England II Division

Second Division. Two favourites, entangled in the battle for the first place, one team pretty much alone at 3rd place, two outsiders.

Cambridge United – 22nd with 24 points.

At the beginning of the season there was optimism and expectations that Swansea City will return to First Division. They had good mix of young talent and experienced veterans. That was the formula John Toshack used, but it misfired the previous season, lending the Swans in Second Division. And this time misfired even worse – 21st with 29 points. In two years Swansea went from First Division to Third. What a frustrating experience for Jimmy Rimmer, Ray Kennedy, Bob Latchford, Dean Saunders.

Derby County was the 3rd relegated team – 20th with 42 points. Deep crisis.

Oldham Athletic enjoyed 19th place – with 47 points they finished well ahead of Derby County and survived.

Crystal Palace – 18th with 47 points.

Middlesborugh -17th with 49 points. Malcolm Allison was coaching leading teams no long ago…

Portsmouth – 16th with 49 points. With Mark Hateley… that much.

Cardiff City – 15th with 51 points.

Barnsley – 14th with 52 points.

Charlton Athletic – 13th with 57 points.

Huddersfield Town – 12th with 57 points.

Fulham – 11th with 57 points.

Not even a shadow of the great club they were – now, a mid-table second division team. 10th with 60 points.

Brighton & Hove Albion – 9th with 60 points. Freshly relegated from first division and quickly settling into their familiar role of mid-table second division team.

Shrewsbury Town – doing well, considering the fate of much bigger and famous clubs: 8th with 61 points.

Carlisle United – 7th with 64 points.

Blackburn Rovers – 6th with 67 points.

Grimsby Town – a pleasant surprise. They barely escaped relegation the last season, but now were 5th with 70 points. Only worse goal-difference prevented them from finishing 4th.

Manchester City clinched the 4th place with 70 points. But nothing to warm the hearts of their fans – not only City was relegated from the top league, but it was not even able to fight for quick return.

Newcastle United confidently finished 3rd with 80 points and got promoted. Well done? Depends on how one looks at it – returning to the top league was great. Leaving the competition far behind – very good. But a team with Kevin Keegan, Chris Waddle, Terry McDermott, and Imre Varadi not even close to the leaders? In that in Second Division…

No doubts about Sheffield Wednesday – 2nd with 89 points. Lost 1st place on worse goal-difference, but it was splendid season, leaving the rest of the league in the dust. A long period of suffering finally ended – Sheffield Wednesday did not play top league football since 1969-70. Sinking down to 3rd Division instead. At last they were returning to truly big football.

Chelsea clinched the Second Division title, beating Sheffield Wednesday on goal-difference. Strong season, no doubt, but was it really recovery, as their fans hoped? Only the next season could tell.

It was pure joy for the moment. And nice kit. And first sponsor.

Second division champions – 25 wins, 13 ties, 4 losses, 90-40 goal-difference, 89 points.

Chelsea, Sheffield Wednesday, and Newcastle United promoted to First Division.

England III Division

Third Division – in a nutshell, one favourite, one outsider, one unlucky team.

Exeter City – 24th with 33 points.

Port Vale – 23rd with 43 points.

Southend United – 22nd with 44 points.

Scunthorpe United – 21st with 46 points. The highest placed of the relegated teams – which was no comfort at all.

Brentford survived – 20th with 49 points.

Plymouth Argyle – 19th with 51 points.

Rotherham United – 18th with 54 points.

Bournemouth – 17th with 55 points.

Preston North End – 16th with 56 points.

Wigan Athletic- 15th with 61 points.

Lincoln City -14th with 61 points.

Newport County – 13th with 62 points.

Burnley – 12th with 62 points.

Orient – 11th with 63 points.

Bolton Wanderers – 10th with 64 points.

Millwall – 9th with 67 points.

Gillingham – 8th with 70 points.

Bradford City – 7th with 71 points.

Walsall – 6th with 75 points.

Bristol Rovers – 5th with 79 points.

Hull City was most unfortunate – they ended with 83 points, but worse goal-difference denied them promotion: 4th place.

