USSR III Division And Lower Levels

USSR. Ranked 2nd. This was the last full, or ‘classic’, if you prefer, championship of USSR. Tensions were growing along with ‘perestroyka’ and ‘glasnost’, but nothing yet suggested collapse. In the realm of football, the central problem was the transition to real professionalism, which most obviously were represented by clashes between professional players and their clubs still run non-professionally. At the end of the season only Dnepr (Dnepropetrovsk) was judged really transformed club. The clashes were often expressed in terms of democratization, the twisted and painful battle for changes which noboidy really understood and translated sometimes widely into something more or less corresponding to their own wild imaginations. Thus, the end result of the battle for democracy produced strange results: the democratic election of coach by the players produced the champion this year, but also the last team in the league – there was hardly a coherent lesson or working formula by the application of the same democratic experiment. On another level, the first imported player in USSR appeared this season – the story is interesting trivia: the first imported foreigner was the Bulgarian defender Tenyo Minchev. He moved from Beroe (Stara Zagora) to Krylya Sovetov (Kyubishev), a Third Division club. The transfer recalled the first exports of both countries, USSR and Bulgaria, made roughly 10 years ago. The first Bulgarian transferred to the West was also aging player of Beroe – Petko Petkov, about 35 years old back then, went to Austria (Vienna). Tenyo Minchev, a teammate with Petkov back then, was now 35 years old. The first Soviet player to play abroad, Zinchenko, was playing for Second Division club – Dinamo (Leningrad) – when he was transferred to Rapid (Vienna). Both Soviet and Bulgarian first exports went to Austria. The first Soviet export and import involved lower league clubs. Both times they were purely football matters, involving political factors: ten years ago Austrian Socialists negotiated the Soviet ‘help’ and now the Communist Party local officials negotiated the transfer of Minchev – Stara Zagora and Kyubishev were ‘sister cities’, so their governing bodies frequently visited each other, the football clubs of the both cities visited each other too. As 10 years ago there was no official regulation for foreign transfers in the USSR, so now there was no such regulation for imports. May be that was why in both occasions low key Soviet clubs were involved – and in the Bulgarian case, a provincial club, and common for both countries – the first transfers were of old players, nearing retirement. Thus, the first imported player in the USSR appeared in Third Division, but in the second half of the season the first foreigners in the top league popped up: if the transfer of Minchev was negotiated at the end of 1988 and the player appeared at the start of 1989 season, the next foreigners came in October 1989 in the league debutante Pamir (Dushanbe) – 3 Zambians arrived: Derby Makinka (24 years old), Wisdom Chansa (25), and Person Mwanza (21), all members of the Zambian national team, so attracting the eye of their new employers in the 1988 Olympic games. Although leading Zambian players (Makinka amassed 98 games for the national team in his career), only Mwanza established himself in Pamir – the other two played 3 games each and were let go. Thus importation of players in USSR started. Meantime the export was increasing speed, placing new burdens on the transformation of football in the country – weakening of the teams and scandals. As the season progressed, tensions progressed as well and even FIFA was unable to provide clear guidance to increasing Soviet problems. But the complexity of situation is beyond the scope of this review, so back to football as it was.
Third Division – still divided in 9 Zones, which winners after the regular season competed for 3 promotions to Second Division. A glimpse of the vast lower levels of Soviet football:

Spartak (Archangelsk) – bronze medalist of the championship of their county this season. Most teams in the country, never heard of, played in such local championships and tournaments.

Novator (Archangelsk) – winner of the city championship of Archangelsk.
Here is another: the winners of the trade unions championship of Belarus – Belarus (Marini Gorki).
Slightly higher level: Sputnik (Minsk) won both the Cup and the Supercup of Belarus this season.

Obuvshtik (Lida) – champion of Belarus.

Similarly, Torpedo (Riga) won the Cup of Latvia.
RAF (Jelgava) won the championship of Latvia.
Gradually coming to third level…
Dinamo (Kirov) – posing here with the Lev Yashin Cup, which they just won. This was internal trophy for the teams of the vast Dinamo system – the big members of the system from Moscow, Kiev, Minsk, Tbilisi, did not compete in such tournaments and some were even quite independent, yet the system remained.
Gomselmash (Gomel) celebrated its 30th year in Third Division – they became better known abroad after Belarus became independent.

