More General Observations

Scandals are scandals, but was it not the general state of football bright in the 1970s? The optimism of the beginning of the decade did not last long. Neither the Brazilian samba, nor the total football survived – rather, they were transformed into something else: domination of tactics, great physical emphasis, and sharp decrease of creative players. The grave signs were already present in 1974: on one hand was Brazil, and West Germany was on the other. Seeing what was going on in Europe, coaches in Brazil were alarmed – they detected lagging behind and urgent need of change. The result was the dreadful Brazilian team at the World Cup 1974, which was to catch up with European football. It was defensive minded, disciplined team. There was no spark in it, no imagination, no fun. Only victory mattered, not how it was achieved. Yet, Brazil had to surrender its title and finished 4th. Many, myself included, felt even 4th place was too much, Brazil did not deserve to be that highly placed.
Meantime the West Germans were on another road: after Ajax destroyed Bayern in 1973, the Germans realized that attractive football was not going to win anything. In 1974 Bayern won its first European Champions Cup. The Bavarians added two more cups in the next two years. None of their games was pleasant to watch – they barely survived the nasty final with Atletico Madrid and won the Cup in the replay thanks to superior fitness. In 1975 the whole final was played in the penalty area of Bayern, but it was not Leeds United victorious at the end – Bayern won 2-0. In 1976 Bayern scored one goal against St. Etienne (France), and it was enough. The French played much more pleasant to the eye football, and lost. Bayern was winning largely because they were able to outrun the opposition, to terrorize it everywhere on the pitch, to defend themselves shrewdly, and to wait for rare counter-attacking opportunities. By the end of the 1970s practically everybody learned to run non-stop 90 minutes, to pressure the opposition, to fight for the ball cynically, to waist time by endless passing between defense and goalkeeper. Players became the same, there were no more outstanding individuals. The game was moving and more into the central area of the pitch, where both teams fought not that much for the possession of the ball, but fought to block and prevent the other team from developing attacks. Superficially, attacking football, total football dominated the decade, but teams were happy to score one goal and the rest was just speedy running around and tackling the opposition. Defensive football did not die at all – for the most part of the 1970s the Italian championship showed 0-0 ties. The Soviets were the same and tried to introduce changes, hoping to break the scary habits of clubs to end half of their matches 0-0. Ill fated reforms, though… the first was no points for 0-0 ending matches for both teams. No problem, winked the clubs – by silent agreement, both teams were quickly scoring a goal each in the first minutes of the match and whatever ‘real’ playing followed after point giving 1-1 was established. The Soviet federation fought back: no points for more than 10 ties in the season. But the clubs were not to give up – very few clubs lost points for having too many ties. Instead, clubs started exchanging wins in a ‘gentlemen agreements’ : A wins at home against B, and gets 2 points. Later, when visiting B, A loses and B gets their 2 points. At the end, the same number of points for each, as it used to be before with two ties.
From this perspective, the 1970s were hardly exciting decade. Franz Beckenbauer delivered warning as early as 1974: talent was drying out and grave days were coming. He spoke for the German football, but his prediction applied to the whole of European football. Everybody can prepare players to run 90 minutes non-stop, but so what? Of course winning is very important, but what about beautiful football? The new reality seemingly had no place for skilful players and they were disappearing fast – no new Netzers, Beckenbauers, Cruiffs emerged. Players were look-alikes workaholics without individuality. Teams looked the same, games looked the same, football was quickly becoming very boring.

Bayern won the European Champions Cup third time in a row in 1976. As in the previous years, Bayern failed to inspire fans. St. Etienne was the better playing team at the final, but the Germans were once again physically stronger and tactically more disciplined. Rummenigge was already displaying the features of the new breed of footballers: supremely fit, disciplined, forceful, but not exactly shining player.

Hoeness and Hansen with one more cup. They even don’t look particularly happy; rather, businesslike – job well done and nothing more. Tactics prevailed: only 2 years earlier Hoeness was fun to watch. By 1975 there was no big difference between him and ordinary player Hansen on the pitch: both running and fighting endlessly. Hoeness did not risk anything skilful or extraordinary, it looked like he sunk to the level of Hansen, not the other way – an ordinary player becoming imaginative and skilful like earlier Hoeness.

Football is never clear cut, only good or only bad. The sport is always very diverse and a sick man (a fan) is largely fueled by hope. Yes, the last match was terrible; yes, the season is lost; yes, my favourites angered me again; but tomorrow would be different. Every new match is a hope renewed against reason. The sick man goes to matches and continues reading match reports, and collects. And he is not alone… his cravings are continuously fed. Sometimes by unusual sources. Football literature is an obvious supply for the addicted. With the years passing, I became somewhat skeptical and selective when it comes to football books.
I dislike and avoid two types of football books – the histories of the World Cup and players autobiographies. The histories concentrate on the most recent tournaments. I rather read about World Cup 1938 in detail – the World Cup 2006 I remember painfully well… it was not as great as the upbeat pages of the book tell me. But the older the tournament, the less pages it gets.
Players fail to interest me when writing of themselves. Few of them have to say anything about great games and the opposition. I want to read about football, not about weddings, vacations, and purchases of cars and houses.
Once the above categories are eliminated, there is a sea of football books. Some good, some not so. However, two books I recommend highly:


Why? Read the books and you will know for yourself.

Football appears in the ‘high’ literature as well: the great Austrian writer Robert Musil was even prophetic – in his enormous and unfinished masterpiece The Man Without Qualities, Musil saw the football player (along with the tennis player) as the new ‘profane’ modern hero. He placed the emergence as early as 1913. On the other hand, Albert Camus attributed positive qualities to football in terms of morals and ethics. But he was speaking about 1930s and early 1940s. The little moment in The Outsider, where the crowd carries the goalkeeper on their shoulders through the city’s streets is nostalgically touching. Another Austrian, Peter Handke, published in 1970 one of his most famous novellas: ‘The Goalie’s Anxiety At The Penalty Kick’. The central character is Joseph Bloch, ‘a construction worker who had once been a well-known soccer goalie.’ (3 X Handke, Collier Books, New York, 1988)
Those are fiction books, of course, and little football knowledge can be extracted from them: no real players of teams, or fixtures. But occasionally football appears in fiction surprisingly real.
Two examples from the Argentine great writer Adolfo Bioy Casares: ‘In a Sport-Dimanche that somebody left in the waiting room of the Hotel de Roma I was able to find out that today Reims plays Paris-Saint-Germain a match that I wouldn’t want to miss for anything, because Reims number 9 – the center forward, as we’d say in my day – is none other than Carlitos Bianchi.’(the short story ‘Our Trip (A Diary)’, A Russian Doll And Other Stories, New Directions Books, New York, 1992, p. 75). The episode is hilarious, at least for a soccer fan – it is going to the match with annoying ignoramus, forcing the narrator to leave the stadium before the game ends. Carlitos Bianchi is none other than Carlos Bianchi:
Carlos Bianchi still playing for Velez Sarsfield (Buenos Aires)
He played for Reims from 1973 to 1977, before moving to Paris Saint-Germain (1977-79), RC Strasbourg (1979-80), going back to Argentina and Velez Sarsfield (1980-84), and finishing his career in France – his last season is again for Reims, 1984-85. Bianchi played 14 games for the National team of Argentina and scored 7 goals between 1970 and 1972. He was 5 times top goal scorer in France (1974, 1976, and 1977 with Reims, and 1978 and 1979 with Paris SG). Curiously enough, another Argentine, playing at the same time in France is also 5 times top scorer and all-time top goal scorer of the French League with 299 goals – Delio Onnis. The two replaced each other as leading scorer – Onis in 1975, 1980, 1981, 1982, and 1984. And finally: Onnis played for Reims between 1971-73. Bianchi took his place in 1973, when Onnis moved to Monaco. Unlike Bianchi, Onnis was not born in Argentina, but in Rome, Italy, the son of Greek emigrants, and was less known in Argentina. Bianchi was Argentinean champion in 1968 and three times top goal scorer – 1970, 1971, and 1980 – with Velez Sarsfield.
Delio Onnis, the great rival of Bianchi in France. Here with the colours of his third French club – Tours in 1981.

But perhaps the player means nothing to you. Try the more familiar coach Carlos Bianchi: three Intercontinental Cups – 1994, coaching Velez Sarsfield; 2000 and 2003 coaching Boca Juniors. 4 Copa Libertadores coaching Velez and Boca. Three Argentine titles with Velez, and 4 with Boca. Coach of Paris SG 1990-91. Coach of AS Roma in 1996. Coach of Atletico (Madrid) 2005-06. One of the best coaches of the 1990s – voted South Americam Coach of the Year in 1994, 1998, 2000, 2001, and 2003. Such is the little Carlitos popping out of the story by Bioy Casares.
But the writer had more in his sleeve: ‘Dante, who always got angry when he lost (though as a fan of the Excursionista soccer team, he should have learned to accept defeat philosophically), chided him for not keeping his mind on the game’. This sentence occurs in the beginning of the novel Diary of the War of the Pig (E. P. Dutton, New York, 1988), on page 5. The outlandish name sounded suspect, most likely an author’s invention, but knowing Bioy Casares I decided to check and make sure. It was real.

Club Union de Excursionistas was found in Belgrano District, Buenos Aires on February 1, 1910. The name was changed to the current one – Club Atletico Excursionistas (CA Excursionistas) in 1920. The glory days of the club are deep in the past: 10 seasons in Primera Division from 1925 to 1934. It should be mentioned this is old amateur Primera of Argentina, recognized by FIFA. It was much bigger league than today’s Primera – 36 club participated in 1928 and 1930. Our heroes were not big success, usually finishing in the bottom half. Their best year was 1931, when they finished 5th in the 16 club league. But in 1931 18 clubs left Primera to organize their own professional league – Excursionistas finished high, but among the remaining smaller clubs. Until 1934 there were two concurrent leagues, the amateur still the legal one. Once the professionals became legal, they became the Primera Division and Excursionistas plummeted to their contemporary existence in the 4th Division (Primera C Metropolitana). In their entire history only one player of notice played for the club – Rene Houseman (in the Argentine squad for World Cup 1974 and World Cup 1978) – he made his name in Huracan, but ended his long career in Excursio.
Rene Houseman – Argentine champion with Huracan (this is a photo of those days), played 15 minutes as a substitute in the World final 1978, played for River Plate, Colo Colo (Chile), Amazulu (South Africa), and Independiente before joining Excursionistas in 1985.

In 2006 it was rumoured that Maradona was going to play for Excursionistas, but nothing happened.

The team in 2005

La Pampa – the Excursionistas stadium in Buenos Aires with 8000 capacity and hardly any grass.

Football in books can be enjoyable, but football in motion pictures is rare. Starngely, the exciting game never makes good film script. I have seen few films based on football and did not like any of them. Not memorable films and not up to my own taste. But here is an example: in 1981 Escape To Victory came out. A Second World War adventure film, more or less structured around a ‘life or death’ match between prisoners of war and Nazi military team.

Nazis and dog excluded, back row (left to right): Russell Osman (England), Paul Van Himst (Belgium), Mike Summerbee (England), Sylvester Stalone (Rocky/Rambo a goalkeeper?) John Wark (Scotland), Kazimierz Deyna (Poland), Soren Lindsted (Denmark)
Front row: Hallvar Thorsen (Denmark), Osvaldo Ardiles (Argentina), Michael Caine, Pele (Brazil), Bobby Moore (England), Co Prins (Holland).

What a selection? Well, except the goalie, but remember Brazil 1982? Holland 1974 and 1978? Even the great Ajax had no goalie to speak of. Now, the Nazis had no player of any standing and our boys won.
A moment of the match: POW Pele tricks a Nazi.

I always had the feeling Hollywood adapted a horrible actual event from the Eastern Front: there was a match in Kiev between Nazi team and Soviet POWs – the story says it was practically Dinamo Kiev, and is incorporated in the club history, but in the recent years the Dinamo version is refuted. But there was such a match. No black player and no Rambo, however.

Football and literature, football and movies, what about football and music? May be better not going there… Sure, Rod Stewart, Elton John, fans songs, ‘You’ll will never walk alone’ at the end of Pink Floyd 1971 record Meddle (incorporated in ‘Fearless’) . But…

Barcelona in the studio, recording ‘Azur y Grana’ (Blue and Red).
Back row, left to right: Juanito, Rexach, Torres, Rife, Marcial, De la Cruz
First row: Juan Carlos, Asensi, Sotil (Peru).
On the right Cruiff either getting ready to belt out a solo, or expelled for lack of singing form. Or lack of Spanish. The goalkeeper is absent.
If you never heard the profound song of the 1974 Spanish champions, you are lucky.

