Bundesliga 30th Anniversary: Correcting History

Records make legends out of sportspeople. Marta and Miroslav Klose have shot the most World Cup goals. They have reached the status of a legend by that, just like Formiga, Homare Sawa (seven World Cups), Antonio Carbajal, Lothar Matthäus and Rafael Márquez (five World Cups), who appeared in more World Cups than anyone else. In German club football Charly Körbel, who has more Bundesliga matches under his belt than anyone else, and Gerd Müller, who scored the most goals, are unforgotten heroes of their club and the league as a whole.
 
There is another category of football players who write history, though: Pioneers. We know that Ma Li, a Chinese defender, scored the first goal in a women’s World Cup and Zhong Honglian, a Chinese goalkeeper, was the first woman to keep a clean sheet in such a tournament. Both records were set in 1991, when the first women’s World Cup was played and attracted the global media to report. A few years earlier, Borussia Dortmund’s Friedhelm “Timo” Konietzka scored the first men’s Bundesliga goal in history and is interviewed about and celebrated for this record still today. All these debuts happened in new events of an already incredibly popular sport and were thus neatly documented from the start.
 
That was very different with Lucien Laurent’s debut, the Frenchman who scored the first FIFA World Cup goal on the 13th of July 1930. The World Cup at the time was a minor event and FIFA a tiny organisation. Subsequently, Laurent said in an interview decades later:
 
“Obviously, I had no idea how historic that goal was at the time. We did not even know if the concept of a World Cup would actually be a success. I remember that only very brief mentions made it to the last pages of newspapers reported about the event at all when I returned to France. Football was in its infancy.”
 
Although that particular goal got little attention at the time, Laurent was later celebrated by the French FA and was granted honours like watching the 1998 World Cup final in Paris as the only survivor of the 1930 squad in the grandstand next to the French president and football heroes of all ages.
 
When in 1990/1991 the German FA finally gave in to the demand and public pressure and set up the women’s Bundesliga (separated into two divisions at the time) it was again time for historical firsts. TSV Siegen became the first winner of the league after beating FSV Frankfurt in the final on the 16th June 1991, while Heidi Mohr of TuS Niederkirchen became the first Bundesliga top-scorer, netting 36 times. Players and staff from this era report that there was massive public and media interest in the new top division, especially in the early days, and hundreds came to the stadiums – not very different to the crowds today.
 
One question, however, has been hard to answer until now: Who has scored the first goal of the women’s Bundesliga? Who should be printed next to Timo Konietzka in the history books of German football? Although this goal was scored only 30 years ago, the answer is incredibly hard to find.
 
Wikipedia and the DFB
Should you believe Wikipedia, SV Wilhelmshaven’s Iris Taaken was the first goalscorer. The source Wikipedia cites as proof is the “BundesligaMagazin 2000/2001”, which was the first issue of a long gone women’s football magazine. On request, the German FA (DFB) reports that they do not have an archive on women’s club football and their only source is the same that Wikipedia uses. Unlike Wikipedia, they provided a picture of the relevant part of said magazine, which reads:

“Records from ten years of Bundesliga: The first Bundesliga goal: That was scored by Iris Taaken of SV Wilhelmshaven in the 1990/91 season.”

It remains uncertain where that information came from or who authored that brief info box.

Further research about Iris Taaken results in finding numerous sources that point in the same direction. The two local newspapers of Nordwest-Zeitung and Ostfriesenzeitung, the Elfen-Magazin, the book “women’s football A-Z” of author Ronny Galczynski and even DFB wrote about Iris Taaken as the first ever Bundesliga scorer. Interestingly, almost all these sources also report that Ms. Taaken only learnt about the significance of her goal years or even a decade later. Sadly, there is also no video footage of the goal that was scored just 55 seconds into the match against 1.FC Neukölln. As the Nordwest-Zeitung report that the match kicked off at 2 pm CET, however, we do learn that apparently football history was written at 2:00:55 pm CET on the 2nd September 1990.

 
hen the well-known German football podcast “FRÜF” reported about a book presentation event of Franziska Blendin on the 3rd of February 2020, an unexpected reply came in on Twitter. Someone named Freddy asked “Does the book [about FSV Frankfurt] provide any insight, if their first Bundesliga match was kicked off at 11 am?!!”. She made the request to claim “dubious honors”, as she said. Freddy is Friederike Wenner, who was the goalkeeper of TuS Binzen in that first Bundesliga season at the age of only 15 – according to some sources making her still the youngest Bundesliga player of all time. On the first matchday in the new league, her club lost 0:5 to later runner-up FSV Frankfurt. She remembers that the match must have been at 11 am CET, which would mean that all 5 goals from Frankfurt would have been scored before Iris Taaken’s – making Freddy the first goalkeeper to concede a goal in Bundesliga history.
 
As the DFB regulations for the women’s Bundesliga indeed specify that matches are kicked off Sundays at 11 am and 2 pm, first doubts about Iris Taaken’s records evolved.
 
The Associations
A logical first call to get additional data to prove this misconception was the DFB, who were fully responsible for the women’s Bundesliga and directly manage it still today. An intern did indeed reply to the requests for information, scanned the archive and could only find result tables, but no further details of the first few Bundesliga years. No dates of matches, let alone times.
 
