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Club History

By: Itzhak Haberman, Maccabi Haifa

Maccabi Haifa was established in 1913 and its' activity was stopped on the eve of world war one. In 1919 the activity was renewed and the soccer department was a section of the club which activated other sports. It played only against English, Arabs and local Jewish teams, not necessarily organized clubs.
In July 1925 Maccabi Haifa tumbled across a crisis and stopped its' activity for several months. At the end of that year the club merged with a local club called "Hagibor" ("The Hero") and the name was changed to Maccabi "Hagibor" Haifa.
Maccabi Haifa in 1925.

A brand new team was on the way, and was unable to make it to the first division. Its' only accomplishment (1942) was a performance in the State's Cup Final, when a Greek team left Israel and Haifa was beaten by Beitar Tel-Aviv 12:1-a record score of final games in Israel until today. That happened after Beitar were able to release their enlisted players on the claim that they are youth instructors. But Haifa was unable to gather its' players which were spread across the country.

In 1947 Haifa reached the first division, but was able to play only five games. The United Nations supported establishing a Jewish state, in Tel-Aviv the Provisional Peoples Council declared independence, immediately harsh battles erupted in all fronts. Eight of the department's players, among them a few youth players, died in the fights.

When the battles appeased, a rebuilding process commenced. It was based on excellent players that grew up in the club's youth department and were coached by Auto Shlefenberg, a former player and a future coach of the club.
The team demonstrated the finest soccer in the second half of the 50's, even though no title was won, except for special tournaments the soccer association arranged.

Just in 1962 it hit jackpot, when for the first time in its' history and the city of Haifa's history, it won the cup after an amazing performance against Maccabi Tel-Aviv (5:2).
The year after Haifa again reached the final but this time it lost in Haifa's derby (1:0) to Hapoel Haifa.
In the mid 60's, the club reached a state of crisis when senior players retired due to their advanced age and had to forgo the first division, for only one season (65/66).

When it returned, it was based on a new staff, youth department's seniors, which did not lead the club to an historic Championship's win and made do with nice soccer displays and a place among the top teams. The best they achieved was an appearance in the Cup's final (1971) that ended in a disappointment – a loss (2:1) to Hacoach Ramat-Gan.

1962 - Maccabi Haifa's First cup's win.

In 1973/74 they dropped again to the second division, under different circumstances than the first time. In fall of 1973, the Yom-Kippur war began between Israel and its' Arab neighbors. Few of Haifa's key players were drafted and could not train, with no other alternative, players from the youth department took their place and were unsuccessful.

The team's goalie, Binyamin Weinberg, was injured when a tank he was in was hit, he was able to jump out and save himself, but he was hospitalized. Again it took one season for Haifa to return to its' natural place (74/75), but this time after only two seasons they dropped to the second division. The player's level was not high and they stayed in the secondary division four years (1977-1981). In those years in-depth treatment took place, many young talented players joined.

It should be mentioned that Maccabi Haifa all those years was considered a peripheral team and no prominent player joined it. They preferred small teams in the central area rather than travelling 200 KM back and forth every day and play for a team with a good name but no resume.

Haifa returned to the first division and four years later (1983/84) it won its' first Championship, while closing a 13 points gap from the team leading the chart, Beitar Jerusalem that finished second.

1984 - First Championship. 

A year later (84/85) it repeated the achievement and won a second consecutive Championship and even made it to the Cup's Final where it lost to Beitar Jerusalem 1:0 which was consoled by the second important title.
In 85/86 season it was on the verge of winning a third consecutive Championship but it lacked four minutes to complete the mission and was beaten by Hapoel Tel-Aviv 1:0 which passed Haifa on the way to the title.

The club underwent a terrible tragedy when Maccabi Haifa's and National team's goalie, Avi Ran, was killed in a marine accident (July 1987) in the Kinnereth (Sea of Galilee), on the shores of Tiberius, when a jet ski hit his body between seasons.
The team had a heavy mental crisis and came back in the 1988/89 season winning a third Championship and that is after it opened the season minus two points due to a punishment it received.

That same year it again failed winning "the double" and was beaten in penalty kicks by Beitar Jerusalem (the game after overtime ended 3:3), the same team which prevented it from a similar title three years earlier.

1989 - Third Championship. 

In 1990/91 it fulfilled every team's dream and won "the double" after winning the Championship and beating in the Cup's final its' championship rival, Hapoel Petach-Tikva (3:1).
At the end the 92/93 season it again won the State's Cup after beating Maccabi Tel-Aviv 1:0 that promised it a ticket to its' first performance in the European Cup Winner's Cup.

From that year on a great revolution occurred in Maccabi Haifa, Yaacov Shachar, a known businessman, invested many funds and turned it into the Israeli soccer's race car while managing it with vision to the future.
Ever since he received the management to his hands, Haifa changed its' face completely in regards of management, facilities and successes on the field, both in Israel and in Europe.

1991 - won "the double".  

1993/94 season turned Haifa to the best team ever seen in Israel. It began with a magnificent journey in Europe where it lost in the last sixteen to the great and famous Italian team, Parma, after a penalty kicks battle and a heroic win on Italian soil.

Haifa's marvelous journey continued in the local arena when it ended a season of 39 games with no losses and even won its' first "Toto Cup".

