England II Division

Second Division. Orient finished last – the league’s outsider with 39 points. Eight clubs were preoccupied with mere survival – two Welsh teams were unlucky.

Wrexham ended 21st with 44 points.

Cardiff City topped Wrexham on better goal-difference, but they were 20th and had nothing to cheer – relegated with Wrexham and Orient.

Bolton Wanderers, Shrewsbury Town, and Grimsby Town finished with 46 points each. They survived. Bolton was 19th.

Hard to think that Bolton was playing first division football only two years ago… Relegation was blamed for their fate: they were hit hard by dismal gates, having in the same time players on first division salaries. Money crisis plummeted them down. Dusan Nikolic had to go – and he returned to Crvena zvezda (Belgrade). Aging, but expensive Mike Doyle and Steve Whitworth were more bruden than help. There was no money for strong reinforcement. That was the reality… so 19th place was just fine.

Shrewsbury – 18th, and

Grimsby was 17th, but deserves a note: a fantastic ascent gave them the unique chance to be the first club climbing from 4th to 1st division in four years. Small and modest Grimsby was at the bring of making significant historic record. That was before the previous season started and they had only to finish it with promotion. But it was only a wishful thinking – Grimsby was not up to it, although they tried hard. 1981-82 was another and much more realistic story: the boys fought to escape relegation and managed to do it.

The last three clubs involved in the battle for survival were different… they all finished with 48 points, but two of these teams appeared weird in the company of Grimsby and Shrewsbury.

It was not so long ago when Derby County was one of the strongest in England, yet, it may have been some ancient story… The Rams lost their way, to put it politely. They were much more involved in controversies than winning matches after 1975 – and the rapid decline lead them not only to Second Division, but to the bottom of it. 16th this year and happy to be at this place – they survived.

And so did Crystal Palace – 15th. One is more used to see them in First Division, but Crystal Palace was notoriously shaky and unstable: one year up, the next down. Now they were just down and, by the roster, were going to stay down. A company of Shrewsbury, Grimsby, Cambridge, not of Liverpool and Arsenal.

Speaking of Cambridge United, they were 14th this season – the highest placed of the lowly survivalists. 48 points, but better goal-difference placed before Crystal Palace and Derby County. Not bad, though – not bad for a modest club.

Charlton Athletic was in solitary position – 13th with 51 points. Well bellow the comfort zone and closer to the lowly, yet, not in danger. Nothing special, but nothing unusual either – a typical season for the club at that time. Alan Mullery managed them – one of the recently retired stars, who was trying to establish himself as manager. The new decade brought new young crop of managers – the playing stars of the 1970s. There was hope in that – new blood. And as anything new, there was doubt: a great player is one thing, a great manager – something else.

The ‘comfort zone’ started right above Charlton, but went all the way up to the 3rd placed team, so it was not really ‘ a comfort zone’, where disinterested clubs existed in tranquility, but was a race for promotion. A race too much depending on money – rather, the lack of money – and current team’s shape.

Chelsea was the perfect example of the financial problems English clubs were plagued with at the time. They were fittingly at the bottom of the ‘comfort zone’ – 12th with 57 points. Impoverished, Chelsea was unable to build a strong team – the team was unbalanced, new players were badly needed, but without cash it was mission impossible. Hence, the strange squad – a bunch of experienced, but second-rate at best, players like Droy, Britton, and the Yugoslav goalkeeper Borota, surrounded with nobodies. Enough for Second Division mid-table position and nothing much. Take away the known names and… third division would embrace Chelsea. Keep the veterans and first division is out of question. And no other options… Chelsea was not yet hitting the bottom, but was heading fast to it.

Oldham Athletic – 11th with 59 points. The usual performance of Oldham, nothing different.

Blackburn Rovers, a place above Oldham because of better goal-difference, but, like Oldham – their usual. Blackburn faded away long time ago, settling into mid-table second-division club. First division was not even a dream.

Newcastle United – 9th with 62 points. A sad story of decline. Money were a factor, surely, but not the decisive one – the Magpies made huge policy mistake, neglecting their youth system more than decade ago. Their area was fertile on football talent, but Newcastle, reputed to have one of the best youth system in the country once upon a time, failed to put to good use its own talent. The result was slow decline of the first team, marked by the exodus of Malcolm Macdonald, Terry McDermott, Alan Kennedy, and Bobby Moncur back in the 1970s, without finding them suitable replacements. Meantime parents lost confidence in the club and thinking of better future for their kids started sending them to train elsewhere. Newcastle slowly sunk to second division and seemingly settled there without hopes and ambitions. The squad shows that, although the Hungarian Imre Varadi is missing and he was just just bought to add some flair to the attacking line. Chris Waddle is here, but he was still a nobody – and like many other local kids will move to better club soon.

Leicester City, pretty much similar to Newcastle, was 8th with 66 points. The exciting players of the early 1970s squad were gone long time ago. There were some fairly well known names in the current squad, but aging and past their peak. Gary Lineker was the only hope for the future, still trying to make impression, but still caged in second division.

Rotherham United was one of the nice surprises this season – Rotherham was one of the three newly promoted teams to the league and did not play second level football since 1973. Not much of team, but the work was the young manager Emlyn Hughes was impressive. Not having classy players made Rotherham erratic and clearly new players were needed to make the team consistent, but they finished 7th with 67 points, which was more than admirable.

