Sweden Second Division

Another quiet season in Sweden – no scandals, no big news. Yet, there were changes – some long-lasting. Sweden was going towards full professionalism without fuss. Some big names already were lured back. Foreign players were arriving – still in tiny numbers, but coming. A realistic approach – Sweden was in a position to develop really big clubs and keep her best players in the domestic league. So, the development was to be modest, emphasizing on home grown talent. The second division was relatively weaker, so the winners there were not expected to shake up the upper league.

IS Halmia won the Southern Second Division. An old club, as Swedish clubs usually are, founded in 1907, but hardly known. Their best years were in deep past – between 1944 and 1950. ‘Success’ really meant steady playing in first division… after 1950 the club was mostly playing second division football. The second and smaller club in their home town, Halmstad. Halmstads BK were bigger and more successful, but the local derby was mostly called that in jest: Halmstads BK and IS Halmia were seldom in the same division. They were to be in 1979, after IS Halmia won promotion.

The winner of the Northern Second Division was another small club:

IFK Sundsvall. If there was a club from this city playing top league football, it was usually GIF Sundsvall. Now they were also in second division and finished 6th, 10 points behind their city rivals. Unlike the Southern group, which was either more competitive or just the clubs were of relatively same strength, only 2 clubs competed in the North – IFK and IK Brage. Brage lost by a point.

Good for IFK Sundsvall and perhaps a rare moment of finishing much better than the city rivals, but a typical second-tier team. They were to face the test of their survival skills the next year. It was clear that cities like Sundsvall and many others were not able to build strong and successful teams – two or more clubs were just too many for the limited local resources, but like Poland, Sweden did not fancy amalgamations. The Swedes obviously preferred tradition – better two small clubs than one perhaps better off, but lacking identity.

Poland The Cup

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

Piast (Gliwice) had the chance of European appearance only if winning the Cup – the opponents were lowly enough, so the losing finalist had no chance of participation in the Cup Winners Cup. Piast had a chance to win – before the final was played. Zaglebie was not much, but still was first division club. They won 2-0.

Zaglebie was not much 1977-78, but they had good past – it was not their first trophy. They never won the championship, but the Cup was already theirs three times – the last time was the previous year. 4th Cups, two consecutive – not bad? Not bad for an old club, established in 1906 , but in town better known for ice-hockey?

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

Poland I Division

First league table shows an interesting picture: 12 clubs were very close to each other – 4 points divided the 4th from the 15th placed. The last clubs were either way above or bellow the bulk of the league. It was not much different the previous years, so nothing new. Occasional slip or lucky strike seemed to be decisive factors. Fairly equal clubs, which could be easily at the top one round and in relegation zone the next. Not very strong teams, unfortunately – those at the top were not so much strong, but rather happy to survive. The outsider was unusual club:

Gornik (Zabrze) were among the favourites a couple of years ago. They were perhaps the closest to a truly dominant team Polish football ever produced – the successful squad of 1966-72. Decline settled after that, at first unnoticed, but inevitable. Aging slowly reduced the number of the stars and no new talent stepped in. Szarmach moved to Stal (Mielec) in 1976. By 1977 only Jerzy Gorgon remained from the old great squad. Still, to see Gornik at the bottom of the league was shocking – somewhat, it was sudden collapse. They earned only 23 points, winning just 6 matches. However, their goal-difference was unusual for rock bottom team: 25-30. Polish league was strange… not much goals were scored, the results were minimal and the records were similar to Gurnik’s.

Jerzy Gorgon in 1970, just getting noticed as an young talent in the very talented Gornik of that time. Top defender, national team regular, one of the few internationally known Polish players before 1974, and going to his second World Cup finals with Poland in 1978. However, unable to save his club from relegation… must have been very disappointing and frustrating season for the 28-years old star. Going to second division and the World Cup finals at the same time.

