Czechoslovakia I Division

First Division. Surprise champion, that was the season in nutshell.

Inter (Bratislava) finished last with 23 points and Bratislava’s derby was going to be played again in the next season, but in Second Division.

Lokomotiva (Kosice) – 15th with 24 points and relegated. Well, the other Slovak derby in the city of Kosice was also going to be played in Second Division.

Dynamo (Ceske Budejpovice) survived – 14th with 24 points.

ZVL Zilina – 13th with 26 points.

Tatran (Presov) – 12th with 26 points.

DAC (Dunajska Streda), absolute debutantes, did well – 11th with 27 points. Top row from left: Šoltés, Pavlík, Kašpar, Hesek, Fieber, Mucha, Liba, Šimonič (masseur), N. Szabó.

Middle row: MUDr. Stadtrucker (doctor), J. Kapko, F. Németh, Kosňovský, Veselý, J. Medgyes, Vahala, Šrámek, Ravasz, Kalmár, Reisz (technical).

Front row: Hodúr, Krištof, Bartoš, Pecze (coach), Ing. Šanta (president of football club), Abrahám (assistant trainer), Audi, Majoros, Michalec.

Like most clubs in Czechoslovakia, the team from the town near the Hungarian border, where Hungarian was spoken at least as much as Slovak, was old, but so far did not play any significant role. Reaching the top league was their highest achievement and managing to stay there was great.

Spartak (Trnava) – 10th with 27 points.

Dukla (Banska Bystrica) – 9th with 28 points.

Banik (Ostrava) – 8th with 30 points.

Ruda Hvezda (Cheb) – 7th with 31 points.

Slavia (Prague) – 6th with 34 points.

Bohemians (Prague) – 5th with 34 points.

Sigma (Olomouc) – 4th with 34 points.

Dukla (Prague) – clinched 3rd place on better goal-difference, for they too finished with 34 points.

Sparta (Prague) – 2nd with 37 points.

TJ Vitkovice – brand new champions with 40 points from 14 wins, 12 ties, 4 losses. 48-32 goal-difference. Quite a surprise.

TJ Vitkovice practically came from nowehere – not one of the traditional powers and a team more often played second level than top league, they represented wonderful victory of the underdog. It was not an easy win, but Dukla was stuck and Sparta perhaps took its victory for granted and underperformed, and Vitkovice took advantage of the situation.

The squad was not bad, but hardly exceptional, but they squireled points and kept good form, fueled by increasing eathusiasm to the end. It was rather defensive team – Sparta outscored them by 27 goals, for example – but they made sure to not lose a game. Wonderful success, but it was quite clear that it was one-time wonder, not to be repeated. So, the victory had to be enjoyed in the fullest possible way.

Scotland the Cups

The Cups. As much as it was to see victory of the ‘little man’, it was equally alarming that the traditional powers were in obvious bad shape – Celtic did not reach the semi-finals of either cup and Rangers was eliminated in League Cup semi-final by Hibernian. Aberdeen, though, excelled – and it was equally telling that no team was able to have truly great season – if the champions and the runners-up failed to win a cup, Aberdeen failed in the championship. But enough musing. Aberdeen and Heart of Midlothian met at the Scottish F.A. Cup. Rather easily Aberdeen destroyed the current candidates for the title – 3-0.

The Hearts lost twice this season in the last moment – bad luck, surely. And surely enthusiasm was not enough to prevail over objectively better sides.

For Fergie indeed – he made Aberdeen strong and successful and he was leaving. This was the second trophy for the season, for the other cup was already won half-a-year ago.

As it was, the League Cup had very different schedule and finished in the previous year. Early in the season, really – in October 1985. Hibernian and Aberdeen reached the final and Aberdeen did not leave any doubt who was stronger – comfortable 3-0 victory. Really, it was the expected outcome.

Nice try for Hibernian and perhaps they had some hopes after eliminating Glasgow Rangers in the semi-finals, but objectively they were no match to Aberdeen.

