Germany II Division

West Germany. This championship lost quite a lot of its edge – there were more teams in decline and there were those which had short lived prominence, contrary to expectation. More or less, the West German football became one-team show. Nothing like the glorious 1970s. Top players were going to Italy and no big international talent was coming.

Second Division. 20 teams, the last 4 relegated, the top 2 directly promoted and the 3rd going to promotion/relegation play-off against the 16th in the Bundesliga. One outsider this season, 4 teams competing for promotion.

SSV Ulm 1846 was the outsider – last with 22 points, winning only 5 games.

Kickers Offenbach – 19th with 32 points. Unclear why they were placed 19th, since they finished with more points than the 18th.

VfR 1910 Burstadt – 18th with 31 points. Newly promoted, they were relegated immediately.

FC St. Pauli – 17th with 33 points. Like Burstadt, just promoted and going back to third level right away.

FC 08 Homburg – lucky 16th with 34 points. Also just promoted and barely avoiding relegation.

Darmstadt 98 – 15th with 35 points. Another lucky escape.

Hertha BSC – 14th with 35 points. Their misery continued – just lucky to avoid relegation.

MSV Duisburg – 13th with 35 points. Like Hertha, fighting for dear life and grateful for escaping the Regional leagues.

Rot-Weiss Oberhausen – 12th with 35 points. One more team struggling to stay in the league. Perhaps even their fans forgot that Rot-Weiss played top league football once upon a time.

Fortuna Koln – 11th with 36 points. A bit weaker than usual, but second division was truly their environment, so they were not seen as declining.

SG Wattenscheid 09 – 10th with 36 points. Like Fortuna, a bit weaker than usual, but no big deal.

Stuttgarter Kickers – 9th with 37 points. One more typical second division team, performing accordingly: neither too strong, nor too weak.

SC Freiburg – 8th with 38 points.

Blau-Weiss 90 Berlin – the best of the newly promoted teams: 7th with 39 points. However, it did look like a season fueled by enthusiasm and unlikely to be repeated.

SG Union Solingen – 6th with 41 points. Strong season, but hardly suggesting anything more than just occasional good year.

Alemannia Aachen – 5th with 43 points. Their usual – quite remote from promotional ambitions.

That was the bulk of the league, separated clearly from the top 4 teams. They fought for promotion and one team had to be out. Fierce race – 1 point was the whole difference, the unlucky 4th losing on goal-difference.

KSV Hessen Kassel – what a misfortune: 4th with 49 points. Weaker goal-difference worked against them and that was only too bad, for Hessen had modest existence, practically never aiming at promotional spot and quite unlikely to repeat their strong season.

1. FC Saarbrucken – lucky to finish 3rd. 49 points and better goal-difference than Hessen gave them a chance for promotion. They did not miss their chance, beating Arminia (Bielefeld) in the play-off and climbing up for one more try of top flight football. The team was not very promising, so it was going to be a very hard task, but at least this season ended on high note. Perhaps this was the highest achievement of the former Bulgarian star Abadjiev, who was one of their coaches.
Hannover 96 clinched direct promotion, ending with 50 points. Lost first place on goal-difference, but promotion mattered most. Well, up and down, up and down – that was there history. Now it was up. Staying in First Division was another matter.

1.FC Nurnberg – 50 points and better goal-difference made them champions of Second Division. Lucky to win the 4-team battle, but they were not promising squad either. 23 wins, 4 ties, 11 losses, 71-45 goal-difference – not a very impressive record for a champion. Like Hannover 96, they were doomed to meandering between 1st and 2nd divisions. It was great to go up again, but… neither of the three promoted teams looked like it will make some impact in the highest league. est Germany. This championship lost quite a lot of its edge – there were more teams in decline and

England the Cups

The English Cups. Cups are cups – different ‘logic’. It is always amusing to see lowly clubs playing great in cup tournaments and the Football League Cup supplied exactly that: Norwich City and Sunderland reached the final. That is, the team which finished 20th and 21st in the championship and were relegated. Well, at least they were equal opponents. In front of 100 000 fans they fought greatly and Norwich prevailed by a single goal, scored not even by their player, but own goal by Sunderland’s Chisholm. 1-0 and the Cup was theirs.

Disappointment for Sunderland, surely, but they were weak this season, weaker even than Norwich. Poor Chisholm.

Norwich City was happy indeed – trophies is something they lack. Relegation after this success was not all that tragic. Mike Channon was still a winner – always good to see a veteran, slipping out of mind already, to win. A victory leading them out of resignation, so the next season would be driven by ambition. Perhaps.