1994 - Fifth Championship with no losses.

A year later (94/95) it won its' third Cup after beating Hapoel Haifa 2:0 in the Final.
From this year on began "seven bad years" and they were absent from the Championship winner's board and settled for one Cup (1998) when it beat Hapoel Jerusalem 2:0 in overtime.
Within these years it made wonders in its' European performances and made it to the quarter finals of the European Cup Winner's Cup and lost to the Russian Locomotive Moscow.

In the season of 2000/1 Haifa made its' come back and through out seven years became the leading team in Israel. Its' new coach, Avraham Grant, lead it to its' sixth Championship and to the Cup's final where it lost (in penalty kicks again) to his former team Maccabi Tel-Aviv. In the following year Haifa enjoyed a great advantage over its' opponents and was crowned Champion. At the end of that season the successful coach received an offer to coach the National team and the club's president, Yaakov Shachar, granted his request and released him to the magician's role. Six years later, the same Grant, went to coach the English Chelsea and reached the Champions League's Final.

2001 - After seven years a sixth championship.

These Championships comprised a nice platform for the record season of Maccabi Haifa in Europe. Coached by Yitzhak Shum "the Greens" succeeded in reaching the group's stage of the Champions League and play against great teams such as Manchester United, German Bayer Leverkusen, Greece Olympiacos, and finished in third place that lead to UEFA Cup (complete details in the European chapter).
The tremendous effort became apparent in the league games. Everyone knew Haifa is the best team in the league and so are its' players. Haifa ended the season in second place, with the same amount of points as the Champion, Maccabi Tel-Aviv, but two goals prevented it from completing a dream season. For compensation and some consolation, they won the "Toto Cup".

The dream momentum had a rare continuation. President, Yaakov Shachar, surprisingly gave Ronnie Levy, the youth team's coach and a former excellent player, the coaching position and he swept it to three consecutive Championships (2004-2006), a scene that has not been seen in Israel for forty years, since Hapoel Petach-Tikva won five consecutive Championships (1958-1963). Haifa could only regret the fact that they lost one Championship due to goal's difference.

2004 - the first championship in 9 sequence of three.

The team gave a finale to three wonderful seasons by a great performance, first of its' kind in Israeli soccer in the UEFA Cup.
Shachar's team made it to the group's stage and as opposed to two other Israel teams, Maccabi Petach-Tikva and Hapoel Tel-Aviv, succeeded in passing to the intermediate stage and passed that hurdle by a fantastic win over SCKA Moscow. Just in the last sixteen and after a dozen games it waved a white flag against the Spanish Espaniol, but the achievement left a special aroma.

2006 - the tenth championship and a golden star on the shirt.

After two not so great years, Haifa opened the 2008/09 season with hidden hopes to remain a top team, when its' main goal is to build a team for the years to come. But plans apart and reality apart.

Haifa hit the road, noticed it could be one of the top teams and very early on understood it was in its' power to take the Championship, without giving up the other goals it set for itself. At the end of the season coach, Elisha Levy, succeeded in winning his first personal title, Haifa's eleventh Championship that made history in Israeli soccer by succeeding in winning six Championships in one decay.

Haifa also reached the Cup's finals but missed out on the opportunity to win the club's second "double" when it lost 2:1 to Beitar Jerusalem.

The first Championship of Coach Elisha Levy did not come out of nowhere. During his second season he continued to lead Maccabi Haifa on its’ Championship path, but an odd and planned factor prevented Haifa from celebrating two consecutive years.
Israel’s Football Association decided to diversify and change the games’ method. It decided that at the end of a 30 games season, the number of points would be cut in half and the six leading groups would each play one game against the other teams.

The regular season ended with Haifa leading with 77 points and Hapoel Tel-Aviv was behind it with only 71 points. As a result of the cut the difference was down to only three points and from here on began a thrilling struggle that ended in chaos that was never seen before in Israeli soccer.
Haifa led the league with 48 points before the last game; Hapoel Tel-Aviv had 46 points, Haifa’s players needed to beat the unpretentious Bnei-Yehuda.

Granted, the game was held in Bloomfield Stadium, Bnei-Yehuda’s home field, but the stands were painted green, most of which Maccabi Haifa’s fans who already envisioned their team celebrating another Championship. Things developed differently. Haifa was unable to win and the game ended in a 1:1 tie, at the exact same time Hapoel Tel-Aviv played against Beitar Jerusalem and the score was the same. But, on the 92nd minute Hapoel scored a winning goal and won the Championship due to a better goal average (plus 59 as oppose to Haifa’s 56).

The method was valid for the next season as well (2010/11), with a minor difference. The Football Association decided that in a case of equal points a determining game will be held in the National Stadium of Ramat-Gan.
Again Haifa finished the regular season first with 70 points; Hapoel Tel-Aviv had five points less. After the cut, the difference stood on merely two points. This time Haifa’s players learned their lesson, gave everything, including a win over their opponent and ended the season with a huge 7 points difference and a 12th Championship title.

The new-old Champion wanted to win the “Double”’ but it failed for the fifth time when it lost 1:0 in the Final to…Hapoel Tel-Aviv, thus the two teams shared the titles, although there is no comparison between winning the Championship and the Cup.

Championship 2010-2011.