Aberdeen with a double this season – perhaps they were the best Scottish squad at the moment. The trouble was that they had no way keeping their stars – Gordon Strachan was already sold, for instance. Wonderful as they were, Aberdeen could at best keep the same level – getting stronger was impossible, they were sellers, not buyers. So, success was boiled down to Alex Ferguson – he was capable of motivating the team and keeping it in good condition. But he was leaving… so it was more a matter of reviewing his spell than looking to the future: a title and lost final in 1979-80, 2nd in the championship of 1980-81, 2nd in the championship and cup winners in 1981-82, cup winners in 1982-83, champions and cup winners in 1983-84, champions in 1984-85, and lastly winners of both cups in 1985-86. Plus the Cup Winners Cup, of course. The best period in Aberdeen’s history and perhaps it was possible even to extend it a bit, if the core players were preserved a little longer and their motivation maintained high. Possible, Because of the state of Scottish football – Aberdeen, even without Ferguson, was more than likely to have better squad than most clubs. But future would be of little concern at the moment of victory.

Scotland I Division

Premier Division. It was fine for those on the bottom, because they were not going to relegated, but this was no comfort for the Scottish football at large: a 10-team league was divided into 4 distinct groups – 4 strong teams, 2 mid-table, 2 weak, yet much stronger than the last two. Bigger league would be perhaps more interesting for the fans, but could not hide the reality: Scottish football was quite impoverished. Really strong and competitive championship was just a wild dream. It was clear that no more than 4 clubs could be strong – there were resources for more.

Clydebank – last with 20 points. Happy to stay in the league, thanks to the coming enlargement, but…

Motherwell – 9th and that thanks to better goal-difference, for they too finished with 20 points. They too only postponed the real battle for survival to the next season.

Hibernian – weak, but still much stronger than the last 2 teams: 8th with 28 points. Bigger league was perhaps good news for them – that meant security. A bit larger group of weaker than them clubs.

St. Mirren – 7th with 31 points. Like Hibernian, they looked forward to bigger league, so to be safer.

Dundee FC – 6th with 35 points. Mid-table club… what does it mean to be sedate mid-table team in so small league? Largely, no danger of relegation…

Perhaps Dundee FC could be satisfied with mid-table place, but Glasgow Rangers reduced to mediocrity? Well, there they were – 5th with 35 points. And in such situation since 1978-79… slowly sinking from 3rd to 5th place. Urgent changes were needed.

And that was the sorry state of Scottish football… 4 teams. Under closer scrutiny, none all that great.

Aberdeen – unable to defend its title of the previous season and 4th with 44 points.

Dundee United – 3rd with 47 points. Just four decent teams and among them Dundee United already settled for 3rd position and no more. They were entirely outside the race for the title three years in a row.

No matter how strong or weak the teams, the battle for the title was thrilling – two rivals went together to the very end, finishing with equal points. Goal-difference separated them.

One may feel truly sorry for Heart of Midlothian – they had weaker team compared to Celtic and Abredeen, but played bravely and lost the championship only on goal-difference. Were they really one of the top 4 is also debatable, for the Hearts were only 7th in the previous season, but sudden ups and down were quite typical of them. Too bad they did not win.

Both Hearts and Celtic finished the season with 20 wins, 10 ties, and 6 losses and Celtic clinched the title on better goal-difference: 67-38, +29 bettered Hearts’ +26. Of course, fans were happy, but… it was not just that Celtic barely prevailed over modest squad. Given who had what, Celtic had the best squad in Scotland by far – but it was not a great squad and was rather short and limited one. The best quality of it was that most of the boys were young. Danny McGrain was the pillar of the team, but he was 35-years old already. The new bright star was Mo Johnston, but there was no much around him. Yes, it was stronger and better rounded team than the other Scottish teams at the moment, but… McGrain was getting too old, Roy Aitken, Tommy Burns, and Dave Proven certainly reached their maximum already and they were not going to get better, only older. Pat Bonner was solid, but hardly great goalkeeper. It was largely a matter of keeping the young players away from English clubs, which was almost impossible – especially in the case of Mo Johnston. Celtic won one more title, but reality was bitter: they were reduced to local power and only in terms of the current state of Scottish football. Internationally, Celtic was just run-of-the-mill team. The only comfort was that arch-enemy Rangers was in worse shape.

Scotland II & III Division

Scotland. The top league was going to increase to 12 teams the next season, so there were no relegations from it. Dramatic race for the title, ending with title decided by goal-difference. Pathetic Glasgow Rangers.

Third level – Division 2. Two teams way stronger than the rest of the league.

