West Germany 2 Bundesliga North

West Germany at the top of European football – exciting championship, almost at the entertaining level of the English league, high scores, money, organization, stadiums, stars, everything. Bundesliga had it all, not so at the second level, but it was going strong on its own right. 40 teams, divided into two leagues in the Second Bundesliga.

2 Bundesliga Nord. Few former members of Bundesliga, none a big name.

Perhaps Rot Weiss (Essen) was the best known club here, already fading into obscurity. 8th this season.

A few entirely unknown clubs, hardly noticed outside Germany and just happy to play professional football for awhile: DSC Wanne-Eickel (13th), Rot Weiss (Ludenscheid) (19th). Most of the league was made of smaller clubs with somewhat recognizable names, but clearly unable of anything bigger than second-tier football. Some eventually disappeared from sight – like Viktoria (Koln).

So far, Koln was a big football centre – 3 teams in the two professional leagues was more than almost any other German city. A local derby was – and is – a German rarity, but Koln had it at the time – Fortuna vs Viktoria. Did not last very long – Viktoria was already sinking down – 16th this season.

Most members of the league were similar in one thing – it was hard to imagine them in the top league.

Alemannia (Aachen) – a typical Second Bundesliga member. 7th this season. Many, many years later they climbed up, but in the 1970s looked like the Second Bundesliga was made for clubs like that – modest professional clubs. Which was even a trouble for Bundesliga Nord: some clubs had difficulties even playing there. Wacker 04 (West Berlin) finished last – nothing surprising, but the three teams just ahead of them were lucky – Westfalia (Herne) had a good season and finished 5th, but money was short… the club voluntarily returned their license for the following season and was relegated. A place bellow Westfalia finished St. Pauli (Hambourg). They tasted Bundesliga football short time ago and seemingly played well… but they also lacked money. The Federation did not grant them license for the next season. Thus, the 5th, the 6th, and the 20th in the final table were relegated to the regional leagues.

The Northern league was problematic since formation – poorer and consequently even the winners were not looked upon with any hope. Few clubs competed for the second place, but there was only one favourite. It was the year of the ‘Aspirins’ – a matter of stable money. Bayer (Uerdingen) finished 2nd with 53 points, 2 more than Preussen (Munster). But they did not challenge the other Bayer , which won the championship with 59 points.

A great success – Leverkusen won 24 matches, tied 11, and lost only 3. Supreme goal-difference too – 87:34. Going up to join the top division for the first time. Their ‘brothers’ from Uerdingen already played a bit of first division football and judging from this experience, perhaps nothing was expected from Leverkusen. But it was only the beginning of great success story – this ‘Aspirins’ did not taste second division football after their victory in 1978-79.


England The Cups


Traditional English football was alive – thanks to the cup tournaments. Both cup finals were attended by 100 000 fans each and were entertaining. Liverpool did not reach either final. Lowly Woolverhampton Wanderers and 3rd Division Watford played at the semi-finals. Neither was easily eliminated. Southampton and Nottingham Forest apposed each other at the Football League Cup final. Peach and Holmes scored for Southampton. Woodcock and Birtles scored for Nottingham. But Birtles scored 2 goals – and Forest prevailed 3-2.

Southampton was not much – they finished 14th in the championship and were typical English formation: one great veteran – Alan Ball, one or two current or rising stars – Chris Nicholl and Phil Boyer. A ‘continental’ addition,which apparently settled well – Ivan Golac. The Yugoslavian was the first of the new imports to reach a final. Southampton played heartily, but were unable to win the cup.

Nottingham Forest prevailed – it was not an easy victory, but it was theirs. Second League Cup in two years. One more trophy – a club without any just two years ago was quickly building a collection. So far, Brian Clough was more successful with Nottingham than with Derby County early in the decade. His finest years, apparently.

The FA Cup final opposed traditional foes – Arsenal and Manchester United. Both teams looked inferior in the championship, but excelled in the cup, thus actually showing that English traditions were alive. Competitive final too – McQueen and McIllroy scored for ManUnited; Talbot, Stapleton,and Sunderland for Arsenal. 3-2 Arsenal and the Cup was theirs.

Dave Sexton’s United was good team, yet… somewhat unfinished, somewhat transitional. Impressive names, but some were getting too old to lead the team (Buchan, Macari) or failed to become the stars they promised to be few years back (Houston, Brian and Jimmy Greenhoff, Albiston, Pearson). And yet few others were just good, but clearly did not have really big potential (Roche, Thomas). There was a skeleton for the future – McIllroy, McQueen, Jordan, Nicholl, Bailey, Moran, lead by wonderful Steve Coppell – but this skeleton needed shaping and additional players. It was a team in between, rough, uncertain. Reaching a final was more or less the best these squad could do.

Arsenal, compared to Manchester United, was a tad better: Brady, Stapleton, and O’Leary were reaching their peak and were the obvious leaders of the team. Pat Jennings was fine between the posts. Rice, Price and Nelson were the old fading guard, but the team did not depend on them so much. Sunderland, Macdonald, Talbot were strong players – not superstars, but stars on their own right. Graham Rix was rapidly becoming one too. It was already made team, lead by players in their primes. It was not a team depending on aging veterans and searching for young talent to replace famous, but shaky by now feet. Well deserved victory.

Happy – and tired – winners. 5th FA Cup for the Gunners. They waited 8 years for that one. Had to wait 14 years for the next…

England I Division


Apart from the arrival of ‘continentals’, there were other interesting events in England this season. For the first time 1 million pounds were paid for a player – Trevor Francis was the first player costing that much. Nottingham Forest paid the fee to Birmingham City. The announcement was not great moment: annoyed Brian Clough appeared in front of excited journalists in training suit and racquet in his hand – he was on his way to play squash and delayed, he did not appreciate that. To a point, the record transfer was feast in time pf plague – English clubs were getting deeper and deeper in debt. Bankruptcy, not prosperity, was the future… There was also mild feeling that English football was becoming like everybody else’s: a group of desperate outsiders, a few clear favourites, and vast group of clubs in between. Hooliganism was the only thing rising – higher and higher. The newly imported ‘ continentals’ were hardly to be blamed for most of the problems.

