Saturday, May 31, 2014

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Republic of Ireland championship:

Monday, May 26, 2014

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Relegated clubs were in similar position – Randers Freja ended last, quite behind everybody else with measly 16 points.
Very weak season, but was the next to be similar?
Perhaps financing was an issue – they also displayed different sponsors on their shirts, although not as many as Skovbakken: only 4. An old club, but not very successful – they won the Cup three times and that was all, but their victories were fairly recent: 1967,1968, and 1973. Now going down – a typically unpredictable Danish clubs. Every season appeared to be pretty by itself, unrelated to even to recent past and not necessarily forcasting the future. Down for the moment, distinguishing themselves with the leakiest defence in the league – they received 88 goals. The next worst ended with 59.
Koge Boldclub finished 15th with 21 points.
Another up and down, although little known club... not much of a fighter this year, but they were Danish champions in 1975. So quickly fate changed in Denmark – no consistency at all.
By the look of them, relatively better off club: only two sponsors. A female masseur – something extremely unusual in the 1970s when football was entirely male from bottom to top. But Scandinavia was different – more relaxed, or may be because the game was not so fanatical as in the rest of the world.
14th were Frederikshavn fI. They also ended with 21 points, but better goal-difference than Koge. No comfort in that – they were still 3 points short of a safe spot.
Now, Frederikshavn forenede Idrætsklubber (also known as FfI or Frederikshavn fI) were what could pass for a really modest Danish club. They rarely played in First Division – a total of 5 season scattered in the 1960s and the 1970s. Unlikely member of the top league and unlikely coming back too.
And also typical of the Danish predicament: 7 sponsors tried to keep the club afloat. Watching Danish teams perhaps was a nighmare – every player seemed to be dressed in kit hardly matching anybody else's on the pitch. It did not look like advertising, but rather like donation from friendly firms.
The rest of the league was more or less equal – no strong favourites and no big internal divisions. Perhaps Frem (Coppenhagen) were a bit low on their luck – they finished 10th – but was it a decline or just temporary weak seasons was impoosible to tell. OB Odense, AGF Aarhus, and Esbjerg fB fought for thrid and second place, eventually losing their edge during the season and all finishing quite behind the champions. OB Odense finished 4th with 38 points – may be unlucky, may be a bit weaker than the others.

With 39 points AGF Aarhus got bronze. Much better than their city rivals Skovbakken and one of historically successful Danish clubs, but the 1970s were not their time – nothing to brag about so far. Perhaps professionalism was good for them – they seemingly improved this year, yet it remained to be seen was it just a lucky season or something more consistent.
If adds could be any reliable indicaction, top spot depended on ability to attract sponsors: unlike the weaklings above, AGF had only one sponsor.
Second, with 40 points, finished Esbjerg forenede Boldklubber – or Esbjerg fB.
Their birthdate is a bit misleading – 1924 is actually the year when two local rivals merged into the Esbjerg fB. One of the original clubs was founded in 1898, the other in 1911. The new amalgamation was ambitious project, or so the club historians say. Esbjerg's golden years were in the 1960s, when they won 4 titles and one cup. All ended in 1965, but a second good spell started in mid-70s: they won the Cup in 1975 and finished 2nd in 1978. May be better days laid ahead?
The ever-present 'may be'... based on single sponsor and the presense of the national team goalkeeper Ole Kjaer. And may be Berthelsen... may be, may be, may be... on the negative side: they were second, but not a contender even when strong.
No 'may be' about the champions as such: at the end of the season, they appeared really dominant, finishing 4 points away from Esbjerg. The name was also familiar – Vejle BK.
Europeans were familiar with the name in the 1970s and it looked like to be 'the big Danish club', but this was misconception. The club is old, indeed, but not a force until 1970. The decade was the most succesful period in the club's history – and also the most successful Danish club at the time, winning 4 titles, including 1978. Allan Simonsen played for them before going to Borussia (Moenchengladbach) and big fame. More or less, Vejle were consistent and this very season was one of their best ever: they reached the 1/4 finals in the 1977-78 European Cup Winners Cup.
Champions again, but how trully solid was the squad? No new Simonsen there... not even a new Ulrich Le Fevre... Well, judging champions would not do – they won, others did not.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Denmark - Overview and II Division:

Monday, May 19, 2014

Saturday, May 17, 2014

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.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Yet, Polish football was not in great shape – the overwhelming leaders of the championship did not excel in the Cup tournament. The impression of relative, but low-quality parity was confirmed by the Cup finalists. No current or even former big name there. No leaders. Zaglebie (Sosnowiec) were 9th in the league. But they at least were first division club – the other finalist was almost unheard of second division club. Piast (Gliwice). 9th in the weaker Northern Second Division league. Good for them, surely, but... a club so weak reaching the final? Does not speak favourably for Polish club football. True, there had been even lowlier Cup finalist – the reserve team of ROW Rybnik – which did not win the Cup, but still got to play in the European Cup Winners Cup.

Piast (Gliwice) had the chance of European appearance only if winning the Cup – the opponents were lowly enough, so the losing finalist had no chance of participation in the Cup Winners Cup. Piast had a chance to win – before the final was played. Zaglebie was not much, but still was first division club. They won 2-0.
Zaglebie was not much 1977-78, but they had good past – it was not their first trophy. They never won the championship, but the Cup was already theirs three times – the last time was the previous year. 4th Cups, two consecutive – not bad? Not bad for an old club, established in 1906 , but in town better known for ice-hockey?

Not bad... but the squad was too modest. Mazur was the star player – a local star, no more. Miracle happened not once, but twice, yet one cannot depend on miracles. This was the last trophy won by Zaglebie. May be a local legendary squad, but that was all. A nice final victory of underdogs.