Trabzonspor make their debut, a significant event as they went on to take six titles in nine years and break the dominance of the big three, writes Alp Ayhan
The long-term significance
Brazilian World Cup winner Didi had taken over as Fenerbahce coach in 1972, finishing second in his first season, taking the title in 1974 and again the following season. Fenerbahce wouldn’t win two in a row again until 2005. This was a bleak period for local rivals Galatasaray, who were to go 14 seasons without winning a championship, a run they broke in 1987. Both Istanbul clubs were to be overshadowed over the next decade by the Black Sea side Trabzonspor, who made their 1. Lig debut in 1974-75 and went on to take six titles in the next nine years.
Story of the season
Fenerbahce were unbeaten until December, when they lost 2-1 at neighbours Besiktas. They bounced back the following week with the biggest win of the season, 7-1 against Goztepe. Galatasaray also stormed the league in the first half of the season, with the only defeat coming at Adana Demirspor. A second defeat in the same city, against Adanaspor, triggered a wave of poor results, which put their arch rivals in the driving seat.
Didi’s alcoholism was widely reported – Fener captain Ziya Sengul has since spoken of having to “collect” the coach when he was late for morning training. But he was hugely popular with Fener fans, who chanted his name more than that of any of his players. Despite his footballing background, Didi favoured a rather one-dimensional style of play but he was known to be a superb motivator. Before Galatasaray derbies, he told his players that this was the “easiest game of all”. It seemed to work, as Fenerbahce lost only two out of 19 games played against their arch‑rivals during Didi’s tenure, which ended the following season when they crashed out of the European Cup, losing 7-0 at Benfica.
Goztepe, from the third largest city, Izmir, had been a force – they were the first Turkish side to reach the semi-finals of a European club competition in 1969 – but this season was a battle for survival. They stayed up only on the last day, by drawing with and consequently relegating Samsunspor. Besiktas were let down by poor away form but gained some consolation in winning the Turkish Cup against Trabzonspor. The latter lost at home to Fenerbahce in their first ever 1. Lig match and failed to score in their next three home games, but their defence, marshalled by keeper Senol Gunes, was to be the backbone of a successful side over the next decade.
During the winter break Trabzonspor won the Cyprus Peace Cup, played on the part of the island that been occupied by Turkish forces in July 1974, finishing ahead of Galatasaray, Besiktas and a local representative side. It was the club’s first trophy and came to be seen as a turning point in their history. The other league debutants, Zonguldakspor, had a huge backing from the city’s 30,000 coal-miners, who were made club members in exchange for a fee deducted from their wages. Buoyed by their vociferous home support, the team stayed up for 14 years.
For the record books
This was a record season for draws, with Turkish teams tending to focus on defensive organisation. The domestic game opened up during the next decade as clubs brought in foreign strikers, initially from Yugoslavia, later from Africa and South America.
Same place today
The Big Three of Besiktas, Galatasaray and Fenerbahce continue to dominate the league, with Trabzonspor being the only team from outside Istanbul to have won the title.
Moved furthest away
Eskisehirspor had been cup winners and league runners-up in 1971, but began a steady decline from this point. After spending six years in the third division from 2001, Es-Es were promoted back to the top level in 2008. Zonguldakspor are now in non‑league.
From WSC 260 October 2008