Scotland I Division (partial)

Premier League. One thing really: back in 1975 the league structure was reformed in hope if making professional football more equal and competitive. But the result was questionable – the new 10-team league still remained divided with 2-3 teams clearly above the others and, more alarmingly, there were always very weak outsiders. One team in the first years, but the pattern already settled for 2, the relegation number. That meant a huge gap between first and second level on one hand and also forming just a modified status quo: nobody doubted the supremacy of Celtic and Rangers, but practically all other bigger clubs eventually settled for secure and uneventful existence, knowing that relegation is no threat. The sifting was generally financial: bigger clubs had more, the smaller had less and less chances to generate sufficient income and, therefore, to build and keep strong enough squad. And that was that, considering the big handicap of having the English leagues next door – whoever was even a bit above average went to play there and Scottish leagues were left with leftovers. Even the leading clubs. So, the 1981-82 produced nothing new…

Airdrieonians was dead last with 18 points.

Partick Thistle ended 9th with 22 points. Those were the relegated teams.

Dundee was safely 8th with 26 points.

Hibernian was 6th with 36 points. Like Dundee, Hibernian suffered from the shock waves of the reformed league, but now, after coming back from second level, things seemed different: they and Dundee were big enough clubs to play top level football indifferently – too weak to claim a title, too strong to fear relegation.


Scotland. Not much to say about deep down –

Alloa Athletic clinched 2nd place in Division 2 (third level) on better goal-diference.

Clyde was unchallenged leader. Both teams were promoted.

At the end of Division 1 (second level) finished Queen of South, last, and East Stirlingshire, 13th. They went down. Nothing much up the table until the very top.

Heart of Midlothian lost promotion by a point, ending 3rd.

Kilmarnock bested them with 51 points and moved up.

Like in the third level, only one team was leading all the time. Motherwell was way above the league, finishing with 61 points from 26 wins, 9 ties, and losing just 4 games. 92-36 goal-difference – they were the highest scoring team in all Scottish leagues this season. Promoted, of course.

Portugal the Cup

The Cup final opposed Sporting Braga to Sporting Lisbon. The difference of class was obvious – Sporting won 4-0 and collected the trophy.

A nice effort of Sporting, but it ended with predictable loss. Still, it was fine – Sporting got to play in the Cup Winners Cup.

Standing from left: Eurico, Jordao, Ferenc Meszaros, Virgilio, Inacio, Oliveira.

First row: Lito, Carlos Xavier, Barao, Manuel Fernandes, Nogueira.

A supreme season, finished with a double. Making the total record of Sporting 16th titles and 11th Cups. The team was good – Jordao, Eurico, Meszaros, to name the best known – but still it was not exceptional squad not only by European standards: even in Portugal had been much stronger squads. But nothing to shun the joy – a good spell for Sporting after years of playing second fiddle, if not even third, started with the beginning of the 1980s. The rewards? Two titles and a cup in three years.

Portugal I Division

The championship was interesting – three teams competed for the title and 9 in danger of relegation. A historic moment at the bottom end, if relegation is something to be kept in memory. Nine out of 16 league members in danger of relegation is not something to brag about, but that was the case this season – three teams directly relegated and one going to promotion/relegation post-season tournament.

UD Leiria finished last with 20 points. They earned just 1 point on the road, losing 14 away matches.

Os Belenenses was 15th, ahead of Leiria only on better goal-difference. This was the ‘historic moment’: back in 1834 Belenenses, along with Sporting, Benfica, and FC Porot co-founded the Portuguese league. They were among the ‘big’ clubs for a long time and won trophies. One of the big four… but after mid-1960s the club started to fade away and the unstoppable decline reached its logical conclusion: relegation. For the first time Belenenses was relegated. For the first time one of the original founders was relegated. And, looking at the broad picture, Belenenses is still the only one of the original big four relegated – perhaps this dubious record will be unchallenged forever.

