During the Second World War the Betriebssportgemeinschaft der I.G. Farbenindustrie AG, as the Sportvereinigung Bayer 04 Leverkusen was called at the start of the 1940s, tried to carry on playing sport. That became more and more difficult over the years. Nevertheless, there were competitive games and matches both in outdoor handball as well as football. One league game at Viktoria Köln lasted over six hours as the players and spectators kept having to go into the shelters due to air raid alarms. There were changes to the starting line-ups again and again with players returning home on leave and others being called up. Players who were stationed nearby such as the anti-aircraft units were collected for games and taken back again afterwards. That meant the games could more or less be kept going and it provided relief in those dark times. With the handball players and athletes for there was a sudden merger of TuS 04 Leverkusen and the Betriebssportgemeinschaft to ensure matches and competitions could take place.
Before the end of the war in January 1943 the Betriebssportgemeinschaft was renamed as the Sportvereinigung Bayer Leverkusen 04 once again. The Stadtpark is still the home venue with a better stand since 1941. Young players come to the fore more and more including one who is a key figure for the Bayer game in the coming years up to 1950s: Richard Job. Supported by his brother Hermann, he leads his team is the maker and shaker. He earned the nickname King Richard not just because of his name but also through his action on the pitch. He is an important part of our team for almost 20 years with the exception of the 1949/1950 season – but more about that later.
Bayer 04 at an away game shortly after the First World War. Richard Job on the left.
The first post-war championships in the region around Cologne begin in November 1945. However, the baseball pitch set up by the Americans has to be removed first. The Bayer eleven have an excellent first year in the championship and finish as runners-up.
Bayer 04 in 1946/47 in front of the changing rooms at the Am Stadtpark sports ground. Standing, left to right: Hans Steingans, Hans Frömmel, Werner Hänsel, Karl Uschkur, Johannes Höher, Paul Garlinski, Masseur Erich Meier, Karl Höhner, Richard Job, Karl Reinhardt, Willi Kastner, Berthold Henkel
The 1948/49 season brings the first big game against FC Köln. Both teams were champions of their relative Rhine district league and they meet for promotion to the Oberliga West. Sportvereinigung Bayer 04 Leverkusen, as our club is being called since December 1948, have a short training camp for the first time in the Bayer recuperation centre in Dabringhausen/Große-Ledder where they concentrate on preparations for the new campaign in idyllic, rural environment. The first match between the two rivals is played in front of 22,000 fans at the Cologne cycle track in Müngersdorf. 5,000 Leverkusen fans accompany our team kitted out with little black and red flags. Departure is at 12 noon from in front of the Leverkusen town hall – with 300 people at a time taking the tram directly to the stadium in Cologne.
The old town hall with the line 0 tram.
A leaflet calls on away fans to chant the battle cry of 'Leeee-ver-kuuuu-sen' to shake the confidence of the opponents. Unfortunately that doesn't work out as hoped. Relatively vulnerable and probably suffering from stage fright the Bayer team believes 2-0 and are not in a good position for the return leg. Above all, Richard Job very much falls below his usual standards following recovery from a knee injury. The club management forbid him making contact with FC Köln and a club ban is imposed. Bayer 04 make do without the best player and neither objections from the team-mates nor from many fans affect the attitude of the club management. Richard Job keeps himself out of these discussions but does speak to a newspaper: "Everybody's making accusations and there are rumours about a possible move to FC Köln but they are all unfounded. I've had offers from all over Germany for years. And I don't think I'm the only one. The comment I'm accused of making before the FC Köln match saying it would be my last for Bayer is something I haven't done so that I have to reject the accusation of the Leverkusen club's decision due to gross misconduct and behaviour likely to damage the team." He did not play and actually left our club after the return match. He joined Voiswinkel for a year.
The return match was played on 15 May 1949 - in front of an unbelievable crowd of 14,000 at the Stadtpark. In the first half Bayer produced a battling performance roared on by the deafening support of the Leverkusen youth. The the half-time score was 1-1 but unfortunately the team tired in the second half. FC Köln won 3-1 to gain promotion to the Oberliga West. From the 1949/50 season the top tier in the West, the Oberliga West was expanded by four teams. That gave our team a second chance but unfortunately they were unable to take it with a 1-0 defeat against Schalke 04 and a 1-0 win against VfL Benrath.
The Bayer 04 team of 1948/49. Standing, left to right: Richard Job, Hans Frömmel, Karl Höhner, August Schiefer, Johannes Höher, Hans Finken, Helmut Rennen, Werner Hänsel, Andreas Brocks, Helmut Laaser, Karl Uschkur, seated left to right: Peter Röger, unknown, unknown, Manfred Höher
The foundations for a rosy future of our club were laid a couple of weeks later. At the AGM on 18 July 1949, 400 members agreed to the introduction of contracts for players. That led in practice to their splits in the football camp with a contract player section and an amateur section. That decision set the pattern for the following decades as we know today and also led to short-term success a couple years later in the 1950s