Holland the Cup

The Cup final opposed PSV Eindhoven to lowly Roda JC. Was it Roda really lowly? Yes, they had weak season and lucky to escape relegation, but the team was not all that bad and gave tons of trouble to the studded with stars PSV – twice they came ahead with goals scored by the Smeets brothers and it was 2-2 at the end of regular time. It was only in extra-time PSV clinched the victory – interrestingly, all goal were scored by their oldish greats: Gerets scored both goals in regular time and Lerby the winning goal in overtime. This is also telling – so much trouble was Roda JC that it took defensive players to turn the game over for PSV! A matter of grit and determination.
Roda JC fought greatly at the final, but still lost. Too bad, yet, it was expected – in the long run, PSV was much stronger. Can’t blame the boys in yellow, though – they tried hard and it took everything PSV had to overcome them. Top row from left: Petri Kolkanen, Michel Broeders, René Trost, Ernie Brandts, Huub Smeets, Marco Grassi, Piet Wildschut, Jos Smits.
Middle row: B. Jongen, Eric van der Luer, Michel Haan, Michel Boerebach, Martin van Geel, Wilbert Suvrijn, Silvio Diliberto, Moti Iwanier, Jan Versleijen (ass.)
Sitting: Eugène Hanssen, Raymond Smeets, Pierre Blatter, Rob Baan (trainer), Paul Jansen, John de Jong, Alfons Groenedijk.
Must have been painful for Ernie Brandts to see the victory going to the other side – he spent his best years playing for PSV, but now was too old for his former club. Still, Roda JC was not left with entirely empty hands – since PSV won the championship and also the European Champions Cup, Roda JC was going to represent Holland in the 1988-89 Cup Winners Cup. International football was not happening to Roda JC very often, so it was great! Instead of playing Second Division, they were going to play in Europe. Consolation of a kind.
Not a photo of Cup winning team, but still a fair sample of wealth of players in the stables of PSV. Look above at the full squad and count the great players who were not present in this starting eleven. So much power, so it was almost impossible to beat PSV – Roda tried hard, but class prevailed at the end. And PSV really proved its greatness by winning everything: the Dutch Cup, the championship, the European Champions Cup, and finally half of the team won the European Championship for good measure. Arguably, the best ever season in the history of PSV Eindhoven and the most successful team the club ever had. A point of curiosity more than anything, but when Cruijff left Ajax in 1973, the great team collapsed – no such thing after Gullit went to Italy, on the contrary: PSV had their best season right after his departure.

Holland I Division

First Division. A bit of irony this season: very strong Ajax, but not a match at all to fantastic PSV Eindhoven. May be if Cruijff stayed… be this could be only wishful speculation. This two clubs dominated Dutch football and rightly so. Feyenoord was still in the dark and AZ’67 Alkmaar paid high price for their years of success – since the club get strong on the risky concept of hiring old stars, it could not really last more than few years. Once there were no more veterans, there was nothing… and the moment of nothingness arrived.
DS’79 (Dordrecht) – absolute outsiders. Last with just 12 points and relegated. Won only twice this season and received 100 goals!
FC Den Haag – very weak too. 17th with 22 points and relegated.
AZ’67 (Alkmaar) – may be a bit unlucky, but they hit the bottom inevitably. 16th with 28 points and relegated on worse goal-difference, but looking at the squad, it was only right: at the turn of the decade the team was full of famous names – old, but famous, and along them few current stars emerged. The veterans retired and the young stars were sold mostly abroad, and now there was nothing. Very young beginner, Michel Vonk, aging Kees Tol, and English journeyman David Loggie – that was all…
Roda JC – 15th with 28 points. Lucky to escape relegation on better goal-difference, but having great year in the Cup tournament. Their terrible performance in the championship was a bit curious – the squad, compared to perhaps half of the league teams was quite decent. Perhaps they underperformed, perhaps put their stakes on the Cup. Bitter-sweet season.
FC Volendam – 14th with 29 points.
PEC Zwolle – 13th with 29 points.
Sparta (Rotterdam) – 12th with 32 points.