Albion Rovers was one the weakest this season – 13th with 29 points, but since there was no relegation here, nothing worse was going to happen.

Queen of the South lost the battle for top position by 2 points and finished 2nd with 55 points. Happily promoted.

Dunfermline Athletic won the championship with 57 points – 23 wins, 11 ties, 5 losses, 91-47. Climbing back to second level and happy about it.

Second level – Division 1. The enlargement of the top division affected them as well – second division was going to be reduced to 12 teams. Two teams promoted, as usual, but without relegated top league teams. No drama at the bottom – 2 teams were pretty much the outsiders. One team was above the rest, but there was dramatic battle between 5 teams for the 2nd place.

Alloa Athletic was 14th and out with 26 points. Ayr United was the second relegated team – 13th with 31 points.

Clyde FC was nothing special, like most members of the league – 11th with 35 points.

Partick Thistle was among the weaker teams this season – 8th with 36 points.

Dumbarton, East Fife, Forfar Athletic, Kilmarnock, and Falkirk battled for 2nd place.

Dumbarton lost the race – 6th with 43 points.

Falkirk clinched the 2nd place with 45 points and was promoted.

Hamilton Academical dominated the league and won the championship with 56 points. 24 wins, 8 ties, 7 losses, 77-44 goal-difference. It was great success, for they played top-league football for the last time in the last season before it was reorganized – 1975-76. Back then they ended 9th and thus went to the newly formed second level and were unable to play in the Premier Division so far.

Yugoslavia the Cup

The Cup final opposed Velez (Mostar) to Dinamo (Zagreb). Both teams fought for 3rd place and since they were out of the championship race, winning the Cup was imperative. Velez had the day, though, winning 3-1.

Dinamo (Zagreb) lost the final and ended the season emptyhanded. Third row from left: Cuckovic, Adzic, Novak, Bogdanovic, Hadzic, Besek, Arslanovic, Bracun, Cupan.

Middle row: Baca, Katanec, Komocar, Stojic, Cerin, Z. Boban, Okvaradi, Maric, B. Belin – assistant coach.

Sitting: Smit, D. Boban, Istvanic, Lulic, Blazevic – coach, Mlinaric, Munjakovic, B. Cvetkovic, Zv. Cvetkovic.

Strong squad, coached by Blazevic – a hot coach already, although not yet a legend. However, Dinamo reached its peak a few years back and now on the way down. At least for the moment. But here was the first foreign player imported in Yugoslavia – Okvaradi. He appeared only once during this season and was unloaded. Not a great beginning, but at least a start. Okvaradi went to play in Austria, despite his poor European debut. This year African player appeared also in Hungary, so it is hard to say which Communist country was first to import foreign footballer.

A great success for Velez (Mostar) – a club which could not build a league winner no matter what, so the only reasonable aim was winning the Cup. Of course, it was wonderful to win, but more importantly the slump started in the late 1970s seemingly ended and Velez had strong team again. Perhaps not as great as the famous ‘BMW’ of the 1970s, but close. Well deserved victory.

Yugoslavia I Division

First Division. If seeing Partizan and Crvena zvezda way above the rest of the league was hardly a surprise, seeing who was relegated was surprising. May be not so much OFK Beograd, but the last team… Vojvodina (Novi Sad) in the role of hopeless outsider? Unbelievable… yet, true. Apart from their sorry state, the league was similar to previous season, even if the level of football now was lower than before. Goal difference decided the title and also decided the second relegated team. Relegation was possible for most teams, though – in the final table 7 points was the difference between the 3rd and the 17th. And bronze medals were decided on goal-difference too.

Vojvodina (Novi Sad) arguably had their worst season ever. Why the sudden sharp decline could be debatable, but the fact was they were hopeless outsiders this season: last with 20 points. 10 points behind the 17th…

Although it was unusual to see OFK Beograd relegated, their decline was going on for many years, eventually reaching the logical bottom. True, they were a bit unlucky – 5 teams finished with 30 points and unfortunately OFK Beograd had the worst goal-difference among them. Too bad… Standing from left: Milenkovic, Bjelic, Stojakovic, Duric, Ivanovic, Kuzmanovski.

Crouching: Stojadinovic, Kahrovic, Markovic, Stevovic, R. Stankovic.

