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1980 European Championships

PhotobucketAfter tournaments where just four teams competed the ‘final’ section, UEFA decided to make something more of this competition and in 1980 opened it up to 8 qualifiers.  The other change was that they already decided the hosts in advance.  In previous tournaments they chose the hosts once they knew the four qualifiers.

Italy was chosen to host the 1980 tournament.  They had last hosted a major tournament in 1934, the 2nd World Cup, in which they came out as winners.

31 nations were then split into 7 groups; 3 groups of 5 and 4 groups of 4.  The qualifying campaign kicked off from May 1978.  Back in those days there was no such thing as an international calendar, and so some groups ended before others, as countries just arranged fixtures independently.

England had been drawn in Group 1 along with both Northern and Republic of Ireland.  Bulgaria and Denmark made up the other two.  The Republic started off by giving up a 3-1 lead to be held 3-3 in Copenhagen, before they met their neighbours in Dublin.  The much anticipated clash between North and South, the first time the two nations had met, contained few highlights and the game ended 0-0.

That same night in Copenhagen, Denmark and England played out a completely different match.  Denmark were regarded as one of Europe’s minnows, having never qualified for a major tournament before.  Kevin Keegan put England in front after 17 minutes.  6 minutes later he grabbed his 2nd, just before Allan Simonsen scored from the spot to put the home side back in it.  3 minutes later Frank Arnesen equalised and so the teams were level, 2-2 at half-time.  5 minutes after the break, Bob Latchford restored England’s lead.  With just 5 minutes left on the clock, Phil Neal then gave England their 2-goal advantage back, before Per Rontved ensured a nervy last few minutes for England as Denmark brought it back to 3-4.  England would eventually emerge with the victory, but it had been close.

England then drew in Dublin, as Northern Ireland beat both Denmark and Bulgaria, before they arrived at Wembley full of hope.  Manager Danny Blanchflower chose an Irish side exclusively drawn from the English First Division.  But England proved too strong and ran out 4-0 winners.  England went on to win their remaining group matches, conceding just once.  They won 3-0 in Sofia, beat Denmark, 1-0 at Wembley and went to Belfast and thumped Northern Ireland, 5-1.  When they beat Bulgaria, 2-0 at Wembley in November 1979 one of the goals came from a debutant named Glenn Hoddle.  England’s final group match was another 2-0 win, over the Republic in February 1980 as Kevin Keegan scored twice to take his tally to 7 in the qualifying matches.  His 2nd goal in that game is well worth looking up on youtube.  He picks the ball up just inside the Irish half, runs at the defence who are backing off.  As he reaches the edge of the area, he delicately chips the stranded keeper.

In Group 2, Scotland were disappointing, having been the only Home nation which qualified for the 1978 World Cup.  They won all but one of their home matches, losing 1-3 to Belgium, who ultimately won the group.

Spain won Group 3, and in Group 4 Netherlands were top.  That group looked competitive as it contained Netherlands (runners-up in the World Cup) and Poland (also made the Second Round in Argentina).  Netherlands conceded just 1 goal at home, which was scored by Poland, who also won the return match in Chorzow.  What did for the Poles was defeat in Leipzig against East Germany.  Poland held Netherlands to a 1-1 draw in Amsterdam, leaving the Dutch needing a draw Leipzig to go through.  However, the Germans were 2-0 up in the opening 30 minutes.  Franz Thijssen, Kees Kist and Willy van der Kerkhof eventually gave Netherlands a 3-2 win and they won the group.

A similar situation occurred in Group 5, as France beat Czechoslovakia, the holders, 2-1 in Paris to leave the Czechs needing to beat Luxembourg to go through.  The Czechs didn’t struggle as much as the Dutch did and ran out 4-0 winners, to win the group by a point.

Group 6 was really tight.  Finland began well by beating Greece, 3-0 and Hungary, 2-1.  USSR then also beat Greece, 2-0, but then lost themselves, 0-2 to Hungary.  Greece then got their revenge against Finland in Athens, thumping them 8-1, with Thomas Mavros grabbing a hat-trick.  Greece carried on this goalscoring spree by beating Hungary, 4-1.  Hungary had been in Argentina for the World Cup, but were now under pressure as they were then held at home by Greece.

