Wednesday, December 31, 2008

There was no UEFA Cup yet – the third European club tournament was still the original Fairs Cup. Actually, the full name was much longer: International Industrial Fairs Inter City Cup, a tournament proposed in 1950 by the Swiss Vice-President of FIFA Ernst Thommen. The proposal was accepted and the tournament was launched in 1955. Bizarrely, the first tournament ended three years later – in 1958. It was designed for clubs or selected XI from cities with industrial fairs, which greatly limited the number of participants. Did not look like a tournament with any future by the design – more likely one more European club tournament. Of which there were still many active in the 1950s and 1960s – Mitropa still existed; the Balkan Cup; the summer English-Italian club tournament; Intertotto; and so on. But Fairs Cup was closely linked to international football governing bodies – approved by FIFA and supported by UEFA. It was organized differently – instead of one-leg final on neutral stadium, the finalists here played two-leg final, one at home, and one visiting. It was also something like laboratory for checking new ideas – away goals were introduced in the tournament in 1967 and in 1971 – penalty shoot-out replaced tossing of coin to decide winner after stubborn draw. In the same year UEFA took entirely the tournament under its wings and changed it into the UEFA Cup, the number of participants was increased to 64 teams from all European countries and industrial fairs had to do nothing with it anymore. The first UEFA Cup was played in 1971-72, so in 1970 it was still under the old name and somewhat related to its original design. Arsenal won the Fairs Cup, beating Anderlecht (Brussels) 4-3 on aggregate. The Belgians won 3-1 in Brussels, but lost 0-3 in London. No big surprise: both finalists were well known European clubs on one hand. On the other – the Fairs Cup was not exactly ‘fair’: few clubs from fewer cities were allowed to participate. Thus, Dinamo (Zagreb, then Yugoslavia) reached twice the final – losing in 1963 and 1964 – before winning the Cup in 1967. Two Hungarian clubs – from Budapest, as it was city organizing industrial fair – were finalists in 1968 and 1969 – Ferencvaros and Dozsa Ujpest (both lost – from Leeds United and Newcastle United). So Arsenal… good team at the time, forth British club reaching the final in succession, nothing new. Arsenal became English champion in 1971 as well.
Back row, left to right: George Wright (physiotherapist), Bob McNab, Peter Storey, Peter Simpson, Geoff Barnett, Bob Wilson, John Roberts, Ray Kennedy, Peter Marinello, Don Howe (coach)
Sitting: Charlie George, John Radford, George Armstrong, Jon Sammels, Frank McLintock, Bertie Mee (manager), Pat Rice, Eddie Kelly, George Graham, Sammy Nelson.

Monday, December 29, 2008

That was Feyenoord in 1970. Faintly signaling football changes. The Cup-Winners’ Cup – now dead – was the second important European club tournament. In 1970 the competition still mattered… and domestic cups still mattered. I love the traditional Cups – they are, or rather were, different. Every club of the country participates, there were no privileges, so who plays who was a matter of chance. Small teams were able to pull their strength and enthusiasm and go… right to the final. And sometimes winning the finals. Clubs, which had no chance to survive long top division football. However, this peculiarity killed the European Cup-Winners’ Cup – small clubs playing, no interest, and a lot of grumbling from the mightiest in the football world… no financial gains. Basta! Manchester City won the Cup in 1970 – beating Gornik (Zabrze, Poland) 2-1 in Vienna, Austria. Unlike the Champions Cup, the second tournament had various winners so far – not only big clubs from big countries: Slovan (Bratislava) won the Cup in 1969, for instance. But it was becoming British tournament – Tottenham Hotspurs, West Ham United won it before Manchester City and there was Chelsea in 1971. And may be because of that, and because England was among the ‘big boys’ of football, the winds of change were missed again – smaller clubs from the North were winning, playing attacking football. The rigid, stiff, brutal, and defensively oriented Latin football was giving way. Manchester City were solid British team, but not exactly candidates for championship. As for Gornik – although those were their most successful years, they were ever lesser team than Feyenoord. As it turned out, this was the biggest European success of both finalists – and there is no chance of either one repeating 1970 by today’s measures. Unless miracle happens.
Manchester City 1969-70:
Third row, left to right: Alan Oakes, Colin Bell, Mick Doyle, Glyn Pardoe, Tony Book (captain)
Middle row: Malcolm Allison (coach), Arthur Mann, Tommy Booth, Joe Corrigan, Harry Dowd, George Heslop, D. Ewung (trainer)
Sitting: Ian Bowyer, Bobby Owen, Neil Young, Tony Coleman, Francis Lee, Mike Summerbee, David Connor.

