Czechoslovakia I Division

First Division was pretty much divided into three sections this season – one absolute outsider, fairly equal group of 11 teams, and 4 favourites fighting for the title. The dividing lines were not strongly pronounced, except for the outsider.

ZTS Kosice had terrible season, ending with just 14 points from 5 wins, 4 ties, and 21 losses.

May be the picture is not exactly form this season, but is from the period. Back in 1977 the club changed its name from VSS to ZTS – Czechoslovakian clubs were generally attached to industrial factories, so most likely the club was moved from one to another such factory, but no luck. Going down again… they returned to first division after winning promotion in 1977-78. Local rivals Lokomotiva were perhaps happy, but Kosice lost its local derby. On the other hand, Second Division was going to see a Kosice derby next year – ZTS vs VSZ.

Spartak Hradec Kralove finished 15th with 25 points and were also relegated. How was that is impossible to tell, for they and Dukla Banska Bystrica finished with absolutely identical records: 10 wins, 5 ties, 15 losses, 31-43 goal-difference. Very rare occasion, but Spartak went down for some reason.

Bad luck really, but the truth was sad – Spartak played much stronger role in Czechoslovakian football up to mid-1960s. After that it was just downfall to insignificance – the 1970s established it new lowly position. They managed to return to first division football in 1979-80, but lasted only one season. Going down right away, unfortunately.

The other newcomer for the season Tatran Presov enjoyed a swell season – they finished 8th. Really good for a perpetually ‘in between’ club, constantly moving between first and second division. The rest was more or less familiar, except for the low finish of Zbrojovka (Brno) – 12th and only 3 points above relegation. They were champions just two years ago, but were unable even to keep stable performance. Slovan (Bratislava) and Spartak (Trnava) were in sharp decline, already well known – Slovan finished 9th and Spartak – 10th. Right behind them was Inter (Bratislava) – like all Slovak clubs, declining, but more erratic.


Internacional was 11th this year. At least they behind Slovan, traditionally, the big Bratislava club, so it was ‘logical’ finish, although it was so only because Slovan had better goal-difference: Inter, Spartak, and Slovan ended with 29 points each.

Slavia (Prague) continued its seemingly eternal so-so performance, finishing 8th . The strongest Slovak clubs this years were Lokomotiva (Kosice) and Ruda Hvezda (Cheb), both ending with 32 points. Lokomotiva took 5th place on better goal-difference, continuing their solid period.

Wonderful season for Ruda Hvezda (Cheb), a club more often playing second division football. They were promoted in 1978-79, survived among the best the next year, and now in their second consecutive top flight season suddenly went high – 6th. One of their best years ever, thanks to managing somehow to get a bunch of good players: Miklosko, Chovanec, Hruska, Cermak. Of course, they had to keep the stars and that was a big problem for the small club.

Lastly, the favourites – all Czech clubs, three from Prague. Dukla, Sparta, Bohemians, and Banik (Ostrava). Sparta finished 4th, losing bronze medals on worse goal-difference.

Sitting from left: Miroslav Koubek, Zdenek Scasny, Zdenek Caudr, Kolar (?) – assistant coach, Jiri Rubas – coach, M. Sykora – masseur, Petr Slany, Milan Vdovjak, Miroslav Starek.

Middle row: Jaroslav Pollak, Frantisek Straka, Jaroslav Kotek, Tomas Stransky, Vaclav Kotal, Josef Horvath.

Top row: Bezkocka (?), Josef Raska, Jan Pospisil, Prostecki (?), Josef Jarolim, Konvalinka (?), Jan Berger.

This may be the squad for 1979-80 – Jaroslav Pollak apparently missed the 1980-81, which, given his age, may have been retirement (although he came back, played abroad and back in Czechoslovakia for a good chunk of the 1980s) – but the strong team was already in place: Jarolim, Berger, Straka, plus some not so well known players. However, the team was not ready for victory yet – just climbing up.

Bohemians (Prague) clinched bronze on better goal-difference – this was very strong period for the club and not ending yet.

Dukla (Prague) finished with silver – 2 points ahead of Bohemians and Sparta, but also 2 points behind the champions. Best scoring record in the league, but they tied 2 games, instead of winning them and because of that lost the title.

