Bulgaria the Cups

The Cups… this was the dark and confusing period. Two Cups. The Bulgarian Cup had its second issue and still was not fully recognized as the country’s prime cup tournament. Even in print – records still placed The Soviet Army Cup first. That is, the strange cup tournament, which was the country’s cup tournament since 1946. But at least the big clubs were not fooled – The Bulgarian Cup was the tournament UEFA recognized after putting pressure on the Football Federation to create it. Already the big clubs concentrated on the new tournament and started to neglect the old one. Smaller clubs, however, did not mind at all doing well in the Soviet Army Cup – for them it was valid and still most important cup competition. This duality will stay for the most of the 1980s, leaving the matter confused, for smaller cup would insist in their histories that they did wonders in the national cup competition, that is the Soviet Army Cup. Simultaneously, the same national success was claimed if doing well in the Bulgarian Cup. Anyhow, in 1981-82 the matter was not at all clear – both tournaments were seemingly equal, at least in statistical terms. Yet, the Soviet Army Cup was doomed – its final was played earlier and in provincial Pleven. The Bulgarian Cup was played later in Sofia, thus enforcing the idea that it was the prime tournament finishing the season. The Soviet Army Cup final opposed Lokomotiv (Sofia) to Lokomotiv (Plovdiv). That is one strong first division team to second division team, which had miserable season and finished in the middle of its league. It looked like no contest… but Lokomotiv (Plovdiv) had different view – the final ended 1-1 and the first division team managed to prevail only in overtime by a single goal – 2-1.

The Soviet Military Atache Valery Dzanagov awarded the Soviet Army Cup to the captain of Lokomotiv (Sofia) Yordan Stoykov and that was that.

The winners posed for the fans with their 3rd Cup and their first since 1953. From left: Nikolay Donev, Angel Kolev, Boycho Velishkov, Nasko Zhelev, Boris Iliev, Aleksandar Markov, Nako Doychev, Marko Bogdanov, Georgy Berkov – coach, Aleksandar Dudov.

The Soviet Army Cup winners, standing from left: Ivaylo Georgiev – assistant coach, Nikolay Donev, Svetoslav Stefanov, Nako Doychev, Traycho Sokolov, Roumyancho Goranov, Yordan Stoykov, Ivan Metodiev, Angel Kolev, Boycho Velichkov, Aleksandar Dudov, Plamen Nikolov.

First row: Nikolay Tanchev, Aleksandar Markov, Roumen Stoyanov, Stoycho Stoev, Georgy Bonev, Ventzislav Arsov, Nasko Zhelev, Marko Bogdanov, Boris Iliev.

There was no fuss… Lokomotiv (Plovdiv) had nothing to brag about, for they lost – but this trophy still stay high on their list, as it will be seen later. Lokomtoiv (Sofia), having quite a trophy room anyway, were keenly aware that the cup was secondary and not all that important. Besides, 4 days later the final of the Bulgarian Cup was played and this match obliterated the memories of that final entirely – for this other final was not only played in Sofia, but between the arch-enemies CSKA and Levski-Spartak, the biggest Bulgarian derby.

The second Bulgarian Cup tournament practically established it – the first one was clearly not taken seriously. Even the winners and their fans – CSKA “Septemvriysko zname” did not pay much attention. The first competition was not nation-wide, but small international affair, which ended not with a proper final, but with a round-robin tournament and the winner was the team with most points at the end. It was also part of the massive official campaign celebrating 1300 years from the establishment of Bulgarian state and in it football had very small role. It looked like summer tournament of no import, most likely one-time affair. But the second competition was organized properly, culminating with classic cup final – that the best clubs in the country reached the final pretty much made the new Cup credible.

In the final, Levski-Spartak utterly destroyed CSKA – 4-0. The champions controlled the match in the first 20 minutes, but Levski used every chance to counter-attack and got a penalty in 32nd minute, which Barzov scored. After that, it was all Levski and CSKA was lucky to escape with only 4 goals in their net.

Sitting from left: Alyosha Dimitrov, Krassimir Bezinsky, Stoycho Mladenov, Angel Kalburov, Radoslav Zdravkov, Plamen Markov, Tzvetan Yonchev, Metody Tomanov.

Middle row: Spas Dzhevizov, Georgy Iliev, Georgy Velinov, Georgy Dimitrov, Aleksandar Aleksandrov, Krassimir Dossev, Dinko Dimitrov, Mario Valkov.

Third row: Pavel Filipov – doctor, Ruzhdy Kerimov, Stoyan Yordanov – assistant coach, Asparoukh Nikodimov – coach, Dimitar Penev – assistant coach, Nikola Velkov, Aram Levonian – rehabilitation.

CSKA was unable to win a double this season.

Levski-Spartak after winning their 1st Cup of Bulgaria. Championship was lost, but the cup victory was important and it was always sweet to destroy the arch-enemy. What remained was a bit of confusion… the new cup required new records – in the counting, it was 1 cup for CSKA and 1 cup for Levski. But there was also the old record of Soviet Army Cup winners, which not only remained, but counted in the grand totals. It was neither here, nor there. Still is.

Bulgaria I Division


The Bulgarian championship was anomalous, when considered from a distance: their was general positive aspects – European success of CSKA and strong new generation of players, many of them very exciting. In the same time the championship was plain old battle between CSKA and Levski-Spartak, leaving the rest of fairly equal league far behind. Individual talent somewhat did not affect team performance – it looked just the opposite somehow. Three teams were quite the outsiders.

With 17 points Akademik (Sofia) was last.

Standing from left: Nikolay Vladov, Zhoro Machkansky, Decho Pavlov, Sasho Borissov, Dimitar Dimitrov.

Front row: Roumen Dimov, Tzonko Simeonov, Plamen Lipensky, Valery Peychev, Kiril Lyubomirov, Borislav Gyorev.

It was hard to explain… the previous season Akademik, freshly promoted, finished 3rd. They earned a spot in the UEFA Cup and generally pleased everyone with their football. It looked like the team was coming back to its great years of mid-70s. Now they were hopeless… and it was hard to figure out why, looking at the squad: most players were young and promising. There was very experienced backbone – Lyubomirov, Simeonov, Borissov, and Gyorev (the only survivor from the great mid-70s team). But the mix did not work, bringing back memories of the late 70-s, when promising looking team went down to relegation. Reason? The predicament… Akademik was easily looted by design: a ‘students’ club, they could not keep players no longer University students. The club did not have financial muscle and big ‘sponsors’. And students could move to another club even without having to drop out from University by now. So, key players moved to Levski-Spartak and CSKA, the team was destabilized and went down immediately. It was not just a temporary underperformance either – more players left right after the end of the disastrous season, further weakening the club.

