Saturday, March 26, 2011

Speaking of snowy lands… Sweden, like Switzerland, did not have strong clubs, but unlike the Swiss had strong national team. And unlike the Swiss, was still running amateur football. If Swiss players rarely went abroad, the Swedes did that constantly, which did not help the clubs – in Europe, Swedish clubs did not count as a force. But this was to change and the change was coming from one of the most constant clubs – Malmo FF. 1975 was good year for them: they won a double. It was 11th title and 9th cup, evenly spread through different decades. Success was not a news for the club even in the 70s – they won the title in 1974, and 1970, and 1971.
Top, left to right: Eric Persson – President of the club, Harry Jonnson, Staffan Tapper, Bo Larsson, Anders Ljungberg, Sten Stjernquist, Krister Jacobsson, Krister Kristensson, Robert Haughton – coach, Egon Jonsson - administrator.
First row: Thomas Sjoberg, Roland Andersson, Jan Moller, Roy Andersson, Tommy Andersson, Tore Cervin, Tommy Larsson.
What about this squad? Well if you look back to the champions of 1971 and 1972, a difference occurs: Atvidabergs FF came from nowhere; had few exciting young players; won two titles; the young stars went abroad; the club started to fade. But if you look at Malmo FF, it was more or less the same squad from the late 1960s, led by Bo Larsson and Staffan Tapper (the best known players outside Sweden). Handful of national players, who for some reason never went abroad – Moller, Roland Andersson, Roy Andersson. It was slowly simmering and ripening squad, coached by young Englishman – Haughton was barely 35 years old in 1975, but already had a few Swedish titles. Longivity was the secret, which is even strange, for as a rule, a successful squad has a life of about five years: the full stretch of Malmo was 10 (going a bit ahead here: it was pretty much the same team reaching the European Champions Cup in 1979. The boys, who won the Swedish championship in 1970.) Longivity… the captain Krister Kristensson played 626 games for the club. Bo Larsson scored 289 goals in 546 games for Malmo – and he managed to play 3 seasons in West Germany as well. And these two were far from exception – it was a squad playing together year after year, and somehow the older they were getting, the better they were playing – contrary to the usual scenario of the sport. Yet, 1975 was not their finest year internationally and nobody paid attention. Even in Sweden – some of the boys were to be included in the national team later (Moller and Ljungberg, for instance.) Local heroes… one thing Malmo FF failed to do: they aimed to beat IFK Gotteborg’s record of 48 matches without a loss – but managed only 36.