Saturday, January 30, 2010

AS Monaco finished second in Group B of the Second Division and was promoted after a play-off. Strange club AS Monaco – often champions, but also often relegated. Yet another breed of club: those relatively rare ones, which are never consistent. Just as soon as they flew high and plummeting begins. Then rising again. And sinking again. And so on. AS Monaco, at least by the names of the players, seemed better team than either Troyes (which finished above them in Group B) or RC Lens (not direct opponent this year, playing in Group A) – but they struggled to ensure return to top football.
Top, left to right: Chomet, Mosca, Texier, Polny, Chlosta, Delachet.
Bottom: Dalger, Villa, Ruiter, Jean Petit, Claude Petit.
Some experienced first division players – Mosca, Polny, Chlosta; some up and coming talent – Dalger, Jean Petit; one veteran foreign player – the Brazilian Ruiter was in France since 1968, when he was the first ever Brazilian to play for Girondins de Bordeaux. Surely not a star – not by Brazilian standards at least – but apparently adjusted to French football, of which he lived to see not only First Division. One player of this squad reached fame – Dalger became regular national player in the second half of the 1970s. Hard to imagine him in the Second Division now, yet, perhaps it was similarly unimaginable to see him at World Cup finals in 1973.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Troyes won the B Group of Second French Division – another ‘unsettled’ club, meandering between promotions and relegations, but unlike RC Lens never managed to establish itself in First Division. Good for them to go up in 1973, but in general Troyes dwells in the lower division.

Bottom, left to right: Thoirain, Natouri, Tonnel, Trebuck, Steyer.
Top: Jacques, Formici, Chapuzet, Deferrez, Gregoire, Artelesa.
Well… not much a squad. Obviously, enough for promotion, but reinforcement was needed – it came in the form of Ilija Petkovic (see OFK Beograd above) eventually, but the club did not last in First Division.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Second Division was divided in two groups in 1972-73, and three teams were promoted: the champions of the two groups plus the winner of play-off between the second placed clubs. Curious promotions, from today’s perspective: the two champions, RC Lens and Troyes, and AS Monaco, after winning the play-off.

Top, left to right: Sowinski – coach, Kalek, Derouck, Hede, Masquart, Tempet, Marie, Lannoy.
Bottom: Grzegorczyck, Lhote, Wolniack, Elie, Mankowski, Zurazeck.
RC Lens were still a club from the ‘limbo’ zone – too strong for Second Division, yet, too weak for First Division, therefore regularly moving up and down. Not exactly consistent club attracting big attention. Lean years, but eventually they established themselves among the better French clubs after the mid-1980s. So far – only trying to survive. The most interesting feature of the team is the distinct Polish presence – some born in France: Sowinski, Wolniack, Mankowski, Zurazeck. Some former Polish national players quietly allowed to play in France – and the only players of some renown here – Ryszard Grzegorczyck (23 caps and 2 goals for Poland) and Eugeniusz Faber (missing from the picture; 36 caps and 11 goals for Poland).

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Nantes were close to a double, but were stopped by Olympique Lyon at the Cup final. Lyon are perhaps the best known French club today, which was not the case until 21st century – a solid club, but not quite good to compete for the title, they were better at winning the cup.
Top, left to right: Mihailovic, Domenech, Chauveau, Cacchioni, Prost, Lhomme, Trivic.
Bottom: Chiesa, Lacombe, Di Nallo, Ravier.
Solid squad, with two experienced Yugoslavs and various French stars, young and old - Di Nallo and Domenech well established and Chiesa and Lacombe promising good future. At the end, only Lacombe became really big player and important part of the increasingly stronger French national team of the late 70s and early 1980s. As for Domenech – well, certainly the contemporary coach is familiar. Same man, only winning a cup in 1973. As for championship – Lyon had to wait until 2000-01 season for their first title, when none of the above was playing.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Nantes was different outfit: the six years of draught apparently helped the club to build younger side and finally results arrived: League title plus finalists for the Cup.