Beroe (Stara Zagora) – 15th with 19 points. Weak season, not really reflecting the quality of the squad. But Beroe had a history of sudden falls, leading them to second division. Impossible to figure out why same players one year made wonders, even challenging the favourites, and the next were relegated.

Slightly better, but still an outsider – Botev (Vratza), 14th with 22 points.

Front row from left: Efremov, Toshkov, Vassilev, N. Christov, Bozhilov, Emilov.

Middle row: G. Kamenov – assistant coach, Arsov, Mitov, Tzvetanov, Chr. Mladenov – coach, Voynov, Radoslavov, Valov, P. Kamenov – assistant coach, G. Petkov – football section chairman.

Third row: K. Kostov – rehabilitation specialist, Atanassov, Ivanov, Tzenov, Maldzhansky, Strashimirov, Danov, Petkov, P. Kyupriysky – doctor.

Botev was in decline since 1975, so going deeper and deeper down was hardly a news, but still… three national team players in excellent form – Valentin Maldzhansky (current),Tzvetan and Iliya Valov (soon to be). Above average players with plenty of experience – Tzenov, Toshkov, Efremov, Bozhilov. Two bright up and coming youngsters – Yuly Emilov and Iliya Voynov. And one of the highly reputed Bulgarian coaches – Christo Mladenov, who just recently coached both Levski-Spartak and Slavia, and who was the last man leading Bulgaria to World Cup finals – in 1974. Nothing worked… and Botev was just happy to stay for another year after wining minimally the promotion/relegation play-off against Shumen.

Marek (Stanke Dimitrov) was 13th with 26 points – 4 more than Botev and normally they would have been safe. At least for one more year, for here crisis was more than obvious: the exciting years of Marek, leading them to European competitions and dramatic clashes with Bayern and Alex Ferguson’s Aberdeen, were practically due to 14 players. Inevitably, they aged, they were beyond their prime and started to retire. By now, the remaining stars were all about 30 years old – and there was not a single worthy player behind them. It was a fatal mistake: the team started with very short team and with time it getting only shorter and shorter (reduced from 14 to 9 good players, to be exact). True, the club was small and hardly able to attract first-rate talent, but seemingly no effort to reinforce was made either. The new rule hurled Marek to promotion/relegation play-off – they lost and went down, having only themselves to blame.

Belasitza (Petrich) was 12th in their second season in First Division. Standing from left: Petar Argirov – coach, Milan Karatanchev, Dimitar Karadaliev, Nasko Stanoev, Yordan Popov, Vladimir Krazhanov, Georgy Bibishkov, Valery Dagalov, Nikola Shalamanov – assistant coach.

Crouching: Roumen Popov, Iliya Redzhev, Lozan Trenchev, Georgy Bokhorov, Dimitar Dimitrov, Valery Stoyanov, Branimir Kochev, Laskov.

Lovely underdog – they survived again against the odds. Not only the squad was nothing much, but their situation was challenging: in the realm of current South Second Division champions Pirin (Blagoevgrad), they were doomed to lose whatever talent they had to the big neighbour, depending in the same time on handouts from the same neighbour. That is, discarded old players were the most Belasitza would hope for – and a big chunk of their team consisted of players Pirin no longer needed. Since Petrich was small town, there was nothing else they can do in terms of recruiting. But helped by peculiarity (Petrich was inside the 20-km border zone, where Bulgarians were forbidden to enter without a special permit issued by the Police – this difficulty greatly diminished the number of visiting fans, so Belasitza played largely in front of their own noisy and sometime violent supporters), climate (it is generally the hottest area of Bulgaria with limited water supply, which the home team used wickedly – the pitch was especially hard with little grass and there was always a good excuse why it wasn’t watered or even leveled. The home team was used to this pitch – its visitors were often unable to adjust), and great spirit (the team frequently overperformed, even players Pirin discarded for lack of ambition), Belasitza managed to stay out of trouble this season. The formula was simple – they made the most of home games, taking full advantage of their situation – away: whatever happens. It was almost impossible to extract a point in Petrich, even for the strongest clubs – and home points so far were enough at the end of the season.

Sliven (Sliven) ended 11th with 27 points – ahead of Belasitza only on goal-difference. A weak season really, but Sliven heavily depended on current players sent from CSKA – if the bunch was strong and ambitious, the club played well; if not – went down. Just for that reason – for serving as a second team of CSKA – many fans wanted Sliven relegated, but they survived this year.

Etar (Veliko Tirnovo) – 10th with 28 points. Etar meandered between first and second division in the recent years, so it was fine they were able to survive – it was like taking a deep breath of relief. There was a good chance for the team to stabilize, to start believing in itself and to reinforce it without panic – a big part of the problems in the recent years was the frequent changes in the squad, some of them clearly patch-up temporary work.

Spartak (Pleven) – 9th with 29 points. Standing from left: Ivan Ivanov – assistant coach, Venelin Nikolov, Nazim Mehmedov, Lachezar Tanev, Tzvetan Krastev, Tony Dzhefersky, ?, ?, Milko Gavrilov, Stanimir Parchanov, ?.

Crouching: Vassil Minkov, Tzvetan Kamenov, Roumen Khristov, Plamen Getov, Blagoy Krastanov, Aleksandar Benchev, Krassimir Lazarov, Vassil Daskalov.

This was a team often praised and retrospectively considered one of the finest Spartak ever had – that is why it was strange to see them so low in the table. Compared to some other teams, Spartak was equal or better. It was a team at its prime, well shaped and experienced. It had three national team players, one of them already considered a genius – Plamen Getov. Tzvetan Krastev was just an accidental member of the national team, but Lachezar Tanev and Getov were defining Bulgarian players of the decade and national team regulars until 1992. Not fillers either, but key stars. Yet, this squad was able only to finish in mid-table – something they had done before with weaker squads. One thing, peculiar for this time period of Bulgarian football – here are 2 bright goalkeepers. That was the case in many clubs, creating uncomfortable problem. But with so many good keepers in the league even leaving was not an easy option – where to go? Almost everybody had a solid starter… and some talent was lost. Point in case – neither Parchanov, nor Nikolov fulfilled expectations in the long term.

Haskovo (Haskovo) – the overachievers of the season: 8th with 30 points.

Sitting from left: Dimitar Dimitrov – administrator, Ivan Tishansky, Todor Apostolov, Ivan Vassilev, Mitko Nikolov, Kostadin Latinov, Yordan Kichekov, Sasho Georgiev, Aleksandar Vezenkov, Radka Georgieva – custodian.

