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Like a good storybook (daily newspaper Junge Welt)

20th day of the GDR Oberliga season 1975/76: Dresden champagne drinkers in the Rudolf Harbig Stadium (March 27, 1976)

There are now plenty of football books, some of which you can even read. The GDR was not left out either: Die-hard fans wrote about their teams and even gave 111 reasons why everyone has to love their club. Or individual heroes of the former GDR company sports clubs described their sporting life beyond the Wall, such as Joachim Streich or the Thuringian Lutz Lindemann, who still plays at the MDR euphemistically boring games from the regional and third leagues. Now all indestructible fans of East German football can put another printed product on the shelf. Of course, only once the 208 pages that are really worth reading have been devoured in one go. It works, because every story is entertaining, exciting and peppered with previously unknown details. It’s about covert transfer deals in GDR football, which were called “delegation” and were supposed to be different from the sales business of the professional leagues under capitalism.

Teams like Carl Zeiss Jena or Lok Leipzig had large companies and football-loving combine managers behind them and were able to score points with players with apartments, cars and jobs for their wives. Sometimes even a suitcase full of money was placed on the kidney-shaped table in the living room. However, higher-ranking SED officials often interfered and prevented the delegation at the request of other teams. So it didn’t help that the company directors argued with the Monday work ethic, which rose after victories – better players helped there, of course.

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In the early 1970s, for example, Wolfgang Lischke was sent to Chemie Leipzig because the fan favorite, goalkeeper Ralf Heine, was no longer allowed to play for political reasons (his sister fled the Republic). Those in charge of Lischke’s Dynamo Dresden club agreed, since the previously sought change to district rival Stahl Riesa did not materialize. The case of Frank Baum, who played for Chemie Leipzig and was visited by the legendary coach Hans Meyer and Bernd Stange (Carl Zeiss Jena), is also interesting. Everything was settled until various Leipzig SED functionaries got wind of it and brought Baum to Lok, which in turn wasn’t the worst: He became a regular player and from 1979 part of the GDR national team.

The change from Rüdiger Schnuphase in 1976 touched me personally, because he was a star with my team Rot-Weiss Erfurt and went to Carl Zeiss Jena at the request of the very busy Meyer and national coach Georg Buschner. At 30 he moved back to RWE, which calmed me down. Goalkeeper Bernd Jakubowski was drawn to Dynamo Dresden in 1976 because he was faced with an easy choice: either switch to the Yellow and Blacks or do military service. He was very successful with Dresden until the European Cup game on March 19, 1986 against Bayer Uerdingen put an end to his career. After a 2:0 first leg win and a 3:1 lead, they went down 3:7. Jakubowski had to be substituted with a serious injury and had to retire at the age of 33. This was due to Wolfgang Funkel, who, after an entry, rammed him without considering the losses. “Sparkles, you ass.”

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The volume also details the interesting changes and delegations by Rainer Sachse, Harro Miller, Wolfgang Andreßen, Joachim Streich, Lutz Lindemann and Perry Groom. This reads like a good fairy tale book. Since capitalism returned, transfer fees have become astronomical and no footballer changes clubs for a small car or a good job for the wife.

In order to be able to write a book like this, you have to delve deep into the subject matter. Frank Müller used to play for Chemie Leipzig, writes for a Leipzig daily newspaper and recently published the football books »Freispiel« and »Die im Osten spielen«. Jürgen Schwarz has published several books about his home club Dynamo Dresden. He’s in a tough spot right now. Despite well-bought players, next season you only have to play in the third division again.

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