Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Monday, December 29, 2014

Saturday, December 27, 2014

England III & IV Division:

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

England - the "continentals":

Monday, December 22, 2014

Real Madrid was going for a double – they reached the final for Copa del Rey. The other finalist was Valencia, which, given their shaky season, did not look like formidable opponent. But predictions and reality are not the same: mighty Real was outplayed and lost 0-2.
A team like that seems unbeatable, but it was not the team facing Valencia. Real fielded Garcia Remon, San Jose, Isidro, Wolff, Benito, Del Bosque, Roberto Martinez, Stielike, Santillana, Garcia Hernandez, and Aguilar. Vitoria substituted Santillana in the 12th minute and in the 88th Mate replaced Garcia Remon. Inferior team, compared to the usual starters... few aging players, unfortunate loss of Santillana, and at the end the third goalie came in, only to receive a goal almost at once.
Valencia made the best of their chance. Mario Kempes scored in the 24th minute and the fragile lead was preserved to the end. To the very end – Kempes scored the second goal in the very last minute. The deep reserve Mate shamefully received a goal in only two minutes on the pitch, but why blaming him ? The match was lost by the time Kempes scored his second – the referee was going to whistle the end any second. And he did after the goal, Valencia victorious. It was their first cup since 1967 !
Proud winners of Copa del Rey. Valencia had to play with their second kit, because the first kits of the finalists collided – all white. Valencia also had to play the final at hostile Madird. And against the big stars of Spanish football. Yet, they won ! Kempes was the hero once again. So was the coach Bernardino Perez. The season turned to be successful.
It should have been, judging by the summer of 1978. Valencia had Mario Kempes – just crowned as world football champion. He was also the top scorer of the world cup finals and voted the best player of the tournament. And he was only 24 ! Valencia made the second big transfer too – Barcelona got Krankl, Valencia – Rainer Bonhof. It was arguably the best addition to Kempes – Bonhof was the best offering of the West German total football : strong, fit, excellent in defense, creative in midfield, dangerous in attack. Never tired, relentlessly covering the whole pitch, great passer. He and Kempes were both physically strong modern players – the duo had to be lethal. And they were not alone – Valencia had bright players like Solsona (26) and Botubot (23). Jose Manzanedo (22) was the best goalkeeper of the season. 18-years old teenager not only debuted, but immediately established himself among the regulars – Tendillo, a name frequently mentioned in the 1980s. The ever-present Paraguayans, tough and reliable, were also at hand – Carlos Diarte (24) and Eufemio Cabral (23). And one more Argentine striker – Dario Felman (29). It was promising team, lead by players made for each other. And the coach was experienced veteran – the former French star of Spanish descent Marcel Domingo. He played numerous years in Spain, but his coaching career was only in Spain – he knew Spanish football in and out and was at best coaching age – 54. Vastly experienced fox at his prime. Valencia was going for the title. Or so it looked like at first. The season turned out to be mediocre one and Domingo was fired. By the time of the cup final Bernardino Perez was at the helm – too late to improve in the league, but the cup was a good chance. The chance was not missed – the team had big potential, Kempes scored when it mattered most, and failure turned into a triumph. Kempes and Bonhof proved they were among the best of the world with a trophy. 5th cup for Valencia.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Monday, December 15, 2014

