Greece the Cup

The Cup final opposed AEK (Athens) to PAOK (Thesaloniki), a classic Atens vs Thesaloniki clash. A battle of ambitious clubs, wanting very much to come out of shadow of Olympiakos and Panathinaikos. Both teams were lead by foreign coaches- AEK by the former coach of the Austrian national team Helmut Senekowitsch, PAOK by the West German Heinz Hoher. He was representing the leading German school, but only that. PAOK had two seasoned foreigners – Mladen Fortula and Guerino Neto, who played seemingly forever in Greece, plus new West German midfielder, Holger Trimhold, but AEK had stronger squad and won 2-0.

Well done and one more trophy for AEK. May be the foreign players in the squad enjoyed the victory most – the Yugoslav midfielder Radonic and the Bulgarian attacking midfielder Angel Kolev were short of trophies. They played second fiddle in their original countries – now they were winners.

Greece I Division

The Greek premier league was not much of a show this season – one team dominated and there was no real battle for survival at the bottom. AO Kastoria was last with 20 points and their fairytale period ended. AS Rodos was 17th with 21 points, a team expected to finish in the relegation zone. Panachaiki (Patras) – 16th with 26 points. The only question was about the 4th team going down – Panionios (Athens) and Macedonikos (Thesaloniki) were tied with 29 points. Panionios had better goal-difference and usually that would have been enough to top Makedonikos, but there was no such tie-breaker in Greece, so the teams proceeded to a relegation play-off. Justice prevailed, so to say – Panionios won 3-2 and Makedonikos went down.

Nothing much in the middle zone of the league.

Bearded PAS (Giannina) settled for comfortable 9th place – this club performed well ever since it was promoted in the 1970s and by now appeared to be solid mid-table team. Well, appearances could be misleading.

Iraklis (Thesaloniki) was 8th with 34 points – the highest placed of the lower-half, but still comfortable teams. Yet, Iraklis was a disappointment in a way – they had arguably the greatest player at this time, the Soviet born Hadzipanagis. They had 2 former Bulgarian national team players – Boko Dimitrov and Angel Rangelov – in the middle of defense. A strong pair of central-defenders, who were still not too old and had plenty of experience. Iraklis should have been going up… instead it stayed constantly in mid-table. As for the Bulgarians, they were becoming the prime import for Greeks clubs at this time and there were quite a few in the league. Just recently Rangelov confessed that his years with Iraklis were the best time in his career – may be that was why the club was not going up? Players, having it easy and not pushing too much, just enjoying life.

It was the other way around at the island of Crete – OFI (Iraklion) ended 7th this year with 37 points and were the 2nd highest scorers in the championship. They also had Bulgarian of a kind – the ethnic Greek Tomas Lafchis, their young goalkeeper, was not only born and raised in Bulgaria, but even played for the national team – which actually finished his international career. After going to Greece, he was never called to play for Bulgaria and could not play for Greece either. His was a mysterious case – recently it was revealed that he was an officer of the Bulgarian Secret Police, which implies that possible he was sent to Greece with some kind of mission. True, he played for Levski-Spartak (Sofia) before moving to Greece – the club belonged to the Police and at least nominally all players were made officers, so to receive big salaries and keep fake amateur status, but what possible secret mission a goalkeeper could perform in the deep Greek province? Laughable story, never elaborated, only insinuated, but on the field Lafchis played well enough to attract the interest of Panathinaikos and soon joined the big club. But OFI was going up, their strongest period just started and with or without Lafchis, they were going to be one of the best Greek clubs in the later 1980s.

As for the future Lafchis’ club, Panathinaikos suffered very weak season – they finished 6th with 37 points. Ahead of OFI only on goal-difference and far behind the top 5 teams. A disaster really. And one more failure of once famous Romanian coach Stefan Kovacs – he failed everywhere he worked after Ajax (Amsterdam). Something was wrong with the squad, hard to say what, but at least one thing was sure: players like Galakos and Kirastas reached their rather low peak. Kapsis was too old already. Double that for the Greek national team goalkeeper Konstantinou – both getting old and never too good. Foreigners were of the same mold – the Dutch Tscheu La Ling was more or less failed promise and the Norwegian striker Arne Dokken was hardly a star player. Panathinaikos had rather ordinary and uninspired squad and needed a big shake-up.