Impressive squad, perhaps the best City ever had. But not big surprise in Europe – British teams were regarded traditionally strong, highly competitive. In England City were strong, but one team among many. The glory years ended for City sometime during 1970s, when this squad aged and one by one retired.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

If Nacional was relapse to old football in 1971, lets return… to 1970 (looks like I will never change the year?) Estuduiantes won Libertadores, but there was shift in Europe – The European Champions Cup was Latin property – Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese clubs dominated the tournament until 1967. Celtic (Glasgow) and Manchester United won the Cup in 1967 and 1968. The shift to the north was normal – after all the British Isles invented the sport. Milan reestablished the status quo in 1969. They trashed barely known finalist – Ajax (Amsterdam). Interesting, but accidental. Ajax rivals Feyenoord (Rotterdam) won the Cup in 1970. Looked like change? New clubs moving up? Well… everything was quickly forgotten under the big shadow of the great World Cup 1970. Feyenoord did not play total football, they were somewhat traditional. Surprise winners, but let’s see the next season – everything will be back to normal. Next year was Ajax’s first European Champions Cup. I don’t think enough attention was paid yet – they were noticed, but only that. Ajax won over ‘chance’ finalist and did not play the International Cup – hard to measure. Interesting team, surely… I am inclined to think that the Dutch were really noticed in 1972 – when Ajax won their second European Champions Cup; Holland’s national team was no longer outsider; and excellent West Germany won their first European title. Total football finally established itself and the Dutch ‘promising’ players became the superstars of the 1970s. As for Feyenoord in 1970 – just one time wonder (which they were not, but if we look from 1974 standpoint).

Feyenoord in 1969-1970:
Standing, left to right: Piet Romeijn, Eddy Treijtel, Eddy Pieters Graafland, Cor Veldhoen, Wim Jansen, Rinus Israël, Guus Haak, Theo Laseroms.
Sitting: Franz Hasil, Henk Wery, Theo van Duivenbode, Wim van Hanegem, Ove Kindvall, Ruud Geels, Coen Moulijn.
A standard team of the time: two foreign stars – Ove Kindvall (Sweden) and Franz Hasil (Austria, with 21 caps and 3 goals); few national players – Romeijn, Israel, Laseroms, Wery, van Duivenbode, van Hanegem, Moulijn; and the rest of solid professionals and promising youngsters (Jansen and Geels were not making the first team yet). May be Israel and van Hanegem were the most familiar names outside Holland, but even they were not regarded as European stars. The Swedish national centreforward Ove Kindvall was by far the most impressive name in the squad. And he was the only Feyenoord player to appear in Mexican World Cup 1970 [those were still ‘vegetarian’ days – national squads rarely included foreign based players. Sweden was perhaps the country with most ‘foreigners’ in 1970 – Kindvall, Kurt Axelsson (FC Brugge, Belgium), Tom Turesson (FC Brugge, Belgium), Jan Olsson (VfB Stuttgart, West Germany), and perhaps Inge Ejderstedt (I am not sure did he become Anderlecht, Belgium, player before or after the World Cup). How different from today…].

Feyenoord -ADO (Den Haag), August 1969. Ove Kindvall scores and ADO-keeper Ton Thie can’t do nothing with his desperate plunge.

June 1971. Scoring in the net of Haarlem. Kindvall was champion with Feyenoord and Dutch goalscorer of the season this year.

The moment of glory - Coen Moulijn lifts the European Champions Cup. Unless you are rather old Dutch, chances are you never heard of Moulijn. But you remember Ernst Happel Stadium from the European Championship 2008? Well, before he became stadium Happel was football coach – the very same, who led Feyenoord to their first European success.

Like his players, Happel was one of the stars of the 1970s and early 1980s – after Feyenoord, he coached FC Sevilla (Spain) 1973-75, was at the helm of FC Brugge (Belgium) 1975-78 (losing European Champions final to Liverpool), led Holland to second World final in 1978, and Hamburger SV (West Germany then) to their big years in the early 1980s. The Austrian coached HSV from 1981 to 1987. Happel was player before getting a sit on the bench – played for Rapid and Austria (both Vienna), Racing Club de Paris (France) in the 1950s, and in the national team of Austria, including the World Cup finals 1954. That is why today he is transformed into a stadium.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

One more story about Nacional 1971: how about the ‘goalkeeper’s curse’? Goalkeepers were and are the pariahs in South America. In Europe they have some aura, they are often respected – Zamora and Planicka were huge stars before the Second World War for instance. Under the Southern Cross goalies were always guilty and more so in Brazil. Barbosa was hated to the end of his life for the winning goal the Uruguayans scored in his net in 1950. He was blamed and is still is blamed for the world title Brazil lost. But more you can read in Alex Belos’s ‘Futebol. The Brazilian Way of Life’. Ailton Correa Arruda or Manga (born 1937) was goalkeeper of the disastrous Brazilian team at the World Cup 1966. The team is regarded the worst Brazilian squad ever. Now, imagine the outrage in 1966… and then ‘sober’ views… well, can you really think Pele ‘the worst”? Who made the team so bad? Must be the goalie. Manga played for Botafogo with the likes of Nilton Santos, Zagallo, and Garincha (no matter what, nobody hates Garincha!), not an obscure player, if not a star. But he moved away from Brazil in 1967 – joined Nacional. In my opinion, Manga run away to a more tolerable place, where nobody will pester him. He won 4 national titles with Nacional – 1969, 1970, 1971, and 1972, Libertadores Cup, and the Intercontinental Cup in 1971. Then he returned to Brazil, winning 2 national championships with Internacional (Porto Alegre) in 1975 and 1976 (King Pele has zero Brazilian titles in contrast). Then he played for smaller teams, before finally moving to Ecuador to win yet another national title with Barcelona in 1981 and finishing his career at the age of 44. Not bad for a goalie well remembered for 1966 fiasco and never called to the national team after that. Perhaps Manga took to heart the ‘lesson’ of Barbosa… who was forbidden to visit the Brazilian training camp as late as 1993 for fear of bringing bad luck.
Barbosa – unforgiven to death. Recently Dida pleaded for clemency… but who believes a goalie in Brazil?
Manga played in the last World Cup 1966 Brazilian match – and lost from Portugal.
The team against Portugal:standing: Orlando, Manga, Brito, Denílson, Rildo and Fidélis;first row: Mário Américo (masseur), Jairzinho, Lima, Silva, Pelé and Paraná.
The worst ever?
Manga (right) lifts the Brazilian championship cup in 1975. He is not listed among the legends of Internacional (Porto Alegre). Was he a bad goalkeeper? Or just unmentionable one?