Barnsley, the third newcomer this season, finished 6th, edging Rotherham on goal-difference. Like Rotherham, Barnsley was mediocrity for so long, that its mere return to second division was great success. But suddenly they run for promotion to the top league and were good at that for big part of the season. Then they dropped out, paying the price for having insignificant team. Still it was very strong season, largely due to yet another young manager – Norman Hunter.

QPR – 5th with 69 points. Well, here is a different team, perhaps showing why the likes of Barnsley and Rotherham had no real chance. Hardly well rounded squad, but having more strong players than most teams in the league – starting with veteran star Tony Currie and finishing with the up and coming Terry Fenwick. Perhaps not very well balanced team and still shaping to win promotion, but otherwise QPR had splendid season – for a second division team, that is.

Shefield Wednesday took a huge step towards full recovery this year – the squad was good, played well, and they were one serious candidate for promotion. But finished 4th with 70 points at the end – one point short of promotion… Then their manager said something sounding very strange today and even quite unusual in that distant past: losing promotion was a good thin for the club. The team was not ready yet for first division and one more year in the second division will give them a good chance to mature. A manager, preferring to stay in second division… and name was Jack Charlton. One of the bunch young managers making impression – Hughes, Mulligan, Hunter. Charlton was older than them, therefore retired earlier than the others, thus having more managerial experience, but he was still young manager – and doing well. Have been quite right about his squad too.

Norwich City clinched the third promotional spot with 71 points. Norwich had announced its aim to get promoted, but the road was more than rocky. The ambitions of the governing board clashed severely with the new manager Ken Brown from start. Even before start, for he was told at first that he was not going to be hired. And soon after the season started he was almost fired. The club sold its prime stars – Martin O’Neil and Justin Fashanu – a deal in exact contradiction of declared intentions. Dave Watson suffered from injuries – and he was not alone. Everything was against Brown, but he persevered and managed to add at least one classy player – Willie Donachie, bought from Manchester City. The season was difficult and the squad not really convincing, but at the end Ken Brown fulfilled the unseemly aim. Catching 3rd place a bit by chance, but promoted they were. Norwich was going back to top flight after been relegated in 1973-74.

Rock’n’roll rules! Elton John’s Watford was 2nd with 80 points. Promoted! Let’s step back just for perspective: in 1973-74, when Norwich City was relegated from First Division and Luton Town was just promoted to it, Watford had a relatively strong season – 7th in Third Division. The next year they were relegated to Forth Division. Nothing strange, nothing surprising – a club like Watford was not making news, it was enough to know they existed. Somewhere low. Then Elton John came on board and steady climb up followed, crowned by promotion. This was not a club spending money on big names, so the players were relatively unknown, but together for quite some time. Well, some names were going to become very well known soon. A great moment in the club’s history.

Luton Town – unquestionable champions of Second Division: 88 points from 25 wins and 13 ties. Only 4 matches lost. The best scorers – 86 goals. Their defense was not that strong, but that clearly suggested attacking approach and hunger for winning. Good work of their manager David Pleat, but the squad was not so great and suffered from inconsistency. Wonderful season anyway. But… there was a big ‘but’. Luton was promoted in 1973-74 only to be relegated back to second division an year later. They were seemingly best adjusted to second division football. There was talk the club are frightened of life in first division – and it was not just journalistic speculation: Luton clearly needed stronger additional players, but real class was out of their reach. They had to do with little and little was not going to be enough among the big boys. What possibly they could get? Raddy Antic, an aging and not a first rate Yugoslav. And it was difficult to keep even him… So, the best was just to enjoy winning the Second Division title – it was their biggest success. So far, Norwich had only this slim line of trophies: champions of Forth Division in 1968 and champions of Third Division in 1937. Meaning 1981-82 was their best season ever!


England III Division



III Division. Five teams at the bottom, bellow the level of the league, and four teams in a race for three promotional spots. Chester was the absolute outsider – 24th with 32 points. Bristol City was a place above with 46 points. Swindon Town lost a three-team battle for survival – 22nd with 52 points. Wimbledon and Walsall were tied with 53 points, but Wimbledon finished at the unlucky 21st place on worse goal-difference.

Above relegation zone the bulk of the league spread comfortably, one or two points difference determining positions.

Preston North End – 14th with 61 points: goal-difference placed them above Bristol Rovers, but bellow Portsmouth.

Chesterfield – a bit of a mystery now. They had wonderful previous season, when they came close to promotion, but finished 5th. The text of the picture confuses the seasons… in 1980-81 neither Fulham, nor Carlisle United played any part in the promotional race, both teams weak and laying low. In 1981-82 both teams were favourites, indeed, but Chesterfield was down – unless they played strong in the fall and gradually faded away: 11th with 64 points.

Brentford – 8th with 68 points. Nothing special, but if Chesterfield is compared to them why Chesterfield was a news? Brentford was not and they still finished higher.

Oxford United was in the news: they were at the brink of bankruptcy and disappearing for good. Then the controversial publisher Robert Maxwell stepped in and saved the club – out of gratitude, he was made chairman of the governing board of the club. Ian Greeves was appointed manager and the team improved at once – and the saga got its next chapter. Woolverhampton Wanderers noticed the manager’s work and snatched him. Maxwell bitterly protested, accusing the Wolves of breaking the gentleman’s agreement forbidding poaching of managers, Greeves of going back on his promise and letting down Maxwell personally – he said he would not have made the cash injection if he knew Greeves was going to leave. For his part, Greeves claimed he had no contract with Oxford, neither written, nor verbal. But the team, quite surprisingly, continued to play well after Greeves left – and finished 5th with 71 points. They played no part in the promotional race, but finished at the top of the bulk of the league – well done indeed. Oh, the cash injection saving Oxford from extinction? 120 000 pounds. Small change today… a week salary of a single player today. An average player, not a big star.