Top, left to right: Bertrand-Demanes, Gardon, Osman, Bargas, De Michele, Maas.
Bottom: Blanchet, Michel, Couecou, Rampillon, Pech. Not everybody lived up to expectations, but Blanchet, Pech, Rampillon, and Bertrand-Demanes were candidates for the national jersey; Couecou was still solid player, and Henri Michel and the new Argentine Hugo Bargas certainly made waves – both played at World Cup finals: Bargas in 1974 and Michel in 1978. Henri Michel was not only part of the French revival, starting after 1975 and the top French midfielder of the 1970s, but later became successful and well respected coach. The goalkeeper Bertrand-Demanes also appeared at World Cup finals, but unlike Michel he was generally a reserve.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Not to be outdone by their Belgian neighbours, France also had new champion, although of more familiar name. Nantes had been champions before and traditionally are among the better French clubs, but the previous 6 years the title was monopolized by Saint Etienne for four years, followed by Olympique Marseille in 1970-71 and 1971-72 seasons. It looked like Marseille were going to win and win – at least such were their ambitions:

The champions of 1972: Bottom, left to right: Magnusson, Bonnel, Gress, Skoblar, Couecou.
Top: Zvunka, Kula, Novi, Carnus, Lopez, Bosquier.
When Olympique Marseille celebrated their 100 years in 1999, ‘France Football’ conducted a poll for their best ever team – this selection won, ahead of the team winning the European Champions Cup! Surely it is impressive – with Magnusson (Sweden) and Skoblar (Yugoslavia) in attack and fine group of French stars – Gress, Couecou, Novi, Carnus, Bosquier, and Zvunka. There was a third title coming… but only for Couecou, who was transferred to Nantes. For the rest – nothing. Only Skoblar was once again top goal scorer of the championship – hardly a reason for big celebration. The most likely reason for the failure was aging – most of the players belonged to the 60s rather than 70s, and names alone were unable to sustain success.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Holland was Ajax and Feyenoord. Ajax won the title, predictably. They won the Cup, predictably. Feyenoord finished second, predictably. ADO Den Haag was Cup finalist. Losing finalist, predictably. Let’s go away from the predictable: FC Volendam. But why mentioning obscure Second Division club?
Not for pure football reasons, really. Since their founding date in 1920, the club’s only fame was producing the Muhren brothers – Gerrie and Arnold, the first already famous with great Ajax, where both were playing already; Arnold will become famous years later. Some sources call them cousins, so go figure. But FC Volendam were the first in Holland in two other things: they were the first club to put sponsorship advertising on their shirts – and created a scandal because of that with their own amateaur section (the club joined professionalism in 1955, but preserved quite powerfull amateaur section as well). Both the concept and the sponsor were a problem: one was ‘unbecoming’ for self-respectful club; the other was illegal. The sponsor was pirate radiostation, Radio Veronica, broadcasting from a ship ancoured outside Holland’s territorial waters. The club used the station’s logo – a big letter V with a ship in the middle – and used the chancy add in their defence: the club claimed that V stands for Volendam and the ship… well, the ship was a local fishing vesel, celebrating the main occupation of the city’s folk. Flaky explaination, but legally impossible to call it a lie. Business is business, though, and the sponsors got bright idea – they used Volendam’s team picture for the sleeve of rock’n’roll album. It was a compilation of top Dutch bands, like the Cats, Continental Uptight Band, etc. Now, there was nothing new about football teams recording songs – even Pele did it – but this one was entirely different: the real bands played their real songs. It was rock album, not the usual novelty of pseudo-football songs sung by people hardly able to speak, let alone sing.
And here is the record sleeve, the real loge of the pirates on the top right corner, the list of bands, the shirt adds, lowly FC Volendam, and the weird headgear of their goalkeeper. Mind, George Baker Selection was quite popular in Europe at that time! Dreadful band, much played at disco clubs. End of story? Not quite – soon the Dutch clubs, big and small, followed Volendam’s experiment with the sirts: it was bringing cash.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

One step up the football hierarchy and more surprises: Belgium had new champion – FC Brugge.