Arsenal (Tula) – another third level team, which, like Gomselmash, climbed up after the collapse of USSR.
Sokol (Saratov) – one more team coming out from obscurity after the collapse of USSR. Presently, no more than Third Division for them… Standing from left: V. Shpitalny, A. Nikonorov, E. Tumassyan, S. Bassov, A. Aslamov, A. Kochetkov, R. Monassipov, Yu. Vassilyev, A. Podgorodny, A. Kislyakov, I. Kurakin, A. Koreshkov, A. Silkin, G. Semenov. Sitting: V. Komarov, A. Pospelov, V. Plotnikov, V. Ponomarev, O. Pritula, A. Issaev, D. Maksimov, O. Terekhin, S. Ivanov.
Meliorator (Shimkent) – the far East hardly produced memorable team at any time, but this club was steady Third Division member.
Unlike Meliorator, Dinamo (Barnaul) won the championship of its Zone – the Far-East-Siberian Zone. And went to the semi-finals of the Third Division structure… whatever that means.
Better known from their Second Division seasons SKA (Odessa) remained in Third Division – they had it tougher than most third level clubs, for they played in the strong Ukrainian Zone.
Kolos (Nikopol) was in the same situation as SKA (Odessa).
Krivbass (Krivoy Rog), dressed in white, was also in the same situation as Kolos and SKA – return to Second Division was impossible, but they played a friendly against Ipswich Town this year and that most likely was the most memorable moment not just of 1989.
What mattered most was the promotion tournament, of course – 9 teams divided in 3 groups and the winners going up to Second Division. The happy winners became known before the final round was played, but the promotion phase was not without controversy.
Group A: Tzement (Novorossiysk) was considered favourite here, but they finished last. They were so apathetic at the last game, played at home, that the fans chanted ‘Mercenaries’, ‘Sell-outs’, and ‘Shame’ most of the time. What really happened is probably unpleasant story, but Tzement instead of first, finished last with 3 points from 4 games. Irtysh finished 2nd with 4 points and Lokomotiv (Gorky) – 1st with 5 points from 2 wins, 1 tie and 1 loss, 6-3 goal-difference. They won promotion before the last round, because they had superior goal-difference to the rest, Irtysh already played its last match then and Tzement had goal-difference so bad, that they needed a win with 4 goals difference to take top position.
Group C. Traktor ended last with 2 points. Neftyanik (Fergana) took 2nd place with 4 points and Dinamo (Sukhumi) won promotion with 6 points – 3 wins and 1 loss, 5-1 goal-difference. They won the tournament before the last round was played and were perhaps the most admired team at the promotion tournament. Of course, there is no good without some tint of bad – Dinamo was accused of too rough play.
Group B had the already mentioned Krylya Sovetov (Kuybishev) in it, so the team with the first foreign player in USSR was actually looking for promotion. At least, it looked that way, given the past of Krylya Sovetov – they were most famous team at the promotion stage, the only one which played in First Division and that for years. But the present was different…
Krylya Sovetov finished last with 2 points and without winning even one game (2 ties gave them points). So, even with foreign player, their huge crisis was unending. Standing from left: V. Antikhovich – coach, V. Gaus, V. Fillipov, V. Korolev, S. Marushko, N. Shtukin, V. Guba, A. Eremeev, M. Volodin, Tenyo Minchev, B. Valkov – assistant coach.
Front: R. Valiev, D. Sharipov, V. Tumaykin, A. Tzygankov, I. Lakutenko, S. Mikhnevich, ?.
Volyn (Lutzk) finished 2nd with 3 points.
Tekstilshtik (Tiraspol) confidently won promotion – 1st with 7 points. 3 wins, 1 tie, 0 losses, 7-2 goal-difference – the best record of all winners. Front row from left: Eduard Lemeşco, Igor Raicev, Vitalie Culibaba, Denis Lozinschi, Oleg Iavoriv, Andrei Stroenco.
Middle row: Iuri Hlâzov (administrator), Evgheni Şincarenco (antrenor), Victor Barâşev, Alexandr Camaldinov (antrenor), Serghei Stroenco, Ivan Grin, Ivan Mandrâcenco, Oleg Flentea, Veaceslav Proţenco, Ivan Danilianţ (antrenor principal), Mihail Iarmolinschi (şeful echipei).
Top row: Veaceslav Alexeev (medic), Nicolai Mandrâcenco, Alexandr Şicov, Vitalie Carmac, Alexandr Veriovchin (captain), Igor Artiomenco, Ghenadi Tiumin, Petru Sârbu.
Thus, the newly promoted team were Tekstilshtik (Tiraspol), Lokomotiv (Gorky), and Dinamo (Sukhumi). Only Dinamo (Sukhumi) played Second Division before. However… if one looks at Second Division in 1990, he will find only Lokomotiv (Gorky) in it. If searching deeper… the Moldovians were there too, but under new name, more in accord with their national belonging – they became Tiras (Tiraspol). Dinamo (Sukhumi) did not appear at all (and split into 2 clubs, depending on who wanted to play in which championship), for Georgia was going into separation from USSR and the football clubs left the USSR championship, soon followed by Baltic clubs.

