. (Thanks to Hamish Husband for writing this piece for our Page; if you want to write something please contact us.)
Deutsche Demokratische Republik, now there was a nation of wonderful lady shot putters, some however may recall the most sensational game in the 1974 World Cup when they defeated the hosts 1-0 in Hamburg allegedly sending West German manager Helmut Schoen into a period of crippling depression that saw Kaiser Franz Beckenbauer take over the running of the world champions to be.
Scotland returning undefeated from the World Cup first played an October friendly against East Germany recording an excellent 3-0 win courtesy of a Tommy Hutchinson penalty, Kenny Burns and a certain Kenny Dalglish. Dixie Deans that prolific Celtic striker made the first of his 2 caps and my only memory of the game was seeing him struggle with high balls launched at him and more significantly was the last appearance for his country of the wonderful Jimmy Johnstone.
Ally Macleod was on his march to Argentina when we visited East Berlin for a 1-0 friendly defeat in September 1977,a result that somehow managed to motivate Scotland enough to annihilate the European Champions Czechoslovakia 3-1 a mere 14 days later at a euphoric Hampden. Leeds United Davis Stewart made his debut and earned his only cap.
Fast forward to 1982 and a Euro draw with another small tough group, Belgium and Switzerland joining East Germany our first home opponents in a 2-0 Scotland victory in front of 40,355, the biggest home gate of the group. Ipswich’s John Wark and sub Paul Sturrock scored in an optimistic opening to the doomed section. Captain Graeme Souness was at the heart of, to my mind a strong squad with rather surprisingly Alan Hansen and Willie Miller remaining as the central partnership in defence as it was our first game since their two to tango collision that saw the World Cup Russian elimination by Russia but 4 months earlier.
1983 was a poor year for Scotland as England demolished us 2-0 at Wembley and we were already out of the Euros when we played the last game of the group that would see us finish rock bottom, moved from the vast arena of Leipzig and instead to the smaller Kurt-Wabel Stadion, Halle.
My father, brother and sister and I drove across the Iron Curtain into the frozen communist world and snow covered autobahn verges littered with abandoned Trabants. The under 21 game was held in the Karl Zeiss Jena ground, a 0-0 draw in 2 feet of snow, Roy Aitken was the over-age captain. We were among a travelling band of 6 Scotland fans surrounded by local kids wanting to discuss Scottish football and the virtues of the decadent west and our capitalist freedom fighter, Mrs Thatcher.
We drove onto Leipzig and joined a small band of Scotland fans in relative luxury of a western style hotel that had separate bars accepting western money from visiting businessmen. Black market touts gave a far better rate than the official, the only problem was spending the DDR mark. A train journey to Halle, a town with such poor street lamps my father was reminded of wartime Glasgow. The locals were again friendly and were probably aghast at one our crew watching the game in a Scotland shirt in Baltic temperatures and worse our total lack of respect for our joke of an anthem ‘Scotland the brave’, several of us did mock highland flings.
We lost deservedly 2-1, Eamonn Bannon scored our consolation goal in front of a respectable 18,000 crowd, a beauty captured for future viewing on grainy U Tube and I have a memory of a blond Teutonic German wearing a home sewn kilt. It was a long, long drive home, passing through Checkpoint Charlie along with a small band of the Tartan Army, our car inspected with such vigour I envisaged the kilted German hiding under the bonnet escaping to freedom.
We had 2 more friendlies to follow, a 0-0 draw in October 1985, the first game to follow the sad death of Jock Stein and lastly a 1-0 Hampden defeat 2 months before we travelled to Italia’90. A certain Thomas Doll scored the winner in what proved to be their 295th fixture and 3rd last. It is worth pointing out that we played the game as world champs as we had beaten the then winners Argentina in the previous game. As in 1967 we held onto the crown for just one game.
Re-unification with West Germany had been agreed, the end of East Germany was imminent, and the Berlin Wall was no more. There remained 2 more games for the DDR, incredibly a 3-3 draw with Brazil in the Maracanã and finally a 2-0 win in the Anderlecht ground, Brussels, 12 September 1990. Only 14 players were willing to play in the last international, reserve goalie Adler was a 90 minute sub, never touching the ball for his only cap. Matthias Sammer, now Bayern Munich’s Director of Football scored their last ever goal and brought the curtain down on the DDR National Mannschaft. East German clubs struggled to compete in the Bundesliga as the stars went west and for years hooliganism and right wing politics were prevalent. Karl-Zeiss Jena have trawled the lower regions of the German leagues, FC Hallischer likewise.
There is no written record of the 1983 visit by a few hundred TA foot soldiers in the history of German re-unification, until today that is.