Aris (Thesaloniki) had a good season – 5th with 41 points. By no means a title contender, but among the best and keeping there. They still lost to their city rivals PAOK, though – PAOK finished 4th with 42 points. AEK (Athens) took the bronze with 45 points, losing silver on worse goal-difference. They lost to the greatest surprise this year – the usually lowly and not at all regular member of first division AE Larissa soared to 2nd place. They never finished that high before and nobody expected them to be there, but they were. Thanks to Poles – the coach Jacek Gmoch and the aging by now member of the great 1974 Polish squad Kazimierz Kmiecik. Looked like one time wonder, but it was not going to be so – Larissa had more in their sleeves. But surprise teams are just that – no matter how inspired, they very rarely are able to really challenge the status quo. And Larissa did not.

Olympiakos (Piraeus) won 20 games, tied 10, lost only 4 and had no competition at all this season. They finished 5 points ahead of Larissa. Not without trouble, though… Kazimierz Gorski was replaced during the season by arguably the best ever Greek coach Alketas Panagoulis. The squad, although superior in Greece, was not much – the imports were hardly known or becoming known: two midfielders, one Norwegian – Roger Albertsen, and one Uruguayan – Vince Estavillo. It was rather the general weakness of the opponents than true class, but nobody judges harshly champions. Yet, it was not a squad able to win a double.

Greece II Division

Greece planned a massive change of the league system for the next season, requiring note here. Most likely the idea was based on the combination of financial stability and increase of the competitive level – presently, professional football included First and Second divisions, which meant 58 clubs in total. Too much for a small country – clubs from small towns made most of the 2 Second Division groups, which could not have neither enough cash, nor enough supporters to have reasonable hopes for getting cash at the gates. One result was lower quality of football, the other was corruption scandals. So, the First Division was going to be reduced to 16 teams and the Second Division reorganized into one league. First Division was no problem – 4 teams were relegated at the end of the season and 2 promoted. Second Division was another matter – the sheer numbers need more careful look. Eight teams of each group were to remain in the new league – that made 16. Plus 4 relegated from First Division – a total of 20 so far. Plus one promoted from Third Division. 21 teams… weird number. And the number of Second Division was still too large even for megalomaniac Greeks – certainly more changes were to be made in the future.

As for the promoted newcomer, it was simple enough: Edessaikos A.O. (Edessa) was the lucky one. A huge list of freshly relegated to third level clubs follow – most of them largely unknown outside Greece, for they never appeared in the top league. To list them would be largely waste of time, although some are present today in the First Division. Well, today some others do not exist… But a mystery of the uneven number was solved after the end of the season: the 9th placed teams in both second division groups met in a play-off, the winner remaining and the loser relegated. This, however, followed earlier play-off: Eolikos Mitilinis (Lesbos) and Panelefsiniakos (Elefsina) ended with equal points in the Southern Group and played between themselves to break the tie. Eolikos won 3-0 and moved to the play-off against Northern Group’s 9th, Niki (Volou). The contest was unresolved after overtime – 2-2 – and moved to the drama of penalty shoot-out. Only now Niki prevailed 3-2 and preserved a spot in the new Second Division – thus, the new league was made of 20 teams, not 21. Most members played formerly in the First Division – smaller, but at least able to go up occasionally, clubs.

Like A.O. Pierikos (Katerini) – 6th in the last season of the Northern Group.

Whatever elbowing was going in the lower parts of the second level groups, really important was the battle for top place and promotion. Not much in the Southern Group: two teams were stronger than the rest and they battled to the end. Diagoras (Rodos) lost.

Egaleo FC (Athens) clinched 1st place by a single point and was promoted.

More equal teams in the North, so 8 teams competed for the desired spot most of the season. Eventually, five of them lost steam and only 3 raced to the end. A.O. Kavala ended 3rd with 49 points. Agrotikos Asteras (Evosmos) – 2nd with 50 points.

Apollon Kalamarias (Thessaloniki) prevailed with 52 points and returned to play again in the First Division.


Austria the Cup

But the championship was not all for Rapid – they met Wacker (Innsbuck) at the Cup final and promptly destroyed it, winning both legs : 3-0 and 5-0. Not not even a trace of a challenge.

Wacker lost a second consecutive Cup final, which was rather depressing for them, but also represented the real situation: there were only two strong teams in the country and no other was even close. Unfortunately, Wacker was already in decline – the squad amply shows it: only aging Hattenberger was significant player and that mostly in the past. Compared to the leading team, Wacker had rather anonymous squad, even the foreigners were second rate: the 32-years old Yugoslav goalkeeper Fuad Djulic played for lowly Borac (Banja Luka) before joining Wacker. The 27-years old West German libero Wesly Schenk failed to impress Bayern (Munchen) and before coming to Innsbruck played lower level football for MTV Ingolstadt. The only consolation for Wacker was that they were going to play in the Cup Winners Cup as losing finalists.