Zawisza (Bydgoszcz) took the 15th place and joined Gornik on the way down. Zawisza finishing low was no surprise – unlike Gornik, they were lowly club. Unlucky too – four clubs finished with 27 points. If goal-difference was the decisive factor, Zawisza would have been safe – Szombierki (Bytom) had the worst goal-difference in the league (25-35). But it was head-to-head record deciding the position of those with equal points. Szombierki finished 12th and Zawisza 15th.

Just above them ended surprising club – Ruch (Chorzow), one of the best Polish clubs in the 1970s. Champions or near-champions… they were expected to be among the contenders, even more so than Gornik. Instead, Ruch barely survived. Like Gornik, they were unable to find strong replacement of aging stars, who either retired or went to play abroad. Unlike Gornik, whose decline was slow and long, Ruch suddenly plunged down. Which may have been better for the club – so great a shock required urgent measures to be taken.

There was little else of great import across the league – Stal (Mielec) ended 8th with 29 points. Not really a collapse, but somewhat predictable outcome for a club which had just 6-7 really good players in their best seasons. Now they were simply like the most of the league. So were Legia (Warszawa) for few years already – nothing special, an ordinary club. Having Deyna was not making any difference… Gornik had Gorgon and still was relegated. Legia ended 5th with 31 points. Pretty good position in the final table, unless one remembers the points – Legia was only 4 points away from Zawisza (Bydgoszcz). Legia won 12 matches – the 15th placed had 11 wins. Relegation was much closer possibility for Legia than winning the title. LKS (Lodz) edged Legia, thanks to head-to-head matches, taking the 4th place, also with 31 points. Another one-man team… LKS depended on the goalkeeper Jan Tomaszewski.

And three clubs were high above from the whole league. They competed for the title to the end – 2 points was the final difference, deciding who ends where. Two clubs were generally expected to be contenders – Slask (Wroclaw), the champions of the previous season, were at their peak as a team. Wisla (Krakow) were stable for years and among the best. Lech (Poznan) was the newcomer in a sense – a rising team, but still questionable one. They finished 3rd with 37 points. 12 wins, 13 ties, 5 losses. 29-25 scoring record… rather measly for high finisher. Less than a goal per game average.

The squad perhaps explains their rise: a good group of players here – Gut, Chojnacki, Mowlik, Napierala. Other clubs had one or two stars by now – Lech had more and younger ones too, just nearing at their peak. Stars, but no great stars, so the future of the club was still questionable. It did not look like great squad. The potential was strong, but still only a potential. Good season, but the more important was the next one: were they to keep developing or were they just one time wonder? Lech was in the situation of Slask (Wroclaw) of two years ago – impressive season, but the team had to prove itself in the future still.

Slask probably was fully recognized exactly this season: they already won the Cup and the championship, and finishing second was not equal to victories, but this was third strong year already, they were contenders, they remained strong – truly strong.

Yet, Slask remained relatively unknown outside Poland. The reason was the making of the squad –

A good team, well balanced, not getting old yet, but largely for domestic consumption. Only Zmuda was world class. A number of players here played for Poland, but who remembers them now? It was a good squad for that particular time, when Polish football was actually slightly weaker than a few years before. And that is why Lech (Poznan) was not immediately recognized as a strong team – they were similar to Slask. Given the strength of the league, Slask were to stay on top perhaps a few more years.

But not this one – Wisla bested all. It was not a great victory – the champions finished with 39 points. 13 wins, 13 ties – quite conservative approach. Three clubs scored the same as or more goals than the champions – Odra (Opole) was 6th (35 goals – the same as Wisla) and Pogon (Szczecin) was 11th (36 goals). That was the warning sign – the champions were better in attack than the rest of the league. They had the best defensive record, however, receiving only 23 goals.

Not an overwhelming victory, but well deserved nevertheless. Wisla were consistently strong, potential winners for some time, so finally they did what was expected and hoped of them. A good squad by Polish measures – the well known since 1974 A. Szymanowski, K. Kmiecik, and Z. Kapka, all in their prime, plus additional younger talent – Maculewicz and Nawalka. Kazimierz Kmiecik was the league top scorer of the season – he scored only 15 goals, but bested Andrzej Szarmach and Zbigniew Boniek. Wisla was perhaps the club in best position to add new quality to their team – located in big city, perhaps having more money than most clubs, and having bunch of great players who were fun to play with. Wisla was attractive club for talented players located elsewhere, so the chances of Wisla staying strong were big. As for the club, it was the end of long, long suffering – it was their 6th title, but they had to wait 27 years for it. First title since 1951… a few more victories were certainly needed to remedy the dry years. The team looked more than capable of doing just that.


