Italy the Cup


The Cup final opposed Roma to Torino – a replay of 1963-64 final, the last time Roma won a trophy, after tough 0-0 match, which had to be replayed and only then Roma prevailed 1-0. The finalists were quite equal in 1979-80 – strong running Torino and up and coming Roma, neither team strong enough to win the championship. Since both teams were pretty much matched, there was no favourite. The final was played in Rome, which gave – on paper – the edge to Roma, but on the field there was no edge: the final finished 0-0, the overtime kept the parity, 1963-64 was repeating itself entirely, except that there was no longer replay, but penalty shoot-out. Back in 1964 Roma prevailed by a single goal – and the same happened in 1980: Roma won the shoot-out 3-2.

Standing from left: Terraneo, Claudio Sala, Volpati, Graziani, Pileggi, Vullo.

Crouching: Patrizio Sala, Pulici, Salvadori, Mandorlini, Pecci.

Coming close does not count… Torino lost.

Standing from left: Romeo Benetti, Turone, Ancelotti, Pruzzo, Di Bartolomei, Santarini.

Crouching: Scarnecchia, Maggiora, Amenta, Bruno Conti, Paolo Conti.

By names, Roma was perhaps a bit stronger than Torino and also they were the rising team, but in reality both opponents were equal. Shoot-outs are always a lottery – Roma was lucky winner. For the fans, it was great moment, of course – a trophy at last! Waiting since 1964 for one! But perhaps the most important aspect of the victory was confirmation of the rise of Roma.


Italy I Division


Italian football as a whole was not in great shape to begin with, but the Totonero scandal made this season very difficult for evaluation. It was easier to judge declining clubs and the stagnated ones, but which were improving and perhaps rising? Under the dark shadow of fixed matches, there is no certainty and clarity.

Ascoli finished 5th , a great season for the small club, but one-time wonder at the end. Ascoli had no impressive players, suggesting they could stay among the best.

Perhaps the only club emerging with promising squad at the end of the 1970s was Roma.

With Liedholm at the helm, Roma somewhat quietly was going up. Since the club was not a factor for many years, no attention was focussed on it – Lazio was the Roman news during the 1970s. Roma finished 7th this season, thus continuing to stay under the radar, but a group of strong players was already gathered: Benetti, Spinosi, Tancredi, Pruzzo, De Sisti, and especially Di Bartolomei and Bruno Conti. It was not a finished and polished team, but it had strong backbone. It all depended on what the club would do in the following years – so far, there was no reason for paying close attention: the key players were quite old and perhaps over the hill. Solidity was achieved, it was a matter of adding quality. Roma was not yet ready to concur.

Without a truly ascending team, the top of the table was occupied by familiar names – traditionally strong Milan and Inter, plus the good since 1974 Torino, and the best Italian team of the 1970s Juventus. Milan finished 3rd, but was relegated for its involvement in Totonero.

With 35 points, Torino finished 4th. Led by Graziani, Claudio and |Patrizio Sala, Pulici, Pecci, Torino was still very strong, but the leading players were familar since 1975 and no new younger names emerged since then – Torino more or less reached its peak and only maintained its position.

Juventus finished 2nd, 3 points behind the champions. They won the most matches this season – 16, but unfortunately lost too many – 8. Seven of the losses were away matches – in itself, nothing unusual in a league heavily depending on home turf, but only 2 clubs lost more away games than Juventus – Catanzaro (14th) and Pescara (16th). Juventus played a bit more open football than the typical Italian team, but such approach required stronger strikers and Juventus fell short in this department: Bettega was the key figure and he was getting a bit old.

The team sticking to tradition won the title – 14 wins, 13 ties, 3 losses. Try to win at home, get a point away – the tired conservative formula. Inter did not risk and perhaps it was wise aprroach considering what kind of players they had.

Bordon, Baresi, Altobelli, Oriali – younger players, just becoming first rate stars. A bit unfinished team, a bit short of full great team, especially if compared to Juventus. But younger and hungrier. Not very exciting on the pitch, but fighting for the point and getting it. May be lucky a bit too – except Juventus, there was no well-rounded team in the league. As a team, Inter needed quite a lot to measure up to the teams it had in the 1960s – it was largely a promising team and no more. In itself, the victory was important one – the 1970s were terrible years for Inter and the last title they won was in 1970-71. At last they added one more – their 12th. Looked like revival was starting and the victory was excellent moment to reinforce the team, to add a few more classy players. There was a problem, though – seemingly, Inter decided to go for young talent, which was right. It was just that there was not plenty of young talent in Italy, especially strikers.


