Saturday, September 5, 2009

Yugoslavia was more fun. On one hand, the local rivalry was more complex – between Belgrade and Croat clubs, itself split into two more big rivalries – between Crvena zvezda and Partizan in Belgrade, and Dynamo (Zagreb) and Hajduk (Split) in Croatia. On the other hand, Yugoslav football was interesting to watch. It was fairly competitive championship full of technical players – the Yugoslavs boasted to be the ‘Brazilians of Europe’ for good reason.
Zeljeznicar (Sarajevo) were the surprise champions in 1972. Not a bad club, but they belonged to the ‘secondary’ clubs of the league. It was not clear why they won – Crvena zvezda had very, very good squad at that time. Hajduk too. The other two big clubs were in relative decline, yet judging by the players not exactly worse than the team from Bosna and Herzegovina. Zeljeznicar had only three noticeable players – Josip Bukal, Josip Katalinski, and Enver Hadziabdic. Bukal was getting old, and apparently no longer needed for national duty, he was allowed to join Standard (Liege) after winning the title. Katalinski was younger and just establishing his place in the national team competing with strong players from other clubs – not yet undisputed star. The rest of the team was quite unknown. At first glance, it looked like the Soviet case – smaller club, having decent squad, using rare lapse of the establishment. Unlike Zarya (Voroshilovgrad), Zeljeznicar won fairly – no bribes and wild schemes.
The captain Bukal lifts the cup of champions. I fell in love with Zeljeznicar’s kit – the unusual combination of blue and … blue. Alas, this was a beginning of dominance – it was the only title the club won in its Yugoslavian history.
The first team was: Janjuš, D. Kojović, Bećirspahić, Bratić, Katalinski, Hadžiabdić, Jelušić, Janković, Bukal, Sprečo, Deraković.