Holland I Division

The decline of Dutch football was perhaps best pronounced this very season. And very likely it was the bottom: the national team did not qualify for the World Cup finals, not a single club was in great shape, and the championship was not competitive. In terms of ups and downs on club level, Feyenoord was clearly down. The pleasant surprise was the newcomer Haarlem. Apart from that even the top teams had plenty of problems. Most of the league was pretty much equal and was not concerned either with winning, or losing. Three outsiders at the bottom – De Graafschap, last with 12 points; FC Den Haag – 17th with 13 points; and MVV Maastricht – 16th with 23 points. Down and out.

PEC Zwolle finished 15th, but 3 points ahead of MVV, so they were not really in danger of relegation for a good chunk of the season. Standing from left: R. van Wijnen (fysiotherapeut), A. Raven, Y. Hamming, J. Hendriks, I. Wildenburg, R. Jans, G. van Moorst, R. Israel, A. van Geffen, trainer F. Korbach.

Sitting: G. Fuhler, R. Ijzerman, A. Booy, G. Visscher, C. Riemens, P. v.d. Hengst, J. Holshuysen, A. Kamstra, K. Drost, ass.trainer G. Verword.

One good veteran often made the whole difference – with Rinus Israel PEC was weak, but out of trouble. Without such a player, MVV was relegated.

Twente was 12th with 31 points. Standing from left: J. Steenbeeke (verzorger), A. van Gerven, E. Bleuming, M. Jol, H. Snelders, F. Rutten, T. Dilling, J. Bos, A. Gritter, E. Drost (ass.trainer), S. Groener (trainer/coach).

First row: M. Sanchez Torres, T. Harleman, S. Lindsted, P. Leyenaar, R. Zondervan, A. Kila, J. Scheve, J. Cooke, F. Ronde en M. Mentink.

Good days over… nothing was left of the exciting team of the first half of the 1970s. Martin Jol and H. Snelders were the only strong players now and neither of them became a truly big star.

NAC Breda – 11th with 33 points. They played as ever – more a testimony of Twente’s decline than anything else. Standing from left: Jo Jansen (trainer/coach), Guust v.d. Borgt, Ton Lokhoff, Hans Neeskens, Fritz von Seydlitz, Ton van Eenennaam, Gerrie Damen, Anton Joore, Geert v.d. Wiel (verzorger), Dick Buitelaar (trainer).

Sitting: Koos Waslander, Martien Vreysen, Hans Heeren, Tom Smits, Ad Krijnen, Edy de Schepper, Ton Spranger, Jack de Kroon.

Roda JC – 9th with 36 points. Nothing new… Dick Nanninga was seemingly enough to keep them in the middle of the league.

FC Groningen – 7th with 37 points. Third row from left: Sip Bloemberg – Walter Waalderbos – Bert Mooibroek – Peter Houtman – Ronald Koeman – Leen Swanenburg

Middle row: Theo Verlangen (trainer) – John Visser (verzorger) – Eddy Bakker – Henk Veldmate – Karel Hiddink – Jan van Dijk – Jack van Loon – dr. Hoekstra (clubarts)

Sitting: Theo Keukens – Anne Mulder – Herman Dijkstra – Johan Tukker – Peter Leiseboer – Wim Schokker – Hans Boer – Bert Wiebing.

Not bad, generally speaking, but another typical mid-table club, also displaying the chronic problem such clubs had, have, and will have – young and promising Ronald Koeman here, but no chance to build a team around him – he was to go elsewhere instead. Having an young talent was more of a curse than blessing.

Feyenoord – 6th with 38 points. Rubbing shoulders with Groningen… and no wonder. Third row: Ben Wijnstekers, Luuk Balkestein, Ivan Nielsen, Joop Hiele, Ton v. Engelen, André Stafleu, Sjaak Troost, Stanley Brard.

Middle row: Vaclav Jezek (Hoofdtrainer), Mark Wotte, Karel Bouwens, Wim van Hanegem, Paul van der Blom, Jan van Deinsen, Clemens Westerhof (Assistent), Gerard Meijer (Verzorger).

Sitting: Richard Budding, Wim van Til, Hans Groenendijk, Johnny Jacobsen, Jupp Kaczor, Marcel van der Blom, Pierre Vermeulen.

A pale shadow of the wonderful team they were 10 years ago and nothing to hope for with such a squad. Van Hanegem was by far the most famous player here and he was ancient. Sure, there were few current national team players and few players eventually becoming familiar names like Dane Ivan Nielsen, but this was not a promising team at all. One may blame Vaclav Jezek for that – or not. The bitter fact: Feyenoord was not strong enough even for a currently weak Dutch championship.

FC Utrecht – 5th with 39 points. Enjoying a good period, sure, but also they were a testimony of the general decline of Dutch football: without much of a team, Utrecht was able to climb up among the best. Even finishing above Feyenoord. Even achieving more than the big boys. However, Utrecht was unable to really compete.

The big and pleasant surprise: Haarlem was just promoted from Second Division and in their first season they finished 4th. Not just 4th, but clearly above most of the league – Haarlem finished with 42 points. This was fantastic, but… someone was noticed already. This someone Haarlem was unable to keep for long. It is ridiculous that a single player could be entirely responsible for the fate of a club, but wait a little – until Gullit moves away. A great season, though. Even if Haarlem was well bellow the top three.

Which were strongly divided as well. AZ’67 was 3rd with 47 point. As good as Haarlem was able to play, AZ’67 was just at another level. But as good as AZ’67 was, they were not good enough to challenge PSV Eindhoven. Which was not that good anymore… still stronger than the bulk of the league, but nothing more. 51 points. 4 more than AZ’67, but 5 less than the champions.