The FA Cup was just the opposite of the League Cup final: two of the finest and most ambitious clashed. Everton, looking for a double, vs Manchester United, eager to win something. In the semis, Manchester United eliminated Liverpool! Again, it was a battle of equals, tough and unpredictable, decided by single goal. Manchester United managed to score – Norman Whiteside did it – and won.

When equals play, it is unfair to say one was weaker – it was more a matter of luck than anything. Everton lost and if there was anything to point out about them, it could be that the team was not yet at its peak. A double did not happened, but so what? The future was theirs.

Manchester United was happy to win the Cup, it was a bit of relieve, but also a consolation prize. Besting the strongest team this year was great, but a cup is not a title and Manchester United desperately needed a title. May be this victory would help fueling the next season? Unfortunately, European season was not going to be.

England I Division

First Division. Of course, Oxford’s victory would have been bigger news if there was no bigger bang in the top league, which takes more attention anyway. A new champion is always welcome and the irritating dominance of Liverpool made many want a change, but it was pleasantly surprising one, even if the title was not so heavily contested. What made the victory of Everton more important was the perception that England was on verge of having the biggest derby in the world – the biggest, because it involved not just leading teams, but world-leading teams. For all their aura, Milan vs Inter, Real vs Atletico, Boca Juniors vs River Plate, Flamengo vs Fluminense were either challenged by intercity derbies or at least one of the rivals was not a leading team at particular moment. Everton vs Liverpool, however, had both opponents at the top of world football and everything spoke in favour of staying on top of the world for years to come: Liverpool maintained its class for so many years and still there was no sign of coming crisis or losing focus. Everton was not at its peak yet, so it was expected the team to only get stronger. At least, that was how it looked at the moment, the potential was there. The season itself was not so bright and optimistic – it appeared that Tottenham Hotspur reached its limit and Manchester United seemingly was not able to win, always something missing. At least, there was a group of 4 strong teams, which was much better than having overwhelming Liverpool. The league was still competitive enough for dramatic season; the hooligans were still fighting and destroying everything in sight, the national team was promising at last, the clubs still trampled Europe, the foreign players still disliked and dimmed incapable to play the true British game. On the down side was having an outsider so weak it was a shame: no last placed team finished First Division season with fewer points since 1893-94 and that with current 3 points for a win! Speaking of wins, only one team matched the sorry achievement of this season – ironically, it was a record made by the same club both times, only the first time Stoke City distinguish itself with winning just 3 games was in 1889-90, when the league had only 12 teams, not 22.

Stoke City – arguably, the worst squad in the history of the English First Division. 3 wins, 8 ties, 31 losses, 24-91, and 17 points. Having Sammy McIlroy and Alan Hudson and nothing… or may be because of having McIlroy and Hudson there was nothing… from a certain perspective, both have been underachievers.

Sunderland was terrible as well, but Stoke City brought a level so low, everybody else looked if not a giant, at least a decent squad. Sunderland ended with 40 points. They won 10 games. They scored 40 goals. 8 teams allowed more goals in their nets than them. They finished 21st, though, and were relegated.

About 8 teams were in danger of relegation as well and battle for survival was fierce.

Norwich City was unlucky – they finished with 49 points and took the 20th place, the third relegation place. It was even ironic, because the Football League Cup final opposed Norwich to Sunderland. High and low in one season.

Queens Park Rangers was lucky to survive – 19th with 50 points. The squad was nothing like the one of the mid-70s, so nothing surprising this vintage just struggled for survival.

Coventry City – 18th with 50 points. Never great, but masters of keeping place in the league no matter what. Hard season, but the end was satisfying – no relegation. Just like the previous two seasons.

Ipswich Town – forget the dazzling team conquering Europe only a few years ago. The club took sharp turn after that and went down rapidly. Hard to tell why – looking at the squad, it was more than decent. Stronger names than the players most teams had. It did not look like real crisis, it looked like managerial incompetence: with such team, Ipswich barely escaped relegation. 17th with 50 points.

West Ham United – perhaps this squad tells of what the Hammers converted into: a smallish club, which occasionally could have strong year, but in general will be concerned only with avoiding relegation. Moving to the ranks of the leaders? Impossible. For good. 16th with 51 points and thanks God they were not relegated. Frank Lampard seemed to be eternal, although he still had to catch with Billy Bonds. Trademarks of West Ham eternity: long hairs and beards.

Leicester City – 15th with 51 points. One more lucky survivor,which was perhaps great for Gary Lineker – world class player should not suffer the disgrace of Second Division.

