A blog dedicated to chronicling the history of SC Green White, a soccer club founded in Chicago in 1956.

Saturday, December 17, 2011


The year started off with a bang for S.C. Green White. While the front pages of the Chicago Daily News trumpeted the news that Alaska had just been proclaimed the 49th state of the union by President Eisenhower, the weekend magazine section of the paper was about Chicago's ethnic soccer boom.

And which team was featured in that Chicago Daily News Weekend cover picture? A certain German team with Green and White uniforms. (Oh sure, there's also another team in that picture, but let's not get bogged down by those details).

Green White still had it's core of (mainly Donauschwaben) German players, they also added a few other nationalities. Hungarian-American Alex Gyurko played his first game for Green White that season. "That team was so good, I played mostly for the reserves."

Despite the all-German nature of the club, Gyurko (photo) said he always felt like he belonged. "I came from Austria-(Linz-Wells-Salzburg), so I spoke some Austrian German and in those days -the meetings used to be in German. But everybody was very friendly. I was by myself--I had no family or relatives in the state, and they went out of their way to make me feel very comfortable, especially the Metzingers, Martin Schneider, Al Schwartz and family, the Zimmers and many others--the whole board and all the players. I made life long friends."

With a brand new club president at the helm (Paul Wenson), Green White charged into what would become their first year in the top division of both the indoor and outdoor leagues.

Adam Kaempf remembers it well. "When we moved up to the Major Division from the First Division, that was one of the highlights of my soccer playing life. We were new, we didn’t even know each other when we started, and we built that together."

It was a slightly different game at that time, a more offensive-minded attack.

Klaus Kilian explains, "In those days we had a different system. We played two fullbacks, three halfbacks, and five forwards. I played mostly defender.”

Another defensive minded player was Toni Filian. When the opponent was the Slovaks, his assignment was always the same. “He was our Murphy stopper," Kaempf says. "(Slovaks striker and U.S. National Team Member) Eddie Murphy was one of the best players in the league; big tall guy, and Toni was this little guy, but he stopped him cold.”

For other players it didn't go as well. Hans Metzinger broke his leg, all but ending his soccer career with the Green White first team.

But Green White played on. With star players like the Laxgang and Kaempf brothers, and Steve Zimmer, the team was competitive every game. But as the year ended, Green White found itself near the bottom of the standings.

They would have until the fall of 1960 to save their spot in the Major Division.

Elsewhere in Soccer

1959 also marked the beginning of the modern era for collegiate soccer in America. The NCAA staged their first ever Men's Division I Championship tournament. Eight teams participated. Saint Louis University beat Bridgeport 5-2 in Connecticut to win the championship.
(Photo: 1959 Saint Louis Championship team)

Green White Youth

A long time Green White member made his debut for the Juniors in 1959. "That was my first year," Joe Schlenhardt (photo) remembers. "The coach was Hans Bauer. The trainer was Andreas Laxgang.”

But that wasn't the only youth team in 1959. The end of Hans Metzinger's playing career with the first team was also the beginning of his coaching career with Green White youth. In 1959 Green White fielded their first Juvenile team, a younger group of boys--not quite old enough to play for the Juniors.

Green White Social Life

Green White has always been about more than just the soccer.

“We all went to each other’s weddings," Adam Kaempf says. "We were all together all the time.”

One of those weddings took place in 1959. Two prominent Green White families were merged forever on November 14, 1959 when 19 year old Maria Kirschner married 21 year old Stefan Zimmer at St. Alphonsus church (photo). Stefan, of course, was one of the star players of the team. Maria's brother Toni was one of the founding members.

Weddings were in the air. Fellow Green Whiter Nick Willer married his wife Lori on the same day, and in the exact same church, just an hour later.

Many Green White weddings followed the next few years.

“We were all approximately the same age," Hans Bittenbinder reminds us. "We all got married approximately the same time, and we all had kids around the same time, so we naturally had a lot in common.”

Those common bonds would serve them well as Green White began the 1960s.

Green White Babies

*Two future professional soccer players who both grew up playing for Green White were born in 1959: Robert Meschbach and Joe Filian.

Other Green White babies born that year included...

