1932-36, the first steps before the title

16 may 2017
Allan Chaussard
Photos © 
Montage : Fatima Larbaoui / OM.net et Archives 2017
Amateur champions of France in 1929, this year OM celebrate the 80th anniversary of their first professional title as champions of France. Throughout the week, OM.net is celebrating this anniversary by remembering the past. Today, a look back at the first seasons of the club, in the professional era between 1932 and 1936.

At the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, sham amateurism, a practice which involved illegally paying amateur athletes, plagued most sporting disciplines, whether they were individual or team sports. To stop this practice, the leagues gradually became professional, and football resolved the issue in turn with the creation of professional status in 1930 and the birth of the National Division in 1932. The championship was then composed of two leagues of 10 teams, the winners of which would face off in the national final.
At 9:15 p.m. on January 13th, 1932, in the Sports de Marseille brasserie, the OM management adhered to professionalism. Already one of the most powerful clubs in the country, OM was logically selected to participate in the first ever championship, which kicked off on 11th September of the same year.

From the outset, the Olympians, with white jerseys and shorts and blue socks, played the leading roles, fighting for first place from the beginning to the end of the season against Olympique Lillois, a team they could boast of having beaten twice.
Finally, the Dogues triumphed in the final against AS Cannes. The bottom three from each group formed the second division, the first thus becoming a single group of 14 teams.

1934, crowned too soon by the Parisian media

The 1933-34 season was undoubtedly one of the most traumatising in OM's history. The title seemed to be theirs three days before the end. Their main rival, Sète, held just a one-point lead, but had no matches left to play and had a goal difference that was not at all in their favour.
The Olympiens lost the first match against Paris (4-1), then lost the final of the Coupe de France to Sète in Colombes, in front of more than 40,000 spectators (2-1).
In the wake of this, Vincent Diettrich's men lost heavily to Lille (6-1) but needed just one point against Excelsior to take the title.
The Sète players, convinced that the final victory would go to OM, as everyone had been saying for weeks (opposite an insert from l'Auto on 30th April 1934), left for training in Africa. They were on the terrace of a café in Casablanca, Morocco, when they were informed of their victory, following OM's defeat (2-4) at the hands of Excelsior Roubaix in Huveaune. Bitterness seized Marseille, and this edition of the 'Marseille Matin' from 21st May, 1934, reads: "OM loses the title to Sète, who seal a double when a draw would have sufficed.
"Olympique de Marseille loses unfairly - the word does not seem too strong to us - the title of champions of France, which they undoubtedly deserved to be awarded. OM pays the price for the bad spirit of too many federal officials and referees, for whom Marseille, victim of its reputation, is a sort of dark creature, undoubtedly venomous, that must be beaten without mercy."

In the third year of France's professional championship, the format evolved again, with a first division of 16 clubs and a second division of 14.
OM never managed to join the race for the title, and concentrated their efforts on the Coupe de France, which they won against Rennes (3-0), after having notably beaten the champions, Sochaux, in the quarter-finals (3-0).

In 1935-36, Joseph Eisenhoffer took the reins of the team, but also remained a player, participating in 10 matches and scoring 3 goals. On the Hungarian's orders, OM experienced a transitional season, with the notable arrival of "beau Mario" Zatelli, who scored 15 goals in his first season at the club.
The Olympiens finished sixth, 11 points behind the champions, RC Paris, and were eliminated in the final 16 of the Coupe de France. The season was bleak, but the best was soon to come ...

Coming up

Wednesday: crowned with King George VI
Thursday: Titled by goal average
Friday: Marseille celebrates the champions of 1937
Saturday: a cosmopolitan team

1937 Title

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