Lucky Sheffield United – clinched the last promotional spot only on goal-difference. 83 points left them with no other option and good thing they came above Hull City.

Wimbledon – 2nd with 87 points. Not a title contender, but watch out for them: second promotion in a row. Won the Forth Division the previous year, now going even higher. And distinguishing themselves: if York City had the most points in all leagues, Wimbledon scored most goals this season – 97. The best record in all leagues.

Oxford United reigned supreme – 28 wins, 11 ties, 7 losses, 91-50 goal-difference, 95 points. In excellent form, Oxford had no rival this season and easily won Third Division.

So, Oxford United, Wimbledon, and Sheffield United were going to play second division football next season – job well done.

England IV Division

England. A new record was set this season – for the first time a team finished with three-digit points: 101. This was possible for England introduced 3-points-for-win in 1981-82. The new record was set in Forth Division.

Down there only promotions mattered – relegation did not exist in practice.

So, Chester City had nothing to fear – last with 34 points, but safe.

Hartlepool United ended 23rd with 40 points.

Rochdale – 22nd with 46 points.

Halifax Town – 21st with 48 points.

Wrexham – 20th with 48 points.

Mansfield Town – 19th with 52 points.

Northampton Town – 18th with 53 points.

Swindon Town – 17th with 58 points. Positive goal-difference, though: 58-56.

Crewe Alexandra – 16th with 59 points.

Bury – 15th with 59 points.

Darlington – 14th with 59 points. Shared the record for the least tied games with York City – 8.

Chesterfield – 13th with 60 points.

Stockport County – 12th with 62 points.

Hereford United -11th with 63 points.

Tranmere Rovers – 10th with 66 points.

Torquay United – 9th with 67 points.

Colchester United – 8th with 67 points.

Peterborough United – 7th with 68 points.

Blackpool – 6th with 72 points.

Aldershot – 5th with 75 points. On top of the bulk of the league, but not one of the teams trying to get promoted, too weak.

Bristol City – 4th with 82 points. Satisfied entirely – they were promoted and that was the only important thing.

Reading -3rd with 82 points and going up.

Doncaster Rovers – 2nd with 85 points. Too weak to run for the top place, but otherwise all was fine.

York City – the absolute favourites with no rival: 31 wins, 8 ties, 7 losses. 96-39 goal-difference – they were far above everybody else in every category: the only team to win more than 24 matches; the top scorers, the best defensive record by far. And not just champions, but record makers – the first team ever finishing with three-digit points: 101. Fabulous season.

The top 4 teams were just too strong – they were promoted without any troubles, so had to start thinking about the next season in Third Division.

West Germany the Cup

The Cup final was almost a step back into the 1970s – Bayern vs Borussia Moenchnegladbach. There was more: so far, both teams were unbeaten at cup finals. Bayern played 6 times and won all, Borussia – twice, both times the winner. This time there was no way out – one team will finish with broken record. So much at stake. And it was so hard to break records… the final ended 1-1 after overtime. The rivals remained without a cup final loss… the penalty shoot-out went equal as well for a long time.

Bayern eventually won – 7-6. Huge drama.

It was not just cute, but also symbolic to see the Rummenigge brothers holding the Cup – it was like Karl-Heinz, the aging superstar going to play in Italy giving the reigns to the up and coming youngster. To a point, the picture suggests that Bayern was not going to repeat the mistake they made after 1975, when they kept the old greats way too long: the change was coming, right after the end of the season, winners or no winners – bye-bye, Karl-Heinz, Micheal will be the new king. The next generation.

One could and should sympathize with and feel sorry for Borussia – losing two championship without really losing, coming so close and suffering more from bad luck than anything, but they lost. Unfortunately.

Bayern won its 7th Cup and now were the only team never losing a final. True masters. It could have been to win the championship, but after all they at least finished with a trophy – Borussia and Hamburger SV were empty-handed. It was good to see K-H Rummenigge win just before going to play in Italy. It was good to see the East German defector Nachtweih winning in West Germany. It was good to see Durnberger still winning, as he did during his whole career – the gritty underdog somehow always ending with a trophy. It was good to see Michael Rummenigge winning – the next generation was going to be winners too. And there were warning signs as well – Grobe and Martin, the weak points in the team. May be that was why they barely prevailed over Borussia and lost the championship? Reinforce. But it was for the next months – presently, there was Cup in their hands.

