France Second Division Group A

France. Change of guard completed – the current leaders of French football were Bordeaux, Nantes, Monaco, and Auxerre. Big decline of Marseille, struggling just to stay in the top league, St. Etienne and Lyon, not able to come back from Second Division. Nantes was the only stable and consistent leading club – successful for a 3rd consecutive decade. Second Division should be mentioned as well: there was an amazing concentration of famous foreign names in it this season – Wlodzimierz Lubanski (Quimper), Ruud Krol (Cannes), Hugo Bargas (Cuiseaux-Louhans), Zdenek Nehoda (Grenoble), Zombori (Montpellier), Poortvliet and Nygaard (Nimes), Kupcewicz and Roger Milla (St. Etienne), Anton Ondrus (Thonon), Carlos Bianchi (Reims). A review of the glorious 70s – the wonderful years of Ajax and AZ’67, the Olympics of 1972, the European finals of 1976 and 1980, the World Cups of 1974, 1978, and 1982. The stars were old for sure, but such concentration of famous names in second division was perhaps unique, never happening before or after anywhere in the world. As for the season, let start with the Second Division – following the tradition, the two leagues here were heavily shuffled after the end of the previous season and again after this season ended – the reason for moving almost the whole leagues from one group to the other is somewhat mysterious, for it looked more like naming Group A Group B in one year and naming it back Group A the next. Promoted and relegated teams apart, only Red Star remained in Group A for the next season and only FC Limoges in Group B – it would have been simpler just to shuffle to group’s names than to give a long list of clubs moved from A to B and from B to A. Apart from that, there was rather strange promotion of Rennes instead of FC Mulhouse. Both groups had two leaders fighting for top position and one outsider.

Group A.

Berrichonne Chateauroux – last with 15 points and out. Third row from left: Legros (secrétaire), Verrier, Auger, Godinet, Bougras, Mattielo, Desrutins, Nieroba (entraîneur).

Middle row: Mérigot, Lestratt, Bernardeau, Vidal, Besset.

Front: Sinson, Larigauderie, Tricoche, Billaine.

SC Amiens – 17th with 20 points. Lost the battle for survival on goal-difference and relegated. Top row from left: Xantippe, Abraham, Peltier, Bala, Kedie, Kebir, Wiencierz, Bemer.

Middle row: Boudet, Ouzara, Quertier, Claeys, Bortolotti, Pujadas, Desmenez (entraîneur), Barbet.

Sitting: Pouchain, Bonalaire, Cayey, Beaugrand, Ravail, Prefaci, Turquet, M’Baye.

FC Angers – lucky 16th with 20 points. However, the survival of Angers was not that much because of better goal-difference, but thanks to the promotion of a second team from the group, thus reducing the relegated teams from 3 to 2. Angers changed its name as well.

SC Abbeville – 15th with 25 points.

US Dunkerque – 14th with 25 points.

Stade Francais (Paris) – 13th with 29 points.

Stade Reims – 12th with 32 points.

Stade Malherbe Caen – 11th with 33 points.

Red Star (Paris) – 10th with 33 points. The only team to stay in Group A the next season.

Stade Quimper – 9th with 33 points.

CS Sedan-Ardennes – 8th with 36 points.

RCFC Besancon – 7th with 36 points.

US Valenciennes – 6th with 40 points.

En Avant Guingamp – 5th with 42 points.

US Orleans – 4th with 43 points.

Stade Rennes – 3rd with 46 points. Normally, 3rd place team is out of any possibility for promotion and on top of that Rennes was not even a contender this season – but, for some reason, they went to promotional play-off and got promoted. Lucky boys. Standing from left: Linarès, Robert, Hiard, Rio, Marais, Le Goff, Samson.

Middle row: Loncle, Rampillon, Martin, Morin, Relmy, Muller, Charrier, Mosca.

First row: Marin, Zajaczkowski, Doaré, Ninot, Mazur, Bezaz, Bousdira.

FC Mulhouse – 2nd with 50 points. Lost the battle for first place by 2 points, but should have still a chance. Why Rennes went up instead of them is a matter of speculation – perhaps they were punished for some infringements or for financial reasons. Bitter finish – Mulhouse tried hard to win and earn promotion, but remained in the second league instead.

AC Le Havre won the championship after 24 wins, 4 ties, 6 losses, 69-20 goal-difference and 52 points. They emerged victorious against tough opponent. Well deserved victory, of course, and happy return to top level football.

Holland the Cup

The Cup final was unusual only on the surface – second division teams reaching cup finals were normal at that time, everybody was quite accustomed to that. Helmond Sport was the one finalist and FC Utrecht the other. A battle of underdogs, which favored Utrecht not just because they were top league team, but mostly because Helmond Sport had a weak season. But final is a final, so it was contested hotly.