Well, the squad pretty much tells why they went down…

Celik (Zenica) – lucky survivors: 16th with 30 points.

Lucky survivors were FK Sarajevo too – 15th with 30 points – but why they had so disastrous season?

Buducnost (Titograd) was 14th with 30 points as well, but for them it was normal to fight to survival and finish near relegation zone.

Dinamo (Vinkovci) – 13th with 30 points. Not bad for them to survive.

Sloboda (Tuzla) – 12th with 31 points. Near peril, but avoiding it.

Pristina (Pristina) – 11th with 32 points. Standing from left: Vokri, Zaveli, Sengulji, Domi, Pupovac, Cimili, Dinali, Prekazi, Mehinovic, Stefanovic.

Sitting: Tortosi, F. Murici, Sinani, Cana, Dz. Murici, Salja, Nedzipi, Morina, Keljmendi.

Sutjeska (Niksic) – 10th with 32 points.

Osijek (Osijek) – 9th with 33 points.

Vardar (Skopje) – 8th with 34 points.

Zeljeznicar (Sarajevo) – 7th with 35 points. Top row from left: Crnogoric, Mioc, Elez, Verlasevic, Skoro, Komsic, Skrba.

Middle row: Milanovic, Vuric, D. Jankovic, Ninkovic, Mihajlovic, Sliskovic, Gavrilovic.

Front: Ivanovic, Pavlovic, Z. Samardzija, Janjus, Baljic, Sabanadzovic.

Dinamo (Zagreb) – 6th with 36 points.

Rijeka (Rijeka) – 5th with 37 points.

Hajduk (Split) – 4th with 37 points.

Velez (Mostar) – 3rd with 37 points. Clinched bronze medals on better goal-difference.

Crvena zvezda (Belgrade) – 2nd with 49 points. So close were the eternal enemies in this fight for the title, that the caption reads ‘champions’. Alas, they were not… lost the title by single goal!

Partizan (Belgrade) dramatically won the championship – everything between them and their arch-rivals was equal: both finished with 21 wins, 7 ties, 6 losses and 49 points. It came to better goal-difference: Crvena zvezda had 73-38 – plus 35. Partizan; 65-29 – plus 36! A single goal difference, but in their favour and they came on top. Hardly the best squad in the history of Partizan, but strong enough. Lucky victory, but only title counts, so never mind.


Yugoslavia II Division

Yugoslavia. Dramatic final of the championship – goal-difference decided the champion and also the battle for survival. Slightly lower general quality of the game and two teams way above the rest of the league, but still fairly equal general level. And a new chapter of East European football started: import of foreign players. Looks like 1985-86 was the beginning – in Yugoslavia and Hungary, very minimal yet, but a start.

Second Division. The usual 2 groups – East and West, 18 teams in each, the last 4 were relegated and the winners – promoted. More dramatic battle for top position in the East II Division, but in total 5 teams were much stronger than the rest.

West II Division. At a glance, Borac (Banja Luka) catches the eye immediately – what a big decline! Although rarely among the top teams, Borac had been solid First Division member for years. Now – it was uncharacteristically down: 12th in Second Division. Escaped relegation to third level by 2 points and with worse goal-difference than 2 of the relegated teams.

Vrbas was 10th with 32 points.

RFK Novi Sad – 7th with 33 points.

Rudar (Ljubija) – 6th with 34 points. Standing from left: Momcilo Turuntas, Tomislav Radic, Resad Crnalic, Ante Grabo, Vinko Samardzija, Stanko Mrsic.

First row: Dusko Ostojic, Fahro Bihorac, Ibrahim Kusljugic, Dragoljub Bekvalac, Nedeljko Topic.

Years later Bekvalac will make quite a good name as a coach.

Jedinstvo (Brcko) – 5th with 36 points. Standing from left: Stevic, Enver Lugusic, Sulovic, Kevric, Vuinovic, Tosic, Bekic – assistant coach.

Front row: Curcic, Suznjevic, Jahic, Zoran Malisevic, M. Besic.

Three teams were stronger than the rest, but two of them eventually lost steam and fell behind.

Leotar (Trebinje) – 3rd with 44 points.

Iskra (Bugojno) – 2nd with 44 points, ahead of Leotar on better goal-difference. Standing from left: Podgajski, Vuckovic, Dezelic, Z. Toskic, Delilovic, Pavlic.