*Christine Metzinger

*Eddie Spaeth


*Inge Schneider

Elsewhere in Chicago

~Hugh Hefner bought a mansion located at 1340 N. State Parkway in 1959 after he divorced his first wife Millie. He dubbed it "The Playboy Mansion". The brass plate hanging over the door said it all: 'If You Don't Swing, Don't Ring.' Lots of people rang. A veritable Who's who of Chicago's hip young society eventually stopped by the mansion. In his book "Kup's Chicago," Irv Kupcinet described the scene as he witnessed it..."There are voluptuous Playboy Bunnies in his office, his reception rooms, his swimming pool, and throughout his lavish North State Parkway mansion. And they are enticing decorations at his Friday night parties, which start at Midnight, and continue until sunup.”

~Just a few blocks away, 1959 was also a big year in the history of improvisational comedy. Second City was founded that year.

~Chicago also welcomed a reigning British monarch for the very first time in 1959. In July, Queen Elizabeth II came to Chicago for the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway. She and Prince Phillip sailed down the new seaway in the Britannia royal yacht.

Coming next month: 1960. Green White plays a dramatic game on the final day of the season to determine it's fate in the Major Divison, the Northwest Expressway opens, a new U.S. president is elected, a football team moves out of town, and the first rock and roll station moves into town.

As always, if you have any thing to add or correct in this month’s installment, please drop me a line at amishrick@yahoo.com. I consider this a group project, and a work in progress, so we can add and subtract until we get it all exactly correct. If you have photos you’d like to contribute, please do.

Monday, November 14, 2011


The young upstart team S.C. Gruen Weiss had a year to remember in 1958.

The National Soccer League had essentially invented indoor soccer in America about a decade earlier. The games were played at the Chicago Armory on Chicago Avenue (It was torn down in the early 90s--the Museum of Contemporary Art now stands on that location), and it was a big draw for Chicago's expansive immigrant population. Green White was excited to play there for the first time in 1958.

“There were something like 3000 fans every Sunday when we played," Klaus Kilian remembers. "Every nationality had a section there. The sound/noise was deafening. It was so loud you couldn’t even hear the whistle sometimes. But it was exciting to play in front of such a big crowd."

Green White had quietly assembled a very formidable team. In addition to their holdover stars like Stefan Zimmer, Stefan Laxgang, Joe Laxgang, and Rudi Hrbacek (photo), they had added a pair of brothers named Kaempf. Georg and his little brother Adam had played for the Donauschwaben in Vienna Austria before coming to America. In this country they already had a Junior Championship (with Schwaben AC) and a year with Fortuna under their belts before they were recruited to join Green White.

Adam Kaempf loved being part of the club immediately. "That first Green White team we played on was something. We had some really good players. The Laxgang brothers. Sammy Berleth in the goal. I mean he was like a cat. Steve Zimmer. We had six, seven players that were top players—that’s why we were such a strong team. That’s one of the reasons we were great indoors.”

The atmosphere in the crowd might have been electric, but the conditions on the Armory field weren't exactly ideal.

"I hated playing indoors," Klaus Kilian says. "It was terrible. We were coughing constantly after those games because of the dust. I was stationed there in the National Guard. That was our base. Not exactly where I wanted to be."

Hans Bittenbinder (photo) remembers it the same way. "The field was dirt because it was also used to play polo. You could smell the horses there. It was dusty too."

The season came down to a game against the league favorites, a Greek team known as the Olympics. When the dust settled (literally), Green White came out victorious; Indoor Champions of 1958.

"When we beat them, the place went nuts," Kilian recalls.

It was their first championship ever. But it wasn't their only championship that year. In the summer of 1958, Green White also won the Midwest Soccer Tournament in July.

The photo of that team proudly hangs on the wall of the Green White clubhouse.