May be not a great show, but tough match – especially tough, because the final was played in Utrecht, a big disadvantage to Helmond Sport. But their spirit was high and they kept their ground as long as they could. Utrecht prevailed 1-0.

Nothing really can be said about anonymous team as Helmond Sport – they are to be admired, though. Tough luck they lost, but in the same time their opponents were more deserving.

Now, a good year for FC Utrecht traditionally means mid-table position. Trophies are not even dreamed of. Getting one was fantastic. Helmond Sport never won anything and FC Utrecht had only a single title in the trophy room – if we can properly credit them for the title won in the distant 1958: oficially it goes to DOS Utrecht. DOS eventually transformed into FC Utrecht, but it is DOS in the statistics. FC Utrecht played its only second final and they were utterly destroyed by AZ’67, then at its peak, in the first. This time they prevailed.

Yes, they won, and with difficulty, against lowly second division club, but it is never fair to dismiss first victory like that. Such moments are to be thoroughly enjoyed – a club like FC Utrecht could not really hope for more than occasional trophy and finally they won the Cup. Nobody had any illusions and wild expectations of building on this victory – the club had only one real talent, Jan Wouters, and it was crystal clear to the last fan that there were not going to be two stars, but zero. Trophy or no trophy, Wouters would be snatched by one of the big clubs. The Cup was happy incident, only to be enjoyed in full and remembered fondly. Nice to see FC Utrecht with a cup in their hands.

Holland I Division


First Division. The usual suspects were where they always were, high above the rest of the league, yet, there was no drama. Feyenoord was not only unable to defend its title of the previous year, but lost even the second place. Not a big surprise, really: some shortcomings were present even in the champion squad and after winning the title Cruijff retired for real and Jelyazkov went back to his native Bulgaria. Other key players were also aging and beyond their peak. In the same time there was hardly any bright young talent, except Ruud Gullit. In the same time PSV Eindhoven was not at its peak yet, still getting in shape – aging stars were still around, but on their way out, inevitably, and PSV needed a few quality additions to replace the old horses. Not ready for anything big yet. So, they clashed with Feyenoord for the second place, but were no match to Ajax. There was no drama at the bottom of the table either – two teams were settled down there early and with enough outsiders present nobody else had to worry.

PEC Zwolle was last with 17 points and out of the league. Top row from left: verzorger A. Bunnik, Erik Nijboer, J. Muller, Ruud van Wijnen (fysiotherapeut), Willems, Veldwijk, C. Adriaanse (trainer). Middle row: Wilkens, Ijzerman, Ravens, Van Moorst, Mulder, Rep.

Sitting: Van Kooten, Wiggemansen, v.d. Hengst, Drost, Schrijvers, Booy, Weggelaar, Waslander.

Johnny Rep and Jan Mulder here, but old and far from their great days. Not enough to provide bite even if were in best shape.

NAC Breda – 17th with 19 point. Did not have even one recognizable name, young or old, so going down was obvious.

FC Volendam – 16th with 25 points. No heroics are ever expected from Volendam, but they had enough bite to stay out of trouble. Top row from left: Henny Meijer, Jaap Jonk, Jan Klouwer, Frans Hoek, Nico Zwarthoek, Klaas Tuyp.

Middle row: Rene Kraay, Jan Rooyen, Albert Plugboer, Leo Tholens, Leo Beenhakker, Bob Haarms, Dick Helling, Kees Guyt.

Sitting: Jan Molenaar, Jan Schokker, John Holshuysen, Keje Molenaar, Ton Blanken, Nico Runderkamp.

Go Ahead Eagles – 15th with 28 points.

MVV Maastricht – 14th with 29 points. Nothing much, just happy to be in the top league.

AZ’67 – 13th with 30 points. Good days were over, it seemed, and it was inevitable result of risky policy – Alkmaar climbed to the top mostly thanks to its policy of buying classy veterans and talented younger players overlooked by the big clubs. But they had to sell as well, to balance the books somewhat. And veterans did not last long. Expected drop arrived and perhaps it was time just to cherish memories of glory years.

Excelsior (Rotterdam) – 12th with 30 points. No bad, considering their lowly position in the pecking order. Just staying in the top league equaled success, so this season was rather strong and enjoyable.

Roda JC – 11th with 32 points. Unnoticed so far and perhaps for their own good – the Kerkrade club was slowly getting better and stronger. Very slowly and no surprise, given the Dutch predicament: not a large pool of great talent and just a few clubs with real money.

