Hungary II Division


Difficult for evaluation season in Hungary – on one hand the country qualified for the World Cup finals and had pleasant national team. A group of talented players, some running strong for years like Balint and Fazekas, others just nearing their peak and rapidly getting recognition in Europe – Nyilasi and Torocsik. On the other hand the improvement was slight, the number of quality players limited, and no Hungarian club was truly impressive when really tested – that is, in the European club tournaments. A glance at the final table shows strange fragmentation – 2 clubs competed for the title. Behind them a group of three contested third place. Another segment of 4 clubs belonged to the upper half of the table and bellow them a lower half consisting of 5 clubs. At the bottom 4 clubs tried to escape relegation – one gave up early. Every segment appeared preoccupied with itself and unconcerned with anything else. Practically every club stayed where they usually were – hardly any surprises, except for the sudden slide down of Ferencvaros. Videoton was practically the only club rising – they soared the previous season and now confirmed that they were not one time wonder.

Second Division was any different – the 20-team league had its group of clubs meandering up and down and they were the likeliest favourites: Dorog, Komlo, Debrecen, Salgotarjan, Bekescsaba. The rest was insignificant. If anything, the second division was telling one unusual thing: big concentration of clubs belonging to one city in the top levels of national football – Budapest had 6 clubs in first division plus another 5 in the second. Of course the difference between Vasas and Volan SC was great, but at least in Eastern Europe there was no other country with so many clubs from the capital in the two top tiers. Apart from England, and to a point Greece and Turkey, there was no such concentration in Western Europe too. Anyhow, the bulk of the league was not really up to a serious task. Three clubs competed for two promotional spots. Debrecen finished third, losing the race by a point. Above them finished a strange club – Vasas Izzo.

Their logo gives 1899 as year of foundation, but the club is quite a mystery – names were changed frequently as well as the location. Technically, a Budapest club – at least in 1977-78. Not to be confused with the other Vasas of the same city: this one was entirely unrelated club. Hardly known, moved from one industrial ‘sponsor’ to another, amalgamated now and then with other clubs, but never successful. Occasionally appearing in first division, never staying long enough to get notice. This season they got ambitious – either that, or had some money – and finished second.

About the squad hardly anything can be said – as a Budapest club, very likely they had some aging players, arriving from better clubs. Some names sound faintly familiar, but those are also very common Hungarian names – could be just familiar names, but not the same players known from elsewhere. But the fate of small clubs is similar everywhere – whatever talent emerges is quickly scooped by the bigger clubs and old and tired veterans arrive to play their last season or two. A strong team cannot be built this way. Promotion, however, was possible now and then – and this season Vasas Izzo had a squad good enough for that.

The champions finished with 56 points – 2 more than Vasas Izzo. Their name is mouthful and confusing. Confusing, because it is often abbreviated to STC. The full name is Salgotarjani Torna Club, but it is popularly written either STC or Salgotarjan. As many Hungarian clubs the name was changed often… so it was STC this year, but on the logo it is different.

So, let’s stick to ‘Salgotarjan’ for now – a club,which often played in first division, hence, eager to return. They managed to do that. Not a overwhelming winners, yet, the strongest – best attack, second best defense, most wins, only 5 matches lost. Stable, competent.

Salgotarjan also had some descent players, particularly Szoo, whose presence explains why they won, but does not explain why the club sunk to second division. Well, not anymore… at least not the next season.

The newly promoted were not exactly strong – they were most likely just to try to survive in the near future and Vasas Izzo in particular. Joy was to be momentous.



As for the winners, they need no introduction – Glasgow Rangers. Same old, same old… for it was more than winning the title – Rangers won everything this season, repeating 1975-76. They won the Scottish Cup, beating Aberdeen 2-1 at the final. Earlier, in March, they won the League Cup, prevailing over Celtic in overtime 2-1. The victory was sweet largely because it left Celtic empty-handed, finalizing one of their weakest seasons. Perhaps the most interesting note about this clash was Celtic’s goalscorer – the centre-defender Johannes Edwaldson. An Islandic import, who joined Celtic in 1975 – at times when Islandic players were entirely unknown. On top of everything Edvaldson was the son of Baltic Nazi refugee, fleeing there at the end of Second World War and changing his name. Most certainly Edvaldson was not a Roman Catholic, which makes his recruit strange – Celtic were a bit more lenient than Rangers, but still religion was very strong force in the 1970s. As for Rangers – only good Protestants played with blue shirts and no chance for anybody else. For many – the very reason they kept winning.

Wonderful season, collecting all trophies, but nothing overwhelming – Rangers prevailed, but did not dominate. May be because it was familiar squad for quite some time. Good players, some club legends, but not exceptional. Outside Scotland the boys were not so impressive. Some of them were getting old. It was experienced team, but already past its prime and running on inertia. To a point, this was their last great year – yes, they were going to win a few more trophies, to stay at the top of Scottish football, but… this was their last championship title. The club had to wait almost ten years for the next one. However, it was perfect ending.


