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Charles Griffiths: Bayern Munich’s first full-time manager

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Charles Griffiths made history as the first full-time manager of FC Bayern Munich. This is the story of the Englishman’s managerial journey in Bavaria.

Born in Rugby, England, Charles Griffiths made history when he became the first full-time manager of FC Bayern Munich. Paving the way for those whom molded Die Roten into the powerhouse we know today, Griffiths was a pioneer in his role at the club.

Establishing his love for football during the early 1900s at clubs such as Luton Town, Barrow, Preston North End, and Lincoln City, Griffiths enjoyed his greatest success as a player in 1907, when the forward made his first and only football league appearance for Lincoln City against Leicester. Concluding his career at Wrexham, Griffiths embarked on a managerial journey that would take him to Germany and Bayern Munich.

Griffiths commenced his managerial career in 1911 when he joined Karlsruher FV as the third English manager employed in the club’s history, joining the ranks of English pioneers plying their craft away from their homeland. The first football club in South Germany, Karlsruher were one of the country’s most successful clubs prior to the outbreak of the First World War. The role that English managers played in the foundation and development of such clubs was pivotal in the early years of the sport in Germany.

Taking over from William Townley, a manger regarded as a pioneer of football in Germany, Griffiths sought to continue the success of his predecessor. During the brief time in which the English manager stood on the touchline in Karlsruhe, Griffiths adjusted to life in his new role in football by securing the club’s seventh Southern German Football Championship. Griffiths laid the foundation of his coaching career while working with some of the best players of that period, such as the dynamic trio of Gottfried Fuchs, Fritz Förderer, and Julius Hirsch.

Bavaria soon beckoned for Charles Griffiths. After a short and successful period in Baden-Württemberg, the Englishman packed his bags and traveled across the regional border to the city of Munich. August 1911 is when Die Roten created history: Charles Griffiths became the first full-time manager of FC Bayern Munich.

Griffiths’ appointment transformed the club into a professional and determined football club with aspirations beyond their youthful experience. Eleven years after their establishment, FC Bayern’s football was on an upwards trajectory. The role in which the Englishman played in the history of the club, despite his limited tenure, paved the way for those who followed.

Griffiths spent a total of seven tumultuous months in Munich. During this period the club made major advances in multiple facets of the game. The English manager integrated and developed the training regimen familiar in the modern game. Five training sessions per week saw Bayern take football into a professional realm, resulting in a positive 1911-1912 season.

Griffiths led his side with revolutionary concepts. The impact of the Englishman was virtually immediate. FC Bayern commenced the season with fifteen goals and zero conceded. Frustration and discontent with Griffiths’ methods, however, primarily from older players, led the English manager to resort to youth talent to take the club to the top of league at the end of 1911. During the winter break, Griffiths ensured that Bayern could continue training by renting the riding hall in Munich’s Leopoldstrasse.

But the second half of the season proved too be the English manager’s undoing. By revolutionising and transforming the team, Griffiths led Die Roten to a second-place finish in the 1911-12 (Ostkreis) A-Klasse. But the team thereby missed out on qualification to the German Championship. Griffiths’ tenure in Bavaria was over, and he was released.

Bayern’s decision was perhaps premature: Griffiths signed with the Stuttgarter Kickers and led them to become champions of Württemberg and South Germany.

In his seven months at Bayern Munich, Charles Griffiths transformed the club into a professional and disciplined outfit that used training methods commonly associated with football today. A pioneer and revolutionary in the early years of the sport in Germany, the Englishman made history as the first full-time manager of FC Bayern Munich. His tenure convinced Bayern’s board of the importance of a full-time trainer. Die Roten duly appointed successor, another English pioneer and Griffiths’ predecessor at Karlsruhe: William Townley.

Griffiths undoubtedly contributed to the success and growth of Bayern, then in its infancy. While his tenure was brief, his impact on FC Bayern Munich was tremendous and he paved the way for those who followed.