West Germany the Cup

The Cup final opposed interesting contenders: Werder Bremen and Borussia Dortmund. Both teams won the trophy before, but each only once and that long time ago – Werder in 1961 and Borussia in 1965. For Borussia 1965 was the only successful year since the creation of the Bundesliga in 1963 – the club actually went through a long period of decline and reemerged only in the 1980s, but so far without winning anything. Werder, although not always strong, was also enjoying strong period after a decline and won the German title in 1988. Both teams craved success and Werder seemingly had better chance – but in the final Borussia destroyed them 4-1.
Borussia Dortmund triumphed. The winners – second row from left: Horst Koppel – coach, Norbert Dickel, Thomas Helmer, Michael Zorc, Konrad (?), Henke (?) – assistant coach, Bernd Storck, Thomas Kroth, Michael Rummenigge, Matthias Rulander. Crouching: Gunter Breitzke, Gunter Kutowski, Wiegand – masseur, Wolfgang de Beer, Andreas Moller, Frank Mill, Murdo MacLeod, Michael Lusch.
Werder failed… and they lost badly on top of it. The loss reveals how far one can go with limited squad – certainly Otto Rehhagel achieved a lot with a team of mostly second-raters, but such a team cannot run endlessly. Burgsmuller, Votava, Borowka, Ordenewitz were getting old and even at their prime were rarely called to the national team. Reck and Rollmann were not national team material. The Norwegian Bratseth, Riedle, and Eilts were the current brightest players and the two Germans were just climbing up and making themselves known. It was short base for continues success – limits are limits.
Frankly, Borussia Dortmund was expected to have a bigger impact on German football for some years and it was coming to the point that some victory was a must – either that, or decline… Luckily, Borussia did not miss the crucial moment and won. It was a great moment by all means: Borussia won its second Cup and it was the first trophy after 1965 – a long wait, which, until recently, was generally going down and spending years in Second Division. Restoring their name was slow and without some success… but it came at last and opened the door for greater times. As for the team, it was still promising, but similar to what Werder had, only hungrier. The triumph came under coach Horst Koppel, who apparently replaced Saftig either just before the start of the season, or during the season. Koppel, well remembered as a player, somewhat match his squad – once upon a time he was well respected and successful player, who played a bit for the national team, but he was never a prime star. Now he had similar players – Michael Rummenigge, Frank Mill, Murdo MacLeod, Wolfgang de Beer. And along them, young bright talent – Andreas Moller and Thomas Helmer. Not a team equal to Bayern’s squad, but similar to Werder’s, only slightly younger, a bit classier, and more hungry. The boys succeeded, but the team needed reinforcement in order of becoming a truly leading team. That for the future – presently, it was great joy.

West Germany I Division

First Division – Bundesliga. Still among the best leagues in Europe, although it is was not the most desirable league for major international stars. Reputation is reputation, but the reality was… Bayern. Other clubs came and went, Bayern remained dominant. Rather boring…

Hannover 96 – the outsider this season. Last with 19 points and once again relegated.