Scotland at its forth ‘reformed’ season. Hardly the game improved. May be their were some benefits in terms of financial stability, but one sure result was rapidly becoming clear fragmentation of the clubs – a small core of ‘big’ clubs, located in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee, and Aberdeen, followed by small fry just happy to reach or stay in Premier League, and the rest – rabble, relegated to the lower half of First Division and the Second Division. Scottish football was always dominated by two giants, yet, in the past various others were able to hold their ground, to win a trophy here and there – the days of relative parity were obviously gone. The constant massive exodus of talent reduced the local championship to almost nothing, reforms or no reforms. Perhaps the only excitement came from shuffling – some ‘better’ clubs went down in the initial reduction of the premier division and so far unable to return to their ‘rightful’ place. To a point, that was the intrigue in the second tier: three clubs competed for two promotional spots. The rest of the league played no role… even at the bottom the outsiders accepted early their fate. Dumbarton finished 4th with 49 points. 7 points ahead of the 5th… and 8 points behind the 3rd. This result speaks enough for the whole league. Dundee finished 3rd – they fought, but luck was not on their side, missing promotion for a second consecutive year. Dundee scored astonishing 91 goals in their 39 championship games, but they ended a point short. Heart of Midlothian and Morton clinched 58 points – Dundee finished with 57. The Hearts were ‘mistakenly’ down there – relegated the previous year, they immediately earned promotion back to Premier League. Not overwhelmingly, but expedient enough. Another club bested them on better goal difference – Morton.

Happy champions, no doubt, but not much otherwise. Their glory days were in the misty past and the ‘new history’ already put a stamp on the club: happy to win the second division and earn promotion. Time played its other joke on the club too – ‘Morton’ means almost nothing today: in 1994 the club officially became Greenock Morton. Retroactively, this name appears in statistics publsihed today – but it was just Morton in the real 1977-78. Going up, hoping to stay up.

Morton and Hearts were going to take the places of outsiders: just like in the second league, the bottom of the Premier League was uncontested…

Clydebank ‘reserved’ the last 10th place early kept any possible challengers away – they earned measly 19 points in 36 games. Lovely slogan on their shield, but… neither ‘labore’, nor ‘scientia’ helped.

Ayr United was better only when compared to Clydebank – they soared 5 points above the last team. In the same time they ended 6 points behind the 8th placed St. Mirren. The new league format quickly sifted out the ‘unfit’… Ayr United was steadily going down the table the previous two seasons and Clydebank, promoted in 1977, did not survive at all. Not even faintly competitive.

The other ‘newcomer’ from 1976-77 was a ‘success story’…

St. Mirren finished 8th, that is, just above the relegation zone. They left Clydebank and Ayr United in the dust. Yet, in the same time they were 3 points behind the 7th placed Partick Thistle. The club was joyous and considered the season very strong.

Here are the heroes of survival, minus one. A prime example of the new reality… only three years ago St. Mirren was steady member of First Division. True, not a strong team, most often found in the lower half of the table, but regulars. Now they were boasting just for playing top flight football – and escaping relegation was ‘success’. Many a club was to discover new ‘pride’, but as the things were, St. Mirren played well. They really improved. They were building hope. And it was because of a man not on the picture above – a young coach, called Alex Ferguson. He lifted the club from second league and everybody was happy. This Ferguson was ‘mysteriously’ sacked in May 1978… as it turned out, the club discovered that the promising coach sneakily negotiated with Aberdeen. Hearing that, St. Mirren fired him at once for breach of contract. Ferguson considered he was wronged and brought St. Mirren to tribunal. He lost his case. The whole story did not attract any attention – some mischief done by roguish young unknown.

Much more interesting was what happened to venerated Jock Stein. Celtic had abominable season. The decline was going on for some time already, but still Celtic ended with a double the 1976-77 season. And the next year they really sunk… not a single trophy, but the worst was the championship – they finished 5th in the 10-club league! And they had almost 20 points less than their arch-enemy Rangers. It was their worst ending since 1964-65, when they were 8th in the old 18-team league. Jock Stein was asked to resign… he did, on the understanding that he was going to take honorable administrative position in the club for which he contributed so much for so many years. It was not what the club had in mind and Stein resigned entirely. He was thinking retirement – but was persuaded to change his mind and work for a few more years. But not for Celtic – a glorious era ended with him.

Familiar names finished above Celtic – Hibernian was 4th, more or less, normal place for them. Strong enough to be counted among the best, but still not really strong to challenge the best. Hibernian bested Celtic by a point, but were still 3 points behind the bronze medalists.

The team was nothing special – may be descent, but no more than that. Something else is more interesting – perhaps Hibernian were the first club in Scotland and England to use shirt adds. Early birds surely and it will be interesting to find out on what legal grounds they did that: British football resisted sponsor’s names, but there were subtle differences between English and Scottish approaches – and the Scottish were more adventurous and ‘progressive’.

Shirt adds did not help Hibernian – Dundee United outpaced them with their ‘classic’ plain shirts and grabbed 3rd place.

Those were strong years for Dundee United – after surviving, at the expense of their city rivals, the tribulations of the new reduced league, they quickly went up. 4th in 1976-77, now 3rd. Unfortunately, this was not a squad with a potential for greater things – rather, it was clear that they will stay in secondary position: whatever good players emerged will quickly move to English clubs, or the Scottish grands. Third place was the most this squad would do – they were entirely out of the race for the title.