Today the name is perhaps the best known outside its home country, but it was not so in the early 1970s – Belgium had good reputation based on the national team and two clubs, domineering the domestic league – Anderlecht (Brussels) and Standard (Liege). Anderlecht were even ranked among the top European clubs in the 1960s. By contrast, FC Brugge were pariah team – until 1973 they had won only one Belgian champioship and so long ago – in 1920 – that hardly anybody bothered to remember. It was nice to have variety and break a monopoly, yet nobody really took FC Brugge seriously in 1973 – one time wonder, most likely. ‘Everybody’ was wrong – 1973 was just a beginning. FC Brugge eclipsed both Anderlecht and Standard since then and are the best Belgian club for years. Yet, their victory took ‘experts’ unprepared:

The English did not even find a contemporary picture and used one from year of two ago, when Rensenbrink (spelled wrongly!) was still playing for FC Brugge. The champions were a bit different squad by now:

Back, left to right: Leo Canjels (coach), Roger Hermans, Johan Devrindt, Raoul Lambert, Pierre Carteus, Ruud Geels, Kurt Axelsson, Henk Houwaart, Ulrik Le Fèvre, Erwin Vandendaele, Luc Sanders.Bottom: Eddy Warrinnier (kine), Fons Bastijns, Norbert De Naeghel, Erik De Mey, Johny Nieuwenburg, Nico Rijnders, Johny Thio en Jaak de Wit (assistent-coach).Nothing to suggest greatness yet, but not anonymous team either – established Belgian national players – Van den Daele and Lambert; and plenty of foreigners, some fairly known players – Axelsson played for Sweden at the 1970 World Cup, but never a star and already over the hill; The Dane Le Fevre, acquired from Borussia Moenchengladbach; the Dutch Nico Rijnders, from the dawn of Ajax’s success. The coach Leo Canjels was also Dutch, as well as Nieuwenburg and Houwaart. And one more Dutch – Ruud Geels – who was to make a name for himself in the next few years. A mixture of small fry and players over the hill. Going by names, one would bet that FC Brugge was not going to win ever again. And that is why best is not to bet.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Sweden usually was regarded as strong national team, but not so at the club level. Hardly a surprise – the country run amateur championship, best players constantly going to play in the European professional leagues. And typically in such situation local clubs were more or less equal – never a strong hierarchy dominated by two or three rich clubs, although clubs from Stockholm and Gothenburg tended to be better than the rest. Better, but if one looks at the cities as a whole, because both had many clubs, none above the others. Rotating champions and unpredictable leaders is what makes football fascinating, yet, Swedish clubs were not strong compared to most European clubs. There was never concentration of talent, good players were scattered among the league instead. Which provided for the brief emergence of a small club from a small town: Atvidabergs FF won the Swedish title in 1972 for the first time in their history. They repeated the success in 1973 and made some good impression in the European Champions Cup tournament. Then… they sunk. And so far did not come back, normally playing in the Second Division, where one can find them currently as well.

The brief glory Atvidabergs FF enjoyed was largely due to the bunch of young exciting attackers Ralf Edstrom, Roland Sandberg, Conny Torstensson, and Benno Magnusson. Eager and talented, they were also players of the new breed – mobile and diverse, never shying away from going back to help the defense, and quick to use their skills in starting a counterattack. In brief, modern players attracted by and suitable for total football. They were invited to the national team, they impressed foreign specialists, and they… moved. Edstrom to Holland, and the rest – to West Germany. Magnusson was the least successful and memorable, but the others became often mentioned names – Sandberg playing left wing in the short revival of 1.FC Kaiserslautern; Torstensson winning European Champions Cup with Bayern; and Edstrom… well, he was leading the attack of strong mid-70s PSV Eindhoven before moving to other European clubs. The biggest international star coming from Atvidaberg.
The success, in a weird, yet, familiar way, was the undoing of Atvidabergs FF: as a small club, they had no mechanism for keeping their stars. As amateur club they got no real transfer fees to use for recruiting new talent. Apart from the four stars, the squad was bland – no other player made professional career abroad. No other player played for the national team. Just two glorious years for the fans to remember.

