The Supercup

The Supercup. It was not played, because of the ban on English clubs – Juventus had to meet Everton.

Everton had their wings cut off – that is the view of the club, the players of the team at that time, and the fans – and Juventus had no chance to prove it was the best team in Europe. Arguments… but the Supercup did not interest many people, so no big deal really. Point in case: above is the version of the trophy at the time. Not even a proper cup anymore and how many could recognize it? As for Everton’s laments… they go in this order: blame UEFA, Thatcher, the English Football Federation. Liverpool eventually comes after that and almost in passing. Fans violence is hardly ever mentioned.


European Champions Cup

European Champions Cup. All upsets happened in the first round: VfB Stuttgart was eliminated by Bulgarian Levski-Spartak (for a second consecutive year), Feyenoord lost to Panathinaikos, and Aberdeen – to Dynamo East Berlin. Those were the surprising results of the whole tournament, the rest was a matter of the jokes of the draw: Athletic Bilbao was eliminated in the first round by Girondens Bordeaux. In the second round Benfica lost to Liverpool and Dynamo East Berlin to Austria Vienna. In the ¼ finals nothing out of ordinary happened and Juventus, Girondens Bordeuax, Liverpool, and Panathinaikos reached the semi-finals. The draw was ‘fair’ this time and the strongest teams were paired with the weaker. Thus, Juventus eliminated Girondens Bordeaux 3-0 and 0-2, and Liverpool disposed of Panathinaikos 4-0- and 1-0. The finalists were strong all the way: Liverpool, having somewhat easier opponents, lost only one match (the away leg to Benfica) and Juventus – 2 (the away legs to Sparta Prague and Girondens Bordeaux). By all accounts, the strongest teams in Europe were going to meet, promising a great clash, if not great football. Liverpool, with all its Eurpopean success was seen as the likelier winner.

The ill-fated final is so well known and so much was written about it, that there is no reason to go again to it – it was more than shame, it was mass murder and the game should have been canceled. But it was not, adding more shame to it.

Captains shook hands, meantime dead and injured bodies were carried of the stadium.

The match went on, tough as predicted, but somewhat without spark.

Which was the better team – no, what happened on the field – was somewhat lost because of the tragedy on the stands.

Juventus got a penalty in the 56th minute and Platini scored. 1-0 Juventus and it was the final result, as it happened.

Final, Heysel Stadium, Bruxelles, 29 May 1985, att 58000


Juventus (0) 1 Liverpool (0) 0

56′ 1-0 J: Platini (pen)


Juventus (trainer Trapattoni)

Tacconi; Favero, Cabrini, Brio, Scirea; Bonini, Platini, Tardelli; Briaschi (Prandelli 84), Rossi (Vignola 89), Boniek

Liverpool (trainer Fagan)

Grobbelaar; Neal, Beglin, Lawrenson (Gillespie 4), Hansen; Nicol, Dalglish, Whelan, Wark; Rush, Walsh (Johnson 46)

Referee: Daina (Switzerland)

Some smiles were on display after the final whistle,

Juventus got the Cup,

and made the customary round of honour, but it was feast in the time of plague.

What remained of this final was not the game, but big titles and long accusatory articles on the disaster. Football was mentioned rather briefly. It was a shame, it was wrong to play the game at all, later players, coaches, officials expressed their sorry views. The tragedy was at the level of the ill-famed Altamont concert of the Rollingstones, and no matter what regrets players and musicians expressed later, there was bitter taste. ‘The show must go on’, was seemingly the motto, but now the show was macabre and it was difficult to believe that the participants learned about murder only too late – all was happening right in front of their eyes. And in the same time it was difficult to say what could have happened if the teams refused to play – just like the Stones in 1969: the fears that violence will only escalate and spill into Brussels were valid. There was no right decision… it was just terrible.

Liverpool lost. Top, left to right: Ian Rush, Jim Beglin, Kenny Dalglish, Mark Lawrenson, Alan Hansen, Bruce Grobbelaar, Bottom, left to right: John Wark, Ronnie Whelan, Paul Walsh, Phil Neal, Steve Nicol.