West Germany I Division

The Bundesliga. In the 20th season of the league only 9 from the original members were still playing in it and some of them already spent at least one season the lower divisions. That is probably just a curious note, for there is no way clubs to stay strong for ever and the original members were invited, they did not qualify. Presently, the picture was very different from the one 20 years ago, but almost as a tribute to the anniversary the championship was incredibly intriguing and competitive – not at the bottom, but at the top: 5 teams fought tremendous battle for the title, three of them finishing by equal points and the championship was decided by goal-difference. Whatever the quality of football was, such a championship was big rarity and big thrill. At the bottom the picture was different. Two teams were hopeless outsiders.

1. FC Nurnberg was dead last with 14 points – nothing surprising. The team distinguished itself, though – they lost all 17 away games. At least in West Germany, it was not at all normal a team to be so weak away from home turf. Hard to believe that players like Kargus, Burgsmuller, the Swiss star Botteron could be that weak.

Kickers (Offenbach) ended 19th with 19 points – also not a surprise.

Eintracht (Frankfurt), in decline by now, finished 16th with 27 points. They were involved in a at least 7-team battle for survival and got the short stick. However, they still had a chance to keep their place in the league – if winning the promotion/relegation play-off with the 3rd placed team in the second division. This Eintracht did, beating MSV Duisburg at its home 5-0, thus making the second leg meaningless – it ended 1-1 in Frankfurt, but no matter.

VfL Bochum finished safely at 15th place with 28 points. Barely surviving, but they were specialists at that – Bochum was amazing team: never having even relatively strong squad, as names go, but able to year after year to avoid relegation, sometimes even climbing to the first half of the final table. One looks at their squad this year and like every year before wonders how come this team is not last.

By now, Fortuna (Dusseldorf) was like Eintracht (Frankfurt) – in decline. For the same reason: the club failed to start rebuilding on time, players aged without young talent pushing forward. And current efforts seemingly were not in the right direction: aging Kleff and Zewe were hardly the players to build a team around. Their best years were well in the past, retirement was the future. Well, survived relegation this season – 14th with 29 points.

A year or two ago Borussia (Dortmund) was bright, ascending team, expected to grew stronger. But no… somehow the team stuck and now it looked like they were not going to be the next German wonder. Still, the team was too good to be in the relegation zone – it may have been just a temporary slip, but even so it was clear that they were not on the road to glory any more. 13th with 30 points.

1. FC Kaiserslautern finished 12th with 30 points. Nothing really surprising, for this club was never stable – one year great, the next a failure. Escaped relegation, which was not that bad after all.

SV 07 Waldhof also managed to escape relegation – that was pretty much the most this club could dream of, but thanks to the weaknesses of the competition, they finished 11th with 31 points. From their standpoint – very good season.

Bayer (Uerdingen) – 10th with 31 points. Also managed to escape relegation – that they finished quite high was just a bonus. May be at this time Bayer focused on the other Bayer in the league and Uerdingen became the second-team of the giant firm. That largely meant difficulties in keeping descent squad, but this was possible only in Germany: two teams with one owner playing in the same league. May be Uerdingen was getting less money, but there was no doubt both teams played fair – no fixing, no helping the ‘first’ team. Same name, but the clubs operated as entirely independent entities.

Eintracht (Braunschweig) finished 9th with 32 points. High place for them, but hardly strong season – they only escaped relegation, quite the typical performance.

Arminia (Bielefeld) ended 8th with 33 points. Pretty much the same as Braunschweig – well placed, but nothing promising and generally concerned with avoiding relegation. Good coach, though.

Bayer (Leverkusen) – 7th with 34 points. Not a great record, but this was up and coming team, gradually getting respect and climbing up. Still in the building period, but it was serious project – Detmar Cramer was at the helm with purpose.

