GERMAN CANADIAN FC HISTORY:

The Beginning (1934)

In 1934, one year after the founding of the German Canadian Club, a group of young sport minded club members decided to form a soccer team. Two of these men, who were also founding members of the German Canadian Club, were Rudi Haehnel and Otto Meyer. During the first year of operation, a series of exhibition games were played against German Canadian teams from the Windsor, Kitchener and Toronto areas. In 1935 the German Canadian FC entered a team in the recently formed London and District Soccer Association. This league consisted of six teams, CNR, London Hosiery, London Winery, Young Liberals, St. Thomas and the German Canadians. Home games were played both at C.N.R.A. Park on Egerton Street and Chelsea Green Park on Adelaide Street. In those early years the German Canadians struggled and did not win a single league game in the first two years of competition. The German Canadian FC struggled through many years of turmoil and worked hard to maintain their identity but for years was unable to field a contender. Very slowly in the late 1940’s, with the influx of many new German immigrants the Germans Canadian FC began rebuilding their soccer program.

In 1952 the German Canadian Club purchased the site at 1 Cove Road on which the club house now stands. That same year, Cove Road Field was built and the GCFC organizers started recruiting talented players to field a strong team in the local League. The hard work by these dedicated coaches and players was promising and the GCFC became more competitive. After the 1956 season due to internal strife most of the German Canadian FC players defected to the newly formed St. Thomas German Canadian Club. With this mass exodus there remained only four veterans to rebuild the soccer team, Carl Zwick, Bert Vernaleken, Jack Bratscher and Hermann Belle. During the winter of 1956-57 Gerhard Czuprina joined the organization and became President (1958-60), secretary and also coached the ‘’A’’ team. Paul Tratnik was the treasurer. These two men, with the help of those previously mentioned began recruiting many young talented players, enabling the GCFC in later years to become champions and cup winners many times over.

The 1960’s (Success Years)

In the beginning of the 1960’s the greatest obstacle for the GCFC was the ability to retain a permanent goalkeeper. In the interim goalies such as Kurt Teutscher and Edgar Gripp stood between “the pipes”. The best standing the GCFC could achieve was a 4th place finish. In 1961 all the hard work came to fruition. Kurt Teutscher became coach and Manager; Julius Kaponya became trainer using professional training techniques to develop the GCFC teams into formidable contenders. In addition the GCFC recruited a young 18 year old goalie from Clarke Rd. High School, Art Kussner. With the inclusion of additional young talented players, Jack Toxepeus, Gunter Klaus, Wolfgang Schroeter, “Seppi” Daiscak, Dario Cucinelli, Henk Koenraads and Michael Lutsch the GCFC began to reap the benefits. The First Division team won the League Championship in 1961, 62 and 63! They also won the International Cup three times between 1960 -1965. In 1962 the team also won the coveted City (League) Cup!

In 1963 the German Canadian FC formed a second team which captured the Second Division Championship in only its second year of operation. In 1965 the first team won the City Cup again! The following year, 1966 the second team had its finest season, capturing all the Second Division honours: Division 2 Championship, the Sinosic Cup and the Schaeffer Cup. In addition the GCFC won the International Cup 3 times between 1961 and 1966. In 1968 the GCFC started a youth program. A Bantam and Pee-Wee team were entered into the London and District Minor Soccer Association.

As the success of the GCFC grew another opportunity arose. Around 1966 numerous top flight West German Amateur teams began touring Canada and the United State looking for opponents to play during their sports vacations. The GCFC had numerous opportunities to host these games and played against such West German teams as TV Heilbronn, SV Plattling (2x), ESV Ingolstadt-Ringsee, Fvgg Weingarten, SV 1911 Traisa, FC Hertha 03 Berlin, Polizei SV Bremen and Düsseldorf SV. These games resulted in London, Ontario being considered a major stopping point for other touring teams through the coming years.