Monday, December 22, 2008

1971 brought new Copa Libertadores winner – in dramatic three games Nacional (Montevideo) edged Estudiantes. Both teams played the final in 1969 – then Estudiantes won both legs, but it was different two years later. The Argentines won 1-0 in La Plata, but lost with the same result in Montevideo. The third match was scheduled in Lima, Peru. The Uruguayans won 2-0. Nacional won its first Libertadores and Estudiantes ‘era’ ended.
Nacional for the first match with Estudiantes:
Second row, left to right: Juan Martin Mugica, Manga (Brazil), Juan Masnik, Juan Carlos Blanco, Atilio Ancheta, Julio Montero-Castillo.
First row: Ignacio Prieto (Chile), Ildo Enrique Maneiro, Victor Esparrago, Luis Artime (Argentina), Julio Cesar Morales.
Nacional played without their typical blue shorts this game. Their great star and perhaps the best Uruguyan player of that time – Luis Cubilla – missing.
As names, at least Nacional featured more famous players than Estudiantes ever did – Cubilla, Mugica, Masnik, Ancheta, Montero-Castillo, Esparaggo, Morales played regularly for the national team. Luis Artime, although aging, was famous Argentine star. Prieto played for Chile in the 1966 World Cup. Manga played for Brazil in the 1966 World Cup. A classic team – few domestic stars, three foreign stars, and the rest – solid workhorses. Just the opposite of Estudiantes – ten disciplined murderers, collective tactic, and one superstar in front. Killing the opposition and feeding the Witch. Collective, disciplined, tactically minded team – Bilardo was may be right: Estudiantes was ahead of its time, fit for the 1980s. If it was the future, it was rejected – it was ugly. But Nacional was outdated… just by playing differently, Estudiantes showed the days of slow technical game were over. Change in Latin America? Not quite: unlike Europe, there were no newcomers like the Dutch teams. Nacional was traditional powerhouse: one of the two giants and eternal rivals in Uruguay and among the top South American big clubs for years. Even by those measures Nacional was rather return of the establishment – Estudiantes, never as big as River Plate, Boca Juniors, and may be another two-three Argentine clubs, were more befitting for ‘avant-garde’. However, it is impossible to speculate further: the contestants for the Intercontinental Cup in 1971 were the losers of the finals in 1969. It may have been interesting to see how they measured two years later and how new they were, but it was not to be. Ajax refused to play and Nacional won against the runners-up Panathinaikos (Athens). This final is interesting retrospectively only in terms of Greek football – more or less, the ascent of the Greeks started then. By itself, the contest attracted little international attention and was not a clash to brag about. Even against the Greeks Nacional did not score a lot – 1-1 and 2-1, not exactly a compliment for a team having Cubilla, Artime, and Morales. Cubilla scored 129 goals for River Plate (Buenos Aires) between 1964 and 1968 (not counting goals for other clubs). Morales scored a total of 191 for Nacional (not counting goals for Austria, Vienna).
Artime scored more than 1000 goals during his career. (here playing for River Plate). Stagnated football?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Copa Libertadores was perhaps no different than the Intercontinental Cup, but it was far away from Europe, visibility and scrutiny: it was not televised in Europe. Only results came, rarely accompanied by reviews and commentaries. Those were Argentine years – beginning from 1967 and until 1976 the gauchos won Libertadores, save for 1971. In 1970 Estudiantes (La Plata) won Libertadores for third successive year. It was the team of Juan Ramon Veron – ‘La Bruja’ (‘The Witch’, father of the more familiar today Juan Sebastian Veron – ‘La Brujita’, ‘The Little Witch’). Deadly attacker, as the nickname shows… may be. One Carlos Bilardo played in this Estudiantes formation too… years later, after coaching Argentina to their second world title, Billardo said that he employed the tactics of Estudiantes from late 1960s. May be the revelation explains Maradona’s ‘Hand of God’ against England in 1986? Estudiantes – and Billardo himself – were regarded as brutal team in the 1960s. Different story in 1986 – ‘We were disciplined, strongly tactical in defense’, Billardo said, ‘Intelligent team. I prepared Argentina to play like Estudiantes used to.’
Hard to say now were Estudiantes worth watching or were they innovative team in the late 1960s, but something else can be said: Argentina dominated South American club football during years of decline. Argentina missed World Cup 1970 and was terrible in 1974. Uruguay declined rapidly in the 1970s. Brazil in 1974 was pale shadow of 1970. The big three were in crisis, and unlike Europe, no other country stepped up in South America – Peru and Chile were largely the second-rate group there and remained second-rate no matter how weak the big countries were.
Estudiantes 1969 – great innovators or arch-villains?
Standing left to right: Pachame, Poletti, Malbernat, Aguirre Suarez, Madero, Togneri.
First row: Rudzky, Carlos Bilardo, Conigliaro, Flores, La Bruja – Juan Ramon Veron.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

