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FC Bayern History, Part III

Transition & the First German Cup

Like many teams in Germany, the postwar era was one of transition for FC Bayern. The war had a devastating effect on the entire German soccer structure, and it took years for many clubs to rebuild and recover.

In fact, many teams had to start from the ground up. The Allied Control Council (the military occupation governing body in the various occupied zones) dissolved many clubs and made them reapply for their license, FC Bayern included. On June 24, 1945, FC Bayern did play its first game again, but frequent coaching changes, financial difficulties and inconsistent performances on the field made it difficult for them to compete for titles in the following decade. On the bright side, Kurt Landauer did return to the club in June of 1947. He was voted club president a few weeks later and remained there until 1951.

In the postwar years, FC Bayern played in the Oberliga Süd (from 1945 to 1963 to be exact). It was one of five regional divisions in Germany’s revamped league system that covered different states and regions in the country. That system stayed in place until the formation of the Bundesliga in 1963. As in the previous setups, the best teams from each regional division faced off for the national championship.  For Bayern, this was a volatile period. The club bounced up and down the league table for almost two decades. They did reach the qualifying stage of the national championship in 1949 but could not get past St. Pauli in the second round. At their worst, they were relegated after finishing in sixteenth in 1954/55 season. To this day, it remains the first and only time the club has ever been relegated from a first division. 

Silverware at last

The club returned to the first division a year later and gradually began improving their performances. Between 1959 until promotion to the Bundesliga in 1965, they finished in the top four six times. Bayern also made inroads in growing the club again. They could count more than 1000 members even during their poor run of form, and for the most part, drew sizable audiences to their games. The biggest symbol of their resurgence was the surprise triumph in the German Cup in 1957.

In the 1956/57 season, the first season back in the first division, Bayern did not want to take part in the Cup to save costs on travel. But resilient new coach Willibald Hahn convinced the club to go ahead and participate anyways. Few expected Bayern to go far, let alone make the final, but wins against Spandauer SV and 1. FC Saarbrücken set up a final against Fortuna Düsseldorf. On December 29, 1957 Bayern found itself in its very first Cup final on a snowy Augsburg pitch in front of 42,000 spectators (with 12,000 Bayern fans in attendance). For whatever reason, the conditions favored Bayern and they dominated much of the game, and only Fortuna’s goalkeeper kept the match scoreless. But in the 78. minute, Rudi Jobst found the breakthrough and scored the winner in what would be a historic victory for the club.

Turning Point

Things began stabilizing off the field as well. Manufacturer Roland Endler stepped in to assist the club financially. Endler, a big FC Bayern fan, would become new club president. In 1959 the club achieved its best finish in a decade, finishing fourth in the league. In the 1962/63 season Bayern would even participate in its first international tournament, the Inner-Cities Fairs Cup (predecessor to the UEFA Cup), where they reached the quarter-finals. In 1963, the Oberliga system was scrapped in favor of a consolidated national league. Because Bayern finished only third the year before that they were not admitted to the newly-founded Bundesliga. But it would not take long before Bayern joined Germany’s top division. And once there, there was no looking back.

Click here to read Part II.