Soccer was still viewed with a certain disdain by the Olympics community when the games took place in Stockholm in 1912.
However, FIFA had stood firm and insisted on the inclusion of the sport for the Olympic games.
The 1912 games would feature eleven teams (almost double the teams from 1908). The Nations participating were all European with England still at the top of the heap.
In fact, in contrast to all the other nations, the England squad (or Great Britain) was its amateur squad and not its main National Team.
Photo From: år med Svensk Fotboll 1904-84, Author Glanell Thomas red
Yet such was the strength and the advance of the game in Britain that this Amateur side was still better than anything the rest of the world could offer.
The English Amateurs were still led by their Captain Vivian Woodward, already an Olympic Champion in the 1908 Edition.
The majority of the rest of the squads were still in their infancy stages with at least a few years of International behind them.
Denmark had many holdovers from the 1908 side that had reached the Final vs. England, players such as Buchwald, Nils Middleboe, Harald Hansen, Wolfhagen and Sophus Nielsen.
Holland were still managed by Englishman Edgar Chadwick, though with only a handful of players from the 1908 edition. At first there was some resistance for their participation. The expenses for nineteen players, six Officials and The Manager Chadwick was deemed too costly. Baron van Tuyl led the efforts to lobby for the team’s participation.
After doing so, the Dutch were met with withdrawals. Thirty-one players had been contacted by letter for their willingness to participate. Players such as Jan Thomée, Nol van Berckel and John Heijning withdrew.
Mannes Francken participated in the preparation but withdrew shortly thereafter. They were so many withdrawals that it was contemplated to forego participation. In all it was to be a weakened Dutch side, but their participation was paramount in their bid for hosting the upcoming Olympics.
Like most Nations those days, traveling was also a problem. The squad got together from Rotterdam and arrived by Train to Hamburg on a Thursday morning. Their game with hosts Sweden scheduled for that Saturday June 29th. There were so many delays on the train stations that Holland’s arrival by match time seemed in jeopardy. Dutch Federation Official Jasper Warner had to intervene with Swedish Railway workers to set things straight.
Russia participated for the first time ever in a Competition. They had only played their first match ever the previous year and were a very inexperienced side. Russia would have to wait 82 more years to participate in another Tournament as Russia (1994 World Cup).
While most squads were lead by Technical commissions, the Russians were managed by a duo consisting of Georgy Alexandrovich Duperron and Roman Fyodorovich Fulda.
Photo From: IFFHS-Russia (1912-1920), Soviet Union (1923-1940), Polska (1921-1940), Lietuva (1923-1940)(One of Russia’s managers: Georgy Alexandrovich Duperron)
Photo From: IFFHS-Russia (1912-1920), Soviet Union (1923-1940), Polska (1921-1940), Lietuva (1923-1940)(Russian Football Delegation arriving at Stockholm)
Since the Tournament was held in Sweden, unsurprisingly their closest neighbors (Norway and Finland) were also invited. They were unknown quantities and not much was expected of either, other than their proximity to Sweden gave them a somewhat home advantage.
This was Italy’s debut in an Official Competition. They had only started International Soccer, two years prior (1910) and not yet the power they would become in two decades time.
Photo From: Calcio 2000, Issue 33, August 2000
(The Italian Football Delegation at Stockholm)
Photo From: La Nazionale Italiana, 1978
(Italian Footballers on way to Sweden)
Of course, for the Italians this Tournament takes a certain significance, since it was the debut of Legendary Manager Vittorio Pozzo on the bench.
For its first two years, Italy had been led by a Technical Commission and managed by Umberto Meazza.
On March 17, 1912, Italy had lost to France (3-4), which led to the dissolving of the Technical Committee in place. In fact by June 1912, two separate Technical Commissions had disbanded.
It was at this point that Italian Federation President Alfonso Ferrero Ventimiglia urged Pozzo to take over.
Photo From: Calcio 2000, Issue 33, August 2000
(a young Vittorio Pozzo as Manager of Italian Olympics squad)
Pozzo, aged only 26, had recently retired from playing at Torino (a club he had helped in its Founding). His playing experience was limited to Torino and a brief stint at Swiss club Grasshoppers Zurich.
His knowledge of English language (and English football) also helped his selection. He had traveled to Manchester as a Pirelli representative.
He took upon the task despite very little time for preparation. The team traveled by Train and then took a boat to cross the Baltic.
The Tournament started on June 29th with the hosts
Photo From: Kicker Sportsmagazin Edition, 100 Jahre Deutsche Landerspiele(Germany, England and Hungary Football squads)
Sweden taking on Holland in the Preliminary Round. Holland included two debutants in their team: David Wijnveldt and Cees ten Cate.