Crouching: G. Toskic, Novokmet, D. Vrabac, ?, Mirkovic.

Spartak (Subotica) won the league with confidence: 20 wins, 9 ties, 5 losses, 65-33 goal-difference, 49 points. Top row from left: Pestalic, Bilbija, Durovic, Duran, Ugljanin, Kovacevic, Popovic.

Middle row: Karac, Dimitrijevic, Stajner, Acimovic, Rafai, Ljiljak, Slijepcevic.

Sitting: Arsic, Jeftic, Todorovic, Pejovic, Kuntic, Miranovic, Cosic, Puhalek.

Wonderful achievement – promotion to top flight.

East II Division.

Radnicki (Nis) and Rad (Belgrade) left the rest of the league far behind and were entangled in dog fight to the end – 1 point separated them in the final table.

There was similarity between Borac (Banja Luka) and Napredak (Krusevac) – both first division members were in bad shape right now. Napredak finished 11th with 33 points and relegation further down was a real option: at the end, Napredak escaped by 3 points.

Crvena zvezda (Gnjilane) had no reputation to keep, so they were quite happy just to stay in the league: 14th with 33 points.

But others had to suffer: FK Zemun, practically fresh from playing in First Division, now was going to third level – 16th with 28 points and relegated.

Another former First Division member – FK Bor – also went down to third level – 15th with 30 points.

Trepca was satisfied with 34 points and 9th position.

Borac (Cacak) – pictured here with Mladost (Rogatica), white kit – was 5th with 34 points. Like the West Group, in the East most teams were closer to the relegation zone than to possible promotion. Radnicki (Kragujevac) finished 3rd with 36 points – that is, 15 points behind the 2nd placed, but only 6 points ahead of the relegated 15th placed FK Bor.

The battle for 1st place was lost by Rad (Belgrade) by 1 point – they finished with 51 points.

Radnicki (Nis) clinched 1st place with 52 points from 22 wins, 8 ties, and 4 losses. Goal-difference: 65-21. Third row from left: Bankovic, Dzinovic, Gogic, S. Nikolic, Vojinovic, Binic, Mitrovic, Kuzmanovic.

Middle row: Halilovic – coach, Pejic, Visnjic, Ivanovic, Jocic, Duvandzic – team chief, Stojkovic, Zlatanovski, Milenkovic, Jankovic – assistant coach.

Sitting: Kocic, Milosevic, Radosavljevic, Gajic, Aleksic, Mladenovic.

Going down to Second Division was bitter pill to swallow for a club, which met Real Madrid just a little earlier – Radnicki was among the top Yugoslavian teams in the early 1980s and played strong football in the European tournaments. Coming back to top flight was a must, but they faced very strong competition from Rad (Belgrade) and were lucky to win the league. However, they did win and everything was fine.

USSR the Cup

The Cup. Was it another year, the Soviet Cup final would have been considered better. But this time everything worked against it so much so that the title of the match report in the prime Soviet football weekly ‘Football-Hockey’ was ‘What would remain in memory?’ and the reporter’s conclusion was ‘nothing’. And there was the feeling that this Cup final, getting only flack, was instantly forgotten. It was a final between underdogs – Shakhter (Donetzk) and Torpedo (Moscow), which normally would get some praise just for that, but this time the match was doomed even before its start. First of all, the World Cup was around the corner, grabbing all attention. The national team of USSR played a preparatory friendly just few days before the final and fans and specialists were much concerned of what they saw – it was a home game against Finland, which ended 0-0. The Cup final suddenly appeared to be not a clash of tough teams, which may not have been very strong recently, but were Cup specialists. Instead, it looked like a confirmation of the weaknesses of the national team – if that were the cup contenders, no wonder the nationals team was in alarming shape and no repairs possible. And, as luck had it, right after the Soviet Cup final ended, the Cup Winners Cup was about to begin, featuring Dinamo (Kiev) and Altetico (Madrid). This final was on the mind of most, not only instantly diminishing the importance of the domestic final, but also significantly reducing attendance – most people chose to stay home waiting the European final broadcast on TV. Lastly, the domestic finalists contributed to the ill feelings by their sluggish and largely disoriented performance. It was poor show, no doubt about it, eventually boiled down to the wit of the veteran playmakers Sokolovsky (Shakhter) and Shavlo (Torpedo). They tried, but it was evident that both are far away down from their peak, the age was getting hold of them and with uninspired teammates nothing really was about to happen. Yet, it was telling that the veterans on their last legs and hardly effective were practically the only noticeable players on the pitch. Shavlo was slightly better and thus Torpedo appeared if not sharper, at least possessing the ball more and making something vaguely similar to attacks. And eventually they scored – a minute before the half-time, Sochnov made a cross from a free kick and Kobzev, who substituted Redkous in the 29th minute, headed the ball in the net. Shakhter keeper Zolotnitzky was universally blamed for the goal – it was not that dangerous situation, but he was late and uncertain coming for the ball. Efforts to clear the goalie and praise Kobzev for his sharp precision failed to convince, it was giveaway goal. Bad luck… Zolotnitzky was backup goalkeeper, rarely appearing in official games, but the regular starter was injured and here it was – the backup was not up to the task.

