1902-03: The first championship!

The first official German championship was organized by the DFB in 1903, and was based upon regional qualifiers played through 1902. Some of the regions, such as Hamburg and Berlin, had full fledged league play, whereas others, such as southern Germany, had knockout tournaments.

Despite the long ago era, several of today's clubs participated in the chase. From the south, Stuttgarter Kickers, FSV Frankfurt, Bayern München, from the north, Werder Bremen, and Hertha from Berlin.

Regional Winners

South: 		Karlruher FV
Middle:		VfB Leipzig
West:		Cöner FC 1899
North:		Altonaer FC 93	(Bremen: FV Werder Bremen)
Southeast:	FC Breslau
Berlin:		Britannia 1892
Prague:		DFC Prag

Oddly enough, not all the champions chose to participate, or perhaps not all were invited. The inclusion of Prague seems a bit of a surprise, as this was part of Austro-Hungary. The DFB had been trying to get more members, so they allowed "German" Austrian and Bohemian clubs to join the federation. The Deutscher Fußball Club Prag ended up as the representative, even though they didn't participate in the local championship. And as we find out, it gets better: they advanced to the German finals without playing either! This state of affairs actually lasted only until 1904, as when the DFB joined FIFA, they were forced to kick out all clubs not in Germany.

The Championship started in May 1903, and already in the 1st round, there was some contraversy. The Karlsruhe-Prag match was slated for München, but apparently the DFC bribed the federation to move the match to Prague for financial reasons. Karlsruhe protested, and the DFB decided just to reschedule the match as a semi-final, in Leipzig. However, just before travelling, the Karlsruhe team received a mysterious telegramm, announcing this match had been canceled. So they didn't travel, whereupon, the DFB forfeited the match to DFC Prag! No one knows who sent the telegram, although it is believed to have originated from Prague.

Luckily, VfB Leipzig kicked Prag's ass in the final, so they initial German championship didn't end in a total disgrace.

The finals opponent would be VfB Leipzig, who had impressively elimnated two favored clubs, Britannia Berlin and Altonaer FC. After a slow start (the game ball apparently fell apart in pre-game warmups, so they had to scramble to find another), Prague took an early lead, but Leipzig was able to equalize. In the 2nd half, the men from Sachsen overran DFC with a veritable shower of goals. DFC forward Meyer was so upset, that he stormed off the field after the 6th goal, and had to be persuaded to come back. The man of the match was probably Adelbert “Bert” Friedrich, who gave Leipzig the lead. His older brother Wilhelm also was in the squad. Bert Freidrich apparently had a job that required a lot of travel in northern Germany, so it was pretty amazing that he established himself as a regular in the squad. Although he would only represent Germany once, he holds the record for most appearances in the pre-WWI German championship rounds.

 1st Round: 
Altonaer FC 93 - Viktoria Magdeburg	 8:1 
DFC Prag - Karlsruher FV		 canceled 
Britannia Berlin - VfB Leipzig		1:3

VfB Leipzig - Altonaer FC 93		6:3
DFC Prag - Karlsruher FV		forfeit

VfL Leipzig - DFC Prag			7:2

Raydt - Schmidt, Werner - Rossler, W.Friedrich, Braune - Steinbeck, 
Stanischewski, Riso, A.Friedrich, Assmus

Pick - Kurpiel, Schwarz - Robitsek, Fischl, Sedlacek - Beck, K.Kubik, 
Meyer, Fischer, ?.Kubik

0:1 Meyer (22.), 1:1 W.Friedrich (31.), 2:1 A.Friedrich (49.), 3:1 Riso, 
3:2 Meyer, 4:2 Stanischewski, 5:2 Stanischewski, 6:2 Riso, 7:2 Riso

Attendance: 1.500
Leipzig were a worthy champion. Led by brothers Wilhelm and Adelbert Friedrich, and goalgetters Heinrich Riso and Bruno Stanischewski, VfB steamrollered their opponents. Since the pre-tournament favorite, Karlsruhe, never got to play, most pundits figured that Altona had the inside track. Indeed, in the first round, the Hamburgers destroyed Magdeburg, which only a couple of weeks ago Leipzig had vanquished only 1-0 in the Middle championship.

The real hero of this championship was undoubtedly Franz Behr. He was a fine midfielder for Altonaer FC, but actually the finals wouldn't have happened without him. Altona agreed to host the finals, and Behr swung into action. First, he cut the grass on the field and set up the nets. Then he acted as the box-office and sold tickets to the fans in attendance, many who were club presidents who were in Hamburg for the DFB convention. He made sure both teams were taken care of. He then pulled out a whistle and became the referee for the match. To top things off, he was then elected 2nd Chairman of the DFB at the convention. Unfortunately for German football, they were not able to rely on Behr's multitalents for very long. In 1904, he emigrated to Brazil, where he lived until he passed away in 1944...

In an interesting aside, the first championship was not a financial success for the DFB. The federation spent some 2200 Reichsmarks, and only brought in about 1300, so suffered a net loss of 900 Reichsmarks.