Rapid celebrated a double. Standing from left: coach Baric, Herbert Feurer, Johann Krankl, Zinchenko, Kurt Garger, Bernd Krauss, Johann Pregesbauer, Perovic, Winkler (?), assistant coach Grausam, assistant coach Muller.

First row: Rudolf Weinhofer, Gerald Willfurth, Herbert Weber, Hofmann, Reinhard Kienast, Leo Lainer, Christian Keglevits, Sulak (?), Antonin Panenka.

One of the strikers – Petar Brucic – is missing, but only on the photo. Otto Baric did excellent job building and maintaining this vintage and no wonder Rapid was winning. The Soviet import Zinchenko was on his way out and played little by now, but Krankl and Panenka lead the team with inspiration and class. They were getting old, but their teammates were strong support: Feurer, Weber, Kienast, the naturalized West German Krauss, and exciting Keglevits all played for Austria. Petar Brucic completed explosive trio of strikers. Panenka created opportunities. Weber and Krauss – solid defense in front of Feurer, who may have been a back-up of Concilia in the national team, but he was considerably younger than his illustrious rival. Already Baric was able to improve the squad with careful additions and inevitable transfer of Keglevits was not something to fear. In a way, Rapid was in better situation than Austria (Vienna), which needed to start rebuilding – Rapid needed only fine managing of transfers

Austria I Division


The Austrian top league can be summarized simply in one sentence: shoulder to shoulder battle between Rapid and Austria and nothing else. It was like 14 teams played different championship on their own and not even all of them – at the bottom 4 teams were not even up to that standard.

1. FC Simmering (Vienna) – or CEOX Simmering, or ISSC, whatever you decide – did not belong even to the outsiders: they finished 16th with 11 points, losing 21 of the 30 championship games they played.

First Vienna collected 19 points, which was good enough only for 15th place – and relegation.

Brace yourself… Union Wels, Raika Wels, Union Raiffeisen Wels, pick a name, managed to survive with 20 points – 14th. Well, one more season in the top league for sure.

SC Neusiedl – or SC Alvorada – also got one more season to play with the best: 13th with 21 points. It was already clear that they and Union Wels were to finish at the league bottom in the next season – and again at the bottom, if escaping relegation again.

With 25 points LASK (Linz) took the 12th place – down in the table even in such weak championship.

Wiener Sport-club (Vienna) was 11th with 27 points. Alfred Riedl, Peter Pacult, Wolfgang Kienast, and Bogdan Masztaler were the stars. Well, if you call them stars… and if you remember Masztaler playing for his native Poland at the 1978 World Cup. Unlike the Austrians, he had no longer chance to play for stronger club. Wiener Sport-club, once well known and strong, was a sad example of the Austrian football reality: even Vienna was unable to keep more than 2 descent clubs.

Admira/Wacker, 9 times champion of Austria in the past, now was only good to prevail over Wiener Sport-club on goal-difference and finish 10th. No wonder why… their most famous player was Ladislav Kuna. His name made sense only to those remembering the 1960s. As for the future… talented Josef Degeorgi most certainly was not going to be part of Admira/Wacker’s one.

Considering the state of Wiener Sport-club and Admira/Wacker, SC Eisenstadt – wait, shall we try SC Eduscho Eisenstadt – had a great season. After all, they were lucky just to be members of First Division… and finished 9th with 29 points. Mastering the tie was their secret – they managed the most in the league, 13. Laszlo Pusztai was no longer good enough to play for Hungary, but was still fine for a small Austrian club.

VOEST (Linz) – 8th with 32 points. By now, close to an outsider, if the 10-team league was in place. Bigger league gave them mid-table comfort.