Newcastle United – 14th with 52 points. Managed to avoid relegation, but it was fine in general – they just came back from 6 years of Second Division exile, so the priority was to hold to the top league for now. Done. The trouble was Chris Waddle and Peter Beardsley were not likely to remain.

Luton Town – they never lasted long in the top league, so survival was more or less their only aim. 13th with 54 points was not bad at all.

West Bromich Albion – in decline, but not yet hitting the bottom. Too bad Nobby Stiles was not 20 years younger. 12th with 55 points.

Watford – 11th with 55 points. Looked like Watford was settling comfortably as a midtable team. Even Elton John could not make them a big club – modest budget was their fate and solid and steady performance the best under the circumstances. Graham Taylor was still at the helm, so everything was fine, if not great. John Barnes was their hope for the future – at least in terms of potential income from a sale.

Aston Villa – there was hardly any doubt they were one-time wonder when they won the championship and the European Champions Cup: the almost unchanged winning squad was now 10th with 56 points. Even 9th place was far outside their reach. A team akin to Watford, not to the leading clubs. Midtable and nothing more.

Nottingham Forest – a bit of an enigma: they were never great even in their best years and surely lost their edge, but not a midtable team either. A lot had been said about the squad losing interest after winning everything, but more likely reason was the predicament of the club and its manager: little available money for big transfers on one hand and the inclination of Clough to make teams of somewhat oldish second-raters. So, Bowyer, Davenport, Hodge, and the former Dutch international Johhny Metgod were not exactly top-class players and may be even their peaks were passed, but it was a team able to give trouble to anybody, especially the leading teams. A team able to climb even to the top on occasion – but not a team able to stay on the top. 9th with 64 points – which is telling, for Forest was good 8 points ahead of Aston Villa.

Sheffield Wednesday – 8th with 65 points. Just came back from second division exile and doing very well. A team giving the impression of going up, a team to watch in the future. No great names here, but perhaps their Hungarian player was a clue: Imre Varadi was never a big star attracting tons of attention, but he proved to be very dependable and useful. For a relatively modest player, he made impressive foreign career, spending years in England and elsewhere. No many foreigners survived English football in the 1980s, but he adapted well. Wednesday was a team of such players and it was reasonable to look at it with hope.

Arsenal – 7th with 66 points. Somehow Arsenal always looked more promising than actually shown on the field. Judging by the names, this squad should have been a title contender. Instead, they finished behind Chelsea’s nobodies… it happened before, it will happen again. Doomed to underachievement.

Chelsea – 6th with 66 points. Great season, but the team was not eyed with hope and rightly so – it was quite a pedestrian squad, perhaps able to climb up, mostly driven on enthusiasm, for a year or two. Coming back from second division often brings a good season, but even the club fans did not believe this squad really belonged to the best teams. Unfortunately, making something better needed money and Chelsea’s financial problems were notorious.

Southampton – 5th with 68 points. Nothing to do with the real top of the table, but one more wonderful season. If Arsenal were underachievers, Southampton were overachievers. It was weird approach, but so far it did not misfire: the concept of acquiring old stars, well beyond their prime, is always risky and not long lasting. Amazingly, it worked perfectly for Southampton – a parade of great veterans, quickly stepping down and replaced with similar veterans. So, no Keegan anymore, but Peter Shilton (well, who would tell he will play another 10 years and some more? He was 34-35 already.), Mick Mills, Joe Jordan this season. As the things were going, Southampton provided particular excitement: who will be the next ancient player hired to ensure another strong season?

The last 4 teams were set apart and involved in their private struggle for outdoing each other. However, one team soared alone. It was exciting race for… second place.

Manchester United lost it, ending without a medal – 4th with 76 points. It was more than unfortune: Manchester United was underachiever bigger than Arsenal – Arsenal usually had not very deep sqaud, but United had plenty of talent for years. A good 13 worthy names here plus strong group of more than decent lads – a squad which should have been mighty champion, but it was not. It was hardly matter of wrong purchases – anyone can be blue with envy of a club getting Arnold Muhren, Gordon Strachan and Jesper Olsen on top of the players they already had. Manchester United traditionally made bigger purchases than Liverpool and yet never catch up with Liverpool. Ron Atkinson was to blame – great manager, but not a winner and it was already clear to the fans, perhaps the brass was coming to realizing it too. It was always something missing and the team lost season after season. Then again, it was the same with Docherty and Sexton… passion was getting thin.

Tottenham Hotspur – 3rd with 77 points. Lost second place on goal-difference. This was perhaps the finest season of that vintage – it was quite clear they would not go higher, that was their peak. The team achieved a lot, but the title was beyond their reach.