Three teams sunk at the bottom of the table. It was sadder more than anything. Chelsea was last with 20 points.

Hardly a surprise… Chelsea was in trouble since the early 1970s. For some reason, players with good names hardly lived up to expectations. With time, their numbers decreased… the team for 1978-79 campaign was obviously weak. And money was short – not something new either… Peter Bonetti left during the season to end his long career with Dundee United. Ray Wilkins went to Manchester United after the end of the disastrous season. Hope? What hope? David Hay and Ron Harris were going downhill for some time and to build a team around Micky Droy and Ian Britton was idea to laugh about.

Chelsea finished with the worst defensive record in the league and Burmingham City with the worst offensive. They got two more points than Chelsea – 22. 21st place in final table, second to last.

Like Chelsea, Birmingham had a big current star – Trevor Francis. They added the world champion Tarantini. But it was weak team for years, may be weaker than most in top flight, and that was no news. Tarantini was no help. As for Francis… he was not even with the team, for he was loaned to Detroit Express, a NASL club. In February 1979 he was sold to Nottingham Forest for a record fee, but even money did not help Birmingham, already at the bottom of the league. Relegation was expected for quite some time, though.

The third outsider was also London-based club – Queens Park Rangers. Only three years ago QPR was one of the brightest teams in England. Now they down – 25 points, only 6 wins, 20th place.

QPR was something between Chelsea and Birmingham – like Birmingham, the stars were not enough to save the club, for there was little quality support. Like Chelsea, the stars were aging and underperforming. Gerry Francis was the leader of the team, but he was no longer called to play for England – a big step down for one, he captained England no long ago. Stan Bowles, the crowd favourite, was getting a bit old and no longer the same, although he was erratic player to begin with. Phil Parkes was also out from the national team, without prospects of returning. Shanks, Clement, Goddard, Gillard… their names were no longer made headlines. Rashid ‘Peter’ Harkouk… young hopeful perhaps, but hardly a star. He was the only one to make news eventually – in 1986 the Chelsea born player became the first non-African born player to play for African national team – for Algeria at the World Cup finals. Nothing to do with the present season, though… QPR went down without much of a fight, and the stars followed the example of the stars of the other relegated teams – like Wilkins, Bonetti, Trevor Francis, and Tarantini, Parkes, Gerry Frances, and Bowles moved to other clubs after the end of the season.

How bad those three were can be seen by the difference between them and the club rigth above them in safety – Derby County finished with 31 points: 6 more than QPR’s.

And it was not just points – Derby County was also in sharp decline. Yet, they were much stronger than the outsiders. Similar to Chelsea… by names, they should have been better: Ron Webster, David Webb, Gordon Hill, Bruce Rioch. And a major star – Roy McFarland. It was clear that the stars of the first half of the 1970s were no longer making a difference… Same was the case of Woolverhampton Wanderers, still keeping a good chunk of their exciting team of four-five years back: they finished 18th. Manchester City, also declining, was 15th. Yet, insignificant clubs managed to play quite well, helped by singular star already over the hill: Bolton Wanderers with Frank Worthington was 17th, Norwich City with Martin Chivers – 16th. Perhaps from the lower half of the league Bristol City was the most pleasant team and prime example of the new kind of English team: two great veterans plus two ‘continentals’ were good mix for 13th place in the final table.

Norman Hunter (b.1943) and Peter Cormack (b. 1946) came in 1976 from Leeds United and Liverpool.With them modest Bristol kept itself in First Division. One Dutch striker – Geert Meijer, from Ajax, and one Finnish player – Pertti Jantunen, from IFK Eskilstuna (Sweden) were added during 1978-79 season. Neither was a star, neither stayed long with Bristol, but both were in their best years and Bristol City was propelled up to their best league achievement in this period. Evidently, a combination of aging stars and ‘continentals’ worked… all four left one after another the next year and Bristol City sunk.

Tottenham Hotspur kept everybody focused on their performance – they made the big news signing ‘continentals’ first.

Critics were perhaps satisfied – with Ardiles and Villa, the Spurs finished 11th. Yet, one has to keep in mind that Tottenham was just coming back from Second Division and did not have strong team – they were just at the beginning of building of new team. Perryman and Naylor remained from the great old team of late 1960s-early 1970s, but their days were numbered. Glen Hoddle was still too young, still only a promise. The rest of the team was not much – new players were needed for sure. However, Ardiles played more than well.

The upper part of table was typical Englsih mix at first glance: Arsenal maintained strong position,without being a real factor – 7th at the end. Aston Villa was 8th – improving team, still raising, and still not ready for something big. Leeds United finished 5th, giving some hopes that decline was over before the club hit rock bottom. It was false impression… the team depended on 8 veterans, but the old team was already years beyond its prime. There was not a single new star. The good season was more or less an accident. So was the 4th place for Everton. Not a bad team, but nothing exceptional either – Bob Latchford, Martin Dobson, Duncan McKenzie, Mike Pejic… well known for years, not getting better, only older. They kept the strong from of their previous season, when they were 3rd, but… came close to relegation in the next season. It was a squad with no future really. Unlike Ipswich Town – they slipped down to 18th place the previous season, but compensated by winning the FA Cup. Ipswich was steadily going up since 1972. Except 1977-78, they were always among the top 5-6 teams – and ended 6th this year.

Ipswich was slowly ripening – perhaps the slower ever team to reach its great peak. The final touch came this season, with the arrival of two Dutch players – Arnold Muhren and Frans Thijssen from Twente (Holland). It was the finest creation of Bobby Robson: Mills, Mariner, Brazil, Burley, Butcher, Beattie, Wark, Osman, Muhren, Thijssen, and reliable Cooper between the goalposts. Still, the best season of this team was yet to come.

But the group of teams above was well behind the top three – there was a 8 points gap between Everton and the bronze medalists, quite unusual for English football. West Bromwich Albion was noticed since they returned to top flight in 1976, playing better and better. This was their best so far – third place with 59 points, leaving the next team 8 points behind, and missing silver medals by a point.