GAK-Ringschuh, better known as Grazer AK (Graz). A tiny bit better goal-difference placed above VOEST and 7th. A bit of novelty… once upon a time mighty defender of mighty Ajax (Amsterdam) Barry Hulshoff played for or at least was registered with GAK this season. He just arrived from Dutch second division club MVV Maastricht. By a sharp contrast, the other foreign player was entirely unheard of: the Yugoslav goalkeeper Savo Ekmecic, already 34 years old, was keeping the gate since 1977. As for Hulshoff, he was 36 years old now and the coach, a regular of Bayern (Munchen) during its rise in the 1960s, August Starek was one year older – as things were, Starek would have been still playing if so wished…

SK Hypobank Austria, or Austria, or simply Klagenfurt (to avoid duplication and confusion with their Vienna-based namesake) spent some years in second division obscurity, so 6th place was great in a way. Nothing much, but some ambition could be detected in the make up of the squad: relatively good keeper, considered once a national team material – Fritz Benko, seemingly the only African player in the league – Kassim Ramadhani, and a suspicious group of Yugoslavs: 4 of them. Their large number questions the rule for foreign players allowed – it could have been 3 instead of the typical for the time 2 foreigners. Still, there would be too many foreigners, so some Yugoslavs could be naturalized Austrians by now. Ivica Senzen was too old and although never a star, ar least well known player back at home to be good material for naturalization, but certainly the young brothers Hrstic were if not born in Austria, at least naturalized, for they played big role in Austrian football of the 1980s.

SV Casino – or Austria, or sometimes just Salzburg, years before becoming Red Bull and strong. Normally, they played a small role in the championship, so finishing 5th, if only thanks to better goal-difference, was more than well done, perhaps even promising. Bacher and Breitenberger played occasionally for Austria and three other players, just because they were imports, completed the group of strong players – 5 was really solid group for an Austrian team. But… the foreigners, save long time Czechoslovakian international Jaroslav Polak, were virtually unknown. But old… Polak was over 30, his countryman Pirnus was 30, the Yugoslav goalkeeper Stincic – 32.

Sturm – or Raika Sturm (Graz) – finished 4th with 37 points. Well done by one of the better teams at the time. Jurtin, Pichler, Saria, and Bakota provided enough strength for high position. At the moment, Sturm was promising, although not really expected to challenge the establishment.

Wacker (Innsbruck) – or SSW – took the bronze with 38 points. Not bad and even looking like they wee going to maintain leading position, but in fact Wacker was slowly declining.

Rapid and Austria left the rest of the league far behind, running exciting race from start to finish. The arch-rivals ended with 48 points each and goal-difference decided the new champion.

FK Austria – or Austria-Memphis – lost. 22 wins, 4 ties, 4 losses, 76-27. Strong season with a bit of unfortunate end. The squad, lead by coach Halama and his assistant, the Czechoslovakian European champion of 1976 Jan Pivarnik was perhaps the strongest by names: Concilia, Sara, Daxbacher, Obermayer, Gasselich, Dihanich were all members of the strong Austrian national team at that time. Plus two Bulgarian strikers – Petko Petkov and Tchavdar Tzvetkov and Hungarian midfielder Magyar. The foreigners were aging, especially Petkov, but still played strong. Tony Polster was the greatest star not only of the team – he was the biggest Austrian hope for the future, the shining next generation ready to take over Krankl and Prohaska and still playing at home.

Rapid (Vienna) was lucky to win the title. After 20 wins, 8 ties, and 2 lost matches, they had the same points as Austria – 48. Goal-difference gave them the victory: they scored less than Austria, but had stronger defense record: 72-18. That gave them +54 to Austria’s + 49. Austria appeared stronger by names, Rapid – younger.

