Mia San Mia: The Story of Munich’s Second Best Club
Life has not always been so sweet for what was once considered the second-best team in Munich. On the formation of the modern Bundesliga in 1963, Bayern were superseded by their intra-city rivals. That year, the German ‘Oberligas’ were consolidated into one national league, and though Bayern finished third, their neighbours TSV 1860 Munchen had won the Championship. Bayern were left out of the Bundesliga’s debut season.
Their ascension did not take long. The team that achieved promotion two years later contained the likes of Franz Beckenbauer, Gerd Muller and Sepp Maier. Of the following period, which would come to be known as Bayern’s golden years, the crowning achievement was no doubt the 1974 European Cup Final win over Atletico Madrid – the first in a succession of 3 between ’74 and ’76.
Towards the end of the decade the jewels began to fall from the crown: Beckenbauer departed for New York Cosmos in 1979, Sepp Maier and Uli Hoeneß retired, with Gerd Muller leaving for Florida. Strife for Bayern off the field had little impact on it, however: remarkably, amidst financial woes and constant shifts of personnel, they won 7 domestic titles in 11 years. The ‘90s were not so kind. Bayern finished just 5 points clear of relegation in 1992, as well as overseeing the continuation of a European drought that had begun long ago, in 1976. As a result, Karl-Heinz Rumminegge and Uli Hoeness took it on themselves to restructure Bayern’s footballing model. This declaration of intent would begin with fiscal responsibility. The focus would shift to the academy: players would be grown, not bought. Removing the dependence on other club’s development systems meant that young talent would eat, sleep and breathe the Bayern philosophy: mia san mia. We are who we are.
Unlike the focal shift to youth development, mia san mia was nothing new. The club has always harbored this inclusive philosophy – a bloody mindedness, no doubt the product of the Bavarian outlier mentality. Arguably, it was at this point the Bayern we know today was born. Despite mixed successes in Europe – that Manchester United fans will know all about – they have reigned supreme domestically, winning 7 of their 9 all-time doubles in the last 15 years. Bayern’s next big tests come in quick succession: the German cup quarter-finals on the 8th of April will be followed by a trip to Portugal on the 15th to take on Porto. After the volatile power shifts of the last few years, it is now up to Bayern to prove in Europe – once again – that the best football is played in Bavaria.