Monday, 22 June 2015

Edgar Kail - the man with the grey stockings

Article kindly supplied by Jan Stover of Altona 93

“Edgar Kail - the man with the grey stockings.”

Those were the words the Altona 93 club paper [matchday programme] used to describe the legendary Edgar Kail to its readers in April 1925. The club, along with other regional papers, praised the actions and the goals of the famous Dulwich player in the match against Altona 93 on Good Friday. This match was the first of three Dulwich Hamlet played in Germany during the Easter holiday. The results were:

Altona 93 1 Dulwich Hamlet 4

Gelsenkirchen 1 Dulwich Hamlet 1

Düsseldorf 3 Dulwich Hamlet 1

In the last few years Mishi Morath and I have tried to find out more about this early friendly match by searching through newspaper archives. In the 1920s most of the German newspapers were associated with political parties. All the left-wing and working class papers did not mention the clubs from the German Football Association (DFB) because their clubs were organised in another football association!

Altona was an independent city until 1937. That is the reason why only three newspapers are important for us: Altonaer Nachrichten, Hamburger Nachrichten and Hamburger Anzeiger. There were also some football magazines at that time as well, but they were devoted to West and South Germany and are not located in Hamburg.

The mid 1920s saw a first boom of football as a spectator sport in Germany. Famous teams like Altona 93 and Hamburger SV played in front of thousands of people. There was no (official) professional football and the leagues had been so regional that every match was a local derby. But the biggest crowds could be reached if teams from far away were invited. Especially sides from Great Britain. These matches were unique and generated much public interest. Both Altona 93 and Dulwich Hamlet had internationals in their teams. That’s why the Dulwich Hamlet match in Altona – which wasn't a part of Hamburg in that time – was advertised in several newspapers. For example:

Altonaer Nachrichten, 14. Jg. (1925), Nr.80 (4.4.)

Hamburger Anzeiger, 38. Jg. (1925), Nr.81 (6.4.)

Altonaer Nachrichten, 14. Jg. (1925), Nr.84 (9.4.)
In English: Don’t miss the game Altona 93 v Dulwich Hamlet FC”

Hamburger Anzeiger, 38. Jg. (1925), Nr.84 (9.4.)

On Thursday both newspapers published articles about the up-coming match as well. They informed the readers about the quality in the Dulwich Hamlet side, all the titles Dulwich Hamlet had won in the 1920s, the clubs’ recent results (Dulwich Hamlet had beaten London Caledonians 5-0, Altona 93 had lost the North German Championship 4-5 against HSV) and the expected line-ups. This one was published in the Altonaer Nachrichten:

The team from Altona 93 was almost at full strength. Only the goalkeeper Erich Wentorf, who also played for the German national team, could not play due to health reasons. The Altona 93 club paper later informed us that Williams wasn't the first choice Dulwich Hamlet goalkeeper either. The Dulwich Hamlet yearbook 1925/26 added: “We were without two of our regular halfbacks and two regular forwards.”

A funny episode happened on the journey from London to Hamburg. One of the Dulwich players went missing for a couple of hours somewhere in Saxony. He had fallen asleep on a platform in the station of Osnabrück and missed his train, eventually turning up later in the evening.

The German journalists had been astonished about the fact that Dulwich Hamlet FC had 300 members and a kind of freeze on admissions. The match itself was watched by 6,000 to 7,000 people. Although there had been a strike in the public transport sector, the trains from Hamburg ran with additional wagons.

The main points of the match:

 (Altona 93 had a goal disallowed for offside: Warnecke)

0-1 Kail

0-2 Kail

(Warnecke missed a penalty given for handball)


0-3 Nicol

(Dulwich Hamlet had a goal disallowed goal for offside)

0-4 Kail

1-4 Jäger

All the journalists were impressed by the combinations and the technical skill the Dulwich Hamlet side showed over 90 minutes. Altona 93 could not keep up with the speed of the game, and a lot of spectators were confused that all the Dulwich players defended in their own half when Altona had the ball. The Dulwich strikers were very quick paced and, supported by some defenders, were soon on the counter attack and back in front of the Altona 93 goal.

The first goal was a strong 20m shot from Edgar Kail, the second and third were results of defensive mistakes and the fourth was a great Kail solo goal.  The only Altona 93 player who could keep up with the Dulwich side was Adolf Jäger, who scored the late consolation goal following some dribbling from his teammate Oswald. In summary it was a well-deserved win for Dulwich Hamlet, despite Altona 93 winning a lot of corner kicks during the match.

Back in London the South London Press reported on the match:

Equally share Aggregate Points with Their Opponents
Dulwich Hamlet, in the course of their tour in Germany, played three matches, winning one, drawing one and losing one. They opened on Good Friday against Hamburg Altona, one of the leading teams of North Germany, and won easily by four goals to one, Kail being in irresistible form. For the second encounter only four first team men were available and, to make matters worse, Bunce twisted an ankle after twenty minutes' play. A draw of one-all therefore was not out of place. In the third game, the tourists were a distinctly tired side, and although the score was 1-1 at half-time, the speed and ball control of the Germans proved too much, and the home team won by three goals to one.

Hopefully there'll be a return match between our first teams someday.
All to nah – Jan

Original article from HH26 Winter 2014
Copyright © Jan Stover

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