FC Utrecht – 19th with 32 points. Their usual performance on the surface – they were not much in the championship, but this was perhaps their best season ever in the same time.

Haarlem – 9th with 33 points. Still holding its ground and not bad at all. Against the odds perhaps, but in a good way.

FC Twente – 8th with 34 points. Trying to reestablish themselves in the top league after terrible exile in the second division. A far cry from the great squad of the 1970s, but recovery was not going to be easy, that much was understood. Top row from left: Martin Koopman, Jan Pouls, John Scheve, Andre van Benthem, Billy Ashcroft, Bert-Jan Janssen.

Middle row: trainer Fritz Korbach, masseur Jan Steenbeeke, Jan Sorensen, Evert Bleuming, Jeroen Korpershoek, Theo ten Caat, Rene Noord, fysiotherapeut Henk Eysink.

First row: Patrick Bosch, Fred Rutten, Manuel Sanchez Torres, Theo Snelders, Michael Birkedal, Willy Barbo, Martten Vreijsen, ass. trainer Epi Drost.

Fortuna (Sittard) – 7th with 34 points. A little known Dutch club, which was doing well at the moment and climbing up. Which perhaps explains a publication mistake: the Bulgarian magazine Start indicated that this is the squad for 1984-85 season. Sitting from left: Huud Smeets, Wilbert Suvrijn, Willy Boessen, Nico Hanssen, Rene Maessen, Gerrie Schrijenemakers, Tonnen (?).

Middle row: Wessolek (?) – masseur, Frans Korver – coach, Theo van Well, Wim Koevermans, Chris Korver, Tiny Ruys, Anne Evers, Vorn (?) – assistant coach, Bruls (?) – superintendant.

Third row: Dr. Jessen (?) – doctor, Chis Dekker, Mario Eleveld, Jaap van den Berg, Jo Bux, Arthur Hoyer, Kasten Miller (?) – manager.

Almost the same squad, but of 1983-84, not 1984-85. They had new coach this season and some minor changes in the squad.

As for 1984-85 – this is actual photo, however bad.

FC Den Bosch – 6th with 34 points and the best defensive record this season: they allowed 32 goals – PSV Eindhoven received 33. Not bad at all, strong season.

FC Groningen – 5th with 41 points. Good period for this club, even if they were not especially promising as a squad. Top row from left: Adri van Tiggelen – Jan de Jonge – Harry Schellekens – Pieter Beuzenberg – Rob McDonald – Bert Wiebing.

Middle row: Paul Zweverink (assistent) – Karel Hiddink – Walter Waalderbos – Erwin Koeman – Bud Brocken – Ron Jans – Henk de Haan – Han Berger (trainer)

Sitting: Jan van Dijk – Fandi Ahmad – Theo Keukens – John Visser (verzorger) – Jos Roossien – Anne Mulder – Ronald Steenge.

Two players will be quite famous soon, but one of them was already on his way out – Erwin Koeman would rich fame as player of Belgian KV Mechelen.
Sparta (Rotterdam) – 4th with 42 points. Enjoying strong season and excellent final position, although the title was entirely out not of reach, but of dreaming. And the same magazine made the same mistake as with Fortuna (Sittard) – this is not the squad for 84-85, as stated, but of 983-84. Sitting from left: Wout Holverda, Robin Schmidt, Henk Dirven, Rene Oomen, Ruys (?).

Middle row: J. Nijman – assistant coach, Adnan Gulek, Danny Blind, Valentin (?), Edwin Olde Riekerink, Ron Stevens, Silvio Diliberto, Bert Jacobs – coach, Henk Klamer – superintendant.

Top row: Arie Andriessen, Ron van de Berg, Ronald Lengkeek, Louis van Gaal, Leen van Oosten, John de Wolf, Robert Verbeek.

This is the squad for 1984-85. Top row from left: Robert Verbeek, Ron Stevens, Leen vd Weel, Bert Potuyt, Ronald Lengkeek, Leen van Oosten, John de Wolf.

Middle row: Henk Klamer (verzorger), J. Nijman (2e trainer), Arie Andriessen, Bas van Noortwijk, Gerrie Slagboom, Ron vd Berg, Louis van Gaal, Theo Vonk, trainer.

Sitting: Robin Schmidt, Danny Blind, Edwin Olde Riekerink, Rene Eijer, Silvio Diliberto, Rene Oomen, Bert Veldhoen.

Minor changes, really – coach gone, the Turkish player Gulek gone. Louis van Gaal was still playing, though. And intriguing pair of young defenders – Danny Blind and John de Wolf. Both will be big stars , but of arch-enemies Ajax and Feyenoord. Nice squad, begging the question ‘what if they added a few more players of quality?’ But the predicament of Sparta was to lose top players, not to get more. Unfortunately.