Fine arts didn’t shy away from football either. Here is a sample:

The painting by Bulgarian modernist Kiril Tzonev (1896-1961) is appropriately named ‘Boy Football Player’ and most likely was done in the 1930s. But similarly to the other arts, painting and sculpture did not produce major works. Football resists artistic representations. In my view, it is because the high drama of the real sport. No representation can make it livelier or more dramatic. No representation can substitute the real game – representation is always cheap substitute, pale and lifeless, predictable. Even the notorious lack of culture characterizing both players and fans is not important here: the sport itself prohibits artistic representation, because it is art itself, containing all artistic elements and tensions. Thus, football art comforts to realism – a statue of an old star adorns a stadium or two, preferably a faithful copy of the real person. Photography is favoured most: from collectors to club museums, it is the photos collected and displayed. Fine art is left for the official posters of big tournaments. Yes, Juan Miro made the official poster for World Cup finals 1982. I, however, prefer another one:

– the poster for the first World Cup in 1930, Uruguay. The art-deco design of Guillermo Laborde (1886-1940).
No real football fan can be fooled by some highfalutin ‘art’ – he knows art. He knows this:

toothless Joe Jordan, wearing the national jersey of Scotland. Yes, he was known as ‘Dracula’ in England and ‘The Shark’ in Italy because of absent teeth, but football was still ‘the poor man ballet’ in the 1970s.

May be a ballet of a special kind, considering football aesthetics. Later kits will be discussed in length, yet, a hint here: the colour brown. Can’t blame football people for lack of taste – the away kit of Coventry City from the second half of the 70s speaks loud and clear: .

Ian Wallace’s hair is a perfect match to the ill-famed ‘chocolate brown’, known as ‘excrement’ to Coventry’s fans in 1976. Voted the worst kit ever in England. However, no need fans to die of shame – they are not alone. Two other clubs proudly display brown – C. A. Platense from Argentina and Sanct Pauli from Germany. Brown is not their reserve kit either – brown and white are their original colours. Platense, a smaller club from Vicente Lopez, Greater Buenos Aires, nicknamed ‘Calamares’ (the Squids), founded in 1905, finally ascended to the First Division in 1976:
First row: Niro, Orlando, Pinasco, C. Gómez  y  Ulrich.
Standing: F. P . Rivero, Morelli, Peremateu, Belloni, Miguelucci, Gianetti.
This is the squad in 1977, when they finished 20th in the 23-club league, barely escaping relegation. The Squids managed to survive in the top league until 1999, achieving a cult status by their last minute escapes from relegation. Apart from that, the only interesting fact about them is one David Trezeguet, who played in brown jersey before moving to Monaco and fame.
FC Sankt Pauli is the second club of Hamburg, hailing from the notorious district of the same name. Similarly to Platenese, St. Pauli has cult status and oceanic nickname – ‘The Pirates’.

Similarly to Platense, they reached First Division for the first time in 1977. They did not last at top level. Actually, the Pirates are very unstable – moving up and down between first and third division, but more or less preferring the second Bundesliga. This is a club with a sense of humor – unlike everybody else, St. Pauli is not founded in 1910, but ‘non established since 1910’. And similarly again with Platense: the only known players gracing the brown jersey were the Czech national player Ivo Knoflicek and more recently the Croat Ivan Klasnic. Klasnic, like Trezeguet, became famous after moving away from brown jersey. Here are the brown Pirates in 1997-98, getting ready for some Second Division action:

First time in the Bundesliga, 1977:

Aufstiegs-Elf 1977 v.l.n.r.: Höfert, Rynio, Rosenfeld, Gerber, Mannebach, Frosch, Neumann, Tune-Hansen, Oswald, Ferrin, Demuth. Foto aus “Wunder gibt es immer wieder”, von René Martens
Perhaps one more club should be added to the brown cohorts: Dukla. Unlike Platense and St. Pauli, this is newer club associated with establishment. It was found in 1948 as a club of the Czechoslovakian army and thus representing the Communist Party in a way: it was to be the correct proletarian club, opposing the old ‚bourgeaosie’ clubs. In the familiar pattern of Communist East Europe, Dukla was a club from the capital, Prague, heavily promoted by having free hand in recruiting the best players from the country.

Naturally, it was successful club, winning 11 Czechoslovakian titles – the only brown club not struggling to avoid relegation. Dukla’s best years were the 1950s and 1960s. Unlike the rest of the ‚browns’ Dukla had many great players, including Josef Masopust, voted European Footballer of the Year in 1962.

The star in the famous brown and yellow jersey… but is it brown? Or is it Rouan red? Or terra cotta red? Whatever it was, it was changed by the middle of the 1970s – Dukla started playing in yellow (keeping the brown for away kit, however). The changed look in 1976-77:

Sitting, left to right: Netolicka, Stambachr, Samek, Vejvoda (coach), Brumovsky (assistant coach), Nehoda, Bilsky, Viktor.
Second row: Dr. Minarz (medic), Pelc, Fialka, Novak, Stastny, Tabor, Borovan (masseur).
Third row: Gajdusek, Mikus, Macela, Dvorak, Svehlik, Bendl, Rott, Vizek.
Good days… 11 national players from various years; 3 European champions from 1976 in the above foto. Good days ended after the fall of Communism. By 1993-94 Dukla had financial difficulties and was relegated directly to 3rd Division in part because of them. Having been ‚Communist club’ did not help either – there was no more enthusiasm for saving the club in post-Communist Czech Republic. Eventually, it was merged with another club under the name Marilla and moved to the small city of Pribram. Recently Dukla was revamped as indepependent club (the other club in Pribram existing separately), currently playing in the 2nd Division. The curse of the brown, I may think – no ‚brown’ club is successful in a long run. And, to end with similarities, like Platense and St. Pauli, the only famous donning brown jersey in the last 20 years – Pavel Nedved – achieved fame elsewhere. Tough legacy for Coventry fans… are they not in Second Division now? Whoever wears brown goes down.
Brown kits came late to me. When I lounched my collection club colours were big problem. I was ignorant of most clubs and my first fotos were black and white. Like this very rare now picture of:

Orlin (Pirdop) finished 9th in the Second Bulgarian Division in 1964-65. Standing from left to right: Gaydarsky, Spasov, Hristov, Mishev, Milenov, Georgiev, Serafimov.
First row: Kostov, Stoynov, Georgiev, Banov.
The club from the small city of Pirdop was founded in 1945. Since the name is personal male name, most likely the club was named after some unknown to me Communist ‘hero’, according to the custom of the time. Not the real name of the ‘hero’, mind, but his underground nickname. The name posed no problems in the long run and survived the fall of Communism – ‘Orlin’ is a name based on the Bulgarian word for eagle, and thus appropriate for club name (think predatory and glorious club). Seems alright without obsolete Commie mythology. The club was renamed once – in 1997 it became FC Pirdop, but in 2000 returned to the old name. Its last season was 2003-04, when it finished 10th in 13-club 4th Division Sofia Region tournament – one place above the new local rival Spartak 2001 (Pirdop). The club withdrew from participation before the beginning of next year season and this is the last known info about it. It may be reincarnated yet, who knows. Of course the club was modest one: largely dwelling in 3rd and 4th divisions. Its glory came in the 1960s: due to reorganization of Bulgarian football Second Division expanded in 1962 – 40 clubs were to participate, divided in two groups – Northern and Southern. Orlin, winning the Sofia Region championship, was included in the Southern group. It was not only the expansion, though: at that time Valko Chervenkov was still the leader of Bulgarian Communist Party , the most powerful man. He was born in Pirdop and in the custom of dictators showered his birthplace with gifts: brand new metallurgic plant was constructed, which immediately killed and poisoned its surroundings. The new industry benefited the football club – although not immediately attached to the plant, care was taken via hot Party lines: it was only proper a city of industrial glory to have corresponding glory in sports, and what better sport than football. Money went from plant to club; ‘amateur’ players received salaries as ‘industrial workers’ and Pirdop enjoyed Second Division football until 1970, when the club ended in the relegation zone and never came back. By that time Chervenkov was forgotten and the plant was no longer neither big news, nor profitable. (Only its poisonous fumes remained constant.) Orlin’s best season was 1966-67 – they finished 4th in the Southern Second Division and reached 1/16 finals in the national cup tournament. Apart from politics, rather typical story of small club from small town. And because of that, I have no way – so far – to establish neither team colours, nor club’s logo. Judging by team photo, white may be ruled out, but that is the end of guesswork.
Orlin (Pirdop) may not be big deal compared to other colour headackes. The first glance at Ajax (Amsterdam) puzzled me:

I was happy to take a look at the fresh winners of the Cup of European Champions, but which was Ajax and which – Panathinaikos? It looks like the ‘dark’ players scored here… which led me to think Ajax were the ‘dark’, since they won 2-0. The first colour pictures of both finalist reinforced my youthful mistake: my first Ajax (now lost, regretfully) was dressed in blue and white and my first Panathinaikos was in white jerseys. Not knowing yet that I got reserve kits of both clubs, it took some time until I corrected my ignorant mistake. By the way, the first time I saw Ajax, they played again in their reserve kit against Bulgarian champion CSCA (my Bulgarian archenemy, since I am Levsky fan). Actually both clubs played in reserve kits for their first kits were red and white. Captains looking for the ball – Johann Cruiff in blue and white and Dimitar Penev in white. CSCA eliminated Panathinaikos in the 1/16 finals after curious three games – thanks to Soviet referee mistake, the second match was annulled and replayed. Ajax eliminated CSCA in the 1/8 finals, winning both legs – 3-1 in Sofia and 3-0 in Amsterdam.
Blast the colours! The kid, beginning his collection, struggled to get pictures of teams dressed in football gear. The kid hated – and still hates – teams in civilian cloths. Photos like this were collected regretfully:

Dimitar Penev is invisible here, but he was a member of the Bulgarian national team climbing the stairs to Mexico bound airplane in the summer of 1970. Second from left is the coach ‘Dr.’ Stefan Bozhkov – one of the biggest Bulgarian stars in the 1950s and disastrous national coach in 1970. Bulgaria qualified for the World Cup finals and the good doctor (he had medical degree, although never practiced medicine – one reason for me to place his title in parenthesis) deigned that the best way to prepare the national team for the summer Mexican heath was to stage winter high-mountain training camp. Plowing in January snow was his view of acclimatization. Penev later ‘coached’ Bulgaria to 4th place in World Cup 1994. Wisely, he tackled USA summer heath by not staging any training camps and not coaching at all. For this he was voted Bulgarian coach of the 20th century and was nicknamed ‘The Strategist’. Without irony! (Which is the biggest irony.) However, here is the opportunity to move away from team colours and return to football issues. Back to 1970 and forget about suits.

The 1960s – The Negative Side

Bright decade for football. Bright? Let’s see the other side. Criticism was mounting and everything optimistic was also highly negative. Point by point in reverse, then.
This collage of Gerd Muller tells one thing: players think only of money and don’t care about the sport. Football is the last thing in their minds.

Becoming blown-up public face, the football player is more and more preoccupied with business activities having nothing to do with his profession. Advertisement contracts go well beyond the acceptable. Players are ready to do everything for money.
The acceptable advertising – sports products, clothing, shaving cream…
Gerd Muller posing with naked model. This photo brought heavy criticism from every possible quarter, including Bayern Munich. This was not acceptable. Ironically, Muller was not a playboy, but his image confronted the ‘values of the game’. Players had to be humble… yet, flashy.
Beppe Savoldi ‘bought’ Naples – his transfer from Bologna to Napoli in 1975 was considered almost insanely inflated. Players were becoming unreasonably rich.
Beckham’s Palace… unlike Savoldi’s, this one is real. The transformation started in the 1970s – from models of castles to real ones, so to speak. There is no football ground in Savoldi’s model and no football ground on Beckham’s property – critics were perhaps right? The new player cares for everything else, but football.

An interesting one of Cruiff, dressed hippie-style, the ball, and the vault. Players were seen pretty much like Led Zeppelin, the rock phenomena of the same decade – fun, outrages, badly behaved, but fantastic performers. The fans loved them; the critics hated them. Yet, when the smoke cleared, Led Zeppelin were shrewd businessmen and bank vaults were constantly on their minds. They never said so, though… Cruiff did not either. He looked like a mellow hippie, happy to be on the pitch and play his fantastic football. Behind the façade – and even his chain smoking was part of the good myth: so many cigarettes and still running like a horse, a liberating image, contrasting to the ascetic idea of a footballer created in the 1960s – was the tough businessman.
Do you imagine payment for a goal scored in one’s own net? You should… World Cup 1974: Holland demolished Bulgaria 4-1, but Krol scored in the Holland’s net. Match over, Cruiff demanded payment for Krol’s goal. The team had a contract with a sponsor, who was to pay a bonus for every goal they scored. The contract did not say in which net, though, and Cruiff, the primary negotiator for the Dutch players went for the letter of the contract. The bonus was paid. Perhaps Holland should had scored another two goals in their own net…
But it was not only that: Cruiff played with different kit than the rest of Holland. He had personal contract with another firm.

World Cup 1974: The captains of Holland, Johan Cruiff, and Argentina, Roberto Perfumo, shaking hands before the start of the match. Note Cruiff’s kit.

