Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Group 7. Although DDR was much talked about during 1974 World Cup, the team was not seen as potential winner of the group – if there was to be any fight for the first place, it was to be between France and Belgium. And it was not to be between two strong teams, but between two weak ones – France was shaky, trying to build competitive squad and so far failing. Belgium was in decline, with stars getting older and declining. New great players were seemingly absent. However, Belgium always performed better than expected in major tournaments – at least the fighting spirit of the ‘Red Devils’ did not diminish. DDR and France did not disappoint the pundits predicting gloom for the two countries. At the end, Iceland benefited most – the outsiders ended with unbelievable 4 points.
1.BELGIUM 6 3 2 1 6- 3 8
2.East Germany 6 2 3 1 8- 7 7
3.France 6 1 3 2 7- 6 5
4.Iceland 6 1 2 3 3- 8 4
France, struggling to build a team – and failing so far. But a skeleton of a team to make strong impression was already shaping. So far nothing… the team losing 1-2 at Leipzig on October 12, 1975 to East Germany: top, left to right: Tresor, Adams, Janvion, Bracci, Batheney, Baratelli.
Bottom: Rocheteau, Gallice, Michel, Guillou, Emon.
In a few years almost the same guys were to be praised – did not look possible in 1975.
When in doubt, choose Belgium – aging or not, they delivered. Rarely scoring goals, rarely receiving goals, pinching a point here, a point there, and advancing. Always collected, no ups and downs. Not exactly entertaining by 1975, but – first in the group. This is the team capturing 2-1 win over France in Brussels on October 12, 1974: top, left to right: G. van Binst, E. van den Daele, J. Verheyen, H. Broos, M. Martens, C. Piot.
Bottom: W. van Moer, R. Lambert, Francois vander Elst, J. Teugels, P. van Himst.
Some players were seemingly forever representing Belgium – van Himst, Piot, van den Daele. By 1975 they were judged over the hill and hardly capable of big surprise. It was a team seen in need of massive change, but new blood was not available. Dark years were envisioned for the Devils… especially when van Moer was heavily injured.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Group 3. Yugoslavia and Sweden were expected to compete for the first place, but expectations failed: Yugoslavia quickly took the lead and Sweden finished third. Easy group for the ‘plavi’.
1.YUGOSLAVIA 6 5 0 1 12- 4 10
2.Northern Ireland 6 3 0 3 8- 5 6
3.Sweden 6 3 0 3 8- 9 6
4.Norway 6 1 0 5 5-15 2
Yugoslavia vs Sweden, September 6, 1975: top, left to right: B. Oblak, O. Petrovic, I. Buljan, D. Muzinic, I. Surjak, J. Katalinski.
Bottom: D. Vabec, J. Jerkovic, F. Vladic, Dz. Hadziabdic, D. Dzajic.
It was all about depth – after the Word Cup a whole bunch of players went abroad, but there were plenty more eager to don blue shirts and get famous. Transition was smooth and none lacked experience and confidence. For the first time Yugoslavia included ‘real professional’ player in the squad – Branko Oblak, playing for Schalke 04 in West Germany. The rest of the team above was soon to go to Western European clubs as well, but so far they aimed at the European cup. Strong team, but traditionally moody.
Group 6. It was easy to predict the winners: USSR. The rest of the group were weaklings. The only question was were the Soviets any good – and they were not that great.
1.SOVIET UNION 6 4 0 2 10- 6 8
2.Ireland 6 3 1 2 11- 5 7
3.Turkey 6 2 2 2 5-10 6
4.Switzerland 6 1 1 4 5-10 3
USSR clinched the first place only a point above Republic of Ireland – not a sign of supremacy.
This line-up was used in both matches with Switzerland in 1975: left to right: Muntyan, Troshkin, Onishchenko, Lovchev, Zvyagintzev, Buryak, Konkov, Blokhin, Veremeev, Rudakov, Fomenko.
With Lobanovsky at the helm, team USSR was practically Dinamo Kiev. There was an ‘extreme’ , when Lobanovsky fielded only Kiev players, including the reserves, but the ‘modified’ selection (after protests and criticism) was hardly different: only Lovchev (Spartak Moscow) and Zvyagintzev (Shakter Donezk) were not from Dinamo and Zvyagintzev was eventually transferred to Kiev. So, the sensational Cup Winners Cup and Supercup winners in 1975. And the European player of the year. A team to make waves and shake Europe? Hmm… it was a team to start and end qualifying campaign with losses – 0-3 to Irelnad and 0-1 to Turkey. Scoring was a problem. Domination too… USSR rather fought its way than outplaying weaker opponents. At the end, the unconvincing performance of the national team fueled further the controversy clouding Dinamo Kiev’s success: how come the same players were so powerful in the club and so helpless in the national team? But as far as the national team was concerned, it did not look like USSR was a contender.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Going up? There were ephemeral and long lasting candidates in 1975, but my observations will be reserved for a team almost everybody missed to notice back then. Let’s take a look at competition in progress, for the unnoticed team belongs to it – the 1976 European Championship. So far – preliminary rounds, beginning further back, in 1974. Qualification round robin groups rarely get full attention – they are spread in more than two years and generally attract close interest only among immediate participants. Big overall observations are largely speculations on the ‘greatest”. And who were – are 0 the greatest? Italy, (West) Germany, Holland (finally), England (by habit), Spain (stubbornly), USSR (always ‘may be’). The usual suspects. Forget the rest until the quarterfinals. 1976 was to be the last European championship in ‘classic’ format: after preliminary groups, 2-legged direct elimination in the quarterfinals, and semifinals and finals in one country and one ‘sudden death’ matches.
The qualifying stage seems weird today, for we are conditioned to careful ‘presellecting’ and no longer to random draws. From contemporary point of view, the 8 qualifying groups back in 1974 were… uneven. There were some ‘light’ groups and some very ‘heavy weight’ ones, quite against ‘reason’: Holland, Poland, and Italy were to fight for one spot, but in the same time there was a group consisting of Wales, Austria, Hungary, and Luxembourg. The second and third finishers at the World Cup together when there was group of fading teams, to say the least… no wonder a whole lot of preliminary matches were hardly noticed. No wonder that some group winners were either already predicted, or did not really matter who qualified. Non-eventful groups… them first.
Group 2: Luxembourg were ‘certain’ team – to end last. Among the other three countries, it was expected Hungary and Austria to put some fight for the first place, neither very good at the time. And because of their decline Wales finished first – hardly a trong team set to disturb European status quo. What is there to say? Hungary and Austria were worse than thought.
1.WALES 6 5 0 1 14- 4 10
2.Hungary 6 3 1 2 15- 8 7
3.Austria 6 3 1 2 11- 7 7
4.Luxembourg 6 0 0 6 7-28 0
Wales in 1975: bottom, left to right: A. Griffiths, B. Flynn, W. D. Davies, R. Thomas, J. Mahoney.
Top: D. Smallman, T. Yorath, M. Page, L. Phillips, J. Roberts, J. Toshack.
Surprise winners – or heroic ones. Wales going ahead with confidence, but it was not a team expected to advance further. Similar to Northern Ireland, Wales was spirited team without enough high caliber players. Most of the choices were playing in lower divisions. There were hardly any stars. Toshack and Yorath were not enough to make the team real contender. Lovely team, adorable underdogs, but also the team to be eliminated at the ¼ finals.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Going down in 1975? Leeds United, surely. Missing one more opportunity in Europe, banished from European football after the riot of their fans in Paris, winning nothing. It was steady downhill to oblivion after that.
‘Super Leeds’ banner and Allan Clarke showing the League Cup to the fans in 1974. Nothing like that in 1975, so it is symbolic picture, showing the backs of the players. As if exiting already. Contrary to the banners, Leeds were only almost great… judging by their record. And the party was over.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Departing – the other inevitable side of football. Karl-Heinz Schnellinger hung his boots after the end of the Bundesliga season. Another bit of the 1960s stepped down, quite literally with the relegation of his last club. Born in 1939, Schnellinger ammased impressive biography: one of the best central-defenders or libero during the 60s, he somewhat slipped out of attention with the turn of the decade. He was nicknamed ‘Volkswagen’ for his unassuming, dependable kind of game. Never out of form, never flashy, yet he always delivered – and he delivered mostly in Italy.
Volkswagen for Milan, where the German spent most of his career.
He started in 1959 with 1. FC Koln and won the West German championship (before the Bundesliga) in 1962. In 1963 he moved to AC Mantova (Italy), but clearly was not to stay in a modest club – AC Roma got him next year and after one-year spell in Rome, he became rosonero and stayed with Milan for almost 10 years (1965-74). And he won a plenty – twice champion (1962 with 1.FC Koln and in 1968 with AC Milan), 4 Italian Cups – AC Roma, 1964 and three with AC Milan (1967, 1972, 1973). In 1969 he won the European Champions Cup with AC Milan, followed immediately by winning the Intercontinental Cup. Add two Cup Winners Cups – 1968 and 1973. That’s on club level.
As a national team player, he was not so successful and it was not his fault really – perhaps he was just unlucky to play between the two greatest generations of West German football – too young to be among the World Champions of 1954 and too old to grace the European Champions of 1972 and the World Champions of 1974. But… he played at fours World Cup finals - 1958, 1962, 1966, and 1970. One of the still few players of such achievement. He played 47 matches for West Germany and scored 1 goal.
Getting ready for his last World Cup. The leam starting the friendly against Romania in April, 1970: left to right: Wolfgang Overath, Sepp Maier, Karl-Heinz Schnellinger, Franz Beckenbauer, Wolfganf Weber, Erich Maas, Helmut Haller, Horst Hottges, Gerd Muller, Jurgen Grabowski, Berti Fogts. Kaiser Franz still in midfield – not yet moved to defense, where the Volkswagen reined supreme. The 1970 World Cup was worthy ending for the great player – he scored his first and only goal for the national team against Italy. West Germany eventually lost the match, but the clash is still considered one of the best games ever played.
How bitter to lose to a teammate? Schnellinger swapped jerseys with another Milan player – Gianni Rivera. Against each other, Rivera won… but together they still had to win an international cup. Alas, nothing with West Germany – Schnellinger was called for the last time in 1971 – there was iron duo already in place (Beckenbauer and Schwarzenbeck) and there was no more place for Karl-Heinz.
He left AC Milan in 1974 and returned to West Germany, tasting the Bundesliga for the first time.
Swan song… Schnellinger joined Tennis Borussia (West Berlin), newcomers to the Bundesliga. Both the club and its new captain were debutantes. TeBe did not have competitive squad and Schnellinger was not able to save the club from relegation alone. Perhaps his last season was bitter… perhaps not: people forget that many superstar played their final seasons in small clubs and lower divisions (Bobby Charlton, for instance).
Captaining TeBe against the yet future champions Borussia Moenchengladbach and trying to prevent deadly Jupp Heynckes from scoring. Left of Schnellinger is hopeless goalie Birkenmeier. Difficult last season in the cold both symbolically and literally struggling with the snow. After TeBe went down, Schnellinger retired from football. Didn’t like the snow? May be… Birkenmeier went to play in the USA and Schnellinger returned to Italy and settled as a businessman.
Hats off to the great player – he ended his career modest as ever, as a true Volkswagen. And as a true Volkswagen he captured hearts.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