Middle row: Nasko Atanassov – assistant coach, Christo Stamatov – doctor, Svetlin Cholakov, Valentin Kostov, Ivan Tekeliev, Yuksel Redzhebov, Nedyalko Panayotov, Zhivko Gospodinov, Rossen Stratiev, Zapryan Taskov – masseur.

Third row: Marin Gochev, Stoyan Gurkov, Todor Yanev, Aleksandar Kostov – coach, Sali Shakirov, Stoyan Dimov, Kolyo Kostov.

The best season in the history of Haskovo so far – the first time they were promoted, they were relegated right away. Their second foray into top level football was much stronger, although Haskovo had one of the weakest squads in the league and was expected to go down. Only three players – all old – were respectable names: the local hero and team captain Latinov, the centre-forward Kichekov, who was a seen as a future star back in the early 1970s, but never fulfilled expectations and eventually was let go from Trakia (Plovdiv) and settled in Second Division, and the former Levski-Spartak and the nationa team central defender Tishansky. Not enough for strong season. The success was largely due to the coach Kostov, a star left-winger back in the 1960s, who fans loved not only for his skills, but also for his pranks and great sense of humour. Like almost all closely related to Levski-Spartak coaches, he preferred to reinforce his teams with players Levski-Spartak did not need – Tishansky at this time. As a coach, Kostov was not really much, but his sense of humour was a big motivational tool – to a point, Haskovo’s success came mostly on the wings of enthusiasm, fueled by Kostov. But it was clear that the team overperformed and a second such season was unlikely, especially after the coach left with the end of the championship.

A place ahead of Haskovo only on better goal-difference was Trakia (Plovdiv), the big disappointment of the season. If Haskovo overachieved, Trakia underachieved. Hailed as the most talented and promising team in the country for some years, Trakia was supposed to be at its prime, or very near it – but the previous season more or less suggested that they would not be title contenders and whatever hopes lingered were utterly destroyed this year. The team simply stunk. To a point, the miserable performance was explained by unfortunate lack of delivery by the 1981 European best scorer Georgy Slavkov – he missed too many games because of injuries and suspensions. There was another problem, if not a real tension in the dressing room: there are too many strong players and some had to be left out on the bench, particularly the second goalkeeper, who was immediately included in the national team when he happened to be a starter, Kiril Peychev, and the talented striker Mitko Argirov. And Slavkov was keen to play for CSKA again. Slavkov and Argirov left after the end of the season, Peychev – a year later. But after this drop it was painfully clear that Trakia will never be a champion.

Chernomoretz (Bourgas) – 6th with 32 points. Head-to-head matches with Lokomotiv (Sofia) deprived them from 5th place – both teams ended with same points and goal-difference. It was good season, but nothing really special – the talented youngsters of few years ago matured, but their potential as a team was not particularly high, so comfortable mid-table position was the most they could do – this year was better, they finished higher than usual. Well done and good luck in the next season.

Lokomotiv (Sofia) clinched 5th place, which was pretty much the usual and expected – solid play, but just below the best. Better than most. This team was called ‘new’, but there was little really new – experienced Georgy Berkov coached a decade ago and some players of that long gone days were still around. What was new was the absence of their emblematic star Atanas Mikhaylov, who was exported to play his last days of football in Cyprus. There was bright young talent, but very familiar names still pulled the strings. Practically, Lokomotiv maintained its usual position in the league.

In the history of Cherno more (Varna) this season is remembered as one of their strongest – they finished 4th with 33 points.

Crouching from left: Verony Strashnikov, Milen Bakardzhiev, Plamen Ganev, Georgy Kondov, Svetozar Svetozarov, Valery Peychev.

Middle row: Todor Velikov – assistant coach, Ivan Ivanov, Plamen Kazakov, Krassimir Diamandiev, Todor Marev, Ivan Donchev, Spas Kirov – coach.

Top row: Valery Tzelov, Georgy Popov, Todor Atanassov, Vasko Vladimirov, Rafi Rafiev, Borislav Manolkov, Georgy Zhekov.

This was a well-rounded relatively young, but experienced squad – in terms of the club, one of their best teams. Compared to other teams – nothing special really, except a good blend. Their star Todor Marev was quietly getting old and was not called to the national team for years – not his fault, he was really neglected and underrated most of the time. Three players, who did not make it in CSKA – Manolkov, Atanassov, and Peychev – settled well and contributed a lot. But… they did not make CSKA , the very reason they were here. None of other players made the big clubs interested – and not only the big clubs. They were middle-of-the-road, save for the centre-forward Rafiev, who was seen as national team potential for awhile. The final standing was great, but… they were just lucky to have a point or two more than similar teams. The difference between Cherno more and the 12th placed Belasitza was 6 points – between them and the 2nd placed: 13 points.

Slavia (Sofia) finished 3rd, but their performance was closer to that of the lower teams than to the favourites. Not for single moment Slavia competed for the title – rather, like Cherno more, they were just lucky to extract more points than others. 35 points, to be precise. 2 more than Cherno more. They lost a good 1/3 of the total games – 10. Their goal-difference was +2! They scored only 35 goals – barely above 1 goal-per-game average! Sitting from left: Ilyaz Aliev, Botyo Malinov, Nikolay Yankov, Sasho Momchilov, Vanyo Kostov, Roussi Ivanov, Georgy Minchev, Atanas Aleksandrov, Dimitar Diev, Pavlin Dimitrov.

Standing: Georgy Gugalov, Rostislav Grozdanov, Milcho Evtimov, Iliya Velichkov, Todor Parmakov, Ivan Khaydarliev, Zheko Andreev, Spasko Zanev, Ivan Iliev, Mario Kalpushkov.

Yes, this was almost the squad, which was robbed from the title only two years back. But the regulars were also painfully familiar since 1974… and there was a new twist: Bulgaria started to export players. Slavia benefited most at first – Chavdar Tzvetkov was sold to Austria (Vienna) and Andrey Zhelyazkov to Feyenoord (Rotterdam), the bigger Bulgarian transfer in the 1980s. The rest of the aging stars were surely next in line – Kostov, Aleksandrov, Minchev, Iliev, may be even Evtimov and Gugalov. Behind them were Velichkov, Aliev, and Malinov and it was already absolutely clear that reached their best some time ago and would never be leaders of a new team. Only Khaydarliev was such material, but one player was not enough… there was nobody among the youngsters with star potential. So, even tha fans of the club were not excited – 3rd place, UEFA Cup spot, but the season was not a memorable one amd the future was not bright at all.