Banik (Ostrava) topped the league with 18 wins, 4 ties, and 8 losses. 44-19 was not the best record, but they had the best defensive record in the league by far. Second consecutive title!

Strong during the 1970s, consistent, even getting better with time. Perhaps not so different than their rivals in terms of stars, but they had enough: Vojacek, Knapp, Danek, Radimec, Licka, Nemec, Michalik, Rygel. Good team, 3 titles, two of them consecutive – Banik enjoyed their best time in the history of the club. Nobody knew this was their last success…

One more look at the champions, for the last time.


Czechoslovakia II Division Czechia

The Czech second division was clearer case: 2 leagues of 16 teams each, the winners going to a promotional play-off. Better known clubs too, for unlike the Slovak counterpart, a whole bunch of former 1st Division clubs played here now: LIAZ Jablonec, Skoda Plzen, Dynamo Ceske Budejovice, TZ Trinec, Sigma MZ Olomouc, VP Frydek-Mistek, and both group winners. Nothing really strong came out of the championship, however, and the final tables suggested a big change: may be one instead of two groups was coming, for 8 teams were relegated this season: Spartak Usti nad Labe, UD Pribram, Poldi SONP Kladno, VTZ Chomutov, Kovostroj Decin, CKZ Rakovnik, VTJ Tachov, and KZ Kraluv Dvur from Group A. And from Group B: Ostroj Opava, Slezan Frydek-Mistek, VCHZ Pardubice, Spolana Neratovice, CSAD Benesov, KSB Brno,TJ Gottwaldov, Tepna Nachod. If the division was moving to single-league format, the change was seemingly right: there was practically no competition – Sklo Union Teplica won Group A leaving LIAZ Jablonec 5 points behind and TJ Vitkovice won Group B leaving TZ Trinec 7 points behind. Those were the only clubs aspiring to go higher.

The promotional play-off opposed the champions and bitter battle: in the first leg TJ Vitkovice won 1-0 at home. In Teplice no team scored at all.

Moments from the second leg – the hosts attacked, but fruitlessly. TJ Vitkovice prevailed.

Sklo Union (Teplice), relegated from First Division in 1978-79 was unable to return to top flight.

TJ Vitkovice triumphed and moved up. Standing from left: Tylšar (org. pracovník), Pouba (trenér), Otoupalík, Vitula, Kořistka, Břenek, Sajdok, Kolář, Pardy, Kružberský, Šafránek, Janků (masér), Hrbáč (asistent)

Sitting: Bobčík, Stanovský, J. Knopp, Poledník, Pospěch, Z. Knopp, Ondrášek.

Not exactly a newcomers to first division, but their former record was spotty at best. May be better days were coming? Next season would tell.

Czechoslovakia II Division Slovakia

Czechoslovakia ranked 10th for 1980-81 ans11th overall by UEFA – the high end of the bulk of the ‘middle’ European countries. The new thing for the season was the permission of Czechoslovakian players to play abroad. Naturally, the first to go were veterans, as was the East European custom. Did not make much sense economically, but it was the usual political thinking, somewhat trying to dodge ideological formulas and imperatives. Since Czechoslovakia was just at the end of generational change, the export was not damaging local football, but selling veterans was not very lucrative and supplied at least one ridiculous case. The first crop of exported players was not large and involved former national team players, who shined at the 1970 World Cup and 1976 European championship – Karol Dobias (33 years old, Lokeren, Belgium), Jozef Moder (33, GAK, Austria), Koloman Gogh (32, VOEST, Austria), Ladislav Petras (34, WAC, Austria), Alexander Vencel (36, SK Slovan Wien, Austria), Ladislav Kuna (33, Admira, Austria). The most curious case was Frantisek Vesely, 37 years old, and sold to Rapid (Austria) instead of Antonin Panenka – some say it was a package of the two, on which the Czechs insisted in order of providing some foreign income to otherwise unsellable veteran, but Panenka joined Rapid the next year. The other curious transfer was Alexander Vencel – not so much because of age, but because of the club he moved to: lowly Slovan (Vienna) has a name suggesting emigrant ties and such a community was not a friend of the Communist Czechoslovak state. Why there? Who knows. There is a bit of discrepancy between the year of official permission of Czechoslovakian players moving abroad and some earlier professionals: Jozef Adamec, for instance, played for same Slovan (Vienna) since 1977 and Jan Pivarnik joined ASV Kitsee in 1979 – both may have been refugees, as some other players of earlier years: the official permission obliterated such history, but one thing was clear – those sold abroad went to small clubs, some tiny. No surprise, given their age, but it was also the familiar East European practice: at first they moved carefully, selling players over the hill partly to see how such thing would be taken at home. Political reasons were most important, not the actual financial gains. But the door was opened.

