1937 Back Pass

Last year, thanks to Jurryt van de Vooren and Simon Gleave, I was introduced to what was thought to be the earliest example of football statistics. The game was played on 20 June 1937.

Simon’s forensic skills have come up with an earlier example from a game played at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin, Germany on Sunday 3 January 1937.

The statistics are from the final of the national Tschammerpokal 1936 competition played between VfB Leipzig and FC Schalke 04. VfB Leipzig won 2v1 with all three goals scored in the first half (1:0 Jacob May (20), 2:0 Herbert Gabriel (31), 2:1 Ernst Kalwitzki (42)). The referee was Egon Zacher who officiated games in Germany from 1935 to 1952.

News of the 1937 statistics appeared on a Deutscher Fussball-Bund’s news page about the 2017 Cup competition and the availability of the DFB-Pokal-App to explore performance data.

The 1937 data:

There is a very short film (18 seconds) of the game:

An English Wikipedia entry has a picture of the match program:

There is a detailed German Wikipedia entry about the 1936 competition. In the match report there is this sentence “Der VfB verzichtete auf jede Effekthascherei und ließ nach englischer Art den Ball laufen”. This appears to be a comparison between VfB’s second half pattern of play and an English approach to playing the game.

Kicker has information about the teams. Of the players listed, ten of the eleven Schalke players have Wikipedia entries:

Hermann Mellage, Hans Bornemann, Otto Schweisfurth, Rudolf Gellesch, Hermann Nattkämper, Otto Tibulski, Ernst Kalwitzki, Fritz Szepan, Ernst Poertgen, Ernst Kuzorra. Ernst Kuzorra was the captain of the team. The only Schalke player without a Wikipedia entry is Ernst Sotnow. The trainer, Hans Schmidt, has a page.

The German Wikipedia page about the game has one link to a VfB Leipzig player, Rudolf Grosse. This is incorrect. It is a link to a sociolinguist with the same name. He would have been 13 at the time of the final. Kicker has a date of birth for Rudolf as 25 August 1910.

Kicker provides dates of birth for 8 of the VfB Leipzig team and all of the FC Schalke 04 team. These data give the median age of VfB as 26.5 years ((range 20 to 30) and Schalke at 24 (range 18 to 31). Bruno Waller, the VfB goalkeeper, won the cup on his birthday.

If the start of the birth year was 1 January for German football, then the places in birth year for both teams at the time of the final were:

I am delighted Simon is on the case. I had better start scanning pre-1937.

Photo Credit

FC Shalke 04 (YouTube frame grab)

Postscript

The Weltfussball page for the game.

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