So much for the league… this championship was not only familiar race between the bitter rivals CSKA and Levski-Spartak, but it was really everything this year – the difference between the favourites and the rest of the league was enormous and seemingly unbridgeable anytime soon. The race was extremely tough, though… 1 point decided winners and losers, and if one of their direct clashes had ended slightly differently, the places would have been reversed. One match CSKA won 2-1 and the other was a 2-2 tie. If both matches were tied, Levski-Spartak would have been 1st , a point ahead. But ‘ifs’ are just ‘ifs’ – CSKA prevailed.

Sitting from left: R. Gochev, Em. Spassov, Pl. Nikolov. T. Barzov, Kr. Chavdarov

Middle row: K. Ivkov – assistant coach, P. Petrov, Chr. Denchev, V. Grekov, N. Grancharov – captain, D. Zhechev – coach, Em. Velev, B. Iskrenov, Gr. Grigorov, Kr. Koev, G. Nechev – assistant coach.

Top row: S. Sofroniev – masseur, P. Kurdov, Vl. Delchev, V. Balevsky, A. Slavkov, M. Valchev, B. Mikhaylov, Pl. Tzvetkov, Zhan Filipov – doctor.

The title was lost, which never makes fans and club happy, but there was something important happening this year: the new great team of the 1980, for many the best ever Levski had, was shaped during this season. Mostly players coming from the youth system, which was a nice return to roots and tradition, and few recruits from elsewhere, the most important of whom was the centre-forward Mikhail Valchev, taken from Akademik (Sofia). This was due to the coaching staff – Dobromir Zhechev and Kiril Ivkov, the legendary duo of central defenders. Both young coaches – there were still players in the squad, who played with them – and some who played against them. Zhechev takes all credit for building the new team, although most of its key figures were already used by the previous coach Christo Mladenov. But Mladenov used in typical fashion – now and then would field a youngster as a substitute. Zhechev made them regulars and at key positions too. But let face it: Levski does not consider 2nd place a success. It did not matter that Slavia was left 11 points behind – what mattered was that CSKA ended 1 point ahead.

A golden team at its prime and champion again. Sitting from left: Alyosha Dimitrov, Radoslav Zdravkov, Georgy Dimitrov – captain, Tzvetan Yonchev, Stoycho Mladenov, Angel Kalburov.

Middle row: Stoyan Yordanov – assistant coach, Mario Valkov, Metody Tomanov, Plamen Markov, Spas Dzhevizov, Georgy Iliev, Dinko Dimitrov, Dimitar Penev – assistant coach.

Third row: Krassimir Bezinsky, Krassimir Dossev, Asparoukh Nikodimov – coach, Georgy Velinov, Nikola Velkov, Ruzhdy Kerimov.

47 points, 3rd consecutive title and 22nd altogether – what could be better? But the this one did not come easy at all – Levski-Spartak breathed in the neck of CSKA the whole season. Nothing new, but this time the enemy did it with almost teenage squad. And CSKA had finely shaped and tuned team at its prime… a team, which already took the scalps with 2 reigning European champions – Liverpool and Nottingham Forest. A team bursting of stars. A team which had no regular place for players with national team abilities like Kerimov or players, who would have been movers and shakers in almost any other club, like Tomanov, Valkov, Velkov. A team so good and demanding Krassimir Chavdarov was dismissed and joined… Levski-Spartak, where he immediately became a regular. The jewel was entirely made by Asparoukh Nikodimov, arguably the best Bulgarian coach at the moment. And it was so weird to see him dismissed after a champion season… after making the first great CSKA team after 1972, after winning three titles in a row for the first time since 1973, after eliminating two European champions. And after looking forward to make CSKA even stronger. But Nikodimov clashed with some of the club’s big suits, who were also big shots in Communist Party and Army hierarchy – and the great coach was kicked out. As a footnote: it was strange to see a second division coach – Vutzov – appointed to coach the national team and in the same time the top coach in the country going to work with second division club, Dunav (Rousse). All that was rather bitter, but happened after the fact – CSKA was champion, all that mattered.

Bulgaria II Division

Bulgaria. Changes: 2 directly relegated from First Division, but the 13th and 14th in the final table were no longer safe – they went to promotion/relegation play-off against the 2nd placed in the Second Division. Second Division itself was reduced for the next season – the two groups of the division were shortened to 18 teams each. Thus, 1981-82 was the last season of the largest ever Second Division in which 22 teams participated in each group.

Big size did not work somewhat. The idea was not merely giving a chance to many small clubs to play high-level football. The idea largely was to give a chance to many players to develop and eventually shine in competitive environment. But nothing happened – Second Division became less competitive instead, mostly because better, but not ambitious players spread around the leagues. This season there practically there was no fighting for the top place – one team dominated the Northern Second Division and one the Southern Second Division. Both were former first division members, as it was the case most of the time anyway. Both champions largely jumped ahead in the spring half of the season.

On the pessimistic side was the bulk of the leagues.

Ludogoretz (Razgrad) is pehaps the best known abroad Bulgarian club, after 6 titles and playing in the group phase of the Champions league, but in 1981-82 – and actually for many, many years – it was typical second division club: never even dreaming of going higher. The only concern was not to go lower. But it 15th in Northern Second Division and… going down. Not directly down, but in danger – Ludogoretz proceeded to play-offs in hope of surviving.

Dunav (Rousse) was expected to be a prime candidate for promotion – not only a former first division member, but a club unsatisfied with playing second level. However, Dunav was not a factor and finished 4th – 13 points behind the winners!

The winners were a team like Dunav – first division members no long ago, aiming to climb back. Unlike Dunav, ZSK Spartak (Varna) was really determined to do it – and won the first place with 59 points, leaving the nearest pursuer 9 points behind.

Sitting from left: K. Krastev, K. Venkov, T. Gergov, S. Simeonov, K. Zafirov, Zh. Gospodinov, N. Stoev, I. Voychev.

Middle row: T. Popov, P. Mikhov, T. Trendafilov, L. Goranov – assistant coach, I. Vutzov – coach, V. Nikolchev, A. Mikhaylov, A. Stankov.

Third row: N. Zaykov, I. Shukriev, E. Nedev, D. Enchev, M. Demirev, St. Aladzhov.

