Sunday, April 30, 2017

Friday, April 28, 2017

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Chile. Changes in the first league format coloured the 1982 championship and need a few words. In 1981 the top league was made of 18 teams, but reduced to 16 for 1982 – which meant 5 teams were relegated and 3 promoted. But for 1983 the top league was increased to 22 teams – that meant 2 teams were relegated and 8 promoted. This automatically focuses on the Second Division championship and the criteria for relegation and promotion: otherwise the obvious discrepancies between performance in 1982 and the league members in 1983 would be foggy or whimsical at best. Both professional leagues had strange formula of the championship: there was a first stage, called Torneo Polla Gol, but also Copa Chile. And, just to confuse you entirely, it is called Campeonato de Apertura. The essential point of this first stage is that it had almost no importance for the second one – only the winner and the other finalist benefited from it: the winner carried 2 bonus points to the second stage, clearly name Campeonato Oficial, the losing finalist and semi-finalists – 1 point. That was all. But the dual championship had importance to the promotions for the next year, as it turned out. Campeonato Oficial was all final: it was standard league championship, no funky rules (in Torneo Polla Gol bonus points were given for wins with by 4 or more goals and no points for scoreless ties), the first in the final table was champion of Chile, and the bottom 2 (this season) – relegated. Simple... First and Second leagues had the same formula. There was a small addition to the First Division schedule, concerning the second Chilean representative in Copa Libertadores.
Plain calculation, however, suggests troubles with Second Division after such a big increase of the top league. It had 22 teams in 1982 and promotion of 8 left the league with 14. Two relegated from the top – 16. Clearly, relegation to Third Division and promotion from there would be affected to make the numbers, even if Second Division was slightly reduced (and reduction made no sense, if top league was so drastically enlarged). But in most countries, including Chile, the lower you go, the more difficult it gets to find not only competitive teams, but also financially able to play in higher divisions. So, economic measures were applied in the promotion/relegation process – and they were the real factor at the end, explaining why some clubs were suddenly playing higher division football the next year and others remained where they were before. The main criteria was attendance – 'a good venue' was the term used, but there was one more factor, seemingly, geographic – it affected promotion to Second Division. 'Spread the game, cover the whole country', was seemingly the idea. Promotion was complicated to no end, by introducing a final promotion/relegation tournament between 2 of the lowest in First Division and the 6th and 7th in Second Division. Endless fun... those teams lost and remained in Second Division and in the same time the 'good venue' rule promoted the 20th in the final table. Only one team was relegated from Second Division – the last, 22nd, in the final table: Talagante Ferro (Tallagante). With that, the name disappeared... the club was relocated to Santiago under the name Ferroviarios de Santiago.
So far so good? Keeping adding and subtracting? Makes 15 teams in the 1983 Second Division. Three more were promoted... but from where? They did not come via the Third Division championship. The newcomers were from the deep South of the country: Osorno, Valdivisa, and Puerto Montt. Geographic reasons... and Second Division was now 18-team strong. Let's go back to the 1982 championship.
The final of Campeonato Apertura, or Copa Polla Gol, was reached by Everton and Colchagua. Everton won and got 2 bonus points. Colchagua and losing semi-finalists, Cobrasal and Trasandino got 1 bonus point and started Campeonato Oficial with this slight advantage. Did not help any... Colchagua (San Fernando) slipped to 16th place in the final table. Cobresal (El Salvador) was 6th. Everton (Vina del Mar) – second. Seemingly, only Trasandino (Los Andes) benefited from its strong first stage performance: thanks to the bonus point, they clinched 3rd place, finishing with equal points, but better goal-difference than Union San Felipe (San Felipe). Third place in Second Division... not much to brag about.
Fernandez Vial (Concepcion) was the champion of Second Division.
21 wins, 14 ties, 7 losses, 66-43 goal-difference, 56 points – one more than Everton. Champions, even of Second Division, matter. Strong year for the boys and going up to play with the best. To the envy of their local rivals...

Deportes Concepcion (Concepcion) finished 11th and remained in Second Division.
Some other former First Division members were also unable to reach promotion:
Coquimbo Unido (Coquimbo) finished 10th. Lota Schwager (Coronel) – 13th, Nublense (Chillan) – 14th, Ovalle (Ovalle) – 17th, the list may go on, but those were the general losers remaining in the Second Division. Should have played better: those, who did, moved up.
Along with Fernandez Diaz, the next 4 teams in the final table were directly promoted: Everton (Vina del Mar) – 2nd, Trasandino (Los Andes) – 3rd, Union San Felipe (San Felipe) – 4th, and Antofagasta (Antofagasta) – 5th.
Lucky Antofagasta. Standing from left: Franklin López, Juan Balbontín, Gustavo Huerta, Eduardo Peralta, Julio Moya, Daniel Díaz.
First row: Navid Contreras, Héctor Olivos, Jorge Américo Spedaletti, Franklin Lobos, Jorge Luis Pons.
Lucky, because they finished 5th only on better goal-difference. But good season anyway – with 53 points, they were just 3 points behind the champions.
The 6th and the 7th went to the promotion/relegation tournament, but there were still three open spots in the new First Division – and now the 'good venue' factor was employed... it looks ridiculous: Huachipato (Talcahuano) finished 20th and under normal circumstances may have been relegated to the Third Division – but now they were promoted to the First. So were Green Cross (Temuco) - 15th in the final table.
Santiago Wanderers (Valparaiso) was the third of this group – and the strongest: they were 12th. Good for those clubs, but it still does not make sense – all of them were in the lower half of the table. Others had stronger season – but never mind. Good luck to all promoted in the next season.
The real unlucky were Cobresal and Union Calera – they went to the relegation/promotion tournament, facing Union Espanola (12th in First Division) and Palestino (13th in First), lost, and remained in Second Division – when, without any extra work, Huachipato moved up. Weird. By the way, those, coming from First Division to play in the promotion/relegation tournament added to the weirdness: normally, they should have been save and not endangered by relegation. But that is for the First Division championship. One last thing for the future: not all promoted participated immediately in the 1983 championship: Green Cross and Huachipato joined First Division only at Campeonato Oficial and in many records is actually stated that they were promoted to top flight only after the end of 1983 Campeonato Apertura. Go figure...

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Friday, April 21, 2017

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Honduras created some interest, thanks to the good World Cup performance – and it was 'discovered' that the country resembled somewhat a black African country in football matters: it was divided somewhat, having a region of English-speaking and predominantly black population, a bit in conflict with whites, blacks, and natives, speaking Spanish. Whatever social tensions existed, in football terms they translated into favoritism of one or the other group, perhaps not as bad as it was in Africa. The World Cup performance was interpreted in this way: English speaking Hondurans were perhaps the key , for they had discipline and rational approach the Spanish-speaking Latinos lacked. The blend of the two cultures worked well. Was that true or not is hard to say. What can be said is that Honduras run a national championship for a long time and had old clubs. 
Olimpia (Tegucigalpa), founded in 1912, won the 1982 championship. They were traditionally leading club, as usually clubs from capitals are, and this was there 13th title.  
Standing from left: Oscar Garcia, “Indio” Ruiz, Roberto “Pirata” Fernandez, “Nilo” Martinez, 
Mauricio “Guicho” Funez, Oscar Banegas. First row: Alberto Merelles, Victor Romero, Hector Ucles, Alberto Centurion, Mario Hernan Juvini Carreño. 
English-speakers were not presented here, judging by names, and the club was represented by only 2 players at the World Cup, none of which is pictured above. Whatever it was, locally Olimpia was strong even if other clubs – Real Espana, certainly – had more 'stars'.