Perhaps it was only fair that Liverpool lost the final – views differ, but the violence of the English fans was too much and they were blamed for starting and escalating the shameful and murderous disaster. Apart from that, many in both England and continental Europe were glad Liverpool lost. Particularly in England grumbling against Liverpool was going on for quite some time – their dominance was seen as violating the holly English game, changing it into some ‘continental’ version with unbeatable superclub on top. To this was added the essentially foreign nature of Liverpool – it was counted, accusingly, that at the final with Juventus Liverpool featured only 2 English players: Phil Neal and Paul Walsh. As for how good this vintage was, it will remain somewhat open question: the team above somehow does not look as strong as some previous versions, but Liverpool had this uncanny and unmatched ability to have mighty squads, gradually changing some of the players with new stars. Because of the banishment , it is impossible to measure Liverpool to the foreign clubs after 1985, but their dominance in England continued to the end of the decade.

Historic and long waited victory of Juventus, but overshadowed by the disaster and there was no way to be trumpeted and thoroughly enjoyed – too many coffins had to be buried. It was ironic that Juventus had to ‘celebrate’ its first European Champions Cup in such a way: no matter what Juventus did, so far the most successful Italian club was left far behind Milan and Inter. Turin was left behind Milan. At last, they won, but in such way that is was hardly victory. “Enemies” were quick to suggest, that Liverpool did not play in earnest at the final and Juventus was not really that good – they had miserable Italian season after all. True to a point – Juventus was looking for a change, Boniek was going to be replaced and it did not matter he just become European champion. Like Liverpool, Juventus seemingly had better rounded and stronger squads in the past. But these squads were losing finals, if reaching them at all, and this one won. No argument against that. Europe had new cup winner, but it was final best forgotten and never mentioned again, so this Juventus squad is not mentioned and praised often.

Cup Winners Cup

Cup Winners Cup. Brand new finalists in this tournament as well. This was the most predictable European competition, but there were interesting surprises in this issue: FC Porto was eliminated by the lowly Wrexham (Wales) in the first round and Barcelona most surprisingly was beaten at home by Metz (France) also in the first round. Not only Barcelona was the obvious winner, but they won confidently the first leg in Metz 4-2. Then, at home, when everything looked already decided, Metz destroyed them 4-1. In the second round the only unusual event was happened between Celtic (Scotland) and Rapid (Austria). Rapid won 3-1 at home, but Celtic made strong come back and won 3-0 in Glasgow. But… the public misbehaved, a Rapid player was struck by missile, and UEFA striked the result and ruled that the match has to be replayed on neutral ground, in Manchester. This time Rapid won 1-0 and eliminated Celtic. The quarter-finals provided no surprises, only Rapid again went against the odds: they lost their first leg in Dresden to Dynamo 0-3, but had fantastic comeback in Vienna, winning 5-0. On the wings of good luck and enthusiasm, they left no chance to Dinamo (Moscow) in the semi-finals – 3-1 and 1-1 – and reached European final for the first time.

Meantime, Everton proceeded powerfully to the final – they did not lose even one match and perhaps their toughest duel was in the first round against lowly Univeristy College (Dublin): 0-0 in Dublin and 1-0 in Liverpool. From then on, it was overwhelming travel from round to round: 3-0 and 1-0 against Inter (Bratislava) in the 1/8 finals; 3-0 and 2-0 against Fortuna Sittard (Holland) in the ¼ finals; 0-0 and 3-1 against Bayern (Munich) in the ½ finals. Everton allowed only 1 goal on the road to the final. It was their first European final too, but they seemingly were the favourite. Of course, finals can play cruel jokes on favourites and their ‘sure supporters’, but odds were strongly in Everton’s favour: they had fantastic season, going to win the English championship and in Europe were equally strong. Bayern was unable to beat them and Rapid looked rather weak compared to the Germans. Yet, games have to be won on the field no matter what people feel. Everton had one more advantage – fans. English always went in Europe to support their team in great numbers and Rotterdam was conveniently near and full of beer.

So, everything was ready to begin.

Rapid was not about to drop the towel and the first half ended scoreless.

In the second half Everton proved its worth. Their beloved star Andy Gray scored in the 56th minute.

Steven made it 2-0 in the 72th minute. Rapid was not giving up and Krankl scored in the 83rd minute. There was still time fro reversal…

But Kevin Sheedy finished the final in the 85th minute. 3-1. Everton won.