Pleasant exchange of opinions between Neeskens and Maier at the World Cup 1974 final. Neeskens fitted with Adidas kit, as every other Dutch player, except their captain.

The transfer from Ajax to Barcelona in 1973. It was rumored for months, but both Cruiff and Ajax were evasive. It did not look sure thing, if one listened to the player – Cruiff hinted he was not moving. It must have been tough bargaining, because Barcelona bought another foreign player – the Peruvian star Hugo Sotil – before Cruiff. Spain lifted the old ban on foreign players that year, but only one foreigner was allowed to play. Buying Sotil did not make much sense, unless Cruiff’’s transfer was so tough to be actually uncertain possibility.
World Cup 1978. Cruiff refused to play for Holland. He was not alone – many players did not want to play in protest of the brutality in Argentina, ruled by military hunta. Cruiff’s refusal went along at the time and only later the real reasons were unearthed: Cruiff wanted Holland to wear kits either made by Cruiff’s firm, or a firm Cruiff had personal contract with. Cruiff retaliated by refusing to play for national team.

He was hardly the only one. Most stars of the great Ajax have very few appearances for the national team. Much too often they refused to play for Holland. Breitner and Netzer quitted the West German national team in 1975 – they were outraged, because their girlfriends were not invited to official dinner given by the German Federation. From behind the Iron Curtain, those refusals were seen as expressions of freedom, but in the West such attitudes were severely criticized – rich and spoiled stars frivolously ignoring their duties. Some refusals seemed very whimsical indeed.
Colin Todt (Derby County) and Alan Hudson (Chelsea) simply did not show up for the English Under-23 national team match. They did not feel the match was important and did not see reason to join the team, preferring to do something else with their time – the explanation was along those lines. Apparently, the players no longer cared much for their country and their football.
The players were spoiled brats.

Colin Todt (Derby County) in more serious days – player of the year and eventually national player.

Alan Hudson (Chelsea) against Bobby Charlton (Manchester United). Responsibility vs frivolity. Considered one of the brightest hopes of British football in the early 1970s, Hudson quickly sunk into obscurity.

The clubs were no better – they thought only money too. By the end of the 1960s the idea of international league came about. The culprits? The same clubs, which now are called G-14 and want the same: a big league of big clubs. It looked a bit more exciting years ago – the domestic championships were not yet deflated and with still scarce television coverage, one more tournament was not so bad. But it was – the idea was opposed, because it was going to affect immediately both domestic and international tournaments: the same fear as today. Television was not seen as a blessing even then: even big clubs opposed television coverage, because they still depended largely on ticket sales. Smaller championships felt particularly threatened – live coverage of the English championship took away from stadiums many fans in Holland. It was felt that big clubs were getting richer at the expense of smaller ones and the game in general – they started buying players for larger and larger sums, thus forcing smaller clubs to spend more, if wanting to compete, spending went out of control as a result and bankruptcy was coming. Almost every club was running big deficits. The situation was particularly bad in South America, where financial troubles were common feature already in the 1960s – most clubs had to sell and sell player after player in the hope just to exist. Good players were concentrating in the big clubs, which decreased competitiveness. In a increasing downfall, the small clubs were losing supporters, therefore, money, and had no hopes. The big clubs increasingly did not see any reason to play against small clubs, because such matches were sinking funds instead of increasing revenue. Players were more and more expensive in the same time – if Bosman Rule was not a good news, it was only a replay of the late 1960s. Jimmy Hill was the Chairman of the Professional Footballers Association since 1957 and in 1961 he successfully campaigned to have the Football League scrap the 20-pounds maximum wage. After that wages steadily increased and affected transfer fees as well. After 1970 transfer fees became ‘insane’ and raising. The scrap of the cap of wages was blamed for that and many clubs cried murder – transfers were leading clubs into bankruptcy. It was one thing to buy and sell stars, but quite another to pay 6-numbers fees for ordinary players. But who was to say what is a ‘real price tag’?
Jimmy Hill – he played for Brentford, Fulham, and Doncaster Rovers. Not much of a footballer, but he was influential and strong chairman of PFA and later – a legendary TV commentator. Like Bosman, he was blamed for opening the floodgates of commercial insanity, killing football. Wages soared and transfer fees soared, and clubs went bankrupt.
Jean-Marc Bosman – the virtually unknown Belgian football player, who changed the transfer system. A saint or a devil?

Who was playing, mockingly asked many a critic, pointing at the adds on team’s jerseys.
Second row,left to right: Tresor, Franceschetti, V Zwunka, Carnus, Lopez JP, Bosquier
First row: Magnusson, Buigues, Skoblar, Keruzore, Kuszowski
Olympique Marseille or Michel Axel?
Advertising was nothing new to football, but so far had been reserved for billboards – permanent or temporary – on the stadiums. Adds on jerseys was felt to be too much, too commercial. It was weaker championships at first, so there was some justification for them – what else to do clubs not exactly getting big gates in France, Austria, Belgium? Only the pragmatic Germans introduced shirt adds from the big football countries at first, but by the end of the 1970s everybody was doing it and grumble increased. It was felt football clubs were becoming secondary appendages to commercial giants. Not football, but increasing sales of products was the priority.
At the end, an absurd conclusion was synthesized: Commercialization was killing football, but in order to survive, football needed commercialization.

At the beginning of the 1970s, the mood was optimistic: new money and opportunities combined with total football were looking great. Yet, very soon an evidence of crisis was equally present – domestic championships suffered. Some countries reorganized their leagues – no matter what was said, it was depressing reduction of formats and clubs started to disappear. Austria ended 1973-74 season with the traditional format of 16 clubs league. Next season the league was ‘reformed’ and reduced to 10 clubs. Fiscal stability was required on one hand (and Austrians are strict about that to this very day). The other reason was the quality of football: it was clear that there were not enough good players for 16-team format. Financial stability with better competitiveness was believed to increase the quality of Austrian football. Well, the reform did not help – a string of mergers, name changes, and bankruptcies characterize Austrian domestic football ever since. Sponsor’s names were incorporated often into club names, to confuse the situation further. An example: the Innsbruck club, one of the most successful Austrian clubs, ended 1970-71 still FC Wacker. In the summer it merged with WSG Swarovski (Wattens) under the name FC Tirol. Other Tyrolean clubs protested and the federation ordered the new club to change the name – now it was SG Swarovski-Wattens-Wacker (Innsbruck), abbreviated to SSW Wacker. Under this name the club was champion next season. Since the world famous firm Swarovski was part of the venture, the future was to be… bright? In 1975-76 the name was changed to Swarovski-Schwarz-Weiss Tirol (Innsbruck) or SSW Tirol. Under this name the club finished last in 1978-79 and was relegated. The name changed to WSG Swarovski Wacker. In 1980-81, still in the second league, the club split to WSG Swarovski (Wattens) and SG Sparkasse Wacker (Innsbruck) (Sparkasse is a bank). Next year the Innsbruck club was renamed again to FC Wacker. In 1985-86 it was FC Swarovski-Tirol. In 1991-92 – FC Wacker again. Next season: FC Capillaris Tirol. In 1994-95 – FC Tirol. In 1997-98: FC Tirol-Milch. Today it is Wacker again, freshly renamed from Wacker Tirol on July 1,2007. At least the club stays in one city.
But here is the final Austrian table for 1973-74:
Austria 1973/74

1.VÖEST Linz 32 18 11 3 51-28 47
2.Wacker Innsbruck 32 19 8 5 57-21 46
3.SK Rapid 32 18 9 5 74-33 45
4.FK Austria/WAC 32 16 7 9 59-37 39
5.SK Sturm Graz 32 14 6 12 28-35 34
6.Donawitzer SV Alpine 32 13 7 12 51-48 33
7.FC Admira/Wacker 32 11 9 12 50-48 31
8.SV Austria Salzburg 32 10 11 11 35-35 31
9.Linzer ASK 32 11 8 13 38-48 30
10.Wiener Sport-Club 32 10 9 13 43-60 29
11.1. Simmeringer SC 32 10 8 14 49-47 28
12.Grazer AK 32 9 10 13 31-41 28
13.SC Eisenstadt 32 11 6 15 36-52 28
14.Austria Klagenfurt 32 8 11 13 33-44 27
15.Radenthein/Villacher SV 32 6 14 12 33-40 26
16.First Vienna FC 32 8 8 16 38-54 24
17.FC Vorarlberg 32 5 8 19 31-66 18

Compare to the current league:
Austria 2007/08
First Level (Bundesliga)


1.SK Rapid Wien 31 16 6 9 57-33 54
2.RB Salzburg 31 15 8 8 53-37 53
3.LASK Linz 31 14 10 7 50-39 52
4.FK Austria Wien 31 12 12 7 38-29 48
5.SK Sturm Graz 31 12 11 8 52-34 47
6.SV Mattersburg 31 10 13 8 46-39 43
7.SV Ried 31 10 6 15 36-48 36
8.SC Rheindorf Altach 31 7 10 14 33-55 31
9.SK Austria Kärnten 31 7 7 17 21-51 28 [*2]
10.FC Wacker Innsbruck 31 5 11 15 29-50 26 [*1]

[*1] Wacker Tirol changed name to Wacker Innsbruck on July 1, 2007
[*2] Pasching moved to Klagenfurt and changed name to Austria Kärnten

Financial stability somehow never came even for the big clubs. It is hard to support a club changing names almost every year. Gates are low, in part because of that. Old clubs sunk or disappeared altogether – Grazer AK, Wiener Sport-club, First Vienna FC and others.
It was not only Austria – Belgium and Scotland were early victims of the 1970s too. 1974-75 was the last traditional 1st division of 18 clubs. Low attendance, low game quality, bad stadiums, and financial difficulties urged the Scottish Federation to introduce reforms – instead of 1st Division, a new Scottish Premier Division was unveiled. 10 clubs. Today it is increased to 12, but did it solve any problems? Yes, the new name sounds grand…
Belgium, in contrast, did not reduce the league size – actually, the league was enlarged from 16 clubs in 1973-74 to 20 in 1974-75. Today – 18, the number established in 1976-77. But the clubs?
The final table of the last ‘small season’
Season 1973-1974

First Division
1 RSC Anderlechtois 30 17 6 7 72 38 41
2 R. Antwerp FC 30 15 6 9 48 33 39
3 RWD Molenbeek 30 13 4 13 50 25 39
4 R. Standard de Liège 30 12 8 10 43 30 34
5 Club Brugge KV 30 13 11 6 61 43 32
6 RFC Liégeois 30 11 10 9 42 42 31
7 KV Mechelen 30 10 9 11 34 35 31
8 KSV Cercle Brugge 30 8 11 11 46 48 27
9 KSV Waregem 30 8 11 11 38 49 27
10 SK Beveren 30 7 10 13 24 30 27
11 R. Beringen FC 30 9 13 8 29 48 26
12 FC Diest 30 8 12 10 44 51 26
13 Beerschot VAV 30 8 12 10 36 47 26
14 Berchem Sport 30 7 11 12 33 45 26
15 K.Lierse SK 30 6 11 13 35 51 25
16 R. St.-Truidense VV 30 6 13 11 30 50 23

and the current season:
Belgium 2007/08

1.R. Standard de Liège 27 17 10 0 51-17 61
2.Club Brugge KV 27 16 6 5 34-20 54
3.Cercle Brugge KSV 27 15 7 5 55-25 52
4.RSC Anderlecht 27 15 7 5 44-26 52
5.KFC Germinal Beerschot 27 14 6 7 40-24 48
6.KAA Gent 27 12 8 7 49-36 44
7.SV Zulte-Waregem 27 11 5 11 36-44 38
8.KVC Westerlo 27 10 8 9 38-28 38
9.KRC Genk 27 9 8 10 39-42 35
10.R. Charleroi SC 27 9 6 12 27-34 33
11.KV Mechelen 27 8 8 11 34-40 32
12.R. Excelsior Mouscron 27 8 6 13 31-37 30
13.KSC Lokeren OV 27 6 12 9 21-26 30
14.FC Verbroedering Dender EH 27 8 5 14 27-43 29
15.KSV Roeselare 27 6 9 12 29-47 27
16.RAEC Mons 27 6 7 14 30-41 25
17.K. Sint-Truiden VV 27 4 8 15 23-44 20
18.FC Brussels 27 4 4 19 22-56 16

After mergers, bankruptcies, movements, splits, and new amalgamations, one has to go to club histories and careful encrypting of the abbreviations to uncover what happened. Here the mergers were not only between clubs of one city – more often clubs of different cities merged. And later dissolved. And merged again. Take Racing White (Brussels), the Belgian champions for 1974-75. The details are too many to be traced here, but it was a club of previous mergers – Racing and White Star Club (the oldest of all incorporated). Before the start of their glorious season, they merged with Daring Club (Brussels), technically more famous club than Racing White. Main reason was low attendance. Legal reasons – rules of registration – forbid the new club to use the old record of Daring Club. And probably to preserve some coherence, in Europe the club was better known as Racing Club, but in Belgium it was R.W.D. Molenbeek (Brussels). Until 2002, when the club went bankrupt. Did it disappear? Not at all – it merged with K.F.C. Strombeek, located near Brussels, and became F.C. Molenbeek Brussels Strombeek, playing at the stadium of Molenbeek, in Brussels, but registered in Strombeek. Please, do not despair! FC Brussels is this club today – promoted to the First Division in 2004, and adopting the current name. Dead last too, as you can see above. End of story? Not at all. Group of fans formed and registered new club in 2003 – it is called… R.W.D. Molenbeek. It started in the 4th Brabant Provincial Division, the very bottom of Belgian football (Level 8). And keeping with ‘tradition’, the club absorbed another one in 2006, taking its place in Brabant 1st Division (Level 5). So… who won the Belgian championship in 1974-75? Where exactly those clubs play? To which city they belong?