Totonero Scandal

On March 23 1980 the Totonero scandal eruprted – or, rather, the Financial Police of Italy made it public. The real investigation dragged for a long time and marked not only that season, but the next one as well. Essentially, it was a scheme for fixing matches, thus affecting winning and losing lottery bets. A black lottery, but players, clubs, and officials were involved. The principal protagonists were Milan, Lazio, Bologna, Perugia, Avellino, Taranto, and Palermo. The investigation worked its way slowly, so the season continued. Then the guilty were punished. Then new facts appeared. Then the punished cried innocense and the whole legal mess led to punishments changed, some carried right away, some delegated to the next season, players found guilty, then suspencions reduced or not. The media had a feast, of course, but originally nobody thought the investigation would produce any meaningful results. Surprisingly, it did: there were no longer untouchables in Italian football. Milan was pelegated to Serie B and its president Felice Colombo was dibarred for life. Lazio’s punishment was increased – from a 10 millions fine to relegation. All other clubs involved ended with 5 points punishment attached to the 1980-81 season. 20 players were also punished, three of them were originally banned from football for life, but eventually penalties were reduced. Finally, the biggest suspencion fell on Stefano Pellegrini (Avellino) – 6 years, and Franco Colomba (Bologna) and Oscar Damiani (Napoli) recieved the smallest ban – 3 months. The biggest news was the case of Paolo Rossi, but he was not the only big name involved in the scandal: Giuseppe Wilson (Lazio) got 3 years ban, Giuseppe Savoldi (Bologna) – 3 years and 6 months, Lionello Manfredonia (Lazio) – 3 years and 6 months, Bruno Giordano (Lazio) – 3 years and 6 months, Enrico Albertosi (Milan) – 4 years. Effectively, Albertosi suffered most – his original punishment was a ban for life, reduced later to 4 years, but the European champion of 1968 was already 40 years old, so practically any suspencion was ending his career. The veteran still came back – his ban was waved in 1982, thanks to Italy winning the World Cup, and he played two more seasons, but… in 5th Division for Elpidiense. A huge drop from Milan to semi-professional football. Paolo Rossi was, of course, the biggest news and the most controvercial one too – he claimed innosence, was found guilty and banned for 3 years at first. The original punishment was later reduced to 2 years and stayed at that. Rossi not only persisted he was not guilty, but cliams so to this very day. Years later he found support in some memoirs and journalistic investigations, but nothing concluisive is established in his favour. The most irritating part of Rossi’s case was that he was needed for the coming European championship finals, but he was punished anyway. Enough for the scandal – by the end of the 1979-80, it was still unfolding and really concerns only the First Division relegations.

On the field it was business as usual, not counting the scandal – the single point was king and the low scoring. 2-goals per game average was unimaginable already in Italy – the best scoring records were achieved by Inter – 44 goals, and Juventus – 42. Ten clubs did not reach even 1-goal per game average. 13 teams finished with more than 10 ties – Lazio and Udinese finished with 15. That is, they tied exactly half of their matches. The stagnated Italian football was losing fans and money, so the clubs were pushing for lifting the ban on foreign players in the hope of attracting the fans back to the stadiums and perhaps changing the game for better. The ban was lifted after the end of the season, so the Totonero scandal run along with exciting news of and speculations on big transfers. In any case, the season was played and finished. Pescara was the outsider this year.

4 wins, 8 ties – 16 points in total. Dead last and nothing surprising about it. Pescara, if playing in Serie A at all, were a relegation candidate.

Udinese finished 15th with 21 points. Again, not a surprise.

Catanzaro took he 14th place, a bit unlucky, for they ended only a point short from safety. None of the last three teams had anything in its favour and saying goodbye to Serie A was familiar to every one of them.

Lazio topped Catanzaro with 25 points and, by the final table, escaped relegation, finishing 13th. Decline settled soon after winning the title in 1973, so their lowly place was hardly a big news. But compared to others at the end of the table, Lazio appeared much stronger – they had Wilson, Giordano, Manfredonia, and D’Amico. The remains of the champion squad were, unfortunately, just that – remains. It may look strange today to see Lazio that low, but the club was not among the big Italian clubs in the 1970s and played in second division in the 1960s, so it was hardly shocking to see them down. And down they went after found heavily involved in the Totonero scandal. Along with Milan, they were relegated as a punishment.