Following request to Rainer Koch, DFB Vice-President and one of the most powerful men in German football, did receive his attention and interest and, although he was not able to help directly, he provided a contact to the regional FA of the state of Hesse, where FSV Frankfurt is based. After a month of research, the Hesse FA came back to inform us:
 
“Good Day, based on our research, Iris Taaken of SV Wilhelmshaven scored the first goal in Bundesliga history (after 55 seconds)”
 
After further elaboration why that is is very unlikely, the Hesse FA admitted that they are “out of their depth”. Initial worries that the German FA does not systematically archive the women’s game thus manifested itself.
 
The German national football museum in Dortmund, managed by DFB, highlights the gender equality in keeping history perfectly well – women’s club football is not really part of the exhibition, except for three trophy replicas, while one of the three floors is entirely dedicated to men’s club football.
 
First evidence
While researching the history of German women’s football, more and more evidence that could help finding the first goalscorer was collected. The Hesse State TV channel “hr”, for instance, invited Monika Koch-Emsermann, the coach of FSV Frankfurt at the time, to their show “Sportkalender” on the evening of the first matchday. During the talk, a short clip shows some scenes from FSV’s match against TuS Binzen, including the first goal of the day. All goalscorers of said game are mentioned, but more on that later. Can we actually see the first Bundesliga goal in motion picture here?
 
The mother of the player who scored the first goal in the aforementioned match provided an article of a newspaper from the day following the first Bundesliga matches. It is about the first goalscorer of the new Bundesliga – and it is not Iris Taaken, but a striker from FSV Frankfurt.
 
Digging deeper
At this stage, the authors of this article decided to eradicate all doubts and finally prove who deserves her picture in the history books of German football. The only way to do that is finding the kickoff times and the minutes the first goals were scored in all matches of the first matchday. Not an easy task, given the DFB basically said it did not keep any such information and regional FAs were not responsible for that nationwide league. Requests for archive access, information or contacts to players were sent out to all concerned regional FAs, to all clubs or the successor clubs (many went insolvent or were swallowed) and around 20 newspapers around Germany.
 
Amazingly, the regional FAs loved the fact that someone has looked into the history of a club in their region and so did many of the clubs. Within just weeks, regional FAs, clubs and newspapers started to send us evidence from archives, microfilm or scrapbooks they found in the attic. Several players from that matchday got in touch, as regional FAs asked them for advice. That plentiful information just allows a full recapitulation of the first Bundesliga matchday:
 
Matchday One
02.09.1990, 11 am:
The first Bundesliga matchday kicks off with three matches, all in the Southern Division: FSV Frankurt vs TuS Binzen; SC 07 Bad Neuenahr vs. VfL Ulm/Neu-Ulm and TuS Niederkirchen vs. SC Praunheim. Katja Bornschein of FSV Frankfurt opens the scoring at 11:05 am with her first goal of the day against TuS Binzen. König (15.), Unsleber (48., penalty) and Bornschein two more times (66., 80.) make it 5:0 in front of 250 spectators to take the lead in the Southern Division this day.
 
Title Photo: FSV Frankfurt | Above: FSV Frankfurt (Katja Bornschein is far left on the middle row)
Just minutes after Bornschein’s first goal, Schäfer gives SC 07 Bad Neuenahr the lead against Ulm/Neu-Ulm in front of 235 spectators. Frank (39.) and Braun (67.) turn the match around later to give Ulm their maiden victory.
 
Finally, Ingrid Zimmermann scored the only goal in SG Praunheim’s away win at TuS Niederkirchen in the 62nd minute in front of 400 spectators.
 
02.09.1990, 2 pm:
In the early afternoon, the Northern Division kicks off with two matches as well, while the Southern Division completes their matchday with two more matches. In the South, VfL Sindelfingen draw with SC Klinge Seckach in front of 200 spectators, after twice leading hosts (1:0 Grimm, 18.; 2:1 Vidmar, 36.) before equalisers from Fütterer (1:1; 31.) and Weber (2:2; 65.).
 
The big name FC Bayern Munich likewise only secure one point one point in Bavaria after a 1:1 draw against VfR Saarbrücken. Margret Kratz even gave Saarbrücken the lead in the 16th minute in front of 400 home spectators, only for Uebelhör to equalize a minute later for Bayern.
 
In the Northern Division, SC Poppenbüttel and Schmalfelder SC finish their match with the only goalless draw in front of 350 spectators, while Iris Taaken opened the scoreline of SV Wilhelmshaven against 1.FC Neukölln after just 55 seconds – the goal that was mistaken as the first Bundesliga goal. The match ended 6:1.
 
02.09.1990, 2:30 pm:

Interestingly, two matches in the Northern Division only kicked off at 2:30 pm and thus wrapped up the day. TSV Fortuna Sachsenroß Hannover and SSG 09 Bergisch Gladbach drew 2:2 in front of a 600 spectator crowd in Hannover. Menge (0:1, 18.), Degwitz-Steinmetz (0:2, 70.) gave the guests from Bergisch Gladbach a clear lead and seemingly wrapped up the match with only ten minutes to go (women’s matches only had 80 minutes back then), but Walter (72.) and Liermann (76.) managed to at least secure one point for the hosts.

Elsewhere later champions TSV Siegen opened the season in style against VfB Rheine in front of a record 800 spectators. Goals by Mink (20., 29.), Knieper (39.), Raith (43.), Voss (47.) and Neid (69.) meant the host comfortably won 6:0.

Thanks to all the hard work the record books, well… Wikipedia at least, has been re-written to credit Katja Bornschein.