Liverpool – clinched 2nd place only thanks to better goal-difference and not really a title contender. It all depends on standpoint: to see Liverpool without any trophy in their hands almost spelled out ‘crisis’. But in England most viewers and observers were quite happy to see that, to see a change of Liverpool’s dominance and return to ‘true’ English game. However, Liverpool was not showing any signs of decline, the squad was formidable as ever, they reached the European Champions final again, they were world class. Their ‘weak’ season was only a momentary slip and perhaps not even that. If anything, this season was going to invigorate them, for they were stung by enemy next door and surely were not going to let it at that.

FC Liverpool lost, but Liverpool was still the king of England – Everton won the championship in such dominant manner, there was no doubt they were going to stay on top. 28 wins, 6 ties, 8 losses, 88-43, 90 points. The last number was all-time league record, eventually matched later, but remaining unbeaten until 1993-94. On the surface, it was monumental victory of the underdog, for Everton did not give any sign of improvement in the previous years and came more or less out of the blue. For club and fans it was splendid season, of course – finally coming out of the shadow of their hated neighbours and winning their first title since 1969-70. At last, after long years suffering the triumphs of Liverpool. And it was not some lucky victory, coming after ragged and gritty season and thanks to the mistakes of others and driven by oversized ambition rather than actual skills: Everton also triumphed in Europe and clearly it was not one-time-wonder. The club quietly built more than decent squad, having even advantage over Liverpool – for years, Livepool mostly managed to keep high level, but it was not developing further in game terms. Everton, on the other hand, was climbing up and was not yet on its peak. It was a team going to get stronger with time, most likely by carefully adding more talent. They were hungrier and success only wetting their appetite for more. Besting Liverpool was a great spur as well, so it looked like fantastic rivalry was coming fast and going to last long. It was more than potential unfolding of the greatest ever rivalry in the world – it looked like a fact. Now it looked like a fact even more, for thanks to Liverpool – their fans really – Everton did not become ruler of world football: unfortunately, the year of their success was also the year of the shameful tragedy in Brussels after which UEFA banned all English clubs from participation in the continental tournaments. As a result, the ‘fact’ became something stitched from speculations and ‘ifs’, a long litany of laments, perpetuated by the players of this Everton’s vintage. Usually, they claim they could have been the best in the world, if only UEFA did not cruelly punished the innocent, thus preventing Everton from conquering the world. They were the best, but had no chance to show it. How unfair, their development was stunted viciously. May be it was unfair and may be Everton was capable of becoming a world-class team similar to Liverpool, but speculations can go as far as one wishes them to go – wishful thinking is not a fact. Yet, the potential was there and it was lost. However, Everton did not become one-time wonder because of UEFA’s ban – they were really good and they stayed good. How much better they could have been will never be known, though – and that was unfortunate, but nothing can be done about it.

England II Division

Second Division. Two leaders, no outsiders, real battle only for third place and avoiding relegation, and yet another Cinderella story. Second Division was perhaps the place the drama of English football really unfolded – here struggled the remains of the 1970s leaders, some sinking further down, and here better adjusted to the realities of the 1980s teams pushed up.

Woolverhampton Wanderers finished last with 33 points. This was one of the terrible examples – a crisis so big, the club had only one direction: down.

Cardiff City – 21st with 35 points. Relegated, of course.

Notts County – 20th with 37 points. They played top league football just the previous season and now were going to third level. Back row: Beaver, Clarke, Dalton, McDonagh, Hunt, Richards

Middle row: Walker(Youth), Jones, Lahtinen, Leonard, O’Neill, Harkouk, Short(Physio)

Front row: Benjamin, Downing, Fashanu, Lloyd(Manager), Hodson, McParland, Goodwin.

Middlesbrough – 19th with 40 points. A bright team in the 1970s, now struggling just to keep place in the Second Division.

Sheffield United – 18th with 44 points.

Charlton Athletic – 17th with 45 points.

Carlisle United – 16th with 47 points.

Crystal Palace – 15th with 48 points.

Oldham Athletic – 14th with 53 points.

Huddersfield Town – 13th with 55 points. Sam Allardyce this and Sam Alardyce that today? That is the coach. Before the coach was the player and he played here.

Wimbledon – 12th with 58 points. Unlike other stellar teams, they moved at slower pace. Just promoted, but nothing special – only getting familiar with this division, it may be said.

Barnsley – 11th with 58 points.

Grimsby Town – 10th with 62 points. Bravely holding their ground, may be surprisingly so.

Fulham – 9th with 65 points.

Shrewsbury Town – 8th with 65 points. May be their best period.