Feyenoord – above the crowd, of course, but 3rd with 48 points. Naturally, club and fans entertained hopes for another title after the success in the previous year, but it was not to be. The team lost good players and did not replace them of similar talent. Gullit was rapidly becoming world-class players, but as a whole the squad was not all that great – the defense was particularly leaky, for instance. Cannot win a title when allowing 51 goals in 34 games. Feyenoord was a bit ‘all-or-nothing’ this season – won 21 games, but lost 7, which is the total of matches Ajax and PSV Eindhoven lost together! Eventually, Feyenoord lost the second place on goal-difference.

PSV Eindhoven – 2nd with 48 points and lucky perhaps, for they clinched silver thanks to better goal-difference. Their current shortcomings prevented them to compete for the title in earnest, but the team was more perspective than the one Feyenoord had. Rebuilding was smoother, Guus Hiddink was in the coaching stuff, definitive stars of the 80s were already here and looked like PSV Eindhoven would transition from one generation to another without tremors. But they were in the process of rebuilding, not ready yet for success.
A relatively easy, but well deserved victory of Ajax. A title for Ajax is, of course, a cliché, but this one was important: Ajax was really coming back and a new great team was almost completed. Just a few finishing touches were needed, a bit more experience – for this was mainly new and young generation, a bit of s spur from inspirational coach. Details. Yes, the team was not yet at its prime, but it was almost there and credit must be given to policy of rebuilding almost always more sound and effective than the rivals, Feyenoord in particular. 24 wins, 6 ties, 4 losses, 93-46 goal-difference, 54 points. PSV and Feyenoord were 6 points behind and the rest of the league did not even count. Aad de Mos was wonderful coaching this squad, which was nice mixture of talent and experience, of domestic players and foreigners. Meeuws (Belgium), Gaselich (Austria), Molby (Denmark) from abroad, seasoned Spelbos, Schoenaker, bright and already with few seasons behind them Rijkard, van Basten, Ronald Koeman, Vanenburg, Silooy, Menzo, van’t Schip. It was also a deep squad, with good reserves eager to push forward and prove themselves. Even their assistant coach was something – Spitz Kohn was the man behind the wonderful years of Twente about 10 years back. There was strong sense that the next great team of Ajax arrived and it was again like in 1969: just a little more was needed to become truly great. Perhaps in terms of adding experience this season was crucial – like 1969 was. Not everybody was to stay, that was traditional Ajax policy anyway, but, like in the early 70-s selling a player or two was not going to dissolve the team – it had enough debt and the internal competition was already fierce. Just look for this team in the near future, that was all.

Holland II Division

Holland. In a nut shell, the beloved heroes of the 1970s were coming back. The Second Division fluctuated a bit, if it mattered – 17 teams in 1983-84, 18 this season, 19 in the next. Just for the record. The top position was grandly contested this year – 5 teams involved. A rare hot pursuit.

With 15 points FC Eindhoven was the outsider of Second Division this season.

Vitesse – 17th with 24 points.

FC Wageningen – 16th with 26 points.

Telstar – 15th with 27 points.

DS’79 – 14th with 28 points.

Helmond Sport – 13th with 29 points.

SVV (Scheidam) – 12th with 29 points.

RBC (Roosendaal) – 11th with 30 points.

SC Veendam – 10th with 32 points.

Spcl. Cambuur – 9th with 33 points.

Willem II – 8th with 37 points.

NEC – 7th with 38 points.

SC Heerenveen – 6th with 39 points.

That was the insignificant bulk of the league. The remaining 5 teams fought for top position, which was won dramatically – 2 points divided 1st from 5th at the end. A bitter pill to swallow for some, because of the rules not giving chance to some.

RKC (Waalwijk) – 5th with 44 points. Tough luck.

DC Den Haag – 4th with 45 points.

De Graafschap – 3rd with 45 points.

VVV (Venlo) – 2nd with 45 points. Better goal-difference gave them second-best position, but they lost as well.

SC Heracles’74 clinched 1st place with 46 points. Champions of Second Division and directly promoted up. Wonderful success after stressful season, perhaps depending mostly on stamina and determination than skills. 18 wins, 10 ties, 6 losses, 50-33 goal-difference.

