Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Uruguay sunk to the ranks of those 'unknown' – the crisis remained. The championship was played, of course, but also the exodus of players plagued the league. The poitical and economic situation of the country was not helpfull either. Yet, football is football... Conservative – or standard – league championships, nothing fancy and quite unlike the favoured in South America formulas. And another uniquely Uruguayan feature: the country was not represented at all – only Montevideo. First and second league were entirely consisting of Montevideo clubs. The rest of the country hoped for an odd third division team with no chances of advancement. In the 10-team second league El Tanque finished last and was relegated, despite its formidable name ('tank', in the military sense). They got only 9 points out of 18 games total. But relegation was complex affair: points of the last seasons were combined and who had the least went down: El Tanque had 17 points from the 1977 season, but still hopelessly behind the team above them in 1978, Uruguay (Montevideo). They had 35 points total. Another team had less – Colon (Montevideo) with 31. They finished 8th in 1978, nothing to worry yet. El Tanque exited, but was replaced by yet another Montevideo club so the capital's monopoly remained intact.

Up the scale promotion was the primery concern, but there was no real fight. River Plate finished confidently first, 6 points ahead of the closest pursuer La Luz. La Luz is amuzing club, thanks to its name: of course, it is undestood to mean 'light', but the club is named after the electric light bulb hanging over the table of the founders. The name did not help, though. As a whole, River Plate had no competition – their combined 2-season record left the next best 22 points behind! The totals mattered only for relegation, yet, the second division hardly had consistently strong candidates for top flight: Rampla Juniors, having the second best 2-year record, finished 6th in 1978. Mid-table, but in 10-team league 6th place is also the bottom half. But the troubles of others were not River Plate's concern.

Returning to First Division – happy moment. Naturally, second division teams hardly have any famous players and River Plate was no exception. Waldemar Victorino was on his way of becoming star, but this was his last season with River Plate – right after the victory, he moved to Nacional. He was already a nationa team player (since 1976) and obviously small club was unable to keep him for long. As for the club itself, winning Second Division – for third time already – was the highest achievement in their history. Still is. Which means their primery concern was surviving in First Division. Minus Victorino... tough future. As most Uruguayan clubs, River Plate was quite old: founded in 1932, from a merger between Olimpia and Capurro.

River Plate up, so who went down? Liverpool finished last in First Division. 4 points behind the lucky 11th – Bella Vista. Obvious outsiders from the start, they won only 3 matches, tied 7, and lost 12. No combined 2-season record in First Division.