To a point, WBA was similar to Ipswich of the early 1970s – a bunch of excellent youngsters, quickly becoming known and getting better. Yet, there was a slight difference – instead of young talented coach, growing with the team, as was the case of Ipswich with Bobby Robson, WBA had well known and respected coach – Ron Atkinson. They also had a great veteran, famous with another team in his best years – Paddy Mulligan. But the real strength of the team followed the pattern of early Ipswich: young, bright talent. The Scottish striker Willie Johnston, added by two black Englishmen – Laurie Cunningham and Cyrille Regis and the best of them all – Bryan Robson, only 22 years old, but already a star in midfield. It was a team for the future – few additions were needed to make it really stronger, a few more years were needed for the peak… if the young stars stayed with the club, of course. Which was somewhat doubtful… Laurie Cunningham was the first to go – right after the end of this great season, he made unheard of move: went to Madrid, knocked on the door of Real and said he wanted to play for them. He was tested and hired.

Nottingham Forest, the sensation of the previous season, did not disappoint. They were much in the news, indeed. Especially after the new year began. Record transfer fee for the top English striker was more than news and so were the exploits of Forest abroad. However, they finished 2nd in the league, a point ahead of WBA, but 8 points behind the champions. But they were the team losing the least games during the campaign: only 3.

The picture shows the team winner of the League Cup in 1978 – Peter Withe left for Newcastle, but he was not to be forgotten: he just won European fame with another club. The rest were rapidly becoming very well known around the continent. The squad was getting stronger – Brian Clough was determined to make exceptional team and his transfers were huge: Peter Shilton, followed by Trevor Francis, and he had an eye on other big names as well (Stan Bowles arrived in the summer of 1979). Although they finished far behind Liverpool, it was clear that Forest was becoming a mega-club. It was not to everybody’s liking.

Liverpool took big revenge on Nottingham, which left them 7 points behind in 1976-77 – now they left the offenders 8 points behind. The rest of the league did not even count: the 4th placed WBA was 17 points behind! Liverpool scored 85 goals – a record for the decade. More goals were scored in quite distant days – Manchester United scored 89 and Manchester City – 86 in 1967-68. Even more astonishing was their defensive record – 16 goals allowed. One had to flip pages of league statistics to find something similar: yes, there was a better record. Preston North End allowed 15 goals in the very first league season – 1888-89. However, the league was small then – only 12 clubs, 22 seasonal matches total. Liverpool played 42. They reigned supreme.

Any need of introduction? By this time it was easier to count the players who were relatively unknown reserves… a very easy count: Steve Ogrizovic and Kevin Sheedy. The small inserted photos are of yet future players: the Israeli defender Abraham ‘Avi” Cohen and the Scottish striker Frank McGarvey joined Liverpool in the summer of 1979. It was business as usual for Liverpool… 11th title. Routine…

This was perhaps the season when fears that English league was becoming like the dreaded ‘continentals’ were most justified: outsiders, unable to keep pace with the rest and super-clubs dominating the championship. Liverpool was head and shoulders above the league. Nottingham Forest was rapidly becoming like Liverpool. It looked like these two clubs were able to get all the best players . Even their reserves were stars. The rest, lacking money and keeping with traditional ways, were simply unable to compete. The top players were eager to join the winners. It was coming to the point the championship to be a battle between two clubs, like in most European countries and contrary to English traditions. The championship was becoming predictable and that was not fun.


England II Division

Second Division – tough race for promotion and no outsiders. Typical English league season.

Blackburn Rovers finished last with 30 points. 10 wins, 10 draws, and 22 matches lost.

Milwall with 2 points more than Blackburn was 21st.

Rough time for the city famous for its ‘Sheffield steel’ – just like the metalworks, football was down. And out…

One point short of safety… United finished 20th with 34 points and dwon they went. There was to be a Sheffiled derby next year… in 3rd Division.

Down on their luck – or plainly in decline – were Leicester City.

They finished 17th – 3 points ahead of the deadly relegation zone. The exciting players of the early 1970s were all gone. Sitting on the far left is Gary Lineker – unknown youngster.

Ups and downs across the league – mid-table season for Newcastle United (8th) and West Ham United out of the race for promotion (5th), but the battle for three spots lifting teams up to first division was heavy – 4 teams competed. Sunderland left West Ham United behind – far behind, for 5 points were big difference at that time – but at the end they were one point short of the coveted spots. Sunderland was 4th with 55 points.

56 points meant promotion – two clubs shared the same record and goal-difference determined silver and bronze.

Stoke City were 3rd – two seasons in second division were enough. They were returning to where they belonged.

Brighton & Hove Albion finished a place above Stoke City. Back in 1976-77 Stoke City played in first division and Brighton in third. Obviously, a team going up and quickly too. Nice surprise they were – newcomers to top flight.

And a bit ahead of Brighton and Stoke – only a point ahead, but enough to win the championship , were familiar name. Up, down, now up again – Crystal Palace.

‘London’s pride’ they were called in magazines, peddling team posters. May be every London club was tagged with the same moniker, but there was some truth in this case: most London clubs were in bad shape. QPR and Chelsea were just relegated, leaving London with only 2 clubs in first division. Crystal Palace did not win easily, but win they did and up they went. It had been a long time… Crystal Palace did not play first division football since 1972-73.


England III & IV Division

How long it takes to forget? In 1970 Huddersfield Town was a familiar, if not famous name to those excited by English football – a first division club. By 1978 the name was almost unknown exotica… they slipped down to 4th division.

(Back) Buxton (manager), Hanvey, Mellor, Watson, Brown, Starling, Sutton, Taylor, Fletcher, Topping, Haselden (coach).

(Middle) Hart, Gray, Holmes, Sandercock, Armstrong, Gartland, Cowling, Lillis, Branagan.

(Front) Heptinstall, Shepherd, Brook N., Reid, Howey, Brook (D).

And there was no coming back… Huddersfield Town finsihed 9th in 1978-79. The past was already everything they had. As for the future, it belonged to the winners. Those finishing with promotion.

Wimbledon was 3rd .

Grimsby Town – second. Goal-difference determined positions – three clubs finished with 61 points and Barnsley had the worst and the 4th place in the final table. But they also earned promotional spot. Comfortably above all were the winners with 65 points.

Reading – proud champions of 4th Division.