Milan finished 3rd and although they were not really involved in the race for the title, were nothing like Lazio – the team was strong, they won the championship the previous year. By now, Milan was strong only by contemporary Italian measures – it was not the great team of the 1960s, it was not much by European standards, it had problems, especially in the attacking line, but it had clout. Yet, Milan was relegated with Lazio and Catanzaro and Udinese were saved.

Italy II Division

Second division, 20 teams strong, was tough and resistant to changes: the single point was king. Not even one club finished with less than 10 ties. As for the record: Pistoiese tied 22 of their 38 champiosnhip fixtures. Sampdoria followed with 21, and Bari was third with 20. Scoring was not just low – it was fantastically low. Only four teams had better record than 1 goal per game average – but how better? Vicenza was the highest scoring team – 49 goals. Monza was second with 40, and Brescia and Cesena followed with 39… All the rest had lesser than 1 goal per game average… Fortify the back, preserve 0-0 , get a point – the dominant philosophy of Italian football since the 1960s. Slight variations and may be pure luck made the final table, which ideally should have been 20 teams with 38 points from 38 ties each, and 0-0 goal-difference. But the ideal is impossible, so there were winners and losers.

Matera finished last, doomed long before the final stage of the championship. Third division was more familiar level for them anyway.

Parma finished 19th. This may sound strange today, but not at the time – Parma was practically insignificant and unknown club, meandering between third and second division.

Ternana was 18th – they finished 4 points ahead of Parma, but there was any comfort in that. The club was fading away since the 1960s, sinking lower and lower. Nothing surprising by 1979-80.

Sambenedettese was 17th. In itself, nothing unusual – the small club had been fighting for mere survival during the 1970s. Yet, too bad they lost the fight this year – by a single point – just because they were too small even by the measures of second division. This was the relegated group at the bottom of the table. Up the scale all clubs played at one or another time top level football – similar clubs with similar fate: not rich enough to make and keep strong teams, going up now and then, going back to second division, some eventually going into permanent decline. From today’s perspective the most interesting name in the league was Sampdoria.

Sampdoria finished 7th, but make no mistake about it: although Genoa ended bellow them, Sampdoria was still the second and lesser club of teh city. And first division football was not exactly familiar to them yet. More likely the club was slowly building strength.

The club going down was L. R. Vicenza – they finished 5th, but they were Italian bronze medalists just two years earlier! Relegated the next season, now played again in the painfully familiar second division.

There was no mystery – Vicenza climbed up from second division to bronze medals thanks to Paolo Rossi. But he was no longer here: a messy dispute between Juventus and Vicenza left him Vicenza’s property, but since the club was relegated – and spent huge amount of money to beat Juventus – was loaned to Perugia. Vicenza, rattled by the problems surrounding his ownership, sunk to their familiar status – the eternal fate of any small club: success, if any, was temporary and almost entirely due to a great player, impossible to keep for long. Once he moved, the club sunk. Vicenza was among the best second division clubs and came close to promotion, but finished 5th at the end.

Same was Cesena – they ended 4th, losing the promotional race by 2 points. Small differences divided winners from losers. Brescia clinched 3rd place with 17 wins, 11 ties, and 10 losses.

More aggressive approach paid off: Brescia was the only club among the top 5 which attempted to break the deadly 0-0 philosophy – they went for victory and that carried them to the third place. Hardly exciting, but promoted – and that is all what mattered.

A point ahead of Brescia finished the ultra-conservative Pistoiese, as if to mock any attempt for more open and attacking football. 12 wins, 22 ties, and only 4 losses. Not winning, not losing, point by point to promotion.

The Italian second league hardly had any known names – Pistoiese had two, however, different. Mario Frustalupi, never a great star, but well enough known, was playing his last years here. As for Marcello Lippi – he is famous nowadays, not back then as a player. Pistoiese was seen, especially abroad, almost as a surprise – the Arancioni (Oranges) were found in 1921, but were shaky and went through two refoundings – in 1937 and 1945. Arguably, their strongest years were the late 1970s, when the club climbed to second division and finally – won promotion to Serie A.

The champions of Serie B were balanced – well fortified defense, but keeping an eye for a scoring opportunity. Looking for 1-0 instead for 0-0. It worked – 16 wins, 16 ties, 6 losses. 33-17 goal-difference. Obviously, the emphasis was on defense. Como finished 2 points ahead of Pistoiese.