The players are identified below the photo this way: Green-White S.C.- Donauschwaben POKALSIEGER bei Midewest Soccer Tournament am 19 July 1958 - (not a typo - it really says "midewest") Stehend (standing); M. Schneider manager, Fr. Becker president, F. Stadler, S. Laxgang , K. Kilian, M. Mayer, E. Kaempfer, S. Zimmer, A. Kempf, G. Kempf, A. Laxgang trainer.
Kniend (kneeling): H. Bauer, R. Hrbacek, J. Laxgang, S. Berlet , A. Filian, F. Fernbach

And they weren't done yet. They began the 1958 outdoor season as the new kids on the block, and in their first year in the First Division, they ended up in first place. In just three seasons they had moved all the way up to the ultra-competitive Major Division. It was a heck of an accomplishment for an upstart team.

Look at the jubilation in the faces of these Green White members below. You can see it in their eyes: "It doesn't get any better than this".

Among the Green White members in this photo, Steve Zimmer, Eckhard Kaempfer, Martin Schneider (holding the ball), Joe Schlenhardt, Horst Melcher, Toni Rauscher, Georg Herzog, Guenther Leprich, John Leprich, Adam Harjung, Stefan Hehn, Leo Leopold, Mike Leprich and Joe Hertl.

They didn't know exactly what they would face in the Major Division in 1959, but they were excited and ready to find out.

(1958 was also the first year the Chicago Kickers played in the National Soccer League, beginning a long-time rivalry between the two clubs.)

Juniors 1958

While the first team was dominating, their farm team of youngsters in the Juniors were playing under more competitive circumstances too.

"That was really the first Junior team," Hans Bittenbinder remembers, "The first proper league team was in 1958.”

Not a bad way to break in. They finished in second place.

Elsewhere in soccer

*The 1954 German national team coached by Sepp Herberger had won the World Cup. Hopes were high among the Green White fans that the Germans could repeat as champions in 1958, but this was not to be their year. A 17-year-old phenom arrived on the scene from Sao Paolo, Brazil and upended the soccer apple cart. His name was Pele, and he awed and amazed the world with his skills. He saved his best for last in the World Cup, scoring three goals in the semi-finals, and two more in the finals; leading the Brazilians to a World Cup championship over host nation Sweden.

Green White Babies Born in 1958...

*Karin Wittje
*Walter Dinkel
*Frank Olah (son of Green White's photographer)

In Pop Culture

~The #1 pop hit of the year was “At the Hop” by Danny & the Juniors.

~The #1 TV show of the year was “Gunsmoke

~The Academy Award for Best Picture went to “Gigi

*Elsewhere in Chicago

~The Tri-State, East-West, and Northwest Tollways all opened in 1958. Chicago also became connected with the new Indiana Toll Road when the Chicago (originally Calumet) Skyway opened that same year.

~When one door opens, another closes. While the tollways were opening for the first time, the streetcars were quietly put out to pasture. Chicago streetcars, a mainstay of the city for nearly a hundred years, ceased operation for good in 1958. (Photo: Chicago streetcar)

~An unspeakable tragedy happened on the South Side of Chicago as 1958 came to a close. On December 1st, a fire began in the basement of Our Lady of the Angels school. The fire quickly spread up the staircase and onto the second floor, trapping children and teachers in their classrooms. Ninety two people died. It was third deadliest fire in Chicago history, behind only the Iroquois Theatre fire (602 dead) and the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 (between 250-300 dead).

Coming next month: 1959. Green White plays in the Major Division, and makes it in the Chicago Daily News. A Green White wedding. The Queen of England visits Chicago. Hef buys a mansion, Second City is formed, and much much more.

As always, if you have any thing to add or correct in this month’s installment, please drop me a line at amishrick@yahoo.com. I consider this a group project, and a work in progress, so we can add and subtract until we get it all exactly correct. If you have photos you’d like to contribute, please do.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


In 1957, SC Green White started playing soccer in the National Soccer League’s Second Division.

The National Soccer League of Chicago was one of the strongest leagues in the country in the late 1950s, along with it’s New York counterpart, the ASL. There were no professional soccer leagues at the time, but America kept receiving an influx of fresh immigrants, many of which were highly skilled soccer players.

Some of the teams in the NSL were literally the best teams in America. A few years before Green White joined the league, the Slovaks won the National Amateur Cup final (1953). Their star player Eddie Murphy was a regular on the U.S. National team for ten years. Schwaben AC was another powerhouse. Beginning in 1955, they put together an incredible string of NSL championships.