1. FC Koln – 6th with 38 points. Not to be underestimated, but this was team able only to stay high in the league. Not a title contender, that was clear for some time – just maintaining strong position. Hard to tell what did not work, but Rinus Michels was not able to push otherwise talented squad up – it looked stuck at one place.

The top 5 teams were involved in the tremendous battle for the title, quite above the rest of the league – the 6th ended with 38 points, the 5th – with 45. Big difference, immediately telling that the top five were different breed. The whole difference between them 3 points between the 1st and the 5th. All five were high scorers too – Koln was the closest to them with 70 goals, but the lowest scorers of the top five managed 75. Perhaps the top teams were equal this season and only misfortune divided them. Perhaps they were strong teams – certainly stronger than anybody else – but there was no great team among them: they were equal because of weaknesses. Something missing, not quite well rounded squads, something needed badly to make difference, but unavailable.

Werder took 5th place with 45 points. And here was exactly this problem suggested just before: bright, talented, rapidly ascending young coach Otto Rehhagel, making the best of strong squad, but based on old hands – Fichtel, Sidka, Okudera, Burdenski. Not enough younger talent – only Voller and to a point Reinders. Not enough classy players for a well rounded squad. Rehhagel could compensate with excellent coaching only to a certain point.

Bayern – 4th with 47 points. Udo Lattek was back at the helm. But he was no longer young climbing up coach – he reached the limits of his potential and the driving force now was not inspiration, but experience. Good team, but not really great, with some shaky positions. Durnberger, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Dieter Hoeness already reached the top of their potential and were only getting older. Del’Haye was in the same situation too. This was a moment of great reshaping, it was clear – this was not a great squad and it was no going further. Oh, they lost the championship by the tiniest of margins -1 point – but in battles like that, this was the big difference between loser and winner and there was little something missing to Bayern’s peril: 4th place. Still, the highest scoring team this season – 84 goals.

Borussia (Moenchengladbach) took 3rd place on worse goal-difference – they finished with the same points as the winners, 48. Looked like revival and there were high hopes that Borussia would build a great squad again – there was a good group of players and excellent young coach. Perhaps the sensation of the year was the coaching of Heynckes. Rarely great players transform into great coaches, but Heynckes was obvious talent in this field too. And he had a good mix of old, current, and future talent – Mill, Hannes, Matthaus, Kamps, Rahn, Ringels, Frontzeck, Bruns. The skeleton was at hand, even at his stage the team proved to be a winner, perhaps with few careful additions there will be another great and unstoppable Borussia. But the potential was endangered by traditional problem: Borussia never had money, so it was also clear that key players will be sold. And soon. That was objective danger, but it was not new and the club, in the same circumstances, managed to stay at the very top of Europe for the most of the previous decade. So, it looked like Borussia was ready to have another great team – and may be dominate the Bundesliga in the following years. Unlucky this year, but nothing tragic – just the opposite. But they needed a player or two.

Hamburger SV – 48 points, of course, having better goal-difference than Borussia, but not goodenough for the title. Unfortunately, 2nd place for them. Led by Happel, so nothing wrong there, but this was not a squad stronger than the one they had two or three years before. Stuck to a point… and in need of few players too. One thing was becoming clear by now – HSV was able to replace leading players, but was unable to recruit great players for the few relatively shaky positions. Hard to point a finger, but may be the problem was that HSV, having Magath and Kaltz, was unable to add another player of similar class to the team. No problem getting players at the level of Rolff, Hartwig, Hieronymus, Milewski – problem with getting players of higher class than those. Thus, winning the title became chancy – and eventually lost by very little, but lost.

It went to VfB Stuttgart and the boys were incredibly happy. Well, what could be said – given the rivals, it was great to prevail. But it was only on goal-difference… in some sense, even better than winning on points, in another sense – may be just lucky.

