Created on 09-04-2020 at 09:00 AM
While children will be looking for Easter eggs next Sunday, Bayern embarked on a completely different hunt almost 100 years ago - for a leather egg...
The Roman goddess Victoria gleams in shining bronze. Stunning, winged, sitting on a rock – she’s a real eye-catcher. Almost all visitors to the FC Bayern Museum stop in front of the goddess of victory, looking at her up close, looking for the engraving with the name "FC Bayern Munich". The club is listed on a small silver plaque under "German Champions 1932". The replica of Victoria at the entrance of the club museum is a reminder of the club's first major title. It was a triumph by the footballers – you had to stress that back then.
The Victoria was awarded to the national champions from 1903 to 1944. It is the predecessor of the Meisterschale, which FC Bayern has won 28 times thus far. However, it was not originally intended exclusively for German football champions. In 1900, the quote under the trophy read: "The World Expo Prize remains in the permanent possession of the German Football Association and is contested annually, alternately by the rugby football clubs and the association football clubs of Germany".
Many football clubs in imperial Germany, especially prior to the 20th century, still played 'rugby football'. Officially it was "football involving the picking up of the ball", from which the idea of 'association football', played with the feet, was developed. The two sports are, so to speak, related. So, it is no coincidence that the DFB, the German FA founded in 1900, was initially the association for both football and rugby – and that the rugby division was to become the first subdivision of FC Bayern some years later.
One year of training and then it started
Although Bayern were unable to win the Victoria with the “leather egg”, the history of this almost forgotten sport in our club is no less exciting. It's a tale of sociable young men with enormous sporting ambitions. A tale of the attempt to establish a new sport in the city of Munich. A tale of quick success and extremely hard-fought matches. But it is also a tale of difficult political times and the end of the division. All condensed into just 15 years.
It all started in 1922 with a group of rugby fans looking for an umbrella club. The sport, which was already much more popular in the USA than the football game of Europe, fascinated increasing numbers in Germany. And despite the 50-year chronicle stating that "a rather laborious preparatory work was necessary before Munich could be made reasonably receptive to the idea of rugby", Bayern were willing to promote the cause. Training began under department head Emil Friz. Almost a year passed before - as it is written - "one dared to face foreign opponents as a team".
Bayern even played in hooped shirts at the Grünwalder Stadion
In Munich they were still newcomers, so they had to travel. The main destinations were the strongholds of the sport, such as Heidelberg, Frankfurt am Main, Pforzheim and Stuttgart, where VfB emerged out of two rugby clubs. At the same time, the first supporters also tried to recruit opponents in the Bavarian capital. Thanks to intensive advertising efforts by Bayern, other clubs in Munich also became interested in rugby. Rugby clubs were set up FC Wacker, DSV and the gymnastics association of Munich. "This was necessary if we wanted to get playing regularly," wrote the chroniclers. In 1927, they joined together to form the "Local Group of Munich Rugby Clubs".
Bayern’s rugby matches were held at various venues. The team played at the Dante-Stadion, in some cases also at the stadium on Leopoldstraße, and even at the stadium on Grünwalder Straße. All this can be seen in a private photo book, which is available in the FC Bayern Museum archives courtesy of Hans Koch's estate, Friz's right-hand man in the club. Countless photos from matches are there, showing the true harshness of the sport. What's also striking are the jerseys, with Bayern playing in dark blue with a red hoop.
The Friediger family as great supporters
People were passionate about the sport, and turning the club into a professional environment was possible thanks to sponsors like the Friediger family. Father and Bayern member Markus had been running the "Hotel Stadt Wien" at 27 Bayerstraße in Munich since 1916. In addition to other hotels in Berlin, Dresden and Partenkirchen, he was the owner of the famous "Hotel Métropole" in Vienna. Because two of his sons – Karl B. and Leopold – were members of the first rugby team, he helped with sponsorship. Discounted overnight stays for FC Bayern teams on out-of-town trips and the donation of the "Wanderpokal Friediger", The Friediger Challenge Cup, to the rugby champions of Munich were thanks to Markus. Bayern won the trophy three times between 1927 and 1929, which is now on display in the original Presidential Room at the FC Bayern Museum. These titles were celebrated ostentatiously each year at the Friedigers' Grand Hotel in Grünwald.
Success also spread beyond the city, with the team becoming Bavarian rugby champions in 1927 and 1928. Their greatest triumph, however, was an unofficial one. Because the club was not allowed to participate in games for the German championship "for completely incomprehensible reasons" (chronicle), club officials arranged a friendly match against the then German champions. Heidelberg Rowing Club were defeated 3-0 in "one of the hardest, but also one of the most beautiful games". And Bayern were also able to prove themselves abroad with wins against teams in Vienna and Zurich.
Egg was eventually swapped for ball
Times, however, became more turbulent, and political events made activities at clubs in Munich increasingly difficult. Between 1930 and 1933, all the other rugby teams were disbanded. After a hiatus, Bayern's rugby club is recorded in the archives of the German Rugby Federation until 1937. However, the 50-year chronicle then says: "A lack of young players finally led to the cessation of rugby club operations in 1936.”
Even though the "egg" has lain dormant since then, some of the figures of the former club have had a lasting impact on the club even after the war. A "comradely spirit" is attributed to the guys in official writings. However, the men, now 20 years old or older, only played with a round ball. In the club's news at the beginning of the 1950s they were described as a "sworn community of old, good Bavarians", who "have the smell of being Munich’s toughest senior team".
Karl B. Friediger is a prime example of the club's deep roots and loyalty. In contrast to his father Markus and his mother, who, as Jews, were both murdered at Auschwitz, he and his brother Leopold succeeded in emigrating, and at times were actively involved in resisting against the Nazi regime. Despite later spending many years in the USA, he remained a member of the club for the rest of his life. Even when his sport had been long forgotten in the club's past, the former rugby player Karl B., who had changed his name to Charles B. Friediger, was made an honorary member of FC Bayern in 1983, one year before his death.
With this special story of the leather egg, the FC Bayern Museum sends its best wishes for a
Photos: ©FC Bayern Archive