Stuttgarter Kickers – 17th with 26 points. Quite unlucky – they were entangled in a battle for survival with three other teams. All finished with 26 points, but St. Kickers had the worst goal-difference and was relegated.
Eintracht Frankfurt – escaped direct relegation on better goal-difference, but remained in risk of going down: 16th with 26 points and going to promotion/relegation play-off against the 3rd in the Second Division.
Eintracht managed to survive with difficulty – they prevailed over 1.FC Saarbrucken 2-0 and 1-2 and kept their top league place. Very weak season, though, and looking at the their team, such poor performance was surprising. But all ended well.
VfL Bochum clinched safety on better goal-difference: 15th with 26 points.
1.FC Nurnberg – 14th with 26 points and best goal-difference among the weak.
Bayer 05 Uerdingen – 13th with 31 points.
SV Waldhof Mannheim – 12th with 31 points.
Karlsruher SC – 11th with 32 points.

FC St. Pauli – 10th with 32 points. Arguably, the best ever season of the smaller Hamburg’s club.
1.FC Kaiserslautern – 9th with 33 points.

Bayer 04 Leverkusen – 8th with 34 points. Coached by Rinus Michels now and having large group of foreigners (Tita, Cha, Buncol, Lesniak), but no stronger than the previous season…
Borussia Dortmund – 7th with 37 points in the league, but that was memorable season for them.
Borussia Moenchengladbach – 6th with 38 points.
VfB Stuttgart – 5th with 39 points. Stuttgart had the squad for more, but…
Hamburger SV – 4th with 43 points. Looked like HSV made successful transition and was getting ready for new attack of the title – as soon as the next season. No trouble of selling Polish star Okonski – young Oliver Bierhoff was in the squad.
Werder Bremen – 3rd with 44 points. One has to credit Otto Rehhagel: he had good, but not exceptional team, so it was his coaching keeping them at the top of West German football.
1.FC Koln – 2nd with 45 points. Coming up, yet not ready to challenge Bayern – may be the next year. Christoph Daum was certainly making a name for himself, but the squad needed a few solid additions and fine tuning – Morten Olsen, Littbarski, Thomas Allofs and Kargus were getting dangerously old, so there was need to add younger players to a skeleton of Illgner, Kohler, Thomas Haasler, and Flemming Poulsen. And that if able to keep the talented skeleton, which was also difficult.
Bayern was dominant champion: 19 wins, 12 ties, only 3 lost games, 67-26 goal-difference and 50 points. There was no secret: money and solid organization, aimed always at winning. Jupp Heynckes was arguably the best young German coach and Bayern had no sentimental problems with hiring one of their foes in the past. The squad was superior to any other German team – may be not as great team as the one led by Beckenbauer in the 1970s, but it was not Bayern’s fault that German football was not producing players like Beckenbauer, Muller, Maier, Breitner, Hoeness anymore: they had the best available at the moment. The only problem this team had was a repetition of the one in the late 1970s: goalkeeping. Back then there was a shaky period after Sep Mayer retired, finally solved with the recruitment of Jean-Marie Pfaff. Now a replacement of Pfaff was needed urgently. And may be a classy playmaker. Both problems were more international than domestic – at home they could easily prevail over any rival, but for European success at least a better goalkeeper was a must. But that was for the transfer period in the post-season – presently Bayern was enjoying their 11th title.

West Germany II Division

Second Division – Bundesliga 2. Rather dramatic race for top positions in pretty much equal league. Last 4 – relegated, the top 2 – directly promoted, third-placed team going to promotion/relegation play-off against the 16th in the Bundesliga. Various strict requirements – largely financial ones – existed, so at the end one of the relegated team was actually going down because their license was revoked.
Union Solingen was the outsider this season – last with 20 points and relegated.
FSV Mainz 05 – 19th with 29 points and relegated.
Viktoria Aschaffenburg – 18th with 34 points. Quite unlucky – relegated on worse head-to-head record.
SpVgg Bayreuth – 17th with 34 points and ahead of Viktoria Aschaffenburg on better head-to-head record. Normally, they should have been relegated, but there was unexpected luck – Kickers Offenbach had their license revoked and Bayreuth remained in the league.
Rot-Weiss Essen – 16th with 35 points. Barely surviving now and their decline was not going to end.
Kickers Offenbach – 15th with 35 points. However, the club was in serious trouble and its license was revoked – and with that, they were relegated.
VfL Osnabruck – 14th with 34 points.
Hertha BSC – 13th with 36 points.
Schalke 04 – 12th with 36 points.