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Serie B or Second Division. It was the bastion of defensive football, which dragged Italy down in the 1970s. Changes come slow in the second tier, old ways persist – it was and is everywhere, not just in Italy. The 20-team league produced mostly ties – not a single club had less than 10. Only two clubs finished with more wins than ties. Goal scoring was not the aim – only 6 clubs scored more than a goal per game average. Not a single team achieved 2 goals per match, though : the highest average belonged to Udinese – 52 goals in 38 games : 1.37 average... Two of the best scoring teams reached only 39 goals. Defense was king and the strategy : tie the match, get a point, and don't risk.
Bari were the best at that – they managed to tie 23 of their championship matches. This was good enough for 16th place... that is, barely escaping relegation zone.
Right after them were Taranto – 21 ties. Behind Bari only in terms of ties – in the final table they were a place ahead of Bari : 15th, but thanks only on better goal-difference. The third highest number belonged to Ternana – 20 ties.
Ternana finished with only one point more than Taranto and Bari, but a point meant a lot in such league – Ternana finished 10th. Not bad, when all is over and the danger of relegation is gone : 5 teams finished with 35 points and 3 with 36 – 8 clubs barely survived, yet... the top among them was 9th, respectable mid-table position. If there was a club able to achieve the perfect dream – to tie every match played, such a team would had been 9th this year and two points ahead of half the league. But dreams are not reality and 9th was Sampdoria.
There is strong impression nowadays that Sampdoria is traditionally big Italian club, but it is false : Sampdoria were almost nobodies back in the 1970s and earlier, often found in the second division. The name rings a bell, but one pf their close companions do not :
Sambenedettese, an obscure club on the same level with Sampdoria ? Actually, yes – they were one of the almost constant members of second division. Never strong, so they were not among the leaders, but never too weak either. Mid-table club, like Sampdoria. 11th this year, but behind Sampdoria only on goal-difference.
That was pretty much the bulk occupying the mid-table : mostly clubs, which were no stranger to first division, but either fading away and slowly sinking (Spal, Taranto), or shaky and not ready for another try to stay among the best (Cesena, Genoa, Brescia, Palermo).
Palermo is always worth a glance, because of their rare colours – not many clubs play in pin. Not many clubs play on clay too... But this is now – back in the 1970s it was not unusual, although here Palermo is not lining for championship match – most likely for a friendly, visiting some tiny club. On grass – or partially grassed pitch – they tied 19 games and finished 7th with 41 points. So much for the bulk of the league, the typical clubs.
The last four were relegated – three outsiders and a team which came relatively close to salvation. Two were more or less expected outsiders, the other two were down on their luck.
Varese were last with 24 points. Not a big clubs and familiar with dreaded last place, but familiar with last place in first division. Now they were last in Serie B and going to get acquinted with third division football. A club in decline.

Rimini finished 19th with 24 points, like Varese, but better goal-difference. One of the expected outsiders, so nothing strange they were relegated. Rimini distinguished themselves with 2 seasonal records : the won the least matches – measly 3 out of 38 total – and scored the least goals in the league – 17. They also had vaguely familiar player : Massimo Piloni was reserve goalkeeper of Juventus for 8 years in which he played 12 matches, but was 3 times champion nevertheless. He moved to Pescara in 1975 and played regularly for three years, then joined Rimini. The beard he grew after leaving Juventus did not help much... after traveling Europe, he was to get familiar with Italian countryside in third division.
Nocerina ended 18th and nothing surprising for a club which highest dream was reaching second division. No Italian champions like Piloni here, but the modest club tried hard to stay in the league – they finished with 29 points – 5 more than Rimini and Varese. Yet, they were 4 points behind the club immediately above them and did not have a chance surviving.
17th and also relegated were Foggia with 33 points.
All is relative – Foggia is almost always an outsider when in Serie A, but in second division they were ranked high and considered candidates for promotion, not relegation. But since relegation is something so painfully familiar to the club, the pattern continued in a way. Weak they were this season – came close to safety, but only that : two points short, and down they went.
The top of the table somewhat mirrored the bottom – 4 clubs fought for 3 promotional spots. They were divided, just like the bottom four – two teams finished with eagual points, far from better two. The best team was without competition. Monza and Pescara finished with 48 points each, Pescara taking the third place on better goal-difference. Since promotion was concerned, play-off was staged.
A strong, even surprising, season for Monza, which was not usually a candidate for promotion. 4th place in the final table, but still having a chance to reach Serie A. A| matter of one match... but they were 4th and 4th they stayed : they lost the play-off 0-2. Unlucky ? Or tradition trumping novelty ?
Pescara finished 3rd in the season, and won the promotional play-off. May be the key was their better atack -they scored more than Monza during the year. They scored in the vital play-off too – the weaker Monza strikers did not. Lucky Pescara, but what an irony : Massimo Piloni left the club before the season and at the end his former teammates were going to play in first division, and he – in third.
Cagliari, down on their luck, finished second. At the start of the decade Cagliari were champions. They had famous squad, studded with stars. Riva was playing for them. But the squad aged, some players moved elsewhere, Riva retired, money was short, perhaps the moment of starting rebuilding was missed, and Cagliari slowly declined until sinking to second division. Which was not a place for them – with some difficulties and struggles, Cagliari managed to finish 2nd , besting Pescara and Monza by a point. At least exile did not last long...

