Posted: 4/17/2019


     It was the 7th May, 1956 the last day of the season. I was at my school sports day and left early on my bicycle to pedal home to watch the FA CUP FINAL between Birmingham City and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium in front of 100,000 fans.

     Both played in blue so had to change uniforms. Birmingham in white jerseys and black shorts while Man City chose an attractive maroon and white stripes and white shorts. Both had star goalkeepers. Gil Merrick played for England while Bert Trautmann had a most fascinating history, and became a legend that sunny afternoon. Man City had been defeated at Wembley 12 months earlier by Newcastle United. Man City were winning 3-1 with 17 minutes to go when Trautmann's head caught the knee of Peter Murphy.  His team had Don Revie, who played a deep role The Revie Plan for club and country and was later manager of Leeds United.

       He went down unconscious for several minutes. In those days there were no substitutes allowed. He got up after treatment and continued, making two more saves, and collapsed again. He was helped off the pitch by his team mates and up the steps to the Royal Box where The Duke of Edinburgh presented him with his winners medal. Four days later at Manchester Royal Infirmary X Rays showed three cracked vertebrae and a broken neck. He was in a body caste for 8 months.

      Bernd Trautmann was born in Bremen in North Germany and joined The Hitler Youth ago 11. At 17 years old he joined the German army as a paratrooper and fought on the Eastern front in the Soviet Union and won 5 medals, including The Iron Cross. He was later transferred to France and was captured by US forces and spend 4 years as a POW near Manchester. There were over 40,000 POWs in England and they were first given one of three statuses, and Bernd was deemed to be the most dangerous.

      The owner of a grocery store that did businees with the camp, Jack Friar, saw hm practice and signed him on for the club that he managed, St Helens Town and he saved them from relegation with his brilliance. He married Jack's daughter Margaret and was spotted by Man City manager  Jock Tho<<mpson after England legend Frank Swift retired (died in the Munich Air disaster as a journalist), and signed in 1949 until 1964.  I still remembeer watching hm play at Maine Road.

        He played many years for City and has the fourth most matches in the club's history(508). His signing was met with lots of hostility. Manchester had a large Jewish population and the City was bombed by the Luftwaffe. 25,000 showed up outside Maine Road stadium to protest

       Eventually the local newspaper published a letter from a local rabbi, Alexander Altmann to give him a chance.. His first trip to London he looked at the war damage then played at Craven Cottage against Fulham FC. At the end both teams formed a line to clap him off the pitch.

      Shortly after the FA Cup Final his 6 year old son John dashed into the road after his football and was hit by a car and killed. Bert and Margaret had two more sons, Stephen and Mark within the next 5 years  but Margaret and Bert got divorced after 22 years.

       David Krosse plays Trautmann and John Henshaw is brilliant as Jack Friar.

    What is not shown is that before his first marriage he had an affair with a local girl Marion,  and a daughter Freda is born but he won't get married. It was maybe half a centuray later that they finally meet up in Spain. He later became a coach all over and met his next wife who was German in Burma, Ursulla. This marriage did not last and he finally settled down near Valencia Spain with his third wife Marlin for the last 17 years of his life.. He died there of a heart attack age 89 in 2013.

     He was named Footballer of the Year and was given the OBE medal by Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palce for his charity that helped Anglo-German relations.

     The movie opened recently in England. I saw it yesterday afternoon at The Cottage Rooad cinema in Headingley Leeds, an iconic century old continuous location since 1905.

     GO SEE IT !