Final, Feyenoord Stadion, Rotterdam, 15 May 1985, att 50000


Everton (0) 3 SK Rapid (Wien) (0) 1

57′ 1-0 E: Gray

72′ 2-0 E: Steven

83′ 2-1 R: Krankl

85′ 3-1 E: Sheedy


Everton: Southall; Stevens, Van den Hauwe, Ratcliffe, Mountfield; Reid, Steven, Bracewell, Sheedy; Gray, Sharp

SK Rapid (Wien): Konsel; Lainer, Weber, Garger, Brauneder; Hrstic, Kranjcar, Kienast, Weinhofer (Panenka 67); Pacult (Gröss 60), Krankl

Referee: Casarin (Italy)

Everton made the bee line to collect the Cup and after that it was just joy and fun.

Well deserved Cup Winners Cup.

One can pose with whatever funny hat after such triumph.

The losing finalists. Standing: Peter Pacult, Karl Brauneder, Zlatko Kranjcar, Kurt Garger and Hans Krankl.

First row: Leo Lainer, Peter Hrstic, Heribert Weber, Michael Konsel, Rudi Weinhofer and Reinhard Kienast.

One can argue that Rapid was mostly lucky – they had easier draws than Everton and were actually eliminated by Celtic. Then again, Celtic fans should have known better than propelling missiles to visiting players and if the Scots were really the better team, they should have won the extra game – after all, Manchester was almost home ground. Rapid won when it mattered, bravely came back after big loss from Dynamo (Dresden) and eliminated all opponents. It was good squad with enough bite, lead by Hans Krankl and the Yugoslav star Zlatko Kranjcar. Antonin Panenka was too old, but healso came to help. Too bad Everton was too strong – lovely effort by Rapid, but they were the weaker team.

As for Everton, this was one of their greatest – if not the best ever – season. Champions of England and Cup Winners Cup winners. First European trophy, backed up with a title, promised more excitement and higher aims next year – the European Champions Cup. The squad was wonderful and not even at its peak yet – most players are well known now, so just a brief note about Pat van den Hauwe: he was born outside England, but his parents were British citizen, so he was too. Should have been Belgian, nut had nothing to do with this country – he grew up in England, started his career there, and his strong play for Everton led to invitation to join two national teams: England and Belgium. He turned down both and chose to represent Wales, which led to speculations about his ancestry for years – until he wrote his autobiography and revealed he had no Welsh roots at all. Anyway, with this team and recent success, Everton was rightly looking for future conquests and their disappointment was great, because it was their city neighbours cutting Everton’s soaring short: UEFA banished all English teams from playing in Europe right after Everton’s victory. Too bad… Too bad in one more sense: English clubs were the strongest in Europe – since 1963-64 there was no English finalist in at least one European final only in 1982-83 (and that without counting the Scottish finalists and winners). Including 1984-85, English teams played at 29 finals, winning 21 of them. No other country had such consistent success and only the UEFA ban stopped it. If not for Liverpool’s fans, who knows what Everton could have achieved. But that was that… one Cup Winners Cup.

The UEFA Cup

The UEFA Cup. The largest and longest European tournament reached its culmination with a final between Real Madrid and Videoton Szekesfehervar. Sounds strange, but that was a final between Spain and Hungary, the powers of the 1950s. A revival? Well, both countries hoped for that. Apart from this largely symbolic quality, there was little in common between the finalists: mighty Real against fairly unknown provincial Hungarian club. Hardly a contest? Depends on the point of view. Depends on the draw in every stage of the tournament – Real eliminated stronger opponents on the way to the final than Videoton. Videoton was particularly lucky in the semifinals, when they met Zeljeznicar (Sarajevo) – it could have been Inter (Milan). Or Real Madrid. Yet, as a novelty, Videoton and Real between themselves disposed of all Yugoslavian participants and half of the English ones: Videoton eliminated Partizan, Zeljeznicar, and Manchester United (in the ¼ finals); Real eliminated Rijeka and Tottenham Hotspur (also in the ¼ finals). What else? Videoton never won any European trophy and reached a final for a first time. The last time Hungarian club played an European final was 1975 and only once a team from this country won a cup – Ferencvaros, in 1965, when the UEFA Cup was still the International Industrial Fairs Inter City Cup. Spain was without success in the UEFA Cup since 1966 and Real Madrid never won this trophy. Now, Spain at large, hardly cared for victories of Real, but in Madrid the pain was strong: the club did not win anything since 1966 and reached European finals again only recently – and lost all 3 of them (twice lost the Cup Winners Cup final and once the European Champions Cup final). Also-run never does for Real and this time the opponent was seemingly weaker. May be weaker on paper, but Videoton had strong presence in Hungarian football for about 10 years and in any case underestimating the underdog is often fatal.