1969 was a monumental year. The GCFC was a thriving organization and the aspirations of the FC were coming to realization. At this time, Horst Ammonn (President GCFC), Max Gauss (Vice-President GCFC) and Herbert Dinkel (President GCC) were the driving force behind the German Canadian Club being awarded a franchise in the semi-professional National Soccer League. Most of the players on the NSL team were recruited from the successful GCFC amateur teams and this action severely depleted the amateur ranks. The NSL team had enormous growing pains and competition at this level took its toll on all NSL players and any players that were used from the amateur ranks.

The 1970’s

1970 brought growth again to the GCFC. The youth program was vibrant and warranted additional teams to be entered in the local League. Mosquito and Junior B teams were entered. The NSL team was getting stronger and aggressive recruitment resulted in the NSL team fielding a strong competitor in the 1971 and 1972 NSL campaigns.

In 1971 an Atom aged team was entered in the Minor League resulting in the GCFC having the largest youth program in the City of London. Depletion of the ranks of our London & District men’s league ‘A’ team eventually resulted in the team being relegated to the Second Division, for the first time in its history. Ironically, that same year, the ‘A’ team finally captured the Cresswell Cup which had eluded them throughout the sixties.

With a very successful Second Division team and the depletion of the ‘A’ team, the GCFC decided to disband the ‘A’ team. In its place an Under-23 team was formed and entered into the Ontario Intermediate Soccer League in 1972. That year proved to be very successful for our Soccer Club. The ‘B’ Team won the Second Division Championship and was promoted into the First Division. The U-23 team captured all the honours in their league; the pre-season League tournament, the League Championship and the League Cup! With the success of the U23 the GCFC was looking to the future at being able to provide quality players to the NSL team and to replenish the existing amateur teams program. These dreams were shattered when the Ontario Intermediate Soccer League ceased operations. 1972 produced the strongest NSL team and many exciting games were watched at Cove Rd field with crowds ranging from 500-1500 spectators. As 1972 came to a close the GCFC debt load could not be reduced. Not being able to find financial backing to continue the NSL program resulted in the GCFC relinquishing the franchise to the present London City SC.

With the dissolution of the Ontario Intermediate SL, the transfer of the NSL franchise and the promotion of the ‘B’ team back to Division 1 a new ‘A’ team was formed with the amalgamation of various players from the NSL, Under-23 and Second Division teams. The remainder of the players formed a new ‘B’ team and entered into the Third Division.

The balance of the seventies offered nothing but frustration for the ‘A’ team. While fielding a formidable contender, they were left empty handed at the annual awards night. Our ‘B’ team fared better capturing the Third Division Championship in 1974, with Bill Clark being Sportsman of the Year recipient. The ‘B’ team was also Division Champions in 1977. 1979 was a memorable year. After many years of being a strong contender in the Ontario Cup the ‘A’ team, after defeating the 1978 Ontario Cup Champion, Ottawa, was able to advance to the Ontario Cup semi-final only to experience a heart breaking loss in overtime. The ‘B’ team finished 2nd in Division 2 with brothers Gunter Klaus being the Golden Boot recipient and Jurgen Klaus receiving the Sportsman of the Year Award.

The 1980’s

The new decade showed much promise for the senior program. The youth program would eventually die out. Many of the older players transferred to the GCFC men’s program and many of the younger players left the organization after the London & District Minor Soccer League established city boundaries. The effort to recruit new players within the set boundaries was futile and the youth program ceased to operate.