Austria II Division

Austria returned to normal league format, which meant that no team was relegated from First Division after the 1981-82 season and the top 6 teams of the Second Division were promoted to restore classic 16-team league. Naturally, 6 teams went up from Third Division to the Second, to fill the empty spots. Tinkering with the league format was mostly because of financial troubles – most clubs had no enough means to support professional teams. Unfortunately, football was rapidly becoming more expensive sport in a country never crazy about it. The 10-team experiment aimed at making the clubs financially sound, but a small league reduced already smallish attendance: people were not all that happy to see teams playing 4 times against other in a year. So, back to standard league… and enlarging it with teams which were not making it more competitive. It was a vicious circle. And to make things even more difficult, especially for foreign observers, the Austrians permitted sponsors to add their names to the clubs names. This practice was unique in Europe, certainly aiming to lure firms into investing money in football, but confused forever outsiders: club names were written differently in different sources, often the sponsor’s name was given as the official club name and since they changed frequently it was always puzzling whether a new name represents an old or a new club. No certainty, because some clubs were merging or folding altogether on top of everything. The Austrian predicament was preventing the keep of continuously strong teams – for years the best Austrian players were moving abroad and since the country never had a large pool of players, foreigners were hired to replace the exodus of local talent. Not first rate stars, for money were always short for that and the exchange looked quite grim at the early 1980s: to the customary Yugoslavs and West Germans failing for one or another reason to establish themselves at home, East Europeans were bought. They were cheap…but they were also old, for Eastern Europe had age restrictions. It was rather sorry exchange – Austrian stars in their prime were replaced by veterans. In 1982-83 Austrian football had such players as Barry Hulshoff (Holland), Antonin Panenka, Ladislav Kuna, Jaroslav Polak (Czechoslovakia), Anatoly Zinchenko (USSR), Petko Petkov, Tchavdar Tzvetkov (Bulgaria), Istvan Magyar, Laszlo Pusztai (Hungary) – players, whose prime was back in the first half of the 1970s. Ladislav Kuna belonged more to the the 1960s, than to the 1970s. Players almost forgotten by now and rightly so: of course, Panenka was a great memory, but his teammate in the 1976 European champions squad, Jan Pivarnik, was assistant coach of Austria (Vienna) now. So, the situation was unchanged – the two giants from capital, Austria and Rapid dominated and the rest were hopelessly far behind. If anything, clubs were going into decline rather than improving – bigger league masked that for awhile, keeping Wacker (Innsbruck) and Sturm (Graz) in high positions and VOEST (Linz), Grazer AK (Graz), Adimra/Wacker (Vienna) outside relegation zone. None, however, possessed even faint hopes of challenging the dominant two.

As for Second Division, little hope could have been placed in it – now it was entirely made of small clubs.

Clubs like Flavia Solva, which finished 5th. Note the full name and get confused – ‘Raika’ appeared as a name of other clubs as well. Well, this team possibly did well in its own terms this season, but they were not among the possible candidates for promotion.

Four clubs competed for two promotional spots. Bregenz/Dornbirn ended 4th with 37 points – 3 more than Flavia Solva’s. Badener AC was 3rd with 38. Ahead, two teams finished with 40 points each, so goal-difference decided the Second Division winner.

Favoritner AC, a Viennese club, which lost its luster long, long ago, settled for 2nd place – it did not matter much, for they clinched promotion.

Practically unknown Sankt Veit topped the league – this happened to be the only title in the history of the club: champions of Second Division. And promoted up.

Good for winners, but neither club was to improve the top league at all… most likely, the newcomers would struggle just to survive the next season .

Poland the Cup

If the championship produced unlikely winner, the Cup dwarfed that with bigger surprise: the finalist came from Second and Third Division! The final itself was played in unlikely town – Piotkrow. Piast (Gliwice) and Lechia (Gdansk) clashed there and Lechia prevailed 2-1.

Well, how to evaluate that? A Third Division winner was something outside the reach even of English football. It was unique victory, perhaps a triumph of the spirit of the sport. Yes, at that time lower level teams playing national cup finals and even winning popped around Europe, but not third division teams. So, great victory of the underdog, something always endearing. On the other hand… Cup Winners Cup was sinking, rapidly becoming a second division tournament, losing fans’ attention.

Piast (Gliwice) had their biggest chance since foundation – a small club, they played second division at best, where they finished 4th this season, entirely out of the race for promotion. Winning the Cup, however, appeared more than reasonable bet: the gap in class between second and third division teams was usually greater than between first and second. Yet, they lost.

The unlikely victors were unusual club, certainly unheard of outside Poland. Lechia was a refugee club – officially, they were founded in 1945, but on the base of older club originally from the city of Lwow. Lwow was swallowed by USSR in 1939 and today is in Ukraine – Poles left it during the Second World War and immediately after it and the settlers in Gdansk formed Lechia. So far, the only claim to fame of the club was losing the Cup final in 1955. After that Lechia sunk to complete obscurity and third division. No wonder why – a refugee club could be looked upon with suspicion from the Communist regime on one hand and Gdansk had its own old local club – LKS – to support and to identify with. Quite possibly the political clash in Poland after 1979 helped the club to resurface.

Lechia with their first trophy ever – and so far their last.

Naturally, the Cup winners had no recognizable players, but great period started this year. They won promotion to second division in the championship. And won the Cup, thus going to play in Europe. Nobody knew it yet, but this was not a one-time wonder: on the wings of this successful season, Lechia moved up and up and eventually played well in the top league. But that was still in the unknown future – for the moment they enjoyed their best season ever. And Poland added two new names to the list of champions.

