Saturday, February 4, 2012

Crvena zvezda won nothing this year… and Dinamo (Zagreb) mirrored Zvezda: they finished 3rd in the championship and reached the Cup final. Which they lost… it was all Croatian final and the local derby was won by Hajduk (Split). Yet, more accurately, Dinamo mirrored rather the fate of Partizan (Belgrade), not Zvezda’s – just like the ‘Gravediggers’, ‘Modri’ (the Blues) were in long decline, playing second fiddle during the first half of the 70s not only to the Belgrade clubs, but to their Croatian rivals Hajduk too. And just like Partizan they hardly had memorable squad for a long time – therefore, third place and Cup final were somewhat of a success… well, the fans would disagree: what kind of success is finishing third, a good 5 points behind Hajduk? On the brighter side, the Blues were 4 points ahead of Crvena zvezda… and lost the Cup final in overtime 0-1. Bad year? Not so bad one? Almost good… the losing Cup finalists: first row, left to right: Bonic (?), Janjanin, Kranjcar, Vabec, Senzen.
Middle row: Jovicevic, Bedi, ?, Bobinac, Brucic.
Third row: Stincic, Bogdan, Kuze, Miljkovic, Blaskovic, Vlak.
Like Partizan, Dinamo had only one national player – Drago Vabec. Unlike Bjekovic (Partizan) – Vabec was a regular in the national team this year. The relatively good performance of the club may have been caused by opportunity, similar to Partizan’s – the lack of national team players was advantegous in the domestic tournaments. And yet unlike Partizan, Dinamo’s squad was more promising – eventually some (still too young in 1975-76) players became national team members. Kranjcar in particular. So far, only Vabec was a star and he was not enough for bringing trophies to Zagreb.
The Cup went to Split. 1970s were truly Hajduk’s years and the club rightly deserved its nickname ‘Majstori s mora’ – ‘Masters from the sea’. Hajduk finished second in the championship, one point behind Partizan, but with best defensive record – least goals allowed (22) and least losses – only 4. The Cup final was also tough, but this time Hajduk won over local archrivals Dinamo (Zagreb). Of all ‘grand’ Yugoslavian clubs Hajduk was the oldest – founded in 1911 – and preserving its original name. It was also a big club from a small town – Split was… well, provincial by all means. But unlike any other club, it was perfectly organized: Hajduk developed excellent youth system, constantly producing great players, and had the best transfer policy as well – it was shrowd enough to provide healphy income for the club without compromising the quality of the team. Players were sold abroad for good money, but only when replacement was available. The only revolt against the policy came from Zungul, already a star in 1975-76, who run away from the club without permission, but that happened later. For now – 5th Cup collected and everybody happy.
Another strong season for Hajduk and the best Yugoslavian squad as well. Unlike Crvena zvezda, no crisis occurred when stars went abroad or retired – Muzinic, Dzoni, Jerkovic, Buljan, Peruzovic, Surjak were still young and the the backbone of the national team already. Zungul was making a name for himself fast as well – and played for the national team. And Boljat and Katalinic were pushing ahead too. The future was bright. The present was to be envied – a model club. No wonder the boys from Split were not tempted to go to Zagreb and Belgrade.