CAF Viseu was 14th with 23 points, the third team directly relegated.

FC Penafiel, also with 23 points, was 13th on better goal-difference. They still a chance to keep their place in the top division – if winning the promotion/relegation tournament. They finished 2nd in it and according to the statistical notes, they were safe. Then the 1982-83 season started without them… Down they went after all.

GD Estoril-Praia survived – 12th with 24 points.

Amora FC was also lucky – in safety with 24 points. Better goal-difference placed them 11th.

SC Espinho – 10th with 25 points.

Boavista – 9th with 26 points. Perhaps never in big danger of relegation, but so close. Their good spell seemingly ended and they returned to ‘normal’ – closer to the bottom than to the top. Not a bad team, but…

Vitoria Setubal – 8th with 28 points. Almost perfect mid-table record – 9 wins, 10 ties, 11 losses. Typical for them, nothing new.

SC Braga – 7th with 30 points. Like Setubal, solid mid-table team, having its usual season.

Portimonense FC – 6th with 32. Now, this small club had wonderful season, finishing unusually high.

Rio Ave FC – 5th with 34 points. Like Portimonense, they had surprisingly strong year, but also like Portimonense, they did not have the team and money to stay high in the league for long.

Vitoria Guimaraes – a stand-alone team. With 38 points they were way above the bulk of the league, but also far behind the favourites. 4th place was, however, right and typical. Standing from left: Blanker,Tózé,Barrinha,Nivaldo,Ramalho,Damas.

First row: Mundinho,Ferreira da Costa,Abreu,Festas,Gregorio Freixo.

Aging former national team goalkeeper Damas was the only recognizable name. Curiously, Vitoria did not win even a single match away – their road record was 10 ties and 5 losses.

And the usual suspects battled for the title – at the end, 3 points separated the winners from the bronze medalists.

Standing from left: Gabriel, Freitas, Rodolfo, Teixeira, Romeu, Fonseca.

First row: Jaques, Albertino, Fernando, Jaime Magalhães, Costa.

FC Porto settled at 3rd place with 43 points and the best defensive record this season – they allowed only 17 goals in their net.

Benfica – 2nd with 44 points. They won the most matches – 20, but lost the most among the top teams – 6.

Sporting Lisbon clinched the tile with 46 points. Standing from left: Eurico, Jordão, Manuel Marques (enfermeiro-massagista), Meszaros, Carlos Xavier, Jaime Lopes (chefe do departamento de futebol), Virgílio, Freire, Nogueira, Esmoriz, Fidalgo, Allison, Dr. Alfaiate (médico).

First row: Ademar, Inácio, Barão, Manuel Fernandes, Bastos, Mário Jorge, Lito, Marinho, Oliveira, Marinho (treinador adjunto).

19 wins, 8 ties, and only 3 matches lost. 66-26 goal-difference. Wonderful victory. Their English coach Malcolm Allison must be credited for it.

Portugal II Division

Portugal. Second Division – three groups of 16 teams each, the last 4 relegated to third divisions. As promotion, it was complicated this year. The group winners were directly promoted, but they also played a mini-tournament deciding the Second Division champion. The second-placed of each group plus the 13th of First Division participated in a promotional play-off – and here the confusion. According to the final standing the top 2 of this tournament were promoted. However, the promoted teams were only three… The 13th of First Division finished second in the play-off tournament and kept its place among the best. The winner, however, did not go up – either there was a final match between, deciding who gets promotion, or the play-off meant nothing. Anyway, the easy stuff first.

Zona Norte. Five teams competed for the top places and at the end two teams finished with equal points – 41 each.

Salgueiros was placed 2nd on worse goal-difference and went to the promotional play-off.

Varzim was first – 17 wins, 8 ties, 5 losses, 59-18. Supreme goal-difference: +41, compared to +24 Salgueiros had.