A curious team, the champions… given the names, it should have been a strong team – too strong for second division, certainly. Three former national team players, one current, and two more donned the national team jersey soon after the season ended. Not just that – Ivan Vutzov was appointed national team coach right after the end of the season. Never before a second division coach was elevated to coach the national team – he immediately included the central defender Assen Mikhaylov and the midfielder Zhivko Gospodinov in his selection and if Mikhaylov did not last in the national team, Gospodinov became one of the key Bulgarian players of the 1980s. Vutzov eventually qualified Bulgaria to the 1986 World Cup finals. The goalkeeper Krassimir Zafirov had been the star of ZSK Spartak for years and a member of the national team also for years – he rarely played, but was constantly called, even when playing in second division. But Vutzov hardly depended on local talent – he brought with himself a bunch of players from his former club, Levski-Spartak (Sofia): Aladzhov, Stankov, Nikolchev, and Zaykov. Dimitar Enchev also played for Levski-Spartak a few years back – unfortunate heavy injury cut short his promising career with the big club and he returned back to his home club. So, it was a squad with strong Levski-Spartak flavour – apparently, the chosen approach of Vutzov, for most of the other players were not much. It was rather short-term approach, though – it was impossible to get from Levski-Spartak current stars: it was possible to get only players no longer wanted for one or another reason – nearing retirement (Aladzhov), unable to establish themselves (Nikolchev), getting a bit over the hill (Stankov), or deep reserves without a chance of becoming starters (Zaykov). They surely helped, but for how long and especially how well in the top division was questionable.

In the South the picture was almost a carbon copy of the Northern league: potential candidates for promotion were not a factor at all, especially Lokomotiv (Plovdiv), which finished 10th. Minyor (Pernik) fought in the fall, but dropped out of the race in the spring, finishing 3rd.

Neftokhimik (Bourgas), little known even in Bulgaria at the time, had a good season – they finished 6th. Why? Easy to tell: a few established, but no longer needed in their first division neigbour, Chernomoretz, provided stability. A bunch of eager youngsters, hoping to join the first division club completed the picture. It was often the case of smaller club from a city with a first-division club. It was also the reason such clubs hardly ever were able to reach the top division – they depended too much on movements to and from the other local club.

The league winners did not shine in the fall, but entirely dominated the spring and finished 8 points ahead of the nearest pursuer. Pirin (Blagoevgrad), like ZSK Spartak, was expected favourite, but there were more differences than similarities between the two second division champions.

Third row, from left: P. Tzvetkov, Kr. Traykov, K. Kabranov, Y. Murlev, M. Stoyanov, K. Penev.

Middle row: V. Metodiev – coach, Y. Samokovliyski, At. Atanassov, I. Mularov, V. Popov, Khr. Khristov, Ev. Stanoev. B. Nikolov – assistant coach.

Sitting: R. Stoychev, I. Berbatov, I. Petrov, D. Tassev, M. Andreev, M. Dimitrov, K. Yanchev.

Like ZSK Spartak, Pirin excelent coach – if not the best coach at the time, certainly the key coach of the 1980s. However, Vassil Metodiev was in disgrace – the elimination of Dinamo (Kiev) a couple of years back terminated his career with Lokomotiv (Sofia). Success, ironically, brought heavy punishment and he had to look for employment in smaller clubs and towns. With this the similarities between Pirin and ZSK Spartak end. Metodiev did not bring trusted players with himself – Pirin already had one of the best youth systems in Bulgaria and there was plenty of young talent. For short-term stability he used the veterans of Pirin – Samokovliyski, Stoyanov, Petrov, and particularly the goalkeeper Khristo Khristov, who was still national team member. Now, on the surface, this was the reason Pirin was relegated to second division – the team depended too much on veterans, completing the team with inexperienced youngsters without dependable middle generation. The gap was crucial and Pirin went down. Metodiev changed this – now the youngsters were regulars and the number of veterans was reduced to the bare minimum. It was made clear that the youngsters make the team and veterans would provide support, if needed. A look at the squad in the next season shows that: Petrov and Kabranov were out, Andreev and Samokovliyski – second fiddle. Metodiev delivered, shaping, arguably, the best ever team of Pirin. But for the moment it was just achieving the first important goal – returning to first division.

Pirin and ZSK Spartak were directly promoted, but there was still more – the promotion/relegation play-offs, involving the second-placed teams. Thanks to chance, there was no need of a draw: the 13th and 14th in the First Division were teams from the North and from the South, so they were just paired with corresponding second-division team.

Botev (Vratza) against Shumen (Shumen0, the 2nd placed in the Northern Second Division. Botev won it home leg 1-0, then lost 1-2 in Shumen and preserved its place in first division on away goal.

In the South, very weakened Marek (Stanke Dimitriv, today – Dupnitza) faced Rozova dolina (Kazanlik). Marek was unable to win at home – the first leg ended 0-0 – and lost away 1-2. They were relegated – it was only logical, for Marek failed to reinforce. Its great team actually consisted of about 13 players, some dangerously old. With veterans retiring and some players moving away, the squad was heavily handicapped and the team dropped further and further down. There was still bite to it and under normal circumstances Marek was good at least for another year – they finished 13th – but the new rule suddenly opposed them to a team which was pretty much similar to Marek, except it was more excited and hungrier. One thing was sure after the play-off: may be Marek went down prematurely, but their crisis made sure they were not climbing back anytime soon.

Sitting from left: Radko Radev, Georgy Dimitrov, Tosho Tanev, Angel Yanev, Kralyo Orozov, Kamen Petkov, Kancho Kanev, Tenko Nachev.

Middle row: Zlatko Minchev, Khristo Gotzkov, Atanas Yovchev, Ivan Zafirov – coach, Koycho Koev, Nikolay Dyakov, Kolyo Petkov.

Third row: Radko Lyopansky, Khristo Popov, Yordan Todorov, Ahmed Dormushev, Roumen Atanassov, Dinyo Stoyanov, Emil Lichev, Stayko Radev.

Of all teams involved with promotion, Rozova dolina was the only one which never played first-division football before (Shumen, under different name, had a single season in First Division). To a point, Rozova dolina was also lucky – if there was a draw and they had to play against classier Botev (Vratza), most certainly they would have stayed in second division. The club enjoyed its strongest ever period, but it was not good enough for direct promotion – the club was small and belonged to a small city. They had not even one recognizable player – only 4 players played first division football before, but minimally and they were in Kazanlik only because did not make it elsewhere. From the local players none attracted the interest of bigger club – prime example was their captain and central defender Orozov, a local legend and arguably the best ever Rozova dolina player, who practically spent his long career in second division. For a second-division club from a small city, Rozova dolina was not bad – well balanced, experienced, dependable. Spurred by their young coach – Ivan Zafirov was captaining CSKA (Sofia) not even two years ago – Rozova dolina played perhaps above its own ability. Good luck helped – Marek happened to be pretty much equal, but aging and demoralized opponent, therefore, beatable – and Rozova dolina was suddenly promoted to the first division for the first time in their history. Fantastic achievement, but… it was painfully clear that they don’t have a team for top division football. They needed to get stronger players – and quickly. And not just one or two, but at least 5-6. A new team to be made, pretty much. It was rather impossible task – the city was small, the club was small… good players at their prime were surely not going there. Rozova dolina had to look for veterans no longer needed elsewhere, a temporary patch-up work. This Cinderella story was going to be very short…


Austria the Cup

The Austrian Cup final opposed Wacker (Innsbruck) to Austria (Vienna). Since Wacker already declined after 1975, Austria was the favourite – and won both legs: 1-0 and 3-1.

