On Thursday 9th May, the QPR party set off from Paris at 8 o’clock in the morning and arrived in Saarbrucken in time for dinner.
Apart from the pics in the French magazine: “La Vie Au Grand Air” that I included in part one, I also managed to pick up around the same time a 1912 copy of the German magazine: “Fussball und Olympischer Sport”, which includes some quite detailed match reports. Martin Percival told me that a mate of his, Michael Loffler, would be willing to translate them for me. I eventually met up with Michael in Germany last August before the Augsburg game.
The magazine introduced the article as follows and makes fascinating reading:
‘Thousands of people attended the games and created a good atmosphere. Everybody knows that the professionals from England can play the game better than the German players who play for exercise of the body and soul. Despite this, there is increased interest in the games between the professionals and our amateur players.’
The first match was against the local side and the 1912/13 Rangers Handbook records that: ‘The Saarbrucken were a long way short of our strength, and we won anyhow by 12-0 (Revill 6, Birch 3, Whyman, Sangster, and Tosswill 1 each’. For the record, Gordon Macey, the club historian, states that the match finished 12-1. Fussball und Olympischer Sport reported that:
‘QPR win against Sports Club after a brilliant game by 12-0 (Sports Club are now called Saar 05 Saarbrucken). Rightly so, Saarbrucken had announced this event as the biggest and most important sporting occasion that had ever taken place in Saarbrucken. The club had been very industrious to publicise the game and so there were 3,000 spectators on Saturday at 6.45pm to witness a wonderful football fight. Some political celebrities attended from the local city government. The reporters suspected that they had never been to a football game before.
I would rather say less about the run of the game. The defeat seems high, although it was expected. The defence of the Saarbrucken team, despite the tiring and precise passing of the opposition, kept up with the tempo of the QPR team. Saar’s defence exceeded themselves and prevented more than one certain additional goal. Otten, the right-back of Saarbrucken, is to be especially mentioned. Today he showed all of his skills. He is ready to play in an A class team.
Rangers were playing an excellent game, we didn’t see any better from Newcastle United. The Rangers goalkeeper was on top of his game. He was playing with coolness and security and he cancelled a couple of certain looking efforts at the last minute.
Defenders were rarely making opening runs, they would rather pass the ball to the goalkeeper or to the midfielders. The midfield impressed with their exact passing and good tackling and marking. One has to admire the pace and exact passing and good shooting of the Rangers forwards plus the heading ability of the whole team.
All in all it was a presentation and propaganda game in the best meaning of these words. The QPR team liked it here, and had stayed since Thursday. On the last evening in the clubhouse they were happy to return next year’.
The Handbook article goes on to say that, ‘the next day, Sunday, however, was a different tale, and we had to go all the way to beat the smart Kaiserslautern 1-0 (Browning).’ However, the magazine reports that the match finished 2-1 to the R’s ?
‘On the idyllic pitch of the local team, a brilliant sporting picture for a mass audience developed through the presence of the English professional footballers. An excellent sporting spectacle developed in front of a mass audience. The local team played bravely but Rangers won 2-1’.
The Handbook states that: ‘Late in the evening we left for Mannheim, where the party had till Wednesday for sightseeing. Having beaten Mannheim 3-0 (Wake, Tosswill, and McKie), a long and tedious journey to Porsfheim had to be taken early on Friday morning’. The magazine produced quite a detailed report of the proceedings:
‘An astonishing number of people were in the stadium. There was good weather, English flags and last but not least even the members of the press had to pay admission for the visit of the English Southern League Champions. The impression left behind by this match was not positive in every respect though. The QPR kit was in a bad state, especially as their clothing still carried traces of the last games, not to mention their boots. The local kit was positively different. Let’s now turn to the game.
One had expected a bit more of this game. A unified, thorough system was not to be seen, although one had high hopes for this. The surprisingly good technical ability could not compensate for the lack of a system. Almost everyone had complete ability, including the use of physical strength that serves as an example for the locals – especially the heading abilities of QPR.
Stopping and passing the ball was carried out almost at the speed of thought but with professional ability. The QPR goal watchman caught or parried every shot with great security and he cancelled out even the most modest hopes of Mannheim.
The two QPR defenders coped with every situation. Their actions, kicks and headers definitely finished off the industrious labour of the local attack. The outside midfielders played the best. Their marking, heading and passing served as an example. The midfield played well. Of the forwards, the left sided forward played well and the centre forward was a brave dribbler with the right player only mediocre.
Despite these positives, one missed something from the English guests. The pleasure and excitement expected of the players of our sport were missing as they appeared tired. The runs of Barnes on the left wing were professional, his crosses were so accurate and precise that one would take these efforts for granted after a short period of time.
To the honour of the locals it has to be said that Rangers had to make an effort to score 3 goals despite the shaky Mannheim defence. The message that the English national team had wired home after winning 5-1 in Berlin in 1907 was “their attack was poor, but their defence was sound” also applied to the Mannheim team. The home side matched up to their opposition successfully due to their restless labour and the match was an open game.
In the first half, prospects looked reasonably good. After Wake had hit the post in the 3rd minute and into the goal, the game remained open and the home side had several opportunities to equalise but their attack got worse and worse and their wingers and defenders had to do their work.
After the re-start, the local attack had lost all confidence and hopes for success vanished completely. In contrast Rangers attacked strongly and, despite poor shooting, scored two more goals to make it 3-0. Mr Lange from Karlsruhe was a sound referee, but he should have opposed the sometimes unfair playing style of the guests more assertively’.