The other interesting things concerning this season were the Cup and the Second Division. For many years the Czechoslovak Cup opposed the winners of the Czech and the Slovak cups – seemingly, the tournaments were amalgamated at least at some stage and the final no longer opposed strictly Slovak to Czech club. The Second Division remained divided between the two federal republics, but how many groups the second level had? The Czech division had two groups, may be going to be just one after this season, for every team finishing lower than 8th place was relegated. Slovakia most likely also had two groups – otherwise there was reasonable explanation for missing teams, including the promoted in 1979-80 one – but only one table is available now and no other group is mentioned. The mystery builds on 1993, when the old federation cracked and gave birth to two independent countries – after that the old second division made no longer sense to football statisticians. Anyhow, in real time the second level was not all that important, for really small clubs played there. But it has to be mentioned, because of the 2 promoted teams.

Slovakia first, for it is the true mystery: Tatran (Presov) was promoted in 1979-80, but in the ‘Slovakian People’s League’ there was no Tatran. Yet, the tenor of an article observing the 1980-81 championship is about one league, not two. 16 teams in it, most unknown outside the country. The only more or less known club was ZVL Zilina, for they played often first division football – they were down on their luck, however. Of the others perhaps one team should be mentioned:

Third row: L. Majthényi, J. Kováč, T. Velický, J. Zabloudil (masér/gyúró/masseur), V. Horváth, V. Sipos, T. Végh

Middle row: P. Leškiv, L. Tóth, J. Szikora, J. Lainc, V. Hrivnák (tréner/vezetőedző/coach), T. Lelkes, K. Krištof, J. Majoros, M. Sill

First row: J. Brosz, J. Lépes, T. Domonkos, Š. Tősér, B. Dudás, G. Nagy, J. Audi, D. Horváth

DAC Dunajska Streda, a border city, largely populated by Hungarians, was nothing so far, but this club was soon going not only to reach first division, but to make quite an impression there. Some of the players here were to soar high as well. For the moment – the typical second division club: nobody ever heard of it.


Moments from the clash between DAC Dunajska Streda and the leaders Petrzalka.

To a point, the said of DAC applies to the winners – ZTS Petrzalka.

Sitting: Šimurka, V. Chovanec, asistent trénera Kasan, vedúci mužstva Sedlár, Kadák a Morávek. Middle row: masér Smetana, Pochaba, Tichý, Švirloch, Jánoš, Beseda, Zrubec.

Third row: Pavlovič, Priesol, Gerič, Sopko, T. Chovanec, Tóth, Šoltés.

A bit better known, but just as a name – if they played larger role in Czechoslovakian football, it was not only minimal, but also so long ago nobody remembered it. They won promotion, which was fantastic achievement, but questions emerged long before the championship ended – was Bratislava able to support 3 first division clubs? The problem is location, not clear even now – Petrzalka sometimes is considered Bratislava club, sometimes – not. Traditionally it seems to be separated from the city proper, just like Viktoria Zizkov us hardly ever mentioned as a Prague club, but is referred to the neighbourhood on which it is located. The close proximity, however, raised the question for the simple reason how many good players such a team could have when bigger clubs are just next door. But never mind doubts – ZTS Petrzalka won the Slovakian championship and moved up, a great occasion for joy.