It was a match than many felt the English Referee George Wagstaffe Simmons accommodated the hosts with many questionable decisions. In addition the Dutch had to deal with an injury to Bok de Korver early in the match. He stayed on but was ineffective as a result the Dutch were essentially playing with ten men. The Dutch took a (3-1) lead early in the second half. In the 62nd minute, George Wagstaffe Simmons awarded a dubious penalty to Sweden and they scored to come within one goal. The Swedes tied the match with less than ten minutes to go.
A few minutes later, the Referee awarded another harsh penalty decision in Sweden’s favor. Just Gobel saved the penalty kick from Erik Bergström to keep the Dutch in the match. The Dutch score the winner in the overtime to knock out the hosts, who were now left with playing in the Consolation part of the Tournament. Dutch goalkeeper Just Gobel was allowed to keep the match ball.
On the same day Austria took on Germany. The Germans took the lead in the first half. However, an unfortunate injury in the second half changed the course of the match. German goalkeeper Albert Weber crashed against the post in the 52nd minute and remained on the floor for some time. After getting back to play, he was clearly still shaken and gave up two quick goals in succession.
He collapsed and had to leave the field. The Austrians refused Germany’s request to substitute the goalkeeper, which created ‘football hostility’ between the nations for the years to come. German Outfield player Worpitzky was forced to go in the net and not surprisingly gave up three more goals.
Germany just like the hosts Sweden were relegated to the Consolation Tournament.
For the last Preliminary Match, Pozzo’s Italians played Finland. The match Referee was the Austrian Hugo Meisl, who would go on to become the Manager of Austria’s glorious 'Wunderteam' of the 1930s. This was the first contact of Pozzo and his contemporary colleague Meisl.
Italy were weakened by the absence of Felice Milano II and Carlo Rampini I, who were unavailable due to Military obligations.
Four players: Campelli, De Marchi, Bontadini and Sardi made their International debuts for Italy that day.
Italy had arrived in Sweden the day before the match and as the match wore on, the tiredness set in. The match ended (2-2) in regulation time, and in the overtime Finland scored the winner through Bror Wiberg.
On the following day (June 30th), the Quarterfinals took place. A strong Denmark team defeated Norway (7-0), in a match where the Danish Hjalmar Christoffersen and Anthon Olsen made their International debuts. Anthon Olsen managed to score a hat trick in his debut.
The English Amateurs predictably defeated Hungary (7-0) with Harald Walden scoring six of the goals. This was remarkable as it was his first cap.
Important to not that Thomas C. Burn in the English Amateurs (or Great Britain) squad was actually Scottish.
Finland followed up on their win over Italy on the previous day by defeating Russia (2-1). All the Russians were making their International debuts that day.
In fact this was the second ever match of Russia after their debut in 1911.
An improving Holland squad defeated Austria (3-1) with all the goals coming in the first half. Dutchmen Piet Boutman and Joop Boutmy made their International debuts.
The Scottish Referee David Philipps came under criticism from the Austrians for his decisions. In the third minute he disallowed an Austrian goal by Johann Studnicka. In the eighth minute he validated Dutchman Nico Bouvy’s goal that had seemed like a handball. Holland’s third goal by Jan Vos also appeared suspiciously offside but was validated.
The second half deteriorated to more of a physical battle and David Philipps had to stop play at various time to treat injuries.
Before the scheduled semifinals on July 2nd, the eliminated teams played against one another in a Consolation part of the Tournament.
On July 1st, Germany and Russia played in one of the most lopsided affairs in the history of the game.
The Germans defeated the Russians with an astonishing score of (16-0) with Germany’s Gottfried Fuchs scoring 10 of the goals (5 in each half).
Apparently the night before the match the Russians had invited the Germans and had wined and dined with them with caviar, vodka and music.
Perhaps it was no surprise that they were in no shape to play the next day.
On the same day, the Swedish hosts took on Italy. Italy scored in the 15th minute through Franco Bontadini and held on to win its first ever away victory.
The Swedish hosts demanded a rematch in writing and verbally but Pozzo refused these requests.
The Austrians also narrowly defeated the weaker Norwegians (1-0) to advance in the Consolation Tournament.
On the following day (July 2nd), the Proper Tournament’s Semifinals were held.
The stronger Denmark squad defeated Holland (4-1) deservedly to once again advance to the Final like the previous Tournament.
They achieved the win despite being forced to play the match with one less man in the last half hour after Poul ‘Tist’ Nielsen left the field injured.
The English easily defeated Finland (4-0, with Harold Walden scoring all four) to set up a rematch of the 1908 Final. England’s Harold Stamper made his International debut in this match.
On the following day (July 3rd), the Consolation Portion’s Semifinals were held. Hungary defeated Germany (3-1) through an Imre Schlosser hat trick.