And coming to them, no point even to mention the name. No point to mention the number of this title either. Who else, but Ajax, the magic name. Just look at their record: 26 wins, 4 ties, only 4 matches lost. 117-42 goal-difference. They scored 117 goals! They left everybody else way behind. Fantastic season? Hmm.

Let us take this title with a grain of salt. Superior this year, yes, but consider the weakness of their main rivals. And the decline of Dutch football as a whole. Compared to the others and particularly to the arch-enemy Feyenoord, Ajax was seemingly in good shape – Schrijvers, Jansen, Lerby, Kieft, Boeve, Schoenaker, La Ling, Ophof, Olsen, Vanenburg, Rijkaard. However… Olsen and Rijkard were only promising players at the time. Most of the others were not great stars. Lerby was not to stay for long. Schrijvers was old and even in his best years he was not exceptional goalkeeper. The key was perhaps Wim Jansen – already a veteran, he was the new recruit. The policy of Ajax after the end of the great team of the early 70-s was not very fruitful: they tried to keep afloat by buying strong, but not young, Dutch players. This helped them to stay at the top of Dutch league, to maintain its leading domestic position. But there was no new great team emerging and this team was not promising in the long term either. That is, nothing happened so far – clearly, there was not to be a strong team made around Lerby. The search was still to go on – the hope would be to create something around Rijkaard and Vanendurg. Eventually. For the moment – just stay on top at home and add domestic titles.

Holland II Division

Holland. Second Division – the usual. Promotion was all the matter and it was the still according to the formula of champions promoted directly and stage winners going to a play-off. The season was divided into 4 parts in order of determining the stage winners – what is confusing retrospectively is that the actual season was never divided and there was one standard final table. ‘Stages’ were merely the standings after, say, 9th round, then 17th, and so on. But do not bother with that. Just a brief glimpse would suffice.

Cambuur was 11th. That’s the typical second division team at the time – nothing special, except players with glasses were still to be found. And that was why promotion was so complicated: most squads were hardly strong enough to compliment first division.

Telstar, more familiar name than Cambuur at the time, was 4th. But they won a stage… and qualified to compete in the promotional play-off. Along with Excelsior (Rotterdam) – 3rd , SC Heerenveen – 6th, and VVV Venlo – 7th.

The play-off gave 2 promotions. Telstar utterly failed, ending last with 3 points. VVV Venlo was also not up to it – 3rd with 5 points.

Heerenveen finished 2nd with 8 points – 4 wins, 2 losses – and up they went.

Excelsior won the play-off group with 8 points – 3 wins, 2 ties, and 1 loss. They were on top having better goal-difference by one goal, yet it did not matter at all – promotion was the only important thing and they got it.

One may feel sorry for Fortuna (Sittard) – they fought for the first place to the end of the season and lost it by a single point. Out of direct promotion, they lost all, for the team was not a stage winner and therefore out of the promotional play-off. Fair, unfair, that were the rules.

Helmond Sport won the championship with 48 points from 17 wins and 14 ties, 53-30 goal-difference. They lost only 3 matches this season.

So, Helmond Sport, Excelsior, and SC Heerenveen were going to play first division football the next season. Good for them.


Belgium the Cup

The Cup final opposed smaller clubs – KSV Waregem and K. Waterschei SV Thor (Genk). Neither had a good season, but the prospect of winning a trophy was great. Waterschei was on top of things and won 2-0.

KSV Waregem did their best,which was not enough. Not a memorable team anyway.

The winners were different. One of the smaller clubs, like Waregem, but they won the Belgian Cup in 1980. It was great happy moment, but also a surprise happening once. Clubs lime Waterschei hardly ever win anything – but they did it again after a pause of one year. Twice lucky.

K. Waterschei SV Thor Genk did it again and with pretty much the same squad as the first time. No big stars here. Hardly any recognizable name, in fact. The classic underdog. That such a team won 2 cups in three years was something to be noted and remembered.


Belgium. French or Flamish? The problem of names – the name of one and the same club could be unrecognisable, depending on the language used. Even big names. Anyhow, football. A bit confusing Second Division – 3 teams promoted, but the rules stipulated one direct promotion and final round-robin group of 4 teams playing after the regular season for the other two spots. As it was, three of these clubs made sense easily – they finished 2nd, 3rd, and 4th, but not the last team – St. Truidense VV was 9th. During the regulars season the division of the league was great: the top 4 teams were head and shoulders above the rest – KSC Hasselt and RC Harelbeke finished with 36 points. The 5th, Berchem Sport had 31. But there was big division between the top teams as well – only two teams really pursuit the first place. Beerschot lost the race by a point.

RFC Seresien won the Second Division with 44 points and was directly promoted. Well, the club is usually known as Seraing outside Belgium.

K. Beerschot VAV, RC Harelbeke, KSC Hasselt, and St. Truidemse VV proceeded to the promotional paly-off. The season was mirrored there – St. Truidense was 9th after the whole year and no surprise: they finished last with 1 point. KSC Hasselt lost steam and ended 3rd – they were also 3rd after the end of regular season. RC Harelbeke was comfortably 2nd with 8 points and Beerschot had no problems at all – they topped the group with 11 points: 5 wins and 1 tie. Thus, Beerschot and Harelbeke moved up.

First Division was divided into two parts: 8 teams way ahead of the other 10. The lower half was preoccupied only with survival – 9 teams mainly tried to avoid relegation this year, the lowest ending with 27 points, the highest – with 30. One team was out of it.

