‘Some people believe that football is matter of life and death. I am very disappointed with that attitude, it is much, much more important than that.’
Monday, November 17, 2014
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.
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
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reputation, but he may have been out of date – FC Brugge suddenly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 –
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
Tolsa – little known player with loyal heart and great
partner was naturalized Congolese – Paul Beloy Beloy.
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.
inevitable Dutch at the left wing: Rene Mucher.
of the many Dutch players in Belgium, not famous at all, but
seemingly useful for Beerschot.
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.
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.
for the Bear, completing the season of the underdog in Belgium.
I am Vesselin Vesselinov, born in Bulgaria and living in Canada. Football is my hobby since childhood – not the most important part of my life, but lifelong addiction nevertheless. Playing, watching, talking and collecting football. Now I am sharing my addiction with you. Hope you enjoy it.