Things that go up tend to go down. That’s the way life works. Today we bring you four clubs that are far from their glory days so to speak. Some, like the two English clubs, Leeds and Nottingham Forest, are in lower divisions today despite being major forces in Europe in the past. Feyenoord are still one of the “big-three” in The Netherlands but haven’t won a league title in over ten years and don’t look really close to one right now. Aberdeen? They miss having Alex Ferguson around I guess.
Leeds United A.F.C.
Well, we have covered Leeds more thoroughly before (Movin’ on up), but in a post like this, how can the number two team in the third division (League One) in English soccer not be mentioned? Don Revie, who got the manager job at Leeds in 1961, led the club for 14 years, bringing them up from the second division and under his ten season reign in the top flight (1965-1974) the club never finished outside the top four, winning two league titles (1968-1969, 1973-1974), one FA Cup (1972), two Inter-Cities Fairs Cups (1968, 1971), what is now known as the Europa League and was the UEFA cup for many years and even reaching the final of the European Champions Cup in 1975, after Revie already left for the England job, losing to Bayern Munich. Since then? Nothing much – the club spent most of the 1980’s in the second division (the English Championship today), before winning the last title in English soccer before the Premiership was founded (1992), with an unknown Frenchmen starring for the whites, some guy called Eric Cantona. Then came more and less successful seasons before the financial burdens sent Leeds spiraling down the leagues, far from their domestic and continental glory of the 60’s and 70’s.
Going up a division in England, to the Championship, the second tier of English soccer. Currently third, battling for promotion and eying a return to the Premiership for the first time since the 1998-1999 season. Alas, it only lasted a season last time around. Brian Clough links us to the previous team, Leeds United. Clough was the manager who replaced Revie at Leeds, but didn’t last there more than two months (Watch the film, Damned United). Clough became Forest manager in mid 1975, and in 1977 was back into the first division with the club. A year later? Winning the league title for the first (and only to date) time. 1979? European Champions. 1980? European Champions Again! Since then? Nothing much except for two League Cups (1989-1990). The club were relegated in 1993, came back for three years, got relegated again, came back for a year, and in the last 11 season have been either in the Championship or League one (three seasons).
Feyenoord have 14 league titles. The problem is, the last time they were Dutch champions was 1999. Quite a long time for a team that sees itself as one of the “big-three” in The Netherlands a at some point in history, a European force. The 1960’s were great for the Rotterdam club, winning four league titles and in 1970 became the first Dutch team to win the Champions Cup, under Austrian coach Ernst Happel, who also won two league titles with the club, which was named Feijnoord until 1973. Since then? Nothing much – one title in the 1980’s, two in the 1990’s, but mostly Ajax and PSV success. There was the 2002 UEFA Cup victory over Dortmund, but the lack of domestic success and Champions League time is a real pain for the fans and the clubs operators. Currently there 4th, 14 points behind a place leading to the Champions League next season.
For about half a decade, between 1979-1985, Rangers and Celtic didn’t dominate Scottish Soccer. In fact, Rangers didn’t even win a league title in those years. Aberdeen won three, Celtic won two, and Dundee United with one. The Dons incredible success came under one, Alex Ferguson, you probably heard about him and another club he brought back to greatness, Manchester United. Well, Fergie coached Aberdeen from 1978-1986, winning three league titles, three Scottish Cups (1982-1984, consecutive wins) and probably his most amazing achievement with this small club was winning the Cup Winners’ Cup trophy in 1983, beating Real Madrid in Gothenburg, Sweden. Since then, except for a cup here and there, Aberdeen have joined the rest of the SPL club not named Rangers and Celtic in a battle for the third spot, with no hope of winning anything major coming round the mountain.