There was doubt that VfB Stuttgart built a wonderful team and said team reached its peak. It was noticed already, great things were expected from this squad and the victory justified expectations. However… it was a squad with some shaky points, it was not great on big scale. It was more or less equal to the squads of the rivals. Post by post, Stuttgart hardly had the best players – at almost every position the top player belonged to another club. There was also dark danger lurking nearby: it was almost certain that Stuttgart was going to lose some of the stars to Italian or domestic clubs: the Foster brothers and the Swede Corneliusson were the prime targets. Replacing them would be quite a challenge, so it was highly unlikely the club would be able to reinforce: it was a matter of keeping the already reached level. From this perspective, it was great they won the championship.

West Germany II Division

Second Division – 2. Bundesliga. 20 teams, 4 going down, 2 directly going up, and the 3rd placed going to promotion/relegation play-off against the 16th in the Bundesliga. As the season went, there was one outsider and two favourites. Some clubs were settling in rather weak positions, apparently for long time to come. One decline was huge and the club somehow never find a way out. The candidates for promotion were quite expected, though – they have been Bundesliga members for many years, two of them played in the very first year of Bundesliga.

BV 08 Luttringhausen was unable to make a miracle – they were the outsider, last with 18 points.

VfL Osnabruck – 19th with 29 points. A losers of dramatic battle between 7 clubs for survival.

Same fate for SC Charlottenburg – 18th with 29 points.

Rot-Weiss (Essen) was the 4th relegated this season – 17th with 29 points. After 1975 the club went into decline, steadily sinking further and further down – relegated from 1st Division, now from the 2nd Division. And, to this very day, there is no coming back.

Rot-Weiss (Oberhausen) survived – 16th with 31 points. It was almost entirely home effort – only two teams had worse away record than RW.

There was time when Wattenscheid 09 played in the top league, but right now it was all about survival in the second division. A huge relief at the end of the championship – 15th with 32 points. They were one of the teams having quite famous name, but it was past glory at best – the Yugoslav defender Dzoni was old and not exactly in the news for many years.

Hannover 96 – a weak season, but their ups and downs were well known. However, that low in second division, merely trying to escape relegation… that was quite bad. 14th with 32 points.

SSV Ulm 1846 were in their expected part of the table – escaped relegation and that was pretty much the most they could do. 13th with 32 points.

Darmstadt 98 – not their year, but at least not in particular danger: 12th with 35 points.

Hertha BSC – 11th with 37 points. Looked like Hertha was settling for mid-table second division club. It was strange, but West Berlin for some reason was unable to make strong and leading club. And still is – Hertha had occasional strong spells, but normally was nothing special. Still, their current situation was particularly low – seemingly, top league was no longer an option for the club. Rainer Bonhof, even no longer the great player he was only a few years earlier, was probably quite unhappy.

1.FC Saarbrucken – 10th with 38 points.

Fortuna (Koln) – 9th with 38 points. Expected – mid-table was the zone of clubs like Fortuna, which established themselves as firm second-division clubs. Solid enough to stay in the middle – no going up, no going down. The typical second-division clubs.

Stuttgarter Kickers – like Fortuna (Koln), thus, nearby in the table: 8th with 39 points. Klinsmann was still the young promising player and that was all.

SC Freiburg – one more of the solid second-division constants. 7th with 43 points.

Alemannia (Aachen) – same thing. 6th with 44 points.

Union (Solingen) – 5th with 44 points. Good season for them and it looked like Union was aiming to join the ‘solid’ clubs as a permanent member of the league. So far, so good.

Hessen (Kassel) – one of the solid members of the league, but this season they were aiming higher, fighting for 3rd place. However, ended 4th with 48 points.

That MSV Duisburg will try to return to the top division was expected, but the team was not so good. So they managed only to clinch 3rd place with 50 points – no direct promotion, but still possible – if winning the promotion/relegation paly-off against the 16th in the Bundesliga.

Schalke 04 fought for the 1st place, finished 2nd with 55 points. Measures were taken and the teams was too strong for second level football – but no more than that. It did not look like real rebuilding, but rather patch-up work, just enough to assure promotion. The troubles of Schalke 04 were not over, a lot of word had to be done and quickly too, for this squad most likely was not strong enough to stay in the Bundesliga.