Zona Centro. Three teams battled for the top 2 spots, two of them finishing with equal points, so again goal-difference decided the winner. Hm, not the goal-difference after all…

Academica Coimbra was strangely 2nd – 18 wins, 10 ties, 1 loss, 59-13 goal-difference. That is, +46 – their rival had only +34… and finished ahead of Academica. The numbers don’t make sense: one match is missing in the Academica’s record – 29 instead of 30. They either did not play one match for some reason, or lost 2 matches, not one.

Strangely, Alcobaca GC, virtually unheard of club, won the group and the only reason could have been that they won more matches than Academica – 21 to Academica’s 18.

Zona Sul. Two teams really competed this season, so no problem here – they did not finish with equal points.

Farense was 2nd with 39 points.

Maritimo (Funchal) – 1st with 42 points.

The zonal winners went to the championship play-off and here Maritimo proved strongest and won the mini-league with 2 wins and 1 loss and better goal-difference: +4. They were the Second Division champions. Varzim also won twice and lost one match, but had only +2 goal-difference and finished second. Alcobaca lost all their matches, but it did not matter at all – the three zonal winners were already directly promoted to First Division.

The confusing promotional play-off had 4 participants: the three 2nd placed in the zones – Salgueiros, Academica, and Farense, plus Penafiel, the 13th in First Division. Salgueiros won the tournament with 7 points and, curiously, negative goal-difference. Penafiel was 2nd with 6 points and better goal-difference than Academica, also with 6 points. Varzim was last with 5 points. And according to the final table Salgueiros and Penafiel were promoted – or, in the case of Penafiel, kept its place in first division. That they did and were not mentioned further. But Salgueiros was not in the list of promoted clubs this year… However, Salgueiros played in the First Division the next season and Penafiel – not.

Yugoslavia the Cup

Dinamo had a good chance for a double this year – they reached the Cup final. Crvena zvezda was the other finalist. An exciting clash of opponents fueled by ambition and having a long history of rivalry. The final ended 2-2 and a replay was scheduled. The second match was won by Crvena zvezda 4-2 and the Cup was theirs.

The losing finalists. Standing from left: Velimir Zajec, Tomislav Ivković, Zvezdan Cvetković, Srećko Bogdan,Dragan Bošnjak.

First row: Edi Krnčević, Snješko Cerin, Zlatko Kranjčar, Emil Dragičević, Marko Mlinarić.

Dinamo was unable to win a double and the reason was perhaps not enough experience – the team was young.

Crvena zvezda without a trophy is unthinkable. They saved the season by winning the cup.

Standing from left: Zdravko Borovnica, Slobodan Janković, ?, Boško Djurovski, Dika Stojanović, Zlatko Krmpotić.

First row: Vladimir Petrović, Miloš Šestić, Dušan Savić, Rajko Janjanin, Milko Djurovski.

Crvena zvezda had much stronger and more famous squads than this one, but still it was a team full of national team players, plenty of experience, and lead by a great star – Vladimir Petrovic. Ambition was never lacking, so Crvena zvezda prevailed.

Yugoslavia I Division

Top flight. First division was divided into 3 groups – 2 outsiders, 3 favourites, and the bulk of 13 teams fairly equal and not concerned with either first place, or relegation.

NK Zagreb – last with 19 points.

Teteks (Tetovo) – 17th with 23 points. Both teams relegated.

Osijek – 16th with 29 points.

OFK Beograd – 15th with 30 points. Their decline was seemingly unreversable.

Vardar (Skopje) – 14th with 30 points, but better goal-difference than OFK Beograd. Standing from left: K Dimitrovski, Georgiev, Bankovic, Gruevski, Jovanovski, V. Dimitrovski.

Crouching: Ringov, Odzakov, Zdravkov, P. Georgievski, Savovic.

Sloboda (Tuzla) – 13th with 31 points.

Rijeka – 12th with 32 points.