FC Groningen – 11th with 32 points. Third row from left: Mark Verkuyl – René Eijkelkamp – John de Wolf – Edwin Bakker – Hans Reussing – Jurrie Koolhof – Erik Manders
Middle row: Jan van Dijk – Dick Koster – Claus Boekweg – Foeke Booy – Paul Mason – Edwin Olde Riekerink – Gary Brooke – Marco Waslander
Sitting:Jos Roossien – Sjaak Storm – Rob Jacobs (trainer) – Johan Tukker – Frans Thijssen.
FC Utrecht – 10th with 33 points.
HFC Haarlem -10th with 34 points. Dick Advocaat coaching – not the famous coach yet, but rather at the starting point of the road to fame.
Fortuna (Sittard) – 8th with 35 points.
FC Den Bosch – 7th with 36 points.
Feyenoord – 6th with 36 points. Rinus Israel coached the team, but very often famous players fail as coaches – this was poor season of poor squad. Ben Wijnstekers (36 years old now), Sjaak Troost, Keje Molenaar (hardly a big star when playing for Ajax and now pushing 30, like Troost), Joop Hiele (the only player in this team called to the national team, but only as a back-up goalkeeper). Regi Blinker was only 19-years old hopeful, the older Rene Monkou, hardly a top-class… even the imports were quite anonymous (Dane Lars Elstrup and Australian David Mitchell, who played a bit for Glasgow Rangers and… Seiko Hong Kong). Feyenoord seemingly was getting worse, not better – there was very little at the present and even less for the future.
VVV (Venlo) – 5th with 38 points. Top row from left: Patrick van der Hoeven, Frans Verbeek, Edwin van Berge Henegouwen, Jos Rutten, Remy Reynierse, Raymond Libregts, Rene Eyer.
Middle row: ass.trainer Nico Neele, Frank Berghuis, Chris Burhenne, John Lammers, Bert Berhagen, Jos Luhukay, verzorger Ton van Veggel.
Sitting in front: Robert Janssen, John Roux, Stan Valckx, trainer Jan Reker, manager Wiel Teeuwen, Gerrie van Rosmalen, Rick Laurs, Frans Nijssen.
Perhaps a silent commentary on the Feyenoord crisis: VVV ahead of the famed club! Having Valckx, Verbeek and Libregts practically matched the players Feyenoord had…
Willem II – 4th with 38 points. A rare strong season for the boys from Tilburg.
FC Twente (Enschede) – 3rd with 41 points. Twente coming back to their great 1970s? Not very likely with the current crop of players – apart from Theo Snelders, hardly anybody with exceptional talent. Very good season, indeed, but they finished 9 points behind Ajax.
Ajax – 2nd with 50 points. Third row from left: Dennis Bergkamp, Sonny Silooy, Rob de Wit, Stanley Menzo, Ronald Spelbos, Erik de Haan, Arnold Scholten, Jan Sorensen, Frank Verlaat.
Middle row: Barry Hulshoff (ent.), Spitz Kohn (ent.), Dick de Groot (ent.), Cees Koppelaar (ent.), Alastair Dick, Petri Tiainen, Hennie Meijer, Aron Winter, Danny Blind, Erik Regtop, Peter Boeve, Ton Bruis Slot (coordinateur technique), Frans Hoek (ent. gardiens), Bobby Haarms (ent.).
Sitting: Pim van Dord (physiothérapeute), Edo Ophof, Arnold Mühren, Frank Rijkaard, Johnny Bosman, Johan Cruijff (directeur technique), Frank Stapleton, Johnny van’t Schip, Jan Wouters, Rob Witschge, Sjaak Wolfs (intendant).
What a squad – Frank Stapleton not even a starter! Ronald Spelbos also largely kept the bench warm. But Cruijff left shortly after the picture was taken and Rijkaard went to Spain even before Cruijff, largely leaving the club because of conflict with Cruijff. Ajax a rather big number of foreigners – Stapleton, Dick, Sorensen, Tiainen – and none was a regular. Which speaks volumes of the talent of the Dutch players at hand. Yet, they were outshined and left far behind… Ajax was not a title contender and this could be attributed to a point to conflicts, rather hasty departure of key figures, and nobody able to replace Cruijff at the helm – since all the trouble started pretty much at the start of the season, there was nothing to be done to remedy the situation. Eventually, Barry Hulshoff finished the season as a coach, but he was a far cry from Cruijff at the helm.
PSV Eindhoven dominated the championship, finishing 9 points ahead of Ajax. 27 wins, 5 ties, only 2 lost games, 117-28, and 59 points. The goal-difference of +89 pretty much sums up the great season PSV had. This was the peak of Guus Hiddink excellent squad and they won everything possible this year. There is hardly any need even to mention the stars playing for PSV – it is enough to point that Willy van de Kerkhof was just a rarely used reserve in this squad. Yes, he was very old by now, but he was also one of the all-time greats of the club and a legend. Compared to Ajax, PSV had one quite obvious advantage: experience. It was better mixed team – old grizzled stars, players at the prime of their careers, and talented youngsters. And surely the make of a great team – such teams usually had more than 11 former and current national team players and so did PSV. A triumphal season and confident champions.