Nothing really to think about – it was logical: if one the big clubs won the championship, the other compensated by winning the Cup. So, Austria finished with trophy as well.

Standing from left: Anton Polster, Felix Gasselich, Ernst Baumeister, Erich Obermayer, Friedl Koncilia, Hannes Weninger, Franz Zore, Karl Daxbacher, Erich Hof – coach.

Crouching: Gerhard Steinkogler, Thomas Pfeifer, Chavdar Tzvetkov, Josef Sara, Robert Sara, Harald Furst, Hans Dihanich, Petko Petkov.

The photo is a bit mysterious – Polster joined Austria in the summer of 1982, according to records, and Hannes Weninger apparently did not play for Austria in the 1981-82 season. Must be a picture from the summer of 1981, between seasons, but, generally, this was the squad for the season. If Rapid was full of national team players, so was Austria – former and current, including the two Bulgarian strikers. Petkov satisfied in the previous season, so a second Bulgarian was bought in July 1981: the left-winger Chavdar Tzvetkov, the star left-winger and goalscorer of Slavia (Sofia) and the Bulgarian national team. Austria matched Rapid in strength, but still something was found wanting and Erich Hof was dismissed in April 1982. Just like their rivals, Austria thought that the team was not quite right under the guidance of the coach – may be one trophy was not enough, may be something else.


Austria was going back to standard 16-team league for the the next season, so there were no relegated teams this year and the first 6 teams in the Second Division were promoted. And 6 teams from Third Division were going up as well without any relegated from second level. The top 2 of each one of the third division groups, the Regional leagues, were going up a notch: SV Spittal/Drau and Vorwärts Steyr (Mitte group), Badener AC and UFC Purbach (Ost), Bregenz/Dornbirn and SK Zell/See (West).

The top 6 in Second Division were as follows: Union Wells (6th with 36 points), 1. Simmeringer SC (5th with 36 points), SC Neusiedl (4th with 38 points), First Vienna FC (3rd with 42 points), SC Eisenstadt (2nd with 43 points). Austria (Klagenfurt) won the Second Division championship with 47 points. All these teams were going to play first division football in 1982-83, no doubt, success of sorts.

Without fear of relegation, the top level championship was rather equal and may be a bit disinterested – only 2 teams competed for the title, the usual suspects. Perhaps one of the least eventful championship, practically reduced to championship race between two teams.

Linzer ASK finished last with 31 points, having been bitten of goal-difference for the 9th place. It did not matter at all, of course.

SV Austria (Salzburg) was 9th.

VOEST (Linz), with 32 points, ended 8th.

Wiener Sport-Club -7th, SK Sturm (Graz) – 6th, Wacker (Innsbruck) – 5th, and FC Admira/Wacker – 4th. Just went through the ,otions, one can say.

Grazer AK topped the bulk of the disinterested league – with 38 points and negative goal-difference: 40-47.

Everything concentrated on the classic rivalry between Austria and Rapid.

Austria (Vienna) lost by 3 points – they earned 44 points, ending with the best defensive record in this championship.

Rapid (Vienna) prevailed and grabbed the title after 18 wins, 11 ties, 7 losses, 69-43, and 47 points. The best Austrian squad, lead by Hans Krankl and Antonin Panenka (Czechoslovakia). There were another 7 Austrian national team players as well, plus the Soviet import Zinchenko, so seemingly the team was really strong. But it was not a smooth run – Skocik coached the team at the beginning of the campaign, but in April 1982 was replace by his assistant Nuske, who finished the season. Nuske himself did not last after the season, but the title was won and that was all that mattered.

Czechoslovakia the Cup

It could be argued that the Czechoslovak Cup was not exactly representative competition: very often the leading clubs did not reach the final. From aside, it looked like neglect – the strongest perhaps were not entirely interested; not paying enough attention. It was the format: first separate tournaments for the Czech and the Slovak cups were played and the winners of them competed for the Czechoslovak Cup. This made, depending on the year, uneven tournaments: the Czech one was usually more fierce, because old rivalries and wounded pride helped knocking out favourites. In Slovakia all depended on current form – usually, currently strong team quite easily eliminated small teams. It was not easy to see that, though… Slovan, having hard time for years, was still strong in Slovakian predicament. With bit of luck and ambition, they won the Slovak Cup. Among the Czech, a weaker team like Slavia was still able to fight against stronger opposition and if unable to go far, at least was able indirectly to help somebody else. Bohemians was having a good spell at the moment, but one has to consider some lucky draws as well. Anyhow, Bohemians won the Czech Cup for a second consecutive year. Slovan vs Bohemians. Considering how the season went, it looked like Bohemians was obvious favourite. But… the final ended scoreless, moving to penalty shoot-out. And Slovan won 4-2.

Once again emptyhanded… losing two finals in a row seemingly confirmed pessimistic opinions: Bohemians was not really strong, their squad was not up to a real challenge. Second best was their maximum. Results supported this view, although it was not condemning one: Bohemians were traditionally small club, so it was great that they were coming that far – it was heroic enough.

Slovan won their 5th Cup – their first after 1974. From outside point of view, it looked like they were coming back. Familiar name, one of the best known Czechoslovakian clubs, getting one more trophy. But reality was different… before the season Slovan was analyzed entirely in terms of crisis: it looked like they had no direction and crisis was very deep. It was observed that after 1978 50 players were dismissed for various reasons – a full list reveals utter inability and confusion: the veterans of the old great team either retired or were permitted to play in the West, but nobody came after them. Younger players were quickly dismissed for lack of real talent – 5 goalkeepers, for example. It was terrible picture – three veterans still remained (Masny, Svehlik, and Keketi) and nobody even remotely close to their class around. The veterans were aiming at either retirement or a foreign contract, so what really mattered was at least one younger leading player – and there was nobody. Of course, winning the Cup was great – even fantastic – but it was not a revival. It was one accidental push, driven by pride on one hand and by some good luck, on the other hand. If the opponent was not relatively limited, Slovan would not be able with this team to keep scoreless final. Penalty shoot-out is always a gamble, so Slovan was tremendously lucky to win. But they did win and the cup was theirs – nothing else mattered! For the moment.