Small leagues – big deal, who cares. Right? Big boys matter and they were alright, right? Wrong. Domestic football in Argentina and Uruguay was financial disaster since the 1960s. Corruption was well known feature of Italian football also from the 1960s. The Brazilian championship was plagued with corruption, back room deals, and instability from day one. The league was enlarged to accommodate big clubs finishing at the bottom and due to relegation. At one point the league had more than 40 clubs participating in cryptic championship. Big clubs forming concurrent championship, yet, somewhat incorporated in the national scheme, so it was hardly clear who was the ruling body and what constituted legal championship – at the end, every championship is legal in Brazil. The mighty British clubs were increasing debts and heading toward bankruptcy. The enormously rich Chelsea? A disaster in the 1970s, finally sold for 1 pound in the early 1980s. The ascent of Greek football, started in the 1970s, went hand in hand with heavy corruption, reaching to the top of the political system and government. Ah, Southern temperaments and British stubbornness to preserve traditional ways instead of adapting to the new realities… At least, everything was sound in the cooler climates north of France. And under the hawkish gaze of Communists behind the Iron Curtain. Hm… who should be first? The Soviets or the Germans? Soviets win after a flip of coin.
Zarya from Voroshilovgrad (today – Lugansk in Ukraine) won the Soviet title. It was somewhat pleasant surprise. One has to remember that until 1960 no club outside Moscow ever won a title. The exception was 1944, if we count that: because the Second World War was still strong, there was no championship in USSR, but a cup tournament was organized in 1944. Mostly to boost moral. And for the same reason the winner was Zenit (Leningrad – now St. Peterburg)- the heroic Leningrad, a symbol of fighting spirit and resistance, appropriately won against the army club CDKA. Even the result is suspicious – 2-1, with 2 goals scored in the 35th minute (Chuchelov for Zenit; Grinin for CDKA). And again, in the name of moral and propaganda, the cup final is included in the list of Soviet championships. After that everything was back to normal – it was understood that only Moscow clubs should be champions (propaganda and ideology ruled). Dinamo (Kiev) was the first champion outside Moscow – in 1961. During the 1960s the situation shifted – instead of internal Moscow rivalries, the battle for the title became Moscow-Kiev, with Kiev taking the upper hand and occasional challenge from Dynamo (Tbilisi, Goergia). Zarya (Lugansk) was promoted to the 1st Division after winning the 2nd Division in 1966. Their most memorable moment until 1972 was in 1970, when the city apparently got new name – Voroshilovgrad. It was nice to see nobodies becoming champions in 1972, 5 points ahead (still the old system – 2 points for a win, 1 for a tie) of Dinamo (Kiev). There were no famous players in the squad, with the exception of Vladimir Onishtchenko, who got his first national team caps then, but he did not last in the club: originally a Dinamo (Kiev) player, he moved to Zarya in 1972 and was back in Dinamo by 1974.

Zarya or Zorya (the current spelling is in Ukrainian) 1972.
Vladimir Onishtchenko scoring for the national team (against France). The only player of notice from the champion squad.

After 1972 Zarya immediately went back to obscurity, finishing last in 1976 spring championship, but it was a year of yet another ill-fated reform of Soviet football, so there were no relegations in the spring, but only after the separate fall championship of the same year. Zarya was finally relegated in 1979, end of story. Only years later the truth was spelled out – Zarya became champion after bribing left and right. It was rumored at the time, but the officials were not only silent – Zarya players were numerous in the Soviet Olympic team in 1972:

The Soviet Olympic Team 1972. Zarya players with capitals.
First row, left to right: A. Andriasyan, I. Sabo, YU. ELISEEV, V. KUKSOV, Yu. Istomin, V. ONISHTCHENKO, V. Kolotov, G. Evryuzhikhin.
Second row: A. Ponomaryov – head coach, V. Pilguy, V. Kaplichny, O. Zanazanyan, O. Blokhin, A. Yakubik, E. Lovchev, E. Rudakov, S. Olshansky, R. Dzodzuashvili, G. ZONIN – assistant coach, V. SEMENOV, M. Hurtzilava.
Since USSR run spring-fall championship, the Olympics came in the middle of the championship in progress. That may have been the reason for inclusion of the coach and the players from Zarya at the time: Soviets greatly preferred to select national players from the current leading clubs. Although the Olympic team finished 4th and was heavily criticized for the failure, a corruption scandal was highly undesirable for possible political implications. In any case, a scandal would have been internationally humiliating: the Soviets preferred to pretend normality.

A moment of Zarya – SCA (Rostov). V. Semenov in attack. A lot about the briberies is still unknown, but it is believed that Zarya bought the games with smaller clubs like SCA, the bulk of the Soviet league.
So the title stays in records and the club history. Nothing happened, nobody was punished. It is curious, though – the Soviets tolerated high level corruption, but were punishing severely low level corruption. Zarya was small club, from unimportant city without high-placed influence and back up – ripe for ‘cleansing’ and ‘fight against unsocialist behaviour’.

In sharp contrast to the Soviet case, the West German bribery scandal in 1971 was heavily investigated and publicized. It was a heavy blow: the Bundesliga was only 7 years old and already corrupt, and on top of it – it was German corruption, something ‘unthinkable’. By today’s ‘standards of corruption’, the affair is almost laughable – it started with the effort of the president of lowly club to avoid relegation. But it ended with interesting results: 9 out of 18 Bundesliga clubs were involved; two clubs were expelled; one was ruined; 53 players were suspended and fined, some among them national players; few functionaries were banished from football. Well, at least the punishment was in line with German strictness… Not quite.
The President of Kickers (Offenbach) – Horst Gregorio Canellas – decided to save the club from relegation and organized intricate system of bribing players and fixing results, which gradually involved other clubs as well.
Horst Gregorio Canellas

It was not simply the usual mania of an organizer to keep his pet at the top no matter what: West Germany did not have second division yet and relegation meant going to regional leagues, where semi-professional and amateur clubs kicked the ball around in front of few bored geezers. Going down spelled bankruptcy for a professional club: high payroll and small gates were the deadly mix. More or less, Canellas was driven by fear – he wanted to save the club from financial disaster. Soon Arminia (Bielefeld) discovered something fishy – they were also candidates for relegation, and Kickers was aiming largely to stay in Bundesliga at Arminia’s expense. At the end – funnily enough – Arminia ended at the safe 14th place and Kickers – next to last, 17th in the final table. So Arminia bribed and fixed better. Hertha (West Berlin), Eintracht (Braunschweig), Schalke 04(Gelzenkirchen), MSV Duisburg, FC Koln, VfB Stuttgart, and Rot Weiss (Oberhausen) gradually got involved in the scheme. Some were involved on high level, but others were not – only players were bribed from outside.
During the investigation, strange things were uncovered: for instance, Hertha was heavily in debt and near bankruptcy. The club welcomed bribes in hope, or at least the players did. On the other hand, many players were incomprehensibly greedy, since they played for strong clubs. It was also a very mixed bunch: from stars to lowly nobodies, but almost entirely Germans. Only two Hungarian refugees were foreign culprits.
More or less, the as most evidence were considered the actions of two players: the goal Bernd Patzke (Hertha) scored in his own net, thus fixing the result in favour of Armininia againt Hertha.

Patzke scores in his own net, looking innocent. Suspension? What suspension? South Africa is just a plain ticket away.

The other was the goalkeeper Manfred Manglitz (FC Koln), who received money for allowing goals against Rot Weiss (Essen) and Kickers (Offenbach).

Manglitz can’t stop the ball… kind of. His career ended here.

So penalties followed: Arminia and Kickers were expelled from the Bundesliga. It hardly mattered to Kickers, relegated anyway. Hardly any grief, though: these two clubs never made any strong contribution to the league.
Six functionaries were suspended and fined – from those Canellas was the only one more or less banished from football.
The rest of the punishment went to various players.

Given the severity of illegal activities, one expected corresponding punishments. Reality was suspiciously different: the media attention focused on Manfred Manglitz, Bernd Patzke, and Tasso Wild (Hertha).

Left to right: Wild, Patzke, and Manglitz, going to the hearing. The media focused on them.

But one of the most involved was Jurgen Neumann (Arminia) – he was rarely mentioned by the media. These four players received the harshest suspensions: Manglitz for life, the other three – for 5 years. Only two of them served their punishment in full – Manglitz and Neumann. The other 49 players received decreasing terms of suspensions and fines, or only fines. Almost all initial suspensions were reduced. The penalties were strangely small, given the involvement: 16 players from Eintracht (Braunschwieg), 15 from Hertha (West Berlin), 13 from Schalke 04 (Gelzenkirchen), 3 from VfB Stuttgart, 2 from MSV Duisburg, 2 from Arminia, and 1 from FC Koln. Practically only the shortest suspensions were served – some of the culprits did not miss even a month of playing. The German Federation may have been naïve, expecting players to honour the penalties, which were valid only in West Germany. Well, they did not – Patzke moved to Durban City (South Africa), where he finished his career. Zoltan Varga (Hertha) went to Aberdeen (Scotland) until his suspension ended, and returned to Hertha a year later. Reinhard Libuda (Schalke 04) went to play for Strasbourg (France).
But who was involved? Well, a very mixed bag. If Neumann was little known player, others were high profile players – Manglitz participated in the World Cup Finals 1970. Patzke was part of two World Cups – 1966 and 1970. Zoltan Varga was Olympic champion in 1964 with Hungary, and won the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup (which became the UEFA Cup) in 1965 with Ferencvaros (Budapest). Reinhard ‘Stan’ Libuda was a star of the West German team at the World Cup 1970. His teammate in Schalke 04 Klaus Fichtel was considered the rival of none other than Franz Beckenbauer. The goalkeeper of Eintracht (Braunschweig) Horst Wolter was also occasionally selected in the national team. These were established stars. Others were solid professionals or young players which became famous in later years: Volker Danner (MSV Duisburg), Wolfgang Gayer (Hertha), Dieter Burdenski (Schalke 04) became national players. Rolf Russmann (Schalke 04) was part of the World Cup winning team in 1974 and played in the World Cup 1978. His teammate Klaus Fischer also played in the World Cup 1978, and if his career did not coincide in time with the great Gerd Muller, Fischer would have played much more for West Germany. Klaus Fichtel, also a Schalke 04 player, was a World Champion in 1974 too.
The two foreigners had different fate: Varga (who is interesting in two other subjects – foreign players in Great Britain and East Europeans playing in the West) played not only for Hertha and Aberdeen, but eventually moved to Borussia (Dortmund) and Ajax (Amsterdam), where he ended his career. The other Hungarian, Laszlo Gergeli (Hertha), was a nobody and his suspension for one year effectively finished his career.
Lazslo Gergeli still a Hertha player. Game over for him, though.
Zoltan Varga will be Hertha player again. Suspended in West Germany, he left long lasting fond memories in the hearts of Aberdeen fans.
Who really suffered then? The penalties looked like a joke, or affected insignificant clubs and players. Those who disappeared from the football scene – Manglitz, Neumann, Gergeli – were old and near their careers anyway. Well, there were sufferers – although, unexpected ones.
Schalke 04 was practically destroyed. In the beginning of the 1970s the club was quickly becoming potential rival of Bayern and Borussia (Moenchengladbach). It was exciting team and bright future was forecasted. The scandal and the suspensions of 13 players was practically the end: the club quickly sunk and eventually was relegated. Financial troubles rocked it too. Yet, Schalke 04 was rather minor participant in the result fixing scandal. From the players, Schalke 04 and West German star Stan Libuda probably suffered most – nobody forgave him and his reputation was ruined. His profile was the highest among all involved; he was much loved footballer… involvement in the scandal and defiance of the imposed penalty destroyed him: he never played again in West Germany, and after one year in France he had to quit football. In a sharp contrast, Hertha (West Berlin) seemingly prospered from the scandal – they avoided bankruptcy by selling their stadium ‘Plumpe’, remained in the Bundesliga and played their best football in the years immediately following 1971. The bribing scandal ended suspiciously – with more then a hint of glossing over and cover up.