By the time Greece took on USSR in September 1979, the four countries were separated by just 1 point.  Dimitrious Nikoludis scored the only goal of the game in the opening 10 minutes and Greece had gained the win that would ultimately take them to their first ever major tournament.  The four teams in the group were separated by just 2pts.

Wales began well in Group 7 with a 7-0 win over Malta.  Wrexham’s Ian Edwards scored 4 on his home ground.  Wales then beat Turkey, 1-0, as West Germany were surprisingly held, 0-0 in Malta.  6 weeks later and the Germans were also held, 0-0 in Turkey.  Then they arrived at Wrexham in May 1979.  Goals in each half from Herbert Zimmermann and Klaus Fischer gave the Germans a 2-0 win.  Wales bounced back with a win in Malta, but then in Cologne they were put to the sword by West Germany as they lost, 1-5.  Worse was to follow the next month as Wales lost in Turkey too.  West Germany then finished off the group with a 2-0 win over Turkey and then 8-0 over Malta.

Italy, England, Belgium, Spain, Netherlands, Czechoslovakia, Greece, West Germany

Rome : Stadio Olimpico
Milan : Giuseppe Meazza
Naples : Stadio San Paolo
Turin : Stadio Comunale

The 8 nations were drawn into 2 groups of 4.  The winners would progress straight to the final with the 2nd placed sides competing in a Third Place Play-off.

West Germany, Netherlands, Greece, Czechoslovakia

Italy, England, Belgium, Spain


The tournament kicked off with a repeat of the 1976 Final as Czechoslovakia met West Germany in Rome.  A disappointing crowd of just over 11, 000 turned up to see the Germans gain revenge for 4 years ago as Karl-Heinz Rummenigge scored the only goal just before the hour.


Later that evening, Netherlands took on Greece.  The Greeks were in their first ever major tournament having won a tight group to qualify.  Barely 4,000 more turned up for this game in Naples, but still only witnessed one goal.  Kees Kist converted a penalty midway through the second half and that was enough to give the Dutch the points.


Three days later saw the big clash between West Germany and Netherlands in Naples.  For two fierce rivals, the Dutch had only once beaten West Germany in 8 previous meetings, back in 1956.  Cologne’s Klaus Allofs, one of the young breed of footballers the Germans were trying out, opening the scoring after 20 minutes.  On the hour, he scored his 2nd, and then completed his hat-trick 5 minutes later.  The Dutch were stunned, but fought back with a Johnny Rep penalty 10 minutes from time.  When Willy van der Kerkhof scored to make it 2-3 with 5 minutes to go, the Germans had a nervous end to a game they were cruising.  They saw it home in the end, and seemed destined for the Final.


In Rome, Greece met Czechoslovakia.  In a stadium which holds 86,500, there were just under 5,000 people to witness this and the game deserved better.  Panenka, the hero in 1976, gave the Czechs an early lead, but Nikos Anastopoulos equalised soon after, only for Ladislav Vizek to put the Czechs back in front and we’d had 3 goals in the opening 25 minutes.  The Greeks couldn’t get back into it, and early in the second half, Zdenek Nehoda completed the win for the Czechs.  If Greece could pull off a shock win over the Germans, then the Czechs or the Dutch would have an outside chance of the Final, but that seemed remote.


UEFA hadn’t found the need to have the final group matches kick off at the same time, so Netherlands and Czechoslovakia were up first in Milan, with the Germans waiting to see what they needed to do.  In front of another poor crowd Nehoda gave the Czechs an early lead, which they held till the hour, before Kees Kist equalised.  The game ended in a draw which suited neither side and the Czechs finished 2nd in the group, ahead of the Dutch on goal difference.


By the time the last game in the group kicked off in Turin, West Germany already knew they’d reached the final.  It showed too as a dull game almost came to life when Ardizoglu hit the post with 20 minutes to go, but that was about it.  Greece had given a good account of themselves, but ultimately went home without a point.  The Germans had simply been clinical in reaching their 3rd successive European Championship Final.