European Player of the Year was another Eastern European player and close look at the final list was more alarming than the Golden Boot ranking: it clearly showed how impoverished 1975 was. 26 voters assembled from around Europe named a total of 32 players in their lists. The number was not strange – bias was a major force and many a voter sneaked a compatriot player, so the numbers usually swelled without corresponding to actual worth of international performance. Most voters were rarely seeing foreign stars anyway, so it was hard to acuse them of favouritism – they simply were not sure of the form of even big names, but knew well enough local talent.
What was troublesome was the top five: only three players got first place in individual lists. Sepp Maier was voted first twice. Franz Beckenbauer got 4 first places. The rest – 20 lists – went to Oleg Blokhin. Johann Crujff got none. Neeskens sunk down to the bottom of the final table. So with Gerd Muller. So with pretty much every star of the 1974 World Cup and most of the European famous names.
Blokhin ended best with 122 points. The total of Kaizer Franz, finishing second, was 42 points. Cruyff got only 27. Bertie Fogts – 25 and Sepp Maier 20. 80 points difference between first and second! One may think a new Pele suddenly appeared in time when there was no any other player worth a dime. Was it really Blokhin 80 points better than Beckenbauer? Light years better than Cruyff? Not at all. It was just mediocre season and in the kingdom of the blind the one-eyed was king. Everybody was underperforming, losing, or winning a little bit. Blokhin only was winning more than anybody this year: Soviet championship, European Cup Winners Cup, European Supercup, scoring all the goals in the Supercup finals, best goalscorer of the USSR. Nobody else got so many trophies and at such convenient time, for the Supercup, the Soviet championship, and the goals in both competitions came in the fall, near to the time of voting, and the memories were fresh.
Oleg Blokhin attacking Bayern and scoring supergoal, and winning the Supercup. Arguably, this confrontation elevated him to the yearly award.
In 1975 Blokhin was 23 years old and Europe’s number one. Was Blokhin that great? By Soviet standards – yes. By international ones – hardly. He debuted for Dinamo Kiev in 1969 and quickly established himself in the first team and more: he was included in the national team in 1972. By 1975 he was a staple of both Dinamo and USSR. He was also the best Soviet goalscorer 4 years in row, beginning in 1972. Back then he topped everybody else with 14 goals. In 1975 his record was 18. Well, hardly a potential Golden Boot winner, but in USSR there hasn’t been great and consistent goalscorer for a long, long time. It was a bit unsusual, though, for Blokhin was a classic left winger – very fast, relatively skillful, and also quite limited to the left side touchline: he seemingly disliked moved elsewhere and appeared to lack abilities to play anything else but classic left wing. He was also often criticized in the Soviet press in the previous years, especially for weak playing in the national team. Hardly Blokhin’s fault, though – Dinamo Kiev was prepared to play for him and use his goalscoring when the national team had different scheme and Blokhin, at least in his early years, was to be a supplier rather than consumer. As a supplier he was not that strong – he was best used as a final striker, a finisher. When Lobanovsky got his hands on Dinamo Kiev, it was exactly for that he used Blokhin - he discarded the centre-forward and as strange as it was, the left winger was the finisher. So far Blokhin had been rather predictable and limited winger, depending largely on his speed and using scoring opportunities. Onishchenko was by far the more interesting, dangerous, and inventive player, but Blokhin scored the goals. And now his speed and goals against Bayern made him the best European player. Sure – for his abilities, Blokhin had a great year. It would not count for much, given his limitations, if there was somebody else playing strong football in 1975. But everybody was playing worse football, not better…
Oleg Blokhin was never voted again Player of the Year and for a while it looked like his 1975 award was just a freak accident. But he surprisingly widened his game and 10 years later was much more accomplished player. And already the best Soviet player of all time. Hard to imagine in 1975, although he was the King of Europe.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Awards completed the year. Just like everything else in 1975, the best individual players were strange. The Golden Boot went to Dudu Georgescu. The Romanian striker of Dinamo Bucharest was barely known around Europe, but this was hardly surprising: since the requirement was simply the most number of goals scored, the Golden Boot was very likely to be won by inferior player from gutter championship. Romanians were not at their best football in mid-70s, but still not terribly bad. Georgescu was rising star, at least locally. He topped Europe with his 33 goals – in the 18-team Romanian league that made almost a goal in every match: 33 goals in 34 games. Actually, very good as far as percentages go.
Dudu Georgescu celebrating yet another goal.
And much more somber Georgescu posing with the Golden Boot and surrounded by worthy company: left to right: Riedl (Royal Antwerpen and Austria, Bronze Boot), Onnis (Monaco and Argentina, Silver Boot), Yazalde (Sporting Lisbon and Argentina, Silver Boot), Vogts (Borussia Moenchengladbach and West Germany, The Best Defenseman of the Year), Georgescu (Dinamo Bucharest and Romania, Golden Boot), Geels (Ajax and Holland, Silver Boot).
Georgescu was not trouble – the numbers were trouble. His 33 goals were the lowest number so far in the history of the Golden Boot. Looked like goals were increasingly difficult to score, which may have been due to tougher defenses (no wonder Bertie Vogts is really at the centre of the picture), or due to decreasing number of great strikers. Three Silver Boots were awarded for three players were tied at 30 goals each, but none played in really big championship. Total football was king and goals were less? Troublesome contradiction. One thing was more or less sure in retrospect: the decline of the Golden Boot and the controversy surrounding the award can started in 1975 – from this year it was clear that great strikers were not to win it, for they played in tough leagues. Anonymous Joes from small leagues were to be best goalscorers of Europe. Dudu Georgescu, to his credit, was not among the small fry – he was born goalscorer and in different times would have fared much better. Unfortunately he played in time when Romania was ‘rebuilding’ and made no impression on international football. And Romania did not export players during Georgescu’s career, so he had no chance for playing in better club and getting true recognition. He continued to score, though.

