Best. Team. Ever. – The All-Time GDR-Oberliga Table in Beer Glasses

One of the central focuses of my collection through the years has been my attempt to recreate the “All-Time GDR Oberliga Table” in beer glasses. The “eternal table” is a way European soccer fans gauge a club’s overall success by amalgamating league results over time to create standings which reflect all match results – ever. Thankfully, such a table exists for GDR football and it brings together some 44 teams which competed in East German soccer’s top flight during its existence from 1949 to 1991.

I have tried to acquire a beer glass for each team in the table and my collection now includes 24 of the 44 teams found in the “All-Time” table. While I’ll be adding a couple of new glasses in the near future, I fear that I may have reached the end of my acquisitions, howver, as many of the teams represented in the table were there only briefly or played in the 1950s, factors which worked against the creation of commemorative glassware.

In the coming months (years?), I hope to turn the spotlight on some of the clubs with particularly interesting histories, but for now post my collection for your enjoyment below. (I’ve included additional information on the teams in the captions which can be accessed by clicking on the photo.)

Many thanks to Ralph Newson for taking the photos seen here!

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10 comments
  1. Steve Billinton said:

    I’ve just noticed – all of the depictions of play on these glasses involve a tackle or tight marking, rather than scoring or celebrating a goal. A glorification of the mundane grunt-work of regaining possession that benefits the whole over the inherent individualism of goal-scoring perhaps?

    • Thanks for that insightful reading of the beer glass motifs, Steve. I think there’s more than a bit of truth to that interpretation. While GDR football had its stars, my impression is that they tended not to be the focal point of the reportage or “marketing” of the sport. (For an exception in the beer glasses, see the one for BSG Zwickau and its depiction the team’s keeper, Juergen Croy, as a “first among equals.” To be fair, Zwickau was a fairly poor team and the national team keeper Croy by far its most notable player. His decision to spurn offers from better clubs made him a local hero in Zwickau and earned him a status unrivalled inside GDR soccer).
      Football was definitely depicted as a collective endeavour in most reports in the GDR press and it’s interesting to consider the texts in GDR soccer programs with this in mind. In these, there is frequent mention of “our collective”, “the team”, etc. This is not to suggest that some individual players didn’t get more attention than others, but a common note of praise here is the “good example” these players are setting for their team mates to aspire to.

      • Matt said:

        I have five glasses aquired in East Berlin in the late 80’s, would you be interested in them?

      • Hi, send pics of them along with what you’d want for them to me at and I’ll have a look. Thanks for writing. jpk

    • Matt said:

      Where would you like for me to send pics to?

  2. Steve Billinton said:

    You can’t read GDR Objectified as a much as I have and not develop sensitivity to the pervasiveness of state socialist ideals in all facets of society. I call this new sensitivity ‘GDRdar’.

  3. Matt said:

    Where would you like for me to send pics to?

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