KV Mechelen was last with 17 points. 10 less than the 17th. Standing from left: Wilfried Dommicent, Wilhelm Reisinger, Jozef Bogaerts, Michael Jensen, Mark Talbut, Dirk Crabbé, Joachim Benfeld

First row: Ronny Lambrechts, Benny Asselberghs, Marc Decoster, Karel Kesselaers.

The other two teams which lost the race for survival: R. Beringen Fc, 17th with 27 points and RFC Liegeois with 28 points. RFC Liegeois lost on worse goal-difference to KSV Cercle Brugge, 15th, and Club Brugge KV, 14th.

This was unexpected – FC Brugge, as the club is typically known, was already established favourite. Now it barely escaped relegation – but the sudden drop into the danger zone was unlikely to last. Third row from left: Eddy Warrinnier (kine), Birger Jensen, Guy Dardenne, Koen Sanders, Anton Ondrus, Paul Op de Beeck, Gilbert Van Binst, Philippe Vande Walle.

Middle row: Pol David (assistent-coach), Istvan Magyar, Antoni Szymanowski, Daniel De Cubber, Tjapko Teuben, Dirk Ranson, Gino Langbeen, Luc Vanwalleghem, Jan Sörensen, Anton ‘Spitz’ Kohn (coach)

Sitting: Stanislaw Terlecki, Willy Wellens, Yves Carette, Gino Maes, Jacky Debougnoux, Jan Ceulemans, Luc Hinderyckx, Walter Ceulemans, Jos Volders.

Given the make of the squad, it was unbelievable – it was full of famous, even if aging, names. Starting with Luxembourger coach Spitz Kohn, the mastermind of the strong Twente of the first half of the 1970s, which reached the UEFA Cup final. Along with customary Danes – Jensen and Sorensen – there was a plethora of East European greats: Istvan Magyar (Hungary), Stanislav Terlecki and Antoni Szymanowski (Poland), and Anton Ondrus (Czechoslovakia). Fading names, but Szymanowski was one of the most impressive Polish players at the 1974 World Cup and Ondrus was key defender of the 1976 European champions. However, the combination of early-70s big names misfired and they were almost all fresh recruits. Istvan Magyar arrived in 1980 from Ferencvaros and less than impressive. The others all came in the summer of 1981. Spitz Cohn came from insignificant Go Ahead Eagles (Holland). Anton Ondrus (b. 1950) – from Slovan (Bratislava), but he was fading – he already played for a smaller Czechoslovakian team in 1977-78 and after 1980 was no longer called to the national team. He had no club in 1980-81 and after missing an year the come back did not happened: he appeared only 7 times for FC Brugge. Antony Szymanowski (b. 1951) came from… Second division. Back in 1978 he had problems with the brass of his beloved Wisla (Krakow) and decided to move to Legia (Warszawa). But the deal failed and he moved to Gwardia (Warszawa) instead, a move surrounded by a scandal and unfair accusations. His arch-enemy in Wisla told him he will live to regret this transfer and the dark promise came true instantly: Gwardia was relegated and Szymanowski spent the next two seasons in Second division. After 1980 he was no longer a national team player. The forth newcomer, Stanislaw Terlecki (b. 1955) was the most bizarre story – like Ondrus, he was out of organized football since 1980, out of the Polish national team, and his only contribution to FC Brugge was posing for the picture above. Now, Kohn, Magyar, and Ondrus were all let go after this disastrous season, but Terlecki outdid them by practically staying only for the team picture to be taken. A testimony for bad transfer policy, again topped by Terlecki’s case, which started back in November 1980 and was heavily laced with politics. It was bizarre scandal, blown out of proportion, but one has to consider the time: Lech Walesa created ‘Solidarity’ in Poland, the country went on strike, lead by shipyard workers in Gdansk, confronting the Communist rule. Terlecki played for LKS (Lodz), where he also studied history in the local university, getting involved with students anti-government politics. He decided to organize football-players independent union of ‘Solidarity’ kind, starting with his fellow national team players – Zmuda and Boniek immediately joined. Then the national team had to travel for a game abroad and bizarre scandal developed: Josef Mlynarczyk and Smolarek, unhappy with the provided food at the hotel the team was staying for the night, went to eat outside without asking permission. There a journalist known to Mlynarczyk met them and he and the goalkeeper started drinking. Smolarek went back to sleep, but the goalkeeper returned to the hotel at dawn terribly drunk. The coach Ryszard Kulesza responded by kicking out Mlynarczyk from the team and the team bus went to the airport, but Kulesza’s decision was opposed by Boniek, Smolarek, Zmuda, and Terlecki. Terlecki left the rest to argue with Kulesza on the road to the airport, himself trying to awake Mlynarczyk and driving him to the airport in his own car. Arguments continued at the airport and eventually Kulesza relented, but meantime Terlecki saw journalists, talked to them, and the story immediately went to press as a scandal. Once focus was on scandal, it only grew – the worst addition was Terlecki’s arrangement for a meeting between Pope John Paul II and the national team against the wish of Communist authorities.

From left to right: Pope John Paul II, Wladyslaw Zmuda, Stanislaw Terlecki.