Poland I Division

First Division. Fairly equal championship, as it always was. Two teams eventually built a gap between themselves and the rest, but the rivals for the title did not really dominate the championship. However, their was already noticed change – the favourites were not traditionally strong clubs and in the same time there was sharp decline of some former leading clubs.

The most noticeable decline was that of Stal (Mielec), one of the best Polish clubs in the 1970s. But the stars, who made Polish football famous, were long gone to play abroad and without new talent of similar quality the club slipped down. They finished next to last this season and were relegated.

Gwardia (Warszawa) ended 16th, but their relegation was not surprising – Gwardia belonged to a distant past already. Their strong years ended with the end of the 60s and by now they were expected to play in the second division, not in the first.

The other club in sharp decline was Gornik (Zabrze) – they finished 12th with 28 points. Well, they had to worry – the sorry example of Stal was more than warning. By now, Gornik was reduced to the caliber of modest Zaglebie (Sosnowiec).

Which bested Gornik by a point and finished 11th. For Zaglebie this was almost great – just keeping a place in the top league meant successful season.

Legia (Warszawa), 8th, and Wisla (Krakow), 5th, were more or less in decline as well – still in the upper half of the league, but not a factor.

Wisla (Krakow) – nothing memorable this season, but at least preserving its traditional place in the upper half of the league. Perhaps the most steady and consistent Polish club, although rarely a title contender.

And to a point, Slask (Wroclaw) was down – they finished 6th, but for a team expected to play strong role in Polish football since 1975 to finish with 30 points from 30 games was more of a sign of general weakness than an occasional underperformance: looked like Slask was unable to keep strong team in long term.

Of all clubs leading in the 1970s and putting Polish football on high world scale, only Ruch (Chorzow) preserved its leading position.

Ruch finished 3rd with 35 points. Granted, the team was not as strong as the squads of the 1970s, but unlike the other leaders of the previous decade it was not declining. At least not much declining – a good squad, but not able to keep up with more inspired teams and eventually slipping out of the race for the title. True, they ended only 3 points behind the 2nd placed this season, but it is also true that 35 points from 30 games is not much. Ruch did not lose many games – only 6 – but winning was also not up to them: they tied 13 matches and only lowly Cracovia (Krakow) tied more – 15. But Cracovia was merely fighting for survival and succeeded, finishing 14th – Ruch was supposed to win the championship…

Which left the two strongest.

Widzew (Lodz) was unable to defend its title of the previous year – they were short of a single point. Battling for the top place, they scored the most goals this championship – 50 – and lost only 5 games, but unfortunately tied too many – 12 – which at the end left them at second place. Since their greatest star, Zbigniew Boniek, left them to join Juventus, a drop was expected, but surprisingly Widzew not only remained strong, but arguably had their finest season, reaching the semi-finals of the European Champions Cup. Perhaps international success was the reason they lost the Polish title – objectively, the squad was not that great to handle successfully two challenging competitions. Yet, by Polish standards it was the best team at the moment, lead by Smolarek, Mlynarczyk, and Wojcicki. Wladyslaw Zmuda more than knew his job – he was already experienced winning coach. May be the best squad, but also typically Polish – the team depended largely on its stars. If Smolarek was the second greatest Polish player at the moment after his former teammate Boniek, Wojcicki and Mlynarczyk were not at the same high level. Mlynarczyk was a point in case: he may have been the best goalkeeper at the moment, but he also was surrounded by controversies and was in the center of a scandal, starting with rather typical dismissal from the national team for drinking, but quickly evolving into political bitter fight. Between the goalposts, he was hardly world-class, yet, he got bronze from 1982 World Cup and later became European club champion. Compared to, say, Zygmunt Kalinowski, Mlynarczyk was a giant: after becoming (without playing even a minute) World Cup bronze medalist in 1974, Kalinowski not only was hardly ever called to the national team again, but was playing second division football by 1982-83.

Widzew lost the race for the title to unlikely opponent – Lech (Poznan).

Winning made them champions – Widzew won 13 matches, Lech – 17, including a 3-1 home win against their rivals. At the end, Lech had 1 point more than Widzew and triumphed for the first time in their history.

New champions, standing from left: coach Wojciech Łazarek, Józef Adamiec, Józef Szewczyk, Krzysztof Pawlak, Janusz Kupcewicz, Zbigniew Pleśnierowicz, Piotr Mowlik, Bogusław Oblewski, Andrzej Strugarek, Janusz Małek, Damian Łukasik, assistant coach Włodzimierz Jakubowski.