The champions were a bit similar to Pistoiese – they were rising by the end of the 1970s after almost 20 years of insignificant moving between second and third division. So far, the best years of Como were distant memory – they played first division football between 1949 and 1953. Going up again at last. As for the team – nobody famous, but one bright young defender, who soon will be world-famous: Pietro Wierchowod. He is often given as the most important player, the mover and shaker, bringing Como up, but this is post-factum assessment: Pyetro Ivanovich Vekhovod, the son of Ukrainian Red Army soldier, was only 21 at the end of the successful season and years away from becoming nick-named ‘the Tzar’ and considered by Maradona and Lineker their toughest opponent. Talent is talent, though – Vierchowod was with the first team of Como since 1976, when he was just 17 years old.

So, the happily promoted clubs were Como, Pistoiese, and Brescia. From the perspective of first division – hardly very dangerous team. Most likely easy pray…

And one last note on this season – changes of kit’s designs. New fashion was making room for itself – it started a few years earlier, but perhaps became well pronounced in 1979-80. The new designs were questionable, but they were to become a norm in the 1980s.

Palermo’s kit is an excellent sample – a more playful design of few hoops and sleeves coloured differently. Sometimes the design worked, sometimes not. Palermo’s seems fine may be because the club colours – pink, black, and white – can be combined in smart contrasts. Or, well, 10 years later such kits will be great, compared to the extremes of the early 1990s.

Italy III Division

The Italian season started normally, but ended badly shaked by the Totonero scandal. Tremors were felt for the next years, but the peak was reached at the end of this season, especially because it affected the national team’s preparation for and perhaps performance at the European Championship finals. The scandal made the other big news insignificant – the coming reopening of Italian football for foreign players, which happened in the summer of 1980. As for the scandal, the unthinkable happened: Italian football was accused of wide-spread corruption for a long time. Along with that went accusation of nepotism – the clubs were too powerfull and there was no will to investigate, let alone punish culprits. At first the common opinion was that the scandal would be the usual Italian soap-opera: much noise and nothing else. Thus, the real surprise came when the Italians not only investigated, but found and punished the guilty. It was astonishing – the Italians punished even untouchables: Lazio was expelled from the first division, but also Milan! To this moment nobody really thought the investigation was serious – to punish players, to punish small clubs, to punish Lazio was going very far for a country plagued by corruption and back-room deals of dubious legality. But to expell Milan… it went beyond the wildest imagination. And the punishment was not revoked – the final miracle. Italian football ended its arguably worst decade in disgrace. In the same time it started the new decade optimistically: it looked like the Italians were determined to clean their stables and restore the tarnished image of their game. Even the lift of the old ban on imported players seemed well thought, restrained, and helpful to the sport – the clubs were permitted to have one foreign player, but that was ruling for the next season.

As for the season on the field, it was not so great even without the scandal. The old problem remained – careful, defensive football. The tie was still the king and the prime argument for permitting foreign players: they were to help changing the approach. But here were foreigners in 1979-80 and it was the same as ever… low scoring, many ties, no fun, but bitter battles for 0-0 and 1 point. Point by point… champions emerged at the end. The winners of the thrid level groups were promoted, happy teams, clubs, and fans.

Rimini – for them going to second division was big success.

Ups and downs for Foggia – from first division to third, and up again. To second division for the moment.

Catania remembered better days, but decline settled in the 1970s and winning a third division group was good enough.

And one more club similar to those above: Varese. At least they had very strong basketball team at the time… but football is the real passion.

Three of the promoted clubs played first division, but at the beginning of the 1980s perhaps only Foggia could have hardboured some hopes for climbing higher. Eventually.

France the Cup

French football was rising, but in its peculiar way – no trully dominant super-clubs emerged. Thus, doubles were rarely possible and no matter how strong particular club was at any given year, they were not overwhelming. A bit shaky St. Etienne and strong, but somewhat lacking depth Nantes were good in the championship, but the cup was too much. Other clubs reached the final. One was absolute surprise, for they played a minor role in the second division. AS Monaco vs US Orleans. For a second consecutive year one of the finalists was second division club. But if Auxerre was climbing up, Orleans was not. It took overtime to overcome Auxerre the previous year – now Orleans was not a problem. Monaco won 3-1.