Monday, September 12, 2011

So far unsatisfying and bleak club season ended sourly. The Intercontinental Cup was not played at all and it looked like the end of this tournament. Thus, the European Supercup was, at least technically, the peak of club football. In reality the competition was shaky – it started as a private challenge between Ajax and Glasgow Rangers and although sanctioned and incorporated by UEFA, the contest between the European Champions Cup and the Cup Winners Cup winners attracted little interest – fans went in mass, of course, but otherwise nobody paid much attention. Somehow the ‘top’ competition was not seen as really ‘top’ – and the stigma remains to this very days. In 1974 there was no contest at all – apparently, for political reasons, for clubs of the two Germanies had to meet (ironically, they met after all – in the second round of the 1974-75 European Champions Cup Bayern eliminated 1. FC Magdeburg, beating them twice.) Nobody even noticed the Supercup was played… but it was to be revamped in 1975, opposing Bayern to Dinamo (Kiev). It was not expected to be great… there was grudge against both clubs. It was expected Bayern to win – Dinamo were not thought really good and it was high time to put them in their place. Bayern was the lesser evil – it was painful to think of another trophy going to Munich after yet another boring performance, but their experience, will power, and physicality was deemed supreme. The contest was still organized in two legs, first match in Munich. A bomb dropped… Dinamo outrun Bayern and won. In Kiev they won as well. Bayern, the natural born winners, were not able to score at all. The Soviets played faster, tougher… they looked more German than the Germans. In the clash of robots, the Soviet made had better batteries. Oleg Blokhin scored all goals – Gerd Muller ended with zero.
1st Leg, Olympiastadion, Munich, 9 Sep 1975, att 30000