Hard race at the top between four teams. Lincoln City, the least famous of the quartet, lost – they were 4th with 77 points. Had the best defense in the league, though.

Fulham bested Lincoln City by a point and took 3rd place, thus, going up to II Division. It was a testimony to the good work of young manager – less then 2 years earlier Malcolm Macdonald was still one of the top English scorers. Cash crisis, plaguing English football, was taken philosophically by Macdonald – he was happy to reach promotion, not worried about not finishing 1st.

Carlisle United ended 2nd with 80 points. Like Fulham, they had better days in the past and were eager to climb back at least to the second level.

They were bested by Burnley, which also finished with 80 points, but had better goal-difference. Just a bit better – 66-49 Burnley to 65-50 Carlisle. The difference between champions and vice-champions and Burnley had been happy, naturally, but there was little grief in the Carlisle camp – promotion was most important and Burnley, Carlisle United, and Fulham got it.

England IV Division

England – business as usual, despite the gathering dark clouds of financial troubles many clubs were getting into. By now England was a curiosity: internationally, she had the most successful teams and the boring, constantly failing national team. The discrepancy, unfortunately, became the rule. But it was still exciting football at home.

IV Division. Nothing much…

Northhampton Town represented the lowest: they were 22nd in the 24-team league.

Aldershot – the mid-table bulk. 16th this season.

Hull City – one of the clubs, having better days – much better – in the past. Now – 8th and 30 points behind the the league champion! Well, not 30 – just 27 points behind. Astonishing difference.

The top 4 promoted as usual:

Bournemouth was 4th with 88 points – the lowest promoted team, but nothing uncertain about it: they were 6 points ahead of Peterborough United, which itself was 0 points ahead of the 5th placed Colchester United.

Wigan Athletic was 3rd with 91 points, behind Bradford City on worse goal-difference.

Sheffield United had no trouble winning the championship, excelling in everything: 96 points from 27 wins and 15 ties. 94-41 goal-difference. They lost only 4 matches. Champions… but 4th Division champions. A club wanting to climb back to its rightful place, but still far away from restoring its former class.


Italy. The Cup

The Cup final opposed Inter to Torino – an intriguing duel, for Torino reached the final for third year in row and so far lost two finals. Inter, naturally, was hungry for a trophy – it is easy to assume, that so famous club as Inter won the Italian Cup many times: in fact, they won it only twice so far. Torino won 4 cups. Another chapter of the great Milan vs Turin rivalry. Two-legged final still and the first match was in Milano. The hosts won 1-0. Seemingly, Torino had a good chance – but if it was another country and another football culture: in Italy 1 goal was a huge advantage. Used fully by Inter – they tied the second leg 1-1 and won the trophy.

Not many clubs in the world lost three consecutive finals, but the distinction is negative – three time losers is something to be ashamed of. Torino never lost by much – the results were almost exactly the same in every lost final – but they lost. Twice to Roma and now to Inter. One can really feel sorry for this team – so close… and so unlucky. But it was the end of the strong years of the club and the results strongly suggested that. Torino was running on the inertia of the 1970s, yet, it was downhill run. Unable to win anymore. No surprise here: only Zaccarelli and Pulici remained from the strong champions squad and both were over the hill by now. Danova, Dossena… good players, but nothing like the veterans when they were at their prime. The Dutch defender Van de Korput was strong addition, but let face it: he was not even close to star like Krol. Torino was going down… losing by little, but losing.

Unlike Torino, Inter looked fine – the squad was seemingly stronger than the team winning the Italian title not long ago. Bordon, Bergomi, Altobelli, Oriali, Baresi will be world champions in less than two months after winning the cup. Add fairly famous names and future stars – Serena, Marini, Gori, Rocca. And add Prohaska – the Austrian playmaker was one of the top in the world at his post and he solved the problem in midfield for Inter – they had no real chance of getting the leading Italian midfielders, but lift of the prohibition on foreign players instantly solved the problem. Yet, this squad was underperforming in the championship. Winning the Cup was a fine achievement, compensating for rather insignificant season, deep in the shadow of Juventus. And this trophy Inter very rarely won, so it was great – a 3rd Cup. Bravo!


Italy I Division

Serie A mirrored second division somewhat – one outsider, 9 teams practically struggling to avoid relegation. Six teams comfortably above, but only 2 involved in the title race. More or less, only 2 surprising performances. The usual abundance of ties – only 4 teams ended with tell than 10 and Napoli had the most, tying half of its total games – 15. Low scoring – 8 teams finished with less than a goal-per-game average. Only 2 teams reached the 40 goals mark after 30 matches played. Even the champions were far bellow 2-goals-per-game average. And one note referring to the vote for the European player of the year: Paolo Rossi played a grand total of 3 matches this season! How come he was voted best?

Como, the hopeless outsider. Last with 17 points. The only noticeable player was the Austrian defender Dieter Mirnegg, who came from MSV Duisburg (West Germany) for this season and left immediately after the season ended. Could be said that his move to Como was a big mistake, for he was never called to the national team after leaving MSV Duisburg, but, on the other hand, Mirnegg had remarkably long career – he debuted in 1973 and retired in 1995. Anyhow, he did not save Como.

