Saturday, October 31, 2009

Second Division – a glimpse of the two winners in 1972, largely because I have photos of the teams… Pernik won the Southern Second Division in 1972 and were promoted to the First.
Top, left to right: P. Vladimirov – coach, V. Evgeniev, Zl. Avramov, R. Milanov, S. Malinov, Evl. Banchev – captain, P. Stefanov, N. Velinov, D. Dyulgersky – assistant coach.
Bottom: T. Vasilev, S. Yankov, V. Varadinov, R. Bozhilov, At. Cholakov, G. Yordanov, F. Slavchev, S. Shadov, An. Slavov.
The club from the industrial working class city of Pernik was one of the victims of 1968 forced mergers, but there were hardly any tensions because of that: the original clubs, representing the industrial nature of the city – Minyor (Miner) and Metallurg (Metalourgist) were never seen as rivals locally. Minyor was the oldest and generally popular club, representing the city and traditionally playing in the First Division. Metallurg belonged to a giant metalourgical plant and was seen mostly as a club belonging only to the plant and not to the city – coal mining was the traditional industry. Besides both clubs almost never in the same division and no rivalry developed. Minyor had reputation of tough guys, which was mostly due to the general perception of burly miners and industrial workers. Usually Minyor inhabited the lower half of the table, fighting to avoid relegation - they played rough football often, but obviously not to great results.
The merger brought new name – Krakra Pernishky (Krakra of Pernik, midevla local lord) and under this name they sunk one more time to the Second Division. But the new name was difficult to chant and in any case had nothing to do with industrial workers, so it was changed to Pernik, the name of the city. Eventually this name did not last either – in 1973 the club became Minyor again, the merger was quietly dissolved and Metallurg restored as well, starting in the 4th Division.
The close proximity of Sofia was the curse of Minyor (or Pernik) – they were routinely robbed of players by the clubs of the capital. Their coach is point in case – Vladimirov was one of the better Bulgarian players in the 1950s and CSKA got him, but did not used him much. The 1972 selection eventually suffered too – three key players eventually went to play for CSKA, Levsky-Spartak, and Akademik. But so far the team was quite good for a Second Division squad: they had great pair in the center of defense – Evlogy Banchev and Vesselin Evgeniev, both included in the national team. A very promising young broom commanded midfield – Varadin Varadinov (alas, never fulfilling the promise and soon disappearing from top level football) and very decent attacking line – Filip Slavchev – Georgy Yordanov - Angel Slavov (the wingers Slavchev and Slavov were eventually grabbed by Levsky-Spartak and CSKA, where they rarely played).
Good for Second Division, but not really good for the First: Pernik returned to their usual place – to the fight of avoiding relegation.