Poland II Division



Poland, highly reputed since 1974, qualifying for the 1978 World Cup finals, having a bunch of players well known around the globe – and a weak championship. On a club level the 1960s were seemingly stronger years, but it was interesting championship for it was unpredictable one. A rare case anyway – there were no few powerful clubs dominating the league, the capital city had a minor role, and no club really concentrated the top players whether by government decree or by financial strength. The negative side was lower quality and the trouble was sufficient for concerns. After this season the second division was reorganized because of that: so far it was divided geographically in two groups – Northern and Southern. Seemingly, the Northern was much weaker and the new division was the between East and West, hoping to make the groups more competitive. But this was to happen in the next season. There was no reduction of the number of participants, though. Apart from structural changes, the other interesting thing about Polish club football was the determination of standings of clubs with equal points: unlike the general practice of the time – goal-difference – head-to-head results determined positions in Poland.

The Second Division went through its normal trials and tribulations. Here one more reason for the relative weakness of the Polish clubs could be found: many cities had more than one club. It was surprising in some places, but made understandable why Polish clubs went up and down quite often – resources were not pulled together. Gdansk, for instance, had no representative in First Division, but two clubs – Lechia and Stoczniowiec – played in the second. Lodz had LKS and Widzew in First Division and Start in the Second. So was the case with Warszawa, Krakow, Poznan, but if it appeared normal for big cities, it was unusual for smaller ones: Bydgoszcz, for instance, had Zavisza in top flight and BKS in the second division. Lubin had a second division club – Motor – and another one – Zaglebie – just promoted from Third Division for the next season. Bytom had two clubs if First Division (Szombierki and Polonia) – the only other city with two clubs in the top league was Lodz. Often there was no telling which club was the leading one in their home town – fate changed frequently: Baltyk represented Gdynia in second division and Arka in the first, but roles easily changed. Anyhow, the general situation had little to do with the actual season.

GKS Katowice had no rivals in the Northern Group – they left the nearest one, Gornik (Walbrzych) 6 points behind. GKS were returning to top flight, possibly not briefly, but to be a force. Hutnik (Krakow), not stranger to first division, went the opposite direction – they finished 14th and relegated to Third Division.

The Southern Group duplicated the Northern one – two clubs left the rest of league far behind. They also fought for the coveted promotional place to the end. Baltyk (Gdynia) were third – 18 points behind the second! Lechia (Gdansk) had to try again… they lost the race by a point, finishing with round 50 points.

Gwardia (Warszawa) clinched the first place with 51 points. Another returning to first division club, but unlike GKS, Gwardia played stronger role in the past. It was even strange to see them down at second level – strange, compared to other Communist countries. But it was not only Gwardia down on their luck – Polonia (Warszawa), strong club once upon a time, had sedated existence in the second division too. They finished at 12th place, just above the relegation zone. Gwardia did much better indeed.

Greece I Division


At the end, it was the usual picture at the very top – four clubs, painfully familiar, way above the rest of the league and competing among themselves. The biggest of all had weak year to a point.

Olympiakos finished 4th. 44 points were great when compared to the those bellow – PAS Giannina had only 38 – but nothing when compared to the real favourites. Olympiakos was not in the race for the title for the first time in years.

Perhaps Olympiakos struggled with the eternal problem of changing generations and building a new squad; perhaps they were short of cash, but it was not a strong team when compared to what they had two or three years back. Their foreign recruits were puzzling: the Danish midfielder Niels Sorensen, coming from the small Dutch club Zwolle, and the Northern Irish striker Derek Spence (his name is misspelled on the photo) from Blackpool, just relegated to Third Division. Not exactly the kind of players to influence teammates and help winning trophies. Spence appeared in 21 matches and scored 6 goals – not an impressive debut. And both players did not last after this season – Spence moved back to Blackpool and third division football; Sorensen went to Grazer AK (Austria).