Atvidabergs FF:
Top, left to right: Edstrom, Torstensson, Sandberg, Franzen, Magnusson, Svensson.
Bottom: Karlsson, Olsson, Blomberg, Gustafsson, Andersson. The team was practically unchanged in 1972 and 1973, but in the late summer of 1973 the stars went abroad. The second title was clinched on the strength of the point collected in the spring half of the season. Next year there was no strength left.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Eastern Europe has to be ended with the ‘mother’ of them all – USSR. A new champion and not only that – Ararat (Erevan) made a double, winning both championship and cup. Unlike Zarya the year before, the Armenians were considered fair winners. No rumors of bribes and manipulations. Clearly, Soviet football was moving South and expanding, but in the same time it was a time of crisis – big clubs not winning may be fun, yet, when the small fry did provide players for the national team, it was more a case of weak Moscow and Kiev rather than sudden great talent bursting in remote republics and provinces. Total football was discussed constantly, but apparently was not played at all. Instead, Soviet football made Italy look like furiously attacking and scoring – in the USSR everybody played ‘safe’ football and most matches ended in 0-0 ties. The plague of getting sure point and to hell with winning, for winning meant attacking, exposed defense and… possible loss because of that, troubled the Federation and reform of some kind was introduced this season: no more draws. Every match ending in a draw should be decided by penalty kicks. The winner with penalties gets one point; the loser – zero. The clubs were not impressed – Kairat (Alma Ata) won 10 games by penalties and lost 1, which translates into 11 – out of total 30 – draws in regular time. They were not even the team with most ties: Zenit (Leningrad) managed 12 of which lost 9 shoot-outs. Even the champions had 7 ties , losing 4 shoot-outs. Yet, it was nothing compared to previous seasons: in 1972 same Kairat finished with 14 draws and in 1971 Torpedo (Moscow) ended 20 out of 30 matches in a tie. No wonder scoring was low: Torpedo scored only 27 goals in 30 championship games in 1971, receiving also 27 goals. Meantime, Dynamo (Kiev), the 1971 champions scored most of all – 41 goals – 1.37 goals on average. Only three clubs finished with less than 10 ties in 1971, which improved in 1972 – 6 clubs finished with less than 10 ties and goals ‘soared’ – Zarya and Dynamo (Kiev) topped all with 52 goals each – impressive average of 1.73 goals per game. Ararat matched exactly this number in 1973 – the champions were record goalscorers too… some achievment. The Federation was not happy and dropped the new rule for the next season, so everybody comfortably collected draws in 1974 – only three clubs finished with less than 10, but the lowest mark was 7 ties during the season. No wonder new rules were soon to be introduced – the Federation tried for years to change stagnated Soviet football. That is why new and changing champions were generally a concern rather than joy in USSR.
But champions are champions:
A double winners:
Top, left to right: R. Tzaginyan – team’s director, N. Simonyan-coach, L. Ishtoyan, A. Sarkisyan, A. Arutyunyan, A. Abramyan, N. Mesropyan, S. Bondarenko, A. Andriasyan, A. Kovalenko, O. Abramyan – assistant coach, A. Kegeyan – assistant coach.
Bottom: E. Markarov, S. Pogosov, O. Zanazanyan, S. Martirosyan, N. Petrosyan, N. Kazaryan, S. Gevorkyan.
Left to right: Markarov, Kazaryan, Andreasyan, Martirosyan, Ishtoyan, Gevorkyan, Bondarenko, Sarkisyan, Pogosyan, Abramyan, Zanazanyan – captain.
Relatively solid provincial squad, which contrary to Soviet practices was not much involved with the national team – itself a hint that the Soviets did not consider this team very good. Yet, it had Markarov, solid goal scoring veteran striker; reliable keeper – Abramyan; dangerous right winger – Ishtoyan; and too classy midfielders – Zanazanyan and Andreasyan. Andreasyan was the only Ararat player to last in the national team and to be considered a Soviet star. Good or bad, they beat Dynamo (Kiev) both in the championship and in the Cup final and are Armenian legends ever since. However, their biggest star was the coach – Nikita Simonyan, one of the all-time great Soviet players, played for Spartak (Moscow), so regardless ethnicity, he was not exactly Armenian star, until convinced to coach Ararat. As a coach, he never equaled the authority he had as a player, but was a good coach nevertheless and Ararat improved rapidly under his guidance. Good enough for a singular Soviet title. The Cup they managed to win one more time.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The honourable and great Czechoslovakian football of the first half of 20th century faded into just honourable for old time sake by 1970s. But that is international reputation and perceptions. At home – all depended on point of view: from Prague may be a disaster; from Slovakia – jolly good years. Decline in the centre, but the periphery flourished. 1972-73 was entirely Slovak provincial triumph with Spartak (Trnava), Tatran (Presov), and VSS Kosice finishing at the top three positions. And especially Spartak – it was amazing success: 5th title since 1967! The club founded in 1923 had won only one Cup until ‘the golden years’ – in 1951.They added a second Cup in 1967, then started winning championships – 1968, 1969, 1971, 1972, plus one more Cup in 1971.