Bayern Munich (0) 0 Dinamo Kiev (0) 1
66' 0-1 DK: Blokhin

Bayern Munich
Maier, Zobel, Horsmann, Schwarzenbeck, Beckenbauer, Weiss, Dürnberger(Roth), K.H. Rummenigge, G. Müller, Kappelmann, Wunder
Dinamo Kiev
Rudakov, Troshkin, Fomenko, Reshko, Zuev, Konykov, Damin, Buryak,
Kolotov, Slobodyan, Blokhin

2nd Leg, Republican Stadium, Kiev, 6 Oct 1975, att 110000

Dinamo Kiev (1) 2 Bayern Munich (0) 0
40' 1-0 DK: Blokhin
53' 2-0 DK: Blokhin
Dinamo won 3-0 on aggregate

Dinamo Kiev
Rudakov, Troshkin, Fomenko, Reshko, Zuev, Konykov, Muntyan, Buryak,Veremeyev, Onyshchenko, Blokhin
Bayern Munich
Maier, Weiss, Horsmann, Schwarzenbeck, Beckenbauer, Roth, Dürnberger(Hansen), Schuster (Torstensson), Wunder, Kappelmann, K.H. Rummenigge
The picture shows what was expected before the matches: Zobel ready to score in the net of Rudakov.
If not Zobel, hawkish Muller then… under pressure, Dinamo was to crack sooner or later – and on photos it looks just that.
But it was unstoppable Oleg Blokhin to crack Bayern. Three times and in the presense of Schwarchebeck (4) and whoever wears number 8. really, Bayern players were reduced to ‘whoever’ anonymity by Dinamo.
Reshko, Fomenko, and Muntyan try to lift the Supercup. Weird cup… somewhat too huge for its actual reputation. Looks too heavy for Kiev’s players too… as if not really for them. But it was theirs and without a shade of doubt. Mighty Bayern was utterly and completely destroyed.
So, Dinamo were the best of the best… Doubts emerged during the matches and percolate ever since. One is the attitude of Bayern – there was a suspicion that they were not really trying and only putting an appearance. They were thought not interested in this Cup and not wanting to play. Beckenbauer is still regularly asked to tell the truth… football players are notoriously tied-lipped when the topic is suspicious games. They are vague at best – usually, there was wide-spread corruption during their times, but they don’t really know concrete names, because they themselves were never involved. That’s the most one can get from players… and Beckenbauer routinely answers that Dinamo was just better in the early fall of 1975, Bayern tried the best they can, but were outplayed and lost fair and square. May be there was something in the Kiev’s camp, may be some tampering, but the Kaiser doesn’t really know… but Bayern – they were clean.
The suspicion remains largely because Bayern were outrun – then the starting list was put under scrutiny and looks like Bayern played with whole bunch of reserves.Muller did not appear in the second match, Hoeness missed both games, Zobel and Roth did not either play in both matches, or were substitutes, Hansen and Trostensson were substitutes. Rummenigge (not the superstar yet, but rather suspect ‘may be’), Weiss, some entirely unknown Schuster… Horsmann… the latter was probably the only justifiable starter, for he was expected to be the new Bayern’s left full back – alas, one of the biggest disappointments against Dinamo. Strange team… not wanting to win? Not caring for the Supercup? Possibly.
As for Dinamo, their fantastic condition was very suspicious. It was mildly suspect against Ferencvaros, but very suspect against Bayern: how come out of the blue sluggish and hardly impressive players transformed into mighty runners, passed the ball with uncanny precision and beat Bayern in what the Germans were best? Officially, nothing wrong was suspected, though and as far as UEFA is concerned, Dinamo-1975 was never acused or investigated. Outside UEFA there was and is a strong conviction that Dinamo were doped – not for the particular finals, but for the whole season. After all, Lobanovsky worked close with ‘scientific laboratory’ and who knows what ‘science’ was concocted there. The real doubt is fueled by this: in 1974 Dinamo were still neither great, nor impressive, They were good enough for the Soviet league out of which so far no good club team ever emerged on the international scene. Then the same players had fantastic 1975 season – the sudden transformation was too much and perhaps would have been swallowed as normal development, if the squad continued to play great football. But Dinamo sunk into mediocrity in 1976 and for the most of team it was quick and steady downfall after that. How come those guys had only one great season, so different from their usual level? How come they faded so quickly and beyond repair? The questions perhaps will never be answered.
What can be answered is something usually overlooked: USSR (and Russia today) had spring-autumn season as opposed to fall-spring season in most of Europe. In the early September Dinamo were in midseason and in prime form. Bayern were coming out of the summer break and the German season barely started. If Dinamo were well oiled squad, playing regular championship games, Bayern had new players to fit in and had only friendlies behind them. The Soviets were made team and the Germans were a team in making. This was big difference and also explains the ‘strange’ players fielded by Bayern. It was not like Dinamo fielded their normal starters either, but they had the advantage of known quality: Damin, Zuev, Slobodyan were varieties of established team – Bayern’s ‘strange’ players were experiments in possibilities. Players getting to know each other, players tried, players put in different positions for learning different tactics and options. Whether accusations of doping and not willing to play have any weight is perhaps less important than the simple fact that Dinamo were in prime form and Bayern objectively had no way to be in such form yet. Suspicions or not, Dinamo Kiev took the Supercup home. Good for them, yet, the Supercup was sour ending of a sour season.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Of course, one forgets immediately domestic misfortunes when a final comes: Bayern vs Leeds United! The names alone suggested mighty clash, for never mind momentary form, when British and German clubs meet one must be certain that the opponents will put fantastic fight. The stage was perfect – Paris. The referee was one the top at the time – the Frenchman Kitabdjian. So, no monkey business.
M. Kitabdjian – important to mention, because it was the Greek referee two years earlier robbing Leeds from a Cup Winners Cup. There was no such danger this time and considering the opponents, the game was in capable hands. Before the match started, that is.
When it started it was not what fans hoped for… Clash it was, surely, but football? Leeds United attacked for 90 minutes and Bayern was reduced to defending in their own penalty area. It was not like the Germans came on the pitch minding to play catenaccio – they loved to attack as well, except they were not capable of attacking. Hardly pressed by Leeds, they just fought to clear the ball away from the net. It was English show, yet, unsuccessful one… Beckenbauer and company fought hard, as a wall, and the dominance of Leeds was fruitless. Or almost fruitless – a goal scored by Lorimer was denied , for Bremner was offside. On two occasions penalties were denied. The English were quick to cry ‘robbery’ and point accusingly to the ‘blind’ Kitabdjian, but… Bremner was offside and as for penalties… both occasions were rather questionable.
Lorimer shoots and scores, but Billy Bremner is offside… bad luck, no more. Leeds was so supreme a goal was just a matter of time.
Looks like clear penalty and no whistle. Decisisve moment? Perhaps. As for the penalty… one has to take the times into account. Short of mass murder, 1970s referees hardly ever awarded penalties. Blatant diving was employed as a counter-measure by 1975, but Allan Clarke was not a diver or at least not at this moment. The other problem was Kaizer Franz himself: he was not a dirty player, just the opposite – a gentleman never playing rough. His tackles were feather-light, hardly ever getting into contact with the striker. And he had huge reputation as well, so one thinks not even twice, but ten times before calling a foul against Beckenbauer. It is not to say the Kaizer was above committing fouls, but… they did not look like fouls: here he appeared to be trying to slide and clean the ball, missed, and caught Clarke’s leg accidentally. It is largely in the posture – Franz appears to miles away from Clarke’s body, seemingly disinterested in it, even doing his best to avoid the slightest hint of contact. And the Kaizer duped the referee, for he committed a foul – a foul not looking like a foul… Leeds paid the price, but fouls like that were increasingly employed, eventually named ‘professional fouls’ and moved away from the penalty area: they were routinely committed just to stop an attack, became essential tactical weapon and plagued and destroyed the game in the 1980s. The denied penalty above is simply an early example.
But whatever Leeds were denied by the referee hardly excuses the team – they were so supreme, they should have scored, no matter the heroics and the fouls of Beckenbauer, Schwarzenbeck, and above all Maier, in entrenched defense. Sure, it looked like goal was to be scored in the very next second, in the next attack… but Leeds failed to score.
Dire times for Bayern – Muller spent most of the game in front of the net, except it was not Leeds net, but his own. Lorimer was unstoppable… and failing to score again and again, and again.
Until the 71st minute… when the Germans scored. Ten minutes later Muller finally appeared in front of Leeds goalie and it was 2-0 Bayern. They shot twice in 90 minutes and scored 2 goals.
What a major disappointment: Bayern was outplayed, clearly was not equal to the task, but nevertheless by sheer power of will not only survived, but won. Not pleasing anybody, though. Undeserving victory… but victory.
Final, Parc des Princes, Paris, 28 May 1975, att 50000

