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

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

1957

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.

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