Monday, December 5, 2011

Changes in football are always baffling – what does it mean to have brand new winners? A sign of improving or a sign of a crisis? Is it a sign of significant reshaping or just occasional lucky event? There were many new winners around Europe in 1976, that much was obvious, and nothing else. It was relatively simple case in championships without few traditional favorites – new champion was nothing new really. But when newcomers pile up? Norway, Sweden – fine; now go South and add some more names, noting that Turkey and Greece were different than Scandinavians: they were dominated by few big clubs.
Turkish football was getting better, yet barely so far to play any role in Europe. Since the national league was established in the late 1950s Turkish football was largely based in three cities – Istanbul, Ankara, and Izmir. For years only clubs representing this three cities played in the league, which at one point had 22 clubs, but by 1975 was stabilized at 16. By the end of the 1960s provincial clubs started creeping in and disturbing the monopoly of the three cities. So far the ‘outsiders’ fought for mere survival in the league, but after 1970 some managed to settled and even gained strength – particularly Bursaspor and Boluspor. But that was fighting among the leagues rabble, for at the very top nothing changed at all – it was dominated by the big three Istanbul clubs: Galatasaray, Fenerbahce, and Besiktas. No other club ever won the championship and no matter how many clubs from Ankara and Izmir played top league football, they were just fillers. Because of the monopoly of the three giants changes were hardly noticeable – until 1975-76.
Galatasaray won the Cup and nothing strange in that, except it was difficult win, after two legged final, crowned by penalty shoot-out, when Galatasaray clinched the victory 5:4.

Top, left to right: Gokmen Yozdenak, Sevki Senlen, Mehmet Ozgul, Enver Urekli, Olcay Baserir, Yasin Ozdenak.
Bottom: Bulent Under, Fatih Terim, Mehmet Oguz, Olcay Basarir (?), Metin Kurt.
A powerhouse by Turkish standards, full of national team players, and having two players worth mentioning: Yasin, who joined Pele and Co in Cosmos (New York) and was known under the name of Erol Yasin, and Fatih Terim, who hardly needs introduction. Everybody knows the coach… hardly anybody knew the player outside Turkey.
Strong as they were, Galatasaray won the Cup with great difficulty – therefore, they met one of their rivals at the final, right? Fenerbahce or Besiktas. It was not so: the stubborn opponent was one Trabzonspor. The unknown club lost the Cup – but nothing else.