Libuda in happier days: outsmarting the Bulgarian defender Milko Gaidarski at the World Cup 1970. West Germany won 5-2.

Schalke 04: the team of big promise in 1971 never recovered from the scandal.
Standing, left to right: Becker, Fichtel, Pohlschmidt, van Haaren, Russmann, Scheer, Galbierz, Wittkamp, Cendic (assistant coach)
Middle: Rausch, Sobieray, Gutendorf (coach), Vanderberg, Senger, Pirkner, Libuda, Lichtenfeld (trainer)
Sitting: Fischer, Kuzmirz, Beverungen, Burdenski, Nigbur, Pfeiffer, Hausmann, Lutkebohmert, Wust

International club tournaments were also under heavy criticism. The ugly inheritance from the 1960s reached new level at the Intercontinental Cup – Ajax Amsterdam refused to play and the European Champions Cup runners-up Panathinaikos replaced them in 1971. Next year Ajax played, but Cruiff received death threats in Argentina and had to be heavily guarded. In 1973 Ajax refused again and Bayern also refused in 1974. Liverpool refused in 1977. In 1978 the Intercontinental Cup was not contested at all, and in 1979 Nottingham Forest refused to play.
In Europe the Cup Winners Cup was visibly in decline – what was meant to be the second important European club tournament failed to live up to expectations – the once upon a time shaky Inter-cities Fairs Cup was not only stabilized after renamed into UEFA Cup, but became much more attractive tournament for the fans. The reason was quite obvious: in domestic cup tournaments often little clubs won, thus reducing the quality of the international tournament and along with that – the sponsorship revenue. At the same time strong rivals of national champions were playing in the UEFA Cup.
But the most acute problem emerged in 1974. The final of the Champions Cup between Atletico (Madrid) and Bayern ended in a draw after 120 minutes (regular time ended 0-0, and both teams scored a goal in the 30 minutes extra time). Under the rules, the match had to be replayed. It was the first time the final ended undecided, and the occasion revealed a complex problem. One side was commercial – what happens now? Were television stations to pay for broadcasting the replay or not? Advertisement and sponsorship? The fans? The final was scheduled for May 15 at the ill-fated (in the 1980s) Heysel Stadium, Brussels. The replay – on May 17. The attendance for the second game dropped alarmingly: from 65 000 at the first match to 23 000 at the second. Hardly a surprise – since finals were and are staged in the middle of the week, people simply could not afford to be absent from work another two days. The crowd at the replay was only 1/3 of the original attendance, leaving the feeling that replay was not generating public interest at all. Quite right, too – after spending their emotions during the first game, people could not bring themselves to the same level of enthusiasm. I remember my own reaction: so excited at the first game, I was hardly interested in watching the second. I was cold and indifferent. Yet, the replay, and not the first match was to decide the Cup winner.
The game itself was hardly a contest – Bayern won 4-0. The two games were dramatically different: the tough Spaniards of the first game did not exist in the second. The Germans, with their supreme physical condition, were fresh in the second match, as if they did not play 120 minutes of physical football less than 48 hours ago. Atletico was entirely exhausted, not even a shadow of the team, which almost won on May 15. It was obvious from the first minute that the replay was unnecessary formality. What the replay revealed in sporting terms was terrible: different training attitudes were to be decisive – for a physically fit and tactically disciplined team it was enough to outrun the opposition, not to outplay it. Dragging the match into extra time or replay, guaranteed victory – a victory achieved by exhausting the opposition, not playing better. After all, Bayern equalized the result in the first match by sheer will – the stopper Schwarzenbeck scored in the 120th minute, the last one!
As for Atletico… the truth was, they were not the better team in the first game. They played ugly and calculated football. It will be enough to cite the Celtic fans opinion from the semi-finale opposing Atletico and Celtic (Glasgow): ATLETICO MADRID line-up according to Celtic’s fans: Thug; Psycho, Punch; Spit, Hatchet, Bludgeon; Hammer, Thump, Wallop, Gouge, Axe-Murderer.
It was the first and last replay – after that year ties were broken by penalty shoot-outs. The commercial requirements were part of the reason for the change of rules, but not the only reasons. For years it had toyed with ideas for breaking ties in international tournaments. None was satisfactory. At first it was a drop of coin – now, imagine how plausible would be to decide the World Champion by a game of chance. This rule was replaced by the replay – not really a solution and even more troublesome, for now commercial factors were involved. So, the shoot-out… and who likes that? Nobody.
Tactical minded football leaves little chances the game to end with a winner – hence, finals are decided by chance… The logical question would be why playing at all.

Miguel Reina, Atletico and former Spanish national goalkeeper, desperately tries to clear the ball from Bayern’s midfielder Franz Roth. Never a national player, Roth will be instrumental in two more Bavarian wins of European Champions Cup, scoring important goals in 1975 and 1976. As for Reina, his name isn’t forgotten yet – but I am speaking of his son. Liverpool anyone?
Ramon ‘Cacho’ Heredia, the Argentinian central-defenseman of Atletico, was a key player in the first final match.
Heredia’s face says it all… the replay spelled doom for Atletico Madrid.
Ruben ‘Raton’ (the Mouse) Ayala and Ramon ‘Cacho’ Heredia moved from San Lorenzo (Buenos Aires) to Atletico (Madrid) in 1973. Only one foreigner was allowed to play by Spanish rules then. Why Atletico did not play Ayala in the final against Bayern, where Spanish rules did not apply, is a mystery. Both played for Argentina in the World Cup 1974. It was a disastrous performance by the Argentines and perhaps the only memorable impression came from Ayala – he was the player with the longest hair among the finalists: 45 centimeters long.

If everything was bad in club football, at least the World Cup was great. Was it? Critics were quick to point out scandals. World Cup 1970 was tarnished by ‘the Soccer War’ between Honduras and El Salvador. True, the conflict was not exactly because of football, but the war started with the qualification match between the two countries. The actual war lasted 4 days, but it had heavy consequenses for both countries. In football terms, it is somewhat even more wicked: El Salvador was advancing military and only international diplomatic intervention led to withdrawal. Correspondingly, El Salvador went to the World Cup finals… ‘the strongest always win’? Looks like it…
El Salvador reached for the first time World Cup final stage in 1970. Hardly the ‘Soccer War’ placed them at the finals – because Mexico was host and automatically qualified, the lowly CONCACAF had an open spot.

The other scandal in 1970 was the arrest of Bobby Moore in Colombia – he was accused of stealing, unbelievable story, but it was tense at the time. England went to Colombia as part of their preparation for the World Cup in Mexico. The arrest of Moore was and is regarded as deliberate provocation, aiming at weakening Team England, still the World Cup holders.

Bobby Moore and England against Czechoslovakia in World Cup 1970. England won 1-0, but Moore was not at his usual top form. His shaky performance was attributed to spending 4 days in Colombian jail for allegedly stealing a jeweled bracelet. He was proved innocent, but it is still believed that the Colombian trouble spoiled his form. Speaking of ‘alleged’…
Right of him is Czechoslovakian player, examplefying the wrongness of ‘old football’ – it will be awkward in English, but the Bulgarian saying was ‘he plays the letter Ф’ (F), that is, walking hands on hips around, and participating rarely in the game.

USSR refused to play the second leg of the qualification deciding the last spot at 1974 finals against Chile. The first match, in Moscow, finished 0-0. Before the second, General Pinochet led the coup d’etate against the Socialist government of Salvador Allende. The Soviets refused to play for political reasons and Chile went to the finals by default, yet, was it only politics? May be it was – imagine the Soviets losing the qualification from a country with fresh right-wing regime. General Pinochet should go into football history with one fantastic sentence – well, at least it sound fantastic in English. He said to the team’s star – Carlos Caszely – ‘I know you are left-wing, but you are right-wing.’ The unintentional pun, so awkward in English, is the referral to the political views of the player and his post on the football field – the politically involved Caszely was Leftist, but his position on the football pitch was right-wing. What Pinochet really meant was more prosaic and may be more sinister – Caszely was not to be arrested for patriotic reasons. And it was not only Chile – Zaire and Haiti played at the World Cup 1974. What fun were the ambitions of the dictators of those countries… but it will be too long here, I am saving the story for another time.
‘El Chino’ (The Chinese) Carlos Caszely, the star of the strongest Chilean club Colo-Colo (Santiago de Chile). Although one of the most vocal opposing General Pinochet’s junta, he played for the national team in World Cup 1974. And in World Cup 1982. And more… he moved to Spain in 1973, supposedly for political reasons – played for Levante and Espanol (which in Catalonia is regarded somewhat right-wing club) until 1978. Then he returned to Chile and Colo-Colo. Either ‘El Chino’ with Hungarian-sounding name was really ‘left-wing, which is right-wing’, or General Pinochet’s regime was not as bad as pictured, or footballers have no morals and convictions, or his career was not going as well as expected, or he became home sick. Which reason was the true one?

1974 World Cup was West German problem. On one hand players were accused of shameless commercialization: the stars demanded very lucrative sums, and the German Federation considered replacing them with another selection, presumably, more patriotic and less cynical. Commentators lamented the good old days of ‘pure’ football and predicted the end of the game killed by greed. Yet, the Dutch outdid the Germans in the money matters – see Cruiff above.
On the field, there was the highly suspect round robin match between West and East Germany. The West lost and finished second in their group, which placed them in the easier semi-final group with Poland, Sweden, and Yugoslavia, instead of Brazil, Holland, and Argentina. West Germany ended as World Champions, but were severely criticized for under-performing and scheming. The old story of 1954 scheme against Hungary was recalled. Then, the shame of 1982 came… 1974 was hardly an incident.
It was to be the clash of political systems: Breitner (left) and Beckenbaur (right) ‘squeeze’ the East German player. East and West Germany met for the first time on the pitch at the World Cup 1974. The West was to win not only for political ‘rightness’ – their team simply was superior.

East Germany arriving in West Germany for the World Cup 1974. Long flight from Berlin to Hamburg. Translator in the middle? Sorry… hostess.

East Germany won 1-0. This is the winning goal, scored by Jurgen Sparwasser (blue shirt, in the middle). Ironically, Sparwasser defected to West Germany in the 1980s – after his football career was over (why not in 1974? He played for 1.FC Magdebourg, which won the Cup Winners Cup just then and he was a hot item. Mysteries, never mind.)
The West Germans maintain the match was real – the political side of the game was very important. But… I thought in 1974 they deliberately lost and all my friends thought the same back then. See, it was not calculation to avoid Holland in the next stage – Brazil, as dreadful as it was that year, was the bigger worry. Both met in the winter before the finals, when Brazil was touring Europe as part of their preparation for the finals. In West Germany, in winter, on snowy pitch Brazil won. The Germans never played well against Brazil and generally lost. Losing from East Germany, the West Germans finished second in their round robin group, thus, avoided facing Holland and Brazil (Argentina was not a problem in 1974) in the next stage. The lost match opened the road to the title. Honest match? Politically important? For the East Germans may be. But it is one Germany today, so… it was ‘honest’ somehow.

1978 World Cup in Argentina was much criticized for political reasons – the rule of the Argentinean military junta and the cruelties of its rule. Argentina became World Champion, but not before conveniently winning the match with Peru 6-0. The game started suspiciously late, when other critical games were more or less decided, and finished with result providing the goal difference needed for Argentina to go ahead. The Argentinean-born goalkeeper of Peru – Ramon Quiroga – was the suspected coward. Well, was he? Nobody knows, suspicion remains.
Ramon Quiroga in 1978. Six goals in his net? Brazil out, Argentina in. The man born in Rosario, Argentina, not a bit sympathetic, or bribed, or whatever? Was it just Argentinean supremacy and a lucky day?
More contemporary Quiroga, still involved with football in Peru – he was, and may be is now too, a coach. Constantly pleading ‘not guilty’ for 1978.