DDR the Cup

Stasi ruled the championship, but not the Cup. Perhaps they did not want the Cup; perhaps iron rule, however strong, cannot penetrate a cup format, where not a whole season, but a single match is most important. Anyhow, the finalist this year were Lokomotive (Leipzig) and Vorwarts (Frankfurt/Oder) – technically, the clubs with no so strong championship season. One strong and stable for year, the other – up and coming, eager to restore its leading position. Experience prevailed and easily at that: Lokomotive won 4-1. It was almost a copy of the 1975-76 cup final: same goal-difference, almost the same players. This time Vorwarts managed to score a goal, that was all.

Lokomotive got the Cup – their 3rd Cup and also their 3rd overall trophy.

Well, Vorwarts were serious about coming back, but clearly were not ready yet. They had good players – Geyer, Probst, Otto – but not as many as the other leading clubs. They needed fine tuning, more experience, some new players. All for the future – not bad for the moment, but still only that.

Lokomotive were rightful winners, for they had superior team, but the real importance of their success was elsewhere and not just because they compensated for a relatively weak season. To a point, Lokomotive was the underdog among the cluster of leading East German clubs: the never had many stars, compared to the others – they were rather solid team, made of second-tier players. Thus, the title was always out of their reach, but a cup format was just right: a bit of luck, a bit of this and that, and they could eliminate otherwise a stronger and starrier opponent. So, no matter what, a victory of Lokomotive was lovely for it was a victory of the underdog.

DDR I Division

The East German First Division was the same as ever – whatever different this season, it was only nuances. Four clubs made the outsiders group, but no big shake up – the better known clubs still survived: with 18 points each, BSG Sachsenring (Zwickau) and BSG Wismut (Aue) finished safely at 11th and 12th positions.

BSG Chemie (Bohlen) finished 14th and last with 16 points. It was expected – they were promoted for the first time in 1976-77, barely survived in their debut first division season, relegated 1978-79, promoted 1979-80. At most, Chemie was trying to become one of the ‘in-between’ clubs, but otherwise – prime candidate for relegation.

With 17 points BSG Stahl (Riesa) ended 13th and also relegated.

Same as Chemie (Bohlen) – true, they had longer and better first division history, but essentially ‘in-between’ club at best. Relegation was rather the rule, not the exception.

Five clubs were typically just mid-table clubs, not worrying about relegation, not thinking for a place higher than 5th.

1.FC Lokomotive (Leipzig) had a relatively weak season, for they were normally among the best teams, but still they topped the mid-table teams, finishing 6th with 28 points.

The names here were familiar, the same clubs year after year, with minor internal shuffling.

FC Rot-Weiss (Erfurt) finished 7th, which perhaps was a good season locally, but nationally – nothing suggested real improvement.

FC Hansa (Rostock) – 10th with 21 points – was a bit more interesting: the 1970s were terrible decade for them. They were promoted for N-tieth time the previous season and managed to survive. Not a great performance, but may the vicious circle ‘relegation-promotion-relegation’ was about to end.

Well, when 9 of the league members are taken aside, only 5 remain – nothing new, such was the predicament of East German football. Lokomotive (Leipzig) was somewhat outside this group, but it was clear that the club suffered only a minor temporary slip. On the brighter side was FC Vorwarts (Frankfurt/Oder) – 31 points and 5th place.

Once upon a time the Army club was the leading one in DDR, but their almost dominating years ended in the beginning of the 1970s, pretty much with their relocation from Berlin to Frankfurt/Oder. The club sunk to second division. In 1979-80 they won promotion and now they were not fighting for mere survival, but climbed high. It looked like Vorwarts was restoring its leading role, only they were at still early stage and better year was about to come. However, times changed… and Vorwarts was never to win a title again.

SG Dynamo (Dresden) was 4th , but it would be a mistake to say they were going down: perhaps a title contender this season, but solid as ever, losing bronze medals only on goal-difference. The team, however, was shaken by a scandal – it did not come to press coverage at the time, but in January 1991 three stars were arrested and brought to trial. Gerd Weber, Peter Cotte, and Matthias Muller were arrested at the airport, just before the DDR national team was leaving to tour South America – the players planned to escape to West, but were uncovered. Weber was sentenced 2 years and 3 months in jail, the other were not, but were expelled from Dynamo (Dresden), banned from the national team, and extended bans from playing any level of organized football – for DDR officially did not recognize professional sports – were slapped on them. Considering the tremors of such political scandal, Dynamo actually performed very well.

