• Club | 10/11/2017

    50th obit of Franz Kremer

    The Architect of 1. FC Köln

  • Club | 10/11/2017

    50th obit of Franz Kremer

    The Architect of 1. FC Köln

  • Club | 10/11/2017

    50th obit of Franz Kremer

    The Architect of 1. FC Köln

He was the founding President of 1. FC Köln. Visionary, maverick, football enthusiast, and trailblazer for the German Bundesliga. Franz Kremer was a central figure in the history of 1. FC Köln and German football. The 11th of November will mark exactly 50 years since his death.

Franz Kremer is as “Kölsch” as it gets. Born and raised in the Klettenberg area of Cologne, the man that would go on to become a legend of 1. FC Köln first picked up a football playing for Kölner TV 1843. He immediately became a leading figure for the club, which he then carried on to Kölner BC (KBC) just one year later. Here he would go from club member to Chairman of the Board, before finalizing a merger with SpVgg Sülz 07 to create 1. FC Köln on the 13th of February, 1948. The founding members immediately appointed Kremer as the first president of the newly formed club.

Kremer had his sights set high and immediately turned towards the professionalization of the club and German football as a whole. In September of 1953, Kremer erected the clubhouse of 1. FC Köln, Geissbockheim, which is still being used today. Then in late July of 1962, Kremer was one of the creating members of the Bundesliga, which was scheduled to begin with the 1963/64 season. As a result, he was given the nickname “Father of the Bundesliga.”

The Boss

A man of many nicknames, by most he was simply known as “The Boss”, although he jokingly liked to describe himself as a “democratic dictator.” Since the founding of the club, all contracts were done, more or less, by Kremer alone. Part of the reason was to prohibit from contract details to become public knowledge, but all players, coaches, and other club employees had to go through Kremer, who then referred to the Board. Kremer once explained: “No, I am not a dictator, even if it is true that I make a lot of decisions on my own. But the fact of the matter is, I know every contract, read every letter, and make countless phone calls. I am the most informed. Despite that, I would say we are still democratic. I always consult with our Board.”

The hard work of Kremer resulted with a German championship in 1962, followed by the championship of the inaugural Bundesliga season in 1964. With this success, Kremer came through on his question he posed years earlier: “Do you want to become German champion with me?”

Unexpected death

The shock was high when the bad news came in: Franz Kremer passed away on 11 November 1967 following complications with his heart. Only 22 days had passed since the 1. FC Köln club members had voted for Kremer as president of the club for a further two years. He had been listening to his team play against Eintracht Frankfurt. The team was only informed by the press officer after having returned from their away match in Frankfurt. Not only Cologne, but all of Germany would mourn the death of one of football’s most important figures. Franz Kremer’s reign as president of 1. FC Köln would last just 19 years, but his memory with the club lives forever.

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