It seems to me today, that the World Cup heavily clouded the rest of football in 1970. On the level of national teams the status quo somehow remained unshaken, but it was not so on club level. There were interesting winds blowing in domestic championships and international club tournaments. Looking south, nothing new… if the old Intercontinental Cup is considered, it was competition in crisis, tainted by violence from its very beginning. South American clubs dominated, but playing dirty. It was one thing when the European club was Latin – they played dirty too. Celtic and Manchester United, however, were outraged when they faced argentine clubs in 1967 and 1968. The whole atmosphere was poisonous on and off the pitch. The South Americans won both years after ugly games. In 1970 it was Feyenoord vs Estudiantes (La Plata). Feyenoord won, but the brutality remained. Next year Ajax refused to play and the runners-up Panathinaikos replaced them. Ajax refused to play in 1973 as well. Bayern, not shrinking violets themselves, refused to play in 1974. In 1975 the Cup was not contested at all, as well as in 1978. Liverpool refused to play in 1977; Nottingham Forest in 1979… The tournament – supposedly the highest world club competition – was dying and was saved by Japan in 1980, when instead of two-leg (home and away) final one match was to be played in neutral Tokyo. It was good promotion of football in the country of the Rising Sun and seized the endless violence and mean trickery of South American clubs (for instance, Cruyff received death threats in Argentina in 1972 and had to be guarded by teammates.) The Intercontinental Cup was not football, it was war.
Unbecoming for a King – Pele (Santos) fights with Inter (Milano) players in 1963. The ugly tradition was established early.
Typical scene of Intercontinental Cup – Celtic (Glasgow) and Racing Club (Avellaneda, Buenos Aires). Three games were needed for Racing Club to prevail – two of them in South America.
Manchester United lost to Estudiantes (La Plata) in 1969. In what sport they lost, though?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Well, the top was bright, but there was bottom too… Two finalists did not get even a point – Czechoslovakia and El Salvador. Morocco and Bulgaria got one point each, and Israel – 2 points. Czechoslovakia was in tough round robin group with Brazil, England and Romania. No blame for them, but there was something else – Czechoslovakia was up and down team: second in the world in 1962, missing 1966, non-impressive in 1970, missing 1974, European champions 1976, missing 1978, Olympic success after that, and so on. Bulgaria was the biggest failure and practically the worst team in 1970, yet, according to tradition – nothing new. They were outsiders in 1962 and 1966, repeated the pattern in 1974 and 1986. This was supposedly the best Bulgarian team ever, according to optimistic Bulgarian journalists before the finals, but the truth was rather different: team Bulgaria somehow exhausts itself during qualifications and is entirely lifeless at the finals. The rest were classic outsiders – nobody expected nothing from them, they were at the finals for ‘colour’ and for strong teams to improve their goal difference. El Salvador obviously reached its highest point by qualifying and going into war with Honduras because of that. Morocco got a point, but hardly big achievement – it came from the draw with dead Bulgaria. Israel was best – 2 points extracted from Sweden (1-1) and Italy (0-0). Not bad… Israel played for first and – so far – last time at finals. It was also the last time Israel played in the Asian qualification zone: Arab boycott qualified them. The refusal of Arab countries to play against Israel eventually moved the country to the European zone. It is not clear would they had reached the finals in 1970 if they were not boycotted, but if they stayed in Asia probably would have reached more finals. Politics…
Morocco got a point, but there was no hint yet of African football becoming serious. Wait for the 1980s
Israel in 1970. Representing Asia and the best team among the outsiders. Is such a picture to appear again? Playing in Europe, Israel has little chance to reach World Cup finals.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

What was the World Cup showing? Exciting team Brazil, the first country to win three times the World Cup and thus retiring the original cup, the Golden Nice – it was stipulated from the establishment of the tournament, that whoever win three times will keep the cup forever. The 1970s begun signaled significant change symbolically: new cup, new format, new teams. The World champions were considered – and still are considered – the best Brazilian teal ever. Second finished Italy – European champion of 1968. Team studded with stars in their prime and team representing the style of the 1960s – the ultra-defensive ‘catenaccio’. Still dominant style, apparently – just a notch under the attacking style of Brazil. Third ended West Germany – talented and young team, obviously with bright future, but not just ripe for success yet. Uruguay represented the other side of South American football – technical, but tough and tactically oriented. England surrendered their 1966 title gracefully – with a bit of luck, it could have been different. It was still the great team of Bobby Charlton, Bobby Moore, and Gordon Banks. No shame losing to the Germans, yet a tiny hint of change of guard – the Germans were younger. Peru was the pleasant surprise, suggesting that South America is not only three countries. Highly competitive tournament – two of the ¼ finals and one ½ final went overtime, yet it was not defensive minded championship – only 3 games in the round robin groups ended 0-0 (two of them Italian – no surprise). A plethora of stars, some young, promising greater future of the game. Tostao and Jairzinho were those to watch in the coming years and, in the same time, Pele was only 28 years old. Carlos Alberto, the captain of the great Brazil, was 26. Beckenbauer was 24, finishing his second World Cup already… just a few examples.
Carlos Alberto
Three players considered both present and future in 1970. Not so a little later – Tostao suffered eye problems and had to end his career prematurely. Jairzinho seemingly never reached his magic from 1970 again. And what exactly happened to Carlos Alberto?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

