DFC 1872

DFC 1872

English summary

The Archaeology of Football in Dresden. A tribute to the „English Football-Clubs“ in Germany

For a long time it was a rather unknown fact in Germany that already in 1874 a sportsclub existed which, according to the present state of knowledge, played association football. Willy Meisl, who in 1934 emigrated to London, wrote in his book Soccer Revolution (1954) that around 1890 association football was played in Dresden. Yet it was only in 2006 that a wider audience became aware of this fact. Dresden, capital of the Saxon kingdom, had a quite large English speaking community, which practised among others rowing and cricket (1862). In 1858 the Anglo-American Club was founded. In 1871 the weekly Stranger‘s Guide to Dresden was published for the first time. The guests from the United Kingdom lived mostly in the so-called „English quarter“ close to the main station, where they had an Anglican and Presbyterian church. On 25 April 1874 the first report on the Dresden Football Club appeared in the Leipziger Illustrirte Zeitung the German equivalent to the Illustrated London News. This report gave information on an athletics meeting which consisted of 10 field events. At that time the team did not yet have opponents for their games, but the team existed already since 1872, and so it is as old as the Havre Football Club in France.
In 1874 Konrad Koch, a teacher who had been in England before, introduced the game to his school in Brunswick. However still in this case the rugby-style was played. In some cities (Bremen, Hanover, Frankfurt) rugby became far more popular than association football and was practised especially in schools with English students, for example the Heidelberg College and the nearby Neuenheim College. Also in Cannstatt near Stuttgart, a health resort with many British and American guests, rugby was played already in 1865. In 1888 the very first association game took place when the Heidelberg College won at the English Football Club Freiburg 2-1. The first game of the Dresden Football Club apparently occurred in 1891 when the club won in Berlin 9-0. There, in the 1880’s the Englishman Tom Dutton had helped the football game to become more popular. In 1883 the Berlin Cricket Club (B.C.C) was founded, in which both British and Germans played. It was this club the players of the English Football Club Berlin were recruited from in 1890. In 1885 the Berliner Fussball-Club Frankfurt was founded, others followed (1888 BFC Germania, 1889 Thorball- und Fussball Club [Cricket and Football Club] Victoria).
Having been invited by the E.F.C. Berlin the Dresden XI lined up in Berlin and won convincingly. The anti-English football association „Bund deutscher Fußballer“ founded by German nationalist sportsmen associated with the B.F.C. Frankfurt provoked the founding of the „Deutscher Fußball-und Cricket Bund“ (DFuCB) headed by the German-English John Bloch. Born in Birmingham, member of the B.C.C., he was elected president of the DFuCB and took charge of the Deutsche Ballspielzeitung as an editor. He later renamed the journal Spiel und Sport. It became the mouthpiece for the football players in Germany. The DFuCB held the so called „Bundesmeisterschaften“ (Federal Championships): in its first year five teams took part, the E.F.C. Berlin won. Two years later a commotion was caused when after anti-english and antisemitic comments the E.F.C. withdrew from the games.
The Dresden Football Club never took part in championships. Surprisingly there was no contact with Leipzig, where after 1893 more and more teams were forming. Still further away from Berlin and Dresden, Karlsruhe became a centre for association football in Germany. When Walter Bensemann as a pupil came in 1889 from Switzerland to Karlsruhe he founded the first team. Since 1871 a priest in Baden-Baden, the English cleric T. Archibald White, was active in South West Germany. Already in 1872 he had founded a pupils’ team in a college close to the health resort, yet it did not exist for long. In 1893 the Baden-Baden FC was founded, which was made up of English and German players. White became the club‘s president and shortly afterwards even president of the South West German Football-Union. The legendary reputation of the Dresden Football-Club was based especially on 18 April 1892 when the Dresden players defeated the E.F.C. Berlin 6-0 in the morning and a selection team of the DFuCB 3-0 in the afternoon. In the aftermath, Dresden XI defeated the teams of Regatta Prag and Victoria Berlin. Articles in Spiel und Sport and reported in detail on the games, the line-up and the ensuing expensive banquets. While the players changed frequently (exception: Captain J. W. Bell) the Reverend of the Scottish Church, James Davis-Bowden, firmly established himself as the club’s president.
On 10 March 1894 the Dresden Football-Club was defeated for the first time by Victoria Berlin 0-2. The time of gentleman players was slowly coming to an end. Even before it was difficult to gather 11 players for a game, which also resulted in cancellations of games. Only from 1893 onward there was a second club in Dresden, the “Neue [new] Dresdner Fussball-Club”, whose players were mostly German or former members of the English team. In 1897 the Dresden Football Club played again against Victoria Berlin and was defeated 0-6. The first three photographs taken of the Dresden XI illustrate this match and where published in Sport im Bild. The editor, Andrew Pitcairn-Knowles, also belongs to the itinerant British, which are typical for the late 19th Century. Against the Vienna team a game was scheduled for 12 December 1897, yet due to political unrest in Prague, the Austrians could not travel. The last scorings of the Dresden Football Club date back to 1898 (see list on Statistik). Its significance for the development of football in Germany was forgotten at least after World War I. The appraisal of the history of this team has just begun.
Hans-Peter Hock

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