First row: Mariusz Niewiadomski, Jacek Bąk I, Grzegorz Łazarek, Mirosław Okoński, Leszek Partyński, Jerzy Krzyżanowski, Hieronim Barczak.

At a glance, the champions were nothing much… Kupcewicz, Mowlik, and Okonski were the stars, but stars more of the yesteryear. Piotr Mowlik, for instance, not only was out of the national team already, but played fewer matches than his backup, Zbigniew Plesnierowicz. But that was Polish football – a sturdy squad with 3-4 stars was quite enough to get the title – after all, Szombierki (Bytom) won the title without a single classy player. Lech may have been lucky, but champions they were. ‘Kolejorz’ (the Railwayman) was founded in 1922 and from 1933 to 1994 was closely linked to the Polish State Railways, hence, the nickname. A solid club, but never a winner, so this season should have been truly historic. True, the time was hardly perfect for big celebration and football was perhaps not in the mind even of the fans, but strangely this team is hardly mentioned even in the club’s history. Of course, Lech was much more successful years later, after the fall of Communism, but the first champions are not worthy even for a photo today.

Poland II Division

Poland. Perhaps one of the most difficult for evaluation seasons – on one hand, in the summer of 1982 Poland finished 3rd in the whole world. Boniek was hailed as one of greatest stars on world scale. Widzew (Lodz), already without Boniek, reached the semi-finals of the European Champions Cup. On the other hand, the country was mostly in the news because of the turmoil and the ongoing clash between its Communist government and the people. Football was affected, naturally – players got involved in the bitter struggle and the sport was hardly on the mind of many. Strange results came at the end and it is almost impossible to say with any certainty were they good or bad – unusual winners could be a sign of positive change and of weakness simultaneously. Especially when players were moving to play abroad in great numbers and traditionally Polish football was fairly equal and without dominating big clubs.

Second Division was hardly something to brag about, so at a glance everything appeared as it was. Some former First Division members played here, but they were smallish clubs anyway. No big surprise if some of them dropped even further down – it was not like famous and powerful club suddenly went into a grand decline.

So, ROW (Rybnik) ended 13th and was relegated from Group 1 of Second Division? Big deal… so far ROW reached once the Cup final, their only claim for success.

At the other end of the table two teams fought for promotion – Olimpia (Poznan) and Gornik (Walbrzych). On a big scale, the season was indeed good for Poznan’s football. Yet, Olimpia finished 2nd and remained in Second Division. On the same scale the season was good for Walbrzych’s football too – it was the only city with representatives in Group 1 of Second Division and both performed well: Zaglebie finished 6th.

Gornik clinched the top spot with 41 points – 2 more than Olimpia (Poznan). Naturally, it was great victory for Gornik – they hardly ever played top level football and going up was wonderful achievement.

Group 2 was no different than Group 1 – one city with two representatives, both performing well this year, one better known club, but in decline for many years already, was relegated – Polonia (Warszawa), two clubs competing for the 1st place and promotion. The city of Radom had the only local derby in the league. Bron finished 8th with 30 points.

Radomiak, however, got the 3rd place with 35 points. Well done, but they were out of the promotional race. Scored the most goals in the league, though.

Resovia (Rzeszow) and Motor (Lublin) competed for the 1st place and at the end a single point decided their immediate future. Resovia remained in second division, finishing with 40 points.

Motor triumphed with 41 points, clinching promotion. Standing from left: administrator Tadeusz Kamiński, coach Lesław Ćmikiewicz, Zbigniew Slipiko, Dariusz Bartoszewski, Janusz Kudyba, Dariusz Opolski, Zygmunt Kalinowski, Stanisław Karwat, Modest Boguszewski, Krzysztof Witkowski, Roman Żuchnik, assistant coach Waldemar Wiater, specialist Ryszard Sowiński.

First row: Mirosław Car, Andrzej Łatka, Marek Szaniawski, Leszek Iwanicki, Roman Dębiński, Andrzej Pop, Waldemar Fiuta, Robert Grzanka, Zbigniew Kakietek, Tomasz Jasina, Kazimierz Gładysiewicz.

Like the winners of Group 1, Motor had minimal experience with top level football and just going up was fine enough. Unlike the other promoted team, they had some familiar names in the squad – or at least players, who eventually became familiar names. Like Zygmunt Kalinowski, bronze medalist of the 1974 World Cup, although he did not play a minute, and Stanislaw Karwat, who made his name years later. Both goalkeepers, one from the past, the other of the future.