West Germany played tough ½ with Italy. Overtime again, but this time Italy went ahead, winning 4-3. Meantime Brazil was sailing easily – beating 4-2 Peru at the ¼ finals and Uruguay 3-1 at the semis. The Germans won the ‘little’ final vs Uruguay 1-0. Third place still mattered then. Brazil spectacularly won the final with Italy – 4-1.
After the final wistle Pele and Enrico Albertosi congratulate each other smiling. Gianni Rivera is not exactly grieving either in front of them. The Italian goalkeeper was first choice of Italy in the late 1960s and Dino Zoff mere reserve. The two were almost same age and played long, but what a change of luck: in the late 1970s Albertosi was part of the next big Italian bribing scandal and was banned for two years in 1982. His Milan was punished to play in the Second Division. Zoff not only enjoyed success with Juventus, but captained Italy to their third World Championship in 1982. Albertosi was disgraced at 43; Zoff was on top of the world at 40. Smoking cigarettes between first and second half in the dressing room.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Curiously, Bulgaria and Peru played friendlies before the finals, and everybody in Bulgaria was confident – Peru was not much of an opponent; Morocco were just flunkies, and the second place in the round-robin group was guaranteed. West Germany was too strong, but nobody else – an easy group. Bulgaria had the best ever team… or so was the opinion then. Going directly to the second stage, no doubt about it. Well, Bulgaria lost 2-3 to Peru (now everybody ‘saw’ the ‘wisdom’ of the winter mountain training camp – the players suffered from the Mexican heat and hardly walked on the pitch). They lost ‘confidently’ from the Germans – 2-5, and ‘improved’ the Moroccan record – 1-1. End of story… Peru went to the 1/4 finals and, although no further, they pleased both crowds and specialists enough: players were noted. For instance Hugo Sotil, who was the first foreign player Barcelona bought after Spain lifted the ban on foreign players in 1973.
West Germany continued to impress, reaching the semi-finals. Gerd Muller was the top scorer of the tournament. He was already European Footballer of the Year in 1969. He had great playmates and his scoring magic was at its highest – his goal against England was one of the most popular moments at World Cup 1970:
Muller scores and Peter Bonetti – ‘the Cat’ – can’t do anything about it. Unlucky or lucky Cat? Gordon Banks got the ‘Montezuma revenge’ and the reserve goalie played his only match… which was lost. Muller was supreme, though – already long-haired; still beardless. As for the Cat: older Chelsea consider him the club’s all time best keeper. Not using gloves… in 1970 gloves were still optional choice for goalies
And another look at the same goal – the winning German goal in overtime. Was it the only fun?
Not at all - this is the famous moment of Uwe Seeler's header with the back of his head.
Bonetti is beside himself – Germany just equalized 2-2. Seeler has just scored… and this was not the only drama of ¼ finals…