Returning to Serie A, but it was clearly weak team – only Longobucco rings a bell, and he was neither young, nor a star. Cagliari escaped from Serie B, but the future did not look bright.
The champions were the only really raising club – or so it seemed. Dominant and confident, the most attacking team in the league, having also the best defense. 21 wins – the next best record was 16 – and only 4 losses. 52:22 goal-difference. 6 points ahead of the 2nd placed Cagliari – the winners appeared to be well-rounded team, without weaknesses. It was not exactly a club with familiar name – Udinese did not play much in first division, so their rise was very optimistic news. Something new – and may be different. May be not one-time wonder. And looking like a double of Juventus – the kit is the same – was also a positive sign, if only on superstitious level.
Udinese – supreme champions of Serie B. A double of Juventus ? Well, not fully – their away colours were entirely different.
A rare picture of Udinese in their second kit at the time.
Promising team, great season, but like every other second division team, Udinese did not have famous players. Not even recognizable names... whatever familiar names played in Serie B, they belonged to other clubs – like the top scorer of the season Damiani, a former Juventus striker, who now scored goals for Genoa. The strength of Udunese apparently was their well-rounded squad, players comfortable with each other, performing well as a whole. Was it enough for Serie A ?

Monday, December 8, 2014

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The French season in pictures:

Monday, December 1, 2014

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The events in the Second Division perhaps were enjoyed at the bottom of First Division – Valenciennes survived. They finished 18th on better goal-difference. If only two clubs were relegated this season, then they were saved by the rules ; if originally three clubs were going down, then Gueugnon's inability to join the top league saved Valenciennes. Lucky boys no matter the reason.
Standing, from left : Bas, Laitem, Wrazy, Fugalgi, Metsu, Kourichi.
Crouching : Jacques, Vézir, Milla, Piette, Hazam.
Not a team worth another look, except for a small note : the former Polish national player Wrazy is here plus a little known at the time Cameroonian, who became famous many, many years later – Roger Milla. Nothing suggesting legendary status in 1978-79, though... if there was a bit of dancing, it was just because relegation was avoided. Hardly the making of a legend. As for Jan Wrazy, born 1943 in Lvov (Ukraine today), his best days were over long time ago – his last match for Poland was in 1972. The veteran was good enough for the lowly French club, though – he played five years for Valenciennes.
FC Paris were the unlucky club – they finished behind Valenciennes on worse goal-diference and took 19th place in the final table. Relegation...
Standing, from left : Justier, Eo, Huck, Beltramini, Lachi, Bensoussan.
First row : Amorfini, Zlataric, Lech, Mariot, Smereki.
This was perhaps the last effort of FC Paris to keep place among the top French clubs – the administrative troubles lead to the split into two clubs at the beginning of the 1970s. Paris Saint Germain were fine, but FC Paris had no chance. They tried... but small club in a city not exactly crazy about football did not have bright future. Lech was not enough to keep FC Paris in the premier league, Zlataric was an empty promise... tough luck at the end... and FC Paris sealed its fate : to play minor rôle in French football, mostly in third and second division.
The absolute outsider this season was Stade Reims. It was not unusual a club with name and reputation to go down in France, but the downfall was quite interesting anyhow : the great days of Reims ended long ago – practically from the early 1960s the club was declining. By the beginning of the 1970s they were no favorites at all, but one of the mid-table clubs. However slow, the decline continued steadily, finally ending with relegation. Not only Reims finished last, but hopelessly last – they won only 3 matches this season and earned a total of 17 points. FC Paris and Valenciennes finished with 28...
Standing: Buisset, Michelberger, Masclaux, Durand, Garceran, Laudu.
Santamaria, Perignon, Polaniok, Gérard, Mathou.
The squad is a testimony of the state of Reims – not a single player of real quality.
The German Franz Michelberger, although young hardly ever played top league football – apart from this singular season in France, he achieved a grand total of 4 Bundesliga matches, all for Bayern (Munich), between 1974 and 1976. The Argentine Jose Santiago Santamaria was a bit better – he arrived in 1974, when he was only 22 years old, and scored quite a lot of goals for Reims – 52 in 170 matches for the club – but he was not a leading player on larger scale. The relegation was enough for him and he returned to Argentina after the end the season. Unlike Michelberger, 'El Cucurucho' achieved some fame after leaving France – he played a bit for Argentina, including at the 1982 World Cup. With a team like that Reims was really good only for second division football – too bad a club so great in the past fell into such terrible situtaion, but sentimental laments cannot change reality.
Two other clubs were in decline : OGC Nice and Olympique Marseille. Nice was declining slowly since 1972 ; Marseille – more recently. To a point, Nice was repeating the fate of Reims – a strong club once upon a time unable to adjust to new realities, largely financial realities. Marseille was more puzzling, for they had large support and generally had no problems generating money.
Nice finished 15th – and it was not surprising, judging by the squad : aging Jean-Marc Guillou and Nenad Bjekovic were already declining. Bousdira was the only other classy player – hardly enough for strong season. And the future did not look bright... Guillou left after the end of the season to play in Switzerland ; Fares Bousdira was not going to stay long too, but he was hardly the player around whon to build a team – he played for France only once in 1976 : evidently, not a star.