SV Darmstadt 98 – 11th with 37 points.
SV Meppen – 10th with 37 points
Eintracht Braunschweig – 9th with 38 points.
Blau-Weiss 90 West Berlin – 8th with 41 points.
Alemannia Aachen – 7th with 41 points.
SG Wattenscheid 09 – 6th with 42 points.

SC Freiburg – 5th with 42 points.
Fortuna Koln – 4th with 45 points. Tony Woodcock played for them, but his career was going downhill with aging.
1.FC Saarbrucken – clinched 3rd place with 46 points. Lost direct promotion by a point too, but still had a chance to go up at the promotion/relegation play-off. Unfortunately, it was not to be – they lost to Eintracht Frankfurt 0-2 and 2-1. One goal down… and no going up. As a trivia note, the first legally transferred Bulgarian was here – the former defender of Lokomotiv (Sofia) Nasko Zhelev (Jelev) arrived in January 1988, so technically he was in his second season, but the first full season. Of course, he was the first ever Bulgarian playing in Germany, but that was mostly before the Second World War. Stefan Abadzhiev, assistant coach of FC Homburg 09 at this time, played a little bit earlier, but he arrived too old for longer successful career and did not appear in the Bundesliga at all. However, he defected – Zhelev’s transfer was genuine and too bad Saarbrucken failed to get promoted – because of that, the first Bulgarian player in the Bundesliga debuted a few years later. And curiously, also from Lokomotiv (Sofia), where he was teammate with Zhelev.
FC Homburg – 2nd with 47 points. Clinched direct promotion and were going to try Bundesliga football one more time.
Fortuna Dusseldorf managed to win the championship with 49 points from 19 wins, 11 ties, and 8 losses. 85-52 goal-difference. Difficult victory, but a victory and promotion back to Bundesliga. Probably it is already noticeable that West German clubs imported largely Polish players at this time.