Holland II Division

Holland. Ranked 15th. This was arguably the best ever year of Holland and so low ranking? Well, it is combined 5-year record not counting 1988, so there – the first half of the 1980s was terrible for Dutch football. Guus Hiddink’s PSV Eindhoven at its peak, wonderful Ajax too. At the other end of the spectrum – Feyenoord struggling unable to build strong team and the risky project of AZ’67 expired.
Second Division. Still professional football stayed alone, so no relegation. The top 2 of the 19-team league directly promoted and 4 ‘period champions’ competed in final play-off for the last promotion. Long time established formula.

SC Heracles’74 – last with 16 points. A very weak outsider, but without relegation in the league – no danger.
SC Emmen – 18th with 22 points.
NAC Breda – 17th with 25 points.
Helmond Sport – 16th with 25 points.
SVV Schiedam – 15th with 29 points.
FC Wageningen – 14th with 31 points.
Telstar – 13th with 34 points. Top row from left: Walter Smak, René Panhuis, Frans Jansen, Florian Vijent, Koos Kuut, Dennis de Graaf, Mink Verbaan (materiaalman)
Middle row: Jan Spierenburg (verzorger), Mike Helenklaken, Stanley MacDonald, Peter de Ruyter, Edwin Ariesen, René Tesselaar, Peter van der Zwaan, Bert van Duyvenbode, Cees Schoo, Chris van der Zwan (elftalbegeleider), Loek Scholten (directeur sponsor NILO)
sitting: Peter Tania, Matthieu Niesten, Jerry de Jong, Cor van der Hart (trainer), Dick Trock, Peter de Waal (assistent), Ron Pos, Marco Robijn.
Go Ahead Eagles – 12th with 34 points.
SC Cambuur – 11th with 34 points.

SC Heerenveen – 10th with 34 points.
Vitesse – 9th with 36 points, but as one of the ‘period winners’ they were going to promotion play-offs.

Excelsior – 8th with 38 points.
RBC – 7th with 40 points, but going to promotion play-offs as a ‘period winner’.
FC Eindhoven – 6th with 40 points.
NEC Nijmegen – 5th with 42 points.
De Graafschap – 4th with 44 points and going to promotion play-offs as a ‘period winner’.
MVV – 3rd with 44 points and going to promotion play-offs as a ‘period winner’.
SC Veendam – 2nd with 51 points. Strong season, ending with promotion to the top league. Not a title contender, but vastly superior to the rest.
RKC Waalwijk – unchallenged champions of Second Division: 31 wins, 3 ties, 2 losses, 104-30 goal-difference and 65 points. Left SC Veendam 14 points behind, scored astonishing 104 goals – what else is needed to say?
The promotion play-offs after the season between the 4 ‘period winners’ – like in the championship, one team dominated the mini-league.
De Graafschap finished last with 4 points from 6 games.
RBC Roosendaal – 3rd with 5 points.
Vitesse Arnhem – 2nd with 5 points.
MVV Maastricht – way stronger than the other contenders at the final stretch: 5 wins, 0 ties, 1 loss, 17-6 and 10 points. MVV was going back to First Division – not particularly great during the regular season, but won easily the last promotion spot anyway.