In a nut shell, Second Division was significant only in terms of promotions for the next season – Gornik (Walbrzych) and Motor (Lublin). Neither club was expected to make a big impact, but then again who can ever tell what would happen in the future.


Sweden. IFK Norrköping and Kalmar FF won promotion from Second Division, both teams returning to the top league.

First Division was in the second season of new formula – after the regular championship, the top 8 teams continued through direct elimination – the winner becomes champion. Hardly the best way to improve football – whoever schemed to preserve strength during the regular games and peak at the last stage had better chances. Four teams played only 22 regular season games, however. BK Häcken finished last with 12 points. Mjällby AIF was 11th with 13 points. Both were relegated.

Gefle, also with 13 points took 10th place and survived on better goal-difference.

With 16 points, IK Brage finished 9th. The season ended for these 4 teams after the regular phase.

The top 8 continued in the direct-elimination phase after draws decided the pairs. Two legs were played all the way and luck and calculations helped: the regular part of the season was won by AIK and very confidently at that. AIK was in good shape, but reached only the semi-final. Same was the fate of the 2nd in the first phase, Malmo FF.

Halmstads BK, 6th in the regular phase, registered the biggest loss in the elimination phase – they lost both legs to Malmo FF, the 2nd 0-6.

Hammarby IF, 5th in the first phase, was destroyed by AIK in the opening leg 2-5 and the second match was mere protocol, ending peacefully 1-1. IFK Goteborg won both legs against IF Elfsborg, orginally 7th, and Östers IF also won confidently against Örgryte IS, originally 8th .

If regular season was real indication of strength, AIK and Malmo FF should have won – but they lost.

AIK, so good and high scorers too in the opening phase, now lost the first leg to IFK Goteborg 0-3 and were unable to recover – they won 2-0 at home and the season was over. Standing from left: Rolf Zetterlund – coach, Göran Göransson, Ove Rübsamen, Göran Karlsson, Sven Dahlkvist, Thomas Johansson, Jyrki Nieminen, Björn “Lill-Garvis” Carlsson.

First row: Ulf Sundlöf, Thomas Bergman, Björn Kindlund, Bernt Ljung, Kari Virtanen, Lars Zetterlund.

Meantime Malmö FF lost only 0-1 visiting Östers IF, but was unable to prevail at home – the match ended 1-1 and Malmö FF was out.

Östers IF and IFK Göteborg, orginally 4th and 3rd, now were going for the title. Östers IF was unable to get some advantage at home – the first leg was 1-1 tie. Which pretty much decided the championship: objectively stronger IFK Göteborg destroyed their opponent in front of joyous home supporters 3-0. Champions for a second consecutive year.

The boys also reached the Cup final, where Hammarby IF was the opposition. The final was played in Stockholm, but this was not stopping IFK Göteborg – it was not an easy win, but 1-0 was just enough.

Hammarby IF unfortunately lost the Cup final. They were not much of a force in the championship too, but still got a spot in the Cup Winners Cup as losing finalist. Top row from left: Magnus Frykman, Jan Wegerman, Jörgen Sandell, Mats Werner, Jonnie Efraimsson, Thom Åhlund, Sten-Ove Ramberg, Thomas Dennerby, Thomas Lundin.

Middle row: Mikael Samuelsson, Sulo Vaattovaara, Michael Andersson, Mats Wahlberg, Anders Holmberg, Björn Hedenström, Per Holmberg, Per-Anders Andersson.

Sitting: Peter Gerhardsson, Kenneth Ohlsson, Anders Forsberg, Kjell Schött, ?, Bengt Persson – coach, Anders Markström, Ulf Eriksson, Tomas Turesson.

A double for IFK Göteborg – when it mattered, they played strong football. Third row, from left: Glenn Holm, Roland Nilsson, Thomas Karlsson, Ruben Svensson, Dan Corneliusson, Jan-Eric Nilsson.

Middle row: Kjell Pettersson – coach, Bengt Westerberg – coach, Per-Olof Nilsson, Stephan Kullberg, Tommy Holmgren, Jerry Carlsson, Peter Andersson

Sitting: Stig Fredriksson, Glenn Hysén, Glenn Schiller, Ove Tobiasson, Thomas Wernerson, Håkan Sandberg, Tord Holmgren, Martin Holmberg.