At the bottom of 3rd Division were small clubs – Peterborough United, Walsall, Tranmere Rovers, and Lincoln City dead last. Their near future was 4th division, quite familiar to all of them, but the near future of familiar name was 3rd division:

Sheffield Wednesday, down on their luck, were 14th.

Five clubs competed for promotions – Gillingham and Swindon Town lost the race.

Swansea City finished 3rd and up they went. They had 60 points – one more than Gillingham and one less than the winners. But goal-difference placed them bellow the club of Elton John, also with 60 points.

Not a squad to brag about, but the rise of Watford had began. Better get familiar with this club, for they will play large role in English football by mid-1980s. Hard to imagine it in 1978-79.

Shrewsbury Town were the champions of 3rd Division. 61 points were simply beter than anybody else’s record. For Shrewsbury second division football was perhaps the highest possible level of achievement.


England – the continentals

England was the big news in the summer of 1978 and the following season was the beginning of a new era. The news was foreign players coming to English clubs. The first to arrive were fresh stars from the 1978 World Cup. The whole affair still baffles and confuses people – many still think that England finally opened its market to foreigners and it was the first time players from outside the British isles arrived in the English league. This was not true – England imported players since the early 20th century, but there were no signings since the 1960s and nobody remembered that the English market was never closed. It was mostly the attitude: the British did not think foreign players, or the ‘continentals’ as foreigners were called disrespectfully, can adapt to the ‘true game’. The other problem – an objective one, but closely linked to attitude – was labour laws. It was very difficult to obtain working permit, so nobody bothered. The third reason was even less known: there was ban on foreign players imposed by the Professional Footballers’ Association – it was in the realm of labour laws and trade unions. It was hardly absolute ban, for English laws are never absolute, but still it was difficult restriction. By 1978 it was in conflict with international regulations – particularly those existing in the early form of the European Union. PFA came under pressure and had to lift the ban – it was related to agreement between UEFA and EEC Commission that outlawed discrimination against the employment of footballers from other EEC countries. Once the door was slightly opened, there was no stopping… the first big imports were not coming from EEC. The whole picture is difficult to paint and perhaps most details are not important. Suffice to say that since technically England had no absolute ban on foreigners – like Italy, for instance – and imported players from outside UK: Irish, Caribians, South Africans, the odd Canadian or Australian, there was sufficient ground to get ‘continentals’ too. Difficult, but not impossible. The real problem was the clubs’ lack of desire.

But Tottenham Hotspur took the risk and signed two fresh world champions. Which was immediately huge news everywhere. Osvaldo Ardiles and Ricardo Villa arrived in London.

They were introduced to curious and cheering crowd eager to shake hands. Feelings and reactions were mixed: excitement of getting such high profiled players, mixed with curiosity about the ‘exotic’, but also negativity – to a point, the new arrivals were seen as a novelty. Do they speak English? If not – what’s the point of bringing them here? And adapting to English football? The Argentines had different style and they must change it to proper English one – is it possible? And after all, why hiring some people from the other end of the world? Don’t we have good enough guys, who speak the language and know the way to play? Just wait until December and the fancy boys will disappear in the mud! Why, they may not even last until December… if playing at all. Good publicity stunt, but these guys with weird names will stay on the bench for sure. As to prove the conflicting points, Ardiles was regular for Argentina, but Villa was not. Ardiles spoke English, Villa did not. Ardiles was frail, typical weak ‘continental’, but Villa was big and burly looking, like a true British player. No way to judge them clearly… so confusing.

The duo was soon joined by a third world champions – Alberto Tarantini.

He had wonderful world cup tournament, was one of the most talked about players, and clearly the best at his post – full left back. He also appeared British – tall, strong, energetic and tireless. And only 23 years old – young enough to learn and adapt. And he was almost free, for he had no club – true, the reason for this was a bit troublesome: he was without employer because of his disagreement over money with Boca Juniors and refusal to play for the club. After which Boca Juniors imposed a total ban on him in Argentina and he was unable to play for any club. Troublemaker… Luckily, he was in great form at the World Cup, so he was coming to England fit. Birmigham City signed him – another reason for debates and doubts. On one hand, English football was rightly thought the best – world champions were really good only for smallish English clubs, for the bigger ones had superior players already. ‘Continentals’ surely understood their own inferiority ans were glad just to try humbly to adjust and learn. And it was still good argument against foreigners: what they were really good for? If world champions were only good to play for Birmingham City, what was the point of bringing them at all in England? Surely there was a boy or two somewhere in the lower leagues just as capable, if not better. No need to teach him the language and where is the pub. And to a point, international reaction confirmed the English pride: the financial troubles of English clubs were well known and yet they were able to hire easily the top world players. Obviously, money were better than elsewhere. And it was great to see foreigners arriving to the Mecca of football – it was a dream, almost impossible dream, suddenly coming true.

The next to come was a star getting old by now – Kazimierz Deyna, the captain of the excellent Polish team in 1974. He was not so great at the 1978 World Cup and already 31 years old, but still considered a star.

His transfer from Legia (Warszawa) to Manchester City presented different lines of arguments: on one hand it was immediate recognition of the class of the East European football and in terms of money it looked like a snatch. On the other hand – why importing old player seemingly going downhill. Yet, he was one more high-profile player – world stars were moving to England quickly and willingly.

Two other players were hardly noticed at first, dwarfed behind the big transfers.

Arnold Muhren moved from Twente to Ipswich Town. Born in 1951, the younger Muhren was almost forgotten by now – he was known, because he was part of the great Ajax, but his fame was tangential: back in the great days he was reserve and known mostly because of his family name – Gerrie Muhren was indeed the star. When Arnold moved to Twente everybody forgot him instantly and his transfer was hardly noticed.

Same was the case of Partizan (Belgrade) defender Ivan Golac.

Like Arnold Muhren, Golac was not exactly a household name and he was no longer young – born in 1950. He played a little for Yugoslavia, but clearly was second-string player. His moving to Southampton hardly registered.

