In March 1976, BSG Sachsenring delivered a true piece of history. After wins over Panathinaikos, Fiorentina and Celtic, Zwickau reached the cup winners cup semi-final, a sensation for an East German club.
Ludwig Blank, the “Killer of the Scots”, remembers vividly his two goals against the legendary Celtic and the team spirit that spurred the Sachsenring-based footballers to success. (from the Freie Presse newspaper)
Sachsenring had to play every first leg away from Zwickau during that cup run. The second leg against Panathinaikos Athens (October 1, 1975), Fiorentina (5th November 1975) and Celtic (17 March 1976) were played on Wednesday afternoons. Because not all schools would release the children interested in football, there were more than the usual numbers of truants those afternoons in the Georgi-Dimitroff-stadium. The crowds were so big for these games that spectators were even hanging from the trees on the hillside overlooking the stadium. For those who were allowed to witness it, it was certainly one of their most memorable football highlights.
There are some football players and dates and places that many former East German sports fans will know immediately. Jürgen Sparwasser is one, scorer of the goal in the only game played between East and West in the World Cup (Hamburg, 22 June 1974). The words March 1976 and Glasgow quickly conjure up a name, and not only for Zwickau fans: Ludwig Blank.
“Luggi”, pictured above holding the original programme from the memorable match on 17 March 1976, shot to fame thanks to his late equaliser in the first leg of the quarter final in Glasgow and his winner in the second leg. “Both of these goals I will never forget my whole life,” Blank said on 17 March 1976 after the home round against Celtic.
30 years later, Ludwig although, a few less hairs on his head, still stands by his statement made at that time. “That has not changed anything. That was the most important thing in my career.” He can still clearly remember the legendary goals that earned him the nickname “Killer of the Scots”.
His eyes begin to shine when he talks about his appearance in Glasgow in front of 55,000 spectators. “When we came out, there was applause, but five minutes later the hairs were standing on my neck when the game started and the supporters began to make an atmosphere. They sang from beginning to end. something I had never experienced in my life until then.“
Blank recalls how, during that game, he played against four opponents who played a hard match and kicked him a few times. “They pushed like crazy.”
Coach Karl-Heinz Kluge (who died in July 2005) had planned to get counter Sachsenring’s opponents with a consistent man-marking tactic. Captain Jürgen Croy in goal defied the Scots with his incredible saves. He even stopped a penalty from Dalglish. “The penalty I have guessed instinctively on a corner and had a guessed correctly,” said Croy.
After Blank’s equaliser in the 88th Minute (“I played the ball through the legs of the centre back Aitken) there was a dead silence round the stadium. The fans responded, but fairly. “After the game, there was applause, and we were not booed,” said Blank.
In the “Free Press” at the time the reporter commented on the high tactical discipline of BSG Sachsenring and praised their combination of technical skill and exemplary fighting spirit. “Certainly it was the greatest thing to happen in Zwickau,” says Blank, looking back.
The dump (the local nickname for the stadium in Zwickau) dwellers in the mid-70s were a great team, a healthy mix of experienced and young players. They still meet once a year, most recently in 2005, in Wernesgrün. “It’s fun when the chestnuts are warmed up again,” admits Blank. The sight of his greatest triumph, however, he has not visited since. “I was really all over the world after the fall of the DDR, but not in Glasgow,” says the now 57-year-old.
When was he last in the Sachsenring stadium? “It’s a bloody long time ago. The bond is simply no longer there. I know almost no one at the club any more. Today we’re basically just about the money. The upper divisions are ruled by commercialism. I do not mind that players make good money. Good luck to them. But you should still ask again, whether a football player really needs to get millions. The teams pay high salaries. There will eventually be a big bang”, predicts Blank.
Also, he doesn’t like the changes in the European Cups. “When there were fewer games people were always really keen on them. Today there’s a Champions League match nearly every week.”
By profession, Ludwig Blank is an electrician. He is happy in his work at Hörmann industrial technology, which emerged from the Barkas-operation. He was even twice, each for three months in China in 1995 in Changchun, where he established the FAW-Volkswagen Automotive GmbH, a cylinder head line for engines (“There were 110,000 people employed I have seen the end of the work before..”) And in 1997 he set up in Shanghai the final assembly of the VW Passat. Recently, he has been employed closer to home in Europe – especially for the sake of his wife to whom he has been married for 35 years.
When asked about the best footballer in the history of Sachsenring Zwickau Blank didn’t have to think for long. “Jürgen Croy,” was his reply. “He was a great goalkeeper and he has always kept his feet on the ground.” Alois Glaubitz is also an icon for “Luggi”. He was able to inspire others. “I remember a cup match in Rostock, as we were behind 0-2 at the break. Al was yelling at halftime, guys, we can win. ‘ And then we have actually won 3-2.”