Videoton was happy to make its way to the final – here they are triumphant after eliminating Zeljeznicar (Sarajevo) – so why not collect the cup as well? They were not at the level of Anderlecht, Tottenham Hotspur and Inter, which Real eliminated one after the other, but there was not sure victory just because of famous name.

Real seemingly did its homework and was determined not to underestimate its opponents – the first leg was in Szekesfehervar and Real came out ready for a kill. The cup winner was practically decided in this match: Real won 3-0. Michel scored the opening goal in the 31st minute, then Santillana scored the second in the 77th minute, and Valdano finished the job in the 89th. At home it was just to collect the trophy.

Very likely Real took it easy in the second leg, but Videoton, although practically without any chance, went for a victory anyway.

Real pretended for a penalty, but none given

Videoton showed teeth.

And defended well itself.

Few minutes before the end Videoton scored.

In front of 90 000 Real fans modest Videoton won on Bernabeu 1-0. It was not enough to win the cup, but it was brave finish. David was unable to beat Goliath, though.

The Spaniards lifted the UEFA Cup for the first time.

Videoton reached its pinnacle this year, but had no chance of winning the UEFA Cup. Nothing to really blame them – Real was vastly superior in everything and miracles happen seldom. Videoton everything they could and perhaps were one of the few teams losing a final without big regrets, but proud or themselves. Some of the players were already in the Hungarian national team and bearded goalkeeper Peter Disztl acquired some European fame.

Just because Videoton not a club which could reach European finals again, one more photo – this from early stage of the tournament, when playing a final was no more than tiny dream.

Real perhaps was not completely happy playing at city like Szekesfehervar and third-rated European trophy, but they had to wait and suffer disappointments for almost 20 years, so any continental success would do. At last, it was done. Videoton was convenient opponent, so initial superiority helped. Of course, there is no team in he world to regret weak opposition, but Real’s ambitions were larger than this achievement. The team looks fine, as names go, but it was not strong enough in the eyes of club’s brass and fans – changes were coming, the first one was that Stielike won his last trophy with Real. His long spell with the club was at its end and he was going to be replaced. It was great he finally won European cup with Real, but perhaps the victory was more important to Santillana, Camacho, and Miguel Angel, who went through all trials and tribulations of the lean, best forgotten, 1970s. Trophy at last. And the UEFA Cup had one more name added to the list of winners.

Italy the Cup

The Cup final opposed Milan to Sampdoria. To a point, both finalists were a bit unexpected: neither team was all that great, compared to some others. Sampdoria never reached a final before; Milan played – and won – the Cup final in 1977 for the last time. After that… it was bribing scandal, penalties, second division, the club was just coming back from its terrible years and was not yet great shape. Victory was very important for either team, it was a close call, so it was laughable even to suggest a favourite, Milan had history on his side and that was the most advantage one can thing of. Sampdoria made very important step toward winning the Cup in Milan, where they won 1-0. In the second leg, at home, they prevailed 2-1 and it was fantastic to receive the Cup in front of their excited and delirious fans.

Milan lost – they were ascending, no doubt, but lost minimally their first attempt at winning a trophy after the years of decline. But their time did not come yet, and the squad betrays why: not a bad team, but unfinished. Perhaps their imports made the tiny difference: Ray Wilkins was getting old, Mark Hateley, for all his good playing, was hardly a top-class star. In terms of winning… well, neither of them was a winner in England. No wonder the seeds of the future great Milan were only Maldini and Baresi – even Casiraghi became top Italian goalkeeper and national team choice when playing for another club. Too bad Milan lost, but it was early for them to win.