The success was attributed to their coach Anton Malatinský, who is reffered to as ‘legendary’ nowadays. Perhaps the real reason was the financial back-up: Spartak was attached to the automotive plant TAZ and very likely the management of the plant was keen on sports and poured enough money to keep good players around, for provincial clubs normally cannot compete – better players tend to be lured by big clubs in big cities. By 1973 it was very experienced squad indeed:

With national players Kuna, Dobias, Adamec, Kabat, Masrna, experienced and respected Hagara, Geryk, Martinkovic, and young talent like Keketi and Varadin the team was well balanced and strong indeed. Well deserved title, to the envy of traditional leading clubs like Dukla (Prague) and Slovan (Bratislava).

Monday, January 4, 2010

DDR attracted little attention, so let step up a little: Poland had new champions. Stal (Mielec) won their very first title.

Industrial cities ruled Polish football, so the slight change from mining town Zabrze to the metallurgical Mielec hardly impressed. So little, that for years I thought Stal’s colours were green and white – the first photo of the club I saw had wrong colours. Players ment nothing in 1973. In 1974 everybody knew Lato and Kasperczak. Add Domarski, Rzesny, and Kukla. Good enough squad in Polish terms, where no club swallowed whatever talent existed in the country. Stal never lived up to their fearsome name (‘Steel’), but were one of the best Polish teams during the 1970s. Hard to believe today.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Dynamo (Berlin) finished 6th in 1972-73 season, in their usual mid-table place. East Germany, along with Poland, was big exception in East European football – everywhere else the capital city usurped the football scene, usually a two-team rivalry. Slight variation existed in USSR, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia, where it was dominance of two cities rather than two clubs and corresponding rivalry along nationalistic lines – the exceptions were all federate states, so at the end it was Russia vs Ukraine (Moscow clubs vs Dynamo Kiev); Czech Republic vs Slovakia (Prague clubs vs Bratislava clubs); Serbia vs Croatia (Belgrade clubs vs Dynamo Zagreb). Poland never established dominance of Warsaw in the football realm, but if this was somewhat a result of old established clubs in other cities, East Germany differed: its football was shaped by politics and ideology. As everywhere else in Eastern Europe, old clubs were destroyed or ‘purged’ from ‘capitalist’ past by mergers and renaming. New clubs were also forged, true to the ‘proletarian nature’ of the new state, but partitioned Germany made the new states an ideological front line. The very recent Nazi past made practically all old club suspect – therefore, renaming and dismantling of clubs went much broader than in the rest of Eastern Europe. Restoring of old names was almost never done in DDR – unlike the rest of Eastern Europe, where many old clubs restored their original names by the mid-1960s. But like the rest of East Europe, the Communist regime quickly forged its own clubs – in the painfully typical lines of army and police clubs – Vorwarts and Dynamo. For awhile Vorwarts seemed to be the ‘truest’ Communist club, heading towards domination, but by the end of the 1960s they were out of favour – which in a way was a result of unique problem: Berlin.
Berlin’s partition presented great difficulty – in the realm of football, it became hard to put it on top. Now, the city was never a leader of German football, but had many clubs nevertheless. Hertha was the most popular and considered the true Berliner club. Geographically, it ended in the Soviet zone, along with some other clubs. Before the Wall the city’s subway system connected East and West – it was this easy route to the West which eventually led to the building of the Wall – but before that unpleasant events happened: one day the administration of Hertha took the subway, emerged in West Berlin