Zolotnitzky late and Kobzev scored. Nothing else happened to the end of the game and Torpedo made its triumphal round with the trophy in front of hurriedly leaving fans, who wanted to get home for the start of the Cup Winners Cup final. Which was highly entertaining match in sharp contrast to what passed for Soviet Cup final and Dinamo (Kiev) victory drove everybody to euphoria. From this perspective, the Cup final perhaps looked even worse than it was. Criticized the next day and forgotten immediately.

Shakther (Donetzk) was not as good a team as they were a few years back, but still was holding its position among the better Soviet teams. Top row from left: O. Bazilevich – coach, A. Konkov – assistant coach, V. Malyshev – assistant coach, Yury Gulyaev, Evgeny Dragunov, Sergey Morozov, Vladimir Gravrilov, Anatoly Radenko, Aleksandr Sopko, Valery Rudakov, Sergey Kravchenko, V. Tkachenko – masseur, O. Shotkin – doctor.

Bottom row: Sergey Zolotnitzky, Sergey Yashtenko, Aleksey Varnavsky, Oleg Smolyaninov, Igor Petrov, Valery Goshkoderya, Viktor Grachev, Mikhail Sokolovsky, Vladimir Parkhomenko, Viktor Budnik.

Strange… Shakhter usually managed to play tough Cup finals, even overperforming, but this time were uncharacteristically lame. Their number one striker Petrov was particularly hopeless. In view of the general poverty of the final, there is no point saying more or looking for explanations – suffice to say that this Cup final day perhaps was very painful for Shakhter coaching stuff – 10 years ago Bazilevich and Konkov won the Cup Winners Cup with Dinamo (Kiev), the first was coaching, the second – playing. Now they lost a final only to see their former club soar to second Cup Winners Cup victory.

Considering the current shape of Torpedo, the Cup victory was almost a surprise. Well deserved? Hardly, but goals win games and they scored and won. Standing from left: Yu. Zolotov – team chief, V. Sochnov, A. Proyaev – doctor, A. Gostenin, V. Kobzev, A. Polukarov, S. Prigoda, V. Filatov – assistant coach, V. Shaveyko, V. Zhendarev – administrator, S. Shavlo, V. Ivanov – coach. Crouching: V. Nikonov – assistant coach, A. Petrov – masseur, Yu. Savichev, S. Mushtruev, V. Kovach, V. Sarychev, N. Savichev, V. Grechnev.

Winners are not to be blamed and considering the lowly place of Torpedo in Soviet football hierarchy, it was great success, but… hardly anything good could be said of the new Cup holders. It is even to credit the substitution of Redkous with Kobzev as some great coaching inspiration – the quality of the play was poor. Lucky winners – that was all. Perhaps great satisfaction for Shavlo, who at his last years won a trophy, when his former club, Spartak (Moscow), was emptyhanded. To some degree, the same would be valid for Redkous, formerly of Dinamo (Moscow). Torpedo’s veteran defender Sergey Prigoda was the only man in the squad who played when Torpedo won something previously and that was 10 years ago. The coaching stuff, V. Ivanov, Nikonov, and Filatov, all former Torpedo stars, were perhaps also very glad – when they played, Torpedo was much stronger club, winning often. Now they succeeded as coaches, but restoring former glory was out of the question. Let face it: the Cup winners had no current national team players – they had only 2 former ones. And let face it again – Torpedo won, but playing very poor football in very poor final.