Bayern Munich (0) 2 Leeds United (0) 0
71' 1-0 BM: Roth
81' 2-0 BM: Müller

Bayern Munich (trainer Cramer)
Maier; Beckenbauer, Schwarzenbeck, Dürnberger, Andersson (Weiss);
Zobel, Roth, Kapellmann; Hoeness (Wunder), Müller, Torstensson
Leeds United (trainer Armfield)
Stewart; Reaney, F.Gray, Madeley, Hunter; Bremner, Giles, Yorath
(E.Gray); Lorimer, Clarke, Jordan
Referee: Kitabdjian (France)
By hook and crook Bayern lifted the European Champions Cup for a second time. There was plenty to be said about this final post-factum. Losers first.
Leeds United before the start of the final. It became the swan song of the club, although nobody detected it at the time. The signs of downfall were already there – Leeds plummeted to midtable position in England, but their weak season was obscured by the general unpredictable competitiveness of English football. The bad luck and outrages refereeing further obfuscated the club’s troubles: they lost two European finals, but were seen as victims of others. Years later British observers reasoned that Leeds were already dangerously aging, but such opinion somewhat contradicts evidence: so far Leeds showed capability of gradual smooth change of generations – surely Giles, Bremner, Reaney, Eddie Gray were getting long in the tooth, but Madeley, Clarke, Hunter, Lorimer were still in their prime, and Yorath, Jordan, and McQueen were young and already establishing themselves as key players. Transition seemed fine. True, Don Revie left to coach the English national team, but Armfield was experienced enough and looked like just a matter of time until he gets Leeds in shape. It was not to be, though – 1975 was the final year of Leeds United, they expired right then and if one looks at their record from the early days of Revie’s dream back in the 1960s, one thing became painfully clear: Leeds were not winners. They won very little during their golden years and the vision of making an English version of great Real Madrid never materialized. Internationally, Leeds won only the old Fairs Cup in 1968. Somehow, as good as this team was, it was not a winner – it was only a second-best, a promise of greatness never fulfilled. After the lost final there was more, practically putting the lid on Leeds: fans violence was already growing, but this time it was really noticed – angry and disappointed English fans started massive fighting immediately after the final whistle. The riot was so bad UEFA punished the club with three years banishment from European competitions. Football violence only grew after that and became a permanent part of the game – so 1975 and Leeds have the dubious honour of introducing the trend to the world.
Bayern put different stamp of football – on the pitch, not in the stands.
Happy with their second European Champions Cup: bottom, left to right: Hans-Josef Kapellmann, Sepp Maier, Rainer Zobel, Hans-Georg Schwarzenbeck.
Top: Franz Roth, Bernd Durnberger, Franz Beckenbauer, Klaus Wunder, Franz-Josef Weiss, Gerd Muller, Conny Torstensson.
First of all, Bayern became only the third club so far able to win back-to-back Cups – after Real Madrid and Ajax Amsterdam. A sign of greatness, hands down. Unlike the other two, Bayern was not exactly convincing winner – they rather survived the perils of the finals, and by sheer will extracted victory. Tough and admirable for that boys, but hardly pleasing to watch. Like Leeds, Bayern had disastrous season and new coach – unlike Leeds, their previous coach did not leave on his own, but was fired. Yet, like Leeds, the new coach hardly changed anything, continuing already established tactics and squad. Cramer continued what Lattek already started: gritty, physical game, in which Bayern was constantly pressing the opposition everywhere on the pitch. Iron spirit, excellent condition, and no no-sense fancy football. Imagination was seemingly banished for good after 1973 – just outrun the opposition and win. Victors Bayern were – tough relentless, inexaustible fighters, with iron determination and no nerves. They employed mercilessly every trick in the book – the so called ‘professional fouling’ was more or less their invention; they never shied away from artless clearings; from the off-side trap. And there was no way to break their spirit and will – no matter the result, they were playing as if they were winning. The impression on their opposition was massive: Bayern was a team impossible to beat, they looked fierce, and even leading 3-0 against them was no comfort, but frightful. Born winners and winners they were, except it was no longer the real stars who won the games: especially in Europe, it was the ‘gritty’ players who won the games. It was Schwarzenbeck equalizing in the 90th minute against Atletico Madrid in 1974. It was Franz Roth scoring the first goal against Leeds in 1975. It was the ‘work horses’ making the difference: unimpressive, unimaginative, unartistic, yet, ever determined, always excellently fit, and capable to play at every position. Roth, Durnberger, Weiss… dull and effective crushers. And victory depended on them. And Bayern was increasingly becoming full of them. And this dreadful kind of football was becoming the norm, for it was successful. Who cares about beauty when at the end a cup is lifted in triumph. Mediocrity was becoming the road to victory. It cannot be denied, though – Bayern’s brand of football was triumph of will, discipline, condition. One has to appreciate that. One may not like it too. Bayern were bitter-sweet winners.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