The Italy-Austria was played under Political tensions due to the ongoing border dispute over the Trentino-Alto Adige region (eventually annexed by Italy after World War I).
The trouble did not spill over the field and the Austrians defeated the inexperienced Italians (5-1) to advance to the Consolation Tournament Final.
An Italian newspaper erroneously referred to Italian defender Renzo De Vecchi as a goalkeeper describing how he made magnificent saves (or perhaps the writer was unfamiliar with Football Lexicon).
In any case for Pozzo and the Italians this had been a learning experience to build upon for future events.
Two days later and one day after the actual Gold Medal match, Hungary defeated Austria (3-0) to win the Consolation part of the Tournament.
The Bronze and Gold Medal matches were played on the same day (July 4th). The Dutch closed off a satisfactory Tournament by defeating Finland (9-0) with Jan Vos claiming five of the goals. Jan van der Sluis scorer of two of the goals was making his International debut for the Dutch.
Onto the Final and predictably (before even the start of the Tournament), the English Amateurs defeated Denmark (4-2) to win the Gold Medal.
Fdenmark were missing regular Poul ‘Tist’ Nielsen who had been injured in the match vs. the Dutch. Axel Thufason replaced him in the squad.
Harold Walden, Gordon Hoare (twice) and Arthur Berry scored England’s goals within the first half.
Photo From: Illustr. Osterr. Sportblatt
(July 4, 1912, Olympics, England (Amateurs) 4-Denmark 2)
Photo From: IFFHS, England (1872-1940), Eire (1924-1940), EnglandAmateurs (1906-1940) (3)
(England’s Arthur Knight)
It did not help that Denmark’s Charles Buchwald was forced to leave the field in the 30th minute due to a shoulder injury.
Denmark’s Olsen scored a consolation goal near the end but the result was never in doubt, though Denmark were a strong team compared to the rest of the competition.
After picking up the winner’s medals England’s Vivian Woodward thanked the King of Sweden in a speech and stressed how the organization and standard of the games had advanced from the previous Tournaments.
Denmark’s Nils Middelboe and Holland’s Bok de Korver picked up their respective Nations’ medals.
The Football World could look ahead to an even more advanced and professional (sic) future Olympics.
Photo From: Oranje Toen En Nu, Deel 1, 1905-1914, 2000-2001, Author Matty Verkamman
(Dinner with Football Delegations)
Unfortunately, the Great War was on the Horizon and in two years time Europe was engulfed in a World War and the 1916 series were naturally cancelled.
Many players who participated in the 1912 Olympics became casualties of this conflict.
Austria’s Robert Merz was killed shortly after the War started on August 30th, 1914.
His teammate Karl Braunsteiner died as a Prisoner of War on April 16th, 1916.
Germany’s Hermann Bosch was killed on July 16th, 1916.
Russia’s Andrey Akimov and Nikolay Kynin were killed in 1916, while Grigory Nikitin was killed in the following year 1917.
England’s James Dines was killed on September 27th, 1918.
Unfortunately, the next Great War would also claim victims from these 1912 series.
Adolf Jager was killed under Allied bombings on November 21st, 1944, while teammate Julius Hirch was killed in 1945 in the Auschwitz Concentration Camp.
Hungary’s Antal Vago was also killed in a German Concentration Camp in 1944.
The now Soviet players Sergey Filippov, Alexey Uversky, Mikhail Yakovlev were all Civilian casualties of the Siege of Leningrad in 1942.
It would be another eight years before the next Olympics took place in Antwerp, Belgium in 1920.
Photo From: Kicker Sportsmagazin Edition, 100 Jahre Deutsche Landerspiele (Germany’s Adolf Jager)
Photo From: IFFHS-Russia (1912-1920), Soviet Union (1923-1940), Polska (1921-1940), Lietuva (1923-1940) (1)(Russia’ Alexey Uversky)
IFFHS, England (1872-1940), Eire (1924-1940), England/Amateurs (1906-1940)
Oranje Toen En Nu, Deel 1, 1905-1914, 2000-2001, Author: Matty Verkamman
IFFHS, Danmark (1908-1940), Sverige (1908-10940)
IFFHS-Russia (1912-1920), Soviet Union (1923-1940), Polska (1921-1940), Lietuva (1923-1940)
L’Equipe, L’Equipe de France de Football, la Belle Histoire
år med Svensk Fotboll 1904-84, Author Glanell Thomas red
La Nazionale Italiana, 1978
Calcio 2000, Issue 33, August 2000
Kicker Sportsmagazin Edition, 100 Jahre Deutsche Landerspiele
Het Nederlands Elftal, De Histoire van Oranje, 1905-1989
Azzurri, Storia della Nazionale di calcio tre volte campioni del Mondo, 1910-1983
IFFHS-Norge (1908-1940), Suomi (1911-1940)-Essti (1920-1940)