Albaladejo – Bodji – Plissonneau – Germain – Lemée – Viot

Berthouloux – Drouet – Loukaka – Hamerschmitt – Marette

Naturally, Orleans deserves praise – it was fantastic run for a lowly club. Unfortubately, heroics were not enough – as a smallish second-division team, Orleans lacked strong enough players. Albaladejo and Loukaka were the only faintly recognizable names. But playing at the final was great and memorable event. Too bad they had no chance of winning.

Monaco won the Cup easily, thus finishing the season on more than bright note. Onnis, Dalger, Petit, Ettori, Emon… good players, but the their number was a bit small for staying among the favourites without a boost. The Cup was the needed boost, yet, the team needed re-enforcement. Dalger, Emon, and Onnis were getting old – the whole attacking line. Beating Orleans was one thing, but for the next year at least one, may be two new strikers were a must. But never mind the next season – this one finished wonderfully.

France I Division

The big news of French football was the transfer of Michel Platini in the summer of 1979. That he was destined to play for a big club was obvious – Platini was already one of the biggest European stars and playing for Nancy was out of the question. The queastion was rather for whom he will play and it turned out, perhaps logically, he went to Saint Etienne. If France had anything similar to the European grands, it was St. Etienne in the 1970s. Dominant, successful, and wealthy enough to buy players at will. The great team of the mid-70s also aged and major reshaping was in the works as well, so it was seemingly the prime destination for Platini. Along with him, St. Etienne aquaired the services of another big star – Johhny Rep, who spent the last two years with Bastia. The point was made: St. Etienne really acted as a big club: when in need, getting the best, with the clear intention to continue its dominance. With this two transfers St. Etienne appeared too strong for the French league – on paper. The championship developed differently, or, rather, in traditional terms of French football. In short, St. Etienne did not win despite appearance. There was more than that, of course, but it concerned the end of the table. Two clubs reached pretty much the bottom of a decline started a few years back – Marseille and Lyon. Again, pretty much in accord with tradition: French football did not have mighty clubs, everybody experienced ups and downs and downs often meant relegation.

Brest finished last in the championship – a team well below any other.



Kind of expected – apart from Vabec and Keruzore, nobody really classy. A small club, Brest was hardly able to compete with wealthier clubs, but even so the season was pathetic. They were the only team without away win and earned only 15 points from 4 wins and 7 ties.

If Brest was expected outsider, their immediate neighbours were not. Olympique Marseille – who would think. With 24 points, much stronger than poor Brest – but 24 points also meant they were 5 points behind the 18th placed.

Looking at the squad, it is unbelievable – Tresor, Six, Berdoll, Linderoth (Sweden) going to second division? Marseille started the 1970s as the top French club, but gradually went down – perhas by 1975 the signs of crisis were visible. The club rather desperately tried player after player, all big names, and nothing worked. Instead of going up, Marseille slowly sunk and finally was relegated. Perhaps the policy was wrong – Marseille had more money than most French clubs and therefore no trouble to get stars. The stars somewhat underperformed, or did not mix well with the other players, and were gone as quickly as they came. As for relegation – Marseille played second division in 1965-66 for the last. Welcome back…

Marseille was not theonly club in decline – Olympique Lyon was in the same situation. They finished 18th, with 29 points, so not in real danger, but just above the relegation zone.

Lyon mirrored Marseille – strong in the first half of the 1970s, they gradually faded away. Like Marseille, they were unable to replace outgoing players – the newcomers were somewhat of lesser class. Point in case: the current Yugoslavian imports, Aleksic and Zivaljevic, were not stars at all. Chiesa was getting too old. Tigana was not yet the famous player. Pretty much the same make like Marseille – and clearly not working.

The other declining clubs were Bastia – 16th this year, and Nice – 15th.



Nothing strange here – Bastia were normally found in the lower half of the table and their sudden climb to the top was unsustainable, for to stay there, the club needed stronger recruits. Buying good players was not financially possible. Keeping Johhny Rep was not possible either – and with him gone, Bastia immediately went down. Back to normal, so to say.

Nice, like Lyon and Marseille, was in decline, although their started earlier.

Having only a few strong players – Bjekovic, Bousdira, and perhaps Ferry – was no longer news. Nice was just keeping afloat and the queastion was for how long. There were no signs of improvement.

Those, who eather maintained relatively strong position or were slightly improving, were familiar names. Good season for Valenciennes – 8th place, but that only because they had worse goal-difference than Paris SG and Bordeaux.