1.FC Magdeburg (Magdeburg) ended with bronze medals, thanks to better goal-difference. Like all leading clubs, they maintained their class without any sign of erosion. About 8 former and current national team players here, lead by the top East German striker of the 1970s and one of the all-time best players, Joachim Streich, who was the top scorer of the league for a third time.

FC Carl Zeiss (Jena) finished 2nd with 36 points: 2 points ahead of Magdeburg and Dynamo (Dresden), 3 points behind the champions. Best defensive record in the league – they allowed only 29 goals.

Top row, from left: Dietmar Sengewald, Gerhard Hoppe, Hans-Ulrich Grapenthin, Detlef Zimmer, Rudiger Schnuphase.

Middle row: Hans Meyer – coach, Eberhard Vogel, Ulrich Oevermann, Andreas Bielau(?), Jurgen Raab, Martin, Topfer, Helmut Stein – assistant coach.

Front row: Wolfgang Schilling, Dieter Noack, Konrad Weise, Andreas Bielau(?), Lutz Lindemann, Jorg Burow.

On the surface – typical and no big deal: Carl Zeiss, like all the favourites, had a large number of former, current, and emerging stars, thus able to stay on top. An excellent international season, culminating at Cup Winners Cup final perhaps excused them from really competing for the title. But that was only on the surface – reality was already different, increasingly becoming whispered about: no matter how good were other teams, including Carl Zeiss, the title was reserved for only one club.

BFC Dynamo (Berlin) won its 3rd consecutive title with 39 points. They won 17 matches, tied 5 and lost 4. Goal-difference: 74-31, the only team scoring above 60 goals this year. Plain numbers tell all? On the surface, they did.

Champions again – three years in a row, and the future looking very bright:

Looking at the squad, two things immediately bring attention: first, the team was very young, unlike the other leading clubs. With their average age of 23.4, these guys were going to be a factor for the next 10 years. Only 2 veterans – Reinhard Lauck and Frank Terletzki, and if Lauck was aproaching retirement, Terletzki seemingly was just arriving at his peak as a player. Second, these were the up and coming stars of East German football – apart from 2 veteran national team players, Lauck and Hans-Jurgen Ruidiger, the rest were just starting their national team career, but almost all of them already played for the other national team formations, those under 23. So much for purely football advantages. The real ones were outside the pitch, and by now at least in East Germany, people were not only suspecting – they were sure what was going on. Dynamo belonged to the Police and not even in a brod sense, but to the Secret Police, the ominous Stasi. Not only the club was able to get the top players – the Stasi ensured the success by clout, direct interference, and threats. After all, it was Stasi arresting and putting on trial the three stars of Dynamo (Dresden). It was clear that Stasi had a long-term intentions for its club and no matter what, Dynamo (Berlin) was designated winner for years to come – even the Army was unable to compete, Stasi ruled. So, no matter how good and promising this Dynamo squad looked like, their qualities really did not matter – they were going to win simply because Stasi ordered so.


DDR II Division

DDR – the clubs were ranked 7th for 1981 and also 7th in the 5-year table concerning the number of teams a country had to play in the next UEFA Cup. The national team, however, did not rank that high, routinely missing World and European finals. To a point, DDR passed its peak – 1974-75 – but the new changes in the game itself were quite suitable for the straight no-nosense, physical, tough football, which emerged in the late 1970s and was to dominate the 80s. High ranking internationally, but hardly anything new domestically. The Second Division was still more of an appendix than anything else: the difference in class continued to be so great, that hardly anyone expected promoted teams to last more than a season or two among the best. And speaking of the best – they were sharply divided too. But Second Division – divided into 5 groups, the winners going to promotional play-off, the best two promoted. Usually a few former members of First Division competed for promotion. Occasionally, one or two of those missed the boat.

This year Chemie (Leipzig) failed to run for promotion, but this was rather the exception than the rule.

