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.”
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.”
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
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
~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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.