Sampdoria wan the Cup, instantly becoming a legend: it was first ever trophy for the club. It was also a completion of extraordinary season: given who played in Italy at the moment, both winners of the season were underdogs. First title for Verona, first Cup for Sampdoria, first ever trophy for both clubs, won in that particular time, when ‘reason’ declares that other clubs were natural winners. Hard to believe today, but at the time Sampdoria was still considered relatively small and insignificant club, similar to Verona, not the likes of Juventus, Inter, Milan, even Roma. Even at home Sampdoria was still the second club – even in decline, Genoa was the bigger club, not only the older, but also very successful. Yes, Genoa played big role in very distant past, but Sampdoria was still the new kid in the block, relative newcomer even to first division football. Their ascend was very recent and perhaps many could not take seriously, given traditional insignificance. But the boys won and they were not just some nobodies – even compared to Verona, Sampdoria looked mightier: Graeme Souness, Trevor Francis, Ivano Bordon, Pietro Vierchowod, highly talented future great stars Mancini and Vialli. It was not a squad assembled just for one-two great years – it was a team with looking at the future, long term vision. A victory not so much confirmed Sampdoria’s good built, but mostly a victory spurring the process of building: confirming the road taken was right, giving one more stepping stone, fueling ambition and confidence. Sampdoria needed victory more than Milan, that was clear, and the hungrier team got the Cup. Wonderful! Double wonderful – Verona and Sampdoria getting ahead of Platini’s Juventus, Maradona’s Napoli, Zico’s Udinese, Socrates’ Fiorentina, Baresi’s Milan, Rummenigge’s Inter , Falcao’s Roma. Must be said even one more time: the underdogs won everything in the season of the greatest in the world playing all in Italy.

Italy I Division

First Division. This season should have a special place in the Italian football history, for it ended against odds and reason – with the wealth of players at hand, one expects an exciting battle between Platini’s Juventus, Maradona’s Napoli, Socrates’ Fiorentina, Inter, Milan, Roma, and perhaps even Zico’s Udinese, but instead teams with not-so-shiny stars won this year. How great the game was is one thing – and despite the world’s greatest strikers, it was still typical Italian season, laced with ties (Atalanta ended with 18) and low scoring (Juventus scored most – 48 goals; Lazio – the least, 16) – but the oddity of first-time winners of both championship and Cup is another. Entirely unexpected finish, which can be seen in two ways: the competition was so fierce, that even smaller clubs were at par with the greats or the greatest stars underperformed and were not worthy of their salaries. Of course, excuses can be piled up and reasons found, and simplest wisdom of the game can be reinforced – those in best form and biggest ambitions prevailed. Still, the winners were strange compared to the losers, some of which were not even among the leading teams of the season, but somewhere down the table. Even for the fact that both trophies were won by teams never winning anything before was extraordinary and remarkable, especially in Italy.

Cremonese finished last – an outsider with 15 points and quite expected so.

Lazio – the other outsider, ending also with 15 points, but placed above Cremonese on head-to-head record. The dark period was still going on, so another relegation. With Michael Laudrup in their squad, they managed to score just 16 goals… 15th and out.

Ascoli – did what they could, but they were expected to finish low and 14th place was no surprise. 22 points. Relegated.

Avellino survived – 13th with 25 points.

Udinese – 12th with 25 points. Head-to-head record placed then behind Como. Ordinary, such lowly position would not be surprising, but that was a team led by Zico and Edinho, and had a few more decent players. Disappointing season, rising the question why spending big money on big foreign names.

Como – 11th with 25 points. No surprise, really. With aging Hansi Muller they managed to finish ahead Udinese and Zico. Then again, Zico was aging as well. Como never lost a game at home this season, sharing this record with Inter.

Atalanta – 10th with 28 points. Quite expected, given the circumstances – they had no superstar, only stars. Well… Stromberg and Larsson hardly come to mind in a league saturated with great names. The woman in the picture looks like Swede, but she was not a player.

And here comes… Fiorentina finished 9th with 29 points. They won 8 games and lost 9. Socrates, Passarella, Antognoni, Gentile, Pulici, Oriali, Pecci, Galli… a champion contender, not a inferior mid-table team. Yet, they lost more games than they won.

Napoli – 8th with 33 points. Maradona smiles on the photo, but… let say Napoli was not ready. Let say the magic formula was not found yet, that Bertoni was no Careca. True. Maradona finished above Zico, Socrates, and Passarella. True. He also finished way bellow Elkjaer-Larsen and Schachner. True.