Few other players eventually went to England, but the number was as whole was small in 1978. The first transfers were highly representative of both negative and positive views about foreigners in England – a 50-50 division. Tarantini had a terrible single season in England. He is remembered allright: as one of the biggest all-time failures. To critics, he was a prime example of how unfit ‘continentals’ were for British football. The fact that Birmigham City had poor team at the time did not help Tarantini at all. Kazimierz Deyna stayed 3 seasons with Manchester City, but appeared in only 38 games, scoring 12 goals. He was plagued by injuries. The fans generally liked him, but saw little of him. Old, constantly injured, rarely playing… ‘continentals’ were clearly just waste of money. Ricardo Villa played for Tottenham Hotspur until 1983 and is considered club legend nowadays. But he adjusted slowly to English football, language was a problem, and was more a novelty than true star. Still,, he played 133 matches, scoring 18 goals for the Spurs. However, he was never called again to play for Argentina after the 1978 World Cup – he was not consistent in London, if not actually something worse.

The other three were clearly a success. Ivan Golac, almost unknown, settled well in Southampton – big, physical, and tough, he not only played 5 years for the Saints, but was a key player. In 1982 he was loaned to Bournemouth, then to Manchester City in 1983. The next season he playd back in Yugoslavia – kind of played: a single appearance for lowly Belasica (Strumica) in 1983-84. Then back to England and Southampton, where he retired in 1986. His English start was difficult and typical: he had problems with obtaining work permit and at first had non-contract status. Arnold Muhren also settled quickly – his adjustment was quick and although his first year was not fantastic, he nevertheless established himself as a key player in Ipswich Town. He was instrumental for the great success of Ipswich in the early 1980s, became one of the top players in the English league, and moved to Manchester United in 1982, where he played three seasons. If Arnold Muhren became a star, Osvaldo Ardiles became a legend. He was the least likely to succeed at first – small, light, technical, fragile looking, he was everything making ‘continentals’ unfit for the true game. But he mesmerized the fans from start, took the reigns of Tottenham, conducting their game and there was just no way to ignore him. Ardiles was the key player of the Spurs for 10 years (save for 1982-83, when Tottenham had to loan him to Paris SG because of the Malvin Islands war between Great Britain and Argentina – despite the war, Ossie returned triumphal and nobody had a grudge against him). Like Golac, Ardiles stayed in England to the end of his career – he retired in 1991, playing his last two years for Swindon Town. Unlike Villa, he was needed for the national team of Argentina and played at the 1982 World Cup finals.

Still, the critics were not satisfied – England was perhaps the toughest country for foreign players. They were placed under constant hostile scrutiny – it was not about expectations of elevating their team or the money they got. Foreign players faced such criticism in other countries, whereas in England the main point was fitting into the game and the culture. The smallest mistake was blown to enormous proportions and the battle cry remained: ‘we don’t need them, they cannot play, they cannot understand our football’. To a point, the initial split shown above determined imports for a long time – South Americans and Southern Europeans were avoided. Yugoslavians and Dutch were the main imported players for a while. It stands to reason: both nations were long time exporters of players, their reputations were good, the Dutch players were especially welcomed in the late 1970s, because they represented leading football. The Dutch had more advantages – traditionally, they respected and knew English football, they had great working ethic, and usually they knew English language well. Eventually, the bulk of foreign players in England consisted largely from Northern Europeans – Dutch and Scandinavians, who were like the Dutch in working ethic and knowledge of language. It was difficult for the ‘continentals’ to survive in the English league and harsh critical voices exist even today, but the gates were opened in 1978 and there was no going back. 1978-79 is remarkable and most important season because of that. The ‘continentals’ have arrived.


Spain The Cup

Real Madrid was going for a double – they reached the final for Copa del Rey. The other finalist was Valencia, which, given their shaky season, did not look like formidable opponent. But predictions and reality are not the same: mighty Real was outplayed and lost 0-2.

A team like that seems unbeatable, but it was not the team facing Valencia. Real fielded Garcia Remon, San Jose, Isidro, Wolff, Benito, Del Bosque, Roberto Martinez, Stielike, Santillana, Garcia Hernandez, and Aguilar. Vitoria substituted Santillana in the 12th minute and in the 88th Mate replaced Garcia Remon. Inferior team, compared to the usual starters… few aging players, unfortunate loss of Santillana, and at the end the third goalie came in, only to receive a goal almost at once.

Valencia made the best of their chance. Mario Kempes scored in the 24th minute and the fragile lead was preserved to the end. To the very end – Kempes scored the second goal in the very last minute. The deep reserve Mate shamefully received a goal in only two minutes on the pitch, but why blaming him ? The match was lost by the time Kempes scored his second – the referee was going to whistle the end any second. And he did after the goal, Valencia victorious. It was their first cup since 1967 !

Proud winners of Copa del Rey. Valencia had to play with their second kit, because the first kits of the finalists colided – all white. Valencia also had to play the final at hostile Madird. And against the big stars of Spanish football. Yet, they won ! Kempes was the hero once again. So was the coach Bernardino Perez. The season turned to be successful.

It should have been, judging by the summer of 1978. Valencia had Mario Kempes – just crowned as world football champion. He was also the top scorer of the world cup finals and voted the best player of the tournament. And he was only 24 ! Valencia made the second big transfer too – Barcelona got Krankl, Valencia – Rainer Bonhof. It was arguably the best addition to Kempes – Bonhof was the best offering of the West German total football : strong, fit, excellent in defense, creative in midfield, dangerous in attack. Never tired, relentlessly covering the whole pitch, great passer. He and Kempes were both physically strong modern players – the duo had to be lethal. And they were not alone – Valencia had bright players like Solsona (26) and Botubot (23). Jose Manzanedo (22) was the best goalkeeper of the season. 18-years old teenager not only debuted, but immediately established himself among the regulars – Tendillo, a name frequently mentioned in the 1980s. The ever-present Paraguayans, tough and reliable, were also at hand – Carlos Diarte (24) and Eufemio Cabral (23). And one more Argentine striker – Dario Felman (29). It was promising team, lead by players made for each other. And the coach was experienced veteran – the former French star of Spanish descent Marcel Domingo. He played numerous years in Spain, but his coaching career was only in Spain – he knew Spanish football in and out and was at best coaching age – 54. Vastly experienced fox at his prime. Valencia was going for the title. Or so it looked like at first. The season turned out to be mediocre one and Domingo was fired. By the time of the cup final Bernardino Perez was at the helm – too late to improve in the league, but the cup was a good chance. The chance was not missed – the team had big potential, Kempes scored when it mattered most, and failure turned into a triumph. Kempes and Bonhof proved they were among the best of the world with a trophy. 5th cup for Valencia.