As ever, the ‘real thing’ was the European Champions Cup and there was little alarm at first – it started ‘naturally’, that is, the expected winners were winning. It was kind of boring beginning, although the fun was to start at later stage. Or so was thought. There was a little personal disappointment: my Levski was paired with Ujpesti Dosza at the first round. Since hope never dies, the atrocious spring season of Levski was to be put aside and better game was surely to be played at the beginning of the new season. The Hungarians were seen as beatable… until they arrived in Sofia and destroyed clueless Levski. Grieve aside, Ujpesti Dosza looked pretty impressive – mobile, fast, confident, playing total football most of the time.
Ujpesti Dosza: top, left to right: Adam Rothermel, Jeno Kellner, Laszlo Fekete, Laszlo Fazekas, Antal Dunai, Ferenc Bene, Laszlo Nagy, Karoly Szigeti.
Sitting: Endre Kolar, Laszlo Harsanyi, Andras Toth, Endre Dunai, Jozsef Horvath, Sandor Zambo, Peter Juhasz.
Entirely different team from hopeless Ferencvaros seen against Dinamo Kiev in the spring of 1975. The Lilacs were the right combination of experience and youth, they had no weak position, and even their reserves were strong. In the fall of 1974 Ujpesti Dosza looked very promising: after the great World Cup, football apparently continued to develop in the right way and here was evidence - more and more teams were embracing total football. Which was a promise for competitive fun… not to materialize. The Hungarians were eliminated quickly at the 1/8 finals, losing both legs to Leeds United. The whole tournament continued in this predictable way – the favourites progressing, no surprises, and nothing really new emerging. It was rather routine process, in which something else eventually was noticed: the favourites were winning, but not confidently. They struggled. And struggled not that much because of worthy opposition, but because there was something wrong with them. By the ¼ final stage it was painful: Ararat (Erevan, USSR), Ruch (Chorzow, Poland), and Atvidabergs FF (Sweden) reached it, but by the lucky chance of drawing lesser opponents – none of the three was a revelation. They were promptly eliminated, yet, the mighty favourites going ahead did not impress. Bayern even lost the second leg to Ararat 0-1. The final four were easily assessed and after the first ½ final leg it was not a prediction, but a certainty:
Beckenbauer vs Cruijff. Not because Bayern and Barcelona were great – both clubs had mediocre season so far – but because there was nobody else and at the end the best players in the world were the whole difference. Bayern extracted 0-0 tie visiting Saint Etienne (France) and Barcelona managed 1-2 loss visiting Leeds United. The second legs were no brainer…
In a way, the snowy pitch at St. Etienne symbolized the season: tough and gritty, without smiles and happiness. The Germans had to use even Muller in defense, but Maier, Beckenbaure, Schwarzenbeck, and – yes, laughable defender Muller – were able to survive the assaults of Herve Revelli and company. The same was envisioned in the other ½ final as well.
Bayern won 2-0 in Munich, but Cruijff and his Spanish tugs met their match in Barcelona… Leeds United, highly versed in tuggish and tough fighting managed 1-1 and went to play the final. What a collapse in a less than an year time… managed by the creator of total football and having two of the archpriests of the style – Cruijff and Neeskens – Barcelona showed classic boring Spanish football and was gone. No better in the domestic championship either… which was the case of Bayern and Leeds as well. The finalists were midtable clubs…

