Achtung! Baby: Incredible Last Day in Bundesliga, 1977-78

The final day of the 1977-78 Bundesliga season was a real goal-fest, and one few could have imagined or have forgotten.

FC Cologne and Borussia Monchengladbach were fighting it out for the title and Cologne seemed to only need to kick-off in their match against St. Pauli to be crowned Champions. Gladbach, were defending champions themselves and were at home to Borussia Dortmund. The two clubs were locked on the same points but Cologne had a huge goal advantage. They were ten goals to the good.

It seemed a mere formality for Cologne, just match Gladbach’s result and they would lift the trophy for the first time since 1964.

Gladbach were defending champions having won the title for the past three seasons. They’d won back-to-back titles in 1969 & 1970 before Bayern Munich won it for three years, but now they were the dominant team in German football. Cologne had last won the Bundesliga back in 1964, and had finished in the top five for the past six years.

Gladbach, managed by Udo Lattek, had come close to winning the European Cup the previous season, when they lost to Liverpool in Rome. Their squad included West German internationals such as Bertie Vogts, Rainer Bonhof, Jupp Heynckes as well as the current European Footballer of the Year, Denmark’s Allan Simonsen.

Cologne were managed by Hennes Weisweiler. Weisweiler’s playing career was at Cologne, then spent three years as coach there, before moving onto Gladbach where he won three Championships, a German Cup and a UEFA Cup. After a year at Barcelona, he was now at Cologne and in his second season he was on the verge of his fourth Bundesliga. Their squad included Toni Schumacher, Herbert Zimmermann, Heinz Flohe, and Dieter Muller.

The season didn’t begin well for Cologne as they were thrashed 1-5 by Fortuna Dusseldorf, but just two matches later they thrashed Werder Bremen, 7-2, when Dieter Muller scored six! They then went to the Olympic Stadium and beat Bayern Munich, 3-0 before another big win when they hit Eintracht Braunschweig, 6-0.

Gladbach were less prolific but by the beginning of October had already been beaten by Eintracht Frankfurt and VFB Stuttgart. They were also competing in the European Cup and had eased past Vasas Budapest. At the beginning of October they would meet Cologne for the first time.

The game was at Bokelberstadion, Monchegladbach but the visitors were 2-0 up at half-time when Prestin and Neumann scored. Bonhof got a goal back early after the break but then Prestin scored his second of the game, and when Konopka made it 4-1 to Cologne things were looking bleak for the champions. Dieter Muller then scored his twelfth of the season before Simonsen got a late consolation goal and Cologne ran out 5-2 winners.

Cologne were up to fourth with Gladbach down in ninth. At the end of the month, Cologne hit another six when 1860 Munich visited. They won 6-2 and were now top of the table. On the same day, Gladbach went to Braunschweig and won 6-0 when Simonsen hit a hat-trick. It was the start of a great week for the club when they beat Red Star Belgrade, 5-1 in the European Cup to reach the Quarter-Finals and then beat Saarbrucken, 6-1 in the League.

At the beginning of January, Gladbach were beaten at home 1-3 by MSV Duisburg and then were unbeaten to the end of the season, a run of fourteen matches. At the time they were third with Cologne still top and a gap of 5pts between the two. Cologne were also going well in the Cup and beat Schwarz-Weiss Essen, 9-0 just before Christmas.

At the end of February, the two met at the Mungersdorfer Stadion in Cologne. Allan Simonsen put the visitors in front just  before half-time and they looked as if they were going to pull off a vital win, but then Heinz Flohe scored with just minutes to go. The game was tied, 1-1, and Cologne were still four points clear of Gladbach at the top.

Gladbach reached the Semi-Finals of the European Cup where they were again beaten by Liverpool after winning the home leg, 2-1 but losing 0-3 at Anfield. Just after that Cologne won the German Cup, beating Fortuna Dusseldorf, 2-0. Their record in the competition was twenty-six scored to two conceded in their seven matches.

There were just two matches to go in the season and both teams were locked together on forty-four points. Cologne had a superior goal difference to Gladbach of thirteen goals. Cologne beat Stuttgart, 2-1 in their penultimate game and Gladbach went to Hamburg and came from a goal down to win 6-2 against a side which included Kevin Keegan and Felix Magath. The gap was now ten goals.

 

On the final day, Cologne travelled to St. Pauli, who they’d beaten 4-1 back in December. St. Pauli were already relegated as the bottom club in their first ever season in the top flight. Gladbach were at home to Borussia Dortmund, who they’d drawn 3-3 with in their earlier meeting. It appeared a mere formality for Cologne to be crowned Champions, but the day almost didn’t go to plan. Remember, Cologne began the day 10 goals to the good, having scored 81 goals to Gladbach’s 74.

Both games kicked off on Saturday 29th April 1978 at 15:30

15:31 : GOAL!!!

Barely sixty seconds into the game and Jupp Heynckes, Gladbach legend, opens the scoring.

BORUSSIA MONCHENGLADBACH   1 ,  (Heynckes 1)

BORUSSIA DORTMUND   0

ST. PAULI 0

FC COLOGNE   0

15:42 : GOAL!!!

