In 1978, that was the situation Borussia Moenchengladbach faced as they took on Borussia Dortmund in the final game of the Bundesliga. FC Koln were playing away to FC St Pauli, and were ten goals ahead going into the weekend. That meant if they won, reigning champions Moenchengladbach, depending on how well Koln did, would have to win by at least 11 clear goals.
Dortmund had already secured their status in the league after being promoted two years’ previously, and so came into the game, managed by a young Otto Rehhagel, the man who coached Greece to the European Championship title in 2004, with nothing to play for. Their goalkeeper, Horst Bertram, was also injured, which was to prove critical as his understudy, Peter Endrulat, had been told on the eve of the match that he would be released at the end of the campaign.
Moenchengladbach came out fired up and after going ahead inside a minute, the floodgates quickly opened, and Endrulat was helpless as they fell 6-0 behind at half time, five short of their target. No player wanted to take the field for Dortmund from the bench, whilst Endrulat made the fateful decision to stay on the field. He duly conceded another four, to make it 10-0, and with just three minutes left, Ewald Lienen got a crucial eleventh and then Christian Kulik made it 12.
Endrulat has since admitted “I should have left the field at half time. Then at least Horst Bertram would have let in six of the goals. Most people forget that I actually saved a lot of shots, at least those which were possible.”
What more could a team in their position have done? It was a remarkable showing by Moenchengladbach, whose performance is perhaps worth being recalled in the visiting dressing room at the Stadium of Light this Sunday. It was costly though for Dortmund, with Rehagel fired.
Naturally the game aroused suspicion, and amid the allegations of match fixing, it was explained by one of the players that the team had simply given up. Intriguingly, the next time the two met it was a far closer encounter, a 2-2 draw being played out.
Moenchengladbach’s players left the field that day having produced a special performance and result. Only to then find that Koln had won 5-0, to win the league. Manchester United would rue that same end result this weekend, but were it to happen, they could at least console themselves with the other part of the tale. Koln have not won a title since.