Wednesday, December 21, 2011

At the end of the table and relegated were Cherno more (Varna) and Spartak (Pleven). Both satellites – Cherno more of CSKA, and Spartak of Levski-Spartak. How much of their performance was due to weakness and how much to helping the ‘mother clubs’ and thus sacrificing themselves? Hard to tell… Spartak were rarely strong and Second Division was quite familiar to them. The team was aging too and they were late with rebuilding. Cherno more were declining for some time and also late in rebuilding aging team, but it was not a club bouncing up and down – they were constant feature of First Division.

Dead last – Spartak (Pleven). This is formation from the spring of 1975, but it was practically unchanged in 1975-76. Top, left to right: M. Varbanov – coach, V. Minkov, St. Dimitrov, P. Todorov, D. Dimov, I. Bratanov, V. Marinov – assistant coach.
Bottom: Kr. Lazarov, B. Yakimov, Pl. Nikolov, T. Barzov - captain, Sl. Stoilov, Al. Chenkov.

Cherno more finished next to last and faced the music… This is the squad for 1976-77 season, as it was in the summer of 1976 – there were changes during the new season. A whole bunch of old players were retired, but most of the above were part of the relegated squad anyway. Bottom, left to right: Andreev, Christov, Svetozarov, Vladimirov, Boychev, Yordanov, D. Georgiev – captain.
Top: Kerekovsky, Rafiev, Dimov, Denev, Simeonov, Y. Bogomilov, Marev, Diamandiev, Parushev.
How to tell how these two teams were worse than many others: Spartak had a group of young, but already established players like Barzov, Nikolov (both soon to move to Levski-Spartak), Bratanov (one of the most promising fullbacks at the time) and Lazarov (fiery right winger). With the exception of unlucky Bratanov, whose career ended prematurely because of heavy injury, the rest were soon to play for the national team. Cherno more had even more talent: Marev, young, but already one of the best sweepers in the country and national team player; Yancho Bogomilov, a very promising stopper (eventually joining CSKA a few years later), and bunch of erratic, but lethal when in the right mood strikers – Damyan Georgiev, Plamen Christov, Yordanov, and Rafi Rafiev. Svetozarov and Diamandiev were considered quite promising as well… may be ‘quite’ was the secret: promising at time of poor talent. Bulgarian football was in decline and although the relegated teams did not look worse than those, who survived, they were not better either. At the end, only three players of the two teams combined really established themselves – Marev, Barzov, and Nikolov.