A two-team race for first place – Glasgow Rangers vs Aberdeen. The leaders were clearly above the rest of the league – Dundee United was left 13 points behind and the combined losses of the top two were still less than those accumulated by the third placed: 10 vs 12. Two points were the whole difference between champions and silver medalists. The contenders lost 5 matches each and the difference. Aberdeen had the best defensive record, Rangers – the best attack. And attack was the decisive factor: Aberdeen tied more games than Rangers, hence, winning two less. They finished second.

Aberdeen was rising – 3rd place the previous year, now second, barely missing the first. The squad was not exactly full of stars, even potential ones, but it was solid enough and working well. Perhaps the new league format suited Aberdeen best, for the small league made the club attractive destination for players omitted by the English clubs and the two Scottish grands, but otherwise good or at least promising – players, who would have stayed in smaller clubs in the big old league, but now had to chose between first and second division football. Aberdeen was going up, that was the whole point, though. Of the squad, perhaps the most interesting name was Jim Leighton – the young goalkeeper was rising along with the team and soon was to be much more than just promising new name. He was to be familiar name for a long, long time. As for the club, this was their best year since 1971-72, when they finished second for the last time. Not just matching their old success, but besting it, for back then they finished 10 points behind the champions. Now they almost won.

Czechoslovakia The Cup

The Cup did not go to Prague either – Jednota (Trencin) won the Slovak Cup and Banik (Ostrava) the Czech one. These winners met to decide the winner of the Czechoslovak Cup this year, a bit unusual final, suggesting the decline of some big clubs and the unfinished shape of others. Jednota clearly suggested the decline of Slovak football – the club was lowly in the Slovak pyramid and for them to soar that high mostly meant a confirmation of the sorry state of Slovan, Spartak, Inter, even the Kosice clubs.

Jednota – meaning ‘Unity’ – was nothing special: they had their ‘normal’ season, that is, struggling to remain in first division. They finished 11th, almost the best they ever did when playing top level football at all. As Cup finalists, they were the underdog… and although they fought bravely, they lost 0-1. The modest club came close to winning a trophy, but, however sad, it was almost inevitable they were to remain empty-handed – the opposition was classier.

Banik had uncharacteristically weak championship season for 1970s were arguably the best years in the history of the club. Slipping down to 10th place was a big disappointment for a squad at its prime. But it was not looming crisis – the team played in the Cup tournament, winning the Czech Cup and thus playing at the Czechoslovakian final. Class and wounded pride combined for a small 1-0 victory, but victory nevertheless.

Second cup for Banik! More than saving the season – they ended with a trophy. And the team was still rising – if Knapp, Vojacek, and Michalik were familiar well established names, Licka, Rygel, Cermak, Radimec, Nemec, and Sreiner were rapidly rising young players. But perhaps the happier of them all was Frantisek Schmucker – the 38 years old veteran goalkeeper, once upon a time a silver World Cup medalists, was already coming to the end of his career. True, he was a reserve, but what cloud be better than ending one’s playing days with a victory. Evzen Hadamczik made his name at this time as coach – unfortunately, he never became really famous coach: illness and work stress drove him to suicide in 1984. But he was happy fellow in the spring of 1978 and his team still had good things coming.


May be even stranger, considering who bested Dukla: a club never winning the championship before. It was close race – Dukla won 19 out of 30 championship games. Their rivals – one less, but they lost 5 matches. Dukla lost 8 and the title by 2 points. Dukla had deadly attack, scoring 73 goals. Their opponents scored 64, but had better defense – the only team in the league with allowing less than a goal per game on average. Small differences, deciding the title at the end. The new champions hailed from the city of Brno.

An old club, although not among the oldest in Czechoslovakia, it was found in 1913 and was internationally fairly well known club before the Second World War. The name was SK Zidenice, already lost in time. After the war the country became Communist and the original name was changed – the fate of almost every old club in a Communist country. The changes were many, slowly shaping into the current name – in 1947 the club was named SK Zbrojovka Zidenice. In 1948 – Sokol Zbrojovka Zidenice. In 1951 – Sokol Zbrojovka. In 1953 – DSO Spartak Zbrojovka. In 1956 – TJ Spartak ZJS. In 1962 the club was fused with TJ Ruda Hvezda (Brno), but the name remained TJ Spartak ZJS. In 1968 came the last change and it was TJ Zbrojovka – the name kept until 1990. And this name most clearly showed the club’s sponsor: it was attached to the arms factory making the famous Zbrojovka rifles and other fiery things. A name better known to people far away from football, but no matter the name changes, the club was closely related to the factory since 1947, if not even before. Money came from the ‘sponsor’ and one should think that a wealthy and powerful sponsor representing the military complex should be able to build mighty team. In reality it was not so – in the whole of its history the club won only one trophy: in the distant 1960 they won the Czechoslovakian Cup. Strong they were – in the 1970s Zbrojovka was constantly among the top, but the title was not exactly a big possibility: no matter what, they were still a provincial club. Until 1977-78, when at last they triumphed.