We learn that when they arrived in Porsfheim, ‘the heat was terrific, and having found on arrival that the match did not start till 6.30, the men were wisely rested during the afternoon. The result v Porsfheim was 7-3 (Browning 4, Radnage, Revill, and McKie 1 each) in our favour.’ The magazine didn’t report on the match unfortunately.
‘After the match, the party went to the next stopping place, Stuttgart. Saturday, a little matter of 120 miles had to be covered to play at Nuremberg. Leaving Stuttgart at 8.30am, the team did not get back again till Sunday morning, 1.15am, well tired, but again victorious by 5-1 (Browning 2, McKie, Marchant, and Tosswill 1 each). The magazine reported that:
‘Professional teams ! In the past these were two magic words, but over the years they have lost their attractive label. Over the Channel football is blooming, but one has recognised that any sport needs to develop until the time has to come when English and German amateurs are on the same level.
In order to get our teams to the level of the English we would need all the means available to them. More time is needed just to teach teams the kind of endurance that enables them to last through a string of exhausting competitive games. Six games in a week ! Of course these efforts are leaving their mark on QPR and they will not be able to show the same form as in their homeland.
From this point of view, the game of FC Nurnberg against the English equals a giant step forward in comparison to the game against Sunderland two years ago. That was cat and mouse, today it resembled a serious league match. Certainly the English are showing astonishing tricks and excellent consistent ball play, but the locals have lost their naivety and they fought the opposition with their own weapons with excellent team play and pushed them into the corner.
The game remained balanced until the end but Nurnberg had a bad luck day that they did not deserve. From the five goals scored by the English, two were scored by brilliant shots, the other three were more or less own goals.
Right after the kick-off the locals had two chances, two corners kept the opposition at bay, but the ball was badly paced. Philip, who played very well today, had eleven opportunities to shoot, but through bad luck he shot from close distance at the goalkeeper.
The only Nurnberg goal resulted from a corner that Bark headed in. The final corner count was six corners to Nurnberg and two to QPR. Twenty minutes from the end the score was 2-1 and the final outcome was not really to be foreseen. By playing in a more concentrated fashion in defence, the final three goals could have been avoided. The final score was 5-1.
The game was packed with exciting moments, fine play and fluent passing by both sides. Nurnberg midfielder Bark was pushing his opponents with his eminent ability. His game was not only better than that of his direct opponent, but he was the best player on the pitch’.
After three strenuous days, ‘some of the players were none too fit for the concluding match of the tour on Sunday with the strong Stuttgart club. However, the sequence of victories was kept up (though only after a hard struggle) by 2-1 (Wake and Revill). It should be mentioned that Birch grazed his knee in the Paris match, and did not play again till the Stuttgart game. Nicholls kept goal in all the matches’. The magazine account of the final match of the tour was as follows:
‘Both teams were greeted by 5,000 people, including Count Ulrich. Under the excellent direction of referee Munk, Kickers started the game for which neither team had any significant advantage for quite some time. Kickers balanced their technical deficit through energetic play. Both teams attacked carefully and good use was made of the chances created, but the goalkeepers were playing with great attention.
The visitors had to play with ten men for a period which weakened their defence. Kickers made clever use of this and Loeble turned up unmarked in front of the goal a couple of minutes before half-time and outplayed the goalkeeper and scored to great applause. They could only celebrate for a short while because Rangers equalised through a wonderful cross from the left side.
In the second-half, the game was equal in the middle for some time until eventually the brave fighting Kickers were pushed back further and further. In the 18th minute of the second-half, Kickers conceded several corners that came dangerously close. The last one of which found its way into goal to make it 2-1 to Rangers.
Five minutes later Kickers almost equalised, but Rangers’ brilliant goalkeeper parried the seemingly unstoppable ball out for a corner. Towards the end, Kickers came back to balance the game and came close to doing so.
The guests gave good treatment of the goal and great passing, but last year’s game versus Newcastle United gave more to learn from. QPR’s defence was very clever and the effort of the Kickers team was excellent and was also praised in the after match speech of the local Protector’.
“Parkite” concludes his Handbook article as follows:
‘Monday (May 18th) was pleasantly spent visiting Wiesbaden, and Tuesday in a delightful trip of 116 miles down the prettiest part of the Rhine from Mayence to Cologne, which was easily the tit-bit of the tour. Travelling via the Hook of Holland, all landed safe and sound at Liverpool Street on the Wednesday morning.
All thoroughly enjoyed the tour. Everywhere the team played the home officials did all in their power to make things as pleasant as possible, and invitations were extended to repeat the visit next May.
I am indebted to Mr Hart (who was in charge of the team in Germany) for the foregoing details. Mr Hart expressed himself as very proud of the players both on and off the field. Despite the heat and adamantine grounds (a blade of grass would have been a cheering sight) and the holiday nature of the outing, the men never lost sight of the fact that the honour of the club was at stake. He tells me it was amusing to see the players during the concluding minutes of each game manoeuvring to get the ball to retain as a memento’.
That concludes a wonderful insight into Rangers’ first overseas trip.
Thanks to Michael Loffler for translating the 100-year-old German text into English, a big task that is very much appreciated.
Once again my thanks to Peter and Steve for making the 1912 Club Handbook available and I would also like to thank Gordon Macey and Martin Percival for their valuable assistance.