Klaus Killian remembers those teams well. “Adolf Bachmeier, another National Team player, played for the Schwaben in those days, and Schwaben was a great, great team.”

When Green White entered the league they were one of seven German teams, along with FC Fortuna, Real FC (also a brand new team), Schwaben AC, Fichte Rams, The Wanderers, and Hansa. As fate would have it, their very first game was played against one of those teams.

The date was March 7, 1957. Green White faced off against FC Fortuna, and won the game 3-2.

Green White took the league by surprise that first year because they had quietly begun to assemble a formidable team. One of the key men that helped put that team together was Andreas Laxgang. “He was the manager/trainer,” former Green White president Fritz Becker recalls. “He had experience in Germany, and his sons had played there. He was in charge of the soccer part of the club. From the time the club started until the time of his death, he kept track of every single player that played, what position they played, and how many games that they played. He really knew the game, and he really knew our team.”

His sons were the stars of the team. Adam Harjung was in awe of their skills. “Stefan Laxgang (photo, left) was a heck of a player—he played on the Junior North German National Team in Germany. He was the last man, our sweeper. His brother Joe—he was a great player too. He played with us for years and years. We were lucky they were Donauschwaben, because that’s how they came to play for us.”

Before the 1957 season was over, several more Green White mainstays had joined the team. The man that would eventually be voted as the all-time greatest Green White player, Stefan Zimmer (photo, right), was one of them. “Stefan Zimmer started out with Hansa when he first moved here,” recalls Harjung, “but he heard about us in 1957, and he came over to join us too.”

Hans Metzinger was playing for Fortuna against Green White in that spring season. “I even shot a goal against Green White,” he recalls today with a laugh. “But by the fall I had moved over to Green White and joined them.” Klaus Kilian also moved over from Fichte Rams. “My dad had been a member of the Fichte Rams club, so I played for them in 1956. But I met people from the Donauschwaben, like Hans Bauer, Joe Hertl, Adam Harjung, guys like that, and all the girls (including my future wife), and I moved over to Green White in 1957.”

“A lot of those players were professionally trained in Europe,” Fritz Becker recalls, “and that’s the reason we had such a good quality of play right away.”

They managed to form a great team, but they didn’t exactly recruit those players because of Green White’s first class amenities and facilities.

“We played at Foster Avenue, on a field we affectionately called ‘The Loch’ (The hole),” Adam Harjung chuckles.

“There was a creek there at our field,” Hans Bittenbinder adds, “And the field was a lot lower than Foster Avenue. So it was nice for watching the games, you could sit and look down on it. There were no benches. But it also flooded all the time.”

The clubhouse was no better. Klaus Kilian (photo) was there. “The first clubhouse was on Southport Avenue. We took over this shabby looking storefront that we shared with the Donauschwaben, and we really fixed it up. We painted the whole thing. We locked (original member) Joe Hertl in the bathroom, and he painted the whole thing green including the toilet seats.”

Nevertheless, by the end of the 1957 season, Green White had moved from the green outhouse to the penthouse. They had conquered the National Soccer League’s Second Division and had moved up to the First Division. An incredible accomplishment for a first year team.

The Junior Team is born

September 22, 1957 was also the beginning of Green White’s youth program. (This photo of that first youth team was taken on that day). At first they fielded only one Junior team, and once again, Andreas Laxgang was key in forming it. Long-time member Joe Schlenhardt recognized several of the players in that first team picture: “Henry Laxgang played on the first Junior team. Albin Schwartz. Gottfried Schwartzenger. Ernie Spiess.”

A few of them would go on to play on the First team in later years, and the Junior team would remain a pipeline for the future of Green White.

Green White Babies born in 1957

Mike Weiss, June 57 (photo)

Hans Metzinger Jr., May 57

Frank Schmidt Jr., April 57

Elsewhere in 1957

~Three weeks after Green White’s first game in 1957, Chicago got a visit from a King. The king of rock and roll, Elvis Presley, made his very first appearance in Chicago. He kicked off his tour at the International Amphiteatre. Chicago had never seen a spectacle like this before. 200 police, 300 firemen, and six ambulances were on hand, but 13,500 Elvis fans still smashed dozens of chairs and a protective railing around the stage. But the Chicago fans also got a special treat that night. Elvis debuted his $2500 gold-leaf suit. Elvis only wore the pants that night and the next night in St. Louis, before discovering that the gold leaf was coming off at the knees. He decided it was more important to drop to his knees than it was to wear this suit, which he also described as “clownish.”