Saturday, December 6, 2008

One thing was already noticed at the time: Central Europe lost its football dominance. Hardly news by 1970 – the shift occurred earlier. Central European football dominated Europe before World War II. Austria declined rapidly; the European West became the new leader. It was slow change – Hungary dominated the 1950s and memories lingered, obscuring signs of decline. Slow decline, of course. Signs of ascent also were hardly noticeable – Holland was improving without nobody paying attention. Turkey and Greece also started their climb up. Such changes are traceable only from historic standpoint, from time distance. If anybody in 1970 suggested Holland, Turkey, Greece would be among the strongest European nations, he would have been called ignorant idiot. And the same would have been if anybody suggested that Hungary will be among the weakest football nations in the future. The 1970s were time of big changes, but not changes envisioned in 1970 – Ajax played at the European Champions final in 1969, and Feyenoord won the Cup in 1970, yet nobody thought it more than freak accident.
Total football did not register yet – the focus was on the attacking football played by Brazil, West Germany and England vs almost equally strong defensive Italian football. 1970 was still traditional, no change in the hierarchy. Rather, it was ‘pleasant’ that attacking teams were winning and teams like Peru (the surprise South American finalists, pushing out Argentina from 1970 finals) performed well.
The sensational win of Peru against Argentina – 1-0 in Lima.
And Ramirez (left) burst in happy tears – Peru goes to the finals.
Training for the World Cup. Nobody imagined Peru to impress at the finals – they were in round-robin group with West Germany, Bulgaria, and Morocco.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Bulgaria qualified for World Cup 1970 finals for third time in succession, after reaching the finals in 1962 and 1966. The country reached the finals in 1974 as well and I think this information is good point for observing football in the early 1970s and the changes taking place at the time. Only 16 teams played at the finals then, largely European affair, for half of the finalists came from Europe. Africa, Asia, and Central-North America were still non-entities, having one place each at the finals. South America had three berths. Add the raining world champion and the host country with granted berths. More or less, the structure was fair – best football was played in Europe and parts of South America. Just to make it true world tournament the rest of the globe was allowed to send 3 teams, but nobody expected anything from the outsiders (the surprise performance of North Korea in 1966 did not shake attitudes and opinions – and rightly so: North Korea sunk among the rabble immediately). Europe was central in every respect, but it was still Europe of only 32 countries (with old Communist USSR, Yugoslavia, East Germany and Czechoslovakia and without small fry like Andorra, San Marino, Liechtenstein, Farroe Islands). The big guns were well known – England, Spain, Italy and West Germany. They were the mightiest for variety of reasons – old victories, money, superstars, strong clubs. Not every factor played equal role – Spain routinely underperformed on international level, but had giant success on club level. West Germany was the opposite – with newly established national division, German clubs were not yet regarded powerhouses, but they were financially strong. And Germany was already World Champion from 1954.
Under the mightiest was large group of countries relatively strong, but not undisputed. USSR and Yugoslavia were more or less at the top of the middle group and Holland, for instance, the bottom. None among these countries was unbeatable – in the middle existed relative parity. Given momentary form; some good luck; particularly strong generation of players, and anybody was able to beat the rest. Some countries had successful clubs – Portugal’s Benfica ranked among the top European clubs for example, but others did not have even this – Polish clubs were traditionally weak. Even France, with old professional football regularly employing foreign players, was not remarkable – not a single hot club, rather unimpressive domestic championship, and often lackluster national team.
At the bottom were the punching bags: the Scandinavian countries (except Sweden), Wales, Northern Ireland, Eire, Albania, Greece, Turkey, Malta, Cyprus, Luxembourg. Austria and Switzerland tended to be part of this group too. The divisions were regarded stable and for all practical reasons changes up and down appeared only in the middle group. Temporary changes at that.
Given the European hierarchy, the teams qualifying for the World Cup 1970 were hardly surprising. Of course, in the actual time some results were commented – Spain failed to qualify. Portugal was even bigger disappointment: the exciting team from World Cup 1966 finished dead last in their qualifying group. Yugoslavia, Hungary and France missed the boat, but USSR, Czechoslovakia, Romania and Sweden were happy finalists. From the distance of time there were no surprises whatsoever: Portugal was based on the great Benfica team – but it was aging generation. Eusebio was still bright star, but some of his teammates already retired and there were no strong replacements. Spain was less of a surprise – this country is traditionally shy of international success (two European titles is everything they ever won – and the second title came in 2008). The rest was typical European shuffle among relative equals. The Bulgarian example illustrates the situation: they were in qualifying group with Poland, Holland and Luxembourg. From Bulgarian perspective Poland was the only real difficulty. In terms of European hierarchy, it was to be either Poland or Bulgaria. Nobody expected Holland to win the group – at best, her role would have been arbitrary: sneaking a point or two from one of the real candidates, Holland would have helped the other. Luxembourg did not count. At the end Bulgaria won one point above Poland – winning all home games, losing the away game in Poland and getting a point in Holland. Poland lost their away match from Holland and missed the finals. And the rest of the European groups followed similar scenario – at best, there were two teams with chances to reach the final stage, more or less depending on the results against third weaker team. No newcomers, no team shaking the status quo.
Bulgaria won their home game against Poland 4-1. Here the young and raising star Hristo Bonev – in my opinion, the best ever Bulgarian midfielder – attacks the Polish net. Hubert Kostka desperately tries to prevent the goal…
But it was Bulgaria… Asparukhov kisses the goalscorer Bonev. On the right – in front of the Bulgarian net Simeonov clears confidently. Important win, yet, it was the away game with Holland qualifying Bulgaria.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Blast the colours! The kid, beginning his collection, struggled to get pictures of teams dressed in football gear. The kid hated – and still hates – teams in civilian cloths. Photos like this were collected regretfully:
