Those Were The Days: FC Vorwärts
Michael Butler takes a look back at our first Euro opponents
(first published in the March 2010 Derry City programme)
Waterford’s first away match in European competition was against East Berlin side Vorwärts FC, of the old East Germany, in September 1966.
Having lost the first leg 6-1 in Dalymount Park – Mick Lynch scoring Waterford’s only goal – the Blues travelled to Berlin with only 13 players to play the second leg. Also on the flight was team manager Paddy Coad and trainer/kit man Johnny Barnes, along with three directors. No national or local press or any supporters accompanied them on their journey. The Blues were beaten 6-0 on the night, losing 12-1 on aggregate to the East German champions.
Vorwärts FC was originally founded as an Army club in Leipzig in 1951, and were relocated lock, stock and barrel two years later to Berlin by the East German authorities. Amazingly, in 1971 the club were moved again, to Frankfurt an der Oder, on the Polish border, to replace the local secret police sponsored team which had been disbanded.
After German re-unification in 1990 the team dropped its affiliation with the military and became FC Victoria Frankfurt/Oder, but after three years of financial problems and reorganisation they underwent another metamorphosis and re-emerged as Frankfurter FC Viktoria 91, which remains the club’s name to the present day.
From having been East German champions six times in the late 50s and 60s, and qualifying for the UEFA Cup four times in the 1980s (as Vorwärts Frankfurt/Oder), they have more recently slipped down the divisions, and currently play in the fifth level of the German league system, in the regional Brandenburg league.
For the record, the surprisingly small squad of thirteen players who travelled to our first ever away European Cup tie were: Peter Thomas, Tommy Taylor, Dick Ryan, Harry Hale (RIP), Vinny Maguire, Paul Morrissey, Mick Lynch, Al Casey (RIP), Alfie Hale, Jimmy McGeough, Shamie Coad, Johnny Matthews and Terry Stafford (RIP).