Karlsruher SC won the 2. Bundesliga championship, 2 points ahead of Schalke 04. 25 wins, 7 ties, 6 losses, 94-45 goal-difference, 57 points. Going up again, but was it a team good enough for the highest level? Hard to tell – unlike Schalke 04, there were no famous veterans here. This could be a weakness, but could be also a blessing, for who can guarantee that old players would be able to perform? Good for the champions, but there was also a sense that the club should add a few players in the summer.

After the season was over MSV Duisburg met with Entracht (Frankfurt) in the promotion/relegation play-off. All ended quickly in Duisburg – Eintracht entirely destroyed MSV: 5-0. The second leg was mere protocol – 1-1. Thus, only 2 teams were promoted this year – Karlsruher SC and Schalke 04.

West Germany

West Germany. The Bundesliga was in its 20th season. Time flies, it was becoming a league of maturity. The occasion celebrated, of course, and there was the team of the Bundesliga Stars.

Not everything was a venerable veteran, though – Udo Lattek was still active coach. Was it the best of the best? There is never such team, for one or another reason – one can object to the inclusion of Bernard, Konietzka, and Volkert, for instance. Netzer isn’t here. But no matter, one can easily see what kind of players graced the Bundesliga and if some huge German names were not included, the reason is that had little or no impact on the Bundesliga, for they were either too old to play in it (Fritz Walter, for example), or spent their careers elsewhere (Haller and Schnelinger played mostly in Italy). But celebration is a momentary occasion, the season is the long and important reality.

Down in the semi-professional third level, the vast world of regional leagues had its winners and they went to the play-offs for promotion to Second Division. 4 teams going up and they were at the end:


VfR Burstadt,


FC St. Pauli, and

FC Homburg.

Spain the Cup

The Cup. Barcelona – Athletic Bilbao. A chance for Barcelona to win a trophy, but the opposition was not to be underestimated. It was tough final, decided by tiny margin, just like the championship was – Athletic prevailed 1-0.

Empty-handed…the previous season Barcelona at least won the Cup. This year – nothing. Coming close and losing at the end, a tragedy. Which pretty much spelled out the end of Maradona: he was brought to win and he was not winning. It was just a matter of time to dispose him. If there is anything to be said about this season, perhaps this is – Maradona was not going to play for Barcelona much longer.

Athletic Bilbao finished with a double. The boys fought bravely and triumphed at the end. This was the 23rd Cup for Athletic, their first since 1973 and their first double after 1956. One may argue that the club had greater periods, but still this season could be considered their greatest ever, for things had changed dramatically after 1956: until then Bilbao was more or less equal to Madrid and Barcelona. Political pressure was applied in order to repress regional separatism, but it was equally disposed against Catalans and Basques and it did not always work. But after 1956 everything was different: Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Atletico Madrid had huge amounts of money and left the other clubs far behind. To a point, Athletic Bilbao lost its position and became second-tier club. After 1956 they had to wait for a title until 1983. In this period – between 1956 and 1983 – only 2 clubs not from Madrid and Barcelona won the championship: Valencia in 1971 and Real Sociedad in 1981 and 1982. All the other years it was just Real, Barcelona, and Atletico. So, the double Athletic won in 1984 had historic significance: neither Valencia, nor Real Sociedad managed a double. Frankly, it looked impossible for a smaller club – there was no way to match the megastars of the big three clubs from 1956 on: it was mighty line from Di Stefano to Maradona. Thus, it was far more difficult to end with a double now than it was before 1956. Of course, it is not an absolute conclusion and can be argued against. It hardly matters for Athletic Bilbao, though – especially after the end of this season.

Spain I Division

Primera Division. Nothing much at the bottom – the outsiders were clear almost from the start of the championship and nobody else had to worry. At the top: high drama. Three teams competed for the title , 1 point divided the winner from the 3rd and the champions clinched the victory by the tiniest margin – 1 goal better goal-difference. The top three were also way above the rest of the league, which, as whole had rather sedated season – not able to compete for the title, but not in danger of relegation either. As the names go, no surprises at all – the expected outsiders were at the bottom, the usual favourites at the top.

UD Salamanca – last with 20 points. Nothing new – this club had great difficulties to keep a place in the top league.