Dimitar Penev is invisible here, but he was a member of the Bulgarian national team climbing the stairs to Mexico bound airplane in the summer of 1970. Second from left is the coach ‘Dr.’ Stefan Bozhkov – one of the biggest Bulgarian stars in the 1950s and disastrous national coach in 1970. Bulgaria qualified for the World Cup finals and the good doctor (he had medical degree, although never practiced medicine – one reason for me to place his title in parenthesis) deigned that the best way to prepare the national team for the summer Mexican heath was to stage winter high-mountain training camp. Plowing in January snow was his view of acclimatization. Penev later ‘coached’ Bulgaria to 4th place in World Cup 1994. Wisely, he tackled USA summer heath by not staging any training camps and not coaching at all. For this he was voted Bulgarian coach of the 20th century and was nicknamed ‘The Strategist’. Without irony! (Which is the biggest irony.) However, here is the opportunity to move away from team colours and return to football issues. Back to 1970 and forget about suits.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Orlin (Pirdop) may not be big deal compared to other colour headaches. The first glance at Ajax (Amsterdam) puzzled me:
I was happy to take a look at the fresh winners of the Cup of European Champions, but which was Ajax and which – Panathinaikos? It looks like the ‘dark’ players scored here… which led me to think Ajax were the ‘dark’, since they won 2-0. The first colour pictures of both finalist reinforced my youthful mistake: my first Ajax (now lost, regretfully) was dressed in blue and white and my first Panathinaikos was in white jerseys. Not knowing yet that I got reserve kits of both clubs, it took some time until I corrected my ignorant mistake. By the way, the first time I saw Ajax, they played again in their reserve kit against Bulgarian champion CSCA (my Bulgarian archenemy, since I am Levsky fan). Actually both clubs played in reserve kits for their first kits were red and white.
Captains looking for the ball – Johann Cruiff in blue and white and Dimitar Penev in white. CSCA eliminated Panathinaikos in the 1/16 finals after curious three games - thanks to Soviet referee mistake, the second match was annulled and replayed. Ajax eliminated CSCA in the 1/8 finals, winning both legs – 3-1 in Sofia and 3-0 in Amsterdam.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Brown kits came late to me. When I lounched my collection club colours were big problem. I was ignorant of most clubs and my first fotos were black and white. Like this very rare now picture of:
Orlin (Pirdop) finished 9th in the Second Bulgarian Division in 1964-65.
Standing from left to right: Gaydarsky, Spasov, Hristov, Mishev, Milenov, Georgiev, Serafimov.
First row: Kostov, Stoynov, Georgiev, Banov.
The club from the small city of Pirdop was founded in 1945. Since the name is personal male name, most likely the club was named after some unknown to me Communist ‘hero’, according to the custom of the time. Not the real name of the ‘hero’, mind, but his underground nickname. The name posed no problems in the long run and survived the fall of Communism – ‘Orlin’ is a name based on the Bulgarian word for eagle, and thus appropriate for club name (think predatory and glorious club). Seems alright without obsolete Commie mythology. The club was renamed once – in 1997 it became FC Pirdop, but in 2000 returned to the old name. Its last season was 2003-04, when it finished 10th in 13-club 4th Division Sofia Region tournament – one place above the new local rival Spartak 2001 (Pirdop). The club withdrew from participation before the beginning of next year season and this is the last known info about it. It may be reincarnated yet, who knows. Of course the club was modest one: largely dwelling in 3rd and 4th divisions. Its glory came in the 1960s: due to reorganization of Bulgarian football Second Division expanded in 1962 – 40 clubs were to participate, divided in two groups – Northern and Southern. Orlin, winning the Sofia Region championship, was included in the Southern group. It was not only the expansion, though: at that time Valko Chervenkov was still the leader of Bulgarian Communist Party , the most powerful man. He was born in Pirdop and in the custom of dictators showered his birthplace with gifts: brand new metallurgic plant was constructed, which immediately killed and poisoned its surroundings. The new industry benefited the football club – although not immediately attached to the plant, care was taken via hot Party lines: it was only proper a city of industrial glory to have corresponding glory in sports, and what better sport than football. Money went from plant to club; ‘amateur’ players received salaries as ‘industrial workers’ and Pirdop enjoyed Second Division football until 1970, when the club ended in the relegation zone and never came back. By that time Chervenkov was forgotten and the plant was no longer neither big news, nor profitable. (Only its poisonous fumes remained constant.) Orlin’s best season was 1966-67 – they finished 4th in the Southern Second Division and reached 1/16 finals in the national cup tournament. Apart from politics, rather typical story of small club from small town. And because of that, I have no way – so far – to establish neither team colours, nor club’s logo. Judging by team photo, white may be ruled out, but that is the end of guesswork.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Perhaps one more club should be added to the brown cohorts: Dukla. Unlike Platense and St. Pauli, this is newer club associated with establishment. It was found in 1948 as a club of the Czechoslovakian army and thus representing the Communist Party in a way: it was to be the correct proletarian club, opposing the old ‚bourgeaosie’ clubs. In the familiar pattern of Communist East Europe, Dukla was a club from the capital, Prague, heavily promoted by having free hand in recruiting the best players from the country.
Naturally, it was successful club, winning 11 Czechoslovakian titles – the only brown club not struggling to avoid relegation. Dukla’s best years were the 1950s and 1960s. Unlike the rest of the ‚browns’ Dukla had many great players, including Josef Masopust, voted European Fottballer of the Year in 1962.
The star in the famous brown and yellow jersey... but is it brown? Or is it Rouan red? Or terra cotta red? Whatever it was, it was changed by the middle of the 1970s – Dukla started playing in yellow (keeping the brown for away kit, however). The changed look in 1976-77:
Sitting, left to right: Netolicka, Stambachr, Samek, Vejvoda (coach), Brumovsky (assistant coach), Nehoda, Bilsky, Viktor.
Second row: Dr. Minarz (medic), Pelc, Fialka, Novak, Stastny, Tabor, Borovan (masseur).
Third row: Gajdusek, Mikus, Macela, Dvorak, Svehlik, Bendl, Rott, Vizek.
Good days... 11 national players from various years; 3 European champions from 1976 in the above foto. Good days ended after the fall of Communism. By 1993-94 Dukla had financial difficulties and was relegated directly to 3rd Division in part because of them. Having been ‚Communist club’ did not help either – there was no more enthusiasm for saving the club in post-Communist Czech Republic. Eventually, it was merged with another club under the name Marilla and moved to the small city of Pribram. Recently Dukla was revamped as indepependent club (the other club in Pribram existing separately), currently playing in the 2nd Division. The curse of the brown, I may think – no ‚brown’ club is successful in a long run. And, to end with similarities, like Platense and St. Pauli, the only famous donning brown jersey in the last 20 years – Pavel Nedved – achieved fame elsewhere. Tough legacy for Coventry fans... are they not in Second Division now? Whoever wears brown goes down.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