USSR I Division

First Division. The whole season should be looked through World Cup lenses – the national team took priority. To a large degree the drama of championship decided in the very last match of the season resulted from the World Cup: Dinamo (Kiev) started strong, then, right after the world finals, their from dropped – which was in mid-season. The chance – quite surprising, for they were practically outsiders in recent years – Dinamo (Moscow) had of winning the title was also related to the World Cup: unlike Dinamo (Kiev) and Spartak (Moscow), their players were not involved in the national team and had only the domestic championship to think of. Nobody was looking and they managed to climb on top – from next to last position after the 8th round. Others were at best uneven – Zenit played well, but its shortcoming were already well known, it was a squad good enough for 3rd place and no more. Anyhow.

Torpedo (Kutaisi) started relatively well, but with time their limited team lost steam – last with 17 points and relegated.

Chernomoretz (Odessa) finished 15th with 23 points and was also relegated. Locally, the disaster was blamed on bad management.

Ararat (Erevan) survived – 14th with 26 points.

Neftchi (Baku) – 13th with 26 points. Well… the usual.

Metallist (Kharkov) – 12th with 27 points.

Dnepr (Dnepropetrovsk) – 11th with 8 points. Front row from left: ?, Kudritzky, Cherednik, Kuznetzov, Lysenko, Bagmut, Bashkirov, Sidelnikov, Dilay.

Middle row: ?, Cherny – doctor. Puchkov, Oleg Emetz, Zhizdik – team chief, Emetz – coach, Krakovsky, Shokh, Kanafotzky – administrator, Maslov – administrator, Kucherevsky – assistant coach.

Top row: ?, Kovtun – assistant coach, Taran, Litovchenko, Sorokalet, Protasov, Gorodov, ?, Vishnevsky, Gavrilov, Chernysh – doctor.

Dinamo (Minsk) – 10th with 28 points. Top row from left: A. Gorbylev – assistant coach, V. Dmitrakov – doctor, A. Shalimo, ?, ?, A. Metlitzky, P. Rodnenok, S. Borovsky, L. Vassilevsky – administrator, A. Chernukho – masseur/

Middle row: M. Tzeytin – assistant coach, S. Shiroky, Yu. Trukhan, V. Yanushevsky, I. Savostikov – assistant coach, V. Arzamastzev – coach, L. Garay – team chief, L. Rumbutis, S. Aleynikov, I. Gurinovich, S. Gotzmanov, M. Vergeenko – assistant coach.

Front row: Yu. Kurnenin, V. Sokol, A. Kisten, A. Satzunkevich, I. Zhekyu, A, Zygmantovich, G. Kondratyev, A. Dozmorov.

Torpedo (Moscow) – 9th with 30 points. Back row from left: Grishin, Galayba (?), ?, Shaveyko, Mushtruev, Pisarev.

Middle row: Kobzev, Shavlo, Grechnev, N. Savichev, Kharin, Prigoda, Sarychev, Yu. Savichev, Polukarov, Kovach.

Front: Petrov – masseur, Zhendaryov – administrator, Yurin – assistant coach, Ivanov – coach, Zolotov – team chief, Nikonov – assistant coach, Proyaev – doctor.

Zhalgiris (Vilnius) – 8th with 30 points.

Kayrat (Alma-ata) – 7th with 30 points.

Shakhter (Donetzk) – 6th with 31 points. Front row from left: S. Zolotnitzky, S. Yashtenko, A. Varnavsky, O. Smolyaninov, I. Petrov, V. Goshkoderya, V. Grachev, M. Sokolovsky, V. Parkhomenko, V. Budnik.

Top row: O. Bazilevich – coach, A. Konkov – assistant coach, V. Malyshev – assistant coach, Yu. Gulyaev, E. Dragunov, S. Morozov, V. Gavrilov, A. Radenko, A. Sopko, V. Rudakov, S. Kravchenko, V. Tkachenko – masseur, V. Shkotkin – doctor.

Dinamo (Tbilisi) – 5th with 33 points. Were they coming back? Not really…

Zenit (Leningrad) – 4th with 33 points. Crouching from left: Chukhlov, Yakovlev, Gerasimov, Vorobyov, Afanasiev, Dolgopolov, Davydov, Kolotovkin, Kanishtev, Larionov.