Radnicki (Nis) – 11th with 32 points. After their sudden ascent, they dropped back to their usual position in the league. Good years for Radnicki, but evidently they were not capable to handle both European and domestic tournaments. No surprise: the team was not really strong and a small team had no chance of improving it – good players were more likely to leave, not to come.

Vojvodina (Novi Sad) – 10th with 32 points. Standing from left: Šuica, Dimitrić, S. Marić, Mićović, Zovko, Jablan, Ćirić.

First row: Novaković, Z. Marić, Vujadinović, Ilić, Pejović.

Olimpija (Ljubljana) – 9th with 33 points.

Buducnost (Titograd) – 8th with 34 points.

Velez (Mostar) – 7th with 36 points.

Partizan – 6th with 37 points. Stagnation.

Zeljeznicar (Sarajevo) – 5th with 38 points. Rapidly coming back to the top of the league, but not ready yet to concur.

FK Sarajevo – 4th with 39 points. Like their city rivals, in good shape and ahead of them. Standing from left: Pašić, Handžić, Radeljaš, N. Vidaković, N. Ferhatović, Hadžibegić

Crouching: Vukičević, S. Melić, Kapetanović, Hadžialagić, Janjoš.

That was the bulk. On top – familiar names, the usual suspects, but… there was no big battle for the title.

Hajduk (Split) – 3rd with 44 points. Lost silver medals on worse goal-difference. Consistently strong squad, but this year was not great.

Crvena zvezda – clinched 2nd place, but there was no pleasure: the title was entirely out of reach.

Dinamo (Zagreb) was unquestionable champion – 20 wins, 9 ties, 5 losses, 67-32, 49 points. Hajduk had sturdier defense and Crvena zvezda better scoring record, but Dinamo finished 5 points ahead of them. Perhaps not the most balanced team even in their own history, but Dinamo had arguably the most exciting players at the moment: Zajec, Kranjcar, Cvetkovic, Mlinaric, and Deveric. Hadzic, Mustedanagic, and Bosnjak were not to be underestimated either.

Their 5th title and first after 1957-58 – the long wait was over at last. The building of this team started a few years back and finally the true rewards came. Credit to their coach Miroslav Blazevic, the next generation of talented Yugoslavian coaches was making itself more and more present. A squad so strong Dinamo did not have since mid-1960s and they joined again the best clubs in the country. Sweet victory – it was great to be ahead of fellow Croatians Hajduk (Split), not to mention ahead of Belgrade’s clubs.

Yugoslavia II Division

Yugoslavia. Second Division was important mostly for the question of promotion. Two grous of 18 teams each, as ever. Winners go up, last 2 of each group relegated. Naturally, former first division members are seen as the heavy-weights and by this suspect measure Second League East was seemingly stronger, having Bor (Bor), Napredak (Krusevac), Trepca (T. Mitrovica), Pristina (Pristina), and Sutjeska (Niksic) playing there. But it was entirely different club which dominated the league this season: Galenika (Zemun). They never played any significant role in Yugoslav football before.

Standing from left: Čelar, Dujkovic, Živković, Banković, Nikolovski, Milinković.

First row: Ljalja, Brkić, Santrač, Lacmanović, Pavičević.

Galenika won the championship and was promoted for the first time in their history with 43 points. They won 18 games, tied 7, and lost 5. 56-20 goal-difference. Six points ahead of the nearest pursuer, Trepca. Fantastic success. Which happened mostly thanks to two veterans, who joined the club in 1980 – the goalkeeper Ratomir Dujkovic (b. 1946), who arrived from NK Osijek, and the all-time Yugoslavian First Division and OFK Beograd goal-scorer Slobodan Santrac (b. 1946). The center-forward came from Partizan (Beograd).