Olympique Marseille perhaps lacked vision – the club tried to keep a strong team in the first half of the 1970s, but somewhat mechanically. Buying big names, but not really building a team – failures followed : Jairzinho and Paulo Cesar Lima were the most spectacular. Yet, the club stubbornly continued the same, buying one or two high-profiled players in the hope they would be enough. Meantime the French stars either retired or moved to other clubs. By 1978-79 Marseille was a strange team : Bracci and Zvunka were already declining, but the club missed the right time to replace them. The Swedish national team player Linderoth was good, but not a leader. Didier Six was the best the club had, but he was a continuation of a doomed policy – taken from elsewhere in the hope he will bring class alone. Those before him failed, though (Jairzinho, Paulo Cesar Lima, Yazalde, Beretta...). The bulk of the squad was run of the mill – and as a whole Marseille was really a mid-table team.
Standing, from left :Bracci, Zvunka, Bacconnier, Beaulier, Migeon, Fernandez
Crouching : Flores, Buigues, Boubacar, Linderoth, Six.
12th place was the right place for such a team... and it was also clear that without rapid and big changes this team was only to go further down : there was no strong core to keep it afloat.
One more club must be mentioned from the lower half of the league – Paris Saint Germain. Different from OGC Nice and Olympique Marseille case. Paris SG suffered the usual ills of young ambitious clubs – no traditions. They had money and prime location, and wanted to become one of the leading French clubs, but so far nothing worked : Paris SG continually bought big names, but somehow was unable to create competitive team. Names were impressive : French national team players – Dominique Baratelli (b. 1947), Dominique Batheney (b.1954), Jean-Muchel Larque (b. 1947), Jean-Pierre Adams (b. 1948), league stars – Francois M'Pele (Congo Brazaville, b. 1947), Jacky Laposte (b. 1952), Mustapha Dahleb (Algeria, b. 1952), Dominique Lokoli (b. 1952), bright young talent – Luis Fernandez (b. 1959), Jean-Marc Pilorget (b. 1958), big foreign names – the Argentines Carlos Bianchi (b. 1949) and Ramon Heredia (b. 1951). And Velibor Vasovic, the Yugoslavian former captain of great Ajax (Amsterdam) was coaching them. Looked like a champion squad... which did not work. Bianchi was scoring as ever, Baratelli and Bathenay were in the national team, Fernandez was already a regular, Dahleb was going to play at world cup finals... but some players were already fading away (Adams, Heredia, M'Pele) and some never became the stars they were expected to become (Laposte, Lokoli). The mix did not work, may be because all came from other clubs – it was just a big colection of names, not really a carefully made team. Perhaps hiring Vasovic was a mistake – a great name, but as a player. As a coach -not much experience, to say the least. Money were no problem, but money is not everything – Paris SG 31 players this season : astonishing number in the 1970s and thus only a testimony that team was not working. They finished 13th.
One of the not-working versions of Paris SG this season. May be expecting too much too soon, but just buying names was not the solution. So far Paris SG achieved absolutely nothing, but persisted in the wrong approach – some names were gone after the season ended, only to be replaced by other names. And so on and on.
Things worked for clubs with different approach : Monaco and Metz had strong year. Both teams were far behind the title contenders, but still well above the rest of the league. Both finished with 44 points – 4 points ahead of 6th placed Lille, but 10 points behind St. Etienne and Nantes. The two Ms were similar and different at the same time : both depended on attack and had weak defences. Both played 'all or nothing' and did not care much for ties. But Monaco was rising and building a strong team, whereas Metz only had a good season and clearly was not going to stay permanently among the best. FC Metz were typical mid-table club, occasionally in danger of relegation, but most often found somewhere safely in the middle of the league. Never a favorite and not in a position of becoming one – a modest club. But they played well this season and finished 5th only because of worse goal-difference.
