Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Between Brazil and Argentina, the third South American powerhouse – Uruguay – showed most clearly the troubles of the continent’s football. It was clearly and decline and lagging behind Europe. In the same time illusions were strong. Uruguay finished 4th in the 1970 World Cup. Good! Nacional (Montevideo) won both Libertadores and Intercontinental Cups in 1971. Good! What crisis? But after 1970 massive exodus of top players started. Nothing really new – Uruguay was main exporter for many years. But never in such numbers before… New talent, then… There was some, but was it sufficient? Hard to tell – today Uruguayan historians call the 1970s ‘transitional period’ for Penarol. Yet, in 1974 the World Cup selection was called ‘La Superseleccion’. Third World title was expected… Crisis or booming football? Uruguay after all is amazing: tiny population, yet, producing great talent. And not the whole country either, but only Montevideo. Now, Buenos Aires is the city with most professional football clubs in the World, but Buenos Aires has more than 10 times larger population than Montevideo. Besides, Argentine football is not only Buenos Aires. When it comes to percentages – there is no city like Montevideo: until 1999 not a single provincial club played in the First Division and hardly any in the Second Division. So far no club outside Montevideo won the national title. Only once a provincial club won the Second Division – Juventud (Las Piedras). Third Division – a record of 2 provincial winners: Juventud (Las Piedras) in 1995 and Oriental (La Paz) in 2004. Uruguayan football is Montevidean football… dominated by 2 clubs – Nacional and Penarol. The derby represents familiar division: the ‘people’ (Penarol) vs the ‘rich’ (Nacional). Penarol are more popular and more successful, yet, football is funny – the ‘people’s club’ was found by British railroad company. During the military dictatorship (1972-1984) the army supported Penarol, not Nacional.
Anyway, Penarol won their 19th title in 1973. They lost only one match.
1. Peñarol 22 14 7 1 38-16 35
2. Nacional 22 9 11 2 29-19 29
3. Danubio 22 10 8 4 26-15 28
4. Defensor 22 10 5 7 33-28 25
5. Rentistas 22 7 10 5 21-18 24
6. Liverpool 22 8 7 7 28-21 23
7. Cerro 22 8 7 7 24-24 23
8. Wanderers 22 4 13 5 16-15 21
9. CA River Plate 22 5 11 6 17-20 21
10. Huracán Buceo 22 3 10 9 22-29 16
11. Central Español 22 6 2 14 18-38 14
12. Bella Vista 22 1 3 18 10-39 5
How good they were? The team was aging and some former stars already moved to other countries. On the bright side – Fernando Morena. Perhaps the greatest Uruguayan player of the 1970s, the goalscorer played his first season for Penarol.

Morena won Uruguayan championships (1973, 74, 75, 78, 79, 81, and 82), 6 times he was the top goalscorer, amassing a total of 667 goals during his career in Uruguay and Spain.
Was Fernando Morena enough? Not really, but titles are titles.
19th title for Penarol in 1973
Top, left to right: Caetano, Corbo, Sandoval, Lamas, Fernandez, Gonzalez.
Bottom: Quevedo, Jimenez, Morena, Silva, Liucy (I am not sure about the name – this is frustratingly obscure player).
An aging team – Caetano, Quevedo, Lamas, Gonzalez. And apart from Morena only Jimenez seemed promising. Once upon a time I got this picture and was happy to have an Uruguayan team in my collection. The names of the players meant absolutely nothing… I guess they mean nothing to most people today.