Blank also remembers the fine shooting skills of Hartmut Rentzsch and the strategic capabilities of Heinz Dietzsch. It was a great team spirit.
Ludwig recalls with a bright smile even today the league match before the game against Celtic: “Before we went to Glasgow, we lost in Magdeburg 1:5. A journalist said to me, “You’ll lose eight over there. “We’ll see,” I answered him.“
Many still remember well those of third March 1976, when the game was televised from Glasgow. The town was deserted. On the streets there was an eerie emptiness. All were sitting at home in front of the screen. “Back in Zwickau when I scored the equaliser in Glasgow just before the end came a thousand times more cheers than had ever shook the city dump before from the people watching on television. In the exuberant enthusiasm some furnishings were smashed. “My wife had already got in trouble with the downstairs neighbours when the light on their ceiling fell down because of their celebrations!” says Blank.
3 March 1976: Celtic Glasgow – BSG Sachsenring Zwickau 1:1 (1:0)
Celtic: Latchford; Edvaldsson, Aitken, McGrain, Lynch, MCluskey, Hood, Dalglish, Wilson, Deans, Lennox.
Zwickau: Croy, H. Schykowski, Lippmann, Stemmler, Reichelt, Leuschner, Schwemmer, J. Schykowski, Dietzsch, Brown (66 Wutzler), Blank
1-0 Dalglish (41)
1:1 Blank (88)
Referee: Axelryd (Sweden)
17th March 1976: BSG Sachsenring Zwickau – Celtic Glasgow 1:0 (1:0)
Zwickau: Croy, H. Schykowski, Lippmann, Stemmler, Schwemmer, J. Schykowski, Leuschner, Blank, Groom (80th Reichelt), Dietzsch, Brown
Celtic: Latchford, McGrain, Callaghan, McDonald, Aitken, McCluskey, Wilson (67 Casey), Glavin (74th McNamara), Edvaldsson, Dalglish, Hood
Attendance: 45,000 in G. Dimitrov Stadium
Scorer: 1-0 Blank (5)
Referee: Martinez (Spain)
Who was there when “Luggi” shook the stadium? – The response to our topic was overwhelming: We received a lot of readers’ letters, accompanied by old newspaper articles, historical programs and tickets
Unforgettable excitement in the stadium
I had seen with my buddies all four Cup home games of Sachsenring Zwickau. Against Celtic Glasgow on 17 March 1976 we were already in Zwickau two hours before kick-off. Inside the stadium, all hell broke loose. The crowds came from all directions with drums and trumpets. The time until the kick-off passed much too slow. Against a majestic backdrop Celtic went hard to the point and tried to forget the shame of the first leg. Werner Groom as a center forward was having a great tussle with the brawny Icelandes Edvaldsson. At Sachsenring discipline, technique and fighting spirit paid off and the team went above and beyond. They bravely defended the early goal by Blank until the last minute. Then came the final whistle. The stockpile was shaking. The miracle had come true. In praise of the whole team. These times come again no more, unfortunately. Zwickau was always in a league of good players in their ranks, even if it was only an ESR team.
We stood in the curve to the right of the tower, hours before the kickoff, lined up like sardines. A great atmosphere, it was a cold on the nightb. From the curve to the right we had a perfect view of the 1-0 “Luggi,” a superb goal! It was my best birthday present by 22 Birthday. It almost seemed like a dream: to beat Celtic, as an East German League and then the semi-finals! The way home on foot to Pölbitz was just wonderful with the masses. So many funny, joyful Zwickauer I’ve still never seen before or since.
Since my childhood (I’m 85 years old) I’ve been interested in and enjoy sports, especially football. As a Zwickau follower I witnessed the final of the first East German championship against Dresden. Of course I was also at the European Cup match against Glasgow Celtic. I was below the Scottish spectators who supported their team happily. They sang and even gave out Scotch whisky among our supporters. Even after their defeat, they left the stadium peacefully. There were no riots. That was really enjoying sports. All the spectators went home in a happy mood. So it would be anywhere on the soccer fields. Unfortunately, times have changed after the turn for the worse. I wish FSV Zwickau all the best for the future and hope for a re-emergence in the league this year.