The other promoted team was traditionally decided in a promotional play-off between stage winners. And that did not favour VVV (Venlo), so it was 2nd place in vain. De Graafschap (3rd), NEC (7th), RKC (5th), and FC Den Haag (4th) competed in the play-off stage. RKC and FC Den Haag were clearly not up to task, but the coveted first place was won in a strange manner: FC Den Haag – De Graafschap was abandoned in the 77th minute. De Graafschap was leading 1-0 and this result stayed – strange, because some games were abandoned this season, generally to bad weather, and were completed later. But this one was neither replayed, nor completed – well, it did not matter: De Graafschap was staying 2nd regardless the outcome of the match. They finished with 8 points, but NEC (Nijmegen) had 9 and won the promotional spot. Delightful moment, but… fairness suffered terribly: NEC was not at all among the leaders. They finished 7th and yet got promoted. True, they were best at the most important stage, but the usual question persists: why bother to play grueling football during the year when you can just gear yourself to qualify to the final stage, as early as possible, then safe your strength for it, focus of it and take advantage of the those who were already tired. Anyhow, NEC went up and that was that.

Belgium the Cup

Anderlecht was so powerful this season, that a double was the natural outcome – but did not happened. Cup tournaments have their own logic and Anderlecht did not reach the final – two underdogs reached it: SK Beveren and KSV Cercle Brugge. Which supplied the drama – no matter how successful was Beveren at this time, their squad was not particularly stronger than Cercle Brugge’s and face-to-face, in a single combat, ambition and desire entirely equalized the opponents. Thus, nobody won – the final ended 1-1 after extra time. Penalty shoot-out is always a Russian roulette and luck eventually favoured Cercle Brugge 5-4.

To a point, one can be sorry for such lovely underdogs as Beveren, but even that is relative – they lost the battle of the underdogs. Not even lost it – it was only that luck was not on their side this day. It would have been great to if they got the trophy, but Beveren more or less won whatever they could win with modest and unassuming squads. Frankly, one can be really sorry for them if they lost to Anderlecht.

KSV Cercle Brugge was lucky, no doubt about it, but having good luck on one’s side sometimes is fair.

An old club, but always in secondary position. Yet, they had their successful times and were still ahead of Beveren in that – 3 titles and 1 Cup – but their glory days were in very, very distant past. The last triumph happened in 1930, when they won their 3rd and last title. Thus, the Cup won in 1985 came after so many years of suffering, that it was great joy. For that reason, it was better that Cercle Brugge won – Beveren’s success was recent one, so Cercle Brugge won against the odds in a sense. In terms of local rivalry, it was perfect: FC Brugge won nothing this year. And it was rare and unexpected success in the current reality, unlikely to be repeated and much more to be cherished because of that.


Belgium. Absolute domination of Anderlecht, in a nut shell. Quite dramatic battle for the first place in Second Division between RWD Molenbeek and KRC Mechelen.

Eventualy, RWD Molenbeek prevailed, finishing with 43 points – 2 more than KRC Mechelen. Quick comeback of RWD Molenbeek, but was it a revival remained to be seen.

KRC Mechelen still had a chance for promotion – if winning the play-off tournament against the next 3 teams in the final table: FC Winterslag, 3rd with 36 points; R. Charleroi SC, 4th with 35 points; and St. Truidense VV, 5th with 34 points. Looked like an easy job for KRC, which finished way ahead of FC Winterslag – 5 points ahead – but the outcome was entirely different: KRC Mechelen was pathetic and lost all 6 games. Last of 0 points! St. Truidense VV was not much during the season and the same here: 3rd with 5 points. FC Winterslag played strong final and scored mots goals at this stage – 16 – but a tie against St. Truidense VV did them – 2nd with 9 points. R. Charleroi SC raised to the occasion – they lost the away leg to FC Winterslag, but won all other games and clinched 1st place with 10 points. And with this – promotion. Like RWD Molenbeek, Charleroi was only returning to the top league after brief exile.

First division was dominated by Anderlecht and almost everything else was quite normal – with the exception of Standard (Liege), hardly any surprises.

Racing Jet (Bruxelles) was last with 19 points. Their brief emergence from obscurity ended just as quickly. K. St.-Niklase SK was 17th with 21 points and also relegated. No surprise in that either.

Beerschot VAV – managed to avoid relegation. 16th with 24 points.

K. Lierse SK – 15th with 25 points. Given their recent years, nothing new. Hard to imagine their young goalkeeper Verlinden will become well known name in time.

RFC Seresien – or Seraing – 14th with 26 points. KV Kortrijk – 13th with 27 points.

KV Mechelen – 12th with 28 points. Their aim was clear: trying to establish their place in the top division. But careful building of decent team was already started, which was something different than what most lowly clubs were doing. It was nothing much yet, but some recognizable names were already here. Top row from left: Wilfried Dommicent, Rudy Geens, Raymond Jaspers, Theo Custers, Filip Benoot, Michel Van Campenhout, Marc Huysmans.