The GCFC was hoping to build on their 1979 Ontario Cup journey. The influx of young and new talented players, would allow the GCFC the ability to remain in the First Division, build strong supporting teams and strive to maintain a high caliber of soccer. The ‘A’ and ‘B’ teams were able to be strong contenders in their respective Divisions in the London and District Soccer League. 1980 was a highlight year. In May the GCFC and Selects played an exhibition match against Forfar Athletic a team that played in a top flight division in Scotland. Following this the GCFC, for the first time in it’s history was able tour Germany and play a number of exhibiton games against West German teams that had once played at Cove Road field. Teams such as SV Traisa 1911, SV Weingarten, Marburg, Düsseldorf SV, FC Cologne and to end the tour, Polizei SV Bremen. This adventure will forever be in the hearts and minds of those that went. To cap off 1980 the GCFC took one more trip, to sunny California. The intent was to play a number of exhibition matches against local German-American Clubs but alas this did not com to fruition, but a wonderful vacation was had by all.

Over the winter of 1980-81 the GCFC had serious issues with their parent, the German Canadian Club. Failing to come to any resolution almost the entire GCFC organization ceased their affiliation to the German Canadian Club and left with all the players that helped build the FC over the past decade. The only players that remained were Juergen Belle and Bruce Kennedy. Juergen Belle inherited the FC Presidents position, which he holds to this present day and had the unenviable task of rebuilding the FC from the ground up. With the financial help of the German Canadian Club and an aggressive recruitment campaign by all members within the German Canadian Club the GCFC were able to field only one team for the 1981 campaign. The next few years were nothing but struggle and frustration with the GCFC not even being able to produce a formidable contender. The ‘A’ team wallowed at the bottom of their division and was eventually relegated to Division 2 after the 1983 season.

That all changed in 1984 when Max Gauss, who still had strong ties to the GCFC, negotiated and recruited a very promising talented group of 17-18 year olds to play under the GCFC banner. This team was entered into the local LDYSL in the U19 Division consisting of only 4 teams, German Canadians, London Portuguese, Wallaceburg, Delaware and Sarnia. In 1985 this team moved up to the U21 Division and consisted primarily of Laurier and Westminster High School players. Through these mid-80’s these young players played enthusiastically in there division and made an immense contribution by helping the senior teams at the GCFC to achieve considerable accolades from 1985 to 1989. Some of these players, Dave Hook, Paul Hook, George Rawski and Russ Donlan, can be seen to this day toiling as GCFC “Masters” in the local 35 + League.

The 1985 season ended with the ‘A’ team promoted back to Division 1, having the 2nd least goals against, Division 2 Play-off Champions, Division 2 Cup Winners, Nick Grayson receiving the Golden Boot (18 goals), Shawn Rotteau (Golden Boot runner-up) and Ralph Belle named June “player of the month”. In 1986 the GCFC entered a ‘B’ team into Division 2 and the rewards were finally evident after the earlier years of struggle. The newly formed ‘B’ team in only their first year was Division 2 Champions and Play-off Champions and Dave Grassie was the June ‘Player of the month’. The ‘A’ team with a respectable 4th place finish in League play was Play-off Champions. 1987 had a down turn with the GCFC not able to field a ‘B’ team, but the ‘A’ team finished 4th in Division 1 of the London & District Soccer League.

In the mid-80’s to ad diversity to the GCFC Juergen Belle established a 35+ ‘Masters’ program and this program began to thrive with many of the veterans from the GCFC teams finding the time to play in the Western Ontario Indoor Soccer League. This talented team was able to experience some very successful years becoming Play-off Champions in 1986. In addition the ‘Masters’ were 1987 35+ Champions, Play-off finalists, Cup Finalists and Tournament winners. In 1989 Juergen Belle founded the Middlesex Masters Soccer League and the entered a team in this seven team League.

1988 was a memorable year. This was the year that the GCFC became one of the founding members of the new Western Ontario Soccer League. This new League comprised of an amalgamation of teams from the London & District and Inter-County Soccer Leagues resulting in a record number of teams participating in an ‘open’ men’s league. The GCFC continued to gain strength recruiting ever more talented players, incorporating intense practice sessions which resulted in a 3rd place finish. This intense program produced a team that for the entire 1989 season fought for top honours with Delhi and Sarnia Bluewater. The Division 1 Championship came down to the last few minutes of the 2nd half of last game of the season against Delhi, in Delhi, when Dave Hook scored the tie goal allowing the German Canadians to capture the Division 1 Championship! An absolutely amazing finish to a turbulent decade!!