Roma – 7th with 34 points. Top row from left: Malgioglio, Maldera, Nela, Ancelotti, Tancredi, Graziani, Chierico, D.Bonetti, Giannini, ?

Middle row: Lucci, Righetti, Falcao, ?, Eriksson, Alicicco, Cerezo, Pruzzo, ?

Sitting: ?, Oddi, ?, Antonelli, Clagluna, B.Conti, Iorio, Buriani, G.Rossi.

Roma was already beyond its peak, so there was excusable reason for their relatively low position. Eriksson was still new to the club and Italian football in general and the squad he had at hand was aging (Maldera, Graziani, Tancredi, Pruzzo). Di Bartolomei was already lost. Objectively speaking, Roma was going downhill – perhaps the only team which can be excused.

Juventus – 5th with 36 points. Excuses do not work in their case: yes, they concentrated on European level, but great teams prove their greatness by winning on more than one front. And Juventus was the strongest Italian club for years, so ending the season with no domestic trophy, not even coming close to winning one is pretty much a failure, if not outright shame.

Milan – 5th with 36 points. Nothing special, but it could be looked in positive light: Milan was recovering from its terrible period and coming back to its rightful place among the leaders. Not a great squad yet, but going up and firmly on the road of building a really strong team.

Sampdoria – 4th with 37 points. The greatest period of the club started – they became one of the leading clubs and were going to stay. Crouching from left: Roberto Galia, Roberto Mancini, Evaristo Beccalossi, Fausto Pari, Moreno Mannini.

Standing: Luca Pellegrini, Allesandro Scanziani, Allesandron Renica, Trevor Francis, Ivano Bordon, Graeme Souness.

Inter – 3rd with 38 points. Bronze is not satisfying colour for Inter, but there was something going on for more than 10 years now: Inter was somehow unable to make a golden team. Always somewhat incomplete, with few questionable positions, slightly imbalanced. Among the leaders, but hardly a winner.

Torino – 2nd with 39 points. Somewhat against the odds finished 2nd best – Torino’s best years were clearly over and the team was going into decline and worse. This was perhaps the last spark of them. The squad was still decent, but let face it: not so many strong players and Schachner was hardly on compatible level with Socrates, Zico, Maradona, Rummenigge and others world-class stars. Of course, a great season of the underdog is appreciable, but it was just a single season.

Verona – champions with 43 points from 15 wins, 13 ties, only 2 lost games, 42-19 goal-difference. This was a big bang: highly unusual victory of a small team, which not only never won anything, but very rarely ending in the upper half of the league. Given what wealth of talent the other clubs had, Verona should not have even come close to a title – a strong season should have been something like 6-8 place. Very likely they benefited from the mistakes, distractions, and other temporary weaknesses of the others, but Verona played as a tight outfit, fighting hard, in perfect form. Hardly an innovative team – traditional iron Italian defense was their approach, adapted to the reality of 1980s: great condition, back-to-back 90 minutes running, strong and constant pressure on the opposition from the first minute to the last. Going for a tie and taking it from there – and it worked just fine. They were almost unbeatable and managed to extract more wins than anybody. They had the perfect players for such physical and tough approach: Hans-Peter Briegel and Preben Elkjaer-Larsen – big men, sturdy and spirited fighters, playing no-nosense football, quick to spot and use every opportunity, however small. Fearless players, standing their ground against anyone. Both were at their peaks and really flourished in Verona, aided by similarly tough guys – not the biggest stars, but very dependable. The mix helped the Italian players as well – eventually, Fanna and Tricella were included in the national team. Di Gennaro, Galderisi, Fontolan, Marangon became highly respected players as well. Verona proved once again that well-made and spirited squad of hard-working second-raters could be successful and beat fancy teams, which may be more talented, but were vulnerable to shaky form, mood, lack of a player or two for some position. Verona was a true team of the 1980s: nothing flashy and breathtaking, but very efficient and prevailing at the end. Rolling over opponents, not outplaying them. It was not pleasant football, but fitted the philosophy of the 80s: big deal what dazzling moves Maradona, Platini, Zico and Socrates can do, only the result counts. And when the result at the final whistle is 1-0, the prove is in plain sight: the loser got applause, the winner – the title. Verona was wonderful victor: an underdog leaving in the dust the favourites against any odds and dreams. Yet, it was also clear that this was one-time wonder: Verona did not the squad, the talent, the money for establishing long domination. One can beat the best in the world, but once in a blue moon, not every time, not for long. It was great to see such winners of championship, which arguably had concentrated the most world-class talent. It was also great to see such a small and historically insignificant club winning – after all, nobody even imagined possible ‘conflict of interests”: that a day will come when a second club from Verona will go up. So, it was just ‘Verona’ at the time and perhaps even in Italy most people were unaware that the name was ‘Hellas Verona’. Many years after this had to be changed, for Chievo climbed up and ‘Verona’ was simply confusing. Thus, it was a victory of ‘Verona’ in actual time, but today it is victory of Hellas Verona. Well, a victory to last in memory.