Second League West. One team withdrew after the first half of the season – Svoboda (Ljubljana) – so the league ended with 17 teams. Borac (Banja Luka), Celik (Zenica), Spartak (Subotica), Proleter (Zrenjanin), and Iskra (Bugojno) were the potential candidates for promotion, but none succeeded. In fact, three teams competed for the first place and two of them finished with equal points. Celik (Zenica) was 3rd with 38 points. Spartak (Subotica) and Dinamo (Vinkovci) ended with 40 points and goal-difference decided the winner.

Dinamo (Vinkovci) clinched first place with +46 goals – Spartak had only +24. Dramatic, but well deserved victory – 18 wins, 4 ties, 7 losses, 70-24, and 40 points. Dinamo (Vinkovci) won promotion.

USSR the Cup

The Cup tournament was very short this year, practically squeezed into 3 months. The final was played on May 9 – seemingly, celebrating the victory of the World War II, but the real reason most likely was preparation for the World Cup, which affected the whole first half of the 1982. Including the final… It was between Torpedo (Moscow) and Dinamo (Kiev). One goal was scored in the final and by a defender.

Sergey Baltacha scored the only goal in the 34th minute.

Thanks to that, Dinamo (Kiev) won and captain Leonid Buryak proudly lifted the Cup.

The final brought little comments: Kiev’s victory was acknowledged as ‘victory of the competent football’. Which translates into tough and not exciting match, in which classier Dinamo clinched a victory thanks to grit. Nothing new… their robotic football, oriented only on winning by whatever means, was noted and criticized for some years already. Too pragmatical and calculating. But good things have to be written about winners, so there.

Torpedo (Moscow) – the photo of them is from the fall of 1982, when they played against Bayern in the Cup Winners Cup – was good enough for a minimal loss. No wonder: they had solid team, mostly made of players with experience, but also players who clearly reached the limits of their potential and ambitions – Prigoda, Susloparov, Petrakov, Redkous, Polukarov, Shaveyko, Galayba, Gostenin. Former national team players, who never established themselves as first-rate stars, eventually settling for comfortable mid-table life. The only curiousity was their goalkeeper – two brothers defended the gates at the final – Vyacheslav and Viktor Chanov. The older, Vyacheslav, played for Torpedo. Both were current national team players and remained so for a number of years. But the curse… they started in Shakhter (Donetzk), backing up the starter Degtyarev. Unfortunately, he was always in great form and included in the national team. The brothers had no chance and obviously had to move out – the older, Vyacheslav joined Torpedo and finally started playing regularly, almost at 30 years of age. And reached the national team, once again to compete not only with his younger brother, but largely to keep the bench of reserves warm… for at the same time emerged Rinat Dassaev and there was no question who will play for more than 10 years. As for why Torpedo and not the actual Cup winners played in the Cup Winners Cup in the fall of the same year, the reason is the spring-fall format of USSR’s championship. In the European Champions Cup played the champion of 1981 – that was Dinamo (Kiev). The Cup, however, was decided in May 1982, so the 1982 holders played in the Cup Winners Cup – in this case, the losing finalist, since Kiev played in the other tournament.

And the Cup winners. Standing from left: A. Sorokalet, Ya. Dumansky, V. Lozinsky, A. Bal. Viktor Chanov, O. Blokhin, S. Zhuravlev, V. Evtushenko.

First row: V. Khlus, A. Demyanenko, A. Boyko, L. Buryak, S. Baltacha.