France the Cup

The Cup. French football is such that doubles were hardly ever possible… so, true to tradition the Cup finalists were not those leading in the championship. Metz vs Sochaux. Mid-table First Division club vs leader of Second Division. Normally, top-league team wins… Unless… The final ended 1-1 with Metz actually trailing back and equalizing in the last minute of the first half. Equal game, coming to penalty shoot-out and in the chancy shooting Metz’ players did not miss, but Sachaux eventually missed one penalty. 5-4 Metz. Today it is even amusing – the shooters for Sochaux (Hadzibegic, Sauzee, Paille, Rousset, and Madar) are better known players than Metz’ kickers (Zenier, Hinschberger, Zanon, Bracconi, and Kastendeuch) – but that is from today point of view: Sauzee, Paille, Rousset and Madar eventually became leading players in the 1990s, they were not that in 1988. Anyhow, Metz clinched the victory in front of over 44 000 fans Parc des Princes, Paris.
One can be sorry for Sochaux-Montbeliard – they had wonderful season and only luck betrayed them, they did not really lose to Metz. Well, one is always sorry for the underdog. Standing from left: Gilles Rousset, Faruk Hadzibegic, Francis Peltier, Laurent Croci, Franck Sauzée, Mickaël Madar, Stéphane Paille.
Front row: Silvester Takac (coach), Fabrice Henry, Franck Silvestre, Jean-Christophe Thomas, Philippe Morin, Mehmed Bazdarevic, Jacky Colin.
Nice team really and no wonder they were so strong in the Second Division – this squad was more impressive than half of First Division teams! But misfortunate… at least they got promoted to First Division.
Great success for Metz, no matter how difficult and chancy – this was their 2nd Cup. One may be sorry for Sochaux on principle, but let face it – the final opposed two underdogs, clubs with little success and relatively marginal existence. Luck was on the side of Metz, having rather modest squad, so it was great for the boys to win a trophy. A moment to engrave in memory.