To be in the top half of the table pretty much equals success for Valenciennes. They never had a truly strong team and this vintage was hardly more promising than earlier ones. It was even curiously strong year for a team whose most famous players were already veterans long beyond their peak – the former Polish national team defender Wrazy and the much-travelled Hungarian exile Ladinsky.

Paris St. Germaine finished 7th, which was typical. Compared to Valenciennes, Paris SG was vastly superior – they had money and therefore stars. But Paris SG had stars for years and nothing good came out of it so far – the constant underachieavers of the league. 40 points – the same modest Valenciennes earned.

What was wrong with Paris SG? Perhaps their approach… finishing lower than hoped, they discarded expensive players, bought new expensive players, underperformed, discarded, bought, the vicious cycle . One Brazilian – Abel, one Portuguese – Alves, three French stars – Bathenay, Baratelli, Huck. What was common between them? They were all getting old… just like players Paris SG had before them. Perhaps Dahleb was the true star of the team, for he survived many purges, but… the star players were the newcomers. At the end, the former Paris SG player Toko, now with Valenciennes, finished equal to the expensive bunch. Somehow, Paris SG did not learn that a group of famous names is not yet a winning team.

Also with 40 points, but with better goal-difference than Paris SG and Valenciennes, Bordeaux finished 6th. They were the only rising club – not ready to concur the league yet, but gradually going up.

On the surface, Bordeaux looked similar to Paris SG – a whole bunch fairly well known players, brought from other clubs. Some getting old, some already failing to become big stars. Lacombe, Gemmrich, Rohr, van Straelen. But here were also ambitious players, gradually becoming first rate – Giresse, of course, but also Domergue, Sahnoun, Soler, Lacuasta. Bordeaus was still shaping, but chemistry was good and the club was slowly going up. The most promising team at the moment.

The next two teams enjoyed strong years, but were not becoming big powers – they rather maintained positions. Strasbourg finished 5th.

Strasbourg, the champions of 1978-79, did what champions do – tried to enforce their team. The new big name was he top scorer Carlos Bianchi, formerly of Paris SG. Not a bad team, but the problem was age – Strasbourg was largely made of aging stars, who made their names elsewhere and were going downhill. The best such a team would do was exactly maintaining position among the best. Thus, a good season, but not in the title race – with 43 points, Strasbourg finished 7 points behind Monaco.

Which was similar to Strasbourg.

4th place was fine, but also outside of the real competition. 4 points behind the bronze medalist.

St. Etienne took the bronze – may be a bit disappointed. 54 points, good attack, leaky defense…

St. Etienne came close to the big European clubs – unusual for France and showing ambition. But there was something missing – perhaps, the attempt to keep strong squad since 1970 blinded a bit Robert Herbin: inevitably, the squad aged and although strong, the peak was reached in the middle of the 1970s. The big transfers in the summer of 1979 confirmed ambitions, but also signaled a major change of approach: Platini and Rep, perhaps the start of building a new team. Not players,who would fit in, but players to lead and conduct the play. New leaders often need time so the others to get used to the new scheme. To a point, St. Etienne finished 3rd because this was reshaping year. But they did not win a title since 1976 and their last cup came in 1977 – perhaps the team needed more new players, a whole new team, if it was to begin winning again. Indicative of that was that they, with Platini and Rep, finished behind Sochaux.

Second row from left: Jean-Luc Ruty, Joël Bats, Abdel Djaadaoui, Moussa Bezaz, Bernard Genghini, Zvonko Ivezic

Couching: Patrick Parizon, Eric Benoît, Yannick Stopyra, Patrick Révelli, Jean-Pierre Posca.

It was only thanks to better goal-difference Sochaux clinched silver, but for the usually insignificant club the season was fantastic. It was a good team, true, but nothing similar to St. Etienne – Stopyra and Bats were still promising youngsters. Stardom came a few years later. Ivezic was solid import, but ranking bellow other Yugoslavians. Genghini was fairly unknown yet too. As for Parizon and Petrick Revelli – they were let go from St. Etienne some time ago. Aging and no longer needed. The rejects finished ahead of their former club, however. All fine, but this was not a squad to take France by storm, let alone staying on top for long – one-time wonder, rather. Good, but not good enough to really run for the title.

Which went to an usual suspect – FC Nantes. Given the circumstances – some teams shaky, other not so strong, some other – not fine-tuned yet, and yet others in decline, Nantes was in shape, not ifs and buts. At the end, they finished 3 points ahead of Sochaux and St. Etienne.