The 1970s – The Positive Side

It is time to explain why I focus on the 1970s. Two reasons, rather different. The first is simple collecting – I began my collection at that time, and naturally my oldest photos are from the early 1970s. At first it was just scrapbooks, but soon it was changed – no more scissors and glue. Instead, I was collecting whole magazines. Unfortunately ,this part of the collection is lost and what remains is just the scrapbooks of the earliest years. I have to mention sources, then. Living behind the Iron Curtain did not provide many opportunities.
Most of my sources were Bulgarian – the sports magazine (if that’s the word: the weekly was published in newspaper format) ‘Start’ was established in 1971-72. A soccer team was always on the last page and ‘Start’ became quickly the most loved publication for Bulgarian collectors. Then there was another weekly, a newspaper, named ‘Football’. This one covered domestic and foreign football, but without team photos. For some reason the paper was cancelled for a few years around 1975, but came back in the 1980s and still exist. The third was a newspaper coming three times a week, called ‘People’s Sport’. Monday issue was the most important, for its large football coverage. Another weekly newspaper, published by the State Lottery, and called ‘Sport Totto’ was poor on pictures, but had extensive regular information on English, Italian, German, and some other championships – the aim was obvious: to provide current news to the large betting population. In the late 1960s and early 1970s there were some other magazines of short existence – I cannot recall there names. Once a year statistical book came out, covering both domestic and international football of the previous year. Apart from that, one was able to find pictures in non-sport newspapers and magazines, but not regularly. It was more a matter of chance, yet, some interesting collectibles came out from regular publications. I was collecting ‘Start’ and ‘Football’ for nearly 17 years, but nothing exists today.
Foreign stuff was scarce. Soviet publications were available, and I was collecting their weekly fat newspaper ‘Football-Hockey’. Good coverage, interesting articles on Soviet and international football, many photos, but black and white. The daily ‘Soviet Sport’ I was buying irregularly – it was all sports and it was risky – not every issue had football stuff. The third publication was a magazine, a rather strange one, called ‘Sporting Games’. It is hard to describe – something in between professional publication for coaches and popular description of various sports and tactical schemes. It was an interesting read, but football was not a priority at all – there were issues without football, or very little of it.
Two great Czechoslovakian magazines were the most coveted: ‘Stadion’ from Prague, and ‘Start’ from Bratislava. Both were all-sports weeklies, but published football team pictures. The quality of print was far better than anything coming from Eastern Europe. After 1980 ‘Start’ changed their policy and rarely had team photos, so I did not buy it often, but I still collected ‘Stadion’. My main magazine collection consisted of many years of Bulgarian ‘Start’, ‘Football’, ‘Stadion’, and ‘Football-Hockey’ – this bulk was lost entirely, except occasional old photos in my oldest scrapbooks.
The rest foreign stuff was sporadic: a regular Polish magazine ‘Panorama’ published football teams in the 1970s, but stopped doing so after 1980. Another non-sport magazine – ‘NBI’ from East Germany occasionally published teams, but only East German ones. A Communist daily newspaper from West Berlin – don’t remember the name – supplied photo coverage of the West German championship, including the amateur divisions and the East German first division. British stuff came from another Communist daily – ‘Morning Star’. All of the above was regularly sold, but the crème was not – the French magazine ‘Miroir de Football’ was available now and then, but one never new when. I did not know then, but this magazine was founded by the French Communist Party (actually, one of the publications of Miroir Sprint, covering specific sport) – this explains why the French magazine occasionally reached Bulgarian newsstands.

To get all that was tricky – one had to get up early Monday morning to be able to get ‘People’s Sport’. Then Tuesday, 5 pm sharp, on the line to get the weeklies, except ‘Football’, for which Wednesday morning was the time. And sometimes one had to run from place to place, from one newsstand to another, hoping to find an issue. Often one newsstand did not get anything, but another did. Subscription worked for Bulgarian publications and some of the Soviet papers, but not for the others. And I am talking availability in Sofia – out in the country buying ‘Start’ and ‘Football’ was next to impossible.
It was not much back then, yet today the situation is different: I have rare photos from these old newspapers and magazines. Well, collecting is mild insanity… and as far as collecting goes, my most active period was the 1970s – hence, the bias.
People’s Sport – Monday morning people waited on long lines to get it – the third page was entirely football, covering the weekend rounds in Bulgaria and abroad. The other two issues published on Thursdays and Saturdays did not attract big readership – very little football and mainy coverage of other boring sports.
Sport Totto – this issue has the squads of the Bulgarian First Division for the new season plus articles introducing Boavista (Porto), FC Brugge, and some other clubs. Plus analysis of coming matches – everything one needs to place a correct bet. And someone just won 35 817 – if he can do it, you can do it.
Football – the weekly football paper was difficult to get – one had to get very early Wednesday morning. Along with Sport Totto, it still exists. At the right is Ivan Vutzov – you could see him in the Levski photo of 1965 as a player, but here is the young boss of the football section of the same club. Then he was a coach and led Bulgaria to the World Cup in 1986. In the 1990s he became a powerful and sinister functionary of the Bulgarian Football Union, earning the nickname ‘Black Cardinal’. He is still around…
Start shortly before giving up the ghost… The most coveted magazine for years did not survive the fall of Communism along with the oldest one – People’s Sport.
And the very reason for buying Start: the football team at the last page. Can you recognize them? Inter (Milan) from 1990-91.
First row, left to right: Brehme (Germany), Mandorlini, Verdelli, Bianchi, Guiseppe Baresi – captain.
Second row: Zenga, Matthaeus (Germany), Berti, Serena, Ferri, Klinsmann (Germany).

This team won the UEFA Cup, but finished only third in Serie A. Matthaeus scored more goals than Klinsmann in the championship – 16 to mere 14. Italy allowed three foreign players by that time and Germans were still hot in Italy… unlike today.

The second part of reasoning is more complex and I will try to argue that the 1970s was time of positive change, of big hopes for the game and its development. Especially in the beginning of the decade everything looked very bright. From structure to media coverage, every aspect of the game and of public perception were on the road to improvement, ending the ‘romantic period’ of the sport. The new period seemingly promised professionalism without canceling the romantic elements, which make the game so attractive. I will attempt to take a look and discuss the whole pyramid of world football.
The very top is, of course, the World Cup. The finals in Mexico 1970 were great success. First of all, geography expanded – a country outside of the ‘strongholds’ (Europe and South America) proved capable of hosting finals. The organization was praised, the games were interesting, the atmosphere was friendly, the stadiums comfortable, the attendance was strong. Television expanded coverage and the tournament was seen in places which earlier World Cups did not reach. But the most important part was maturity and stability: finally every continent had qualification formula, which was followed uninterrupted. One has to remember that until 1958 no tournament got 16 teams and some countries were invited to participate. This was no longer the case, especially after Africa and Asia managed to establish preliminary tournaments during the 1960s. The structure was finally running smoothly. As a whole the finals were strong: dynamic and interesting football was performed, exciting to watch. Brazil and Italy reached the final and Brazil won 4-1 – in a way, a symbolic victory of attacking football after of stiff decade, dominated by defensive tactics. The 1960s World Cup finals were characterized by ugliness: brutal tackling and fights tarnished the tournaments in 1962 and 1966, but violence on the pitch was absent in 1970. Read and yellow cards were introduced, which brought order and clarity for officials, players, and fans. Brazil won with exciting squad, which many consider the best Brazilian team of all time. There was no controversies during the whole tournament – perhaps the only tournament when everybody agreed that the best performing teams advanced by pure gamesmanship. Tactical variety existed, present to the very final and although attacking football won, other tactical schemes were still going strong. New stars emerged, promising fun in the future.

Brazil bowing to the public before the beginning of the final match.

Third time World Champions.
Standing: Carlos Alberto- captain, Felix, Piazza, Brito, Clodoaldo and Marco Antonio;
First row: Jairzinho, Gérson, Tostão, Pelé and Rivelino.
Mario Zagallo became the first man World Champion as a player and as a coach. According to the rules, the country winning three times the old World Cup was to keep it forever. A new cup was introduced in 1974.

Continental championships were established by the end of the 1960s – Africa and Asia still lacked firm regularity, but it was obviously coming. Europe had a formula combining round robin qualification groups and direct elimination from quarter-finals to the finals. I still prefer the formulas of that time – 16-team World Cup finals and semi-finals and finals played in one country in the European Championship. The Olympic games were still monopoly of the Communist Eastern Europe, but there were signs that the West was incorporating their Olympic teams into the building structure of the national teams:

The West Germany Olympic team in 1972. Uli Hoeness, already a European Champion of the same year, was included along with a player yet to make a name for himself: Manfred Kaltz. Jupp Derwall was the coach – in 1980 leading the West German team to a second European Cup.

On the level of national teams, the world structure was established and either running well, or going to run well shortly.
International club competitions were also established – the three European club tournaments already had a good history behind them, as well as the South American Copa Libertadores. The winners played for the Intercontinental Cup since 1962. Asia and Africa also established their regular club tournaments which were gaining popularity, if not yet quality. But the system was already in place. And not only that: new boys were coming strong, challenging the Spanish-Italian dominance and defensive minded football.
Feyenoord (Rotterdam) won the European Champions Cup in 1970.
Ajax lost the final for the same cup in 1969. Their archrivals were the first Dutch club to win the trophy next year.

At international level, smaller club tournaments still attracted the public and although diminishing in importance, there were no signs that they will disappear: the Anglo-Italian summer tournament, the Balkan Cup, Mitropa Cup either filled up sluggish summer months, or provided opportunity for smaller clubs to play international games. South American clubs continued to tour abroad, playing friendlies in Africa, USA, and Europe (although less in Europe than in the 1960s). It was source of revenue, but also gave chance to many to see great clubs and players live.

Domestic football appeared equally bright: domestic leagues were established everywhere. If this sounds strange today, it was not so then – Bundesliga did exist before 1964 and the Second league was organized after 1970. Most African and Asian countries established their domestic championships during the 1960s and regularity was still wanted. Brazil organized national league in 1971 – the last of the major football countries to have one. Structurally, everybody copied the British model – a pyramid of divisions, from the elite first to whatever bottoms, with winners promoted to a higher division and loser relegated down. And in parallel was the national cup tournament, giving chance to small clubs sometimes to reach to glorious heights. Generally, the system was fare – even countries dominated by two-three big clubs provided opportunity for small clubs either to play top level football or to surprise everybody by winning the cup. It was also possible big clubs to face relegation – if today no matter how bad Manchester United plays, nobody imagines a final place lower than 10th in the final table (may be even this is a big stretch of imagination), the same club went down to the Second Division in the early 1970s. Yet, United had players, at least judging by the names, more talented than half of the First Division. Unlike today, final tables were not so obvious before even the season started yet. And national cups were still important and attractive for both clubs and supporters. The element of surprise continued to be important – the relatively unknown outside Brazil Atletico Mineiro won the first Brazilian championship. The club did not have world-class superstars, unlike its famous rivals, some of which had to wait many years before winning domestic title.

Atletico Mineiro, the first champions of Brazil
First row left to right: Ronaldo, Humberto Ramos, Dario, Lola, Tiao
Second row: Renato, Humberto Monteiro, Grapete, Vanderlei, Vantuir, Oldair

Note their irregular jerseys. Not the first club to play with awkwardly mixed kit, but certainly one of the very last – in the 1970s kits became homogenous. Out of date jerseys perhaps, but champions! By contrast, Fluminense finished 16th in the 20-team league. On the strength of the title, Atletico Mineiro purchased a star – the Uruguayan Ladislao Mazurkiewicz, one of the best all-time goalkeepers – after the season. Alas, no second title…

Structural stability went hand in hand with serious professionalism. I don’t mean professional players – nothing new there – but professional attitudes in every aspect of the game. Better training, better stadiums, better tactics, better kits, better balls, better financing, better media coverage. The combination of all aspects suggested exciting future. For instance, television made possible watching foreign games – not as many as today, but may be once a twice a week: domestic championships were not threatened and people were still going to see their local clubs. But television had one more effect: it became possible to study foreign teams. Up to 1970 international games were romantic enigmas – players were known from the press, but rarely seen and most often noone knew neither the tactics, nor the current form of foreign opposition. After 1970 it was possible to film training and then watch on screen recent matches of foreign clubs, and thus to study their game and prepare schemes. Scouts became routine, sent to see how the opposition play and report back strong and weak points. Training itself became more scientific and included various innovation – from medical monitoring of players to serious diets. Gone were the muddy training pitches – everybody was training on descent grass and the training facilities were greatly improved. So were the stadiums – new were built and old stadiums at least got new pitch. Fan comforts were not an issue yet, but the pitches became better and more importantly – somewhat standard. So were the new balls. Everybody was playing with same balls and more or less on same grass. Football kits also improved – the new equiptment was lighter and much more comfortable. And more was expected from players in terms of fitness, skills, and attitude.
Peter McParland (Aston Villa and Northern Ireland). Such was football equiptment in the 1950s and good part of the 1960s. – heavy shoes, woolen socks, cotton jerseys. Leather balls, changing shape and absorbing water.
Andersson (Sweden and Bayern) pursues Dzajic (Yugoslavia) in mid-1970s. Everything was more comfortable for the players by then. Orthopedic shoes, synthetic light shorts and jerseys, water resistant standard balls, better pitch.

German training: the two national goalkeepers Maier and Franke in unison. West Germany was leading the world in professional attitude. Heynckes flies over Hoeness in preparation for the World Cup 1974.