Leeds United – 7th with 69 points. No recovery in sight… David Harvey and Frank Gray used to play European and World Cup finals, now – Shrewsbury. What a fate and what a disaster. Dennis Irwin is also here, but still very young – his fame will come with another club.

Leeds was close to the group fighting for third place this year, but slightly weaker and a credible contender.

The battle for 3rd place, giving promotion, was fierce, involving 4 teams. 2 points was the whole difference at the end.

Brighton & Hove Albion got the short stick at the end – 6th with 72 points – and one may wonder was it because they depended on aged stars. Frank Worthington, Joe Corrigan, Jimmy Case, the Dutch import Hans Kraay – a formidable bunch, but too old already.

Blackburn Rovers – 5th with 73 points. They haven’t been in the spotlights for a long, long time, so their sudden climb to the top was a bit suspect: was it a recovery at last, or just an occasional good season? They had to stay in Second Division.

Portsmouth – 4th. Unlucky, for sure – they lost promotion only on goal-difference, finishing with 74 points. Alan Ball did a great job, but the squad was not great and it was unlikely small club like Portsmouth to be able to recruit classier additions. One can be sorry for them just for that – a brave, unassuming team with limited resources really deserved promotion.

Manchester City clinched 3rd place with 74 points and slightly better goal-difference than Portsmouth – nobody thought that Manchester City will accept live in Second Division, but the squad was rather poor. It was not a big comeback at all, only a struggle to get promoted somehow. Nothing impressive, but at least the club looked like changing its old wrong ways, which led it to relegation: no more big names on their last legs. Unfortunately, no bright young talent either…

Birmingham City – 2nd with 82 points. Confident squad, trying to win the championship and losing it by 2 points, but promotion was never in doubt. Birmingham, though, was perhaps the only English team coming close to the continental ‘unsettled’ clubs – too strong for second level, too weak for the first, constantly moving up and down. Just relegated, Birmingham bounced back right away – obviously, not a squad for this league, but were they good enough for first division? Looked like they needed more than what they had. David Seaman was not yet a famous name.

Oxford United won the championship: 25 wins, 9 ties, 8 losses, 84-36, 84 points. It was fantastic success, the team worked hard and eventually prevailed over seasoned Birmingham. And it was one more Cinderella story in the age of the underdog – in the wake of Watford, Swansea, Notts County, Brighton & Hove, and Bolton Wanderers came Oxford United, just promoted to Second Division. Champions of Third Division in 1983-84, champions of Second Division in 1984-85, what a climb! And there was more – unlike the underdogs above, Oxford did not have long professional history: they debuted in the 4th Division in 1962-63, taking the place of Accrington Stanley, which resigned during the previous season. So far, nothing commended Oxford – yes, they eventually climbed to Second Division, but spent 10 years in the Third before winning the 1983-84 championship. Never played top league football – a real debutantes, which was extremely rare in English football. Would they be able to survive first division football remained to be seen, but promotion itself was fantastic achievement. And in grand style – not just promotion, but after winning the tough Second Division championship.

England III Division

Third Division. Nothing much, but more intriguing than the lowest level – a few familiar names appear here, Tony Cascarino (Gillingham) and John Hendrie (Bradford City). Players well known to us retrospectively, who are at the early stages of their careers and at actual time known only to observant scouts. There was spectacular failure of one so exciting a few years ago team – Swansea Town was dropping down as rapidly as they climbed from obscurity to the top league. Apart from that, the season offered little drama – one team was hopeless outsider and three teams stand above the league. Since three teams were promoted, the question about it was decided early and firmly. And there was a record made, but it was not a positive record.

Cambridge United was hopeless – last with 21 points. Only one team in the four professional leagues had worse record – with less points and fewer victories. And Cambridge won only 4 games.

Preston North End – 23rd with 46 points. If only they managed to extract 2 more points… but they did not. However, Preston distinguish itself with the leakiest defense in all leagues: they received 100 goals!

Orient – 22nd with 46 points.

Burnley – 21st with 46 points. Their seemingly endless decline inevitably lead them to the very bottom – next year 4th Division, along with Orient, Preston, and Cambridge.

Swansea City barely escaped relegation – 20th with 47 points. What a fascinating story – they started a rapid climb from 4th Division in 1977-78 and in 1981-82 were in First Division, where they finished 6th. And right then they started going down just as quickly – relegated from the top league in 1982-83, relegated from Second Division immediately in 1983-84, and now barely survived relegation in Third Division. It was not a stop of downhill drive, though.

Lincoln City – 19th with 51 points.

Newport County – 18th with 52 points.