The winners of the five groups were: BSG Energie (Cottbus), BSG Chemie Buna (Schkopau), 1. FC Union (Berlin), BSG Schiffahrt Hafen (Rostock), and BSG Motor (Suhl). The final tournament set the record straight: Motor (Suhl) obviously was not at the same level as the rest and finished last.

Motor was unable to win even a single match, finishing with 3 ties and 5 losses.

Schiffahrt Hafen put a fight, but was not a real contender – they ended 4th with 3 wins, 1 tie, and 4 losses.

Union (Berlin) perhaps disappointed: as freshly relegated from First Division, they were expected to be stronger than the rest and climb up again. But they finished 3rd with 3 wins, 2 ties, and 3 losses. This opened the door for a surprise:

BSG Chemie Buna (Schkopau) finished 2nd with 4 wins, 2 ties, and 2 losses, thus promoted. Parctically unknown club, which appeared in second division in 1971-72, when the second level championship was enlarged – and precisely because of that. Chemie Buna was relegated immediately, but came back after one third division season and this time not only stayed, but gradually climbed up the table. 1980-81 was their best season ever: they won their group and earned promotion. The club never played first division football before, so promotion was great achievement.

Energie (Cottbus) topped the promotional play-off with 5 wins, 2 ties, and single loss – obviously, the strongest team among the candidates.

Third row:Karl-Heinz Jahn, Bernd Müller, Robert, Reiß, Klaus Pohle, Bernd Mudra.

Middle row: Andreas Göhlich (Co-Trainer), Dieter Schulz (Cheftrainer), Ralf Lempke, Uwe Weller, Bernd Kulke, Peter Zierau, Michael Braun, Dr. Klaus-Dieter Schubert.

Crouching: Petrik Sander, Roland Balck, Rolf-Dieter Kahnt, Andreas Wendt, Hagen Wellschmidt, Bernd Deutschmann.

Energie was a small club at the time, one of the ‘unsettled clubs’, constantly moving up and down, so at least they were typical winner of promotion. However, they played First Division football for the last time in 1975-76, so it took them quite a long time to move up again – which was great for their supporters. Apart for that, the next season would really tell how good were both promoted clubs – Energie had better chances for survival than Chemie Buna, but if only compared to the absolute newcomer to top league.

Belgium the Cup

The Cup final reflected the championship – the second best teams reached the final in one last attempt to prove their worth: Standard vs Lokeren. The final was unquestionable triumph of the up and coming younger team, which may not have been ready to win the championship, but was very strong indeed – Standard won 4-0.

Lokeren finished twice second-best, which was rightful testimony for the real class of the team – it was just that: second-best, not a winner.

Standard had a lot in its own favour: bright squad and great coach – Ernst Happel turned everything he touched with his bad temper and brandy glass into gold. Feyenoord, FC Brugge, Holland, now Standard. Too bad this was last year coaching Standard – he was moving to new and greater conquests. Plenty of talent here, both domestic and foreign, slightly younger players than Anderlecht’s squad, a team with a future. A second life for Ralf Edstrom, who returned to the spotlights after what seemed to be steady decline. Wonderful Eric Gerets.

May be the team needed one or two finishing touches, but for the moment – 4th cup, their first since 1966-67. Also their biggest success since 1970-71 – clearly, Standard was back at last.

Belgium I Division

The Belgian First Division showed nothing new in terms of emerging wider competitiveness – the leading clubs were the same,which defined the league during the 1970s, with one, and clearly temporary at that, exception: FC Brugge had a relatively weak season. The only mystery was at the bottom of the table.

Berchem Sport was the absolute outsider – 18th with 19 points, but it was no surprise at all. Relegation was more or less expected and normal.

The mystery was about the second relegated team.

With 24 points R. Beringen FC finished just above Berchem Sport – 17th – and had to be relegated. But it was not.

Instead, Beerschot VAV (Antwerpen), 15th in the final table, went down. Why is not clear – unless there was a relegation play-off. Lucky break for lowly Beringen and the city of Antwerpen lost its derby, at least for the next year.

Nothing really strange in the league – minor moves up or down among the bulk of not very strong teams. The only drop happened to FC Brugge – 6th place this season with 37 points.

Third row from left: Birger Jensen, Walter Meeuws, Dirk Ranson, Patrick Verhoosel, René Vandereycken, Zoran Filipovic, Philippe Vande Walle.