Group A_1982


England had managed to qualify for a major tournament just once since 1962, having made the 1966 and 1970 World Cup as hosts and holders, respectively.  They were hopeful of doing well after an impressive qualification campaign.  They started brightly too, and midway through the first half, Brooking’s cross wasn’t cleared properly and it fell to Ray Wilkins, just outside the box.  He controlled the ball on his chest and then as it bounced, he calmly lobbed the ball over the keeper for probably his finest goal in an England shirt.

But England were unable to keep control of the game and Belgium equalised within 3 minutes through Jan Ceulemans.  England had a goal from Kenny Sansom disallowed in the second half, but the game will be remembered for the violence that erupted on the terraces just before half-time.  Unfortunately, this was becoming an all-too familiar occurrence with England games at that time.  Many England fans would point to the local police being heavy-handed, but unfortunately England fans reputation often preceeded them.  The game was held up as the police used tear-gas to try and quell the trouble, which had broken out because locals had gained access to England’s end and started chanting for Belgium.  England goalkeeper, Ray Clemence, was particularly affected by the gas.


Later that evening in Milan, the hosts made their bow in front of over 46,000.  The game was a cagey affair with both sides cancelling each other out.  Spain had a goal disallowed in the second half, which seemed harsh but the points were shared.

SPAIN   0 – 0   ITALY

After both opening matches were drawn, a win in the second game would give any of the 4 sides a good chance of making the final.  Belgium took the lead through right-back, Eric Gerets after 17 minutes.  With 10 minutes of the first half to go, Quini then equalised for the Spanish.  Both teams had chances in the second period, but it was veteran, Julien Cools, who scored the winner midway through the half.  Belgium now put the pressure on Italy.


England and Italy took the field in Turin, in front of the largest crowd of the tournament.  England manager, Ron Greenwood sprung a surprise by selecting Garry Birtles for only his 2nd cap, and he struggled to make an impact.  England relied so heavily on Keegan, who was busy as usual creating chances.  Ray Kennedy hit the post, just before Marco Tardelli finally broke the deadlock with just over 10 minutes to go.  The Italians were far from dominant but knew how to defend a lead.  They would now need to beat Belgium to get to the Final.  England could only hope for 2nd place in the group.


After two games in Turin, England moved to Naples to meet Spain.  They were desperate to restore something from a tournament they were so confident of doing well in.  Trevor Brooking gave England a first half lead after 19 minutes, but early in the second half, Spain were awarded a penalty.  Their substitute, Dani, took it and scored.  5 minutes later they got another penalty.  Dani took it and again scored.  Only this time the referee ordered it to be re-taken.  Dani stuttered in his run-up and it wasn’t clear whether that was what the referee objected to, or whether other players had encroached.  Either way, Dani took it again and this time Clemence saved it.  Within 10 minutes, England were back in front through Tony Woodcock, and they got the win they finally craved.


Italy and Belgium met in Rome, knowing a draw was enough for the Belgians.  The game followed a similar pattern to previous ones in this group involving these teams.  Belgium were dogged in defence and Italy were blunt in attack.  The game ended goalless and, against all the odds, Belgium had reached a major international Final.  Italy and Italians were distraught, as they expected more.  They were unbeaten but 2nd place to Belgium was almost the end for manager, Enzo Bearzot.  He survived, and Italy went on to lift the World Cup two years later.


Group B_1982


Czechoslovakia had defended their title with distinction, and competed well against the hosts.  Under pressure for most of the game, they took the lead just into the second half through Ladislav Jurkemik.  Italy, who had only scored once in their 3 games so far, finally managed to get a goal from one of their attackers, Francesco Graziani.  The game ended 1-1 and went to penalties.  Remarkably, each side had been successful from their first 8 kicks.  Jozef Barmos, who had played in the Final in ’76, made it 9-8 to the Czechs before Fulvio Collovati had his kick saved and the Czechs had finished 3rd.

