik fails, but Heynckes is quicker to the rebound than Dortmund‘s centre back Werner Schneider. He sends it over to Kulik again, darts into the box, outmuscles a defender for the return ball and slots it past Endrulat for the 2:0.

The second shot on goal for Gladbach had produced their second goal. A minute later they made it three for three. Dortmund try to play it forward straight away, but Vogts is having none of it. Gladbach’s POTY tackles Geyer, wins the ball and sends Simonsen down the left wing all in one fluid motion. As white shirts flood forward, a first attack is thwarted by Dortmund. Two defenders can’t stop Kalle Del’Haye crossing from the right wing, though. He finds Nielsen all alone, just five yards out, 3:0, 13 minutes played.

Dortmund falling apart quickly

If Dortmund hadn’t looked like the early 0:1 affected them, the next two goals, conceded in quick succession, clearly left a mark. All 50:50 balls now went Gladbach’s way. Forget about that Dortmund backline moving up. With their open play disjointed, a corner almost brought reprieve: Manni Burgsmüller had managed to steal himself away from Nielsen, but put his header against the bar.

Two minutes later Gladbach scored again. Wohlers had sent Del’Haye down the right with daylight in front of him. The 22 year-old brought it up 60, 70 yards by himself, quicker with the ball than Kulik next to him was without. Once in the box Lothar Huber backed off to far, Endrulat was off balance and could only watch the ball fly over his head into the goal.

The fans had been in fine voice from the beginning. Now at 4:0 with just 22 minutes off the clock they were ecstatic. And believed in their team’s, albeit limited, chance to achieve the unthinkable; singing, “Deutscher Meister wird nur der VfL”, only the VfL shall be crowned champions, “We are the champions”, in English, though not to the tune of Queen, and even “St. Pauli” were spurred on from 400 kilometres away.

Approximate formations and player movements for Gladbach vs Dortmund, April 29th 1978

Approximate formations and player movements for Gladbach vs Dortmund, April 29th 1978

This match is surely not the measuring stick for a fine Gladbach side, but at least their typical flair on the ball was apparent. Give-and-goes were the weapon of choice. One after the other the midfielders would shift play with a short horizontal pass and bolt forward. Three of these moves strung together, with multiple players now coming through the middle, channels were bound to be opened up.

For width, Del’Haye was sticking close to the sideline on the right wing, while Heynckes would drift out to the left. Though of course Gladbach were well served on the day with Heynckes in the box, waiting for service through the air.

A half dozen goals at half time

Early on it had become apparent Endrulat was shaky coming for high balls into the box. After half an hour an Endrulat blackout going for a Gladbach corner and some comical defending resulted in a Dortmund clearance hitting the post. Safely on the ground, Endrulat smothered the rebound.

Problems for Dortmund bringing up play had become apparent in the previous 10-20 minutes. An errant pass from Wagner resulted in a Gladbach counter via Del’Haye, Wohlers and Heynckes and the 5:0. Huber once again backed off too far as Wohlers took it into the box, laying it across to Heynckes for an easy tap-in.

Gladbach’s Rainer Bonhof, sidelined by a muscle strain, was looking on from the bench, though seemingly not impressed. The cameras sadly didn’t capture his reaction shortly after: Wimmer coordinated a lovely move with Wohlers & Nielsen, which had him bursting into the box completely unmarked, finishing the attack for the 6:0 over a sprawled out Endrulat.

A half dozen goals by half time. Another five would be enough. Cologne were only ahead a paltry 1:0 against St. Pauli.

Upon restart Dortmund looked to take any pace out of the game whatsoever. Gladbach, though, were relentless, and after only a few minutes back to Betriebstemperatur, operating temperature.

Peter Endrulat’s demise

During the break Otto Rehhagel, Dortmund’s coach, had asked his hapless keeper if he wanted to be substituted. Endrulat had been filling in for Horst Bertram the past few weeks while Bertram was injured. Even with the regular number one fit again, Rehhagel had still started Endrulat for the Gladbach match as his contract was up for renewal.

In retrospect, Endrulat admits, he should have accepted the offer to get out. His seventh Bundesliga match was to be his final one.

With an hour gone Endrulat is caught in no-man’s-land watching a Heynckes header, won against two defenders, sail over his head and into the goal for the 7:0. Two minutes later he picks the ball out of the net again. Nielsen had hammered home the 8:0 from close range in heavy traffic.

A single chance for Dortmund comes after central midfielder Mirko Votava is played through by Frank. Gladbach’s goalie Wolfgang Kleff had not fallen asleep, though, and gets to the ball before Votava can get a shot off.

Up the pitch on the other end Gladbach earn a corner. A first scuffed attempt falls to Del’Haye, whose effort is saved by Endrulat. Judging by how the day went, it’s no wonder the rebound falls straight back to Del’Haye, 9:0.

Gladbach enter record-breaking territory

Gladbach hunt for more, pressing up into the highest third of the pitch. 3 to 4 attackers chase the Dortmund player bringing up play. The poorest soul on the pitch – apart from Endrulat – is whoever is on the ball for Dortmund.

It takes some nerve, being down 0:9, to try an offside trap on an inswinging free kick. Dortmund try it anyway in the 77th minute. And of course it fails. Endrulat does well enough against four attackers, stopping Heynckes first shot. He smothers the second one on the line, just by the post. The photographers and boys sitting behind the goal vehemently confirm, the ball surely crossed the line for the 10:0, Heynckes’ fifth on the day.

The only change either side make is Ewald Lienen’s introduction in the 77th minute, Gladbach’s 24 year-old forward coming on for Simonsen. Dortmund’s reserve players more or less refused to be subbed in. Ten minutes after being introduced, Lienen gets onto the scoresheet. The 14th corner for Gladbach is cleared haphazardly, only as far as Lienen, who’s waiting at the edge of the box. He hits it half-volley for the 11:0

Our man for Argentina

Mercilessly referee Ferdinand Biwersi does not call time at an even 90 minutes, but tacks on a few more. For context: This was to be his final Bundesliga game. An exit of the Wimmer & Heynckes variety, not like Endrulat. A police detective by trade, Biwersi refereed 121 top-flight matches in Germany, and would represent the country at the coming World Cup in Argentina.

Read: Spain vs Sweden, World Cup 1978 First Round – Retro Match Report of Biwersi’s match in Argentina

So, in the second minute of injury time, a last Dortmund attack is stopped. Kulik receives the ball in the box, makes his nearest defender miss and slots it past Endrulat into the far corner for the final goal on the day.

12:0. The largest victory in Bundesliga history. And it wasn’t enough.

Cologne had won their match 5:0 and consequently the championship. Upon return to Gladbach the team was nonetheless celebrated as if they had caught up to their rivals.

For the losers, only ridicule awaited. Team officials had already planned out a tour of friendly matches against amateur sides. In retrospect it was hard to find wether this was done to close out the season, or, more likely, a few weeks later in preparation for the new one. Regardless of the timing, they were mocked and laughed at everywhere they went. Not amongst the Dortmund travel company was Otto Rehhagel. The coach had gotten the sack the morning after the match.

Awards

  • Man Of The Match: Jupp Heynckes, five goals in his last Bundesliga game are reason enough
  • Best Hair: Kalle Del’Haye, for his bleach blonde mop
  • Viewing recommendation: Definitely worth a watch, full match can be found over at footballia, highlights below

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About Sebastian

Sebastian writes and talks about football of all eras in German and English. His series of Retro Match Reports focus on British, German and Italian football history. For YYFP he is currently working his way through the late '70s and early '80s. Follow Sebastian on Twitter: @maltacalcio.

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