Saturday, December 17, 2011
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."
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.”
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
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.”
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...
Elsewhere in Chicago
~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 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.