It was a good squad, led by the best ever player in the club’s history Karel Kroupa. There was a cluster of experienced players, who were not exactly stars, but still solid, reliable, and well known – Pospisil, Klimes, Vaclavicek, Svoboda. Petr Janecka was already a national team material. Kroupa himself was not a national team regular, but was often included in the Czechoslovakian formations. He was at his peak – in 1977 he was voted the player of the year and was the top league scorer in 1978 and 1979. Everything clicked this very season and Zbrojovka won their very first title – the credit must go to their coach, who, combined with one new player, provides curious relation to Dukla. Josef Masopust was famous player of the famous Dukla back in the 1960s – and huge international star. European player of the year, no less. But the great Dukla faded away and Masopust too after retirement. The coach Masopust never reached the fame of the player Masopust – so, to win over his former club must have been sweet. It must have been the same for the defender Karel Dvorak too – a native of Brno, he was recruited early by Dukla and played for them for years. A good, not long ago very promising defender, potential national team regular. He played for Czechoslovakia, but rarely… 11 appearances between 1972 and 1977. Good, but…more like an unfulfilled promise. And the same was on club level, for he was one of those who were supposed to keep Dukla strong and competitive after the generation of Masopust stepped down. Alas, Dukla lost ground for years. Dvorak was still in the champion team of the year before – 1976-77 – and then let go. He moved back to Brno after 9 years with Dukla, nearing 30 years of age. Useless and too old for Dukla, he was valuable addition to Zbrojovka. And in the summer of 1978 he found himself atop his former club, with second consecutive title. In a way, it took Dukla to beat Dukla – Masopust and Dvorak winning over their former club. For Masopust, this season became the pinnacle of his coaching career. For the club – their best ever year. For football in general – it is always great to see new champions, clubs never winning anything before on top. As for the future… Zbrojovka had not the making of a squad capable of long domination. They were most likely to keep a place among the best, but winning a second title was unlikely. One time wonder they were not, though – this squad was good for quite a few years and not over yet, but it was squad of ‘second raters’: it was may be not so much a peak of the team, but rather taking advantage of relative weakness of unfinished yet Dukla’s squad. Experience and even-leveled performance perhaps had more to do with winning the title than some extraordinary form or sudden burst of talent. It was great victory anyway.


Czechoslovakia was a bit similar to Portugal this season – somewhat faded, changing generations without much success, and missing the World Cup. The domestic championship did not attract much attention, but it was unusual and curious one. First, there were transfers different from the traditional pattern. Second, some of the strong clubs a few years back were clearly unable to rebuild. Third was the relegation-promotion at the end of the season – no such thing happened before and the reasons are lost with the time passed. Football dominance already moved from Slovakia to the Czech half of the country, but without clearly dominant clubs. Slovan (Bratislava) and Spartak (Trnava) steadily dropped down and were no longer a factor – by now both were mid-table clubs, finishing 8th and 9th. Not only the Slovak clubs were losing ground, but they started losing key players – in the first half of the 1970s big names were unlikely to change a Slovak for a Czech club, but not anymore, thus, the Slovak clubs were further losing competitive edge.

Top left : Milan Nemec, Jan Haraslin, Anton Ondrus, Karol Kristof, Jozef Mrva

Middle left : Jozef Capkovic, Jozef Kovac, Tibor Matula, Alexander Vencel,

Jan Capkovic, Ivan Pekarik

Bottom left : Miroslav Barto, Marian Masny, Koloman Gogh, Jan Pivarnik, Juraj


Slowly fading away. Slovan still had 7-8 strong players, some heroes from the 1976 European championship, but behind them – nothing. The stars were aging without classy replacements.

The second club from Bratislava suffered more – Inter finished at the bottom of the table, 15th. Relegation zone… But curiously they were not relegated. This year only one club went down. Why? May be because both clubs in the relegation zone were Slovak and the Federation did not want to create disbalance between the two parts of the country. But it was not exactly something new both bottom clubs to be either Czech or Slovak. Inter was not relegated and only the winner of the Slovak Second Division moved up. Last in the table and hopelessly so was ZVL Zilina, no stranger to such a fate. They finished with 16 points – Inter ended above them with 22. Sparta (Pargue) took the ‘safe’ 14th place with 25 points – so far, the esteemed club was more than shaky, concerned largely with survival. The memory of sinking to second division was not only fresh, but fearful: Sparta was very weak.

Banik (Ostrava) also finished low – 10th. Looked like the good years ended for them too… but no. It was more of temporary underperformance in a league without really dominant clubs. Often strong clubs were unable to keep top place for long. Banik was not exactly in similar to Slovan, Spartak, and Inter situation.

Those were the clubs which were going downhill. Others were climbing up: the sole promotion was enjoyed by ZTS Kosice.

Hardly a surprise – Kosice returned to top flight, where they usually played anyway. Looked like recovery , yet, the most interesting thing about them was not the squad, but the name: they changed it. The old VSS Kosice was now ZTS Kosice, with corresponding new logo. Apparently, the main sponsor of the club changed – that is, the club moved – or was moved – from belonging to one industrial complex to another.

Promotion was good sign, but still in the realm of second division football. In the top league the most significant improvement belonged to Bohemians (Prague). The old club did not finish all that high – they ended 6th – but the signs were hard to ignored: they were gathering exciting squad under the guidance of former Czechoslovakian star coaching them now, Pospichal.