Bologna finished 15th with 23 points. Certainly a season everybody there wanted to erase from memory. Bologna was not doing well for some time, but to be relegated? It was too much.

But the fate of Bologna was nothing compared to the third relegated team: Milan just returned from second division and it was expected to be at least a mid-table team. Still wounded by the Tottonero scandal, Milan had no great team, but was Milan, a mega-name! And the squad was not so weak, if compared to more than half the league. This was the true disgrace – the first relegation was administrative, but now… 24 points and second weakest attack. Quite a surprise.

Genoa survived with 25 points – 13th.

Cagliari was 12th on better goal-difference than Genoa’s.

With 26 points, Udinese finished 11th.

Standing from left: Genzano, Mei, Recchi, Verza, Schachner, Oddi.

First row: Filippi, Ceccarelli, Piraccini, Garlini, Lucchi.

Cesena – 10th with 27 points. Two more teams had 27 points as well, but better goal-difference – Torino, 9th.

And Avellino – 8th.

Catanzaro was 7th with 28 points – on top of the group preoccupied with survival. Not a single team of this big group had a positive goal-difference. Not a single team won 10 matches. 5 points divided the 7th from the 15th – it was a close race without a single minute of relaxation.

Ascoli enjoyed a wonderful season – they were the pleasant surprise this year. Usually, a prime candidate for relegation, but this time they soared to 6th place with 32 points. They were not a title contenders – far from it – and most likely a one-time wonder, but this was perhaps one of the finest seasons in their history. May be the best.

Inter was 5th with 35 points. Nothing much, really. Inter somehow was unable to restore its leading position, remaining rather shaky and inconsistent.

Napoli, with freshly recruited Ruud Krol, had a very strong season – may be even exceptionally strong – but still, coming out of the blue, more or less, they were unable to push really far. 4th place with 35 points, beating Inter on goal-difference. The trouble was, there was hardly anybody similar in class to Krol for something more and for continuity too.

Roma continued its ascent – 3rd this year with 38 points. Not ready yet for real run for the title, but coming close to its peak. Perhaps if they got rid of the old-fashioned by now pants the guy in the middle is wearing… Small details were still needed, a little refining.

The battle between Juventus and Fiorentina went head to head to the last. Fiorentina lost by a single point.

Fiorentina had of its best season since the 1960s and it was too bad they lost the title – it was wonderful squad and perhaps the only match to Juventus: Antognoni, Bertoni (Argentina), Graziani, Cuccureddu, Galli, Vierchovod, Massaro. A combination of experience and new talent, the right blend, the right number of stars… That was the time to win and the team did its best, but missed.

Standing from left: Scirea, Bettega, Brio, Zoff, Gentile.

First row: Marocchino, Cabrini, Prandelli, Fanna, Liam Brady, Furino.

Not the easiest victory of Juventus and not very convincing one either, but… predictable, expected, same old, same old. Juventus was the dominant Italian team for a long time now, very consistent, having the most versatile squad, making the right adjustments and not losing ground. Names, well known for 10 years now. Coached by Giovanni Trapattoni – may be at this time he was recognized as a great coach, becoming not a promising young coach, but a famous one, a leading coach on world scale. He used 13 players regularly – a very small number by today’s measures, but the right one at the time – a great team meant the same players on the field. Frequent changes suggested trouble. No trouble here – so far, the squad was adjusted and readjusted carefully and there was no reason to think that it will be different in the future: some old players clearly were going to exit – Furino, Bettega, Zoff. But Scirea, Gentile, and Cabrini were the solid backbone for the next seasons. The Irish great Liam Brady achieved something well beyond his reach in England – he became a champion. He was just the right addition, but also unlikely to stay, for even Italy was increasing the number of foreigners to two, Juventus wanted Platini and, as it turned out, Boniek, and there was simply no place for Brady. Paolo Rossi played only 3 matches this year – contributing nothing, really – but was expected to be a regular the next season. Prandelli, who is on the photo, was not among the regulars at all – he played just 8 times. Juventus had the team to continue winning. And the coach. Juventus had everything.

Italy II Division

Second Division or Serie B. 20-team league, mostly consisting of former first division members. Small fry, though. Two exceptions: Lazio, which decline after 1975 lead out of Serie A, and Sampdoria. However, one should be careful with Sampdoria: their familiar name was established later in the 1980s. They were still relatively unknown club, more likely to be found in the second division – the bigger local club was till Genoa. Anyhow, 4 teams were relegated and three promoted. One hopeless outsider this season and two more just hopeless. Ten clubs tried hard to avoid the dreaded the 4th relegation spot – that is, more than half the league was preoccupied with mere survival. But 7 teams competed for the top spots – not bad, a tough, if not particularly exciting, race.

Once upon a time Pescara was in first division, but those days were gone – tremendously weak, they were last in the league with 17 points.

Compared to Pescara, SPAL were giants with their 28 points. Which translated only into a meek and half-hearted battle for 18th place. Lost promptly… the great years of SPAL were very long ago, almost forgotten and it had been steady downhill pretty much since the mid-1960s. Now even second division was too much for them.

Brescia won the battle with SPAL with 31 points. Which hardly meant anything… not only they finished 18th , but had no chance to escape relegation almost from the beginning of the season. Their horrible season was a bit of a surprise, though.