So, what started as a rather ordinary disciplinary problem developed into political case and the incident(s) were investigated by state prosecutor – a military one, a full General! But penalties were distributed by the Polish Football Federation… Terlecki, Mlynarczyk, Boniek, and Zmuda did not finish the tour of the national team – they were sent home after the meeting with the Pope. They were banned for 1 year from the national team. Smolarek received suspended ban for 4 months. Terlecki and Boniek were singled out and condemned as ‘insubordinate rabble-rousers’. Now the national team coach Kulesza was unhappy, he thought the penalties too harsh and unjust and resigned in protest. Eventually, banns were lifted out after a few months – except for Terlecki. He participated and also donating and delivered food to the striking University students in Lodz. This did not endear him to the Communist powers either and he was suspended for 2 years from playing football – eventually he decided to defect from the country as a result and did so in 1981, thinking of settling in the USA. Then FC Brugge stepped in and offered him a contract – he accepted, only to find himself unable to play once again. The ghost of Ferenc Puskas hunted him down… back in 1956 the FIFA decided that political reasons did not count at all and only football matters did: Puskas and the rest of defected Hungarian players were found in breach of contract with their original clubs and suspended for two years. The rule was established and stayed: it was enough for an East European club to plead to UEFA or FIFA that they had a valid contract with a runaway player and he was automatically suspended. It did not matter at all that East European clubs were officially amateur clubs, thus not quite able to produce contracts. All depended on the club’s protest and in the case of Terlecki there was one on the technically true grounds that he was under suspension in Poland. This made him useless for FC Brugge, for now he was officially banned for playing anywhere FIFA and UEFA governed. He wanted to play, so contacted US-based clubs and was hired by indoor-football club Pittsburgh Spirit. They were outside FIFA’s reach and the solution was fine for everybody – FC Brugge was happy to let him go. Terlecki did not play even a single match for the Belgians. Anyway, his case only added to the troubles – of the new recruits for the season only Szymanowski remained for the next year. It was a big fiasco.

RWD Molenbeek finished 11th with 29 points. Standing from left: Jean-Pierre Borremans, Harry Soors, René Desaeyere, Dirk Devriese, Jan Boskamp, Nico Jansen, Bernard Verheecke, Edy De Bolle, Maurice Martens, Robbie De Kip, Jan Ruiter, Erik Deleu.

First row: Sead Susic, Patrick Gollièrre, Guy Dardenne, Michel De Wolf, Freddy Luyckx, Alain Cneudt, Rudi Andries, Yves De Greef.

Unlike the slip of FC Brugge, Molenbeek was on a slippery downhill for some time and there was nothing strange seeing it among those in danger of relegation. There were still some good names – Boskamp, Ruiter, Susic – but the club already lost its leading position, the aces were well beyond their prime, and the squad was not much.

At the top of the struggling group was K.Waterschei SV Thor Genk – 9th with 30 points and so high just because it had better goal-difference than SK Tongeren. Right in the middle of the table, but with only 3 points more than the 17-placed. Not a single club of the lower half of the league was safe until the end of the season.

Only 8 clubs enjoyed better life this year. Three of them were what usually is called typical mid-table teams: comfortable, but having nothing to do with the race for the title. K. Lierse SK, SK Beveren, and KV Kortrijk. Lierse, 8th, was 6 points ahead of the lower half of the league, but Kortrijk , 6th, was 5 points behind the 5th with 38 points. The top five clubs competed for the title and at the end 5 points separated the champions from the lowest of this group. Which was Royal Antwerp FC.

Or Antwerpen. Choose a name. Excellent season for them. Especially because this club was normally not among the title contenders. Hard to say what was the true reason for their great season – yes, there were some good recruits, but Laszlo Fazekas (Hungary) was no longer young and Alex Czerniatynski was already becoming unfulfilled promise. Good season, but not good enough even for e medal: Royal Antwerp finished with 43 points.

With 44 points KSC Lokeren took the 4th place. Standing from left: Maurits De Schrijver, Marc Verbruggen, Wlodzimierz Lubanski, Grzegorz Lato, Preben Elkjer –Larsen.

Bottom, left to right: Arnor Gudjohnsen, Eddy Snelders, Raymond Mommens, Roland Ingels, Ronald Sommers, Bouke Hoogenbooom. Lokeren was still going strong largely because of the aging Polish stars Lubanski and Lato. Lato was still world class – made obvious at the 1982 World Cup. Lubanski was already a legendary staple for Lokeren – he arrived in 1974 after injury so heavy, there were only few believing who would play football again. And he lead Lokeren out of obscurity. Add the Iceland’s Arnor Gudjohnsen and Danish Preben Elkjer-Larsen. Especially Elkjer-Larsen.

Lokeren was beaten by KAA Ghent by a point for the third place. Top, left to right:  Aad Koudijzer, Luc Criel, Boudwijn Braem, Guy Hanssens, Andre Laureyssen.

Bottom, left to right: Rene Mucher, Kiyika Tokodi, Vermeersch, Tony Rombouts, Andre Raes, van Goethm.

Now, this was a surprise. Not a noticeable squad and not a noticeable club – Ghent came from nowhere, so to say. They finished with best defensive record in the championship, allowing only 20 goals. With 45 points, they were just 3 points shy from first place. Looked like one-time wonder, but it was wonderful surprise anyway.

Anderlecht finished 2nd with 46 points. Of course, they were prime candidate for the title as ever, but lost it. Nothing really to blame them – the team was good and fought to the end. Tomislav Ivic was rapidly becoming a big name and under his guidance the team played very well. The transition from one generation to another was smooth. Unlike the great team of the 1970s, there were no Dutch stars now, but enough worthy foreigners nicely blending with Belgian stars: Peruzovic (Yugoslavia), Morten Olsen and Brylle (Denmark), Petursson (Iceland), Broos, Coeck, Vercauteren, Lozano, Renquin, Munaron, Hofkens – a whole starting 11 made of national team players. Nothing to worry – Anderlecht only lost a very competitive battle. Did not lose a face, though.