Middle row: Han Grijzenhout (coach), Eddy Warrinnier (kine), Paul Courant, Jan Sörensen, Leen Barth, Jan Ceulemans, Georges Leekens, Istvan Magyar, Raymond Mertens (assistant-coach).

Sitting: Laszlo Balint, Jos Volders, Fons Bastijns, Danny Vandenhende, Luc Vanwalleghem, Jacky Debougnoux, Gino Maes, Pettri Kupiainen.

The slip was clearly temporary and most likely due to rebuilding – FC Brugge aged and had to change generations, almost always a problem, at least for awhile. One thing which perhaps made FC brugge shaky this year seemingly was the absence of new bright Belgian talent: the local stars, Jan Ceulemans included, were not new rising boys. Foreign players seemingly were compensating for that and, whether experienced veterans of the league, or new recruits, they also aging players – Birger Jensen, Leen Barth, Laszlo Balint, Istvan Magyar. Jan Sorensen and Pettri Kupianen were not what one may call a star, and Zoran Filipovic, perhaps the most valuable foreign asset, most likely was not going to last. However, in Belgian context, FC Brugge had more than enough class to return quickly to the top.

RWD Molenbeed finished 7th, but the club was slowly slipping down for some time, so nothing surpirsing. Second row: Borremans, Ruiter, De Bolle, Desaeyere, De Cubber, Jansen, Olsen, Cnops, Bogaerts, Deleu ;

Sitting: Devriese, Erkens, De Kip, Boskamp, Cneudt, De Wolf, Martens, Gorez, Luyckx, Soors.

Like it or not, RWD Molenbeek suffered from its predicament – the club was not able to compete with financially stronger clubs, particularly with local rival Anderlecht, and depended on players no longer needed in other teams: Ruiter, De Cubber, Boskamp. They tended to be older and beyond their peak, hence, the club struggled to maintain mid-table position only.

SK Beveren was still running high, but they were even more limited than RWD Molenbeek, so the 4th place was more of an inertia. The strong teams were 3, all of them familiar. Standard (Liege) finished 3rd with 42 points.

Standing from left: ? , Edstroem, Preud’homme, ? , ? .

Crouching: Voordeckers, ? , ? , Renquin, Gerets, Tahamata.

For the moment, just overcoming Beveren, but a team with plenty of talent and potential – not at its peak, though, so they were not a real factor this season.

Lokeren finished comfortably 2nd – not competing for the title, but without a rival for the second best either – 46 points left Standard 4 points behind.

Now, Lokeren was among the stronger Belgian teams for the most of the 1970s and still maintained their position – a good team, but not really a team capable of running for the top spot. It depended largely on increasingly aging foreigners, particularly on once upon a time written off Polish great Lubanski. His compatriot Grzegosz Lato eventually joined the club, but he was not getting younger either, and the Czechoslovak star of the 1970s Karol Dobias was 33 when he came to Lokeren before this season started. The Islander Gudjohnsen was building a good reputation, but he was never a big star, and Preben Elkjar-Larsen was still trying to establish himself, his fame would come later in the decade and not with Lokeren. A good time, but getting stronger was impossible – maintaining good performance was the best possible.

Which left one club dominating the championship. Anderlecht had an easy season, without a real rival. They sailed to yet one more title with 26 wins, 5 ties, and only 3 losses, fantastic goal-difference – 83-24, and 57 points, which was 11 more than what Lokeren managed.

Nothing new under Belgian sun – 17th title, although it was their first after 1973-74. One name is missing here – Maertens is on the first row, between Vercautern and Nielsen. Admirable job for coach Tomislav Ivic, who was still building his European reputation and perhaps this season was the true point of recognition. As usual, Anderelcht was a blend of domestic and foreign stars – the Danish Morten Olsen and the Yugoslav Peruzovic were not young players, but the fitted well. Perhaps the emphasis was too much of foreigners and young Belgian talent was absent, but Anderlecht was the most resourceful Belgian club, so it was just a matter of need and time to get rising local star. This may not have been the most impressive squad, but it was one of the easiest victories of Anderlecht.