Ten teams – half the league! – generally fought to escape the last relegation spot and at the end 2 points was the difference between 8th place and relegation. Goal-difference decided final places, including the 16th place, which meant going down to third level. Perhaps head-to-head records determined final positions, for goal-difference clearly was not decisive factor: four teams with 36 points, three of them with -7 goal-difference and one with -6. And that team went down…



Poor Rimini… they won 11 matches, 2 more than Pistoiese and equal to Cavese and Foggia. They outscored all their rivals and by far with 39 goals – the second best in this group, Pistoiese, scored only 31. They had the best goal-difference of the four… and they were 16th and out.

The luckiest of those 4 teams was Foggia – 14th. Almost joining Brescia on the way down, but surviving at the end.

Four other teams ended with 37 points, fretting to the end of course.

Cremonese was 11th and obove them was the only team with positive goal-difference finishing bellow 8th place. The name would be more than surprising today:

Lazio. 37 points, 38-35 goal-difference. In the middle of second division, but lucky to avoid relegation. Surprising today, but not so back then – Lazio was hardly an impressive name before 1970, more likely to play exactly second division than top flight, and the successful 1970s were more of an exception than the rule. But there were no new Cinaglias and Wilsons, coming from the foggy Albion, and the club sunk at the end of the decade – that is, for many, going back to where “The Eagles” belonged. And barely surviving even that. They were 10th.

A point above were two teams – well, this is already the upper half of the final table, but remember: 38 points was only 2 points more than what relegated Rimini had! Survival, not comfort.

Catania was 9th, losing 8th place on goal-difference.

And Sambenedettese was 8th – the highest placed of the those trying to escape relegation and the one of the best goal-difference among them: 38-33. They were, with Lazio, the only 2 teams of the lower 12 teams ending with positive goal-difference.

Standing from left: Zenga, Caccia, Bogoni, Cavazzini, Pedrazzini, Garbuglia.

First row: Speggiorin, Falcetta, Ranieri, Cagni, Colasanto.

Recognize a name? Well, nobody knew this guy yet. Walter Zenga – one could say he and his teammates did well this year. After all, they were 8th… but the final table looks prettier than reality: the boys could have been relegated just as easily.

A strange season – practically no comfortable and disinterested mid-table teams, but sharp division – 13 teams fought to avoid relegation and the other 7 – to get promotion. 6 points divided 1st from 7th. Six teams finished with equal points.

Palermo was last of the favourites – 42 points and 52-42 goal-difference. The photo is misleading – the ofiicial final table places them 7th, not 6th – and there was no real reason to be 6th, if goal-difference is considered – the higher placed team had better one. Palermo, however, scored the most goals this season and was the only teams scoring more than 50 goals in the championship. Which is quite telling… 52 goals in 38 games is nothing to brag about and that was the highest number.

Perugia was 6th – also 42 points, but their 37-26 record was just a goal better than Palermo’s: +11. Was that the final criteria is hard to tell – it was not at the bottom of the league, so why here? May be head-to-head results determined positions.

Varese was 5th with 45 points and 42-30. Again, worse goal-difference seemingly placed them lower than Bari.

Bari – 4th with 45 points and 47-33. They and those bellow them lost the race by little, by they did.

Sampdoria ended 3rd, losing second place on goal-difference. 47 points and 41-25. Not exactly great performance, one may think, but it was enough to get them promotion. And that was all that mattered – second league champions may be sweet, but much sweeter was to go up and they achieved that.

Pisa was second with slightly better record than Sampdoria: 45 points and 47-26. Well done.

And lastly – the champions. Hellas Verona. First with 48 points from 17 wins, 14 ties. 7 games were lost – more than double the number of Pisa, which lost only 3. Frankly, Verona – there was no reason to call them Hellas Verona yet – did not excel in anything, but squirreled most points somewhat and finished at the top.

Standing from left: Gibellini, Penzo, Di Gennaro, Lelj, Cavasin, Garella.

First row: Fedele (cap.), Odorizzi, Emidio Oddi, Manueli, Tricella.

There was no reason to pay much attention to Verona at the time – the league was not great, promotion was a matter of luck to a point, and Verona was a club nobody heard of. Great for them, but in terms of Italian football getting stronger… hardly anything optimistic. Verona looked like accidentally promoted team – one-time wonder at best, most likely to be relegated in the next season and forgotten. And a glance of the final table supported such a view: it was the usual doggy, boring, stifled Italian football from the late 1960s and the 1970s. Few goals and plenty of ties: only one team had fewer than 10 ties and this team was dead last. In the same time Pisa, 2nd and promoted to first division, tied 23 matches! Reggiana – 21! 13 teams scored 1 or less goal-per-game average. Not a single team managed to win 50% of their games – the highest number was 17 wins, shared by Verona and Sampdoria. So to see some nobodies winning the championship was hardly a positive sign – rather, it was a pessimistic sign, suggesting general weakness. Lazio barely escaped relegation, Brescia relegated… how good Verona could be in view of that? Not much. Some guys named Tricella and Di Gennaro? And who exactly were they? But it was fantastically happy ending at Verona, they went up – let them enjoy the moment. And prove pessimists wrong eventually.