Standard (Liege) clinched the title with 48 points. 19 wins, 10 ties, 5 losses. 59-28 goal-difference. Best strikers in the league; second-best defense. Given the high number of competing teams this year – 5 – a bit of luck perhaps decided the final position, but such conclusion could be also deceptive. From the distance of time, this season was most likely the peak of the team and the fine building started about 5 years back – a work started by Waseige, continued by Happel, and lead to conclusion by Goethals. By now, Standard, not Anderlecht, was the ‘Dutch’ team in Belgium – Haan, Tahamata, and Dusbaba. Of course, Haan and Dusbaba were part of earlier Anderlecht, but there was nothing unusual for a Dutch star to play for different Belgian clubs – the important point is, the players contributed strongly. Add Wendt, the Swedish international, who spent years and successfully so in the Bundesliga before joining Standard. And domestic stars: Gerets, Meeuws, Dearde, van der Smissen. In one position Standard had huge advantage over Anderlecht: goalkeeping. Not one, but two incredibly talented keepers – Preud’homme and Bodart. Both young, but it was already clear that Munaron was not at their level. It was a problem in itself – a man too many. One had to sit on the bench – for the moment, it was Bodart. Unfortunately, the same was the case in the national team, where Pfaff was unquestionable number one. It hardly mattered who will be his back-up, which created a bit of illusion that Munaron was real competition of Standard’s goalkeepers: those who have seen both sides were not fooled. Wonderful team at its prime and it amply showed this year: Standard won the Belgian champions and played at the Cup Winners Cup final in which Barcelona was not convincing winner. Lovely team, this vintage. 7th title for Standard.

France The Cup

St. Etienne and Paris SG contested the French Cup. The match, after overtime, ended 2-2 and penalty-shoot out followed. Paris SG won it 6-5.

A great historic moment in the dressing room.

St. Etienne empty-handed twice this season. Coming close and losing both rge Cup and the championship. By very little… after all, penalty shoot-out is pure chance. Disappointment, but why make big deal about it? But it was a perfect sign of a team going down – it was not apparent from the squad and it was not a big spectacular failure: it was just they were second instead of first. A small step downhill… St. Etienne was at its peak around 1976 – back then, there were 15 former, current, and future national team players in the squad. Now, there were about 10 and the emphasize was on ‘former’ with clear absence of ‘future’. Lopez, Santini, Rep, Nielsen. True, one of the biggest world stars was playing in green and white – Platini – but for how long? On the surface, there was an excellent opportunity to build a new team around the core of Battiston, Platini, and Rep, but the very status of Platini question that: no French club was able to afford him, which meant to compete with much richer Spanish and Italian clubs. It was quite certain than Platini was not going to stay. Of the old guard only Janvion was maintaining strong position, the others were slowly fading away and that included the Dutch star Johnny Rep. There was no bright young talent – the goalkeeper Castaneda was at best a third choice for the national team and that in a country without great keepers. Herbin did fantastic job managing the team since the beginning of the 1970s, shaping it into one of the strongest teams not just in France, but in Europe, yet it looked like he was losing his touch – a common risk, when a coach works with one club for so long. St. Etienne was still strong and will be strong enough for a few more years, but it was no longer a winning team, the rot started and radical changes were badly needed. What could be clearer: the Cup final, chancy as it was, was in a sense a battle between two generations of St. Etienne: Lopez, Santini, and Janvion lost to their former team-mates Rocheteau and Bathenay.

Paris SG won its first trophy at last. At last, for this club was ambitious project from start. But saying so, one forgets that the club was very young – founded in 1970 and originally playing in the Second Division. Having money to spend, Paris SG quickly got classy players, but the policy was mistaken and there were no results: the team established itself among the top group of French clubs without winning anything. A change of policy was needed and perhaps the only thing to force the club into different and more productive approach was a success: what was not working was signing established, but tired and getting old players. The team was solid but just that. With victory at last, even by mere chance, there was a good chance for making a policy change and really starting building a competitive team – but this was for the future, even near one, but future. The present was champagne and opening of a trophy room.

France I Division

The French championship this year was a two-team race for the title, followed by another pair battling for third place. At the bottom – 2 outsiders and and about 5 teams trying to avoid the third relegation spot. There were changes in the situation of few clubs, but in general French football was pretty much the same as ever: relatively mellow and pleasant to watch championship of fairly equal teams.

Montpellier – dead last with 22 points. Hardly a surprise. Having aging Sarramagna plus the Argentine Victor Trossero and the Brazilian Luizinho da Silva was not enough.

With 23 points, OGC Nice finished 19th. The decline started in the middle of the 1970s and now reached its logical conclusion. Difficult to think that Nice was among the best French teams less than 10 years ago. This season Nice was the only club in the league unable to win even a single away match.

Valenciennes was 18th with 30 points. Usual candidate for relegation anyway.

Metz survived – 17th with 32 points.

Olympique Lyon was in crisis – they finished above Metz only because of better-difference, generally fighting for survival this year. Perhaps the recruited foreigners present Lyon’s troubles best: Simo Nikolic and Slobodan Topalovic were little known Yugoslavian players. In the past Lyon employed high-profiled Yugoslavs, but not anymore – both would stay with the club for many years: Nikolic – 1980-85, the goalkeeper – 1981-87. The interesting point of the season was the new recruit Topalovic: years ago he started his career with 1. FC Koln together with Schumacher and for awhile appeared to be the preferable choice. However, by 1980 Schumacher was becoming a world-class star, but Topalovic entirely faded away, even having to move to Yugoslavia for the first time, hoping to revive his career. Playing for Lyon was evidence of his good efforts, but he remained unknown player.