Standing: Sadyrin – coach, Lokhov – assistant coach, Dmitriev, Biryukov, Melnikov, Zheludkov, Timofeev, Klementyev, Kuznetzov, Prikhodko, Barannik, Stepanov, Bulavin – assistant coach.

Spartak (Moscow) – 3rd with 37 points.

Dinamo (Moscow) – 2nd with 38 points. Top row from left: A. Uvarov, A. Borodyuk, V. Popelnukha, B. Pozdnyakov, I. Bulanov, A. Novikov, I. Sklyarov, I. Dobrovolsky, I. Kolyvanov, A. Prudnikov.

Middle row: S. Kiryakov, A. Timoshenko, A. Gassov – masseur, A. Golodetz – assistant coach, E. Malafeev – coach, I. Mozer – assistant coach, M. Gershkovich – assistant coach, V. Mozalev – doctor, A. Kobelev, S. Ushakov.

Front row: G. Morozov, S. Stukashov, V. Lossev, S. Kozhanov, V. Vassilyev, V. Karataev, S. Silkin, V. Demidov.

Good work by the coach Eduard Malafeev – considered already the second best and for some the very best coach at the moment – but it was a false sign of revival. Dinamo had a chance to win the championship until very last minute of the very last championship match, but frankly they were not all that good. But some exciting young talent was here – players, who will define Russian football in the next decade: Dobrovolsky, Kolyvanov, Kiryakov. Borodyuk was the top scorer of the this championship, which came as a surprise.

Dinamo (Kiev) dramatically won its 12th title. 14 wins, 11 ties, 5 losses, 53-33 goal-difference, and 39 points do not look terribly impressive and the season was rather rocky, but this was the peak of the second great Lobanovsky’s team. Top row from left: Valery Lobanovsky – coach, Viktor Kolotov – assistant coach, Vladimir Gorily, Pavel Yakovenko, Vladimir Veremeev – team chief, Anatoly Puzach – assistant coach.

Middle row: Vladimir Bessonov, Oleg Kuznetzov, Sergey Baltacha, Viktor Chanov, Andrey Bal, Aleksey Mikhaylichenko, Oleg Blokhin, Anatoly Demyanenko.

Front row: Vadim Evtushenko, Ivan Yaremchuk, Vassily Ratz, Igor Belanov, Aleksandr Zavarov, Vassily Evseev.

It took 10 years to make this wonderful squad and this time it was a bit different than the old golden team of which only Blokhin was still playing – but Kolotov and Veremeev were working with the current team. First, it was entirely made by Lobanovsky – the old great team was not only more or less inherited by him, but also he shared head coaching duties with Oleg Bazilevich, now coaching Shakhter (Donetzk). Second, it was deeper team – the old great squad depended roughly on 12 players; the current one had more strong players. Thus, the heavy injury of Baltacha did not make the team suffer. One thing which remained was the lack of typical center-forward – like 10 years earlier, Dinamo attacked with 2 strikers, both wingers, and midfield players eventually served as temporary men in front. And like before, there was universal player used in every position, according to need – before it was Troshkin, doubling as right full back and defensive midfielder; now it was much more versatile Bessonov. If the team did not dominate the championship in its peak year, there was excuse: they played on too many fronts. They faced much tougher opponent at the Cup Winners Cup than the team winning it 10 years ago. And there was right after that the World Cup – the first great team did not play World Cup finals. Then back not only to the championship, but to more international games, both on club and national team level. It was really too much and from time to time the players either depended on tough control of the game just to get results or took it easy – which proved to be costly. Points were lost, the schedule was too dense, but at the end there was some advantage – Dinamo had still to play matches when opposition practically finished the season and calculations took place. There was little love between Shakhter and Dinamo, but Shakhter was thinking vacation by the time they met. The two derbies with Dinamo (Moscow) were also at the end and Kiev made the best of it – just what was needed to win the title: a tie away and home victory. And by that time the only danger was Dinamo (Moscow) – every other was done, their points final, what was needed to prevail was absolutely clear – 5 points from 3 matches. Thus, even the key match was known: the away game in Moscow – all would end right then and there, if Moscow won. Kiev played perfectly under pressure and delivered the necessary results. What could be better?