Spain I Division

Primera Division had a surprise too, but it was not related to the arrival of new foreign stars. If they were any indication, it was mixed or so-so season. Hans Krankl ended as the best league scorer, but Barcelona was not even among the top three. Rainer Bonhof helped Valencia win the cup, but in the championship they were 7th. Daniel Bertoni was rarely heard of and his new club Sevilla fought not for the title, but to esacpe relegation. At the bottom of the league things were settled early in the season and the only problem was the third relegation spot. Recreativo Huelva were dead last with 21 points. A point better were Racing Santander. Both teams were far behind everyone else. The battle for survival involved almos half the league, but the smaller clubs inevitably were the most involved. Celta Vigo were the unlucky club – they finished with 28 points and 16th. The lucky boys were Rayo Vallecano.

Survivors, top row from left : Anero, Alcazar, Uceda, Manano, Luna, Fermin.

Crouching : Manau, Francisco, Landaburri, Astegiano, Alvanto.

The pariah of Madird were big contrast to their their wealthy neighbors Real and Atletico – they were not even proper rivals, but just a small club of modest means. Just playing in Primera meant much for them. Survival was ever present issue – and this season they finished fine : 15th with 29 points. Safe.

Similar were others – Hercules Alicante, Burgos, Salamanca – but a group of bigger clubs underperformed. Real Zaragoza barely escaped relegation – 14th with 30 points.

Standing, from left: Irazusta, Lasa, Camus, India, Oñaederra, Antic.

Crouching: Víctor, Alonso, Amorrortu, Arrúa, Juanjo.

The squad was nothing to brag about and Zaragoza was not a big factor in Spanish football, but not outsider either. Mid-table – yes, but not the relegation zone. Yet, there they were… lucky to survive.

A bit better than Zaragoza, but a disappointment nevertheless was Sevilla.

Standing from left : Juanito, Alvarez, Sanjose, Gustavo Fernandez, Gerolami, Blanco.

Crouching : Scotta, Juan Carlos, Yiyi, Rubio, Bertoni.

With Gustavo Fernandez (Uruguay, 26 yers old, reserve at the 1974 World Cup), Hector Scotta (Argentina, 26, former national team player), and newly recruited Eduardo Gerolami (Uruguay,26) and fresh world champion Daniel Bertoni (Argentina, 23) Sevilla looked very dangerous. But with 33 points they finished 11th.

Athletic Bilbao and Valencia were also disappointing – the Basques ended 9th with 34 points, Valencia with a point more was 7th.

On the brighter side were Real Sociedad – they were not a club usually coming to mind, but had very strong season, finishing 4th and missing bronze medals only because of worse goal-difference. This looked like temporary success at the time, but in fact Real Sociedad was at the beginning of their best years. Las Palmas was another club playing strong, but they were steady for some time.

This was the ‘Argentinian’ period of Las Palmas – they depended on gauchos, who played well and more or less defined the club in the 1970s. Daniel Carnevalli, now 32, was between the goalposts for years. Carlos Morete was not famous, but reliable he was. Miguel Brindisi, 28 now, was one of the brighest Argentinian stars only a few years ago – and he still was considered influential midfielder. Las Palmas also had Uruguayan – the reserve goalkeeper Nilson Bertinot, and Paraguayan – Crispin Maciel. And Mauritanian… well, exotica… but not really : the 22 years old right full back Gerardo was born in Mauritania, but he was of Spanish origins and perhaps like the other foreigners – naturalized quickly. Perhaps he was not even an oriundo, but Spanish citizen from birth. Anyhow, Las Palmas maintained solid performance year after year – this one they finished 6th.

Good and bad, but the ugly was Barcelona. Cruyjff announced his retirement, real or fake, and was back in Amsterdam. Barcelona failed to win the championship after 1974, which did not stay well with anybody in Catalonia. Coaches were hired and fired, players were added – and nothing. Crujff was replaced by great current star – Hans Krankl, the Austrian goal-scoring machine. He arrived from impressive World Cup performance and the expectations were high. He and Neeskens were the official foreign stars, but Barcelona had lot more – 2 Argentines : Rafael Zuviria and Juan Carlos Heredia, an Uruguayan : Alfredo Amarillo Kechichian, a Brazilian : Bio, and Moroccan : Jose Ramos. With the exception of Bio, all were ‘oriundi’ and permitted to play. Add the cohort of Spanish stars… and a new coach. Lucien Muller came from Burgos. 44 years old with plenty of experience already. The former French star played for both Barcelona and Real Madrid and after retiring coached in Spain , beginning with Castellon in 1970. Muller was hired to win the title of course. Barca was always aiming at the title – before the season starts. Then it was not so great – Muller did not last to the end of the season, as many others before him. Barcelona struggled, but ended only with best attack in the league. Hans Krankl finished as number one scorer, as hoped, but his goals made no difference – Barcelona finished 5th. 38 points were only one more than Las Palmas’ , the champions had 9 points more than Barca. Failure.

This picture is interesting because of the reserve kit : Barca with a trace of white triggered a revolt 10 in the 1990s. The fans demanded the offending kit to be changed – the club did not, but playing with whole white jerseys did not infuriate the fans in the 1970s. On the other hand using the colour of the arch-enemy may have been the reason for the terrible season. Just ask the fans. The problems were not the jerseys – Barca had problems ever since 1974 : aging players, which perhaps were kept too long ; not really great newcomers ; and goalkeeping. After Sadurni retired a pair of the same age was used alternatively – Artola and Mora. Neither excelled. The contrast with Real Madird was particularly painful – Real had two national team keepers at the time when Barca had two flunkies. Neeskens was becoming a problem too – he was fading. 5th place was not what he was expected to deliver – and he moved to the stable of Cosmos after the end of the season. To enjoy New York life and drugs. Still, the season was not entirely lost to Nesskens and Barca – the high note was international victory, more than compensating for the domestic failure. May be it was the reason for the weak season, may be not, but at least it was great excuse.