~The #1 pop hit of the year was “All Shook Up” by Elvis Presley.

~The #1 TV show of the year was “Gunsmoke

~The Academy Award for Best Picture went to “Bridge on the River Kwai

~Around the same time that Green White clinched it’s ascension into the First Division, a major news event was in all the headlines. On October 4, 1957, Russia launched the Sputnik satellite, officially beginning the space race.

Coming next month: 1958. The First Division. The first Green White indoor soccer team. And the world meets the greatest soccer star of all-time in the World Cup.

As always, if you have any thing to add or correct in this month’s installment, please drop me a line at amishrick@yahoo.com. I consider this a group project, and a work in progress, so we can add and subtract until we get it all exactly correct. If you have photos you’d like to contribute, please do.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


The story of the people that founded Green White, the Danube-Swabians (or Donauschwaben), is a story that goes back several hundred years.

In her memoir “Barefoot in the Rubble”, author Elizabeth Walter explains how this group of ethnic Germans came to be:

“In the late 17th century, the Austro-Hungarian Empire recovered its Hungarian domains by defeating the Ottoman Turks. The Ottoman Empire had occupied the region for 150 years. Fearful that the Ottoman Turks would regain control of the area, the Austrian Imperial Council launched a great colonization scheme to settle the recovered lands with loyal subjects. Promising land in exchange for hard work, the Austrian Empire encouraged German-speaking people from southwestern Germany, northeastern France, and Switzerland to cultivate the region.

Since no roads linked Central Europe to Eastern Europe, the new settlers traveled down the Danube River by barge. More than 1000 farming communities and numerous homesteads were settled in the Danubian Plain in what later became Hungary, Romania, and Yugoslavia. The two largest areas they settled became known as Banat and Batschka (map of Banat below). The German-speaking settlers there became known as the Danube Swabians. Danube, because they had traveled the Danube and settled its plain, and Swabians because their port of departure had been in Ulm, Swabia.”

They lived there in peace for hundreds of years until the end of World War II. When the Red Army tanks rolled through their towns and villages, the Danube Swabians lost all their rights and property. They had no choice but to flee. Tens of thousands were killed in ethnic cleansing in Yugoslavia (where German-speaking people were declared “enemies of the state”), and many others became refugees, escaping to Austria, or Germany to start a new life.

For many, that life eventually included moving to the United States of America. One of the thriving communities of Danube Swabians was based in Chicago, so in the years after the war, a large number of these immigrants arrived here.

These immigrants had a few things in common. They shared a common heritage. They shared amazingly similar life experiences. But many of the young people also shared a common love.

A love of soccer.

Adam Harjung was one of those young people. “I was 17 at the time. We played soccer whenever we could. I remember Martin Schneider (photo), who was ten or fifteen years older than us, said, ‘You know, we should start our own soccer club.’ We thought it was a great idea. Martin helped us organize it.”

According to original member Fritz Becker, he did more than just organize it: “Martin Schneider really was the father of this team. It was his idea. He was the boss. He ran the show.”

Nearly all of them were part of the Donauschwaben Jugendgruppe (or the Society of Danube Swabians Youth Group), a club dedicated to maintaining the German language and traditions of their Danube-Swabian homeland. The club’s membership had grown by leaps and bounds during that first decade after the war, so they asked the Donauschwaben if they could form a Danube Swabian soccer team.

And that’s exactly what they did on August 26, 1956.

