Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Cup exemplified the shift of power: Benfica was meeting Boavista at the final, a no brainer… until the match was played and Benfica lost 1-2.
Boavista was old, modest club: founded in 1903, for a long time they the 5th (!) ‘greatest club’ in Porto. To say ‘greatest’ is boasting really, but still – ranking, even very local one, is ranking. ‘As Panteras’ (the Panthers) were lowly cats for long, long time, but quietly started getting better in the 1970s, along with the general improvement of Porto’s football. And this year they won their very first trophy! Beating Benfica on top of everything.
The squad itself hardly had big names and was not internationally successful, but they acquired a familiarity, if not fame, because of their unusual checkered kit. And chechered it is… if you closer, you will discover that half of the team uses one design, and the other half – different. To complete the eccentricity, Boavista had a real star as well:
Joao Alves was one of the best Portuguese midfielders in the 1970s. He played regularly for the national team, and true to the spirit of the decade, grew wild hair and beard. A star, no doubt, yet, going a step further than the other stars: he always played with black gloves. Apparently, his father, also a football player once upon a time, played with gloves and Alves honoured the family trait. Apart from that, he was elegant player, but unfortunately of lesser caliber than the 1960s vintage (as everybody else in the 70s), illustrating the general decline of Portuguese football: he moved to Spain, where the best played, but was good enough only for lowly Salamanca.
Colourful team, if nothing else, but they won deservingly and were to play strong at home for quite some time. Well, for a long time actually, so 1975 was just their arrival on central stage. I personally have a soft spot for the Panthers… must be kit, gloves, beards and hairs. One thing was certain, though: Boavista were no longer the 5th club of Porto. And with their help, Lisbon was no longer undisputed ruler of Portuguese football.