Monday, September 5, 2011

Cup Winners Cup. The tournament reached its lowest point this season. True, it was never exciting and increasingly becoming not the second, but really the third European competition, yet even by its declining standards it was bad – at least in previous years strong clubs played at the final. In 1975 the finalists were not so and both were East European: Dinamo (Kiev) and Ferencvaros (Budapest). It all depends on the standpoint, though – for some (myself included), it was clear sign of post-World Cup hangover. For others – a sign of decline, either of European football as a whole, or at least of this particular tournament. In times of superclubs, to keep a competition for occasional lucky one-timers was useless. There was a third part, naturally: they argued that everything was just fine and especially football in Communist East Europe was on the rise. Well, if one was supporter of Dinamo or Ferencvaros, it appeared to be exactly that. For non-supporters it was plainly fun to have new names contesting the Cup. From today’s point of view the skeptics of 1975 seem right: the tournament is dead for years now precisely because it was weak and no fun.
It was not that there were no strong candidates, however few: Liverpool, Real Madrid, Eintracht Frankfurt, PSV Eindhoven, Benfica entered the competition and were considered favourites. Three clubs on the rise; one recovering; and one aging, but still strong. Speculations in the early Autumn of 1974 quickly proved wrong – the favourites were eliminated one after another, and quite early too. Liverpool finished at the 1/8 finals after two ties against Ferencvaros – 1-1 at home and 0-0 at Budapest. The Hungarians moved ahead thanks to away goal. Eintracht Frankfurt did not go further than 1/8 finals, losing both legs against Dinamo Kiev 2-3 and 1-2. Benfica and Real Madrid advanced gloriously to the ¼ finals: Benfica managed a 0-0 tie visiting PSV Eindhoven, but lost at home 1-2. Real Madrid was better show: it was improving Real coached by Milan Miljanic vs his former club Crvena zvezda. Netzer and Breitner vs Dragan Dzajic. Real won 2-0 in Madrid. In Belgrade the result was the same, but for Crvena zvezda. It was almost bizarre: Breitner’s foul in the penalty area provided the Yugoslavs with scoring opportunity and their goalkeeper did not miss.
In a second, although it does not look possible, Breitner will foul Jankovic.
A rare moment in the 70s: goalkeeper against goalkeeper. Ognjan Petrovic (in black, on left) scored confidently.
Extra time proved goalless and Crvena zvezda won the shootout 6-5. Good buy, Real! In a way, the former pupils of Miljanic were better than his current ones. Real Madrid was perhaps the strongest looking team in the competition:
Potential great winners? Only in Spain.
Only PSV Eindhoven reached ½ of the early candidates for the Cup. Their hour of fame coming? The new great Dutch team? Dinamo won 3-0 in Kiev and lost 1-2 in Eindhoven ending the flight of the Dutch. Meantime Crvena zvezda, the other possible finalist by now, was eliminated by Ferencvaros after a 1-2 loss and 2-2 tie. No prediction came true this year, but it may have been fate too, for draws were ‘seeded’ or otherwise manipulated in favour of big clubs back then. Dinamo Kiev faced CSKA Sofia at first and the draw was no brainer – it was expected the Bulgarians to lose without challenging ‘Big Brother’. It was strangely tough, yet dull, fixture: the Bulgarians hardly played at all, but Dinamo struggled and won both legs by measly 1-0. Then they surprised Eintracht Frankfurt beating them both legs. Looked like the Germans underperformed. In the ¼ finals Dinamo was paired with Bursaspor. The Turks were hardly an opposition back then and lost both matches – 0-1 and 0-2. The Soviets lost a match only at the ½ - after comfortably beating 3-0 PSV Eindhoven at home, they lost 1-2 the away game. Hardly mattered, except to prove that the Phillips club was not going to be great. Dinamo had 2 easy opponents and 2 strong, and so was the case of Ferencvaros – their first opponent was hardly an opposition: Cardiff City, representing as ever Wales, although the English First Division was absolutely out of reach for Cardiff. Naturally, Ferencvaros won both legs – 2-0 and 4-1. Then Liverpool came and after two ties the Hungarians went ahead thanks to their away goal. The ¼ final was much lesser opponent: Malmo FF. Ferencvaros won in Malmo 3-1, but ended in 1-1 at home. Then Crvena zvezda in the semi-finals – 2-1 and 2-2 qualified the team from Budapest, although Crvena zvezda was the better club as far as names go. So far Kiev was doing much better job with 9 wins and 1 loss. Ferencvaros were kind of lucky… 4 wins and 4 ties. Were these two deserving finalists is pointless question, for they eliminated their opponents, when the ‘deserving’ Real, Liverpool, etc, ended at the short end. After all, it was telling that only one of the original ‘favourites’ reached the ½ finals. But it was also telling that the finalists were not exactly great… Interest alone was the judge: 13 000 fans attended the final at Bern. Sure, it was a small venue and in a country lukewarm about football, and thanks to Communist restrictions neither finalist had any home fans supporting it at the stands, but 13 000 is very low – only three finals had smaller public and all lowest attended finals involved East European clubs. It was not only the absence of fans: the media was not interested either. Neither club was deemed really strong and interesting. There was a suspicion that the Hungarians were not going to put a fight, either smart enough to grasp the idea of Communist subordination, or, if stupid, will be ordered to lose.
I had the same feeling and was certain that Kiev will get the cup without even pretense of struggle from Ferencvaros. My dark expectations were fulfilled – or so I thought – by the team Ferencvaros fielded: it was too young, unknown, and surely inexperienced. The names sounded wrong somewhat – certainly not the players of two years ago. At the other side Dinamo strutted on the pitch with their best.
The game was no brainer – it was one team show. Dinamo outrun, outplayed, outscored the helpless Hungarians. At the end, it was boring game, for there was only one team playing. Ferencvaros were so bad, I was certain they played their reserves. Tibor Nyilasi was substituted, but he he was completely unknown player at the time, hardly 20 years old. My impression of Ferencvaros was entirely negative: I though they played some kind of tribute to their veteran goalie and captain Geczi and the rest were deep reserves who hardly ever appeared in a real match.
The Soviets did not impress me either – as many a commentator, I found their football mechanical, uninspired, dull, and prefabricated. They moved like robots, doing prescribed limited job on assembly line. The only players I liked were Onishchenko, Troshkin, and Konkov. There was some inspiration and some freedom detectable in their moves, although it was clear they were severely restricted by tactical scheme raining supreme and ignoring imagination altogether. Perhaps the biggest victim of Lobanovsky’s mechanical football was Onishchenko, who operated on both wings, visibly by orders. It would have been interesting, if both wingers were changing places, but Blokhin never went to the right wing and from this Onishchenko suffered: moving to the left, he doubled Blokhin, there was no space for two speedy wingers and generally such moves confused and limited the Dinamo’s attack. Against better opponent such deficiency would have been punished, but Ferencvaros had no bite at all. One thing very obvious about Dinamo was their condition: they run with fantastic speed, never stopping even to catch their breath. Winning the game was sure thing – as they did – but also it was very suspicion display of physicality. Were the Soviets doped? Nobody can tell – no official accusation was ever made, yet, the speculations exist to this very day. However, suspicions came in full force a bit later – Ferencvaros were so bad, it was not to take much to beat them. As for ‘great’ Kiev (and fueling speculations of doping), it was surprising that they scored only 3 goals against dead Hungarians.
Onishchenko, the best player at the final, scored two goals. In a way, this picture sums the whole match: the Hungarians were late, clumsy, weak, and not a real challenge. What exactly is doing Geczi here? Hardly trying to catch the ball…
Leonid Buryak tries a header – headers were never strong point of Soviet players, yet, against Ferencvaros they fancied even headers and they kind of worked. With opponents so lame everything worked.
A miracle: Geczi saves the shot of Onishchenko (left, on the ground).

