Matchdays: The Hidden Story of the Bundesliga
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The enormous success of German football is envied around the world. The national team won the 2014 World Cup in style, while the Bundesliga offers an alternative model through its fan-friendly set-up, terraces and low ticket prices. In Matchdays: The Hidden Story of the Bundesliga, award-winning author Ronald Reng takes a unique approach to explain the history and peculiarities of German football. He follows the tracks of a journeyman footballer, Heinz Hoher, who has been in the Bundesliga all his life, from the first day of its existence in 1963 until now, as a player, manager, sports director and youth coach. We see through Hoher's story the wider picture of how German football, and even German society, developed from the ruins of the Nazi era to become the football and economic powerhouse of today. Born in 1939, Hoher became the small-town hero of Bayer 04 Leverkusen, a stylish winger and the first to let his hair grow like the Beatles. He witnessed the big match-fixing affairs of the seventies, fought in vain the temptations of so many managers - alcohol and gambling - and realised that, even at 75, his real addiction is still the game. Matchdays does for German football what David Winner's Brilliant Orangedid for Dutch football.
name the 50 states of America, who could name the most footballers beginning with an O? On this journey, he suddenly invented the number-plate game. He had to note the registration numbers of the cars they overtook, Thomas wrote them down and asked: what were the numbers of the red Passat? Then he had to remember them: MTKAR 250. Or: the grey BMW, what was the fourth letter on the plate? W. He could remember more than 50 number-plates, even two hours after they’d overtaken those cars. For the
suddenly getting such high fees. Heinz Höher swiftly confessed all. The lady judge had no idea that she was doing him such a favour when she handed down his sentence. What with his four different teams, he was busy on the football pitch every day from midday until early evening. He was learning how to be happy once again. In the evenings, to reward himself, he went to some pub in Nuremberg – he found a different one every day. By never going to the same bar, he hoped to keep other people and
wore their hair to Uncle Willie’s taste, nicely clipped short on the sides and with the hair on top properly parted or combed back. Heinz Höher had grown used to standing out in his Leverkusen days, and he didn’t mind if he did. On Saturday nights in the club in Duisburg, some of the other guests even recognised them, and no doubt many a girl whispered to her friend: hey, those are the Meiderich players. When the waiter wanted to tot up the bill for the beer, the schnapps and the champagne, the
bonuses. On the debit side of the ledger stood 392 marks per month for rent alone, bills not included. Car, food, clothes, card games. He didn’t have to count for long to know that things were going to be tight. Those useless idiots at Schlegel’s, if they’d actually let him work, he would have thought up the most incredible advertising campaigns, all they’d have had to do was ask him for his ideas. Instead, they had him doing rubbish jobs, like writing personal letters to pub landlords, Bochum’s
Gecks meets up with the old gang from Meiderich. Many of the team who were runners-up in the 1963-64 Bundesliga still get together. If it works out, if he’s back in the country, Manfred Manglitz gets himself a rented car and calls by as well. His left knee is made of steel, in his right knee and his shoulder, arthritis has taken hold. All those Cortisone injections. He still feels at home with the boys from Meiderich, those were the great days, the unsullied days. When they sit down together,