Bohemians ranked low in Prague – Dukla, Slavia, and Sparta always had more means or getting and keeping better players. At best, Bohemians was able to have an occasional star, but hardly a solid team. Panenka was the big name for quite some time, but the rest were pretty much players good for mid-table position. But Bohemians acquired two players of high status – something extremely unusual. Both were national team players for years – Karol Dobias and Premysl Bicovsky. Both were getting a bit old, but still running strong. One more player was also national team material – the goalkeeper Zdenek Hruska. Suddenly Bohemians had a very strong core and the added class showed – the club was climbing up and promising to play even larger role in the near future. Very optimistic development, not missed by anybody – Hruska made his debut for the national team in December 1977. Antonin Panenka, Dobias, and Bicovsky were old hands in the national team, the first two European Champions as well. Bohemians was quickly becoming a major force.

Bohemians was going up, but so far the best clubs were others – the former Bicovsky’s club, Sklo Union Teplice, bested Bohemians by a point, finishing 5th. Forth was Slavia (Prague). Good teams, yet, not good enough for really attacking the very top – Slavia finished 5 points behind the bronze medalists. Which were Lokomotiva (Kosice), enjoying their best years.

May be not outstanding, but solid, experienced, and enthusiastic team. The best modest Lokomotiva ever had. They suddenly were the best Slovak club, the only one able to compete with the Czechs – almost unbelievable, for they generally ranked low among the Slovak clubs. Even in their home town they were only the second club… but look at them now. Lokomotiva finished with 39 points.

Two points more had Dukla (Prague), the champions of the previous season. Silver medals were hardly a disappointment, yet… the new might of the best known abroad Czechoslovakian club was a bit suspect.

Of course, the ability of the Army club to recruit whoever they wanted was not liked in Czechoslovakia and the club was disliked, but in terms of policy and real strength it was different matter. Dukla, more or less, assembled a team of the next generation – younger players rapidly becoming the core of the national team. Stambacher, Macela, Netolicka, Fiala. But it was not everything – first, the squad was well balanced, having experienced players who were no strangers to the national team either – Gajdusek and Samek on the photo above. The list was longer, though: Jarolim and Vizek were also in the team and one truly big star too – Zdenek Nehoda. It was a squad with more than potential – they were the strongest squad at the time, diverse, quite young, having more talented players than any other team. Dukla, on paper, should have been dominant, leaving any other club far behind. So, ending 2nd was a bit strange.

Portugal the Cup

FC Porto had a second chance in the Cup tournament – they reached the final, after having easy opponent at the ½ finals: an away fixture, but against lowly Famalicao. FC Porto won 2-0. Meantime the foes from Lisbon fought each other – Sporting was losing ground in the championship, but as every club on downhill, but still strong, the Cup became the place for brief excellence. A derby with local enemy was highly motivating too – Sporting trashed Benfica 3-1, the only match Benfica lost this season.

The final was dramatic as well – the regular match ended in 1-1 tie. In the replay Sporting triumphed, however minimally – 2-1.

The ‘new’ FC Porto came very close to a double. The lost final only showed that the team was still unripe for true dominance. They needed polishing, a few new players, little things. This was still a squad of ‘second-bests’ in the general Portuguese scheme. Fernando Gomes was sill too young – 21 years old – and not in full bloom yet. FC Porto had to wait for a double.

Tough, dramatic, but well deserved Cup for Sporting Lisbon. 14th Cup for them – big numbers historically, but the recent years showed clearly this was the most Sporting was able to reach now. Still, enjoyable and not just a consolation. For the moment, Sporting saved otherwise disappointing season.

Perhaps the trophy was to be cherished more – victories were increasingly harder for Sporting in the changing reality of Portuguese football. They were no longer able to build a great squad – the most famous players were in Benfica and the brightest younger talent in FC Porto. Sporting was becoming just ‘solid’… it was quite telling that they depended on aging star like Salif Keita, well beyond his prime and nearing retirement. Similar was Artur, spending his best years with the arch-enemy, Benfica. Because of that perhaps Sporting’s victory was to be appreciated more – it was a great success of spirit, against the odds, and brave attempt of disadvantaged club to stay among the best.

Portugal I Division

Survival was on the mind of many members of the Portuguese First Division: half of the league. Every club bellow 7th place. The hopeless outsider was CD Feirense.

Standing, from left: Seminário, Brito, Cândido, Parra (captain), Pinto, Zequinha.

Crouching: Portela, Bites, Gilberto, Serginho, José Domingos.

Five wins, 2 ties, and 23 losses. 12 points and last, 16th, place.

A place above with 21 points finished a newcomer – GD Riopele.

Modest Riopele had no chance, but at least they tried as much as they can. To a point, it was good season for them – at least playing top flight. Never mind relegation.

Espinho ended 14th with 22 points. For them it was the usual story – if playing first division, it was mostly at the bottom, trying to remain for another season. Often they were not able to escape relegation, and this season was one of those.

No surprises so far and to a point the forth club ending in relegation zone was not a surprise either. But they were also unlucky – Portimonense FC finished 13th because of worse face-to-face record. They had 23 points, the same CS Maritimo also had, but with much worse goal-difference. Maritimo was -23 and Portimonense only -10. The record between both clubs favoured Maritimo… Portimonense went down.