Bolton Wanderers – 17th with 54 points. They too played first division football not long ago – lastly, in 1979-80 – but now struggled in third level.

Wigan Athletic – 16th with 59 points.

Plymouth Argyle – 15th with 59 points.

Doncaster Rovers – 14th with 59 points.

Brentford – 13th with 62 points.

Rotherham United – 12th with 65 points.

Walsall – 11th with 67 points.

Bournemouth – 10th with 68 points.

Reading – 9th with 69 points.

York City – 8th with 69 points.

Derby County, now suffering in Third Division – 7th with 70 points.

Bristol Rovers – 6th with 75 points.

Bristol City – 5th with 81 points, perhaps very happy to be ahead of their city rivals.

Gillingham – 4th with 83 points. A good period for the club, but there was little something missing to enable them to win promotion.

Hull City did well – 3rd with 87 points. Promotion was all important and achieved.

Millwall – 2nd with 90 points. Well done.

Bradford City won the championship with 94 points – the most points earned in all divisions. 28 wins, 10 ties, 8 losses, 77-45 goal-difference. Happy champions, if only third division champions. Moving up along with Hull City and Millwall, but with a trophy.

England IV Division

England. A weird discrepancy described those years: British football was stubbornly out of touch with modern development of the game, yet, it was most dominant on club level in Europe. But the national team was rapidly losing ground and even respect. Hooliganism plagued the game, spilling out the island and infecting the continent. This year was tragic for English football, because after the European Champions Cup final English teams were banned from the European club tournaments – many cried that was unfair, but others cheered the ban. The effects were debatable, but it could be said that English football lost its competitive edge, retreating into its comfortable and blind believe of practicing the best football in the world. After the few years of rapid import of foreign players, the practice stalled somewhat, to the delight of traditionalists, firmly believing that only the British can play the game rightly. This added to the European ban perhaps put English football further behind the times, but it was still the most entertaining championship. In this circumstances emerged a new exciting team, which looked like a worthy challenger of Liverpool for the foreseeable future – the positive sign was cut off by the ban or, at least, the club believes so to this very day. As the championship went… perhaps it left mixed feelings: new champion was healthy change, but there was no exciting race for the title. Financial problems were persistent and seemingly there was no solution – by now, the strength of the teams depended largely on what money they had and the division between rich and poor was only growing. The leaders were the same, they had money, there was not going to be any change. The only innovation – seemingly, working fine – was that in England 3 points were given for a win and 1 for a tie.

Fourth Division. Hardly any club with relatively big name played here this season. With the unfamiliar outside England rule for winning, some teams appear to be cut apart from the rest – either too weak or too strong – but it was hard to judge: Torquay United was last (for a second consecutive year) 6 points behind the the 23rd placed, but in the traditional point system they would have been only 1 point behind. At the top the difference was not so great: Bury finished 7 points ahead of Hereford United – in the old system they would have been 5 points ahead. Anyhow, 4 teams were going up as ever and no direct relegation – if any – as ever.

Northampton Town ended 23rd with 47 points, but had nothing to fear. Hope to get better the next season, that was all.

Halifax Town – 21st with 50 points.

Hartlepool United – 19th with 52 points.

Wrexham – 15th with 54 points.

Mansfield Town – 14th with 57 points.

Port Vale – 12th with 60 points.

Peterborough United – 11th with 62 points.

Scunthorpe United – 9th with 71 points.

Hereford United was at the top of the bulk – 5th with 77 points – but no matter which point system, they were not really good enough for promotional race. The 4 teams above were pretty much on their own.

Bury were happy 4th with 84 points – promoted, so enjoying the bubbly. Feeling like champions, but they can be excused – leaving 4th Division was happy occasion. They did not play 3rd Division since 1979-80.

Darlington – 3rd with 85 points and also promoted. Perhaps even happier than Bury, for they were relegated from 3rd Division in 1966-67 and spent many unhappy years mostly near the bottom of the lowest professional league.

Blackpool was 2nd with 86 points. Arguably, the club with the worthiest history in the league, so it was not that much happy occasion of climbing up, but more of an end of irritation. They sunk that low in 1980-81.

Chesterfield were the strongest team this season and confidently won the championship with 91 points from 26 wins, 13 ties, and 7 losses. 64-35 was not the best scoring record, but who cares – they were eager to return to 3rd Division, which they left in 1982-83. Did not take them long to climb back and in perfect style too – champion of 4th Division may sound as a joke to many a club, but not so to a modest club like Chesterfield.

Spain the Cup

Copa del Rey. The final opposed the second best in Spanish football, both teams eager to win a trophy.