France I Division

First Division. Dominant Monaco and 8 teams battling for survival. Typically, not a single team was well-rounded and exceptionally strong and looked like oldish players no longer needed in Italy were moving to France. A flock of good coaches, who were not yet at their prime. Talented new generation of players was also at hand and hailed as securing the bright future of French football, but the future would prove different, at least for awhile.
Le Havre – somewhat an outsider. Last with 27 points an relegated. The Czechoslovak striker Vizek was not enough.
Brest – 19th with 32 points. Modest Brest was unable to avoid relegation.
Niort – or Chamois Niortais – ended ahead of Brest on better goal-difference: 18th with 32 points. Perhaps the most anonymous squad in the league, they managed to avoid direct relegation, but eventually lost the promotion/relegation play-off against Caen and went down.
Lens – 17th with 33 points. Lucky to survive, but finished with the worst goal-difference in the championship: -22.
Nice – 16th with 33 points. Struggling to stay in the league, but the decline started quite a long time ago. Their former Yugoslav star Nenad Bjekovic was coaching them and one could say that when he arrived back in the 1970s, he had stronger teammates than Bravo had at the moment.
Paris SG – 15th with 34 points. Frankly, much more was expected by this squad coached by Houllier. Aging Ray Wilkins was perhaps the biggest name among well known stars – yet, the team just struggled to escape relegation.
Laval – nothing special, yet, they finished ahead of Paris SG, if only on better goal-difference: 14th with 34 points. Actually, neutral goal-difference: 38-38.
Toulouse – 13th with 35 points. Strongly dependent on bunch of aging stars – Rocheteau, Bergeroo, the 1978 World champion Tarantini, his fellow Argentine Marcico, Stopyra. Santini, part of the great 1970s St. Etienne squad, was coaching them. Well, they escaped relegation.
Cannes – 12th with 37 points. Not bad… for a modest team. Like most smallish clubs, they depended on few aging veterans: the Yugoslav duo Savic and Primorac and almost forgotten by now Emon.
Cannes deserves a second picture for this reason: sponsorship had its own demands, so the team had to actually promote the goods their sponsor peddled – in their case, home supplies. A question for the future, of course – would they be in the fridge, or burning on the stove, or just washed and dried?
Lille – 11th with 37 points. Rather typical mid-table performance.
Nantes – 10th with 39 points. Struggling for some time – decline is almost inevitable in football, but seemingly Nantes missed the moment to start rebuilding. Perhaps this season was the turning point: good foreign stars at hand: the Argentine Burruchaga, the Scot Johnston, and aging Belgian Vercauteren plus bright young talent – Deschamps, Desailly, Kombouare, but also remains from the past getting too long in the tooth: Bertrand-Demanes, Rio, Amisse.
Auxerre – 9th with 39 points. Was it another club this season would have been considered a disaster, but Auxerre and its fans were humble and kept solidly their feet on the ground. The most important thing was to play with heart and not get unreasonable expectations. 9th place? Nothing dramatic – most important was developing their own talent and there was plenty of it. Cantona was an interesting example of this philosophy: hailed as major talent and he proved his worth in time, but did not really made it in France – instead, became famous for his successful play in England. Auxerre knew its best players would be bought by richer clubs, so the trick was to develop more youngsters on one hand and loyally depend on Polish imports – the string of reliable Poles was not broken: Matysik and Zgutczynski were the current workhorses.
Metz – 8th with 40 points. Keeping their usual in the championship, but this season was remarkable for them.
Matra Racing – 7th with 41 points. The ambitious project worked so far – the team came back from obscurity and clearly aimed to make an impact in French football. The Uruguayan Paz was perhaps the only great star in this squad, but he was not alone (Tusseau, Fernandez) and there was even young talent (Olmeta, Blondeau). However, the biggest asset was their coach – the Portuguese Jorge. Well, so far, so good – compared to fellow Parisian rivals Paris SG they did very well with poorer squad.
Olympique Marseille – 6th with 41 points. Ahead of Matra Racing only on better goal-difference, but they were similarly ambitious projects both. Not coming to fruition yet, but the aims were clear and so were the methods: hire great coach, buy famous players. Wanting to come back to leading position Marseille had Hidalgo as sporting director, Gili coaching, and impressive names in the squad: the West Germans Forster and Allofs, the Cameroonian Bell, Giresse, Genghini, Domergue, Le Roux, Ayache, Papin. A bit on the aging side, but solid foundation with enormous experience and success and since money were no longer a problem, it was sure fresher talent will be added quickly.
Toulon – 5th with 41 points. A great season for them and overall a pleasant surprise. Since the squad was relatively modest (Ginola was still only a promising youngster), they perhaps overperformed, but also serve as comparative example to teams ambitiously going up, but not ready yet for real success: modest Toulon was, at the moment, equal to Marseille and Matra Racing (ahead of them not on points, but on goal-difference), but the bigger clubs were coming out of decline and were still in building process. Thus, relatively modest, but at its prime team, was practically equal to ambitious, yet unfinished, climbers. As an another example Toulon served well too: Delio Onnis was their assistant-coach. Not only one of the many great players of the 1970s who were now trying to make names as coaches as well, but also continuing the great rivalry with fellow Argentine Carlos Bianchi – for years they fought between themselves who will be the top scorer of the French league, now they were competing again as young coaches.
St. Etienne – 4th with 42 points. Looked like the crisis was over and they came back to its familiar leading position. Herve Herbin was back at the helm and that was the biggest sign of revival – instantly his magic worked and helped by one of the his great 1970s team, Saramagna (and another – Repellini – was coaching the second team), the past seemingly was coming back. However, it was an illusion… it was enough to look at the squad: back in the great 1970s St. Etienne was studded with talent and untypically for French team had about 15 national team players. Now… their Bulgarian defender Georgi Dimitrov was unable to adjust to living abroad and wanted to go home, Castaneda never made it more than occasional back-up goalkeeper in the national team (and that was already in the past), and apart from Krimau and maybe Ribar, there was nothing else. Good season, but just an oddity, a sudden burst and nothing more.
Montpellier – 3rd with 45 points. Great season for them even if they were not real title contender. However, they scored most goals this championship (68) and finished with best goal-difference (+30). The squad was not impressive, but it was a great example of achieving more with less. Practically, just a few solid stars: Brazilian Julio Cezar, the Yugoslav Stojkovic, the Cameroonian Roger Milla, the veteran goalkeeper Rust, and the promising youngster Laurent Blanc, but it was enough of a skeleton to provide stable reliability. It was a team practically at its peak and healthy appetite and soon will be re-enforced by enormous South American talent: it was not a team to stay satisfied with its current success, even if having no means for actually running for the title.
Bordeaux – 2nd with 46 points. On the surface, they were still strong leading club, but the fact they were distant second this season and clinched silver only by a point ahead of weaker squad, betrays bitter reality – Bordeaux was already beyond their peak and going downhill. Was it going to be a terrible decline was a matter of quick measures taken right after the end of the season, but in any case rebuilding is rocky time and it is always difficult to discard great names. But reality is already tough: Jacquet was leading coach, but somewhat yesterday’s news, already challenged by younger generation, even bypassed by some already. And similarly the squad – sounds so impressive to have Dropsy, Vercruysse, Girard, Tigana, Ferreri, Thouvenel, the Vujovic brothers… but all of them were dangerously aging and younger stars in other teams were already ahead of them. Bordeaux had little younger talent – Roche, Gnako, Bijotat, Lallane – and they somehow did not look like first-rate. The team was getting too old for its own good and radical rebuilding was needed urgently: after all, they were not match to a team with no exceptional talent this season.
Monaco – champions with 52 points from 20 wins, 12 ties, 6 losses and 53-29 goal-difference. Great season in which they practically had no rival, leaving Bordeaux 6 points behind. Praise to Arsene Wenger most of all, for Monaco hardly ever had really great squad and this season did not contradict tradition. Tradition of sudden ups and downs and the reasons perhaps was the policy of short-term assemblage – when it worked, they went up; when it did not, they went down. This season it worked, so again praise to Wenger. Not a bad squad – the English stars Hateley (coming from Italy) and Hoddle, well known Frenchmen – Amoros, Bellone, Ettori, Batiston. Let add Fofana, Dib and Puel… not enough for a full well-rounded team. The stars were aging all… Hoddle was suffering with constant injuries… one can question the consistency of Bellone… Hateley may have played for Milan, but was never real first choice for the Englsih national team… Ettori was not truly great keeper and easily replaced when a decent keeper popped-up in the French national team… the best years of Battiston were already in the past… to a point, it was one-time affair, largely due to the ability of Wenger to motivate and squeeze the best of experienced aging players. It worked to the delight of Monaco’s fans – it worked even better than it should. The champions collected the 5th title for the club. However, the chances of repeating the success next year were practically nill.