Cindy Kaempfer, the current president of the club, and the daughter of one of those young men who founded the club (Eckhard Kaempfer), explains the origin of the name Green White. “My father’s family and all the other founding members were very proud of their heritage and wanted to honor it by naming the soccer club ‘Danubia.’ Unfortunately the National Soccer League wouldn’t allow the name because they considered it ‘too ethnic.’ So instead, the colors of the Danube Swabians (Green and White) were selected for the name.” (Photo: Danube Swabian flag)

Hans Bauer, Fritz Becker, Heinrich Bischoff, Adam Harjung, Joe Hertl, Eckhard Kaempfer, Hans Kendl, Anton Kirschner, Matz Kraemer, Paul Kuhn, Horst Melcher, Hans Neidenbach, Hans Schmidt, Heinrich Schmidt, Martin Schneider, Franz Stadler, and Frank Thebes were the founding members that day. Many of these same men played the game, coached the team, and guided the club through the initial years.

Hans Metzinger joined the following year, but he knew his fellow Danube Swabians well. “Every single guy on that team was a Donauschwaben,” he says. “Every single one.”

Adam Harjung remembers there was a bit of a pecking order at first, and it was more or less based on their ages. “Martin Schneider, Hans Neidenbach, Paul Kuhn; they were the older ones at the time. Fritz Becker was the first president, because he was a little older than us too. Then there were a few in college like Eckhard Kaempfer, Horst Melcher, and Franz Stadler—they were at the University of Illinois. They played on that original team, and were involved from the beginning. And so was I.”

President Fritz Becker even sported a fitting name for a German soccer club. A man with the same name (but no relation) had scored the first ever goal for Germany in an international soccer match. But Fritz didn't see his own role as fate: "I just happened to know Martin and he said ‘We need a president’ and since the other guys were a little younger, and I had just been married, I was the guy that was chosen."

The idea of the soccer team was grudgingly accepted at first by the old guard of Donauschwaben, but a few of them did become enthusiastic supporters. Hans Bittenbinder, a member since 1956 remembers, “I always felt we were supported by the older Donauschwaben generation. Michael Melcher (father of Horst and Walter) was even our president a few years later.”

All that remained was the creation of the team logo. Green White President Cindy Kaempfer explains the origin of that logo, and once again there’s much more to it than meets the eye. “Originally our crest was very similar to the modern day Danube Swabian crest. That crest is filled with symbolism and dates back to the 18th century. The eagle at the top represents the obligation of the Holy Roman Empire. The wavy blue line represents the Danube River, and the green pays homage to the farming heritage of the Danube Swabian settlement. The coat of arms also has the German national colors of black, red and gold, plus the Danube Swabian colors of Green (Peace) and White (Hope). The Fortress in the middle is a symbol of the imperial German defenses. The half moon on the right is the temporal symbol of Islam and the bright sun rising represents Christ. The six towers of the fortress represent the six main regions of the Danube Swabian settlements.”

They now had a sponsor, a team, a league, and a logo.

Although the first official game wouldn’t be played until the following spring, a soccer club had been born.

Green White Babies

*On November 29, 1956, the first Green White baby was born; Hildegard Schneider, the oldest child of club co-founder Martin Schneider.

Elsewhere in Chicago, 1956

Those young Danube Swabians arriving in Chicago in the 1950s encountered a city much different than today's.

~The tallest building in Chicago in 1956 was still considered a marvel in the Midwest. It had just been completed in 1955, and was known as the Prudential Building (postcard picture on the left). The roof of the Prudential even had an observation deck.

~Chicago also had a brand new mayor. Richard J. Daley, a man that would rule the city with an iron fist for the next twenty years.

~A new radio star arrived at WGN in Chicago that same year. His name was Wally Phillips. Phillips arrived in Chicago from Cincinnati on October 1, 1956 along with his friend Bob Bell (who later became Bozo the Clown on WGN Television). At the height of his popularity, Phillips attracted nearly 1.5 million listeners, an incredible 50% of the market's listening audience.

~Only a small percentage of Chicago households owned a television in 1956, but those Chicagoans lucky enough to own one probably watched the #1 show in the country: "I Love Lucy".

~And if you somehow still didn't know the name "Elvis Presley" you probably didn't have a radio or record player. Elvis' record "Don't Be Cruel" with the flipside "Hound Dog" was one of the biggest selling records in history.

Coming next month: 1957. The National Soccer League. Instant soccer success. A new clubhouse. A soccer mentor. The first Green White baby. And Sputnik starts a space race.