Atletico Madrid vs

Athletic Bilbao.

The final was played on Santiago Bernabeu, so Atletico had slight advantage, playing in front of home crowd and invigorated by having a chance to win on the turf of the enemy. An enemy, which had miserable season and could only watch in envy. However, this was not big advantage – Atheltic was equally ambitious, experienced, and traditionally loved to sting Madrid. But it was not their day – Atletico prevailed 2-1.

Retrospectively, one can say that Athletic Bilbao was just a bit over their peak – nothing dangerous in itself, but combined with the other small disadvantages may have tipped the scales against them. Losing by a goal is not a sign of weakness, yet, losing is losing no matter the circumstances.

The winners were in good shape for sure. Standing from left: Votava, Ruiz, Mejias, Clemente, Landaburu, Arteche.

First row: Julio Prieto, Marina, Hugo Sánchez, Quique Ramos, Rubio.

Good, but not great. Mirko Votava was not a prime West German star and so it went for the Spanish players. Except Hugo Sanchez, Atletico had no other top class star. But the team was well shaped and ascending, unlike Athletic Bilbao. Home support helped. Desire to rub the noses of Real Madrid by winning on their stadium helped. Small things, but at the end victory was theirs – Atletico won its 6th Cup. Almost 10 years after winning the 5th – like Barcelona, they had to wait a decade for new victory. Sweet success by all measures, unfortunately coming with heavy price – Hugo Sanchez was moving to hated Real Madrid.

Spain I Division

Primera Division. One team show. Fierce race for second place. Two teams weaker than the general level, which was pretty much equal, so many teams were in danger or relegation.

Real Murcia – last with 22 points.

Elche CF – 17th with 26 points. The lowest scorers of the championship – only 18 goals.

CD Malaga – 16th with 29 points. The the third relegated team.

Hercules CF (Alicante) – 15th with 30 points. Barely survived and glad for it. Looked like the end of the Matador – Mario Kempes, rapidly fading. Now in the company of a player which nobody would have thought equal to the hero of 1978 – Petursson from Iceland.

Real Betis (Sevilla) – 14th with 30 points. Fluctuating up and down team, now down.

Real Valladolid – 13th with 30 points.

Sevilla FC – 12th with 31 points.

Racing (Santander) – 11th with 32 points.

Real Zaragoza – 10th with 33 points.

Valenica CF – 9th with 33 points. The good years obviously over.

RCD Espanol (Barcelona) – 8th with 34 points.

Real Sociedad (San Sebastian) – 7th with 34 points. Seemingly, their great period finished.

Atletico Osasuna (Pamplona) – 7th with 34 points. Enjoyable season for them.

Real Madrid – 5th with 36 points. Disappointing season – only 7 points ahead of the relegated 16th, but 17 points behind the champions. Measures had to be taken immediately, hence, this was the last season for Uli Stielike. Valdano, however, stayed.

Three teams were in great form and above the rest of the league, jockeying for top place, but neither was a title contender.

Sporting (Gijon) – lost the battle, but nothing to be ashamed of: 4th with 41 points.

Athletic (Bilbao) – clinched 3rd place on better goal-difference, for they finished also with 41 points.

Atletico Madird – 2nd with 43 points. Bested Bilbao and Gijon, but the title was out of their scope. Last season for Hugo Sanchez with them.

Barcelona reigned supreme, leaving no doubt whatsoever who was best. 21 wins, 11 ties, only 2 lost games, 69-25 goal-difference and 53 points. 10 points ahead of the next placed Atletico Madrid – that was supremacy fans enjoyed, especially after waiting and suffering for more than 10 years. It was almost ironic that the 10th title came without number one world player – no such as Cruijff and Maradona. Instead, the victory came from unlikely source for the time: British. Venables was the coach leading them to victory and Archibald was in attack. Great as they were, they were not hailed as the best in the world. Venables was top coach, but did not have the clout of such as Michels or Menotti. Schuster was the biggest star of the team and even he was not at the top of world’s scale. Yet, these coach and players won when bigger names failed. Not only that, but they won in such a manner wetting appetites and suggesting bigger and greater things to come. The last victory of Barce was so long ago, only Migueli was the link between the team led by Michels and Cruijff and the current one. One could easily imagine the happy relieve of Migueli after so many years under pressure and disappointment.