The third-ranking club of Porto failed. Once again, it should be said. One consequence is that their claim for ‘a derby’, when playing against FC Porto or Boavista is pretty much a derby only in their own minds. The other consequence is a bit amusing: nobody likes losers and such squads are hardly ever mentioned. Yet, Portimonense went a step further: it is almost impossible to find a photo of the 1977-78 squad. The club website provides info of the season, but not a picture of the team. There is no trace. Vengeance, reducing the squad to nothing.

And these were the unlucky teams at the bottom of the final table, going down to second division. The most of the league was hardly memorable and most clubs seemingly occupied their usual positions: Boavista finished 7th, Academica Coimbra, fading away since the late 1960s, was 8th, Belenenses quietly continued their slump – they were 5th, but it was already clear for some time that Lisbon was not going to support three strong clubs and Belenenses were just becoming one more small and insignificant club.

The pleasant surprise was Sporting Braga. They finished 4th, seemingly much better than the rest of the league, yet, far behind the three top clubs.

Braga was not full of big stars, but appeared well-rounded squad of descent players. Careful selection was obviously made – not an easy task in a country where the good players quickly and inevitably were snatched by Benfica or Sporting Lisbon. The predicament made almost every other team liable to sudden drops as soon as they had a strong season. It looked like Sporting Braga found the right formula – good players, yet, not so good to tempt the big clubs. They gave the appearance of a club going up and staying there for some time, not a one-time wonder. Braga was not ready for something really successful yet, but if they managed to keep and improve the squad… a very promising team.

Third – Sporting Lisbon. On the surface, maintaining its position and finishing among the very best. Perhaps unlucky contender?

Sporting finished 4 points ahead of Sporting Braga – a solid gap, confirming the difference between the strongest and the rest of the league. But they were also far, far behind the team above – with their 42 points, Sporting were never in the race for the title. They finished 9 points behind the leaders. The difference was significant: a permanent change in Portuguese football occurred. Sporting was no longer one the best clubs, replaced by FC Porto. Instead, they formed a separate category, consisting at the moment only of them – no longer constant contenders, but second-tier club. Stronger than the rest of league, but weaker than the real leaders. It did not look so clear back in 1977-78, but later the season was meaningful: Sporting lost ground, never to regain it again.

The league may have been rather weak, but the race for the title was fabulous. It was run head to head to the end and decided by goal-difference. The contenders were way above the rest. Of course, Benfica was the obvious suspect. They had remarkable domestic season by any standard: 21 wins and 9 ties. Benfica did not lose a single match! A rare achievement, no matter how strong or weak a league. More, Benfice excelled defensively – they allowed only 11 goals in their net, pretty much a goal in every 3 games played. Impenetrable. Their striking power was not so deadly, but 56 goals were still the third highest in the championship. Excellent in every aspect, so the champions were… others.

Benfica had the best known Portuguese players of the time, almost the whole regular team played also for the national team. May be they were unlucky? The title was lost on goal-difference – must be bad luck? Or something else… top players, but some were aging (Toni, Nene, Humberto) and, in general, this was not exactly great generation. Porugal slipped to secondary position with them. Benfica too. Chalana was still unheard of outside Portugal. Eurico and Sheu never became really big stars. It was slightly aging team, already good only for the domestic championship. A tiny weakness, but costly.

FC Porto left them emptyhanded, a team improving for some years already and finally establishing itself as truly leading club. They matched Benfica in almost everything – FC Porto lost only one match during the championship, but compensated with one win more than their rivals. Strong defense, not as great as Benfica’s, but still allowing less than a goal per game average: only 21 balls ended in FC Porto’s net, but even this was vastly compensated by their scoring power. FC Porto scored 81 goals this season. At the end, that was the difference between winners and losers.

The squad was different than Benfica’s – fewer big names, but generally younger and promising. They showed character this season under heavy pressure – a sure sign of a team approaching maturity. They won their 7th title, and with second consecutive victory in the championship, FC Porto firmly replaced Sporting Lisbon as the second club in the ruling duopoly. Nothing chancy about them – they were here to stay. The squad still needed a bit additional class, but the approach was right and there was little doubt that FC Porto was going to be better still. Edging Benfica quite clearly showed better decisions, aiming at great future.


Portugal II Division

Portugal attracted little international interest in the second half of the 1970s, almost a forgotten country , mentioned more for historic reasons than actual ones. A question about second division would have puzzled many – generally, people hardly even knew who played in the top league. As for the second level, there was not one, but three second division leagues – Northern, Central, and Southern. Each league 16-team strong, the bottom four relegated further down. As for promotion, it was complicated: 4 teams were going up. The champions, naturally, and the 4th? The 4th promotion went to winner of the play-off mini-league of the three 2nd placed clubs. Almost all clubs meant nothing outside Portugal and quite little in there own country: fading for years clubs, like CUF; various up and down ‘unsettled’ ones, like Penafiel; and those who never even dreamed of top flight, like Odivelas. This particular season should be noted for two famous players kicking the ball down there:

Standing from left: Eusébio, Florival, Barrinha, Marito, Varela, Sarmento, Vieirinha

Crouching: Graça, Alcino, Mário Pinto, Simões (cap.), Faustino.