What worked for Metz was a core of strong players – Andre Rey (b. 1948), Patrick Batiston (b. 1957), Christian Synaeghel (b. 1951), Henryk Kasperczak (Poland, b. 1946), and Wim Suurbier (Holland, b. 1946). The club was especially lucky with the foreigners – both had strong winner mentality. This group of players propelled Metz to the top. Unfortunately, the key players were dangeroulsy aging and were not enough as a group to keep the club on upward course. Also unfortunate was the predicament of the club – a modest club had no chances of keeping young stars for long. It was clear that sooner than later Suurbier, Kasperczak, and Rey will retire and Batiston will go to bigger club. Metz were one-year wonder.
Not so Monaco – their notorious ups and downs made the club unpredicatble, but at the moment it was going up with a good chance of getting better. Finishing 4th was promising better days in the future.
Like Metz, Monaco largely depended on a limited group of players : Dalger, Onnis, Emon, Nogues, Ettori and Petit. Unlike Metz, Monaco was not in danger of losing its stars – they had the money to keep them on one hand. This was important largely about the top Argentine striker Delio Onnis. On the other the stars were different than the top players of Metz. Dalger, Emon, and Petit still had at least 2-3 years to play, but in the same time they were no longer considered players at their prime and were not very interesting to other clubs. The second foreigner – actually, a dual citizen of France and Argentina – Nogues was not even considered a star. Ettori was also safe posession – a promising goalkeeper, but since others were still the top keepers in France, nobody was after him. Unlike Metz, Monaco had a core of players for the next few years and with some additions the team could be getting only stronger. And additions were badly needed, for Monaco was strong in attack (Onnis, Dalger, Emon, and Nogues), barely decent in midfield (thanks to Jean Petit), had improving goalkeeper (Ettori), but was terrible in defense. It clearly showed during this season – Monaco finished with 70:51 goal-difference : second highest scoring team in the league, but hoping to outscore their opponents was big risk.
Perhaps the key to this season was the state of most French clubs – some in decline, others good only for one year, few promissing, but still not ready and fully made. Fate depended on few good players, not on solid squad. And that perhaps determined the race for the title : three clubs competed. Two were more than familiar – St. Eitenne and FC Nantes defined French club football in the 1970s. Both were getting old and tired, however. The third was a club playing in the second division very recently, but, by itself, sudden soaring of a team was not surprising : ups and downs were perhaps more common in France than any other country. The race was tight and was won by seemingly the most conservative team of the trio – the one, which scored least, but minded their own net. The one,which did not rush to win matches, but carefully collected points from ties. St. Etienne won most matches this season – 24. They also scored a lot – 77 goals. But they lost 8 matches and at the end had 54 points. Far ahead of the 4th placed team – 10 points ahead – and tied with FC Nantes. Nantes scored much more goals than St. Etienne, leaving them with bronze medals. Warning signs were detected since 1975 – St. Etienne was strong, had deep squad, new players popped in, but esentially it was the same team for many years. As a team they reached their peak between 1974 and 1976, and were getting old as a whole. Small changes were not the solution – and the signal was clear this year : they were able to stay amnog the best, but now even a pedestrian team was able to oppose them. And bump them aside. There was need of new leaders able to shake and revitalize the team. The club and the coach Robert Herbin got the message : Michel Platini and Johnny Rep were bought after the season ended.
FC Nantes was similar, but a step ahead of St. Etienne : they also felt decline coming with the aging of the squad and started rebuilding around 1976. Like St. Etienne so far, it was not radical change, but gradual. By now few of the squad of the early 1970s were around, but the new team was not fully matured yet : it still depended on Henry Michel (b. 1947) and Hugo Bargas (b. 1946). The veterans were at the end of their playing days, but the new squad was almost ready – almost, but not ripe yet. A team competing for the title, but not able to win it.
