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.