Wednesday, February 24, 2010

England compensated for everybody – once again competitive league and new champion. The last time a club won two consecutive titles was in 1959 – Wolverhampton Wanderers – this alone was telling. And where were yesterday’s mighty winners in 1973? Hmm… Derby County, 1972 champions, finished 7th. Manchester City, 1968 champions, were 11th; Everton, 1970 champions, were 17th, just a place above the 1967 champions Manchester United. Manchester United that low? I could not believe my favourites, still with impressive squad, sinking, but – hey, worse was coming soon!
And this was not everything, of course: Norwich City, who finished 20th and were bound to enjoy Second Division the next season, reached the League Cup final – they lost to Tottenham Hotspur, but only 0-1. Sunderland, 6th in the Second Division, went even higher: they won the F.A. Cup beating Leeds United in front of 100 000 spectators 1-0. Some losers and some favourites!

Heroes indeed. The first Second Division team to win the Cup. In terms of Sunderland fanship – wonderful team. Two players managed to elevate themselves from anonymity: Denis Tueart (just as often spelled Tuart), who became a minor star in England, shuttling between England and USA by the end of the 1970s, and Dave Watson, who reached the national team with his uncompromising hard style. Not bad for Watson, considering the competition – particularly Colin Todd. Neither Tueart, nor Watson stayed with Sunderland for long. If Tueart joined the flock of European players grazing on the green US pastures, Watson went in different direction – one of the few English players who went to West Germany by the end of the decade. Werder (Bremen) in his case. The rest…is just the rest. In a way, teams like Sunderland were responsible for the sad disappearance of the Cup Winners Cup – the least exciting European club competition even in the early 70s, where small clubs and second division clubs often appeared. The holders of the English Cup made no waves in the tournament and quickly were eliminated. Outside English context – some heroes.