Nantes was practically the only rival of St. Etienne during the 1970s, so they run similar risks: a squad established for years, slowly getting old, familiar, and may be no longer hungry. But Nantes was beginning the 80s strong and able, with little adjustments, to keep its leading position. Michel, Bertrand-Demanes, and Pecout were nearing retirement and gradually losing their edge, but Amisse, Rio, Tusseau, and particualry Bosis were in their prime – and in the national team. The foreign additions blended well – the Argentinian brothers Enzo and Victor Trossero. A squad in good shape by all means.


France II Division Group B

Group B were more equal than Group A and the season, if not stronger than the other group, was at least more dramatic from top to bottom. The relegated clubs are already mentioned, so let see the top. A bit of inacuracy first: FC Toulouse finished 6th.

Normally, a picture of second division club is taken at face value, but the dating of this one is wrong: the Belgian Gilbert van Binst arrived from Anderlecht in July 1980, so this starting eleven is not from the given season, but the next one. Apart from that, it is rather rare example of big name moving to the French Second division.

But inaccuracies are not the exiting mark of the season – it was the battle for the promotional first place. Cannes eventually dropped from the race, finishing 3rd with 40 points. Above two clubs finished with 44 points.

Olympique Avignon tried hard to win and return to the top league – they were the most successful in attack, winning 20 of the 34 games they played. But it was a bit of a case of ‘all or nothing’: they either won or lost. Won 20 matches, but lost 10, and usually such gamble leaves a team with too many goals recieved. Which at the end worked against Avignon. Equal points and equal goals scored, but the competition had stronger defense and Avignon took the 2nd place on worse goal-difference.

The group winners clinched the first place thanks to 16 wins, 12 ties, and only 6 losses. Their more careful aproach provided them with much better defensive record than Avignon: the winners allowed 30 goals, Avignon – 41. This gave them the edge: 54-30 was much better than 54-41. Like the winners of Group A, the champions here never played in the first division so far.

Association de la Jeunesse Auxerroise was found in 1905 by a priest – Father Ernest Abbe Deschamps – and played at first in the Catholic leagues. Moving to professionalism was done much later, but the roots somehow remained – Auxerre had one of the most charismatic figures in French football, Guy Roux. The maker of modern Auxerre, but also a father figure for many of his players, who normally started playing the game in the club, moving through the youth system. The close-knit, almost family approach, perhaps close to the orginal intention of the founder, already brought fruits. Unlike Tours, seemingly coming from nowhere, Auxerre was noticed: in 1978-79 they played at the Cup final, and lost it in overtime. Now they won the Group B of Second Division, their first trophy.

Standing from left: Guy Roux – coach, Maryan SZEJA, Jean-Paul NOEL, Olivier BOREL, ?, Christian ROQUES, Lucien DENIS, ?, Dominique CUPERLY, Jean-Paul PESANT.

First row: Jozsef KLOSE, ?, Patrick REMY, Jean-Marc SCHAER, Serge MESONES, André TRUFFAUT, Paul BROT, Jean-Marc FERRERI.

This was not yet the well-known Auxerre of mid-1980s, but the foundational pillars were already at place and the team differed from most second division clubs: two Polish players provided experience, the former Polish national team goalkeeper Maryan Szeja and the father of world-famous Miroslav Klose – Jozsef Klose. Jean-Marc Ferreri would be French national team player in few years time. Some of the rest became well respected names. Guy Roux had more surprises in his sleeves too.

Rising Auxerre, but still unknown and not taken all too seriously. Like Tours, they had to face the challenge of every debutant the next year, but seemingly had better chances than Tours. After 75 years of existance Auxerre was going to play at top level. Father Ernest would have been very happy.

France II Division Group A

France with its own drama, if that is the word. Second division, still divided into two groups, was reshaped the prvious season and the same was following the end of 1979-80. Reasons are not clear, but again almost the whole Group A was moved to Group B and, correspondingly, the members of Group B – to Group A. Only Besancon and Angouleme remained in Group A and FC Paris and Thionville in Group B. Strange, but not new, and in any case the changes were for the next season. As for 1979-80, there was not much exciting chase in Group A. Three clubs ended far above the rest. At the bottom of the table was more interesting – the teams were relatively equal, but at the end ECAC Chaumont (18th) and Amicale Luce (17th) were relegated. Two relegated in this group, but three in the other – again, strange, and even more so – because of the following reshaping, two were relegated, but three promoted to Group A – and the other way around in Group B. But the top of the league mattered much more. RCFC Besancon finished 4th with 39 points. Those immediately above Besancon finished with 46 points, however.