The 1990’s

This decade started with much promise. The German Canadians ‘A’ team was in the Premier Division for the first time. The task at hand was to compete at a level that would allow the GCFC to stay in the Premier Division all the while recruiting players that would maintain this level. This was very difficult to do. There was no depth in the GCFC with supporting teams in the lower divisions and a non-existent youth program. This resulted in a very difficult 1990 season with the German Canadians finishing just out of the relegation zone. Without this strong development program in place the German Canadians were eventually relegated back to Division 1 in 1991. This did not sit well with many of the ‘A’ team players and added to this, a perception that the parent, German Canadian Club, was non supportive resulted in a mass exodus from the GCFC. This decimation caused the ‘A’ team to struggle immensely and they were finally relegated to Division 2 in 1994. The struggle continued from 1995 to 1997. With a re-alignment of the Western Ontario Soccer League, and poor performance, the German Canadians were relegated once more, to Division 3, for the 1998 season. 1998 was another successful year with the German Canadians finishing 2nd in their division, winning the Division 3 West play-off final and Asif Isic, the oldest player on the team at 40+, capturing the Golden Boot Award. The league again restructured and this enabled the German Canadian to win a spot in Division 2 for the 1999 season. The German Canadians ended the decade with a respectable 4th place finish and a very positive outlook for the upcoming new Millennium.

The GCFC “Masters” program throughout the decade thrived and competed well in the Middlesex Masters Soccer League. The highlight of the decade for the “old boys” was winning the League Championship in 1990.

The 2000's

From 2000 – 2004 the German Canadians competed well in Division 2 of the Western Ontario Soccer League, but did not benefit at the year end awards presentations. In the latter part of this period internal team strife created an atmosphere that resulted in many players not enjoying their period with the team. Eventually a number of the veterans who were the foundation of the team decided to leave. 2004 was the last time that a German Canadian ‘A’ team competed in the open men’s League. After six months of aggressive campaigning, recruitment drive and searching for players with the talent to compete at this level the GCFC had to terminate the competitive program.

The “Masters” program continued to thrive and grow. In 2001 a German Canadians ‘B’ team was entered in the MMSL followed by a ‘C’ team in 2006 and a ‘D’ in 2008.

In 2003, an atmosphere of revitalization and growth had happened. There was the return of youth teams to the club at the competitive level, the introduction and expansion of a women’s program, and significant growth in the men’s masters program. Soccer became alive and thriving at the German Canadian Football Club.

The youth program consisted of three teams; two 1999 boy’s teams and a 1997 boy’s team. A mini field was been built to allow all our teams to play home games at the German Canadian Club and created a sense of belonging within the organization. There was a solid group of dedicated coaches and volunteers who looked to build the future of the club through our youth.

The women’s program has enjoyed much success in its rapid growth. The inaugural team in 2006 won the league and the cup and was promoted to the first division. The team continued it's success by finishing second in the first division earning a spot in the premier division of the league. The club boasted a women’s premier team and two second division teams and a master’s team who all accomplished good results.

The men’s program had grown to four teams in the Middlesex Masters Soccer League which is unparalleled by any other club in the region. The success and enjoyment of playing for the German Canadian FC continues to attract new players to our organization.

The 2010's

We are proud to be a part of the 75 year history of the club and see many good things on the road ahead! The club has a very exciting future- with representation in LDYSL, LAWSL, Men's Masters, and now returning to WOSL.

We invite (or re-invite) you and your name to be part of the club's living history from 2010-2020- and over 75 years of competitive soccer in London Ontario. We are looking to expand in all of our youth, women's, men's and masters programs and look forward to building a successful club over the next decade. Contact us to see how you can be part of the club.

[Click here to read our 75th anniversary yearbook (PDF) ...]