Italy III Division

A glance at the UEFA ranking at the end of 1981 shows Italy quite low in the table, but there was a discrepancy: UEFA ranks countries on the base of 5-year calculation of teams performance in the European tournaments. Italy declined seriously during the 1970s, hence, they were down. On the other hand, the opening of Italian market to foreign players instantly increased the tarnished reputation – it was the place to be. There were no results yet and in purely football terms, the Italian championship was still quite poor compared to England and West Germany, but there was no doubt the class will increase. The win of the World Cup pushed Italian football ahead, but it was still in the unknown future – in the summer of 1981 it was largely the lure of big money, talks and speculations of further purchases of world-class players, generating more hype than results, hopes for the future. No immediate results and the championship showed the difference between hopes and reality. The Tottonero scandal still rocked Italian football, defensive tactics still ruled the game, scoring goals was still a rare heroic achievement. Italy was the place to be, the football was not one to watch.

Third Division or Serie C/1. Two leagues of 18 teams each, the top two teams promoted to Second Division. Some former first division clubs here, but not much. Vicenza perhaps should be noted: only a few years ago running for the title and playing in Europe, now down and out of sight. Permanently out, one must point out: they finished 4th in Girone A, thus remaining in the obscurity of third level football. Others did much better.

Monza finished 2nd and was promoted to second division. One point made the difference – they finished with 47 points, Modena and Vicenza with 46. It was a four-team race for two places.

Atalanta (Bergamo) won Girone A with 49 points. Important victory – third division was not quite right for them, the club wanted to climb back to big football and they did it – at least the first step. Well done.

Girone B was also a four-team race for two places, but seemingly a weaker league, judging by the participants. Ternana, Taranto, and Livorno played first division quite a long time ago and not very successfully at that – now they were nobodies and not up to the task.

Campobasso finished 2nd with 45 points and was promoted. Fine season for a team whose biggest dream could be second division. So far, the dream was coming true.

With 47 points Arezzo won the league. Another small team – winning the third division was the kind of a title they could win at best. Going up was wonderful, of course.

Well, these four were the new members of second division and only Atalanta was a know club, possibly with some ambitions bigger than keeping a spot there. For the moment – great for the winners.


West Germany. The Cup

Cup tournaments follow a drummer of their own, yet the 1982 final left little to imagination: Bayern vs 1. FC Nurnberg. The difference of class was quite obvious and a miracle was hardly possible. It was an old rivalry, yes, but already fading away. At least in the Bayern’s camp the derby was no longer quite a derby, but success was another matter. At the end, Nurnberg fought as best as they were able and the result shows it: Nurnberg – 2, Bayern – 4.

What was there to say? 1. FC Nurnberg tried hard, but it was a squad merely trying to escape relegation trying to outdo still one of the best teams in the world. One on one, Bayern outclassed the Nurnberg players by far and there was no chance. Bayern responded with 2 goals to each Nurnberg goal and that was that: a good effort, nothing else.

Bayern was the happy winner. It was important victory, for there was no title and a trophy was good to collect even as a compensation. Bayern never shied away from trophies and the cup was a trophy they were short of – it their 6th, but after a long, long time. Interestingly, Bayern won the Cup in 1970-71 for the last time – during all their great 1970s they never won it. So, at last. And unlike the championship or even the European tournaments, it was new experience for practically everybody: only Breitner played at this old last cup success. Rummenigge, Durnberger, Horsmann, and Kraus, who played a part in the glory years, all came along after 1971. That was the current vintage and although strong, it was a team in need of strong additions. But they won the cup and good thing too, for they lost the championship and the European Champions Cup final.


West Germany I Division

One thing about the Bundesliga – German football maintained the attacking philosophy and winning mattered most. Only 5 teams finished the season with 10 or more ties and every team scored higher than 1 goal-per-game average. But it was no longer the league to be in… Bundesliga was losing its charms – perhaps the reason the return of Franz Beckenbauer was not a bomb of a news. The Kaiser did not came back to Bayern, but joined Hamburger SV for what looked like his final season. He did not play much, yet he was not ready for retirement yet and had one last try across the ocean before quitting. On the pitch it was business as usual. Almost that. Two outsiders and two rivals for the title.

MSV Duisburg was last with 19 points. Fantastically weak season, but not a big surprise – they were going down quite steadily for some years. With their relegation, the original members of Bundesliga were further reduced by one.

With 21 points, Darmstadt 98 was 17th, thus ending its brief encounter with top level football. Nothing surprising and unlike MSV Dusiburg, with practically no chances for a return. A small club with no money for strong players – that was the bitter truth. Darmstadt was the team winning least matches this season – only 5.

Bayer (Leverkusen) was 16th with 25 points, ending in the relegation zone on worse goal-difference. So far, the Aspirins were only trying to keep a place in the Bundesliga, a far cry from the reputation they have today. Still in the building phase, so their low finish was hardly a news. But they were not out yet – the newly introduced promotion/relegation play-off was their last chance and they grabbed the opportunity by beating the 3rd in the 2. Bundesliga, Kickers (Offenbach), twice – 1-0 and 2-1. Barely survived, but survived.

Fortuna (Dusseldorf) finished above Bayer on better goal-difference – safe at 15th position. But there was little to celebrate: the peak of the team was obviously gone and one thing the club failed to do was to add new classy players when they were running high. Never a squad of stars, now they were sinking – their best players were aging and there was not a single great player behind Seel and Zewe. Relegation was looming in the future, perhaps very near future.

Karlsruher SC – 14th with 27 points. Expected… one of the clubs destined to inhabit the lower half of the table and fear relegation.