Belgium II Division

Belgium was enjoying fine turn of a decade: vice-champions of Europe and at club level – ranked 12th for 1981, but 5th for the more important 5-year table, kept by UEFA. Behind the numbers was inevitable reality – no matter how great a generation was, Belgium was small country, and, including foreigners, there were no more than 100 classy players or 4-5 stronger clubs. Nothing new and a look beyond those few strong teams the picture was just as it ever was: not so great. That was why only the champion of Second Division was directly promoted and the second promotional spot was decided by play-off tournament. The lower league was sharply divided – two absolute outsiders at the rear end: ROC Montignies s/S. – 15th, and SK St.-Niklase SK – 16th and last, both not only with 17 points, but with exactly the same goal-difference – 27:54. Since both clubs were going down to third level, final positions mattered only for the record – number of wins decided that: ROC had 5 – 2 more than St.-Niklase – and got the next to last place. Above them were three clubs with 25 points – KFC Diest, 14th, RC Jet de Bruxelles, 13th, and KRC Mechelen – 12th. In the safe middle part of the table all was placid enough up to the top 5 teams – those from 2nd to 5th place qualified for the final promotional play-off. Charleroi was perhaps a bit unlucky, finishing 6th with 32 points. The lucky ones were KV Mechelen – 5th with 33 points, SC Hasselt – 4th with 34, KSK Eendracht Aalst – 3rd with 37, and RFC Sérésien – 2nd with 40 points. Technically, it looked somewhat unfair to RFC Seresien, for they had strong season and finished clearly above a whole bunch so-so teams, but rules are rules, and they had yet to earn promotion. Which was not to be, for RFC Seresien lost steam and finished last in the round robin play-off tournament. Just the opposite happened to KV Mechelen, the weaker team in the championship – now they put a fine effort and finished comfortably on top with 3 wins, 1 tie, and 1 loss.

Standing from left: Freddy Verbelen, Stanley Brookes, Mark Talbut, Gustavo Lisazo, Dirk Crabbé, Henk van Rooy, William Janssens, Francis Spinnael

First row: Ronny Lambrechts, Robert Immens, Marc Decoster, Dirk Mertens, Bruno Charels, Karel Kesselaers.

Not a squad to brag about, but happily promoted.

That left the winners: KSK Tongeren practically had no rival this season – 18 wins, 9 ties, and 3 losses, 63-26 goal-difference, and 45 point – the nearest pursuer was 5 points behind. Going up again, but the real test would be next season. Same for KV Mechelen.


France the Cup

St. Etienne had a great chance for celebrating a double this year, for they reached the Cup final. Winning the cup was quite important, for it was elusive trophy for ‘the greens’: the last time they won it was in 1975. The moment was perfect – Bastia was the other finalist and they had a rather weak season. Surely Platini and company would won easily… but no! Bastia fought bravely and prevailed 2-1, winning their first Cup against odds and reason.

St. Etienne as they lined up before the final, which looked like mere formality: standing from left: Gérard Janvion, Patrick Battiston, Jacques Santini, Bernard Gardon, Christian Lopez, Jean Castaneda

Crouching: Johnny Rep, Laurent Roussey, Michel Platini, Jacques Zimako, Jean-Marie Elie.

Well, the lost final perhaps showed that this new St. Etienne was not yet the finished product, not ready to truly dominate the French football.

Brave Bastia not only upset the big guys: they won their very first – and so far, only – trophy. May be the team, reaching the UEFA Cup final in 1977-78 is considered legendary outside France, but these guys are the real club legends, for they won, not only played a final. Compared to St. Etienne, they wee almost nothing. They were also less famous squad than the UEFA Cup finalist – there was no world class star among them, Rep was playing against them now. In fact, they had famous players earlier – Rep and Dragan Djajic before the Dutch striker. Now… Rajkovic was not first rank Yugoslavian player, Roger Milla so far nobody heard of outside Africa – he was not a major name in France. Papi, Orlanducci, Hiard, Lacuesta… good, but second tier players – local stars surely, but no more. It was a great victory of the underdog. Nothing wrong with that: Bastia had something to put in its trophy room at last.