West Germany III Level

West Germany. Ranked 3rd. The most expensive transfer in the world was made by Eintracht (Frankfurt), selling Lajos Detari to Olympiakos (Piraeus). Records are records, German football was dominated by the familiar: Bayern. This country still used the classic 2-point-for-a-win system.
Four teams were going up from third level – the Oberliga regional leagues. Down there clubs with different histories played:
Clubs like SC08 Bamberg, which never played higher level football.
SV Asperden was also somewhere in the regional leagues. Standing from left: Peter Hermens, Dirk Wagner, Heinz-Gerd Giesen, Theo Joosten, Jürgen Krenkers, Andreas Wolf, Hansi Janßen, Heinz-Peter Bockhorn, Herbert Janssen, Linsen
Crouching: Gerd Coenen, Heiko v.d. Sandt, Michael Arts, Frank Maas, Reiner Singendonk, Berni Bodden, Ralf Billion, Jörg Nagorske, Leo Witting
front: Hubert Artz
Freiburger FC – the other and lesser known club from Freiburg. Second row from left: Arnold Brunner, Michael Hertwig, Thomas Schneider, Michael Fritz, Oliver Schäfer, Patrick Guillou,
Thomas Killenberger, Frank Wormuth, Trainer Werner Nickel.
Front roe: Michael Winkler, Matthias Bechthold, Peter Herrmann, Manuel Beron, Martin Ketterer, Uwe Herbstreit, Salvatore Perrone, Adolf Bachmann
Wacker 04 (West Berlin), which played a bit in the Second Division, but primarily played third level football.
Wormatia (Worms), which played mostly in the Second Division, but now was down on its luck. Top row from left: Liga-Obmann Manfred Brassen, Masseur Axel Brecht, Günter Braun, Stefan Mauer, Stefan Steinmetz, Michael Kaiser, Heinz-Jürgen Schlösser, Stefan Glaser
Middle row: Trainer Horst-Dieter Strich, Christian Waas, Jürgen Klotz, Mario Brassen, Rainer Schlösser, Horst Schellenschläger, Harald Nägle, Andreas Großmann, Platzwart Günter Reinhardt
Front: Marc Bals, Marc Schall, Jürgen Goschler, Thomas Frick, Günter Knecht, Jürgen Fischer, Frank Schuster, Frank Spölgen
1. SC Gottingen, which recently played in the Second Division, but went down.
TSV 1860 Munchen – perhaps the most famous name now out of the big picture. Top row from left: Armagan Sari, Joachim Goldstein, Rainer Aigner, Markus Wolf, Martin Spanring, Anton Schmidkunz, Bernd Jäger, Klaus Wabra, Jürgen Korus.
Middle row: Trainer Willi Bierofka, Masseur Hodrius, Andi Löbmann, Thomas Renner, Roland Kneißl, Stephan Beckenbauer, Srdjan Colakovic, Thomas Spindler, Co-Tainer Lutz.
Sitting: Herbert Brieger, Manfred Böhlert, Ralph Müller-Gesser, Daniel Sciopu, Markus Lach, Stephan Windsperger, Abdullah Kücükoglu, Gerhard Mastrodonato.
The important teams, however, were those earning promotion up and this season they were:
SpVgg Unterhaching – a big success for them, for they never played real professional football before.
Preussen Munster – returning to second division football.
KSV Hessen Kassel – like Preussen, returning to their more familiar Second Division.
MSV Duisburg, which unlike TSV 1860 Munchen, was recovering quickly from the disaster plunging them down to third level football. Top roe from left: Malischke, Vtic, R. Kessen, J. Kessen, Decker, Haremski, Kober, Lienen, Skripic, Janssen
Middle row: Co-Trainer Vos, Telljohann, Notthoff, Tönnies, Puszamszies, Struckmann, Rohr, Callea, Semlits, Trainer Pirsig
First row: Zeugwart Kasten und Ricken, Strunz, Vossnacke, Kellermann, Rusche, Böhlke, Zils, Canini, Masseur Hinkelmann (es fehlt Macherey)
As it was, only one newcomer to second level football – all others were simply returning.

Spain the Cup

The Spanish provided opportunity for a second trophy to Real Madrid. Real Valladolid was the other finalist, quite inferior to mighty Madrilenos, and although Valladolid put a brave fight, they still lost 0-1.
It would have been the underdog to surprise Real Madrid, but the difference of class worked against them. Still, it was not bad to play at the final – and because of that, to get a spot in the Cup Winners Cup. Standing from left: Albesa, Gonzalo, Peña, Enrique Moreno, Ravnic.  Crouching: Minguella, Patri, Branko Miljus, Lemos, Damián, Janko Jankovic.
Well, perhaps the foreigners spell out the difference between Valladolid and Madrid: good Yugoslavs, Ravnic, Miljus, and Yankovic, but even back home they were not first raters… certainly not equal to Butrageno, Sanchez, Schuster…
This was perhaps the finest season of Real Madrid in the 1980s – a double. 24th title, 16th Cup, but doubles were another matter in their record book: so far, they won only 3 doubles. This was their 4th – a complete triumph of wonderful team.
Real Madrid at its finest – standing from left: Buyo , Michel , Schuster , Esteban , Gallego , Tendillo.
First row: Butragueño , Solana , Hugo Sanchez, Sanchís, Martin Vazquez.
Dominating at home in Spain, highly entertaining, restoring some of the faded international glory of the club, but still demanding fans and observers considered the squad inferior to the greats of the 1950s and early 1960s – unfortunately, the measure of success was collecting the European Champions Cup and and so far this vintage failed to do so. Such expectations are very hard to fulfill.

Spain I Division

First Division – Primera Division. Real Madrid reigned supreme. Johann Cruyff -as his name was written in Spain at the time – made his second arrival in Barcelona well known, just like his first back in 1973, but he did not have the team he wanted yet. He was unable to challenge Real Madrid at its peak, but managed to Cup Winners Cup. No other team was able to come close to the leaders. At the other end of the table – Elche was hopeless outsider. Although not as bad as Elche, Murcia was very weak too. And in the promotion/relegation play-offs two more teams lost and were relegated.

