Bjelovar handball players and the Hall of Champions

More than 50 years ago, on September 7, 1973, the Speaker of the Parliament of the Socialist Republic of Croatia, Jakov Blažević, arrived in Bjelovar to open the newest elementary school in the northern part of the city. The school, which today bears the name IV. Bjelovar Elementary School, then in memory of Josip Broz Tito’s stay in the Bjelovar area, was called Marshal Tito. The school was designed by the architect Miljenko Smoljanović, and in the same year, as soon as it was opened, the construction of the sports hall began, which soon became a cult place for sports activities, as well as cultural and other content in the city.

Until 2018, the hall was known simply as the School Sports Hall, and then, on the initiative of Bjelovar’s mayor Dario Hrebak, it was renamed the Hall of European Champions. This name’s a reminder of the proud event from 1972, when the Bjelovar Handball Club became the champion of Europe, defeating the Gummersbach team in the final in Dortmund with a score of 19:14.

It was an iconic match that is still talked about today. In it, Bjelovar Handball Club, then known as Partizan Handball Club, was led by the legendary coach Željko Seleš, and for the great sports journalist Božo Sušec it was the first final international handball match that he followed and broadcast. Although it was definitely his greatest success, Bjelovar Handball Club, which was founded in 1955, recorded a series of successes both before and after that famous match in Dortmund. The club was the champion of Yugoslavia nine times, and six times it was in second and third place. They were champions of Croatia in the Republic League in 1991 and the winners of the Yugoslav Cup in 1960, 1968 and 1976 as well.

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