RCD Mallorca – 17th with 21 points. Going down was more or less expected from this club too.

Cadiz CF – one more club which usually went down as immediately after climbing up to first division. 16th with 22 points.

Atletico Osasuna – 15th, but out of trouble: 28 points.

Real Valladolid – 14th with 29 points. The leakiest defense – 60 goal – but otherwise no troubles. Standing from left: Moré, López, Aracil, Gail, Richard, Fenoy.

First row: Eusebio, Jorge, Da Silva, Yáñez, GªNavajas.

Sporting Gijon – 13th with 30 points. Did better in the previous seasons, but it was not a club financially able to keep strong team for long.

Valencia – 12th with 32 points. The only team really dropping down, but, to a point, it was predictable event: Valencia failed to reinforce its strong, but not great team of around 1980, the key players aged and some were in obvious decline for one or another reason – Mario Kempes was the greatest example.

Real Murcia – 11th with 32 points. Not bad for them, but nothing special either.

RCD Espanol – 10th with 33 points. Middle of the road, as usual.

CD Malaga – 9th with 33 points. Since usually Malaga was an outsider, this season was almost great.

Sevilla FC – 8th with 34 points. Rather typical season.

Real Zaragoza – 7th with 35 point. Like Sevilla, they had typical season – steadily mid-table team.

Real Sociedad – 6th with 37 points. Quite predictably, Real Sociedad was no longer title contender, their great days were over. Predictably, because the team was short to start with and the club had no means to buy additional great players.

Real Betis – 5th with 38 points. They did well this year, but such jumps up were nothing new – Betis was quite capable of suddenly going up for a short time. A team with spirit surely.

Atletico Madrid – 4th with 42 points. Of course, Atletico was not to plummet down – there was no problem to stay ahead of the most of the league, but this squad was not a title contender.

Any club losing the title by a single point will be frustrated, but for Barcelona it was a disaster. A new one, added to quite long list of disasters… what else could be? Menotti was hired to lead them glory, they had Maradona, Schuster, and plethora of Spanish national team players, and 3rd place. True, they fought to the end and came very close to winning, but ended with 48 points instead of 49. Scored most goals (62), received the least (28)… did not matter: no title, the only thing which counts at Camp Nou.

It could be said that the biggest Spanish derby was enacted in entirely negative terms this season: which club was unhappier? May be Real Madrid won this one: they finished 2nd , having the same points as the champions – 49 – and pretty much the same goal-difference. They lost the title only because of 1 goal. And this may have been huge disappointment for Alfredo Di Stefano: very likely he will remain the greatest Real’s player forever, but failed to establish his name as a great coach – not the greatest, just one among the top. The team was perhaps stronger than the one winning the championship, but second best never makes sense in Madrid. Not even when it seems to be a freakish accident – losing the title on one goal worse goal-difference. And in the light of this loss coming ahead of Barcelona was no consolation at all.

One may say Athletic Bilbao was just lucky, but they won the championship and that was that. Did they deserve it? Not a fair question, for it was battle between equal teams, going shoulder to shoulder all the time, the pressure was huge, and it was not a matter of winning the title, but clinching the title. Athletic came 1 point ahead of Barcelona and had 1 goal better goal-difference than Real Madrid – who can blame them? It was typical Basque victory – they did not have megastars like Maradona, Schuster, Stielike, and so on. Traditionally, they had difficulties keeping strong players from the clutches of Real and Barcelona. The rivalry between Madrid and Barcelona left the rivalry between said regions and the Basques well behind – Athletic was technically the underdog, so it was so wonderful to be ahead of the mega-clubs. And Athletic built a great team and enjoyed revival – that in its own terms by now, for the biggest names were in Madrid and Barcelona for many years. True, Clemente built and trained strong team, but it was typical Basque team – tough, gritty fighters, nothing fancy. Soldiers, fighting a war. All the way with the full knowledge that the key players may not be wearing red-and-white shirts next year, so it was now or never. It was now, though, becoming one of the greatest campaign Athletic ever had – this was the 8th title for the club. It was also the second time they had 2 titles in a row – the first time was in the dawn of the Spanish league: the consecutive titles in 1930 and 1931. And there was something more, which may make this season Athletic’s greatest ever – they won a double.

