1.10.2022Bayer 04

From the archives: The sensational 1967/68 season

A tough 3-0 defeat in the home game against Rot-Weiß Essen was followed a week later by a visit to the Niederrhein Stadium in Oberhausen. In a feisty encounter, where the Werkself gave their all, a header from Günther Haarmann on 49 minutes secured a 1-0 win.

After the opening goal from the Bayer 04 defender, there were chances at both ends but both the woodwork for Oberhausen as well as the poor conclusion of counter-attacks for the Werkself as the game went on prevented any other goals. The Bayer team were third in the table level on points with Arminia Bielefeld and Rot-Weiß Essen.

Ahead of the next home game on Sunday, 8 October 1967, our team had their first training camp. On Friday night, coach Theo Kirchberg and his players boarded the bus and made their way to the Hotel ‘Bergische Schweiz’ in Engelskirchen to be able to prepare for the next game against Westfalia Herne far away from the noise of the city. From that game on it was part of the preparations although coach Kirchberg rounded off the run-in on Friday with the final training session. The players were supposed to build up power and energy in these two nights of peace and quiet. Saturday was free time for everybody. The great comradeship became ever tighter with games of Skat, walks and football tennis.



For the game against Westfalia Herne, only goalkeeper Hans Benzler was ruled out after collapsing in the previous match in Oberhausen. He was replaced by Friedhelm Renno. The Werkself showed their ability in front of 7,000 spectators at the Ulrich Haberland Stadium: Fitness, commitment and the absolute desire to win the game. The Westphalian team sat back from the start and the Bayer 04 fans had to wait up to minutes 63 before Friedhelm Strzelczyk netted the opening goal with a shot from the edge of the box. Helmut ‘Bello’ Richert netted a second goal on 82 minutes and, as the stadium announcer gave the results from the other matches in the Regional League West and announced that Bayer 04 were top of the league again, there was unlimited joy amongst the fans.

The next Sunday brought another home game. Hamborn 07 in eighth place came to the Ulrich Haberland Stadium and they took the lead on five minutes but Helmut Brücken responded to that goal by putting Bayer 04 2-1 up with goals on six and eight minutes. The Werkself increasingly gained the upper hand but the courageous Hamborn players improved in the second half and put the Bayer 04 defence under pressure once or twice. A counter-attack involving Klaus Görtz settled matters with the score at 3-1.

The Bayer 04 board now thought about promotion for the first time. "Food gives you an appetite" was a quote from sporting board member Heinz Papenhoff in the Stadt Anzeiger. The former Werkself player of the 1950s was very confident that the necessary conditions for a possible promotion to the Bundesliga were possible. At the same time, the coach and players were sceptical with only masseur Hans Bochniak seeing it differently: "Now we are top and we want to stay there!" (Kicker on 16.10.1967)




The Werkself then faced Bielefeld as league leaders. Only a few Bayer 04 fans made their way to Eastern Westphalia including the landlord of the Gaststätte Burghof on Rathenaustraße who hired a bus for the journey to the match. The game became the hoped-for top match and the Werkself were caught napping. The score was 2-0 after ten minutes but Helmut Richert pulled a goal back five minutes later. The Bayer team took control in the second half and bombarded the Bielefeld goal. The reward was a 3-2 lead thanks to goals from Karl-Heinz Brücken and Friedhelm Strzelczyk. The Werkself survived the last 30 minutes with a good amount of smart play and healthy strength as they remained the surprise team in the regional League West. A dry response from Helmut Richert to the unexpected away win: "Now we only need another two or three wins to avoid relegation."

The golden October was to be rounded off with a home win against Lüner SV but the Westphalians refused to play along. A very impressive performance brought Leverkusen to the edge of defeat. With a lot of luck, Leo Wilden netted the leveller on 86 minutes in front of 7,500 spectators. As Rot-Weiß Essen won their away game in Herne 3-1, Bayer 04 dropped to second place as they prepared for the next away game at VfR Neuß.

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