Czechoslovakia I Division

First division more or less confirmed the current reality: the permanent crisis of some formerly leading clubs – Spartak (Trnava) and Slovan (Bratislava). Now Zbrojovka (Brno) joined them. On the positive side was Bohemians (Prague). But the favourites were still those leading in the last few years – Banik (Ostrava) and Dukla (Prague). Nothing new, really.

FK Dukla (Banska Byrstrica) was the outsider, finishing with 17 points. Expected.

ZTS Petrzalka, the league debutant, was unable to survive. They tried, but were too weak – 15th with 22 points and relegated right after getting promoted.

Spartak (Trnava) barely survived – 14th with 24 points. Only Dusan Keketi remained from their wonderful team almost ten years ago.

Ruda Hvezda (Cheb) was pretty much trying only to keep a place in the league and managed to secure it for one more year – 13th with 25 points.

So did Tatran (Presov) – 12th with 28 points. They lost the higher place on goal-difference to Zbrojovka (Brno). The champions of only few years ago were now merely fighting for survival. 10th was Slovan (Bratislava), by now in the same boat with Spartak (Trnava), only a bit stronger.

A success story of sorts: 9th place was hardly something to brag about, but not if this is your very first season among the best. TJ Vitkovice performed well, determined not to be one-time wonder. If they had better goal-difference, they would have been 7th, but no matter – it was very satisfying first season.

Inter (Bratislava) was 8th thanks to better goal-difference, but fooling no one – their best days were gone.

Slavia (Prague) ended 7th, having the best goal-difference of the three teams with 30 points. Their squad appeared stronger on paper, but as usual did not deliver. Slavia was seemingly doomed to be a mid-table club, much to the dislike of their fans. Apart from the legend of persecution, their fate could be read by the names of the players: Herda, Zlamal, Jarolim Kriz were considered very promising talents when they started playing. The years passed and they stuck… To a point, the same could be said for Miroslav Paurik too – he was not invited to the national team for many years already. One big new talent – Ivo Knoflicek. Still too young to make a difference and it was too early to say what could be his fate: an empty promise, as his elder teammates, or a true star.

Sparta (Prague) was 6th with 31points. Nothing special and seemingly like their rivals Slavia. Lokomotiva (Kosice), an up and down team, was still continuing their good spell – it was uneven at a glance, but they were generally in the upper part of the table. This year – 5th with 32 points.

TJ Plastika (Nitra) was perhaps the pleasant surprise of this championship – they finished 4th with 36 points. Normally, Nitra, if playing at all in the top division, was desperately trying to avoid relegation. Now they were among the very best. Still, relatively modest squad prevented them from really competing for the medals. A season to remember nevertheless.

Bohemians (Prague) ended with bronze medals – they lost silver on worse goal-difference, but confirmed their already noticed good form. It was a bit surprising, for Bohemians did not have particularly exciting squad – when they climbed up about two years back, nobody really believed that they will stay there for long. It was still the same attitude now – a pleasant team, a good run of the underdog, most likely to end right now. Not enough first rate players, cannot keep pace with stronger teams for long. Really?

Banik (Ostrava) edged Bohemians and finished 2nd, which was expected – the champions of the previous two years and one of the strongest and most successful Czechoslovakian clubs after 1975. Still strong – it did not matter they were not champions: they were not showing signs of decline, that mattered.

With 18 wins, 6 ties, 6 losses, and 54-20 goal-difference Dukla (Prague) won the championship. 42 points gave them 4 points lead at the end, but they were not really superior and that was the question mark. True, Dukla managed to climb back to leading position after 1975, but the ‘new golden era’ somewhat did not materialize – they won in 1979 and had to wait until 1982 for another one: nothing like their dominance until 1967. And that was strange, because Dukla had the best group of players in the country. Lead by Zdenek Nehoda, the squad included the biggest number of current Czechoslovak stars – Vizek, Kozak, Netolicka, Stambachr, Rott, Fiala, Macela, up and coming Rada. Banik (Ostrava) was not even close in terms of players, the rest of the league did not even count. Yet, Dukla was not winning regularly… But even if a second golden period was not happening, they were champions – their 11th title.

Czechoslovakia II Division

Czechoslovakia. Second division was still divided into Czech and Slovak leagues, the champions promoted. The Slovak League was won by ZVL Zilina.

Constantly moving up and down, now it was up again. Too strong for second level, too weak for the first.

The Czech league was a battle between three clubs far stronger than the other 13 teams.

Sklo Union Teplice once again failed to return to top flight – they ended 3rd with 43 points. Another former first division member finished 2nd with 44 points – Skoda Plzen. A point ahead of them was a club which never played first division football:

Sigma ZTS (Olomouc) clinched promotion with 45 points from 20 wins, 5 ties, and 5 losses. Their best season to date.

Switzerland the Cup

The Swiss Cup final apposed FC Sion and Basel – on the surface, not a brainer, bur a bit unusual, for neither club had a strong year. Wisdom suggested to bet on Basel… tradition and experience, and wounded pride were on their side. But they lost 0-1.

Basel finished the year with nothing. However, it was more an accident than going down.

FC Sion – what a great season they had! Second row from left: Richard, Bitz, Cernicky, Valentini, Karlen, Lopez, Pittier, Cucinotta, Moulin.

First row: Schnydrig, Luisier, Balet, Brigger, Bregy, Fournier.

Normally a modest team, Sion had very promising championship and won the Cup. Hardly a great squad, but they had a few experienced leading players – Cucinotta and Bregy, for instance. And a curious case: Marian Cernicky. Born in 1953, he played between 1972 and 1978 for his native club Lokomotiva (Kosice) in Czechoslovakia. Then he disappeared, which nobody noticed, for his was not a rather ordinary name in the sport. But he resurfaced in 1979 with Sion’s jersey – given that Czechoslovakia started exported players in 1980 and only over 28 years old at first, most likely he was run away. But he settled well in Sion and played until 1983. A rare, but well deserved success for club. And their 4th Cup.

Switzerland I Division

First Division or Nationalliga A. Back to 16 teams and 30 rounds. Five teams were way above the rest of the league. At the lower end nothing really strange happened. FC Chiasso was last and FC Nordstern (Basel) was 15th – and relegated. One of the three newcomers finished 14th with 19 points – FC Bulle. Safe at the moment, although safety came with only 2 points leverage.

Lausanne-Sports finished 13th with 20 points. Standing from left: Urs Bamert, Christian Rytz, Robert Kok, Stéphane Crescenzi, Robert Ley-Ravello, Yves Mauron, Pierre-Albert Tachet.

