Our latest collection of football Shorts features a selection of brief 1960s and 1970s stories from the former Republic of Yugoslavia.
Dazzlingly skilled left winger, Red Star Belgrade legend and popular chanteur extraordinaire – was there no end to Dragan Džajić’s talents? In 1967 he cashed in on his celebrity status by releasing a 7″ single in his native Yugoslavia. The lead track of the four was the Red Star Belgrade club song and the other three were adaptations of, errr, Mexican folk ballads. Sounds awful actually but his record did sell a respectable 50,000 units and earn Dragan around $1000 for his questionable musical efforts.
While Yugoslavia was well-known for the huge number of talented players it exported to other European nations, there were many Yugoslav coaches who plied their trade abroad too – and often in obscure locations. During 1976 Yugoslav coaches were in charge of the following foreign national teams: Cameroon (Vladimir Beara), Zambia (Ante Buselic), Colombia (Blagojev Vidinic), Sudan (Ivan Zvekanovic), Haiti ( Mladen Kasanic), Nigeria (Tika Jelisavcic), Togo (Krsta Cvetkovic), Egypt (Dusan Nenkovic) and Mauritius (Slobodan Bozic).
An unusual experiment in 1973 gave an opportunity to the readers of the Belgrade Evening News to select a team of players to play against the national team in a training game. The popularly selected XI duly attained a credible 0-0 draw against Vujadin Boskov’s full-strength Yugoslavia team, perhaps suggesting this management business isn’t as hard as some would have you believe.
A Yugoslav referee named Ristic was rushed to hospital after collapsing during a game between Hajduk Split and OFK Belgrade. In his subsequent report Ristic wrote that he had been struck on the head by a missile thrown from the crowd, so the Yugoslav Federation awarded the game to the visitors as was standard practice. The odd thing was that the official observer at the match could find no trace of any missile. Hajduk Split appealed against the decision with their club doctor suggesting the referee had fallen and landed on his own whistle. Another submission was made from a local electrician who claimed to have seen a bat swoop down under the floodlights and strike the referee. Before they were inundated with more bizarre potential interpretations of the event, a weary Yugoslav Federation took the path of least resistance and restored the 2-2 scoreline from when play had stopped originally.
Television coverage of Yugoslav League games was a thorny issue in the 1960s with lower attendances from the weekly live broadcast game not being offset by any extra television revenue. In 1966 matters came to a head and the Yugoslav Federation withdrew permission for any live coverage at all. The state broadcaster retaliated by announcing they would show classic games from their archive in the same Saturday afternoon slot instead. Their first featured game was a re-run of the recent England v West Germany World Cup Final and its viewing figures were higher than any recorded for the live domestic matches.