1. FC Nurnberg – 13th with 28 points. One of the ‘unsettled’ clubs, they were one of the usual candidates for relegation and escaping that, likely had a great season by their own counts. Remaining in the league was a success.

Same for Arminia (Bielefeld), the ‘double’ of Nurnberg – they were happy 12th with 30 points. No relegation – great!

Eintracht (Braunschweig) – 11th with 32 points. Like Nurnberg and Arminia and, therefore, quite happy to be out of relegation troubles.

VfL Bochum continued its rugged survival story – 10th with 32 points. Their usual place in the lower half of the table – a brave battle for survival against the odds, for they never had any stars and it could be said about them that Bochum was constantly counted among the relegation candidates. Since there was nothing really new about their team, the only news worth a note was the slight change of colours: usually, they used dark blue.

9th with 35 points, VfB Stuttgart. Hailed as one of the up and coming teams, full of stars in every line, Stuttgart was supposed to be a title candidate. Mid-table position was more than disappointment. But let say the team was still in the building process, not near its peak, so a sudden slip would not have been unusual.

Eintracht (Frankfurt) – 8th with 37 points and with second highest scoring record in the league – 83 goals. But atrocious defense – 72 goals scored in their net, only 5 teams had equal or worse defensive record, all of them in the relegation zone. Still counted among the leading clubs, but few were fooled: Eintracht was no longer really strong, they were running on inertia, slowly sinking. The good days was over, now decline settled. Joachim Low in the picture – he played this season for Eintracht, perhaps the pinnacle of his career as a player. 25 matches and 4 goals. Apparently, not very impressive, for he was back in second division the next year.

Borussia (Moenchengladbach) – in the exactly same situation as Eintracht (Frankfurt). One look at the squad is enough: hardly any stars left. Kleff and Mill getting older and only Lothar Matthaus a bright young player. Who was not going to stay for sure… down on the slippery slope, but inertia was still holding them – 7th with 40 points.

If Moenchengladbach was going down, the other Borussia was moving up – 6th with 41 points was not too impressive, but the team ended with the second strongest defensive record in the championship and definitely was a team considered promising. So far, everything was set right: a leading coach, Branko Zebec, and a good variety of players – well established veterans, Russmann, Abramczik, Votava, Sobieray, Geyer, bringing confidence to and aiding a group of local highly talented players: Burgsmuller, Freund, Immel, Tenhagen, Zorc. A team with a future, still not finished and polished, but going to be stronger and stronger for sure.

Werder (Bremen), not long ago down in the second division, obviously learned its lesson and was running high again – 5th with 42 points. A strange squad, really – largely dependent on oldish stars, who made their names elsewhere – Fichtel, Kostedde, and perhaps the Japanese Okudera, who established himself in West Germany, but it was already clear he was not going to be a major star. Just fine for Werder, though. Since the squad was particularly great, the coach was mostly responsible for the strong performance: Otto Rehhagel. Still young, but obviously knowing what to do, what kind of players he needed and how to utilize best the squad he had.

The enigmatic 1. FC Kaiserslautern had a fine season – 4th, thanks to better goal-difference, but with much promising squad than Werder. And a good coach too – Feldkamp. And an Asian player – the South Korean centre-forward Jong-Won Park. Unlike the Japanese Okudera and his compatriot Cha, Park left no memories: he was fielded at all.

Bayern – 3rd with 43 points. One more than Kaiserslautern and Werder. The real problem seemingly was defense – Bayern lost 11 matches, the most of all seven top teams. But they also won the most games in the league – 20 , having only 3 ties. It was all or nothing, quite a hazardous approach, considering the leaky defense. Since bronze medals does not really count in Munchen, alarm went off: goalkeeping in particular was unsatisfying and a remedy had to be discovered fast. It was – after the world cup – but this vintage, although strong and successful, never reached the great reputation of the squad from the first half of the 1970s.

Second – 1. FC Koln with 45 points. The championship race had a very strong tulip flavour: Rinus Michels vs Ernst Happel. Who of the great coaches, leading Holland to two consecutive silver medals at the World Cup would be stronger? But that was practically all to it – no Dutch player was involved in the battle. There were other stars and since World Cup is mentioned, champions – not silver medalists – were involved. Bonhof joyned Koln after returning from his spell with Valencia (Spain). No longer national team player, but big name still – and with him Koln had 2 1974 world champions: the other was Culmann. Add the plethora of national team players – Fischer, Schumacger, Allofs, Littbarski, Konopka, Woodcock (England), Botteron (Switzerland) – and Koln had stronger team than the one which won the West German championship in 1978. Since most stars were midfielders and strikers, one could expect weakness in defense, but precisely there Koln excelled with the best defensive record in the championship, allowing only 38 goals. Unfortunately, this team was facing a rival at its peak with longer and deeper squad. Michels lost to old familiar foe, battles going back to the beginning of the 1970s, when, however, Michels got the upper hand. Now he lost.