Professional attitude on every level. Players were expected to be dedicated professionals – their job to come first on and off the pitch. Certainly the 1970s player did not look like Ferenc Puskas, but there is also the myth of the lean professional, who does not drink, smoke, nor spends his nights chasing girls. Pure fiction, of course. However, players trained more and were generally fit. But professionalism did not stop with that – amateurish approach was largely abandoned in other areas too: for instance, Sweden and Denmark changed their long standing policy to include only amateurs in the national team. Thus, foreign based professional players elevated the quality of the Scandinavians. Yugoslavia made similar change: until 1975 no foreign based player was permitted to play for the national team. Other countries opened their domestic championships for foreigners – the ascent of Greece and Turkey started with that and however slowly, both countries improved their football. In the same time new means of revenue were sought and found in advertising. France, Germany, Austria, Belgium were the earliest pragmatist, placing adds on team’s jerseys. More money meant better salaries – the players were no longer low working class. This is especially true for England, where the players were paid poorly and regulations prohibited increases. I am not speaking for the stars, but for the bulk of average players, who, as a rule, did not have much future after finishing their football careers, having no education, or skills in trades. The professional attitudes did not affect two rather different points: one is playing in all kinds of weather. Better stadiums still meant open air stadiums and the unpredictability of the game remained. No matter what, there is certain beauty in playing in mud, and snow, and ice – it is a different game then, bringing unexpected results. The other point is selections: even rich clubs were shrewd – squads were relatively small, consisting of core group of stars, two experienced foreigners, and the rest were reliable journeymen. Stars were rarely for sale – it was mostly mid-level players on the transfer lists. This is what preserved relative parity between the clubs and gave hope to the supporters of smaller teams. And still not everybody was entirely professional – with some luck, semi-professional teams were able to win a championship or two.

This is Turkish wall ‘preventing’ a German free kick at the World Cup finals in 1954. It is not surprising West Germany won 4-1, but it is surprising that, given the attitude, Turkey scored at all. Such scenes were unthinkable after 1970.

Czechoslovakia against Romania in a winter friendly in 1975. Football was still played in whatever the natural conditions were. Nehoda scored a weird one for Czechoslovakia – that is why rain, mud, and snow are fun. And Czechoslovakia won the European title in 1976.
Jan Janssens, the captain of K.S.K. Beveren, lifts the championship cup of Belgium in 1978. Unlike Anderlecht, FC Brugge, and Standard Liege, Beveren was semi-professional club. Most players trained part-time and had other jobs. One was a longshoreman. Champions nevertheless.
Manchester United 1962-63. This kind of structure – first team (in the middle), reserves or youth team (at the right, very young George Best there – eight from right to left), and juniors (at the left) was still dominant in the 1970s. Only the first team were full professionals.
The first team are (left to right): Johnny Giles, Mark Pearson, Nobby Stiles, Bill Foulkes, Nobby Lawton, Albert Quixall, Bobby Charlton, Jack Crompton (coach), Maurice Setters, Matt Busby (manager), Shay Brennan, Denis Law, Alex Dawson, Noel Cantwell, David Herd, Dennis Violett.

Bayern Munich with their first European Champions Cup in 1974.
First row, left to right: Zobel, Hadewicz, Jensen, Robl, Maier, Hansen (Denmark)
Second row: Beckenbauer – captain, Kapellmann, Torstensson (Sweden), Schwarzenbeck, Durnberger, Roth, Gerd Muller, Breitner, Uli Hoeness, Udo Lattek – coach.
7 West German national players (Maier, Beckenbauer, Kapellmann, Schwarzenbeck, Muller, Breitner, and Hoeness), 2 foreigners (Torstensson played for the national team of Sweden, and Hansen played for Denmark), and three solid journeymen (Zobel, Durnberger, and Roth). The core of the team played together for years – the typical 1970s squad.

Bayern 2001-02.
Third row (left to right): Effenberg, Jancker, Santa Cruz (Paraguay), Sergio (Brazil), Thiam (Guinea), Sforza (Switzerland), Wojciechowski (Poland), Tarnat, Zickler.
Middle row: Binder (masseur), Gebhardt (masseur), Hoffmann (physiotherapeutic specialist), Jeremias, Di Salvo (Italy), Kuffour (Ghana), Robert Kovac (Croatia), Henke (assistant coach), Hitzfeld (coach)
First row: Fink, Scholl, Salihamidzic (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Wessels, Kahn, Dreher, Hargreaves (England), Niko Kovac (Croatia), Hauenstein (rehabilitation trainer)
Small photos on top: Linke, Sagnol (France), Lizarazu (France), Elber (Brazil), Pizarro (Peru).

21 national players, representing 11 countries. And if Hargreaves is included (for he was not yet English national player) – 22 players and 12 countries. Very different from the 1970s, yet the Bundesliga was the same – 18 teams, 34 games a season. A whole national squad permanently sitting on the bench… Significantly, practically nobody came from Bayern junior teams – and Bayern have very well organized junior system. So unlike the earlier years, when Breitner and Hoeness were lifted from the junior team before been old enough to sign professional contract, and from 1975, when Muller was injured, and one Karl-Heinz Rummenigge was called to replace him from the juniors.
The ‘ersatz Muller’ Rummennige in 1975 against lowly Tennis Borussia (West Berlin). It is not clear what exactly Rummenigge is doing – looks like helping the TeBe defenseman Mulack in the effort to stop Roth’s shot. And may be successfully: the match ended 2-2. No matter – TeBe was relegated and Bayern was still European Champions Cup holder.
Five seasons later: European player of the year 1980. Still sporting Bayern’s jersey.

Tactics. Rinus Michels has to be credited with the biggest change in the beginning of the 1970s – he invented the ‘total’ football’. According to him, the idea came from watching rugby one night on television. Michels was impressed by the collective effort of the whole team moving back and forth, from defense to offense, as one unit and covering the whole field. Why not trying the same in football, Michels mused over his beer? Luckily, he had just the players for such experiment: Ajax (Amsterdam) were young, highly skilled, technical players, who really enjoyed playing and also were very fit. The result was magic – Ajax disregarded traditional positions and roles. Everybody was playing the whole field – if the moment caught him in attack, a full back was attacking like a centre-forward; if the left winger was caught somewhere near his own goalkeeper, he acted like sweeper. It was pleasure to watch Ajax, for the team was inspired, highly motivated, dedicated to attacking football, very technical, but also tough and shrewd when necessary. They played speedily, never wasting or killing time, and because of the constant movement, they usually appeared as if they are more than 11 players on the field. No matter where the ball was, Ajax prevailed by numbers, was able quickly to recover the ball and start new attack. Tactically, it was a rich team – they were able to adjust to the opposition’s style, and especially against Italian and Spanish clubs Ajax played tough, physical game, pressuring the opposition everywhere and cynically committing faults. They were surely not above mere intimidation, but they never killed the game and constantly tried to score. No matter what circumstances and what opposition, Ajax never played dull football and having big technical arsenal, if something did not work, they tried another approach. Above everything, it was obvious they liked to play. They played with children’s joy and effectively liberated football from the defensive, careful stigma of the 1960s. So much fun the players had, they had to be restricted occasionally. Stefan Kovacs, who replaced Michels as Ajax’s coach, recalls in his autobiography excess out of place: for instance, in a domestic championship match Hulshoff, nominally the center-defenseman, injured himself trying to score a goal. It was the last minute of the match and Ajax was leading 4-0! The club fined Hulshoff for his joyous irresponsibility. The team was fun and also pointed to a new direction, one very much liked by football fans: attractive, fast, attacking, and highly technical football. Thus, at the beginning of the 1970s there was diversity of styles: the defensive Italian football was not dead yet; Brazil played their attacking samba, based on supreme technical skills and improvisation; England played dynamic and attacking football with long high balls; the Germans added elegance to their traditional physical play. Total football was the most attractive option, yet an option among many, and as a whole, it was interesting to watch games because of the diversity of styles and tactical approaches – the teams did not look alike at all; the struggle between different styles was exciting. And one thing was obvious: attacking football was back, it was going to dominate the decade, and eventually it would have been total football adopted by most teams. The 1970s were starting with a revolution. A liberating revolution, unleashing creativity.
Rinus Michels created ‘total football’, yet there is at least a bit of irony in it: he led Ajax to only one European Champions Cup. The next two were won under the guidance of Stefan Kovacs. Most Ajax players disliked the heavy handed disciplinarian Michels, and although he made them into superstars, they preferred the relaxed and mellow Romanian. As a coach of the Dutch national team, Michels had to wait until 1988 to win a trophy – Holland lost the World Cup final in 1974. None of the great players won anything with the national team – the only player of the 1970s Ajax winning a title with the national team is Arnold Muhren: he was a key part of Michels’ selection winning the European Championship in 1988. Ironically, Arnold Muhren was a reserve in the old Ajax – his elder brother Gerrie Muhren was a titular and a star. Yet, it was Arnold at the end, making his reputation in England (Ipswich Town and Manchester United) and 37 years old in 1988, but not Gerrie, who slowly sunk into obscurity in Spain (Real Betis player in the late 1970s and Seiko Hong Kong ).
Stefan Kovacs, typically with a cigarette or a pipe, was hired to replace Michels, who took over Barcelona. He brought freedom and relaxation to the team and had good relations with the players. And won two European Champions Cup to Michels’ one. According to his own book, he was quickly tested by the ringleaders of the team: when he was explaining to a group of players what to do at training, Piet Keizer savagely kicked the ball towards him. Kovacs immediately sensed that Keizer, then the captain of the team, was testing his authority and the judgment would come from his reaction. Kovacs pretended that nothing strange was happening, casually stopped the ball with his foot and passed it back to Keizer without stopping talking to the group of players. After that he never had any problems with the team and was respected by everyone. But, smiles Kovacs, I had been a professional player in Belgium when I was young and that helped. It was a deadly moment, muses Kovacs, if I hided from the ball, or the ball hit me and I was unable to play it, I would never had any authority – after all, they were already superstars, Cruiff, Neeskens, Krol… and who was I? Some Romanian. After leaving Ajax, Kovacs coached France for three years – not successful years, but he placed the foundations of the later great French selections.
Strangely, Kovacs is entirely forgotten everywhere – in his native Romania (where he was coaching successful Steaua before taking over Ajax, and the national team after 1976), in Ajax, where Michels is remembered fondly (unlike in the real time – Piet Keizer danced on a table from joy when Michels went to Barcelona), in France (where credits are given largely to Kovacs’s successors leading France to World and European Cups), and by the world.

The new player. Of course, the stars and the focus on them were nothing new. The new was the accent, the new public image of the stars. Di Stefano and Puskas were superstars and hardly anybody cared how they were dressed, or what they had to say outside the last match, or how did they spend the night. In a sense, football stars belonged mostly to the supporters of the club they were playing for and nobody else. In a sense, until the end of the 1960s the stars belonged to ‘us’, a unity between club, players, and supporters. ‘We’ cared little, if at all, for the stars of ‘them’. But somehow during the 60s emerged the professional image of the player – disciplined and humble creature, training hard during the day, dressed neatly, but not flashy, after work, going to bed at 8 pm, never drinking, nor smoking, nor anything. The image of a saint, not a man. Not anymore after 1970: the public image of the star enlarged. The players were suddenly hip. They grew long hairs and beards, dressed in the latest colorful fashion, appeared with long legged girls and fast cars, gave interviews on non-football subjects, and smiled from advertising billboards. It was part and parcel of the changing culture, of the hippies and rock stars storming and scandalizing the conservative mainstream. George Best was perhaps the best example, to his own peril. It was fascinating at first, and even greatly liberating event… hip George with the new girl, hip George going to Palma de Mallorca instead to training, and so on… until George was out of form, did nothing on the pitch, and had to be sacked. It was 1971 and George was merely 26 years old. He plummeted from Player of the Year in 1968 to alcoholic playboy in 3 years.
But nevertheless the new player was fun, especially after the invention of total football – liberated game was played by liberated players. Flashy, long haired, colourful, opinionated, rich… even choosing the number on their jerseys, braking with any football tradition. True, Best was the risky downfall, but the bunch of ‘hippies’ – Ajax, West Germany – were hardly football disgrace. They performed, they were fit… Netzer may have been a rebel, but he played. Breitner may have been a Maoist, but didn’t show it on the pitch.
George Best celebrating his downfall. He liberated football in one way…
A superstar unashamed from dirty work – Netzer desperately trying to stop Keegan’s kick at 1973 UEFA Cup final Liverpool – Borussia Monchengladbach, which Liverpool won. Although Netzer had cars as flashy as Best’s and clashed with coaches as often as Best, he liberated football on the pitch. And the future was bright indeed – new broom Keegan already making his mark.

Favourite Players

Favourite players of all-time. No, not Pele, Maradona, or this abomination Beckham – did not I tell you objectivity has no place in the heart of football fan?
1. Georgy Asparukhov.
2. Johan Cruiff
3. Franz Beckenbauer
4. Socrates
5. Bobby Charlton.

Sorry, no discussion here… sure, there were and are other great players. However, any list of the best is simply wrong. Ever.

Favourite Teams

Perhaps it is time to reveal my sympathies – football fans are hardly objective creatures and I am no exception. Scandalous may be, but these are the five teams, of particular vintage on top of it, which are my favourites:
1. Levski, Sofia, Bulgaria, 1965. Can’t help it – I am with ‘blue’ blood no matter what. Arguably, the best team in the history of the club. Coached by Rudolf Vitlacil – the Czechoslovakian coach born in Vienna, Austria, who led Czechoslovakia to the final of the World Cup in 1962.

