The Importance Of Being An Innocent Bystander – Kevin Keegan’s Belgrade Misadventure, 1974

England‘Bad luck always comes in threes and starts with a B’ is a variant on a popular old adage that could have been copyrighted by Kevin Keegan during his playing days. Bikes, Bremner and Belgrade: the Liverpool and England forward suffered a personal hat-trick of misadventures during the mid-1970s when he Yugoslaviabecame the unwitting and unfortunate victim of three very different and very painful incidents.

In 1976 the perpetrator was a particularly wobbly bike during a guest appearances on BBC’s ‘Superstars’ programme. Never seeming in control as he pedalled down a track for 100 Kevin Keegan v Belgrade Airport Securityyards or so, Kevin’s precarious battle against gravity was finally lost and he crashed to the ground suffering severe cuts and grazes to his arm, shoulder and back. Two years earlier he had been on the wrong end of a physical battering from Leeds United in the Charity Shield at Wembley. Johnny Giles was to the fore in the tenderisation of the Liverpool man and when he whacked Keegan from behind at a corner, the forward’s considerable patience finally snapped. When Keegan turned round Giles had disappeared, so the angry Liverpool man assumed that Billy Bremner was responsible as he was the closest Leeds player in attendance. A punch-up ensued and both players were red carded, tearing off their shirts as they left the pitch in protest at the decision. There was wide scale condemnation and a lengthy ban for Keegan, but precious little comment about the lack of protection he had received from the match officials.

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Partizan Belgrade Eleven

YugoslaviaAs a companion piece to our lengthy pieces about Partizan Belgrade from their 1960s European Cup Final days, we thought it appropriate to follow-up with an Eleven post dedicated to the crno-beli (black-whites). We asked Partizan fan and lively Twitter presence Dusan Mihajilovic (@DusanMih) to put together his best all-time Partizan team and he came up with the following attack-minded line-up.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

1 – Ivan Ćurković (1964-72, 427 apps / 0 goals) One of the best Yugoslav goalkeepers of all time. A lack of trophy success during his time at Partizan was more than compensated for following a move west to Saint-Etienne. Ćurković became a legendary figure during his 9 years with the French club and was a mainstay of the powerful side that reached the 1976 European Cup Final.

2 – Zoran Mirković (1993-96 & 2004-06, 253 apps/6 goals) One of the last true ‘hard men’ of the Serbian game. Adored by fans for always giving everything for the Partizan shirt and he even played his final season for the club without a contract. Between his two spells with Partizan, Mirkovic enjoyed decent spells abroad at Atalanta, Juventus and Fenerbahce.

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A Balkan Soap Opera: Belgrade, 1966 – Part Two

Rarely has football seen a better example of the truism that success can be a double-edged sword than the story of Partizan Belgrade in the mid 1960s. The Belgrade club’s fine achievements during that decade culminated in a European Cup Final appearance in 1966, but that success only pushed the club unwittingly towards a perfect storm of difficult events as clashing elements of capitalism, communism, professionalism and amateurism all conspired against them.

'A Balkan Soap Opera. Belgrade, 1966'

The unfortunate consequence was that the greater their success on the pitch, the quicker it hastened the club’s broader decline. By adding implausible sub-plots involving player strikes, broken contracts, furtively acquired Western consumer goods and a mass purge of the supporting cast at the end of the season; a picture starts to emerge of the Balkan soap opera that was Partizan Belgrade and the broader Yugoslav game in 1966. This is Part Two of their story; you can read Part One here.

 

Rašović & Ćurković

The ongoing European Cup run remained the single, unifying element for Partizan’s warring factions. Sparta Prague looked a tough Quarter-Final draw and with Bečejac and Kovačević both suspended, keeper Šoškić suffering from a hand injury and Bajić taking ill at the last moment; Partizan appeared severely weakened for the away leg. The Czechs cruised to a 4-1 win and fully exploited the uncertainty of young reserve keeper, Ćurković, after he fumbled a corner into his own net for the opener.

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Yugoslavia Vintage 1960-74

YugoslaviaOur latest Vintage series takes BTLM back to one of our favourite footballing subjects: Eastern European football before the collapse of communism. This is the first in our Yugoslavia Vintage series; a gallery featuring an eclectic retro mix starring some of the major players, teams and managers from the sixties and seventies.

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A Balkan Soap Opera: Belgrade, 1966 – Part One

Rarely has football seen a better example of the truism that success can be a double-edged sword than the story of Partizan Belgrade in the mid 1960s. The Belgrade club’s fine achievements during that decade culminated in a European Cup Final appearance in 1966, but that success only pushed the club unwittingly towards a perfect storm of difficult events as clashing elements of capitalism, communism, professionalism and amateurism all conspired against them.

The unfortunate consequence was that the greater their success on the pitch, the quicker it hastened the club’s broader decline. By adding implausible sub-plots involving player strikes, broken contracts, furtively acquired Western consumer goods and a mass purge of the supporting cast at the end of the season; a picture starts to emerge of the Balkan soap opera that was Partizan Belgrade and the broader Yugoslav game in 1966. This is the first part of that story.

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Things had begun so simply back in the late 1950s with the Partinzanove bebe (Partizan’s babies). Yugoslavia was already known as the European Brazil for the conveyor belt of young talent the country produced, but this was a particularly special collection of talent.

The spine of the team was forged by a quartet of players who would come to define Partizan: Milutin Šoškić was an agile and courageous goalkeeper; in defence Fahrudin Jusufi a technically adroit, attacking full-back who could switch flanks seamlessly; up front was Milan Galić, an opportunistic forward who could switch to play on the left too. All three were key members of the national side that won 1960 Olympic gold and finished runners-up in the European Nations Cup. Emerging shortly after was central defender and sweeper, Velibor Vasović. Despite suffering throughout his career from asthma, Vasović was a groundbreaking player who was as significant as fellow 60s luminaries Facchetti and Beckenbauer in revolutionising the role of the playmaking defender.

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Dutch Vintage 1962-73

NetherlandsCruyff, Ajax, Feyenoord – this first Dutch Vintage post features retro imagery from a dizzying decade of development in the Dutch game as it evolved swiftly from amateurism through to European club dominance and international brilliance.

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Through The Lens Of Henk Blansjaar

Through The Lens Of Henk BlansjaarWhether already a devout follower of the late Dutch photographer Henk Blansjaar or a new convert-in-waiting yet to be introduced to his wonderful work, we’re sure you’ll enjoy our new regular series Through The Lens With Henk Blansjaar. Over the coming months we’ll be catering for Henk newcomers and completists alike as we collate the best of his prodigious football photographic output.

Blansjaar came to prominence after World War II when he was employed by De Spaarnestad, Holland’s biggest publisher. He built an impressive reputation visually documenting everyday life in post War Netherlands, but it was his work photographing Dutch sport – and particularly football – for Panorama magazine that established him as something of a cult figure during the 1960s.

A warm, self-effacing humour and a readiness to blow away staid football photography conventions were his trademarks. His ideas were especially well realised through his distinct take on team line-ups pictures. The de facto standard shots of a team posing for the camera on their home pitch in two lines, one kneeling and one standing, was brilliantly deconstructed and recast as riotous, colourful celebrations of unorthodox poses in unlikely locations.

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