Eusebio and his former teammate in the great Benfica Simoes now played with the black shirts of Uniao Tomar. Their presence helped the club to finish 4th in the II Divisao Centro. For Eusebio this was his last season in Portugal – he retired one year later, but in USA. Simoes had a few more years to go.

So much for fame. Almost. There was one more fairly famous player – the much traveled Hungarian defector Antal Nagy. He played for Leixoes this season, arriving from spell in Belgium. Almost forgotten in his twilight years.

Leixoes: standing from left: Adriano, José Manuel, Lucio, Josefá, Sá, Nagy

First row: Marcos, Bené, Festas, Frasco, Jacinto.

Of course, there were many foreigners in the second division clubs, but they were Brazilians and Africans from the former colonies. Some players from Mozambique were white. None was known and almost none was a proper import – they were considered domestic, with possible exception of one Uruguayan and Mady Keita from Mali. Well, big names don’t play second division football, but to outsiders there were obvious discrepancies – Academico Viseu had 7 foreign players, some clubs had the normal for the 1970s two, and many a club did not have any. Well, Academico Viseu had only one player who may have been ‘proper import’ – the already mentioned Mady Keita. The rest were practically domestic, coming from former colonies. However, the large number seemingly helped the club.

As the championship went, the drama was mostly concentrated in the lower league regions, where clubs were preoccupied with survival. On the top it was calm… all champions were solitary leaders without opposition. Barreirense won Divisao Sul by 4 points.


Standing from left: Abrantes, Campora, Serra, Cunha, Páscoa, José João, Nelinho, Loia, Romão, Pavão.

First row : Arnaldo, Andrade, Alexandre, Piloto, Coentro Faria, Cansado.

The Uruguayan veteran Henrique Campora, playing in Portugal since 1971, one Brazilian – Indio – and a player from Cape Verde – Joao Cabral – in the squad.

Beira Mar did better in Divisao Centro – they left the nearest pursuer 6 points behind.

Standing from left : Quaresma, Jesus, Manecas, Abel, João Poeira, Sabu.

Crouching: Cambraia, Sousa, Sobral, Germano, Nelson Reis.

Three ‘almost foreigners’ helped Beira Mar to win the championship – Lima (Brazil), Simao (Cape Verde), and Joao Sabu (Angola).

This was still nothing compared to the dominance of Famalicao in Divisao Norte – they were 14 points ahead of the 2nd placed Aliados Lordelo. Their goal-difference was fantastic – plus 51 goals compared to measly plus 3 of Aliados Lordelo.

Standing from left: Nando, Branco, Djair, Duarte, Amadeu, Zézinho.

First row : Reinaldo, Jacques, Vitor Oliveira, Sá Pereira, Lula.

Famalicao had two Brazilians in the squad – the goalkeeper Djair and Lula.

The second-placed in the three leagues competed for the 4th promotion – 2-legged round-robin tournament. Curiously – or may be not – it was won by the best second placed team in the regular season – Academico Viseu finsished it with 41 points. Juventude Evora had the same points, but worse goal-difference. In the mini-league a single tie decided first and second places – Academico Viseu extracted a point from Aliados Lordelo, thus finishing with 5 points. Juventude got 4 points and Aliados 3.

Academico – or CAF – from Viseu went up in the last minute. Only one thing can be said about them – perhaps they were the team with most foreign players in the Second Division: 7. The names mean nothing, but let name them anyway: Francisco Gomes (Brazil), Pedro Paulo (Brazil), Renato (Brazil), Segio Albasini (Mozambique), Toyobe (Mozambique), Jose Penteado (Angola), and Mady Keita (Mali).

Good for the winners, joy everywhere, but none of the promoted was to be a big news next year… most likely they were to fight for survival.

Switzerland The Championship

The championship remained divided: traditional second division and reformed first. Three clubs competed for promotion in the 16-team second league: Lugano, Chiasso, and Nordstern (Zurich). At the bottom Gossau and Bulle more or less were resigned to their fate and took the last two spots, thus relegated. Above them and up to 4th place all were relatively equal – and not strong enough to dream of promotion. At the end Lugano slowed down too and finished 3rd three points behind the best.

FC Chiasso ended 2nd and promoted. Not bad for the faded club – in the first half of the 20th century they did play in the Italian championship, then moved back to Switzerland and enjoyed their best years in the 1950s, when took silver and bronze medals. After that – not only nothing, but rather became insignificant, mostly playing in the second division. Going back to top level was great, but recovery to the old glory was unlikely.

Nordstern clinched first place on better goal-difference – like Chiasso, they earned 45 points. For the small club from Basel promotion was big success. And it was clear that they had to really enjoy this season, for it was highly unlikely they would be able to survive in smaller and stronger league. Nordstern had the top second division scorer – Helmut Degen, but even he was not a great player. Chiasso at least had some foreign strikers – the German Hans Franz and the Dane Allan Michaelsen. A bit better than Nordstern, yet, who can tell what could happened the next year.

