Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Slowly progressing Turkey, but progressing nevertheless. More consistent import of foreign players – not stars, but reliable ones, mostly Yugoslavians; shirt sponsorship, bringing revenue. More professionalism added to fanatical support from the stands. Of course, the big three from Istanbul dominated the scene, but it is safe to add a forth club by this time: Trabzonspor. And provincial clubs were no longer just a décor to the battles between Fenerbahce and Galatasaray. Second Division football was quite behind, of course, but had its own drama.

There were clubs better known today than in the 1970s -

Like Gazientepspor. Back then – nothing much.
Goztepe (Izmir) won promotion – a quick return to top flight of the old club, relegated the year before. Not a surprise – Goztepe more or less belonged to the best.

The second promotion was a surprise, though:

Kirikkalespor (Kirikkale), a young club founded in 1967 and not exactly from a well known hometown. Modest by all means, but they had a good season and bravely won promotion.

May be photo of the unlikely winners, may be not... There is little information about the club, however, the quad has the look of the time. Kirikkalespor never played first division football – true debutantes, bringing only one question: were they able to survive? But this was for the next year – they enjoyed the present and rightly so.

At the bottom of First Division five teams fought for survival. Two inevitably went down. One was a bit of a surprise:

Ankaragucu had good years behind them. They were a likely addition to the big trio from Istanbul – a club from the capital challenging the old guard was logical. True, Ankaragucu were not the only club in Ankara, but seemed best positioned. Yet, they finished 15th and were relegated. Instead of challenging Istanbul, Ankara was to be without any representative in top flight.

Dead last was more or less expected club.

Mersin Idmanyurdu (Mersin) had strong years, but also weak ones, and it was not surprising to see them in second division. Up and down, more likely down – 21 points they had, earned mostly by draws. Three wins was nothing, so it did not matter that Mersin did not lose more than ½ of their championship matches. 15 ties – exactly every second match they played this season – was a league record, but it also meant relegation.

Nothing good can be said about the last in the league. The only interesting point is their sponsor – a bit funny to see Opel, the giant automakers, relegated.

The bulk of mid-table teams was quite large – 7 teams, almost half of the league. Still unstable – up and down, depending on particular season.

Bursaspor, a typical example. 10th this year with 28 points, but they had better stronger year not long ago. Perhaps clubs like Bursaspor were the most important: their development meant the general improvement of Turkish football – if able to maintain stability, sooner or later they were to challenge the big clubs dominating the league. Bursaspor were perhaps a bit down this season, yet, remained among the mid-table clubs – this was perhaps most important: not to plummet to relegation after strong a season or two.