1860 Munich: The Beginning to 1966

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Ask someone about football in Munich and they’ll inevitably think of Bayern Munich, the most successful team in German football history. Winners of 24 national league titles and 17 national cups, Bayern have dominated German football for a long time now and have also won the European Cup (or its equivalent) 5 times. However, despite their long and successful history, Bayern are not the oldest team in their country, let alone in their own city. That title belongs to TSV 1860 Munich, also known as Die Löwen (The Lions).

Die Löwen have in fact won the Bundesliga once, in the same year of England’s greatest ever footballing achievement (1966 if you didn’t know) and have triumphed in the DFB Pokal (German cup) on two occasions. They also currently play their home matches in the Allianz Arena, the same stadium as their illustrious neighbours, with an average attendance of about 20,000 and have been in Bundesliga 2 since 2004. This is their story.

Football clubs in Germany often have a slightly more complicated history than their counterparts in England. First and foremost, football is far from the only sport played by most clubs (for example, you can play table tennis and handball for Bayern Munich) and this is why the dates of their foundation become a little controversial.

It is said that the story of 1860 Munich actually started in a pub in 1848, when a group of men decided to establish a gymnastics club, however they were banned only one year later by the Bavarian monarchy and it was another 11 years until they re-formed. As you can probably guess by their name, Munich’s second club was formed in 1860 as Turnverein München (“Munich gymnastics club”). The priorities of many clubs at that time were physical fitness and gymnastics, while nobody in Germany had ever even heard of football and it would take almost another 20 years for the country’s first “football” club to be formed.

The football department of 1860 Munich was not actually established until 1899, just a year before their more famous neighbours and it was three years before they played their first match. They slowly began to climb the leagues of Bavaria and made appearances in the latter stages of the national cup during the 1930s, reaching the semi-finals twice and the final once, losing a close match to Hertha Berlin in 1932. Die Sechzger (“The Sixty’ers”) participated in the Gauliga Bayern between 1933 and 1944, winning it on two occasions in 1941 and ’43. The league was forced to shut down at the end of the Nazi era, with the last game coincidentally being a Munich derby, the blue half losing 3-2.

It is odd to think that football was still played even during the Second World War, although player shortages and transport difficulties obviously had a severe effect. The tumultuous nature of the time rendered the league pretty much meaningless during the war, unfortunately the period when 1860 won their two titles. Most players were called up to serve their country and as such ended up player for military representative sides. The German national team continued to play as well, playing a total of 35 matches during the war.
Up until 1963, there was actually no national league in Germany, only regional divisions, which ended with the respective winners playing for the German championship. Ironically, the only team from Munich present in the formation of the Bundesliga in 1963 was 1860 and not Bayern (the German football association would not allow two teams from the same city into the league). Three years later, with the Austrian Max Meyer as their manager, came their greatest success to date of course, finishing just ahead of Borussia Dortmund and their city rivals to win their only league title to date. Key players in the success were Friedhelm Konietzka, Peter Grosser and Rudolf Brunnenmeier, who provided 49 goals between them. The title-winning squad of ’66 are still heralded by today’s fans and rightly so.

Munich’s blue team have also come agonizingly close to winning the European Cup Winners Cup, when they lost the final to West Ham United in 1965. Unfortunately they have never been as close since, and are extremely unlikely to match this feat in the near future.

Die Löwen began playing in the Grünwalder stadium, built in 1911, and played there until 1972 when the Olympics came to Munich. The stadium has a capacity of just over 10,000 and still exists today, although only youth teams and Bayern Munich’s female team currently play there.

The fact that they share a stadium with Bayern has always been rather controversial, and 1860 are in fact currently looking for other places to play their matches in the future. As they are the only professional clubs in the city, there has long been a rivalry between the two clubs in Munich, however due to the chasm in quality, it has not been as fierce as you might think. In the next part I will be focusing on the history of this rivalry and how the city of Munich feels today about these two clubs.

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