Monday, September 03, 2007

Celebrating Szepan's birthday

Rot Weiss Essen were German Champions for the only time in 1955. The man who coached that side Fritz Szepan would have celebrated his 100th birthday yesterday - had he been alive.

Despite being the trainer in charge of RWE in 1955 he has no real affection with the fans because he was basically Schalke through and through and and nobody really knows who he was.

I am supposed to hate Schalke being a Rot Weiss fan but as I have only just arrived in the country I have not developed it yet. Schalke are hated by Dortmund as well and it was interesting going out last season to watch Schalke lose the title on the last day of the season. The Dortmund fans celebrated as though they had won the title.

Fritz Szepan also had a bit of a shady past and benefited financially in the 1930's when allowed to buy a Jewish-run business very cheaply. Many fans are quick to point out that Schalke have only won the German Championship once (1958) outside the Nazi era

Still, the anniversary of Fritz's birthday deserves to be remembered despite his shortcomings and despite being a legend in his birthplace Gelsenkirchen. Szepan is pictured here (nearest) looking fit and healthy - no wonder Schalke won all those titles under Hitler).

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