It took a long time for the DFB Cup to become what it is today. Things were different in the early days. Twelve years after its inception, the German Football Federation donated the competition a new trophy. That was back in 1965. And it was Borussia Dortmund's Alfred "Aki" Schmidt who became the first man to lift it.
In reality, the 1964/65 DFB Cup final never really stood a chance. It was a "stopgap", a consolation prize for the dream final that had fallen through. The dream pairing would have been Borussia Dortmund versus FC Schalke 04. The prospect of a Ruhr derby in the cup final electrified football fans in the Ruhr, which was still a real coal-mining area at the time. Then the semi-finals took place on 17 April 1965. BVB won theirs 4-2 against 1. FC Nuremberg. Schalke were leading 3-1 away to second-tier regional league side Alemannia Aachen. But they were eliminated after a 4-3 defeat in extra-time. The first Ruhr derby cup final in history was no more. But it did end up being BVB's first triumph in the competition.
The story of the final in Hanover's Niedersachsenstadion does not take long to tell. Captain Aki Schmidt fired the Black & Yellows in front after 10 minutes thanks to a perfectly timed lob. Lothar Emmerich made it 2-0 from long range only eight minutes later, and the game was up. "Our early lead shocked Aachen," said goalkeeper Hans Tilkowski: "It robbed them of their courage. It simply didn't make for a good game." On top of that, the heat on the day held BVB back from doing more than was absolutely necessary. And so the ensuing 72 minutes that unfolded in front of the German president Heinrich Lübke, German national team coach Sepp Herberger and 54,998 other spectators went down as one of the most boring cup finals in history. The fact that Lübke described the match as "very entertaining" was either presidential diplomacy or due to his lack of knowledge of footballing matters. German national team coach Sepp Herrberger simply said: "The weather was beautiful. The best thing about the match was the army music ensemble.
Hans Tilkowski, who in absentia had become a father for the third time the day before and was therefore in the best of spirits, wrote in his autobiography: "Aachen were too anxious, Borussia lacked inspiration and I had almost nothing to do in goal." The fact that Tilkowski – the first-choice goalkeeper for the Bundesliga's third-placed club BVB and the German national team, and the first keeper ever to be voted Germany's "Footballer of the Year" later in 1965 – played at all that afternoon took some people by surprise.
Especially Bernhard Wessel. Borussia's No. 2 shot-stopper had been between the sticks in every previous cup round: 1-0 away to Preußen Münster (goal: Reinhold Wosab), 2-1 away to Tennis Borussia Berlin (goals: Schmidt, Wosab), 2-0 at Eintracht Braunschweig (goals: Emmerich) and 4-2 in the semi-final against Nuremberg (goals: Timo Konietzka 2, Emmerich, Wosab). Coach Hermann Eppenhoff had not intended for Wessel to be the cup goalkeeper. It was more down to the fact that in the 1960s there were sometimes scheduling conflicts between club competitions and international matches – and that Tilkowski, as national team goalkeeper, was sometimes absent. In any case, many experts expected Wessel to be involved in the final. Especially since challengers Aachen were the clear outsiders.
But Eppenhoff opted for Hans Tilkowski. His most important job between the second goal in the 18th minute and the final whistle in the 90th was to keep his concentration and to remind his team-mates time and time again not to stop playing entirely. "After all, you only have to be asleep once, the opponent gets lucky with a shot – and then you have a completely different game." And one that Tilkowski didn't fancy that day. He wanted the cup. "In the end it's the titles that count," he said. "It's less important how you won them."
And as for the cup itself, it was brand-new, designed and produced for the 1965 final. President Lübke had brought it to Hanover in a helicopter. Aki Schmidt received it after the match. The next day, the BVB cup heroes presented it to the public in Dortmund from open carriages belonging to the Hansa brewery. But the crowd was a moderate size as the team did the rounds at Borsigplatz. Not comparable to the championships in 1956, 1957 and 1963, and certainly not to the procession that came a year later after the 2-1 victory over Liverpool in the European Cup Winners' Cup final.