Middle row: Jan De Cleyn, Herman Fransen, Piet den Boer, Mark Talbut, Joachim Benfeld, Koen Sanders, Mathy Billen, Wim Smets, Fi Van Hoof, Leo Canjels.

Sitting: Willi Reisinger, Benny Asselberghs, Bert Cluytens, Geert Deferm, Yvan Hoste, Karel Kesselaers, Johan Van Arwegen.

KSV Cercle Brugge – 11th with 29 points. Normal. But they had soemthing else going on. KSC Lokeren – 10th with 30 points. May be losing some ground, but Lokeren was essentially mid-table club and their good years were largely due to Polish stars. No more the likes of Lubanski and Lato, though.

K. Waterschei SV Thor (Genk) – 9th with 32 points. Mid-table club – mid-table finish.

Standard (Liege) – 8th with 33 points. Quite a drop and that looked like a big surprise, given the squad at hand. But the club was still suffering the aftermath of the bribing scandal and the weakness was the result.

Royal Antwerp 7th with 39 points. Not bad, considering how distant was Standard from them, but apart from that – nothing new.

KAA Gent – 6th with 40 points. Like Antwerp, nothing special and new. Yet, not a bad season for a mid-table club.

SK Beveren – the champions of the previous season were now 5th with 41 points. Not even able to compete for bronze medals, but this club should be measured differently: a small club with little money, they were brave heroes. Their golden period,which started roughly in 1975, still continued and it was amazing period for a club unable to recruit even a secondary star. The sheer guts kept them at the top of Belgian football and they even won 2 titles. 5th place was hardly a drop or sign of decline – it was just that a modest team could not do more. A lovely kit, though, and something else: they became a face for Nike. Difficult to thing of that now, but at that time Nike was only trying to get some slice of the football market. Rather unknown firm and not at all in a position to attract the interest of big clubs.

KSV Waregem – 4th with 45 points. Wonderful season for them, but it was unlikely to get better in the future. It was the typical rise of modest Belgian club – a few good local players (the Millecamps brothers, Desmet) and some sturdy foreigners (Gortz, Buckley) were enough for a good season or two. However, the best players were likely to be lost to richer clubs just as quickly, so it was imperative to enjoy the moment and not get into dreaming.

RFC Liegeois – or FC Liege – clinched 3rd place with 46 points. Like Waregem, they enjoyed their great moment. Came close to 2nd place, but 3rd was almost equally wonderful achievement. Unlikely to be repeated – at least, not soon.

FC Brugge – 2nd with 48 points. Climbing back to leading position after the disaster of 81-82, but not yet a real title contender. Still in the rebuilding process, so, realistically, it was good season, but only a stepping stone for the future.

Goes without saying – Anderelecht was number 1. It could be argued this was their finest season, it could be argued that the opposition was quite weak and unable to offer much challenge or resistance, but Anderlecht was the single constantly stable Belgian club and no matter what the league looked like, the numbers speak of themselves: 26 wins, 7 ties, and only one lost match. They scored a round 100 goals in this championship, permitting only 25 in their net in the same time. The nearest team to them finished 11 points behind. There was no contest at all, Anderlecht was supreme and wonderful. 17 players were current, former or future national team players, representing 4 different countries. Anderlecht used to be Dutch in its earlier great version, now it was Danish – the club had uncanny ability to recruit cutting age players. It was also a club able to change its squad smoothly – Vercauteren was already getting old, an yesterday’s star, but Scifo was tomorrow’s star. There was nothing to fear from rich foreign clubs either – with such a squad, losing a player or two to Italian clubs was not a big deal: another was eager and may be even impassioned to step in. Lastly, there was the coach – the club’s legend Paul van Himst proved himself excellent not just as a player. Well, what is the point of saying more – Anderlecht is widely known. It is futile to compare squads of different times – they were great before, they were still great, still hungry for success.

Portugal the Cup

The Cup final opposed FC Porto to Benfica, a grand clash between strong rivals. FC Porto had the best team at the moment, but Benfica not only had plenty of experience, but had deeper squad and foxy coach, who knew how to extract single victory. Perhaps this advantage decided the final – Benfica had enough strength to win a single game and they did it, 3-1.

Surely a disappointment – no double – but also a good learning experience for up and coming team, making it only stronger in the long term. The future belonged to FC Porto, there was still a little bit missing.

The old rule of thumb: clubs like Benfica are never to be dismissed even when they were relatively weak. Pride, tradition, experience, everything can be gathered for one single task, even dirty tricks, if necessary. Head-to-head Benfica was able to beat talented FC Porto and they did it. Thus, they saved the season and won one more trophy. Yet, they had to improve the squad, to rebuild it, to make it younger and up to date. Occasional success was not in the books of Benfica – they had to really catch up with FC Porto.