Winners, but also this squad is a testimony of the ‘lost’ first half of the season, because of the national team. Bessonov, Khapsalis, Ratz, and Oliferenko (obscure name, but he was voted among the 33 best players of the year) did not play at the final. It was a team mostly made of reserves. Veremeev played in the first half, but this year the veteran was practically a reserve player. Against a team like Torpedo, the reserves were just enough – but in the long run of the championship points were lost exactly in the first half of the season and that was costly at the end. In any case, it was still unsatisfying team – Lobanovsky was still searching and shaping. A whole bunch of this team was not going to be a part of the great Dinamo circa 1985: Sorokalet, Lozinsky, Dumansky, Zhuravlev. Veremeev was going to retire. Buryak was not going to last, getting into big conflict with Lobanovsky. Oliferenko, Khlus, and Boyko became an empty promise. But one problem was already solved – goalkeeping, with the arrival of Viktor Chanov. He was only 23 years old, so there was nothing to worry for many years. And deeply in the team and out of sight yet was Mikhaylichenko, only 19. Baltacha was already moved to defense and it worked – the new team was getting in shape, only not finished and ready yet. Yes, Baltacha was the hero of the Cup final, but not of the season – for the first time in Soviet history a defender scored a hat-trick this season: Yury Kurnenin of Dinamo (Minsk) did it against Kayrat (Alma-ata).

USSR I Division


First division. Five teams exceeded the permitted number of ties, thus losing points, but none suffered from it – all were in mid-table. As a whole, the rule worked – the number of ties was reduced, but the more attacking approach did not increase significantly the scores. There was no hopeless outsider, but also there was not a great favourite – the league was fairly competitive. The three big favourites did not have a great year, largely because their coaches and players were preoccupied with the national team for about half of the championship. And because of that it is hard to judge the championship, except for those teams in decline. At the bottom finished usual suspects – Kairat (Alma-ata) was last with 24 points and relegated once again.

Kuban (Krasnodar) finished 17th with 27 points and was also relegated. True, they lost on goal-difference, but the club made the cardinal mistake of smaller clubs suddenly finding themselves among the best: Kuban was a typical mid-table second-division club for years: the most of the squad was not much and safety was achieved by recruiting 2-3 veterans with solid biography. It was enough to keep them out of trouble in the lower level. It was even enough for promotion. Combined with enthusiasm, it was enough for a year in top flight. But it was not enough for longer run – Kuban did not improve its squad, but once again recruited 2 veterans – the former national team goalkeeper Pilguy from Dinamo Moscow and the defender Buturlakin from Torpedo Moscow. Did not work… this time there was no survival. In the last round they visited their direct competitor Neftchi (Baku), which was 2 points ahead. Kuban won 3-2, equalized the points, but goal-difference still favoured Neftchi. Goal-difference? Actually, wrong… it was not decisive factor, but seemingly the number of wins – Neftchi had worse goal-difference by far, but finished with 10 wins. Kuban had 9. Neftchi survived… for now.

Down on their luck: CSKA (Moscow) – 15th. All Army clubs were weak at this time.

Shakhter (Donetzk) – 14th. Looked like Shakhter was going into decline and the reason most likely was too many Ukranian clubs in first division, some on ascent. Shakhter more or less lost its position as the second Ukrainian club, which affected its ability to recruit new quality players. The competition was more attractive.

The third team obviously in rough shape was Dinamo (Moscow). The decline was noticed long time ago and so far there was no sign of coming out of it. Internal conflicts were blamed for that – Aleksander Bubnov left the club after the end of the season because of that. Generally, the recruitment policy was wrong – for years Dinamo was not able to find worthy players: they actively recruited players, but somehow they were not as good as thought, did not blend together. 11th this year.

The newcomers were not spectacular, but did what was more or less the maximum expected from the freshly promoted: to survive. Somewhere in the lower half of the table. Torpedo (Kutaisi) ended 13th. The only remarkable thing about their performance was that 2 players scored almost all of their goals – Megreladze 18 and Dardzhania 11.

Metallist (Kharkov) ended 12th.

Dnepr (Dnepropetrovsk) – on the left of Metallist (Kharkov) – was 9th. Midtable position did not suggest that this team will play major role of Soviet football to the end of USSR.

Zenit (Leningrad) – 7th. Like Dnepr, solid season, but nothing special yet.