AJ Auxerre was 15th with 34 points. It was predictable and understandable case: after climbing form complete obscurity to the top division, the fuel of enthusiasm and surprise runs out. Slipping down was inevitable, it was time to really grasp where the team was and to recharge. Nothing tragic. The Polish heroes of 1974, Szarmach and Wieczorek, were still solid backbone.

OSC Lille – 14th with 34 points. Nothing special, as they were for many years – just avoiding relegation successfully.

RC Lens – the best of the worst, so to say. 13th with 34 points, placed above Lille and Auxerre thanks to superior goal-difference. Anything interesting? They had a little known Argentinian player since 1979 – Daniel Alberto and a second foreigner arrived before this season: the Island national team star Teitur Thordarsson. There was one more Islandic player in the French league with the same name – just to confuse the matter, since even the top Islandic players were not so well known.

Bastia – 12th. Their good run was over perhaps 2 years ago and they dropped to their usual lower-half position. Dressed in their second kit for the season, which makes it a rare picture: red is not Bastia’s colour – dark blue is. Roger Milla hardly make a difference, therefore, his ‘discovery’ was still in the future – not a distant future, but it was during the 1982 World Cup after the French championship was well finished.

Tours – 11th with 35 points. For a modest club, not bad at all. Delio Onnis was the sole big name in the team – aging, well beyond his peak, but still lethal scorer. He helped Tours a lot.

A few years back, when RC Strasbourg won the French championship nobody made a mistake – they were one-time wonder, not going to last. Now everything was back to the familiar – 10th with 36 points.

Brest had a strong season, perhaps of their strongest. 9th with 38 points. The Yugoslav Drago Vabec was their beloved and loyal star. To him was added a second Yugoslav before the season: Milan Radovic. It was wise decision – both foreigners came from Croatian clubs, Vabec from Dinamo Zagreb, Radovic – from NK Rijeka. No tensions between them.

Nancy was a bit of an enigma: severely weakened by the transfer of Michel Platini to St. Etienne, they still managed to perform relatively well – with a squad similar to Valenciennes, not to Bordeaux! For how long? Nobody knew.

Third row: Serge Barrientos (Adj), Dominique Bathenay, Thierry Morin, Raymond Domenech, Luis Fernandez, Boubacar Sarr, Georges Peyroche (Entr)

Middle row: Jean-Marc Pilorget, Nambatingue Toko, Ivica Surjak, Eric Renaut, Daniel Sanchez, Alain Prefaci, Dominique Rocheteau

Sitting: Franck Merelle, Philippe Col, Jean-Claude Lemoult, Francis Borelli (Prés), Michel N’Gom, Didier Toffolo, Dominique Baratelli.

Paris SG was the constant underachiever by now – they were 7th this season with 43 points. True, 4 points ahead of Nancy, but Nancy was their immediate neighbour… Everybody was used to this: PSG was constantly in the upper half of the table, yet never a medal contender. Their initial policy from their early days in the 1970s was still the same and it backfired: obtaining high-profile, but aging players simply did not work. Baratelli, Bathenay, Domenech, Rocheteau all made their names elsewhere and years ago. Only Luis Fernandes, still relatively unknown, was current strong player with potential for the future. Even their newest recruit, the Yugoslav star striker Ivica Surjak, was of the ilk of the French aging stars. Having the ambitions of a superclub, PSG was just not able to materialize them. Yet.

Approaching crisis was detectable in Nantes even before this season – the key players were inevitably aging and so far no effort for real rebuilding was made. Most of the starters were painfully familiar for years… 6th place this year should have been alarming: the team was really slipping down. Enzo Trossero returned to Argentina after the end of the championship – he was just loaned to Nantes by Independiente anyway – and Henri Michel retired. The birthdates of Bertrand-Demande, Amisse, Rampillon, Baroncelli were becoming important… negative factor. FC Nantes was on decline.

Stade Lavallois was 5th , a point better than Nantes. Surprisingly strong season for normally insignificant club. The squad was not much, so Laval was hardly expected to stay among the favourites, but this year was great. May have been due to the new foreign recruits – Uwe Krause (West Germany) and Karl Thordarsson (Iceland). However, Laval was not even close to the medal race with their 44 points.

Girondins Bordeaux lost bronze medals by a point, finishing with 48 points. Certainly the team on ascent and one to look for in the future – Bordeaux already had impressive team: Tresor, Bracci, Lacombe, Tigana, Giresse, Gemmrich, Soler, Thouvenel, Girard, Rohr, and the Yugoslavian national team goalkeeper Pantelic. A testimony of the good work of coach Aime Jacquet, who was making his name. Not ready yet for a serious conquest, but coming close.

Sochaux clinched bronze medals with 49 points. A good spell for the club, but it was not going to last – the team was rather limited and not at all a title contender. Like most French clubs, the good fortune of Sochaux depended on handful of good players – Patrick Revelli, Albert Rust, Genghini, Stopyra, Zimako, Yugoslavians Sime Luketin and Zvonko Ivezic. Retirements and transfers elsewhere could change good days to the exact opposite in a flash.

Two teams competed for the title and a single point decided the winner.

Saint Etienne was the usual suspect, of course. They still looked the strongest squad in the league, especially with Michel Platini and Johnny Rep in front. Two new recruits supposedly reinforced the team – the enigmatic Argentine, or French, Raoul Nogues and Danish Benny Nielsen, who arrived from Anderlecht. But there was already something dangerous detected… which showed itself in losing the title. Yes, they run for it to the end; yes, losing by a single point is rather unfortunate. But they lost it. And not just the title.