Bright new champions with 48 points, gathered from 18 wins and 12 ties. Only 4 matches were lost. 95 goals scored, 45 received. Ernst Happel did his magic again. Players did not like his methods before and there was no difference now, but the boozing since early morning Austrian made them winners and who can complain of that? Hamburger SV earned its 5th title. Franz Beckenbauer also won his 5th title. His move was a bit surprising, for he was always associated with Bayern – but he joined Hamburger SV, which at first was seen only as a last move of a guy too old to contribute to really big club, but perhaps able to help a weaker one. But HSV was not weak at all. Kaiser Franz was old, though… he played only 10 games and went back to finish his career in the USA. With him or without him, HSV were the team at the moment, almost at their peak. The other veteran – Peter Hidien – appeared only twice this season, the Yugoslav import Borisa Djordjevic, not a spring chicken either, played just 7 times. Nothing sentimental about Happel – his regulars were a tight group of current stars, not old over the hill veterans. “Young” perhaps is a wrong word – Hrubesch, Kaltz, Stein, Memering, Magath were not young at all – but all were at their peak as players and the rest of the regulars were younger: Lars Bastrup (Denmark), Jurgen Groh, William Hartwig, Holger Hieronymus, Dietmar Jakobs, Jurgen Milewski, Thomas von Heesen, and Bernd Wehmeyer. Young or old, all were experienced players and Happel utilized them more than well. However, it was no the best of this team yet – they lost the UEFA Cup. But never mind.

Here are the champions again: perhaps the first truly solid German team after 1976, a team of the kind Bayern and Borussia Moenchengladbach had.

Precious moment for posterity.

West Germany Second Division

The first season of the new 2. Bundesliga. 20 teams. The last 4 relegated, the top 2 promoted directly. The 3rd was going to a promotion/relegation play-off against the 16th in the 1. Bundesliga. No real newcomers – most league members were well established second division clubs for years. 9 were former top division members, at least one quite a famous club with long successful history. The former first division members were expected to compete for the top spots – and they did.

SpVgg Bayreuth finished 20th – last. Hardly a surprise. 22 points.

Freiburger FC was 19th with 23 points. Freiburg lost its derby – and with this relegation 2. Bundesliga was left without any local derby.

Wormatia (Worms) ended 18th with 24 points – and went down. Those three were really the outsiders this season – way bellow the rest of the league.

SG Wattenscheid 09 was 17th, the 4th team in the relegation zone. Unlike those bellow, the team fought and came just short a bit, finishing with 31 points – 2 less than the 16th placed. Down… but the boys were in luck, for another club got its license revoked by DFB and thus relegated. This saved SG Wattenscheid 09.

Union Solingen – 16th with 33 points. May be a lucky break, for Union was one of the candidates for relegation.

SC Freiburg – 15th with 34 points. Nothing remarkable, but better than their city rivals – at least, they were staying in the league. This may be a photo of either the previous or the next season, for it features one Joachim Low, who played first division football in 1981-82. Well, nobody was interested of such anonymous player back then and the name meant absolutely nothing. Today – everybody knows the name.

Bayer Uerdingen – 12th with 39 points.

Rot-Weiss Essen – 11th with 38 points, but better goal-difference than Bayer Uerdingen. The long painful decline settled. As it turned, there was no stop to that.

Fortuna (Koln) – the typical second-division club. 10th with 39 points this season. Mid-table position – neither bad, nor good – just firmly established in the second level.

Alemannia (Aachen) – the same as Fortuna (Koln). 9th with 41 points.

Hessen Kassel – 8th with 43 points. So far, a club of the same ilk as Fortuna and Alemannia.

Stuttgarter Kickers – a place above Hessen thanks to better goal-difference. 43 points and 7th in the final table, one more quintessential second-division club. 21-years old Guido Buchwald in his third season – not famous yet, only promising youngster.

SV Waldhof Mannheim – 6th with 44 points. One more best suited for second-division football club.

Hannover 96 – one of the unsettled clubs, constantly moving up and down. 5th with 45 points this year. The squad clearly shows why they had difficulties surviving in Bundesliga – simply, not good enough.

TSV 1860 Munchen – at last a team with some bite: Zander, Klinkhammer, Sidka, Wohlers. Add the 22-years old Rudi Voller, playing second division football for the last time. The team missed promotion – finished 4th with 45 points, but… was relegated. The reason was financial – DFB revoked their license at the end of the season and they went down automatically. Too bad… or may be too good, for may be that was the prime reason Voller to move to another club and to glory.

Kickers Offenbach – 3rd with 46 points. Increadibly bad goal-diference for a high-placed team: +3 – 70-67. Going to the promotion-relegation play-off in one, almost last, attempt to return to top division. Alas, the good years – the early 70s – were gone… Kickers lost both matches against Bayer Leverkusen – 0-1 and 1-2.

Hertha West Berlin – 2nd with 48 points and the best goal-difference in the league: +37. Second highest scorers after TSV 1860 Munchen – 84 goals. Hertha was among the likely winners of promotion before the start of the season and their ambitions were rewarded with strong play. But this was not a squad equal to most in the Bundesliga and the struggles the club was going through in the last few years were likely to continue.

And the champions – Schalke 04. Not at its best, certainly. And trying to rebuild along veterans like Nigbur and Janzon. For the moment – fine. 19 wins, 13 ties, only 6 losses, 70-35 goal-difference, 51 points. Champions of second division does not count much for a club like Schalke 04, but it was return to top flight and may be next year would be better.

So, in the first season of the new amalgamated second division Schalke 04 and Hertha won direct promotion and Kickers lost the promotion/relegation play-off. First observation of the new format? The old one had problems and now they were the same: not enough class, not really producing teams able to challenge former first division members. The top 6 in the league were former members of the Bundesliga and the most famous ones ended at the very top. Even if they had no great or even promising squads.