Italy II Division

Second Division – Serie B. Three teams promoted, 4 – relegated. Quite dramatic championship – 5 teams aimed at promotion. At the bottom – 2 outsiders and almost half the league desperately trying to avoid the other 2 relegation spots. At the end, corruption case decided one of them.

Taranto – last and out with 23 points.

Parma – 19th with 26 points. Relegated.

Varese – 18th with 33 points. Going down as well.

Cagliari – 17th with 34 points. Their Peruvian player Uribe was perhaps smitten – from playing at World Cup finals to Third Division, what misfortune. Alas, the story had a happy end: Padova was found guilty of corruption and expelled. The final table stayed intact, but Cagliari survived.

Arezzo – lucky 16th with 35 points.

Catania – 15th with 35 points.

Padova – 14th with 35 points. Relegation scared half the league and Padova took some ‘extraordinary measures’ to save itself. This measures were corrupt, they were found guilty and expelled to Third Division to the delight of Cagliari.

Campobasso – 13th with 36 points.

Cesena – 12th with 36 points.

Sambenedettese – 11th with 36 points.

Monza – 10th with 36 points.

Bologna – 9th with 36 points. Unusual colours, but that was the only remarkable thing about them this season.

Empoli – 8th with 37 points.

Pescara – 7th with 38 points.

Genoa – 6th with 40 points. A vast gap between them and those running for promotion.

Triestina – 5th with 47 points. Fought bravely and lost at the end.

Perugia – 4th with 48 points. They lost promotion by very little, but their record deserves a note, so unusual it was. Perugia lost only match this season – the next best had 4 losses. However, they managed to tie 26 games! They tied 26 out of 38 played games – this was fantastic even for Italy. Makes one craving for the perfect record – 38 games, 38 ties. But this ties did not serve Perugia at the end – they came 1 point short of promotion. 1 tie – 1 point…

Bari clinched 3rd place with 49 points and was promoted. Hazardous approach worked for them – they lost most games among the top teams (7), but also won most (18) and that propelled them back to top league football.

Lecce – second with 50 points. Happily promoted, so no matter they finished second.

Pisa clinched the title on better goal-difference, for they also finished with 50 points. 17 wins, 16 ties, 5 losses, 52-27. It was good to win the championship and much better to go up, especially after grueling season. And what relief the victory had been for Wim Kift – only a few years back, he was the top scorer of Europe, and now… second division. And not able even to outscore the unknown players there: 3rd with 15 goals. Someone called Bivi scored 20 for Bari.

One more look at the happy champions of Serie B.

Italy III Division Group B

Third Division. Girone B. If there was no problem with promotion or relegation, then there was no play-off: the champion of the league was decided by goal-difference.

Nocerina – last and relegated with 23 points.

Akragas – 17th with 24 points.

Francavilla – 16th with 30 points. Relegated.

Reggina – 15th with 31 points. Relegated om head-to-head record against Cavese.

Cavese – lucky 14th with 31 points.

Foggia – 13th with 32 points.

Barletta – 12th with 32 points.

Benevento – 11th with 32 points. Record number of ties this season – 20. 10 at home and 10 away.

Ternana – 10th with 32 points.

Casarano – 9th with 32 points.

Campania – 8th with 32 points.

Cosenza – 7th with 37 points.

Casertana – 6th with 37 points.

Monopoli – 5th with 37 points.

Salernitana – 4th with 38 points.

Messina – 3rd with 42 points.

Palermo – 2nd with 45 points. Lost first place on goal-difference, but promoted, so no worry.

