Saturday, September 29, 2012

New champion, new Cup holders, new members of First Division. Down in the Second layer the season ended with champions too. The newly promoted clubs were exactly new: Tatran (Presov) and Dukla (Banska Bystrica) often played in First Division. They were often relegated as well, especially Tatran. As for Dukla, they knew better days in the past, but as an Army club, they suffered double handicap – on one hand, the 'smaller brother' of Dukla (Prague) was hardly in a position to build great team, for inevitably the most gifted players would be taken to Prague. On the other hand, as a hated Communist-created club, their power diminished during the 'Czech Spring' and recovery was slow to come, just like the case of Dukla (Prague). Yet, it came... 'Big brother' winning the title and 'small brother' returning to First Division.

Tatran were relegated in 1974, along with Lokomotiva (Kosice), but unlike the fresh Cup winners, they were slower to return. But return they did. Typically for Second Division clubs, they had no famous players in he squad.

Coming back to top division was a long ordeal for Dukla – they suffered second division football since 1969. At last their desires prevailed and good for them! They were also in a better position to recruit stronger players than Tatran – a call for military service was able to get them whoever they wanted, as far as Dukla (Prague) did not desire the same player, of course. Hence, Dukla got European Champion for the next season – Jaroslav Pollak. Very likely Pollak was quite happy to be called for 'military duty' - his former club, VSS Kosice, was relegated, but he was to stay in First Division.

As far as shift of power was concerned, the newcomers to top flight negated the notion of Slovak decline, for both hail from Slovakia. But even with Pollak the newly promoted were not seen as a potential threat – they were quite a weak teams, destined to the lower half of the league, fighting for survival, and if lucky, escaping return to Second Division. Movers and shakers they were not; they had nice kits.