Twelve minutes in and Heynckes adds a second. Monchengladbach had made a good start and if things stayed level for Cologne, they would be Champions.

BORUSSIA MONCHENGLADBACH   2   (Heynckes 1, 12)

BORUSSIA DORTMUND   0

ST.PAULI 0

FC COLOGNE   0

15:43 : GOAL!!!

Gladbach’s Danish midfielder, Carsten Nielsen then makes it three almost immediately. Things were going well for The Foals. Still no goals from St. Pauli.

BORUSSIA MONCHENGLADBACH   3   (Heynckes 1, 12, Nielsen 13)

BORUSSIA DORTMUND   0

ST.PAULI 0

FC COLOGNE   0

15:52 : GOAL!!!

Almost halfway through the first half and twenty-two year old winger, Karl Del’Haye, makes it four. Gladbach are heading for the title unless Cologne can score.

BORUSSIA MONCHENGLADBACH   4   (Heynckes 1, 12, Nielsen 13, Del’Haye 22)

BORUSSIA DORTMUND   0

ST. PAULI 0

FC COLOGNE   0

15:58 : GOAL!!!

Finally a goal from Hamburg as West German international, Heinz Flohe scores his thirteenth of the season. With Cologne winning, Gladbach now need goal difference to overhaul them. Unless St. Pauli can equalise.

BORUSSIA MONCHENGLADBACH   4   (Heynckes 1, 12, Nielsen 13, Del’Haye 22)

BORUSSIA DORTMUND   0

ST PAULI   0

FC COLOGNE   1   (Flohe 28)

16:02 : GOAL!!!

Into the last quarter of an hour in the first half and Heynckes now completes his hat-trick. Dortmund are not coming from this.

BORUSSIA MONCHENGLADBACH   5   (Heynckes 1, 12, 32, Nielsen 13, Del’Haye 22)

BORUSSIA DORTMUND   0

ST PAULI   0

FC COLOGNE   1   (Flohe 28)

16:08 : GOAL!!!

Six minutes later and Gladbach captain, Herbert Wimmer, makes it six. The difference between the two sides at the top now is down to five goals. Still a long way to go.

BORUSSIA MONCHENGLADBACH   6   (Heynckes 1, 12, 32, Nielsen 13, Del’Haye 22, Wimmer 38)

BORUSSIA DORTMUND   0

ST PAULI   0

FC COLOGNE   1   (Flohe 28)

HALF-TIME

At the break Cologne were just a goal to the good but were still in a position to win the League.  Gladbach had reduced the arrears to five goals but surely they couldn’t get any closer, could they? If St.Pauli could find an equaliser, then Gladbach would be Champions. Cologne were so close to their long-awaited title, they just needed to hang on, or score again.

16:44 : GOAL!!!

No goals in either game for almost fifteen minutes, but then Heynckes scored his fourth of the game. The difference was down to four goals.

BORUSSIA MONCHENGLADBACH   7   (Heynckes 1, 12, 32, 59, Nielsen 13, Del’Haye 22, Wimmer 38)

BORUSSIA DORTMUND   0

ST PAULI   0

FC COLOGNE   1   (Flohe 28)

16:45 : GOAL!!!

Right after Heynckes scored Cologne’s Japanese international, Yasuhiko Okudera grabbed an important goal to give them more breathing space. Okudera was the first Japanese to play in Europe.

BORUSSIA MONCHENGLADBACH   7   (Heynckes 1, 12, 32, 59, Nielsen 13, Del’Haye 22, Wimmer 38)

BORUSSIA DORTMUND   0

ST. PAULI 0

FC COLOGNE   2   (Flohe 28, Okudera 60)

16:46 : GOAL!!!

Goals were coming thick and fast now as Gladbach added to their account with a second goal in as many minutes. Nielsen scored his second of the game and the gap was back to four goals.

BORUSSIA MONCHENGLADBACH   8   (Heynckes 1, 12, 32, 59, Nielsen 13, 61 Del’Haye 22, Wimmer 38)

BORUSSIA DORTMUND   0

ST. PAULI 0

FC COLOGNE   2   (Flohe 28, Okudera 60)

16:51 : GOAL!!!

Five minutes later Del’Haye scored his second of the game and they’d hit nine now. The gap was down to three goals and things were getting particularly nervous for all concerned. The Dortmund players had clearly given up and there was still twenty-four minutes to go.

BORUSSIA MONCHENGLADBACH   9   (Heynckes 1, 12, 32, 59, Nielsen 13, 61 Del’Haye 22, 66 Wimmer 38)

BORUSSIA DORTMUND   0

ST. PAULI 0

FC COLOGNE   2   (Flohe 28, Okudera 60)

16:54 : GOAL!!!

Then came the twelfth goal of the day from the two games, but Gladbach hadn’t closed the gap further. Flohe got his second of the game, and they were clearly going to beat St. Pauli so Gladbach still needed another four goals.