Pakhtakor (Tashkent) – here touring Italy – had excellent season, one of the surprise performances this year: 6th. The top scorer of the championship came from them – the veteran midfielder Aleksander Yakubik, 32-years old former Dinamo (Moscow) player, scored 23 goals. Back in 1979 he was sent by Dinamo to help Pakhtakor after its entire team died in aircrash. Over the hill, that what Dinamo thought – but Yakubik became essential part in the rebuilding of Pakhtakor and now Dinamo was 11th, Pakhtakor – 6th.

Ararat (Erevan) – 5th with 38 points. They were even leading for awhile in the first part of the championship. May be coming back to glory?

And finally the best. Dinamo (Tbilisi) and Spartak (Moscow) both ended with 41 points.

Dinamo (Tbilisi) – 4th and empty-handed, seemingly because of worse goal-difference.

Spartak (Moscow) got the bronze medals. From left: S. Shavlo, V. Grachev, G. Morozov, F. Cherenkov, V. Sochnov, E. Gess, A. Kalashnikov, I. Vishnevsky, Yu. Gavrilov, R. Dassaev, O. Romantzev.

Both teams suffered from the same problem: the national team. They lost points in the first half of the championship and were unable to recover. Rinat Dassaev later confessed that near the end of the championship, when it was clear Spartak cannot win the title, the team lost interest. There was something else – neither team was very deep. Take away the key players and they were quite ordinary. Dinamo was getting old as well. A heavy price was paid just because USSR played at the World Cup.

But the race for the title was breathtaking even after Dinamo and Spartak were left behind. Shoulder to shoulder to the end, 1 point was the fragile lead for at least a month. Both leaders played their last round away and their opponents were far from easy – Spartak and Ararat. Both leaders won by a single goal, 4-3 in Moscow and 3-2 in Erevan. The fragile lead was preserved and Dinamo (Kiev) lost the title.

Dinamo (Kiev) back in January 1982 training in Czechoslovakia. Crouching from left: Evlantyev, Lozinsky, Dumansky, Demyanenko, Khapsalis, Bessonov, Evtushenko, Baltacha.

Second row: Puzach – assistant coach, ?, ?, ?, Khlus, Sorokalet, Mikhaylov, Blokhin, Veremeev, Bal, Chanov, Zhuravlyov, Buryak, Boyko, Lobanovsky – coach.

Well, the best squad in the country… but they started poorly, thanks to the national team preparations, and really came back to convincing performance in the second half of the season. They climbed up, trailing closely the leader – 1 point behind. Unfortunately, this 1 point was still there when the dust settled. Dinamo overcome strong resistance of Ararat and won their last game – but so did their rivals.

Dinamo (Minsk) – brand new champions of USSR. Third row from left: Aleksandr Voynakh, Sergey Borovsky, Yury Trukhan, Grigory Tzyrkunov, Yury Kurbyko, Mikhail Vergeenko, Lyudas Rumbutis, Igor Kriushenko, Aleksandr Alekseychikov, Yury Pudyshev.

Middle row: Eduard Malofeev – coach, Leonid Garay – team chief, Andrey Zygmantovich, Yury Kurnenin, Valery Melnikov, Georgy Kondratyev, Andrey Sosnitzky, Igor Kulchenko, Yury Popkov, Anatoly Panteleev, Viktor Shishkin, Pavel Rodnenok, Roman Levkovich – team leader, Leonid Arzamastzev – assistant coach, Vassily Dmitrakov – doctor.

Front row: Igor Belov, Petr Vassilevsky, Sergey Aleynikov, Aleksandr Vanyushkin, Sergey Gotzmanov, Genady Kobrenkov, Igor Gurinovich, Aleksandr Prokopenko, Viktor Sokol.