Standing, from left : Jean-Paul Bertrand-Demanes, Patrice Rio, Maxime Bossis, Omar Sahnoun, Henri Michel, Thierry Tusseau.
Crouching : Oscar Muller, Victor Trossero, Eric Pécout, Gilles Rampillon, Loïc Amisse.
Not bad at all : seven former, current, and future French national team players, two sturdy, experienced, but still young professionals (Pecout and Rampillon), two new talented Argentinians - midfielder Oscar Muller (b. 1957) and striker Oscar Trossero (b.1953). Their compatriot Bargas was moved to the bench, where more talent was waiting – Michel Bibard (b. 1958), Bruno Baronchelli (b. 1957), Guy Lacombe (b. 1955). Silver medals this year, but it was a team ready for the future.
The present was not theirs, though. The present belonged to those able to get advantage from the shaky season and problems of the favorites. Small problems, but they made the favorites not better than a team playing bravely. And the surprise happened : Racing Club Strasbourg finished 2 points ahead of St. Etienne and Nantes. Unlikely team... so far, RC Strasbourg had little success. They won the Cup twice – in 1951 and 1966. Never the title and normally were not among potential champions. Two years ago they were in second division. And compared to the favorites, their squad was pitiful. Perhaps they underestimated by the others – it looked very unlikely such a team would stay among the best for long. Perhaps a good run for awhile, but inevitably the lack of strong sqaud would bring them down. But Strasbourg stayed on top, earned point after point, until the season ended with them on top. 22 wins, 12 ties, 4 losses, 68:28 goal-difference, 56 points. Two more than their famous competition.
Brand new champion is always great. Especially a club never winning title before. Particulary a club playing in the lower league just yesterday. But... it was not a spectacular team. It was rather made of experienced second-raters. Some of the players were acquared recently – Raymond Domenech (b. 1952) in 1977, along with two players from Paris SG – Francis Piasecki (b. 1951) and Jacky Novi (b. 1946). In 1978 a former teammate of Novi arrived from OGC Nice – Roger Jouve (b. 1949). The other newcomer was also born in 1949, but hardly ever played top league football – one Arsene Wenger was acquired from the other – and very lowly – club from Strasbourg : Pierrots Vauban. A single foreign player taken from Bordeaux – Tokomon Nambatingue (b. 1952), originally from Chad. The new arrivals did not look even a match for those who departed – Ivica Osim retired and Heinz Schilcher went back to his native Austria to play for Sturm (Graz). Strasbourg had a few more good players – Dominque Dropsy (b. 1951), Leonard Specht (b.1954), and Albert Gemmrich (b. 1955), but as a whole – not a single leading player on national scale. This was not a team coming even close to the squads Nantes and St. Etienne had, but a squad generally for the lower half of the table, unless getting brief inspiration and finishing somewhere between 5th and 10th place. However, another man arrived in the summer of 1978 – the greatest star Strasbourg ever had and one of the best French footballers of the 1960s.
Gilbert Gress was one of the few French players to play abroad back in the 1960s and early 1970s, playing for years in West Germany. When he retired, he went to coaching job in Switzerland, taking the reigns of Xamax. Over there he took also Swiss citizenship and coached well – Strasbourg took him back and he made them champions. He was young and not very experienced, but perhaps that was really his advantage – Herbin was coaching St. Etienne for almost 10 years already. Nantes had a coach from different era – Jean Vincent. Gress was fresh and up to date in football matters. He inspired the team and apparently made the best of the players at hand – none was individually great, but all were competent. Strasbourg was not outstanding team. They were no revelation. They largely took advantage of shaky opponents, making mistakes here and there. A great victory, but clearly it was not a team to stay on top. It was a middle-of-the-road team, a surprise victors, and nothing else. And - so far – this season stands alone as the greatest ever for the club : Strasbourg did not win another title. One time wonder. But it was nice to see them win for a change and what a lesson it was for a club like Paris SG – buying stars one after another, and yet unable to get even a medal. The pedestrian Strasbourg meantime won the championship.