BORUSSIA MONCHENGLADBACH   9   (Heynckes 1, 12, 32, 59, Nielsen 13, 61 Del’Haye 22, 66 Wimmer 38)

BORUSSIA DORTMUND   0

ST. PAULI 0

FC COLOGNE   3   (Flohe 28, 69 Okudera 60)

17:02 : GOAL!!!

Into the last fifteen minutes and Heynckes scored his fifth of the game and his eighteenth of the season. Gladbach had hit double figures but they still needed another three.

BORUSSIA MONCHENGLADBACH   10   (Heynckes 1, 12, 32, 59, 77 Nielsen 13, 61 Del’Haye 22, 66 Wimmer 38)

BORUSSIA DORTMUND   0

ST. PAULI 0

FC COLOGNE   3   (Flohe 28, 69 Okudera 60)

17:08 : GOAL!!!

With seven minutes to go there was another goal, but this time Cologne continued to make things difficult for their nearest challengers. Defender Bernd Cullmann scored his sixth of the season and again the gap was back to four goals with time running out.

BORUSSIA MONCHENGLADBACH   10   (Heynckes 1, 12, 32, 59, 77 Nielsen 13, 61 Del’Haye 22, 66 Wimmer 38)

BORUSSIA DORTMUND   0

 ST. PAULI 0

FC COLOGNE   4   (Flohe 28, 69, Okudera 60, Cullmann 83)

17:11 : GOAL!!!

No goals from Gladbach for nine minutes now and things got worse when Okudera scored his second of the game and his fourth in three games. Surely this put the title beyond reach for Gladbach. The gap was back to five goals now.

BORUSSIA MONCHENGLADBACH   10   (Heynckes 1, 12, 32, 59, 77 Nielsen 13, 61 Del’Haye 22, 66 Wimmer 38)

BORUSSIA DORTMUND   0

ST. PAULI 0

FC COLOGNE   5   (Flohe 28, 69, Okudera 60, 86, Cullmann 83)

17:12 : GOAL!!!

Five goals in three minutes wouldn’t be possible would it? Ewald Lienen had come on for Simonsen and now became the fifth goalscorer. Still another four goals required.

BORUSSIA MONCHENGLADBACH   11   (Heynckes 1, 12, 32, 59, 77 Nielsen 13, 61 Del’Haye 22, 66 Wimmer 38, Lienen 87)

BORUSSIA DORTMUND   0

ST. PAULI 0

FC COLOGNE   5   (Flohe 28, 69, Okudera 60, 86, Cullmann 83)

17:15 : GOAL!!!

Gladbach weren’t finished as midfielder, Christian Kulik then made it a round dozen. It had been an incredible day but they were still three goals short. Both clubs had scored the same amount of goals so three more goals would see Gladbach victorious, but surely Cologne were there now?

BORUSSIA MONCHENGLADBACH   12   (Heynckes 1, 12, 32, 59, 77 Nielsen 13, 61 Del’Haye 22, 66 Wimmer 38, Lienen 87, Kulik 90)

BORUSSIA DORTMUND   0

ST. PAULI 0

FC COLOGNE   5   (Flohe 28, 69, Okudera 60, 86, Cullmann 83)

A remarkable day in the Bundesliga and 12-0 remains the biggest win in the competition’s history. Gladbach’s legendary striker, Jupp Heynckes who was almost 33, scored five on the day. It gave him 18 for the season and when he finally hung up his boots he was third in the all-time list with 220, just behind Gerd Muller (365) and Klaus Fischer (268). His 195 goals for Gladbach remains a club record.

It was a memorable game to bow out for Herbert Wimmer, who was playing his 366th Bundesliga match for Gladbach. His playing career ended with five titles and two second place finishes.

Cologne were furious that Dortmund appeared to have given up, although there was no suggestion of match-fixing, but they just had nothing more to play for. I must admit watching the footage it does appear there are far too many goals scored by players unchallenged. One of Del’Haye’s goals sees him run virtually the whole of Dortmund’s half as all the defenders just watch him, as if wanting to make sure he can do anything except play a cross-field pass to the other wing. Del’Haye just seemed to keep going, still disbelieving his luck. Dortmund sacked their coach at the end of the game, although he would rise again later on in his career – Otto Rehhagel.

This was also the end of the great Gladbach side of the 1970’s, known as The Foals, as they struggled to finish higher than mid-table for the next few years, although in 1984 they finished third when the top three all ended on the same points. Then they were inspired by a young Lothar Matthaus.

It remains the last time Cologne won the Bundesliga and they had Dieter Muller’s twenty four goals to thank and he was joint top scorer with Bayern’s Gerd Muller. It capped their greatest ever season too as they had also won the German Cup two weeks before when they beat Fortuna Dusseldorf in Gelsenkirchen. They became only the second German side to do the double, after Bayern Munich achieved the feat in 1969.

About the Author

Pete Spencer
Just turned 50. Been Supporting Liverpool since 1976 (Paisley's first title). Write a lot about football from days gone by. There's so much available online about football today and over the past twenty years but incidents from the past often get forgotten