Panathinaikos finished third. Not a memorable season – the only comfort perhaps came from finishing ahead of the arch-enemy Olympiakos. One point better and at least with medals.

Very similar to Olympiakos – looked like changing generations was not going well. On the picture only Kapsis remains from the team reaching the European Champions Cup final in 1971. But this is not a full-squad photo: the veterans were more – Domazos, Antoniadis and Eleftherakis were still in the team. Konstantinou, Gonios, Papadimitriou, Dimitriou were also from the old great squad. And that was a clear picture of the problem: few aging, may be declining, may be suffering from injuries veterans and few more, who were just reserves in the glory days. And not enough bright young talent – perhaps only Terzanidis, the new midfielder just acquired from PAOK. And the foreign recruits were not very flashy… a mysterious ‘Giorgievits’ appears above, but there was not such player in the roster. Most likely this is Djordjevic, a little known Yugoslavian player, who arrived in 1976. He played only 2 matches this season… but stayed with Panathinaikos longer and generally contributed to the team. Alas, not a star. The Argentine Oscar Alvarez, one of the PAS Giannina Latin American stable, was much better addition this season. He was clearly bought because of his scoring abilities – according to some sources, he scored 77 goals for Giannina since 1974; according to other info – 41. He delivered, though – with 18 goals, he finished the second best scorer of the league this season. But his goals were hardly enough…

Not enough to overcome PAOK – riding still on their sturdy team, which won the championship two years ago, PAOK finished 2nd. They were not a title contenders, but finishing above Olympiakos and Panathinaikos was satisfying success.

Perhaps the poorest of the big 4 clubs, PAOK was not in a position to make big transfers, but the team was experienced and dependable. The success story was the foreigners: both Fortoula and Guerino Neto were anonymous players at home, but really flourished in PAOK, becoming the backbone of the team and two of most respected footballers playing in Greece at that time. The only problem was fundamental – PAOK was not wealthy enough to build really strong squad. The title was clearly out of their reach – they finished with 46 points, 7 points behind the champions.

And the champions are easily guessed by now: only AEK (Athens) was not mentioned so far. AEK had some of the biggest Greek stars of the time – the veteran midfielder Mimis Papaioannou, playing for AEK since 1963, and the top striker Thomas Mavros, recently acquired from Panionios. Mavros ended the league scorer of the season with 22 goals. He was only 24 years old, but playing his 7th professional season. Dusan Bajevic, the biggest transfer not only of this season, arrived from Velez (Mostar), adding more power to the attack (Bajevic did not have great first season, but eventually settled in his new club and lived up to his reputation). And one more big name was added along with Bajevic – the midfielder Milton Viera, already famous in Greece as Olympiakos players. And AEK had the former coach of the national team of Holland, Frantisek Fadrhonc, at the helm. Alas, AEK started badly and Fadrhonc was fired after the second round. Andreas Stamatiadis coach provisionally the team for the next two rounds until suitable replacement of the old Czech was found. It was another veteran with truly great reputation: the master builder of the great Bayern, the man introducing Beckenbauer, Muller, and Maier to the world. Zlatko Cajkovski. The legendary Yugoslav delivered – under him, AEK did not stumble. They lost only 2 matches this season and won 21. They scored 74 goals. And they left the league back in the dust – AEK finished 7 points ahead of PAOK.

Dominant champions. And it was not all – AEK reached the final for the Cup, where they met again their closest pursuer in the championship, PAOK. The best teams of the year clashed one more time. Bajevic scored in the 50th minute and exactly half an hour later Mavros made sure who was really best. PAOK was defeated 2-0. AEK finished with a double.

High flying eagles, indeed – 6th title and 8th Cup. A fine season for the club founded by refugees from Constantinople (Istanbul).