NK Maribor history 1981-1990

    Football overshadowed by events off the pitch
    The 80's did not start well. Immediately after the 1980/81 season, when the team was fighting to avoid relegation, which was achieved on the very last day of the season with a 4-2 win against elik, the biggest scandal in the history of football in Maribor broke out. This was the so-called "Ball scandal", which resulted in the disciplinary committee of the Yugoslav Second League expelling the team from the competition. Maribor was relegated to the third tier, the Republic League. All this happened at a point in the club's history when selective work was finally beginning to pay off... But the unpleasant events did not bring a total collapse and the city never gave up on its most successful football club. The team bounced back and with only two defeats in the entire season gained an immediate promotion back to the second league. This was also a time when more and more young home-grown players were getting the opportunity to play for the team.

    Ups and downs
    Sadly, success on the pitch did not bring about better times. The crisis that followed the "Ball scandal" was far from over - it had only just begun. In the years that followed, NK Maribor was merely scraping by and could not get back on its feet until after the break-up of Yugoslavia. Along with financial troubles, the 80s were marked by ups and downs on the pitch as the club went back and forth between the Slovenian (third tier) and the Yugoslav Second League. Every time the team won the Slovenian League and gained promotion, it could not retain its status and was immediately relegated from the second league. The 1986/87 season was the club's last season in the Yugoslav Second League. The Purples played their last match in Bugojno against Iskra. Maribor's last player on the scoresheet in this competition was Radulovi.

    Inter-Republic League
    1988 marked the next turning point for the club. First, there were some tragic news - we had to say goodbye to our unforgettable goal scorer Mladen Krajnc, one of the best players in the club's history. The forward who represented NK Maribor in the first and second league and who, thanks to his pace on the pitch, was known by many different nicknames such as The Black Pearl, The Black Gazelle and Dida, lost his life in a tragic motorcycling accident on 22 October 1988. At the same time, the new generation of players in purple started playing in the western group of the newly formed Inter-Republic league. This was due to a reform in the Yugoslav football league system that, apart from the first and a unified second league, brought about the formation of four new Inter-Republic leagues. Between 1988 and 1991, the club competed in the third tier of the competition. Although there were no special achievements on the pitch, the club began promoting young players from its own youth setup which laid the foundation for the club's bright future, a future in an independent Slovenia.