Portugal I Division

First Division. On the surface, nothing really new – one leader, two more teams well above the rest of the league, and another familiar name right behind them. The usual suspects. No matter how good or bad Portuguese football was at any particular time, the leaders remained the same. However, the heart of Portuguese rivalry already shifted from purely Lisbon affair to a battle between two cities – Lisbon vs Porto – and there was no reversal to the old status quo. And the champion of this year was not just champion, but a team getting closer and closer to its very exciting peak.

The bottom of the league had its own drama, largely thanks to the structure: 4 relegated teams. Two were obvious outsiders and in another country that would have been enough for serene existence of many others, but not in Portugal: 6 teams were preoccupied with finding a way of escaping relegation.

FC Vizela was too weak for anything – last with 15 points. Standing from left: Russo,Toni,Berto,Manuel Correia,José Carlos,Sérgio.

First row: Barbosa,Fernando Jorge,Pita,Salvador,Faria.

Varzim SC was also too weak – 15th with 17 points. Like many times before, unable to last long in the top division.

SC Farense – 14th with 22 points. It was not that they did not try to survive, but failed and were directly relegated.

Rio Ave FC was also unable to climb to safety, but at least had hopes for survival – 13th with 23 points. Weaker goal-difference was their misfortune, but there was still the promotion/relegation tournament. Perhaps they most unlucky exactly at this final stage – they finished it wit the best record, but took 2nd place and were relegated.

SC Salgueiros secured a place in the league for at least one more season, but it was after fretting to the end – like Rio Ave, they ended with 23 points. Better goal-difference put them above Rio Ave – 11th and safe.

Vitoria (Setubal) – often presented as VFC Setubal, largely to avoid duplication of names – generally tried to survive this year and they barely succeeded: 10th with 25 points.

FC Penafiel, which, unlike Setubal, was generally found in this situation, also managed to escape relegation – 10th with 25 points.

Vitoria (Guimaraes) – or VSC Guimaraes – slipped dangerously close to relegation, but at the end was 9th with 25 points. Better goal-difference placed then above Penafiel and Vitoria (Setubal).

Sportng (Braga) – or SC Braga – preserved its normal mid-table position in Portuguese pyramid: 8th with 28 points. Should be noticed that they were among the only 6 teams with positive goal-difference.

Academica (Coimbra) – 7th with 29 points. Looked like revival of sorts, but was it really going to last?

CF Belenenses (Lisbon) – 6th with 30 points. Nothing much in the general state of affairs, but on smaller scale – quite a promising season. Belenenses hit rock bottom just recently and looked like the learned their lesson and were trying to reestablish their lost leading position. However, it was far from clear they would succeed.

Portimonense SC – 5th with 36 points. Now, this was a club enjoying progress and reflecting the shift in Portuguese football: looked like Porto was going to have 3 strong teams in the league, replacing Lisbon as the center of the country’s football. Was it really possible was another matter, but at the moment hopes were strong – Portimonense was quite stronger than Belenenses, the third club of Lisbon.

Boavista FC (Porto) – 4th with 37 points. Enjoying strong period, but also questioning the possibility of Porto, as a whole, replacing Lisbon – presently, Boavista was challenged by Portimonense for the 2nd position in the order of Porto, and was not coming close to the leading clubs of Lisbon.

Benfica – 3rd with 43 points. Poor season and no surprise: it was slightly aging team – compared to those of the rivals – and Pal Csernai could not do more with it.

Sporting (Lisbon) – not their season either: 2nd, but distant second with 47 points. They lost only 2 games, but had too many ties. John Toshack paid the price for that, but he could be hardly blamed: even when strong, Sporting was not a truly great team: having less money than Benfica and, the recent years, FC Porto too, Sporting was always in a bit of disadvantage. Small things… they rarely had enough first-rate players. More likely, they had second-best. Point in case: look at the goalkeepers – neither Damas, nor Katzirz in his native Hungary, were number one. National team players, yes, but back-ups, not regulars. Winning was more of a heroic act rather than superiority even in their strongest years.