AS Monaco with 55 points from 24 wins and 7 ties clinched the title. Monaco scored 70 goals – only St. Etienne scored more, 74 – and received 29, the best defensive record this year. They lost 7 matches. Thus, the club won its 4th French title. Yet, Monaco was peculiar – they never had particularly great and memorable team. Sure, there were Bellone, Ettori, Bijotat, Couriol, aging Pecout, the tall Swede Ralph Edstrom and the Swiss influential midfielder Umberto Barberis, but compared to St. Ettiene, Bordeaux, Paris SG, and Nantes the champions looked weaker. The foreigners were no longer at their prime and except Bruno Bellone Monaco did not have a true big French star. To a point, their victory could be seen more as an evidence of decline of St. Etienne and Nantes, of unfinished Bordeaux and faulty building policy of Paris SG. The champions were hardly a team going to dominate. Rather, they were playing their usual mellow football, which could bring success mostly when the opposition was shaky. Still, the boys deserved the title, they fought to it, they won it. The joy was all theirs.


France II Division

Second division – still divided into 2 groups of 18 teams each, with shuffling of clubs from group A to group B and the other way before the season. Three teams of each group relegated to third level, 3 teams in total promoted to first division. Seemingly, the decisive factor was points acculated during the season – the one second-placed team with more points got promoted plus the groups champions.

AAJ Blois was last in Group A. Standing from left: Rabier, Pichet, Tisiot, Janik, Zaidi, Pernom, Navarro, Cosson, Richetin, L’Hostis, Gonzalez (coach).

Crouching : Pires, Traore, Goavec, Devin, Jouanneau, Marzetti, Ben Mohamedi, Lorenzo.

Gazelec Ajaccio , 17th, and SR Saint-Die, 16th completed the group of relegated.

RC Fontainebleau finished 15th and survived.

FC Gueugnon was 11th.

AS Cannes – 8th.

SC Toulon ended 4th.

Olympique Marseille was 3rd. Dark time for Marseille and the squad shows it perfectly: a very weak and insignificant team. Practically impossible in another country, but typical for French football – even the best known and most popular clubs could sink very low. As low as to compete with and lose to virtually unknown clubs like CS Thonon, which finished 2nd and if they managed to get a few more points, to go up. Alas, Thonon was not promoted.

FC Toulouse won Group A of Second Division. Standing from left: Claude Deplanche, Michel Le Blayo, Gerard Albert, Laszlo Balint, Stephane D’Angelo, Jean-Pierre Laverny.

Bottom, left to right: Jean Diaz, Merry Krimau, Raymond Camus, Robert Pintenat , Leon Maier.

Happily promoted after strong season – but ‘happily’ should be emphasized: Toulouse finished shoulder to shoulder with Thonon, both with 46 points. Better goal-difference made the big difference: Toulouse going up and Thonon staying in Second Division. The big name – the veteran Hungarian defender Laszlo Balint. Perhaps not the key player of the team, but he was still classy enough to play for Hungary.

Group B. Stade Quimper was last and Etoile Montlucon – 17th. The third relegated team was Calais.

Standing from left: Wallet, Boulanger, Dernis, Seys, Lefèvre, Mariani, Lutic, Pucetti, Ch. Baron, Dewet.

First row : Fardoux (coach), Arnault, D. Baron, Valeur, Michaylow, Lenglet, Linke.

Racing UFC Calais going down.

FC Limoges was 13th.

Berrichonne Chateauroux – 14th. Standing from left: Aubard, Roque, Kwasniewski, H. Revelli (playing coach), Allary, Modeste, Zali.

Accroupis : Roussey, Auger, Devault, Syther, Merigot, Bellavia, Besset.

Anything interesting? Herve Revelli was changing his role from player to coach – presently, a playing coach. Not a great beginning, but at least not relegated.

En Avant Guingamp – 9th. Not even dreaming of top level football yet.

Reims was 6th and Rennes – 5th. Like Marseille, suffering in second division and the crisis of Reims was already permanent – once upon a time one of the best teams in Europe, but now just a small insignificant club.

Great season for modest US Noeux-les-Mines – they were 3rd with 49 points. Unfortunately, they were a point short from promotion.

50 points placed FC Mulhouse second this year – which was fantastic, because they were promoted. The best years of Mulhouse started, although the team was not their strongest formation yet. Apart from aging Huck, only the Yugoslav Durkalic was somewhat familiar name.

FC Rouan won Group B with 51 points. Wonderful, but… like Toulouse, they were returning to top flight. Like Toulouse, they were not particularly strong and both group winners were rather a testimony for the current weakness of Marseille, Reims, and Rennes. Anyhow, it was great for both former first division members to come back. Even better for Mulhouse, not known for playing top flight football.

France III Division

France. The championship was perhaps no different than before, but there was clear understanding that French football was ascending. But there was peculiarity: on club level, there was no big change – it was still pleasant, mellow, fairly equal championship with inevitable change of guard. St. Etienne and Nantes were slowly going down, Bordeaux and Paris SG were going up. No superclubs dominating the domestic scene – typically French.

Third division – lots of first-division clubs here: their second teams. The rest – small fry, save for Racing (Paris). Which had insignificant season.

Racing still lost in Third Division .

Spain the Cup

The Cup final opposed Real Madrid to Sporting Gijon. On the surface, Real had enormous advantage – Gijon had a weak season. It did not show on the field of Nuevo Jose Zorilla stadium in Valladolid. Gijon fought bravely. Alas, they lost 1-2 and Real Collected the Cup.

Only a small club with practically empty trophy room could get some bragging rights from ‘Sub Campeon’… not bad, really, but one can feel sorry for the underdog: they lost 2 consecutive finals – in 1981 to Barcelona 1-3 and in 1982 to Real Madrid 1-2. Would have been nice Gijon to win.