Final, St. Jakob Stadium, Basle, 14 May 1975, att 13000

Dinamo Kiev (2) 3 Ferencvarosi (0) 0
18' 1-0 DK: Onischenko
39' 2-0 DK: Onischenko
67' 3-0 DK: Blokhin

Dinamo Kiev
Rudakov; Troshkin, Matvienko, Reshko, Fomenko; Muntjan, Konkov,
Burjak, Kolotov; Onischenko, Blokhin
Geczi; Martos, Megyesi, Pataki, Rab; Nyilasi (Onhaus), Juhasz,
Mucha; Szabo, Mate, Magyar
Winners are always happy: Dinamo Kiev won and now even Blokhin (on the left) is all smiles.
The President of UEFA Artemio Franchi presents the Cup Winners Cup to Dinamo captain V. Kolotov.
The winners, patently looking grim. ‘The revelation of the season’, wrote Mirroir du Football… owned by the French Communist Party. Were they really a revelation? Finally USSR got a winning club. Finally a Soviet club looked strong. But… it was very dull year, practically the whole European football playing some kind of boring tired game. Dinamo really looked fresh when compared to others. As fresh as mechanic toys look fresh and eager to show preconditioned movements in pre-designed patterns. As long as battery runs… Dinamo were not fun at all and if they were the future of football… it was scary.
But let the boys enjoy their victory: bottom, left to right: Kolotov, Matvienko, Muntyan, Reshko, Onishchenko.
Top: Fomenko, Blokhin, Rudakov, Buryak, Lobanovsky – coach, Troshkin.
Konkov is missing for some reason. May be banished for smiling? Lobanovsky was not one to allow frivolity, but nevertheless his robots got the Cup.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

A season saturated with Borussia photos, that was 1974-75. May be their finest season, but it was increasingly West German scene anyway. The UEFA Cup produced little surprises at first, except for the early exit of the English clubs. So far the third European club tournament has been English domain – now only Derby County managed to reach 1/8 finals and no further. Velez (Mostar) eliminated them, as to confirm the crisis of English football. When the ½ stage arrived it was a manifestation of new order in the European football: Juventus was the only ‘traditional’ club. Two West German had to play against each other and the forth – meeting the Italians – were Dutch. Perhaps this was the greatest hour of Twente (Enschede) – they won both legs against Juventus. Not to be outdone, Borussia also won both matches against 1. FC Koln. As for results, they were exactly the same: Twente won 3-1 and 1-0 in Torino. Same results in favour of Borussia, although in reverse: they won 3-1 visiting Koln and managed 1-0 on home turf. May be that was the important difference at the end, but before the finals one thing was sure: the UEFA Cup final was just a smaller version of the World Cup final a year earlier. May be Dutch victory this time? After all, they were up and coming and Borussia were already established name somewhat lacking international success. One more thing was equal – both finalists hailed from small towns and had small stadiums. Borussia, hosting the first leg, preferred to play it at Dusseldorf. Twente on the other hand played at their even smaller than Borussia’s stadium the second leg. The first match ended 0-0, Borussia playing surpising nominal 4-4-2 and unable to score. Looked like Dutch revenge for the lost World Cup final was coming. But one had to pay closer attention to Borussia’s earlier performances: they appeared to be more comfortable when visiting and their hosts were obliged to play open football. In Enschede Borussia played 4-3-3 – more attacking version than at home. By the 60th minute they were leading 4-0 and the Cup was already theirs. It was 5-1 at the final whistle. Was it a challenge really? Borussia won so easily. To a point, this final spelled out the end of Twente – they never became the forth great Dutch club and faded away. As trivia goes, it had been Germans scoring on compatriots – Twente’s goalkeeper Gross was a West German import. Arnold Muhren, sold by Ajax to Twente continued his misery as a substitute player. Was he an empty promise? Just wait 5 more years. Then add 8 more, but at 1975 he looked like doomed to failure. Stielike was still young and shaky, but Simonsen was already a bright star. Three goals by Heynckes and 2 by Simonsen – one more trophy for the Germans.
For Twente – sweet memories and their squad on the the program:
Final 1st Leg, Rheinstadion, Dusseldorf, 7 May 1975, att 42000

Borussia Monchengladbach (0) 0 FC Twente '65 (Enschede) (0) 0

Borussia Monchengladbach
Kleff; Wittkamp, Stielike, Vogts, Surau; bonhof, Wimmer, Danner
(Del'Haye), Kulik (Schaffer); Simonsen, Jensen
FC Twente '65 (Enschede)
Gross; Drost, Van Ierssel, Overweg, Oranen; Thijssen, Pahlplatz,
Van der Vall, Bos; Jeuring (Achterberg), Zuidema

Final 2nd Leg, Diekman, Enschede, 21 May 1975, att 21000

FC Twente '65 (Enschede) (0) 1 Borussia Monchengladbach (2) 5
2' 0-1 BM: Simonsen
9' 0-2 BM: Heynckes
50' 0-3 BM: Heynckes
60' 0-4 BM: Heynckes
76' 1-4 Tw: Drost
86' 1-5 BM: Simonsen (pen)
Monchengladbach won 5-1 on aggregate

FC Twente '65 (Enschede)
Gross; Drost, Van Ierssel, Overweg, Oranen, Bos (Muhren), Thijssen,
Pahlplatz (Achterberg), Van der Vall, Jeuring, Zuidema
Borussia Monchengladbach
Kleff; Wittkamp, Vogts, Surau (Schaffer), Klinkhammer; Bonhof,
Wimmer (Koppel), Danner; Simonsen, Hensen, Heynckes
German goal in German net.
Heynckes scores his second for the night.
Simonsen makes it 5 from a penalty. Gross is helpless.
And Berti Vogts lifts the UEFA Cup.
First international trophy for Borussia – today UEFA Cup, next year the European Champions Cup? Very likely, with a squad like this. As for the Dutch, there will be some cup lifting too, alas, only for two players – Thijssen and Muhren.