En Avant Guingamp ended 3rd on worse goal-difference, it seems. It seems, because the second placed team is recorded with the same number of points and goal-difference must have been the dividing point.

Stade Rennes ended 2nd, but… they had 20 wins, 7 ties, and 6 losses. This makes 47 points, not 46. There is no indication for some penalty deducting a point from their record, so the only other reason would be a statistical mistake. Confusing that, for Rennes ended with better goal-difference than Guingamp and whether the points were real or not, they finished above Guingamp. But it was not important, because only one team was getting promoted and Rennes was not exactly a contender.

The group winners finished with comfortable lead of 5 points. 22 wins, 7 ties, 5 losses, 51 points. FC Tours reigned supreme this season. Much more than that actually: Tours won promotion for the first time – they never played top league in their history, so it was historic victory.

Their logo gives 1951 as founding year, but the club was much older – founded in 1919, although under different name. Which they changed, and then changed again to their present name. The city of Tours has Celtic roots and the name comes from the name of the settlers, belonging to the tribe or clan Turon. Hence the motto of the club, borrowed from the city’s motto. Sounds brave and proud, but the club was modest and remained modest. At last a victory.

A historic squad in terms of the club, but otherwise nothing much. Quite normal for second division club, which never played higher than that and not blessed with money. Excellent performance, perhaps helped by weak season of others, but this was not a squad strong enough to survive among the best. It was clear that new players were needed for the next year, so some of the heroes may stay only as second division heroes. Despite that, this was the greatest achievement of Tours to date.


Belgium the Cup


Title is title, but there is also the cup.

None of the big clubs reached the final, perhaps understandably so – one team underperforming, another – not at its peak, and the third perhaps too old to handle two tournaments at the same time. On the other hand, cup formats permit smaller clubs to go ahead. Waterschei and Beveren reached the final . Both clubs were nothing much in the championship and rightly so, given the squads they had. But… those were strong years for both finalists. Beveren were surprise champions the previous year and although it was clear that they were not able to stay on top, still they had good team by their standards, perhaps the best ever. Waterschei was similar in their own terms. The final was pretty much a clash of equals and Waterschei clinched 2-1 victory.


A great moment of triumph. One can run joyously without shoes.

Losers, but one should not be harsh on Beveren – losing the final was not a happy moment, yet, it was a success for a modest club like Beveren. They won the title just the previous year, but were not in position to fortify the team with strong new players. So the team remained the same – Jean-Marie Pfaff was becoming a big name, but goalkeeper, however great, is not enough to keep a team on top of any league. The other big name was the team’s captain Jean Jannsens – former national team player, already 36. Which spells out the predicament of Beveren… they depended on some foreigners – Germans Dieter Weichrauch (22) and Heinz Schonberger (31), and Dutch mid-fielder Wim Hokens (22), but they were anonymous players. That was all… this bunch managed to win the title in 1978-79, they played well – as much as they could – but without new and stronger players enthusiasm could not suffice for long. Beveren had no means for buying bigger names – playing the cup final was, therefore, continuation of a good run of good for a small club team. Continued success – Cup winners in 1978, champions in 1979, Cup finalists in 1980 – perhaps even more than such a squad was really capable of. Heroic squad, really. Rarely a club could have a long successful run with so limited team.

As for the winners, they were perhaps lucky not to meet one of the top 5 clubs of the country, but Beveren – an equal opponent. They had a real chance and used it.

So far K. Waterschei S.V. Thor (Genk) did not win anything – their greatest succes was losing the Cup final in 1955. This time they won – their very trophy, so the team became instantly legendary. In terms of the club itself, of course. Playing against Beveren helped, of course, but similarly to Beveren, Waterschei enjoyed their strongets ever period and maintained the good run for awhile. The team was not much, of course – typical Belgian squad of the time: not a single star, young or old. The most famous player was the Swedish national team member Per Olov Ohlsson, a fresh addition. Most of the team was together for year, including the German duo Heinz Grundel (23) and Klaus Pudelko (32). If anything, the players knew each other well and were used to play together. The real spur perhaps was the coach – the Dutch Cor Brom was hardly a great name, but he represented leading football school and coached Ajax before joining Waterschei in 1979. He utilized whatever potential this team had, perhaps even overachieving. Great success for Waterschei -a historic one. And also giving them the edge over their city rivals Winterslag.