Elche – last with 15 points and relegated.
Real Murcia – 19th with 24 points and relegated.
Real Betis – 18th with 29 points. Avoided direct relegation, but went down anyway, eliminated in the promotion/relegation playoffs by Tenerife.

What an ironic twist – Espanol played at the 1987-88 UEFA Cup final, but the new season was nasty battle for survival… 17th with 30 points. And it was lost battle at the end, for Espanol was beaten by Second Division Mallorca and thus relegated. From glory to misery in one year.
Malaga survived – 16th with 33 points.
Cadiz also survived – 15th with 33 points.
Logrones – 14th with 34 points.

Sporting Gijon – 13th with 35 points.

Real Oviedo – 12th with 35 points. Ahead of Gijon on better head-to-head record.
Real Sociedad – 11th with 36 points.

Osasuna – 10th with 37 points.

Sevilla – 9th with 38 points.
Celta Vigo – 8th with 39 points.
Athletic Bilbao – 7th with 42 points.

Real Valladolid – 6th with 43 points.
Real Zaragoza – 5th with 43 points. Nasko Sirakov was the first Bulgarian player in Spain, but unfortunately he got heavy injury and practically did not play.
Atletico Madrid – 4th with 46 points.
Valencia – 3rd with 49 points. Apparently, recovered from its slump, but was unable to compete for the title.
Barcelona – 2nd with 57 points. The presence of Cruijff was immediately felt, but he did not have the team he wanted yet and Barca finished distant second. Domestic season was compensated with international success, though.

This vintage of Real Madrid was its peak and triumphed after exceptionally strong season with 62 points – leaving Barcelona 5 points behind. 25 wins, 12 ties, and only one lost match – what a record. The boys scored 91 goals, permitting 37 in their own net – clearly, attacking high scoring football was their approach under the guidance of Dutch coach Leo Beenhaker. Unlike Cruijff, Beenhaker had the players able to do what he wanted, an already made highly talented and experienced squad, particularly lethal in attack. Life was good – 4th consecutive title, 24th altogether.

Spain II Division

Second Division – Segunda Division. The last 4 relegated to third level, the top 2 directly promoted to Primera Division, 3rd and 4th going to promotion/relegation play-offs with the 17th and the 18th in the top league. Four teams dominated the season in which there was also one terrible outsider.
CFJ Mollerussa was too weak for the league – last and out with 11 points.
UE Lleida – or Lerida – finished 19th with 26 points and was relegated.

UD Alzira – 18th with 26 points and out.
Barcelona Atletico – the second team of Barcelona – ended 17th with 28 points and was relegated. Cruyff going down? That was Jordi, the son of Johann – his father did not think him good enough for the first team quite a long time. And not only the younger Cruyff will make a name later in this squad, but the future stars were sinking to third level presently.
SD Eibar survived – 16th with 34 points.

Castilla CF – the second team of Real Madrid – did better than their rivals from Barcelona: 15th with 36 points.
Real Burgos – 14th with 36 points.
CE Sabadell FC – 13th with 39 points.
Xerez CD – 12th with 40 points.
UD Las Palmas – 11th with 40 points.
Deportivo La Coruna – 10th with 40 points. Judging by this season, Fran would stay unknown… a wrong assumption.
UE Figueres – 9th with 41 points.

