Saturday, January 28, 2012

If anything, Inter (Bratislava) provides some useful information about the organization of Czechoslovak football: it was a factory club and there were many more like Inter. Clear distinction between factory and ordinary clubs is probably impossible – industry was ‘sponsoring’ many, many clubs in the Eastern Europe. Yet, there were clubs entirely belonging to industrial enterprises – thus, Inter Slovnaft was the official name when Slovan was not clearly belonging to particular industry. Other clubs did not have any other name but the one of their ‘owners’ – Skoda (Plzen), LIAZ (Jablonec) – both belonging to automotive industry; Zbrojovka (Brno) – military industry. Specific plants, not general industry or ministry, so once again it is tough to judge: the names may have been disguised advertisement in times when direct advertisement was prohibited (rather, unthinkable) in the Communist world. Well, there was no problem to put ‘Skoda’ on the shirts of team called Skoda… the logo is the same as on the cars manufactured by Skoda, but so what? Same factory, same club, same names, same logos… you see the club and you are reminded of the cars. Very usefull, especially when playing abroad. Do you need Zbrojovka rifle?
On the surfice, it looked logical giant factories to be able to provide enough money for strong football teams, but it was – strangely – rarely the case. Factory clubs were not playing first fiddle in Czechoslovakian football and often were quite miserable. The bottom of the 1975-76 table was occupied by two of those.
LIAZ (Jablonec) finished 15th.
A prime example of advertisement which is not advertisement: LIAZ on the shirts. The name of the club, though… Unlike the heavy trucks made in Jablonec, the team was weak. Rudolf Svoboda was the only player of some fame – he played a few matches for the national team, which is interesting trivia – Svoboda was allowed to play unshaved for Czechoslovakia in times when beards were not tolerated even in ‘liberal’ Communist countries.
TZ Trinec finished 16th and last, 4 points behind LIAZ. TZ stands for ‘Trineckych Zelezaren’ – a metallurgy firm, producing steel, and still exicting today. Main sponsors of the football club, yet, not so directly as LIAZ in Jablonec. Like LIAZ, there was one good player in the squad – Miroslav Paurik, who played now and then for the national team. Like LIAZ, TZ Trinec bounced between First and Second Division, somewhat more at home with the lower tier, where they were going once again.
LIAZ and TZ Trinec were relagetad and replaced by unusual pair: Sparta (Prague) was returning to First Division after a brief exile (until 1975 Sparta was the only Czechoslovakian club never tasting the grounds of Second Division). The other club was complete newcomer: VP Frydek-Mistek won promotion for very first time in their history.

There isn’t anything worthy about the squad, but these guys were yet another factory club – VP is the abbreviation of ‘Valcovny Plechu’, a mill, which also exists today, however, in dire finacial straights. Back in 1976, it was shiny picture indeed – going up, up, up… to the envy of the other club from Frydek-Mistek – Slezan – which was miserable in Third Division.
The newly promoted clubs completed the braking of Slovakian yoke – both were Czech clubs. Championship, Cup, Second Division winners – all Czech this year. The tide was turning. As for VP Frydek-Mistek, the future was not to be particularly bright – they were relegated the next season, never to return to First Czechoslovakian Division again. So, 1975-76 season was their best year ever.