Surprise winners and first time champions. The only 9th club becoming Soviet champions and the second non-Russian or Ukrainian. 19 wins, 9 ties, 6 losses and 63-35 goal-difference. 47 points – one more than Dinamo (Kiev), a fragile lead, which was preserved in the last few rounds. Lets start with negative points: Dinamo (Minsk) did not have the team to really compete and if the big favourites were able to concentrate on the championship from start to finish, it was unlikely Dinamo finishing even among the top three. Two matches practically decided their victory – the very last match Dinamo played and made them champions was away match against Spartak (Moscow). They won 4-3. But Dassaev later said that Spartak, already having no chance to reach even second place, was disinterested. They did not play in earnest. It was possible Spartak decided to help Minsk only to deprive Kiev from the title – already the main rivalry was between Spartak and Dinamo (Kiev). Earlier Dinamo (Minsk) visited their namesakes in Moscow and won 7-0. Dinamo (Moscow) was heavily criticized for their utter disinterest in this match, but their terribly toothless performance was blamed on internal problems. This was true and it was also true that Dinamo (Moscow) had awful year, but… both teams belonged to the Police/KGB system. In this pyramid Dinamo (Moscow) stayed on top. Dinamo (Kiev) already played independently, but Minsk was subordinate and there were ‘hot’ relations between the two clubs: two of the key players of Minsk were sent years ago from Moscow – Kurnenin and Pudyshev. To help the usually weak ‘cousin’. After the fall of USSR it was revealed that the Belarussian KGB played key role in the great season of the club. It was very possible Dinamo (Moscow) helped by losing 0-7 at home. However, accusations were never made – unlike the case of Zarya (Vorosholvgrad) ten years earlier, which title was almost openly rumored won with bribes even in Soviet time. So, it is just a suspicion – ill supported, but still there.

On the positive side – nobody ever denied that Dinamo (Minsk) played well. They were something fresh and rare: dedicated to attractive attacking football. Moreover, Dinamo participated in rare exciting race shoulder to shoulder to the very end of the championship, preserving fragile 1 point lead – and their rival was mighty Dinamo (Kiev), a very hard and intimidating opponent. There was no denying that Minsk improved a lot – they had there only second national player in history, Sergey Borovsky, and three more players – Aleynikov, Zygmantovich, and Gotzmanov – who played big part in Soviet football of the 1980s. If Minsk is compared to Zarya (Voroshilovgrad), the surprise champions 10 years earlier, there was one huge difference: Zarya was clearly one-time wonder. None of their players established himself in the national team (Onishtchenko came from Dinamo Kiev and returned to Kiev right after the champion season – he was Kiev’s star really) – this was not the case of the stars here: all four players made their names with Minsk and largely this very season. But they became stars in the true sense. As a whole, it was well deserved victory and if the opponents parcically missed half of the year, concentrated on national team duties, that was not a foul of Dinamo (Minsk): after all, who was to blame that at least two of the big clubs were not deep enough and their reserves were not strong enough. If one is suspect of the Minsk victory in Moscow against Dinamo, then consider the equally suspect 5-1 victory of Kiev in Tbilisi at the same crucial time of the championship – once again, two teams belonging to the Police/KGB system, only with ‘Southern flavour’. Dinamo (Tbilisi) played unusually weak and clueless match at home against Dinamo (Kiev), just the same as Dinamo (Moscow) against Dinamo (Minsk). Anyhow, the kind of football Minsk played was recognized as nice and fresh. The squad was found not particularly great, but experienced and motivated. The biggest credit went the coach – Eduard Malofeev (or Malafeev, as he often spelled after 1986-87). He was young coach and a star player in the 1960s – the first and only national team player Dinamo (Minsk) had before Sergey Borovsky of the champion squad. He was really up and coming coach, eventually becoming one of the top Soviet coaches and successfully leading the national team. So the positive changes came thanks to him.

One more photo of the new champions – here right after their last match with Spartak. The logo is wrong, but never mind. First time champions deserve more than one picture, especially if they open the door for significant changes. Yes, they did that – the rest of the 1980s witnessed a few more newcomers to the big scene, making the stale and dull Soviet championship suddenly competitive, exciting, and unpredictable.