Good season for Atletico Madird. In general, the decade was good and successful for Atletico, but there was always doubt. They never had the best squad in Spain – at least not for the critics, who found them old, tired, and depending of second-raters, occasionally over-achieving. No exception this season – this is the introduction of the squad in July 1978 :

Ayala, Luis Pereira, and Leivnha were seemingly eternal… getting older, not better. Leivinha… hardly anyone remebered that he was hailed as the ‘next Pele’ in 1972 or 1973. Now he had hard time to get in the starting eleven. The other two were no longer called to play for Brazil and Argentina. Two more Argentines were in the team – Oscar Gonzalez (24) and Ruben Cano (27) – and both were ‘oriundi’. Ruben Cano actually was entirely natiralized and included in the Spanish national team – yet, not considered a great star. Reina was getting too old, but his reserves were worse. Marcial… well, if he was really so good, Barcelona would have kept him. Atletico was easy to criticize and dismiss. Even the club’s brass – three coaches lead the team this season, fired one fter another – the Uruguayan Hector Nunez was at the helm in July 1978, but he was replaced by Luis Aragones, who also did not last – the Hungarian Ferenc Szusza came next. Considering the troubles, Atletico finished very well – 3rd with 41 points. Better goal-difference won them the bronze – they had 1 goal more than Real Sociedad.

Above Atletico finished the big surpise of the season – a club which never played major rôle in Spanish football. A club accustomed to mid-table position and not looking any different than usual before the start of the season.

Sporting Gijon never won anything and had no money for big transfers. It was a club without stars, save for one player. The usual bunch of South-americans, ‘oriundi’ or bona fide imports, were anonimous : 4 Argentines, whose names mean nothing- Rezza, Doria, Ferrero, and Oscar Ferrero. The Spaniards were equally modest. Perhaps the most important person was the coach – Vicente Miera was not famous, but he was young – only 38 years old. Which menas he was very likley influenced by the current developments of the game and did not stick to outdated methods. He had no stars, but obviously made a team. Well, he had a star – a single one : Enrique Castro Gonzalez – Quini. Big, strong, physical, thretening centre-forward and great scorer. Quini was leading Spanish striker since 1973, he was at his prime and national team regular. With him in front and ten working horses fighting and supporting, Sporting Gijon won 17 league matches – the second highest record this season. They also had the best defensive record, allowing only 30 goals. They soared, moved ahead of the whole league, save one club. Better than Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Valencia, all… but a team of journeymen can go only that far… Gijon was not able to really compete for the title. They finished 4 points short.

Heroes, standing, from left: Ciriaco, Castro, Joaquin, Redondo, Cundi, Rezza.

First row: Morán, Uria, David, Quini, Ferrero.

Great, but… one-time wonder surely. Quini was not going to last – and he did not. Still great season – the best ever ! So far this yeat remains the best achievement of Sporting Gijon. However, they were not one-time wonder, as expected : they played really well in the next few years, reaching the cup final twice. The best period in the history ofthe club started.

The champions do not need introduction… one more success for Real Madrid. And comfortably won – 4 points ahead of the nearest pursuer, losing only 3 games during the campaign.

Familiar squad too – lead by Luis Molowny, Real had the best squad in Spain since 1975. There was no need of big signing and no foreign star was acquired – the best was alerady at hand. Five foreigners – Ulrich Stielike, who missed the 1978 World Cup thanks to stupid decision of the West German federation banning foreign-based players, of which the real loser was the national team ; his former teammate in Borussia Moenchengladbach, the Danish centre-forward Henning Jensen ; the former captain of Argentina Enrique Wolff, remembered from the 1974 World Cup, and two more of his compatriots – Roberto Martinez and Carlos Alfredo Guerini. The Argentines was naturally ‘oriundi’ – Roberto Martinez even played for the national team of Spain. He was 33 by now, but still dangerous. As for the rest… there was no end : Santillana, Juanito, Del Bosque, Miguel Angel, Sol, Benito… even the reserve goal-keeper was a national team player – Garcia Remon. Aguilar was no longer a starter in such company. Pirri still was. The one left out was Camacho – seems very strange today : may be the competition was so great that arguably the best Spanish defender at the time was not able to keep his place among the regulars. The reason was different : Camacho suffered great injury at training and practically missed the whole season. There was real danger that he will not recover at all – luckily, he beat the odds. Yet, even without Camacho Real was too much for the opposition. Another title, it was not a news really.


Spain II Division

Spain more or less lost the fascinating and scarry image of the country scooping all stars from the world – big transfers were few, and although Spanish football had enourmous number of foreign players, most were from Argentina and Paraguay and largely unknown. Competent professionals, but not stars – their biggest quality was that they qualified easily for citienship and were not imports, but ‘oriundi’. Thus, the number of ‘real’ foreign players was maintained under the rules. As for big transfers – 1978 made the news like every other year : the West German midfielder Rainer Bonhof was bought by Valencia from Borussia (Moenchengladbach), and the Austrian scoring machine Hans Krankl moved to Barcelona from Rapid (Vienna). Big transfres, making impact, but not really defining the season. Which was intriguing enough.

If Spanish top league was tough, the second level was really grueling. Perhaps the quality of the game was not impressive, but the battles were fierce and never ending. Segunda A Division hardly made international news, but arguably it was the most difficult league in Europe – ambitious clubs tried to escape hell. At the bottom end three teams were hopeless outsiders : Racing de Ferrol was last with 15 points. Much stronger performance was delivered by the teams immediately above, but they were also well bellow the general league level – Barakaldo CF finished 19th with 28 points and Terrassa FC – 18th with 29 points. The big battle was for avoiding the 4th relegation place – 7 clubs were involved and Real Jaen lost the race – they earned 34 points, the same as Algeciras CF, but unfortunately had worse goal-difference : one goal was the fatal difference between survival and death. Real Jaen ended 17th and was relegated to third division, or Segunda B.