Wonderful season for modest Sestao – 8th with 41 points.
UD Salamanca – 7th with 42 points.
Racing Santander – 6th with 42 points.
Recreativo Huelva – 5th with 42 points.
RCD Mallorca – 4th with 48 points and going to promotion/relegation play-offs.
CD Tenerife – 3rd with 48 points and going to promotion/relegation play-offs.
Rayo Vallecano clinched 2nd place with 49 points and was happily promoted to top flight. Lauri Cunningham was not going to suffer second level football the next season. If not playing for Real, he was still in Madrid.
CD Castellon won the championship after a tough battle – they finished with 51 points from 21 wins, 9 ties, 8 losses, and had 49-29 goal-difference. Not very impressive record, but champions anyway and promoted to First Division. Well done indeed.
The promotion/relegation play-offs opposed Espanol (17th in Primera) to Mallorca (4th in Segunda) and Real Betis (18th in Primera) to Tenerife (3rd in Segunda). The winners were going to play in Primera Division next season.
RCD Mallorca prevailed after extra time: 0-1 and 1-0, with second goal scored in the extra time. 2-1.
CD Tenerife practically eliminated Real Betis in the first leg, beating them 4-0 at home. Away, they lost 0-1, but it did not matter.
Thus, 4 Second Division teams were promoted this year: RCD Mallorca, CD Tenerife, Rayo Vallecano, and CD Castellon.
The champions of Segunda Division – CD Castellon – deserve one more picture. Good luck to them and the other promoted teams.

Spain III Division

Spain. Ranked 4th. Excellent season for Real Madrid, which ruled Spain entirely. Barcelona was a distant rival, satisfied with European success. The two leading clubs left all others far behind. Still 2 points were given for a win.
Third Division – Segunda Division B. 4 groups of 20 teams, the winners promoted to second level.
Group 1. Solitary leader.
As Pontes finished 7th with 43 points.
Pontevedra was 6th with 43 points.
Bilbao Athletic won the group with 59 points, leaving the next pursuer Barakaldo 8 points behind. 26 wins, 7 ties, 5 losses, 74-27 goal-difference. The second team of Athletic Bilbao earned promotion to Second Division.
Group 2. Two teams competed for promotion – kind of.
Arnedo finished 17th with 32 points and was among the three relegated teams. Tough luck.
Palamos won the championship with 59 points and was promoted: 23 wins, 13 ties, 2 losses, 70-30 goal-difference. They left FC Andorra, their only challenger, 5 points behind.
Group 3. Tough race between 4 teams and 1 point difference decided the champion.
Cordoba finished 13th with 35 points.
Tomelloso ended 5th with 46 points.
Badajoz, Sevilla Atletico, Linares, and Atletico Madrileno battled for top position. At the end Badajoz was 4th with 49 points, Linares 3rd with 51 points, and Sevilla Atletico – 2nd also with 51 points.
Atletico Madrileno – the second team of Atletico Madrid – prevailed with 52 points from 21 wins, 10 ties, 7 losses, and 78-40 goal-difference, and won the championship and promotion.
Group 4. No rivalry for the first place – one team dominated this group.
Weak season for Algeciras – 18th with 27 points and one of the relegated teams.
Granada – almost went down: 16th with 32 points.
Villareal – 4th with 45 points.
Levante was too strong for the opponents and won the championship comfortably: 25 wins, 9 ties, 4 losses, 66-29, and 59 points. They Ceuta, the nearest pursuer, 11 points behind.
Thus, Bilbao Athletic, Palamos, Atletico Madrileno, and Levante were going to play in the Second Division the next season.

Scotland the Cups

The Cups – Rangers reached both finals and had great chance to make a treble and prove that they had no rival in Scotland. At the League Cup final they faced Aberdeen, the closest rival in the current championship, and prevailed 3-2.
Aberdeen put a good fight, but eventually lost to classier opponent.
This was the first trophy Rangers won this season and early at that (October 23rd, 1988), so confidence was boosted and ambition growing. And European problems were also shown… this was the regular starting eleven, made of 6 Englishmen.
Half a year later, in May 1989, Rangers faced their arch-enemy Celtic at the FA Cup final. By now they had one Cup in their hands and the title was practically in their hands as well, and Celtic had inferior team… but Celtic won 1-0.
Glasgow Rangers failed to win a treble. No big deal, apart from the bitter taste of losing to the arch-enemy.
Celtic clearly had rough time – Roy Aitken was practically the only star in the team, which compared to Rangers’ selection was nothing, but sometimes one great player and plenty of ambition (and what better motivation than beating Rangers!) was enough. More than a Cup was clearly not up to this squad, but still they finished the season with a trophy.
May be Rangers stabbed themselves with the great mistake giving the scoring opportunity to Miller, but the cold fact is that Celtic scored and Rangers did not.
Celtic fought bravely as ever and at the end triumphed to the delight of their fans.