Inside the stadium, I realised just after the game started and after hearing some strange songs being sung that I was sitting in the middle of the Celtic fans. The Scots were so excited and they were doing a lot of singing. They were getting louder, but remained fair. I did not need to be afraid. They were surprised that Sachsenring was so strong. Therefore, they became more nervous during the game and started looking more often for their whisky bottles. Although Celtic lost at the end, my new neighbours shook our hands and congratulated Sachsenring on our victory. I thought they were very sporting in defeat.
On 3 March 1976, the city was truly empty. We had a compulsory student visit to the theater. On the way home we walked through completely empty streets. In Inner Schneeberger (we had a radio with) we heard the equaliser from Glasgow. We were so proud!
The atmosphere at the game against Celtic I cannot really describe it. It was just gigantic. With the final whistle we were in the arms of complete strangers and rejoiced in the victory. Who has not experienced it wouldn’t believe it. We even once managed to get to the 2nd Bundesliga. And today – football, where you roll in Zwickau?
Inside the stadium, we found only seats on the hillside. Many came through gaps in the fence into the stadium, so it is certainly much more than the official 45,000. When Blank scored the dump shook. The excitement continued throughout the game. Now and then a spectator fell from the trees.
On 17 March 1976 I was there when the Sachsenring Zwickau won that memorable 1-0 victory against Celtic Glasgow.
t that time I attended the eighth grade of Yuri Gagarin High School in Glauchau. (This guy sounds like a bit of a space cadet – Ed). As early as the winter holiday in early February I went to Zwickau and bought two tickets in a lottery office for each 5.10 marks. The head teacher let us go after the third period that day, and we experienced the great sensation of the stadium.
It’s still fresh in my memory even after 30. The endlessly long time waiting for kick-off then the start of the game and the fast goal by Blank, Croy and time passing so slowly near the end when the impossible is always possible, the anxious glances at the clock. Then the shock, as in the 81st Minute the ball was in the Zwickau net, but the Spaniard Martinez Franco ruled offside. The last few minutes passed between hope and fear. Then it was all still cheering, cheers, cheers. If the dump has ever trembled, then it did on that day!
Yes, I was also there when Luggi shook the dump. And I can tell a story about one event away from the field, as the Lindenhof shook: In the period between the Games in Glasgow and Zwickau the Scottish musicians Alex Welsh Jazz Band had a guest performance in the “Lindenhof”.
The trumpeter of the band reported that he once had been a football player at Celtic and had turned to music because of an injury. During the first leg against the band and everybody who was a football fan stood behind the stage watching a small portable TV with greater interest in the game than the concert, which we were able to do because many of the musicians performed long solo pieces.
Then the trumpet player began to rave about the Zwickau goalkeeper and when he went on stage he said: “We now play a song for Jürgen Croy!”
The sold-out hall went mad! As fans of a small club it was great to earn the respect and get tributes from those of a big name.
Apart from its football team, Zwickau was home to the factory that manufactured the iconic Trabant motor car.
Small, boxy, and smoky, the Trabant was the people’s car in East Germany – the answer to West Germany’s Volkswagen. At eighteen (That’s 18) horsepower with a two-stroke engine that billowed dark smoke and topping out at a whopping top speed of sixty-eight miles per hour (downhill and with a gale force wind behind you), it’s amazing anyone ever bought a Trabant. But buy them people did…for over thirty years from 1958 to 1991.
Behind the Iron Curtain, East Germans were hungry for a car, any car, to give them a little bit more freedom in the oppressive era of Communism. The wait time for a new Trabant could be up to ten to fifteen years after ordering. But people waited for them. However, it was one of the only times when a used car was worth more than a new one. Buyers were happy to pay a significantly higher price for a car they could drive immediately rather than in a decade or so.
Trabants (nicknamed the Trabi) were cheap, simple cars. Rumours and legends surround the little vehicle. Tales flew through the Eastern bloc that the cars were made of cardboard. In truth, Sachsenring AG made them from duroplast, a type of plastic similar to fiberglass that is filled out with recycled cotton waste. Occasionally, when times were particularly tough, the plastic material was combined with paper. (Perhaps this is the origin of the cardboard rumor?)
Named one of the fifty worst cars of all time by Time magazine, few people miss the sputtering, slow Trabant of the Communist era. Front end collisions often resulted in fires, turn signals and brake lights often didn’t work (and sometimes didn’t even exist), and the car required three separate keys (trunk, doors, and ignition), but the Trabi fit four people, was fairly reliable, and was so simple just about anyone could fix problems that cropped up. With only a few cars to choose from, these few perks were enough for the East Germans who ordered them and cherished the cars when they finally got possession of them. When the Berlin Wall fell, many easterners drove their Trabis into the West and promptly abandoned them as they began their new lives.
Goats sometimes ate abandoned Trabants… supposedly.