Saturday. Borussia Dortmund-Borussia Mönchengladbach. Matthew Stanger recalls an unforgettable meeting between the two from 1978.
After leapfrogging Bayern Munich at the top of the Bundesliga over the weekend, Borussias Dortmund and Mönchengladbach prepare to face each other on Saturday. They are separated by just six goals, and have both won four of their last five league matches. With Mönchengladbach inspired by maestro Marco Reus, and Dortmund's Championship-winning squad finding their feet after a slow start, there is little to choose between the two teams. The same could not be said for 29th April 1978.....
Borussia Mönchengladbach 12 - 0 Borussia Dortmund
The final day of the 1977-78 Bundesliga season began with Mönchengladbach and 1.FC Köln tied on points in the title race. Köln, however, had a far superior goal difference and were playing away at bottom club FC St.Pauli. If they won, as expected, Mönchengladbach would have to defeat Dortmund by a margin in excess of 10 goals.
Surely it was an impossible task. Dortmund were no pushovers, comfortably mid-table and captained by Manfred Burgsmüller, who had scored 20 goals during the season. Even with Jupp Heynckes and Allan Simonsen in attack, Mönchengladbach's only hope was that Köln failed to win. A fourth consecutive championship looked unlikely.
Heynckes opened the scoring inside the first minute. If ever there was a striker Mönchengladbach could rely on, it was him. Die Fohlen were top, perhaps St.Pauli could exit the Bundesliga with a respectable draw against Köln?
The lead was doubled after 12 minutes, and by the time Köln went 1-0 ahead in Hamburg, it was already 4-0 to the reigning Champions. Two more goals came before half time, including Heynckes’ hat trick, but Köln's lead saw the title slipping away from Mönchengladbach.
Before the game, Dortmund goalkeeper Peter Endrulat had been told that his contract would not be renewed for the next season. He was normally second choice to Horst Bertram but had been given the chance to display his skills by manager, Otto Rehhagel. After a disastrous first 45 minutes Rehhagel asked Endrulat if he wanted to be replaced. The goalkeeper declined, a decision he would later regret:
“When I think about it today, I realise I should have left the field at half-time. Then at least Horst Bertram would have let in six of the goals. I'm absolutely certain of that. Most people forget that I actually saved a lot of shots, at least those which were indeed possible to save.”
The second half started no better for Endrulat and his shell-shocked teammates. With the score 8-0 by the hour mark, Rehhagel instructed Sigfried Held to warm-up. The veteran striker of 41 caps for West Germany voiced his refusal:
"Coach, do you really think I can make a difference to the outcome of the game?"
Held had a point, resistance was futile. In a moment which defined the match, Karl Del’Haye shot wide and it was left to the referee to retrieve the ball for Endrulat to take the goal kick. Dortmund had given up. Heynckes looked to the Mönchengladbach bench:
“People were asking how many more goals we'd need to score in order to beat Köln to the title. Whilst the scoreline was 9–0, they wanted three more, to which I replied "Have you gone crazy?"”
A scenario that had seemed absurd at the beginning of the day had now taken grasp of everyone’s consciousness. Köln’s lead at the top had been cut to three goals. It was possible.
Köln responded at St.Pauli with another goal of their own. The free for all continued, and when Christian Kulik scored Mönchengladbach’s twelfth there was no more room on the scoreboard. The golden bulbs beamed 12-0, the highest ever victory in the Bundesliga, which it remains to this day.
Despite the enormous margin of the result, Köln's 5-0 win meant they held on to first place and were crowned Champions. The Mönchengladbach players celebrated anyway, ecstatic at their record-breaking achievement.
Otto Rehhagel was sacked the next morning, with newspapers nicknaming him ‘Torhagel’ – Goal Hail. But while he would go on to rebuild his reputation in remarkable fashion, the same could not be said of Peter Endrulat. The goalkeeper never made another Bundesliga performance, and fell into the lower leagues until dropping out of the game altogether.
Köln were furious at the manner in which Dortmund had succumbed, but any suggestions of match fixing were dismissed. Defender Amand Theis admitted he could understand the accusations:
"Viewed from the outside it looked as if we weren’t acting with the right intentions. However, there was definitely no fix. In the end every shot was well hit, and there was a point when we gave up. The shame has accompanied us for years.”
Matthew can be found on Twitter @MatthewStanger.