FC Sankt Pauli is the second club of Hamburg, hailing from the notorious district of the same name.
Similarly to Platenese, St. Pauli has cult status and oceanic nickname – ‘The Pirates’. Similarly to Platense, they reached First Division for the first time in 1977. They did not last at top level. Actually, the Pirates are very unstable – moving up and down between first and third division, but more or less preferring the second Bundesliga. This is a club with a sense of humor – unlike everybody else, St. Pauli is not founded in 1910, but ‘non established since 1910’. And similarly again with Platense: the only known players gracing the brown jersey were the Czech national player Ivo Knoflicek and more recently the Croat Ivan Klasnic. Klasnic, like Trezeguet, became famous after moving away from brown jersey. Here are the brown Pirates in 1997-98, getting ready for some Second Division action:
First time in the Bundesliga, 1977:
Aufstiegs-Elf 1977 v.l.n.r.: Höfert, Rynio, Rosenfeld, Gerber, Mannebach, Frosch, Neumann, Tune-Hansen, Oswald, Ferrin, Demuth. Foto aus "Wunder gibt es immer wieder", von René Martens.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

May be a ballet of a special kind, considering football aesthetics. Later kits will be discussed in length, yet, a hint here: the colour brown. Can’t blame football people for lack of taste – the away kit of Coventry City from the second half of the 70s speaks loud and clear:
Ian Wallace’s hair is a perfect match to the ill-famed ‘chocolate brown’, known as ‘excrement’ to Coventry’s fans in 1976. Voted the worst kit ever in England. However, no need fans to die of shame – they are not alone. Two other clubs proudly display brown – C. A. Platense from Argentina and Sanct Pauli from Germany. Brown is not their reserve kit either – brown and white are their original colours. Platense, a smaller club from Vicente Lopez, Greater Buenos Aires, nicknamed ‘Calamares’ (the Squids), founded in 1905, finally ascended to the First Division in 1976:

First row: Niro, Orlando, Pinasco, C. Gómez y Ulrich.
Standing: F. P . Rivero, Morelli, Peremateu, Belloni, Miguelucci, Gianetti.
This is the squad in 1977, when they finished 20th in the 23-club league, barely escaping relegation. The Squids managed to survive in the top league until 1999, achieving a cult status by their last minute escapes from relegation. Apart from that, the only interesting fact about them is one David Trezeguet, who played in brown jersey before moving to Monaco and fame.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Fine arts didn’t shy away from football either. Here is a sample:
The painting by Bulgarian modernist Kiril Tzonev (1896-1961) is appropriately named ‘Boy Football Player’ and most likely was done in the 1930s. But similarly to the other arts, painting and sculpture did not produce major works. Football resists artistic representations. In my view, it is because the high drama of the real sport. No representation can make it livelier or more dramatic. No representation can substitute the real game – representation is always cheap substitute, pale and lifeless, predictable. Even the notorious lack of culture characterizing both players and fans is not important here: the sport itself prohibits artistic representation, because it is art itself, containing all artistic elements and tensions. Thus, football art comforts to realism – a statue of an old star adorns a stadium or two, preferably a faithful copy of the real person. Photography is favoured most: from collectors to club museums, it is the photos collected and displayed. Fine art is left for the official posters of big tournaments. Yes, Juan Miro made the official poster for World Cup finals 1982. I, however, prefer another one:
- the poster for the first World Cup in 1930, Uruguay. The art-deco design of Guillermo Laborde (1886-1940).
No real football fan can be fooled by some highfalutin ‘art’ – he knows art. He knows this:
toothless Joe Jordan, wearing the national jersey of Scotland. Yes, he was known as ‘Dracula’ in England and ‘The Shark’ in Italy because of absent teeth, but football was still ‘the poor man ballet’ in the 1970s.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Football and literature, football and movies, what about football and music? May be better not going there… Sure, Rod Stewart, Elton John, fans songs, ‘You’ll will never walk alone’ at the end of Pink Floyd 1971 record Meddle (incorporated in ‘Fearless’) . But…
Barcelona in the studio, recording ‘Azur y Grana’ (Blue and Red).
Back row, left to right: Juanito, Rexach, Torres, Rife, Marcial, De la Cruz
First row: Juan Carlos, Asensi, Sotil (Peru).
On the right Cruiff either getting ready to belt out a solo, or expelled for lack of singing form. Or lack of Spanish. The goalkeeper is absent. If you never heard the profound song of the 1974 Spanish champions, you are lucky.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Football in books can be enjoyable, but football in motion pictures is rare. Starngely, the exciting game never makes good film script. I have seen few films based on football and did not like any of them. Not memorable films and not up to my own taste. But here is an example: in 1981 Escape To Victory came out. A Second World War adventure film, more or less structured around a ‘life or death’ match between prisoners of war and Nazi military team.
Nazis and dog excluded, back row (left to right): Russell Osman (England), Paul Van Himst (Belgium), Mike Summerbee (England), Sylvester Stalone (Rocky/Rambo a goalkeeper?) John Wark (Scotland), Kazimierz Deyna (Poland), Soren Lindsted (Denmark)
Front row: Hallvar Thorsen (Denmark), Osvaldo Ardiles (Argentina), Michael Caine, Pele (Brazil), Bobby Moore (England), Co Prins (Holland).
What a selection? Well, except the goalie, but remember Brazil 1982? Holland 1974 and 1978? Even the great Ajax had no goalie to speak of. Now, the Nazis had no player of any standing and our boys won.
A moment of the match: POW Pele tricks a Nazi.
I always had the feeling Hollywood adapted a horrible actual event from the Eastern Front: there was a match in Kiev between Nazi team and Soviet POWs – the story says it was practically Dinamo Kiev, and is incorporated in the club history, but in the recent years the Dinamo version is refuted. But there was such a match. No black player and no Rambo, however.