First division was the real thing and the reformed format of the championship seemingly improved the Swiss football. How much would be anybody’s guess, for no matter what there is hardly any perfect championship formula. After standard 2-legged first phase, the league was divided in two groups of six clubs each – those at the first 6 places competed for the title, the other six – to escape cursed relegation. Every club carried half of the points earned in the first phase to next – two mini-leagues, playing anew 2-legged championship. In the relegation group on club was practically goner long before the end of the first phase:

Young Fellows (Zurich) finished with 4 points – in 22 games they won once and managed to tie two matches. Starting with 2 points the second phase, they hardly had a chance. In the last 10 matches they won a single match and lost the rest. Young Fellows went down and it was practically the end of the club, which was not successful, but still was able to hire a world star in the 1950s – Tibor Koszis.

Etoile Carouge finished 11th and also were relegated. They paid heavy prize for the weak first phase, when they also finished second to last with measly 13 points. Half of that was too little – the club fought bravely to the end, earning 11 points in the final phase, but still was 2 points short from Xamax. The drama practically ended with that: who will survive – Xamax or Etoile Carouge. Young Boys, Chenois, and St. Gallen more or less only preserved their initial advance to stay out of trouble.

The race for the title was more interesting, naturally. Since there is no perfect championship system, the formula provided for easy living too – whoever finished 6th in the first phase was out of relegation worries, but also not competing for the title. For FC Sion the championship practically finished with the end of the first whole-league phase and the rest was only going through the motions. Sion got a single point in the second phase. Almost on vacation. The other five teams really competed and the end the points carried on from the first phase decided final positions. Three points were the difference between 1st and 5th – a tied, competitive race, which seemed a bit unlikely at the end of the first phase: Grasshoppers and Servette lead by three points after the first 22 matches. Starting with half of the initial points changed things a tiny bit, reducing the difference between the leader and the 5th placed from 6 points to three – thus, hopes were preserved. In the final phase Lausanne-Sports earned the least points – 11 – and finished 4th with 26 points.



Those were strong years for Lausanne-Sports, but their sqaud was just a tiny bit weaker than the other contenders.

The ‘losers’ were FC Zurich – 5th in the qualification phase, and also 5th at the end. They stepped up in the final tournament, earned 12 points, won 5 of the 10 matches, but lost even 4th place – on goal-difference. A sign of weakening of FC Zurich – they had been consistently strong, one of the best Swiss clubs in the 1970s, but their squad was aging. Still Fritz Kunzli was the top scorer of the championship with 21 goals, but this was small consolation, if any at all.

Basel were the best at the final torunament, earning 13 points, and scoring 21 goals in 10 matches, a record they shared with Lausanne-Sports. But they were unable to overcome their relatively weaker first phase, where they finished 4th, 6 points behind the leader. The difference was reduced to 3 points for the final stage, but Basel was able only to move a place higher and grab the bronze medals.


Basel proved they were able to maintain leading position even after their great captain Odermatt was no longer on the field. And a novelty – Basel in rather unusual almost entirely blue kit instead of their traditional red and blue.

Servette finished second, as they finished the first phase. Technically, the weaker among the favourites in the final stage – Servette earned 11 points, the same Lausanne-Sports won, but with worse goal-difference. Either they slowed down, or played just conservatively – Servette tied exactly one half of the 10 final matches. They preserved second place, yet lost the title by a point.


From left: Gilbert Guyot, Karl Engel, Marc Schnyder, Jean-Luc Martin, Lucio Bizzini, Claude ‘Didi’ Andrey, Jean-Christophe Thouvenel, Jean-Yves Valentini, Franz Peterhans, Umberto Barberis, Martin Chivers.

Servette compensated with the Cup, so it was successful season.

Grasshoppers lost the Cup final, but the championship was theirs. Not overwhelmingly – Servette was just a point behind in the first phase. In the second Grasshoppers were steady – they added 12 points to the 17 carried on from the first stage. To a point, they started on equal footing with Servette – both teams had 17 initial points, for Grasshoppers really had 17.5 points, but half points were rounded to the lower number. The rest of the challengers were not far behind, but Grasshoppers maintained steady performance and although not outstanding, still preserved the lead. Champions a point ahead of Servette.

Happy champions at last.

Credit to the German coach Johannsen and his squad. Great season for Grasshoppers – the last title they won in 1971, and it was a difficult one: the club finished second in the championship and won the title after a play-off against Basel. As a whole, quarter of a century of frustration ended – since 1952 Grasshoppers had very little to brag about. So good to top the local rivals FC Zurich too – they were consistently strong in 1970s, adding insult to injury, but no more. 15th title for the oldest club in Zurich, founded in 1886. They had Gunther Netzer the previous year and failed – now he was retired and without a star of such status they won the title. Of course, Grasshoppers had their fair number of Swiss national team players – perhaps Claudio Sulser was the best among them – but for a long time the biggest Swiss stars belonged to other clubs, so the new champions were not particularly impressive as individuals. No even modestly famous foreigners here – the West German Jonny Hey hardly rings a bell. But there was a player which caught international attention – the striker Raimondo Ponte. His transfer to Nottingham Forest was interesting news, but in 1980. So far, the 22-years old striker was only Swiss news – he debuted for the national team in 1978, no doubt because of his excellent season with Grasshoppers. Helmuth Johannsen really did a good job, although he was no and never became famous coach. As for Grasshoppers a new strong era began. A double was possible, but Servette got the upper hand at the Cup final. May be next year?