And this is the regular line of team winning the 10th title – at close scrutiny, optimism would fade at least a bit. Strong team indeed, but a great one? May be not. Aged Migueli, no longer improving Schuster, Archibald a bit of a liability, for British players rarely fair well in foreign lands, Urruti a second choice for Spain at best, the usual group of sturdy fighters, and in need of two additional players, for Rojo and Clos were hardly top class. Great victory, but it was clear that Real Madrid will reinforce itself and the future could not be taken for granted. It was a delicate moment, though – such supremacy makes a club reluctant to continue building. Anyhow, the moment was not for doubts, especially when success finally arrives after long drought.

Spain II Division

Second Division or Segunda Division. 20 teams, the top three promoted and the last 4 relegated. No outsider this season and no big battle at the top – three teams dominated the championship.

CF Lorca Deportiva – last with 29 points.

CD Calvo Sotelo – 19th with 30 points.

Granada CF – 18th with 33 points.

UD Salamanca – 17th with 33 points. Relegated with positive goal-difference.

Real Oviedo barely survived – 16th with 34 points. They tied most games this championship – 16. Sitting from left: Lope Acosta, Santi, Vili, Del Riego, Romero (entrenador), Braojos, Merayo, Camaño, Hevia.

Middle row: Viti, Blanco, Berto, Arias, Juanito, Juan Luis, Segundo, Heres, Prados,Salamanca.

Third row: Iñaki Marigil, Garcia Barrero, Kike Marigil (2º entrenador), Velázquez, Cárdeno, Herrero, Muñoz.

Bilbao Athletic – 15th with 34 points. That was the second team of Athletic Bilbao.

Atletico Madrileno – 14th with 35 points. The second team of Atletico Madrid.

Deportivo La Coruna – 13th with 36 points.

CD Castellon – 12th with 36 points.

CD Tenerife – 11th with 36 points.

Recreativo de Huelva – 10th with 36 points.

Barcelona Atletico – or some times Barcelona Athletic – 9th with 37 points. The second team of Barcelona.

Cartagena FC – 8th with 37 points.

RCD Mallorca – 7th with 40 points.

CD Logrones – 6th with 40 points.

Castilla CF – 5th with 40 points. The second team of Real Madrid.

CE Sabadell CF – 4th with 42 points. The best so far, but having nothing to do with promotional race.

RC Celta (Vigo) – 3rd with 48 points. Confident, but not strong enough for top position. However, promotion was achieved relatively easy and that was most important.

Cadiz CF – clinched 2nd place with 49 points. Promoted. Standing from left: Vojinovic, Amarillo, Manolito, Vilches, Padilla, Dieguito.

First row: Pepe Mejias; Benito, Francis, Mágico González.

UD Las Palmas – champions of Second Division. 22 wins, 11 ties, 5 losses, 56-37 goal-difference and 55 points. They had no rivals at all, although the next two teams outscored them, Cadiz had far better defensive record and superior goal-difference (+31). Sitting from left: Tito Angulo, Julio Durá,, Felipe, Manolo, Pérez, Mayé, Almeida, Saavedra.

Middle row: Carmelo Tujillo, Sito, Sergio Marrero, Félix, Pepe Juan, Farías, Santís, Jorge Valencia, Javi, Luis.

Top row: Narciso, Javier, Roberto, Alexis, Salvador, Román, Contreras, Benito, Miguel Ángel.

Well deserved victory and return to top flight.

Spain III Division

Spain. That was the end of long and disappointing waiting. Done formidably and yet much was to be still desired. In short, Barcelona dominated this championship.

Third Division – Segunda B in Spanish terms. 40 teams divided into 2 leagues, the top two teams of each promoted. The last three relegated to Tercera Division – 4th level. Only a handful familiar names here.

Perhaps Xerez were best known and that may be for the wine. They finished 6th in Group II.

Well, right to the winners then.

Group I.

Deportivo Alaves, hardly heard of outside Spain back then, ended 3rd with 50 points. Close, but not a firm contender.

Deportivo Aragon finished 2nd with 54 points. Lost the league title by a point, but was heapily promoted.

Sestao SC won the league with 55 points. A trophy is a trophy, this club does not win every day anything, so it was fine to be champion even of Third Division. Promoted, naturally.

Group II. Much more dramatic championship – 6 teams competed for promotional spots. Xerex eventually dropped out, but the second promotional spot was decided on either goal-difference or head-to-head results: Balompie Linense, Algeciras CF, and Albacete Balompie finished with 47 points each. Albacete had the best goal-difference, so it looks right they finished 2nd, but Linense had better goal-difference than Algeciras and was placed behind them, 4th. So, most possibly places were decided by head-to-head results.

Albacete Balompie – lucky 2nd and promoted.

Rayo Vallecano prevailed and won the championship with 50 points. Not an easy victory, but Rayo managed to climb back to their familiar second level quickly.