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.