Middle row: George Suri (Präsident), René Prior (Pfleger), Frankir Séchaye (Torhüter-Trainer), George Favre, Jean Claude Milani, Joseph Varquez, Pierre Milliquet (Pfleger), Richard Dürr (sportl. Direktor)

Sitting: Marcel Parietti, Gérard Castella, Pierre-Albert Chapuisat, Georges Diserens, Charles Hertig (Trainer), Claude Ryf, Didier Cavin, John Dario, M.Batardon

AC Bellinzona – 12th with 21 points. Third row: Mauro Lazzarotto, André Schär, Claudio Tedeschi, Reto Zanolari, Claudio Viel, Claudio Degiovannini, Roberto Leoni,

Middle row: Carlo Lucchini, Guido Rossi, Ivan Parini, Mirko Bullo, Arno Rossini, Marco Rossini, Francesco Monighetti, Alfio Genini, Milovan Beljin (Trainer)

Crouching: Tarcisio Ostini, Sandro Maccini, Mauro Benzoni, Patrizio Cerutti, Giorgio Mellacina, Massimo Faqetti, Roland Weidle.

Vevey-Sports, the second newcomers, did fairly well – 11th with 23 points. Top row: Paul Garbani (Trainer), Claude Michaud, Karl Küng, Jean Francois Henry, Jean-Michel Guillaume, Christian Matthey, Claudio Negroni

Middle row: Roland Frey (Coach), Olivier Tinelli, Bernard Karlen, José Grobet, Rolf Kramer, Dario Bertoliatti, Hans Franz, Paul Rinsoz (Präsident)

Sitting: Enzo Colagioia, Alain Nicolet, Mario Malnati, Yves Debonnaire, Claude Kühne, Franco Marchi, Patrick Lätt.

St. Gallen – 10th with 25 points. Third row: Roger Corminboeuf, Martin Gisinger, Jörg Althaus, Jerzy Gorgon, Beat Rietmann, Peter Hafner, Roman Steinemann

Middle row: Cési Widmer (Masseur), Helmuth Johannsen (Trainer), Rolf Günter, Kurt Bauer, Reto Graf, Roberto Böckli, Markus Brühwiler, Norbert Senn, Gerhard Ritter, Hanspeter Wirth (Ass.-Trainer)

Sitting: Martin Frei, Walter Schlegel, Metin Sengör, Christian Graf, Armin Bischofberger, Zdenek Urban, Paul Friberg.

The only interesting thing about this team is Jerzy Gorgon – the fearsome Polish defender, a hero of 1974 World Cup, helped his new club as best as his aging legs could. A mysterious case… Gorgon was in the Polish squad for the 1978 World Cup in Argentina. After that he disappeared from sight. Much later it came out that he went to – or stayed in – Argentina, where he was ‘unlucky’. There is no evidence he ever played there and may be speculated that he just run away, hoping for a contract. If so, it was rather unusual – Polish players have been permitted to play abroad for years and he was the right age for that. South America was unusual destination for an European players anyway. At last he moved back to Europe and got a contract with St. Gallen in 1980.

FC Luzern – 9th with 27 points.

FC Basel – a weak season: 8th with 28 points.

FC Aarau finished 7th – ahead of FC Basel not even on better goal-difference, but just because they scored more goals. The best placed of the three freshly promoted teams.Third row: Alfred Herberth, Agapios Kataverdis, René Fritsch, Martin Müller, Ernst Schmocker, Heinz Gloor

Middle row: Paul Stehrenberger (techn. Leiter), Rolf Osterwalder, Rudolf Zahner, Armand Da Costa, René Rietmann, Paul Fischli (Trainer)

Sitting: Max Richner, Roger Hegi, Fritz Siegrist, Thomas Tschuppert, Max Zehnder, Ernst Bleiker.

FC Sion was 6th with 31 points. Second row from left: Roger Panchard (Coach), Franco Cucinotta, Jean-Claude Flury, Michel Yerly, Léonard Karlen, Alain Balet, Erwin Schnydrig, Marian Cernicky, Jean-Claude Richard, Olivier Moulin, Jean-Claude Donzé (Trainer)

First row: Fernand Luisier, Jean-Paul Brigger, Georges Bregy, Pierre Pittier, Claude Bitz, Bernard Perrier, Pierre Valentini, Alvaro Lopez.

With them the bulk of the league ended.

Young Boys was 5th with 39 points. A stand alone team, far stronger than most of the league, yet, far weaker than the top four clubs. One could say something was missing… something quite important and without it, Young Boys would not be truly competitive. Third row: Fredy Häner (Therapeut), Jürg Arm, Jörg Schmidlin, Francois Mollard, Martin Brügger, Kurt Feuz

Middle row: Karl-Heinz Fattler (Assistenz-Trainer), Hanspeter Bickel, Rolf Zahnd, Hansruedi Baur, Marcel Flückiger (Sportchef),Bert Theunissen (Trainer)

Sitting: Bernard Brodard, Winfried Berkemeier, Walter Eichenberger, René Müller, Martin Weber, Roland Schönenberger, Jean-Marie Conz, Marco Zbinden, Franz Peterhans, Köbi Brechbühl.

Neuchatel Xamax FC – 4th with 45 points. Rising team, but not yet ready to concur the league. Missed medals by a point, but may be the most promising team this year.

FC Zurih – 3rd with 46 points. Lost silver on worse goal-difference, but maintained its leading position in Swiss football.

Servette (Geneve) clinched silver medals on better goal-difference and also scored most goals this season. Still running high – and the squad tells why. Third row: Valentini, Mustapha, Geiger, Gavillet, Dutoit, Favre, Elia.

Middle row: Coutaz, Pleimelding, Mathez (Ass), Pazmandy (Trainer), Girod (Coach), Zwygart, Bizzini

First row: Radi, Seramondi, Burgener, Guyot, De Choudens, Schnyder, Decastel.

A handful of Swiss stars plus Pleimelding, a French veteran.

But as good as Servette were, Grasshopper was much better – they lost only 2 games, tied 7, and won 21. 72-24 goal-difference. 49 points – 3 more than Servette and FC Zurich. Top row from left: Richard Bauer, Kurt Jara, Renato Hächler, Heinz Hermann, Herbert Hermann, Marco Schällibaum, Charly In-Albon

Middle row: Hans Brunner (Masseur), André Egli, André Fimian, Martin Brunner, Roger Berbig, Jacques Gurtner, Livio Zanetti, Claudio Sulser, Timo Konietzka (Trainer)

Sitting: André Meyer, Roger Wehrli, Hans-Jörg Pfister, André Ladner, Marcel Koller, Gabriel Marchand.

The experienced German coach Timo Konietzka lead them to victory, but he was not to last. The veteran Austrian big star of the 1970s Kurt Jara was perhaps no longer up to Spanish or West German football, but was good enough for Swiss championships. And Grasshopper were champions again – as many times before: their 18th title.