Real Madrid still finished the season with a trophy – unlike Barcelona, so they were still ahead of the arch-rivals. Well, domestically – Barcelona perhaps got the upper hand at the end by winning the Cup Winners Cup. Yet, it was difficult victory for Real and not a very memorable one – except for one thing:this was their 15th Cup. Which, at the end of the day, is just a footnote in the rich history of the club.

Spain I Division

Primera Division. In one sentence: yet another season Barcelona lost the title. But Athletic Bilbao was coming back. At the bottom – the expected.

Castellon was the pathetic outsider – 12 points. They won only 3 matches.

Hercules was 17th with 47 points. If anything, that was the year the great Polish goalkeeper Jan Tomaszewski not only went down to second division, but dropped out of public mind. Not his fault really – he was aging and no longer leading player. Inevitable.

Three teams fought desperately to avoid the last relegation spot – all ended with 29 points and goal-difference was the decisive factor.

Cadiz was the unfortunate one – 16th.

Las Palmas, very weak by now, was lucky this season, taking the 15th place.

Sporting Gijon, obviously at the end of their strong spell, plunged dangerously down – they escaped relegation and finished 14th, thanks to better goal-difference.

Espanol, not a leading club for a long time, was 13th with 32 points. Just for a future observation: the Belgian international goalkeeper Custers was between the goalposts – soon he will be replaced by another foreigner. Espanol did not have a Spanish keeper to the end of the 1980s.

Racing Santander was 12th, besting Espanol only on goal-difference. Nice reserve kit and nothing else.

Real Zaragoza lost its shine long time ago – 11th with 34 points was their ‘normal’ for many years. The up and coming Dutch coach Leo Benhakker was unable to push them up. Nor the future world champion, the Argentine striker Jorge Valdano.

Osasuna – 10th. Goal-difference placed them above Zaragoza, but bellow Valladolid.

Real Valladolid – 9th. Not a bad season for them. Standing from left: Santos, Gail, Moré, Richard, Gilberto, Fenoy.

First row: Pepin, Sánchez Valles, Jorge, Joaquín, Rusky.

Atletico Madrid – 8th with 34 points. If their goal-difference was worse, they could have been 11th. A mid-table team at the moment and their record shows it: they won 15 games and lost also 15. Perhaps the foreign players explain the situation: Dirceu was already aging and beyond his peak; Hugo Sanchez was ascending, but not at his peak yet – one going up, the other going down. No balance.

Sevilla – 7th with 35 points. Nothing new… mid-table team they were for a long time already.

Real Betis – 6th with 36 points. The most unpredictable Spanish team – could be high one year and down to relegation in the next. This season they were strong.

Valencia was also strange – although winning the Cup Winners Cup not long ago, they were unable to build a great team and the efforts continued without finding the right mix. Mario Kempes was already out, replaced by the Austrian Welzl and Danish Arnesen, but they were not quite the players to lead Valencia to new success – and soon Kempes was called back.

Athletic Bilbao was 4th with 40 points – nothing special, for they were usually among the top teams, but not strong enough to compete for the title. Perhaps only in Spain was noticed that they were polishing a new strong team. Not ready yet for anything serious, but with big potential.

Standing from left: Sabido, Agustin, Garcia Navajas, San Jose, Garcia Cortes, Jose Antonio Camacho.

Bottom, left to right: Juanito, Carlos Santillana, Garcia Hernandez, Angel , Ito.

In the title race, but 3rd at the end with 44 points. A shaky season and the this squad shows it: of course, some starters are not present – Stielike, obviously. Time for generational change – those, who defined the 1970s, aged and going out one by one. But the new stars were not present yet and the team needed adjustments and finding the right chemistry. Real Madrid cannot go really down the table – their worst usually is a finish bellow silver medals. Shaky, unbalanced, that was all – not really in trouble.

Seemingly, Udo Lattek brought some success at last – but not domestically. Barcelona, like Real Madrid, considers everything bellow 1st place a disaster. They fininshed 2 points short of title. Some solutions were already found – especially a solid goalkeeper – but the team was somewhat unfinished. Unfortunately, the ghost of 1975 was rising as well: back then Cruijff and Weissweiler clashed and the coach lost. Now it was Schuster vs Lattek. No matter who was right and who was wrong – such conflicts and battles of wills usually are at the expense of the team’s performance. A title was lost… and fans were counting years: soon will be 10 years since Barca won the championship for the last time.

A year ago, Real Sociedad surprised everybody by winning the Spanish championship for the first time. Exciting, but they looked like one-time wonder – especially after the club did not buy new strong players and not even a single foreigner. True, the team was good, but it had not enough dept. Take away one regular… and the collapse was more than possible. But nobody left the team and got heavily injured – and Real Sociedad run strong again. They were not overwhelming, but persistent. Small deficiencies of Real Madrid and Barcelona surely helped, but whatever weaknesses others had was not a fault of Real Sociedad – at the end they won 20 matches and Barcelona – 19. Two points were the difference between champions and second-best. Small difference, but in Real’s favour.

Second title. Two titles in two years – just great! Few teams, even big ones, could do that – certainly not one-time wonders. And it was also against the grain: Real Sociedad proved that it was possible to win without foreign stars.

One more look at the champions – this time dressed in their reserve kit. If there was something to worry about, it was the policy: Real Sociedad surely was going to lose some of their stars. Not buying classy players was very dangerous for them – and they were still not buying. Jose Mari Bakero was eventually lost – without proper replacement. Case in point. But let not worry about the future – two consecutive titles! This is the best team in the history of Real Sociedad. Legends.