Up the table names were familiar – most clubs played first division football frequently, but their fate was really trying to go up, then trying to remain among the best, and inevitably moving back to second division. Roughly equal, not at all imressive, without a chance of making strong squad. Clubs with limited resourses – they were unable to buy stars and also were unable to keep emerging talent. Such clubs made the league very difficult – many had a chance to win, none was outstanding. 10 clubs – half the league fought for three promotional spots this season. Goal-difference determined the winner of the championship and also the unlucky 4th in the table. The 5th was only 2 points behind the champions. Real Valladolid was the unlucky club – they ended 4th on goal-difference. Real Betis clinched the last promotional spot : with 46 points, like Real Valladolid, but they had the best goal-difference in the whole league : +23. Real Valladolid had merely +15… and had to stay in hell for at least one more season.

On the surface, Real Betis had perhaps the most impressive squad in Segunda A : Gerrie Muhren of the great Ajax was in the squad and the former Argentinian national team defender Mario Killer, 27 years old. One more Argentine – Eduardo Anzarda, and two talented Uruguayans, both only 23 – Hugo Cabezas and Carlos Peruena. And ‘maestro’ Cardenoza – apparently, the big star of the team. Names are one thing, reality another… Muhren was not even a shadow of his foremr self by now and at 32 was more or less out of big football. Killer also was not so great anymore. Real Betis was no better than the other candidates for promotion and with great difficulty managed to go up.

A point above them finished CD Malaga.

Standing, from left : Corral, Araez, Nacho, Javi, Bua, Macias.

Crouching : Juan Carlos, Cantarutti, Orozco, Migueli, Santi.

Never a big club, Malaga naturally had no recognizable players – they depended largely on Spaniards, one of the clubs practically lacking foreigners, but had Argentine coach – Sebastian Viberti Irazoki. May be he insisted on the single foreign-born player in the squad : the 20-years old winger Juan Enrique Cantarutti Peralta. Long name, but.. not familiar. Cantarutti helped the team, perhaps was the star player of Malaga… and nothing else. Just a tough squad lucky to secure promotion. Malaga lost the top place in the league on goal-difference. They also lost it to a sensation.

Spanish club are old – Malaga, Real Betis, and so on, are familiar, if not great. They moved up and down constantly, making second division winners familiar. AD Almeria were absolute beginners : this season they debuted in Segunda A. And more : AD Almeria was not even 10 years old club… they were formed in 1971. The full name is Agrupacion Deportiva Almeria. The babies naturally srarted from the very bottom – in the regional league. They won promotion right away and moved to 4th level of Spanish football – and looked like that was that : the young club from a small city stayed in 4th division the next few years. However, they won promotion in 1976-77 – not very impressive : they finished 3rd. Perhaps nobody was watching… the debutantes in Segunda B did not waste time and won the 1977-78 championship. Now, Segunda A would be too much for them ? Not a bit – they won it in their very first season. In less than then 10 years of existence AD Almeria climbed to first division. A rare and sensational success.

Amazing debutants, standing from left : Cesar,Garay,Zunzunegui,Oscar Lopez,Piñero,Maxi Morales (utillero)

Crouching : Cubillo (maseur), Rojas,Jeromo,Martinez,Rolon,Rozas,Claudio (maseur).

No stars here, but not exactly local heroes either – apparently, AD Almeria got strong recruits before the season, who benefited the team, perhaps were instrumental to the success. New coach – Jose Maria Maguregui Ibargutxi, 44 years old, arrived from Celta (Vigo). If anything, Basques are known for toughness and no-nonsense approach. Maguregui was quite young – hence, ambitious and not outdated – and experienced in top level football. Four foreigners were also hired in the summer of 1978 – Oscar Lopez (Paraguay, 26 yearls old midfielder), Clemente Rolon (Paraguay, 27, attacking midfielder), Ricardo Martinez (Argentina, 26, playmaker), and Odair (Brazil, 27, striker). Not stars, but at their prime and experienced – all played already in Spain and were ambitious to climb up from the lower leagues.

New boys introduced to the public : Oscar Lopez and Clemente Rolon.

Perhaps Rolon was the best of the new boys, but he is also an enigma : he came from Murcia and Spanish statistics say he played for Murcia at least two years. But if takes a look at Colombian football will find Rolon playing for Deportivo Pereira in 1977. Whatever, he was very useful to AD Almeida. As a whole, the newcomers helped a lot and to their joy were moving to the top league. AD Almeida had meteoric rise, shined brightly, and… as every meteor burnt quickly. They faced severe economic problems soon after this great season – and in 1982 were disolved. But what fascinating flight AD Almeida had !

Italy The Cup

Intriguing cup final – Juventus vs Palermo. The best Italian team at the time against mid-table second division club. The rich North vs impoverished South. Football mafia vs the Sicilian one ? Two clubs using pink colour at the final… well, Juventus did not, but pink was their original colour. One may speculate endlessly, but it was a brave performance by Palermo so far and very unusual case in Italy – second division club going all the way to the final. And may be winning the Cup ? The ambition was certainly there. And more than ambition… the regular time ended without a winner. The stars of Juventus prevailed at last in the overtime : 2-1. Palermo excelled, but… Juventus had all the stars.

Unione Sporiva Citta di Palermo were old, as most Italian clubs are – founded in 1900. ‘Aqile’ (the Eagles), however, were small and contrary to their nickname rarely flied high – second division was their natural habitat, occasional adventures into first division was too much for them. 1978-79 was not outstanding season for them – they were in the upper half of second division, but not able to challenge the best. The cup tournament was their chance, partly because most of the big Italian clubs were not at their best this year.

Palermo reached the final and tried to win, but at the end lost. They were unfortunate, in a way, but really they outdid themselves – without stars, without any worthy players, the most they could do was heroics. Palermo never won anything – cup finals were their biggest achievement : they already played a final in 1974, this was their second attempt. They lost again…

There was much at stake for Juventus too – the season was mediocre, they needed a trophy. As the cup itself was concerned – Juventus won it in 1965 for the last time. And so far the cup was not their tournament – they won it only 5 times. Since Juve were the best team in the 1970s… they needed the elusive trophy badly. They won it with dificulties, saved the season, added their first cup after more than 10 years, confirmed their leading position. It was not convincing win, but the cup was theirs.

A squad capable of much more than struggling against second division team and clinching victory in extra-time, but winning the 6th cup in the club’s history after a very long drought.