Spain II Division

Segunda Division. Requires a note – a reminder, actually, of the rules. Since the second teams of 1st Division members were allowed to play in the second level, promotion was an issue: the second teams were prohibited of climbing up to top level. The reason is obvious: the second team would lose the games against the first team and fight tremendously against the key opponents of its first team. Not exactly match-fixing, but unfair advantage. This reminder is important when talking about 1983-84 season of Segunda Division: the top 2 teams were ineligible for promotion, so lower placed teams went up. Apart from that, business as usual,with all its quirks, ups, and downs. Four teams relegated, three teams promoted at the end of the championship.

Rayo Vallecano – last with 29 points. Notoriously shaky club, so nothing particularly unusual – yes, Rayo could play top league one year and drop to third level the next. It was dropping time this year.

Palencia CF – 19th with 29 points and relegated.

Algeciras CF – 18th with 32 points and out.

Linares CF – 17th with 32 points. The top placed of the unfortunate – 3rd Division next season.

Cartagena FC barely survived – 16th with 33 points.

CD Tenerife also managed to escape relegation – 15th with 34 points. Ruben Cano – by now the controversy about his playing for Spain all but forgotten – almost went to play third level football. Standing from left: Ordoki, Aguirreoa, Mini, Eizmendi, Gilberto, Paco.

Crouching: Lasaosa, Alberto, Ruben Cano, Azkargorta, Abad.

Atletico Madrileno – the second team of Atletico Madrid – 14th with 34 points.

Real Oviedo – 13th with 35 points.

Recreativo Huelva – 12th with 36 points.

UD Las Palmas – 11th with 36 points.

CD Castellon – 10th with 37 points.

Deportivo La Coruna – 9th with 39 points.

Granada CF – 8th with 40 points.

Barcelona Atletico – the second team of Barcelona – 7th with 40 points.

Celta – 6th with 42 points. Standing from left: Capó, Atilano, Mina, Sánchez, Lemos, Canosa.

Crouching: Rubén, Gómez, Andrés, Mercader, Amoros.

Elche – 5th with 43 points. Lucky guys, Elche – they were promoted to first division. Elche was nothing special this season and they were hopelessly out of the promotion race. But it was not normal season and they got lucky as a result.

Racing Santander – 4th with 44 points. Tried to finish in the promotion zone, but failed by a point. But, like Elche, circumstances favoured them and they were also promoted.

Hercules Alicante – they clinched the 3rd place with 45 points. 1 points ahead of Racing, 2 points better than Elche. No hope for higher place, but they promoted fair and square.

Bilbao Athletic – the second team of Athletic Bilbao – finished 2nd with 50 points. The top two teams finished not only with equal point, but with equal goal-difference, so final places were decided by the team with higher scoring record. Bilbao failed a bit short here and took second position. It was understandable – the club was enjoying great period and the reserves were also good. Too good for Second Division – 5 points ahead of the 3rd placed team. But… second teams were ineligible for promotion, rules said. Deserved to go up by performance, but much weaker Elche was going up instead.

Castilla CF clinched the first place – they scored 69 goals, 8 more than Bilbao Athletic, and that gave them the final victory. But had to be happy with Second Division title… since Castilla was the second team of Real Madrid, absolutely clear by now, they could not be promoted. Racing Santander went up in their place. Fair, unfair… hard to tell. Hard to tell, because Castilla and Bilbao Athletic were much stronger than the rest of the league, had no rivals whatsoever this season, but much weaker teams got promoted. Standing from left: Juanito, Ochotorena, Francis, Pérez Durán, Martín González, Michel

First row: Butragueño, Martín Vázquez, De las Heras, Sanchís, Pardeza.

Familiar names? Well, they were not famous stars yet.

And because of the confusion with ineligible teams finishing at the top, let repeat the promoted ones: Hercules Alicante, Racing Santander, and Elche. All were returning to top flight. Did they deserve it was another matter, mostly to be mulled over in the next season.