First row (left to right): S. Nikolov, Al. Manolov, G. Sokolov, G. Asparukhov, Chr. Iliev – captain, Al. Kostov
Second row: B. Mikhailov, T. Botev, Iv. Zdravkov, G. Zlatkov, R. Vitlacil, Iv. Vutzov, G. Georgiev, G. Stoyanov, B. Aleksandrov
2. Manchester United. Can’t remember when and why became a ManUnited fan… this is not the famous team of 1968, but the one on the verge of decline and disaster – 1971-72. Still, most of the heroes were there. It was my first photo of United, so sentimentality plays a role. Not to mention the long hairs of Best and Morgan – in Bulgaria long hair was against the law at that time.

First row, left to right: Francis Burns, Brian Kidd, George Best, Denis Law, Pat Crerand, Willie Morgan, John Aston, Carlo Sartori.
Second row: John Fitzpatrick, Alan Gowling, Paul Edwards, Willie Watson, Jimmy Rimmer, Alex Stepney, Ian Ure, David Sadler, Tony Dunne, Bobby Charlton-captain.

3. Ajax, Amsterdam – 1972-73. Honestly, the team I enjoyed most, but comes third…subjectivity, you know. Rinus Michels already gone to Barcelona, Velibor Vasovic retired, but Cruiff at his best. Pure magic.

Second row, left to right: Haan, Blankenburg (West Germany), Wever, Suurbier, Stuy, Keizer, Krol, Schilcher (Austria), Arnold Muhren, Neeskens, Hulshoff
First row: Swart, Rep, Kovacs (Romania) – coach, Grijzenhout – assistant coach, Kleton, Mulder, Cruiff -captain, Gerry Muhren.

4. Brazil 1982. I know, I know… a team without a goalkeeper. What joy, though. For me, the ‘beautiful game’ was murdered in 1982…

Standing: Valdir Peres, Leandro, Oscar, Falcao, Luisinho and Junior;
First row: Socrates- captain, Cerezzo, Serginho, Zico and Eder.
5. West Germany 1972. The same team as in 1974, but enormous fun to watch in 1972, when they won the European Championship. Breitner and Hoeness were too young for professional contracts yet. (This is a grudging bow to objectivity… I was supporting England and refused to watch the penalty the Germans scored on Wembley at the quarter-final.)

Second row (left to right): Franz Beckenbauer- captain, Helmut Schon – coach, Karl-Heinz Schwarzenbeck, Jupp Heynckes, Gerd Muller, Horst-Dieter Hottges, Gunter Netzer.
First row: Erwin Kremers, Herbert Wimmer, Paul Breitner, Sepp Maier, Uli Hoeness.

Old Fogies

Since I have been with the old fogies so far, perhaps is good to mention the beginning of the endless football journey: the oldest photo of photo of football team is well known – Harrow School Soccer XI from 1867.
My picture comes from old issue of the Soviet fat weekly newspaper ‘Football-Hockey’. The guys above looked like prisoners to me and contrary to their name – 12 players, not eleven.

And this is England vs Scotland in 1879. Comes from unknown Bulgarian newspaper.
The first Bulgarian club was established in Sofia, 1912 and appropriately named ‘Football Club”. Almost immediately a second one was formed – called (think originality!) ‘Club Football’. By 1913 there were 5 clubs – none of them existing today. Early days were shaky, no doubt.

As Far As History Is Concerned

As far as football history is concerned, I am not going to trace to the ancient origins of the game – there is no need: every fat book on football begins with that. However, there is a problem a collector faces sooner or later – finding material lacking information. I was looking at old family photos in 2006 and suddenly found football…

This is a tournament, probably in the 1930s or early 1940s, judging by general look. Three teams are photographed, but only one is recognizable to me – Slavia, Sofia, the oldest Bulgarian club still existing.

I recognize them by their distinctive emblem – . Was it a domestic tournament? Was it a tournament abroad? No one can tell… clearly, the team traveled by train to some other city to play. Must be some distant relative playing for or involved with Slavia, but now everybody is dead and there is no way to gather information. And another complication: neither I, nor my father is Slavia supporter. In fact, Slavia is enemy… and one is negligent when it comes to detailed knowledge of enemies.
Saying so, I love the photos and am dying to discover their mystery. Any help is welcome and this goes across the board: I will appreciate any correction of mistakes, wrong impressions, and enlargement of information. Of course, we have entirely different football today, but I am getting old and with that, I am becoming more nostalgic and curious for the ancient days of the game. Old photos fascinate me and not knowing details drives me nuts.

Personal Brginning?

I know I am incurable, but when and how I got sick? And what are the symptoms? Precise date cannot be established, as is often the case of genetically transmitted deceases. My father took me to the stadium one day in the early 1960s and that was enough. I suspect it was sometime between 1963 and 1965, in Sofia, Bulgaria. The first symptom was watching, and after that the infection spread, producing new symptoms. For instance trembling of the body and complete impossibility to think of something else when football (FOOTBALL, not soccer!) match begins. Soon I started playing and since the biggest appeal of football is the minimal requirements – one needs only a ball – you can imagine the fury of demon Mother entering the room at the very moment when I was recreating the fatal miss of my favourite team… I just hit the side poll of the net… the old ceramic vase shattered to thousand pieces. The battle of wills started, still going strong. Naturally, collecting was the next step – a small scrapbook at first, quickly replaced by bigger ones, and after that – football magazines. Today it is huge, although a big part of it was lost – I had to run away from Communism and it was impossible to take anything with me, the collection stayed back in Bulgaria. I gave it up. Meantime, a new one took shape in Canada. By chance, I discovered my oldest scrapbooks in the basement of my parents in 2006… bringing the old books to the surface restored my Mother’s instincts at once. The spark in her eyes, the predatory look, savagely hissing ‘If I only knew those things were in the basement…’ One may not expect a 70 years lady to transform into a tigress, but there is huge difference between expectations and reality.
Anyway, I recovered the scrapbooks and eventually, when I managed to get my eyes away from them, a question developed: what to do with my collection? And with my football knowledge? This is the result: telling you football stories of life-long obsession. The passion of millions through the eyes of one. Which brings back the problem of dating the symptoms…
Since a child started somewhat flimsy collection, accident played a role. The exact moment is beyond recall, but looking at my oldest pictures, it must have been in the summer of 1971. Here is a specimen of the oldest scrapbook:

Coming from old Bulgarian newspaper, the picture had imbedded problem, unforeseen by the kid who cut it once upon a time: this is Girondins de Bordeaux, but from which year? An afternoon of intensive search produced happy results: this is the line-up from 1968-69 season. First row, left to right: Jean-Louis Masse, Gabriel Abossolo (Cameroon), Carlos Ruiter (Brazil), Yves Teixier, Didier Couecou
Second row: Bernard Baudet, Robert Peri, Andre Chorda, Christian-Jacky Castellan, Guy Calleja, Christian Montes.

This photo tells a few more things: my preference for saner football and the game of 1970s (so this picture is somewhat a turning point). It is a typical selection of those days: two native stars (Chorda and Couecou, both French national players and participants in the 1966 World Cup) and two foreigners (Abossolo and Ruiter, both generally unknown, yet Ruiter was the first Brazilian to play for Bordeaux, and had long spell in France). The rest is relatively solid bunch of journeymen. The year points at the change – the end of romantic soccer years and the beginning of serious and competitive fun. The beginning of the 1970s was looking very bright. This is what I think in retrospect; in the real time I was only a kid obsessed with football and making discoveries.
Lastly, the picture hints at my collecting preference: team pictures, rather than individual players and moments from matches. Statistics are also important as well as football history.

The Beginning Many Years Ago

I am Vesselin Vesselinov, born in Bulgaria and living in Canada. Football is my hobby since childhood – not the most important part of my life, but lifelong addiction nevertheless. Football bewitched me so long ago, I cannot even say when. I played football, watched football, talked football, collected football. As every football fan knows, objectivity is impossible – I am biased: there are clubs, players, and kinds of football I hate, and others I love. My football collection is huge by now and the sole reason for this blog: an opportunity to show part of it and trace my own football journey. Although it is the passion of millions through the eyes of one, I faintly hope to entertain you.
‘Some people believe that football is matter of life and death. I am very disappointed with that attitude, it is much, much more important than that.’
Bill Shankly

In the beginning She was floating in the great emptiness. Then Coach arrived, observed Her mesmerized, and made the first tactical decision – created Earth in Hers image. ‘Let there be game!’, shouted Coach and kicked Her mightily.
Dropping from high, She bounced few times and settled on the soft grass near the centre of the pitch. Coach saw the pitch was good, yet, something was missing. And he created Superstar. Superstar loved Her from the first moment and She loved him too. Everybody was happy, but still something was missing. At this moment Coach made a tactical error of great importance – he created Supporter to cheer the two lovers. However, Coach was distracted by the incoming match and his work was sloppy… Supporter was not created right and developed envy… and out of envy, one day Supporter gave something to Superstar. It was shaped like She and Superstar swallowed it without thinking, thus spoiling his diet before the match of the season. Superstar played badly and Paradise Saints lost to the archenemy Satanic Filths. Coach’s wrath was beyond measure: he sacked Superstar on the spot and kicked out Supporter too… and everything changed – instead of a week of happy training, now Superstar had to work six days and play only on Sunday. But Coach still had pity in his heart and permitted Superstar to dream of the old lost days… to dream of Paradise, where one plays football, watches football, reads about football, collects football, and thinks only football. Superstar always hopes the good old days will return. As for Supporter – once a faulty scheme, always a faulty scheme: Supporter only hates the beautiful She and lives only to prevent Superstar from happiness. Supporter most often appears disguised as one of the two awful demons, called Mother and Wife – devious enemies of She, constantly obstructing Superstar from meeting the beauty. And because of this eternal battle between good and evil, Superstar has to meet Her in secret and rarely, having to lie to the watchful and experienced demons. Sometimes Superstar is successful, but mostly not… and his gentle soul bleeds. And he accuses bitterly Coach for the ancient mistake, and the demons laugh at him, and life is terrible, but the hope remains and deep in his heart, Superman loves only Her. For that love he lives, enduring working week and dodging the terrible demons, and waiting for Sunday, when She smiles at him again.





Interesting year, although not only for the right reasons. Three major international championships – the European Championship finals, the Olympic games, and the African Championship.

The European finals got all attention, making the other two big championships in the dark – the Olympics were tainted by Eastern European boycott and the 14th African Championship followed the traditional fate of African football – nobody paid attention. On one side, things were critical in the football world – menacing and increasing hooliganism, the bribing scandal in Belgium, the decreasing interest in Olympic football – many countries for one or another reason chose to not participate at all, the plague of bankruptcies in South America. On the bright side shined the European finals – they were generally seen in very optimistic light.

            The finals went through rocky road and there were changes in the formula. The new 8-team was objected strongly: the 1980 experience was not positive – too many boring games. UEFA stuck to the larger format, though, and at the end of 1983 critics were ready to shrug their shoulders, ‘See, we told you so’. The finalists were not exactly the traditional major European powers, most of them struggling for years and Denmark in particular was not even second-rate European power, thus recalling the specter of Greece in 1980. Who needs that again? But it was too late for changing the formula – instead, it was improved. Back in 1980 the group winners at the finals went directly to the championship final – now the first two of each group went to semi-finals first. Further, the shameful match between West Germany and Austria at the 1982 World Cup was taken into account – now the last group games were to be played at the same time, so to avid any fixing of results. Lastly, the number of team players was reduced from 22 to 20 – the reason was questionable: the reduction was hardly able to save any money to the national federations. In sporting terms, there was no real gain either – a good team hardly used more than 15 players, the rest staying permanently on the bench. The real reason was seemingly an attempt to reduce scandals – there were players not wanting to join national teams only to watch others play and vitriol was let loose in the press. Football did not need more scandals, it had enough already, so the big aim was to present happy clean image. An illusion, but setting the road followed to this very day – a big smiling cover under which lurked all kinds of crimes, scandals, back stabs, dealings of more than questionable nature, and so on.

            But, to the surprise of many, the final tournament was great – highly entertaining football and emergence of bright strong teams from what was seen to be championship of underdogs. And that was very optimistic sign for breaking out of the stagnation rotting the game in the previous years. The 1984 Euro was better than the 1980 finals as a whole, thus silencing the critics. Dull football was seemingly at the losing end – West Germany represented it and its team did not reach the semi-finals. Compared to the 1980 finals, 1984 was sure winner – only West Germany and Yugoslavia were boring to watch. Four years earlier the list was longer – Greece, Holland, England, Spain, Czechoslovakia, Italy. Even severely handicapped Belgium – 6 national team regulars were suspended for their involvement in the bribing scandal – played well, despite the odds. What looked like predictable championship – France and West Germany were easily seen as finalists, with likelier nasty victory of the Germans – became fascinating and unexpected championship. It was easy to forget or forgive anything else this year – the  1984 European finals were great, football was coming back to the right track.