And happy they were – for ever to remember.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Monday, November 24, 2014

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Yugoslavia II Division:

Monday, November 17, 2014

Surprising winners of promotion, surprising champion... the Cup should have balanced that. FC Brugge reached the final. The other finalists were Beerschot (Antwerpen). Technically, the smaller club of the city in the 1970s – Royal Antwerpen was the 'big' club and it was not really much. The Bears were regular member of first division, but mid-table club at best – their glorious days were in the ancient past, when they won 7 titles. All that ended in 1939... after that – once they won the Cup: in 1971. FC Brugge was the obvious favorite: much stronger team and also they had to compensate for the weak championship performance. Beerschot did not stand a chance.
Third row, from left: Leen Barth, Walter Meeuws, Jan Ceulemans, Lajos Kü, Dirk Ranson, Henri Gogne.
Middle row: Mathieu Bollen (assistent-coach), Eddie Krieger, Raoul Lambert, Bernard Verheecke, Birger Jensen, Paul Courant, Eddy Martens, René Vandereycken, Ernst Happel (coach).
Sitting: Georges Leekens, Fons Bastijns, Jos Volders, Julien Cools, Jan Sörensen, Gino Maes, Jan Simoen, Daniel De Cubber
This season FC Brugge was arguably the most Belgian club in the league – Walter Meeuws (from Beerschot), Jan Ceulemans (from Lierse), and Peter Houtman (from Feyenoord Rotterdam) were the newcomers. The English striker Ray Clarke arrived from Ajax (Amsterdam) later. Meantime Eddie Krieger, the aging Austrian defender went to play in Holland. It was the squad built by Happel, which was aging a bit as a team and most importantly Happel was no longer around – he came back from coaching Holland at the World Cup and soon was fired. Andres Beres was the new coach – one of many Hungarians, including football players, who left their country in 1956. Beres played professionally in Belgium and Holland and later became a coach in Belgium. Good one too, judging by his stint with Anderlecht in the second half of the 1960s. But the 1960s were gone... Beres had good reputation, but he may have been out of date – FC Brugge suddenly underperfomed and by the date of the Cup final Beres was gone – temporarily, the assistant coach Matthien Bollen was at the helm. However, there were no changes in the team and there was no way to make any until the end of the season and the opening of the transfer period. Still, FC Brugge was far better team than their opponents – on paper.
On the pitch the Bears not only kept their ground, but scored a goal. FC Brugge was unable to equalize. Beerschot won 1-0. The Cup was theirs for second time. Complete triumph of the small clubs this year – the championship, the cup, one of the promotions: the big boys got nothing. Surprising winners characterized the season.
Beerschot left little evidence of their great year – the club had financial troubles, which lead to more than decline. The club practically folded by the end of the 1980s and like many other Belgian clubs went through various mergers and transformations, which according to registration rules were starting a new club. Thus, almost nothing remain from the winners – not even a team picture. A pity, for it was an interesting vintage. Georg Knobel was coaching them – the Dutch coach, who 'destroyed' the mighty Ajax in 1974-75 and then coached Holland at the 1976 European championship finals. Since his spell with the national team was not a success either, it was not surprising to find Knobel in Beerschot... There was no great performance in the league – the club finished 12th, their usual mid-table place – but they excelled in the Cup tournament. Most players were ordinary and not familiar to anyone outside Belgium. The club had no money for big transfers – the best they were able to do was acquiring the Polish goalkeeper Jan Tomaszewski after the 1978 World Cup. He joined a group of interesting players – the Haitian striker Emmanuel Sannon was a minor sensation at the 1974 World Cup: he scored against Italy, braking the clean sheet record of Dino Zoff, already running over 1200 minutes. Italy had hard time overcoming Haiti, and Sannon was hailed as the hero of the match. But it was in the early rounds of the finals and bigger sensations trumped his – Poland, for instance, with Tomaszewski between the goal-posts. Sannon was unable to score against him – now the opponents of 1974 were teammates.
Sannon had his minute of fame and was forgotten right after that – but his moment was important: Beerschot offered him a contract and he joined the club in 1974. And there he stayed – adaptation was difficult at first, but Sannon was young and determined. By 1978 he was key player, called 'Manno' by the fans.
Sannon dropped out from spotlight quickly, but Tomaszewski was talked about for years. However, he was slowly declining – he lost his place in the Polish national team during he 1978 World Cup finals and at 30 he appeared to be going down. But veteran Polish players were permitted to go professional and he got contract with Beerschot.
Perhaps not the club of his dreams, but after his World Cup fiasco not so bad. 'Tomek' was the most famous player of his new club and he played well.
The third relatively known name was Gerrit 'Gerrie' Kleton. The 25-years old Dutchman was part of the great Ajax. He almost never played, but was known largely from team pictures – sitting next to Cruyff and the rest of the big stars. Kleton moved to other clubs after 1974, but was unable to establish himself anywhere. Hardly a starter even in small clubs, he moved from place to place to the end of his career. May be Knobel brought him to Beerschot, where he seemingly failed again and did last the whole season, moving back to Holland.
Kleton scores against Belgian team – KAA Gent – but in 1982 and not as a Beerschot player. His dark shirt is Haarlem's – he moved to his homeland during 1978-79 season and arguably had his most successful years with the small Dutch club.
A pair of defenders also had minor fame: Arto Tolsa from Finland, already 33 years old, who played 10 years for Beerschot. He also played 77 games, scoring 9 goals for the national team of Finland between 1964 and 1981 – astonishing record at the time. A legend in Finland may be – a stadium is named after him – and certainly of Beerschot.
Arto Tolsa – little known player with loyal heart and great international record.
His partner was naturalized Congolese – Paul Beloy Beloy.
Still very young this season – only 22 – he quickly became respected player in Belgium, but not a great star. Because his name is confusingly doubled, he is often written just Paul Beloy.
The inevitable Dutch at the left wing: Rene Mucher.
One of the many Dutch players in Belgium, not famous at all, but seemingly useful for Beerschot.
The last and perhaps the most important player was young, but already playing for the club since 1974 – debuting along with Sannon. In 1978-79 he was only 23 years old, considered still a promise of foreign origin – so far, listed as Spaniard.
Juan Lozano was one of the greatest Belgian players of the 1980s, nicknamed the King, but his complicated dual citizenship left him out of national team football – he played a single match for Spain. Which prevented any attempts for inclusion in the Belgian selections. Already a regular, he won his first trophy this year – which was also his last season with Beerschot: he moved to USA the next season. His real fame was yet to come – for the moment, only a cup winner with a funny jersey: apparently, Beerschot advertised some firm dealing with eyeglasses.
Good for the Bear, completing the season of the underdog in Belgium.