France II Division Group B

Group B. If one team shined unchallenged in Group A, the big drama was here – goal-difference decided the champion!
Lorient was last and relegated with 23 points.
Melun Entente 77 beat Lorient on goal-difference, but still going down – 17th with 23 points.
Saint Dizier – 16th with 25 points and relegated.
La Roche sur Yon – 15th with 26 points. Escaped relegation by a point.
Stade Quimperois – 14th with 29 points. The eternal mystery of writing club names in France… sometimes full names, sometimes only the familiar city name, but in the same source one club could be written with full name and another with just the city name.
Beauvais – 13th with 31 points.
En Avant Guingamp – 12th with 31 points. Here it is again… Guingamp in the magazine introducing the teams, En Avant Guingamp in the statistical records.
Abbeville – 11th with 31 points.
Stade Rennais – 10th with 32 points. Two well known former players at the helm (Rampillon and Keruzore), the Hungarian Garaba, with 2 World Cups behind him, Cantona… and nothing. Cantona? He was also listed and pictured in his original club, Auxerre, this season. If anything, it shows the difficulties he had in his native France – a misfit of a kind.
Valenciennes – 9th with 33 points. They were no strangers to second tier football, but First Division was more of their place for years – so, a bit of speculation: in the past they had steady string of Polish players. No Poles now… and no good at all.
Dunkerque – 8th with 34 points. Like Nimes in Group A, they finished with goal-difference of 0: 34-34.

Stade Reims – 7th with 35 points. May be only one thing to note: Carlos Bianchi was coaching – still far away from fame as a coach, still largely remembered as a great goal-scorer.
Angers – 6th with 38 points. Let say they had better seasons.
Nancy – 5th with 38 points. Rather sad to see the club which gave to the world Michel Platini that low, but it was always a modest club.
Rouen – 4th with 40 points. Modest as ever. If anything, just an example of increasing export from Eastern Europe – the Czechoslovak Jarolim here. Well respected at home, but not well known abroad – by now even second raters were exported, that’s the point.
Mulhouse – 3rd with 45 points. Strong season, a team certainly improving and going up, but eventually dropped out of the promotion race. Well, the future was theirs to take.