and set the club headquarters there. Many fans, however, remained in the East sector and continued to support Hertha at home, listening to radio broadcasts of West German matches. Other clubs splintered – 1. FC Union and Pankow were in East Berlin, but some of their members went to the West Berlin and registered clubs with the same names there. Which automatically made the East Berlin teams both suspect and unsuitable for state support. If Pankow were too small to matter, Union suffered – the state kept them poor and the club existed painfully, most often playing in the Second Division and winning a single cup during the existence of DDR. When it became clear to the rulers of the state that Berliners supported Union as if out of spite for not being able to support Hertha, the state made sure Union was not to win anything. This situation called for different approach – only in East Germany the Communist created clubs emerged in far away places instead of the capital: neither Vorwarts, nor Dynamo were founded in Berlin.
The roots of Dynamo were in Potsdam, where a club with the significant and meaningful name SG Volkspolizei (People’s Police) appeared as soon as Western and Eastern zones were established. Some members of the club were stationed (I suppose this is the proper word here) in Dresden and in April 1950 they founded SG Deutsche Volkspolizei there. ‘Founded’ is perhaps misleading term, for the basis of the new club was SG Dresden - Friedrichstadt, itself founded in 1945. Most likely the police usurped and renamed the previous club. Soon ‘Deutsche’ was discarded and until December, 1953 it was simply SG Volkspolizei (Dresden). On December 4 it was renamed Dynamo (Dresden) – again, rather ominous name, copying the name of the ‘mother’ club of East European police and its emphasis on the Secret Police-State Security branch, Dynamo Moscow. In January 1955 the first team of Dresden was moved to Berlin as SC Dynamo (Berlin) and not only that: the new Dynamo took the First Division place of Dresden, and the reserves of Dynamo (Dresden) were placed in the Second Division. Two years earlier the Army did the same with the original Vorwarts – moved them from Leipzig to Berlin, but unlike the Police club, the Army eventually gave up on Berlin and moved the club once again – in 1971 the football section of the army club went to Frankfurt an der Oder.
Dynamo (Berlin) stayed in Berlin and for years endured humiliation and empty stands, but Dynamo (Dresden) managed to come back from Second Division and not only that – thanks to Dynamo (Berlin), they were no longer seen as hateful Police club, but more of city’s club, which was beneficial to them after the Wall fell down: unlike Dynamo (Berlin), the Dresden club was not forced to change its name and was not reduced to small impoverished club. They played in the German Bundesliga, however briefly. Dynamo (Berlin) purged Dynamo (Dresden) from scary association with Communist regime and its Secret Police.
As for Dynamo (Berlin), they were not popular at all. Unfortunately for them, unpleasant references were a bit too much – even their stadium made a nasty statement: it ended at the Wall, and because of that a whole section of it was off limits. Empty stands above which the Wall grinned, and just in case someone did not get the message, there were armed border guards positioned in the empty sector during matches. Very inviting and cheerful. Never mind Dynamo reached ½ finals of the Cup Winners Cup at that time – hardly anybody noticed, although this was a sign of East Germans coming.
Top, left to right: Riediger, Terletzki, Yonelat, Eigendorf, Sarow, Brillat, Weber, Schutze, Ullrich
Bottom: Johannsen, Filohn, Kreidt, Lihsa, Fleischer, Lauck.
Not particularly great squad even by East German standards – Lauck is the only established national player and young guns Riediger and Terletzki showed promise. Later Riediger also established himself in the national team, but Terletzki never developed to a real star. Also played for DDR, but rarely.