FC Porto dominated the championship. It was a squad almost at its peak, coached by talented and ambitious Artur Jorge, still young and pushing up. It a season revealing what this team could really do – they simply rolled over everybody. Almost a perfect record at home – 14 wins and 1 tie. Away, they were just as strong: 12 wins, 2 ties, and their single lost match. But they allowed less goals away than at home: only 6! True, they scored less than half goals when visiting, but were formidable at home turf: 25 goals scored away and 53 at home. Anyway, they were best in every aspect this season, finishing with 55 points – 8 points ahead of Sporting and 12 more than Benfica. Perhaps their only weaker post was the goalkeeper – that compared post by post to the rivals’ squads – but it was going to be balanced quickly. Theirs were the current stars, younger than what Benfica had, and more numerous than Sporting’s, and not only that, but new talent was theirs as well – Futre was already a regular and hailed as one of the most promising youngsters in Europe. Not an accidental victory at all – this was perhaps the season which revealed FC Porto not only as a strong club, but a club which was going as a top European club.

Portugal II Division

Portugal. Along with Romania, the other country with rapidly ascending football. Talented generation was complimented by good coaches, foreign and domestic, old and young: Pal Csernai (Benfica), Raymond Goethals (Vitoria Guimaraes), John Toshack (Sporting Libon), Artur Jorge (FC Porto), James Melia (Boavista).

Second Division – divided into 3 groups of 16 teams each, the winners directly promoted. The 2nd – placed and the 13th in the First Division played in promotion/relegation tournament. Competitive championships in 2 of the groups – Zona Norte and Zona Centro – and only Zona Sul had dominant leader.

Zona Norte. Quite a few former first division members, but not all of them competed for promotion.

Fafe – 8th with 30 points.

Four teams battled for the top position – Leixoes, Pacos de Ferreira, Chaves, and Aves. 3 points was the difference between the champion and the 4th at the end. Chaves clinched 2nd position with 40 points and better goal-difference than Pacos de Ferreira.

Aves won the championship with 41 points (17 wins, 7 ties, 6 losses, 51-30) and was promoted to the top league.

Zona Centro. Similar to Zona Norte – 4 teams competing for promotion.

Little known Elvas had wonderful season – 3rd with 40 points. Couldn’t get a chance for promotion, but still it was memorable performance.

Uniao Leiria took 2nd place with 41 points, thus keeping hope for climbing higher.

Covilha won the championship with 43 points (17 wins, 9 ties, 4 losses, 44-13) and promotion.

Zona Sul. No drama here – one team dominated the championship and right behind it – another one, which could not challenge the leader, but was still high above the rest of the league.

Torralta was 9th with 30 points.

Estrella Amadora topped the bulk of the league – 3rd with 36 points – but couldn’t even dream of promotion.

Uniao Madeira was too strong to let anybody challenge their position, but winning the championship was not up to them – 2nd with 42 points.

Maritimo reigned supreme, easily winning the league – 23 wins, 5 ties, 2 losses, 64-15, and 51 points. Excellent season.

The promotion/relegation tournament involved the three 2nd placed teams in the Second Divistion the 13th in the top league – Rio Ave. Only two battled for the coveted top spot and the winner was decided only by the direct results between the leaders. Which relegated Rio Ave, which had the best overall record. Uniao Leiria (Zona Centro) finished last with 3 points. Uniao Madeira (Zona Sul) was 3rd also with 3 points. Rio Ave (1st Division) was unfortunate 2nd with 9 points and 17-4 goal-difference.

Deportivo Chaves won the tournament with 9 points and 16-10 goal-difference. Head-to- head results against Rio Ave were in their favour and they were happily promoted to top flight.

Thus, the teams going up to First Division were: Deportivo Aves, Deportivo Chaves (Zona Norte), Covilha (Zona Centro), and Maritimo (Zona Sul). Congratulations!

Romania the Cup

And the ascent of Steaua to greatness was confirmed in the Cup final – they prevailed over Univeristatea (Craiova) 2-1 and won a double.

Universitatea was still strong and tough, but it was already yesterday’s news – beatable, losing ground. They were not to fade away, but leading position moved to Bucharest and Universitatea was settling for secondary place in the peck order. Not a big difference, but… they lost the Cup final and finished 4th in the championship.

Some names were already noted, because of wonderful Romanian performance at the 1984 European Championship finals, but they were not yet great and familiar stars – thus, the Bulgarian publication of the team leaves some uncertainty who was who. First row, from left: Petcu, Barbulescu, Lacatus, Eduard, Laurentiu, Radu II, Boloni (? – may be, the name given with the photo is Duckadam), Stoica, Puscas.

Standing: Jenei – coach, Piturca, Bumbescu, Iordake (?), Duchadam, Stingaciu (? – the given name is Stanescu), Tataran, Iovan, Belodedici, Majearu, Iordanescu – assistant coach.

Wrongs will be righted soon – the double won this year was perhaps very important for this squad, giving them the opportunity to reach their rich potential. Very soon they will climb to the very top of world’s football ladder and there will be no uncertainty about names – here are players, who will be in everybody’s mouth for the next ten years. And Hagi was coming…