Caen lost dramatic race for top position – they finished with 49 points and almost identical record with their rivals. Only scored 2 less goals… and that meant losing the championship and direct promotion. But there was another chance – the play-off against the 18th in the First Division. That chance Caen did not miss and still got promoted after winning against Chamois Niortais. However, the dramatic battle for first place is worth showing in numbers: 20 wins, 9 ties, 5 losses, 54-22. Now see the record of the winners.
Racing Club Strasbourg prevailed: 20 wins, 9 ties, 5 losses, 56-22, 49 points. Just 2 goals made the final difference and Strasbourg clinched the 1st place of the Group B championship and direct promotion to top flight. Not an easy victory, but still a return to their familiar First Division was achieved and that was all that mattered. As for the future… hard to say. Like many other clubs, Strasbourg had young coaches, who used to be famous players – Kasperczak and Gemmrich – but the squad was rather anonymous. The veteran Leonard Specht was hardly a player for the future and he was practically the only recognizable name in the squad. Looks like quick recruitment of solid guys was in order… or may be not. Anyway, the next season will tell.

France II Division Group A

Second Division. Sochaux had exelent season and dominated Group A with very impressive performance.
Chatellerault finished last with 27 points and was relegated. Remember Hugo Bargas? Well, few remembered him by that year…
Tours – 17th with 27 points. Ahead of Chatellerault on better goal-difference, but relegated anyway. Used to play top league football? That was in the past.
Ajaccio – Gazelec Ajaccio to be precise, because of the other club with almost identical name – ended 16th with 27 and was the third relegated team.
Dijon – 15th with 28 points. Survived by a point.
Istres – 14th with 28 points. Lucky to survive as well.
Le Puy – 13th with 28 points. Goal-difference placed them above Istres and Dijon.
Sete – 12th with 29 points. Bathenay trying his hand at coaching, but coaching a team no longer even remembering playing First Division football was serious trial.
Martigues – 11th with 31 points.
Gueugnon – 10th with 31 points.
Grenoble – 9th with 32 points. Who could envision a future world champion in this team.
Bastia – 8th with 33 points. Glory days were 10 years ago already.
Cuiseaux-Louhans – 7th with 33 points. Not bad at all.
Nimes Olympique – 6th with 36 points. 40-40 goal-difference – a rarity.
Orleans – 5th with 36 points.
Montceau-les-Mines – 4th with 40 points. Quite an achievement.
Olympique Ales – 3rd with 41 points. Strong season.
Olympique Lyonnais – 2nd with 44 points. Unable to really fight for promotion – perhaps the squad tells why: it is rather modest.
Sochaux-Montbeliard – powerful champions with 61 points. 17 points ahead of Lyon! 29 wins, 3 ties and only 2 lost games. But their scoring record was fantastic: 97-17. Goal-difference of +80! Going back to top flight and more – this season was quite remarkable and due to strong Yugoslavian presence: coach Takac plus well known Bazdarevic and Hadzibegic.

France III Division

France. Ranked 14th. Plentiful of strong and famous players, yet, low ranking – but that is French football. Fairly equal and competitive championship with somewhat domineering leaders in the top division and Group A of Second Division.
The teams who earned promotion from Third Division this season were:
Clermont,
Rodez and
Annecy – going to Group B.
Creteil-Lusitanos,

Le Touquet and
Le Mans, going to Group A of Second Division.

Romania the Cup

The Cup repeated the championship: Steaua vs Dinamo at the final, the Army prevailed by one goal in the last minute. Lacatus gave them the lead in the 27th minute. Dinamo equalized 3 minutes before the last whistle, courtesy of Raducioiu, but Balint still made it 2-1 Steaua in the 90th minute. Wait a minute… there was no 90th minute… or was it? The game stopped earlier. Television broadcast went black. Steaua decided to walk away. The final was forfeit. The reason for all that? Steaua scored second goal in the 87th minute, which was disallowed by the referee. The match ended at this point and Dinamo’s players took the Cup with themselves. Or may be they kidnapped the Cup? The match was never finished, contrary to the false record of Balint scoring in the 90th minute. The game and the Cup was awarded to Steaua later by the Federation and the referee was disqualified for one year. Speaking of political clashes behind the scene…
This is a possible photo of 1987-88 Dinamo (Bucharest). Full of great talent and backed up by ominous state power they failed twice this season, thus repeating 1986-87. Lost by tiny margin both championship and Cup, lost in the last minute. That was unfortunate, but then again… was it just football?
Possible photo of the 1987-88 Cup winners. Strangely both Steaua and Dinamo left almost no pictorial records of 1987-88 – true, the teams were pretty much the same as the previous and the next year. May be most people were happy seeing Steaua winning and Securitate’s pets two years in a row second in every tournament. May be… because it is hard to sympathize with not just Army’s club, but already a pet project of the son of ominous Ceausescu. Who depended on Securitate… For all the records, for all the talent of coaches and players, there is more than a grain of salt: were these two rivals really all that strong and great? How much was fixed in the backrooms? What kind of games were played behind the scene? Of course, if one is Steaua fan nothing but victory matters and that is the only truth and justice. And when it comes to just that, Steaua won its 16th Cup and another double. When the dust settles down, it is a somewhat curious record: Steaua so far won more Cups than titles.

