Match at Lambeau Field won't be FC Bayern Munich's first Wisconsin experience
GLENDALE, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Lambeau Field is being turned into a soccer pitch for a highly anticipated exhibition match taking place on July 23 between two of the top clubs in the world; Germany's FC Bayern Munich from the Bundisliga and England's Premier League champions Manchester City.
While this will be City's first match in Wisconsin, FC Bayern Munich has a bit of history here in the Badger State.
"In this spot right here at the club, the Bavarian club, there's so much history it's incredible," said Bob Spielmann, MLS Next Director for the Bavarian Soccer Club in Glendale. "I've seen the evolution of the club grow, and the players in the club grow and be successful. It's just a joy and an honor."
The Bavarian Soccer club has been a staple in the Wisconsin soccer community at both the youth and amateur level for decades, including several national championship victories. For this story, it's a defeat that is being recalled.
"It was 56 years ago," said Bob Gansler, former coach of the US National Team who also played and coached the Pabst Blue Ribbon Bavarians. "It must have been 2,000 people here. Maybe there was a few more. I know they sold a lot of beer that day."
The day Gansler is referring to is June 22, 1966. The amateur Pabst Blue Ribbon Bavarians hosted the German professional squad FC Bayern in an exhibition match at Bavarian Stadium in Glendale. Nearly six decades later, the player/coach for the Bavarians that day remembers it clearly.
"Just walking out there with this atmosphere and then the national anthem and you're saying, 'Yep, that's big time,'" Gansler said. "We're playing a big time team. Let's see how close we can get."
After going into halftime down 3-0, the second half was all Bayern Munich with the professional side topping the amateur Bavarians 9-0 at full time. Despite the lopsided outcome, Gansler still looks back on the day with fond memories.
"They were the ultimate quality of German players," Gansler said. " "You can't fool yourself, 'Well, if I try hard enough.' You've got to be realistic about it, but nevertheless you're going to try your utmost. It was a pleasurable thing then and it's still a pleasurable thing."
Gansler recalls the skill and precision his opponents brought to the pitch that day. It's something he's excited for soccer fans here in Wisconsin to experience at Lambeau Field as FC Bayern Munich and Manchester City face off.
"I just hope the fans up there, a lot of them will realize it, but you know it's, it's going to be a fantastic game because they're fantastic individuals who pride themselves in playing extremely well all the time," Gansler said. "You never get it perfect, but what they will do will be close to perfection."
As Gansler appreciates the treasured past of a the club that he helped build, his friend and former teammate, Spielmann, is excited for the club's future.
"I hope we develop players that can go on and play in games like this in the future, and I don't think that's far off," Spielmann said. "Hopefully, we can someday see a Bavarian playing over in the Premier League or the Bundisliga or something. I think that would be a feather in our cap."