Catanzaro – champions of Girone B and promoted. Better goal-difference than Palermo’s did it, but no matter. 17 wins, 11 ties, 6 losses, 54-30, 45 points.

Italy III Division Group A

Third Division – Serie C/1. Two groups of 18 teams each, the top 2 promoted, the last 4 – relegated. In case of equal points, all depended on table positions – if promotion was at stake, a play-off was staged. If relegation was at stake – head-to-head results decided. Some familiar names pop up here.

Girone A. Old habits – so difficult to change: two teams amassed 20 ties in the 34-rounds championship.

Treviso – last with 22 points. And out.

Pistoiese – 17th with 27 points. Relegated.

Asti T.S.C. – 16th with 27 points. Out.

Jesi – 15th with 30 points. Unlucky and may be rules were unfair in situation like this: they were relegated instead of SPAL, because SPAL had better head-to-head record against them. Yet, both teams finished not only with equal points, but with equal goal-difference: -10.

SPAL – lucky survivors: 14th with 30 points.

Carrarese – 13th with 31 points.

Sanremese – 12th with 32 points.

R.M. Firenze – 11th with 32 points.

Pavia – 10th with 32 points.

Legnano – 9th with 32 points.

Modena – 8th with 33 points.

Livorno – 7th with 35 points.

Ancona – 6th with 35 points.

Reggiana – 5th with 36 points.

Rimini – 4th with 40 points. Rimini stood above most of the league, but failed to reach the leaders – three teams competed for 2 promotional spots and it went to post-season play off.

Piacenza was unlucky and ended 3rd. Same points and even same record as Vicenza, only worse goal-difference, but this did not count. In the play-off Piacenza lost in overtime 1-3.

Thanks to the play-off, L.R. Vicenza clinched 2nd place and promotion. Successful season for one Roberto Baggio, still unknown to the public at large.

Brescia won the championship with 48 points. 15 wins, 18 ties, only a single loss, 47-18 goal-difference. It was not overwhelming victory – just 3 points ahead of Vicenza and Piacenza – but it was important to climb up and that was achieved. Like Vicenza, Brescia was not a club to play 3rd level football.

Italy IV Division Groups C & D

Serie C/2 – continued.

Girone C.

Cattolica – 18th with 13 points. The weakest team in the whole 4th Division.

Fermana – 17th with 27 points. Relegated.

Forli – 16th with 28 points. Relegated.

Cesenatico – 15th with 30 points.

Vigor Senigallia – 14th with 31 points.

Galatina P.I. – 13th with 31 points.

Matera – 12th with 32 points.

Giulianova – 11th with 33 points.

Maceratese – 10th with 34 points.

Martina – 9th with 34 points.

Centese – 8th with 35 points.

Fidelis Andria – 7th with 36 points.

Sassuolo – 6th with 36 points.

Foligno – 5th with 41 points.

Strange or not, but the next 3 teams went to promotional play-off – they all finished with 42 points and almost the same goal-difference: Teramo and Civitanovese with +11 and Fano with +9. Similar problem was solved differently in Girone A, but here – play-offs. They decided nothing, except the elimination of Teramo. Fano and Civitanovese proceeded to a final, played in Perugia. Regular and extra time ended 0-0. In the penalty shoot-out Fano prevailed 6-5. Great luck or what?

Teramo 4th with 42 points.

Civitanovese – 3rd with 42 points.

Fano – 2nd with 42 points and promoted.

Brindisi – group champions with 45 points and promoted.

Girone D.

Crotone – last with 27 points and relegated.

Frattese – 17th with 29 points. Relegated.

Alcamo – 16th with 29 points and relegated.

Potenza – 15th with 30 points.

Canicatti – 14th with 30 points. Canicatti had 5 points deducted for some infringement, but was not in danger of relegation.

Aesernia – 13th with 31 points.

Nissa – 12th with 31 points.

Gladiator – 11th with 31 points.

Ischia Isolaverde – 10th with 31 points.

Ercolanese – 9th with 33 points.

Paganese – 8th with 33 points.

Rende – 7th with 34 points.

Siracusa – 6th with 34 points.

Afragolese – 5th with 34 points.

Turris – 4th with 41 points.

Frosinone – 3rd with 42 points. Familiar name? Not back then.

Sorrento – clinched 2nd place with 43 points and promoted.

Licata – group champion with 44 points. Promoted, of course.