Romania I Division

First Division. Well, dramatic battle between Steaua and Dinamo and big part of it was backroom battle between Securitate (Dinamo) and Army – Ceausescu’s son (Steaua). Intriguing in itself, for that was a battle inside the Communist Party between formidable foes and one major reason both clubs had the best players and coaches in the country. No doubt, there was tampering of games – part of it became internationally known by the scandalous manipulations to win the Golden Shoe award to the point of killing it. Yet, on the field, the rival teams were objectively too strong for anybody else – one can hardly attribute artificiality of the talent of Hagi, Belodedici, Boloni, Lacatus, Piturca (Steaua) or Raducioiu, Rednic, Mateut, Andone, Camataru (Dinamo), to name but a few. And new talent already was popping up: Dan Petrescu, Dumitrescu, and others. Both clubs used their mighty powers to scoop whatever talent emerged in the country, fighting each other all the way. It was hard to see anything else behind the battle of the giants – perhaps there was not a lot left to see, but the strong performance of Victoria (Bucharest) is worth mentioning: originally a farm club of Dinamo, they were recently promoted and hastily renamed to Victoria to cut at least the most obvious ties to Dinamo. How independent was Victoria is hard to say – to satisfy UEFA they were made an independent club, at least on the surface. Domestically, Steaua’s powerful backing perhaps played controlling role, watching closely Victoria’s behavior, so perhaps they would not act just as Dinamo’s helpers, but coach and some players were formerly Dinamo stuff. Again, apart from the dirty schemes, Victoria had surprisingly good team and performed very well. On the field, they were fresh and somewhat pleasant surprise, reaching international stage as well – no more than the UEFA Cup, but that was all left by dominant Steaua and Dinamo to the rest of Romania.
CSM Suceava finished last with 25 points and was relegated.
Petrolul (Ploiesti) – 17th with 26 points and relegated.
Politehnica (Timisoara) – 16th with 26 points and relegated.
Olt (Scornicesti) – 15th with 28 points.

Sportul Studentesc (Bucharest) – 14th with 28 points.

Rapid (Bucharest) – 13th with 29 points.
SC Bacau – 12th with 29 points.
ASA (Targu Mures) – 11th with 29 points.
Universitatea (Cluj) – 10th with 29 points.
Arges (Pitesti) – 9th with 29 points.
FCM Brasov – 8th with 29 points.
Corvinul (Hunedoara) – 7th with 30 points.
Flacara (Moreni) – 6th with 33 points.
Universitatea (Craiova) – 5th with 36 points.
Otelul (Galati) – 4th with 39 points.

Victoria (Bucharest) – 3rd with 40 points. The best bellow Steaua-Dinamo, but still with strong Dinamo tint: long time Dinamo coach Dumitru Nicolae-Nicusor was at the helm, for instance.
Dinamo (Bucharest) – 2nd with 63 points. Observe the difference: 23 points ahead of 3rd placed Victoria. They lost only 1 match. Won 30 out of 34 rounds. Scored 107 goals. Permitted only 25 in their own net. And such fantastic record was still not enough for winning the championship…
Steaua (Bucharest) prevailed over the arch-enemy by a point. If Dinamo’s record was fantastic, Steaua bested it – 30 wins and 4 ties. Not a single lost match. 114-18 scoring record, very likely the best ever in the world: +96 goal-difference. 64 points and the title was theirs, like the year before. Now they had 13 titles altogether.