Czechoslovakia won 9-8 on penalties


West Germany were the overwhelming favourites.  They had reached tournament Finals in 4 out of the last 5 they competed in, but this was a new German side being put together.  This gave us our first glimpse of players like Bernd Schuster, Hans-Peter Briegel, and Toni Schumacher.  But their success came through an unlikely hero.  Horst Hrubesch was part of the Hamburg side beaten by Nottingham Forest in the European Cup Final a month before.  A striker who was considered good in the air, but nowhere else, Hrubesch opened the scoring after 10 minutes with his first goal in international football.  Belgium came back at the Germans in the second half when Van der Elst was brought down and Rene Vandereycken converted the kick.  As extra time approached, Hrubesch headed his 2nd goal of the game and the Germans had won it.  Their third successive European Championship Final had brought their second success.




Had the new expanded format been a success?  The TV and stadium attendances would suggest not, but UEFA are hardly an organisation to often change their mind, and they continued with this format for the next 3 tournaments.  The format probably allowed an unfancied side like Belgium to go further than they might have done with just a Semi-Final and Final.  Italy, as hosts, were disappointing, as were the World Cup finalists from 1974 & 1978, Netherlands.  England gave us glimpses of their ability, but for a side so dominant in qualification, the finals had been a let-down.


A History of European Championships

PhotobucketRegarded as the international tournament, second only to the World Cup.  In Brazil and Argentina, they refer to it as ‘the World Cup without us’.

The idea for this type of competition was originally proposed back in 1927 by Henri Delaunay.  Delaunay was secretary-general of the French Football Federation, and was involved with Jules Rimet, in developing the idea for the World Cup.  Delaunay went on to become General Secretary of UEFA until his death in 1954.  Ironically, his dream of a European tournament didn’t become reality until 1958.  Just as the original World Cup trophy was named after Rimet, the trophy for the European Championships was named after Delaunay.

The first competition was called the European Nations Cup.  Only 17 nations entered, with countries such as West Germany, Italy and England declining to take part.  The format was simply a knock-out over 2 legs until the Semi-Finals.  When the final four teams were known, one of them was selected as a host and then Semi-Finals and Final matches were played over 5 days in July 1960.

The competition continued in this format right up to 1976.  From 1980, UEFA started to expand the tournament to include more teams for the finals.

PhotobucketRepublic of Ireland were involved in a Preliminary Round where they lost 2-4 to Czechoslovakia, after winning the 1st leg, 2-0.  In the First Round, France, who had finished third in the World Cup in 1958, thumped Greece, 7-1, with Juste Fontaine (top scorer in Sweden in ’58) and Raymond Kopa amongst the goals.  Spain beat Poland, 7-2 on aggregate with Di Stefano scoring 3.

After France had beaten Greece, 8-2, they then saw off Austria, 9-4 in the Quarter-Finals.  Fontaine grabbed a hat-trick in the 1st leg.  Yugoslavia overturned a 1-2 deficit to beat Portugal, 5-1.  Czechoslovakia were barely in trouble against Romania, as they won 5-0 over 2 legs.  There were only 3 ties in the Quarter-Finals as Spain refused to travel to Soviet Union and so withdrew from the tournament.

The four nations to compete the final stages of the tournament were USSR, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and France.  France was selected as hosts.

6th July 1960 in Parc des Princes, Paris saw the first Semi-Final between France and Yugoslavia.  The two had met in the Group stages in Sweden ’58, with Yugoslavia winning 3-2.  The Yugoslavs took the lead in the 11th minute, but the French hit back a minute later.  France lead, 2-1 at the break and within 10 minutes of the re-start, they were 3-1 up.  Zanetic then got a goal back, before Heutte scored his 2nd of the game and France lead 4-2.  Into the last 15 minutes and the Yugoslavs remarkably hit back with 3 goals in 4 minutes, to progress to the final.  Two of the goals were scored by Drazan Jerkovic, who would go on to share the Golden Boot in the World Cup in 1962.

All of a sudden, the hosts were out and fears for the future of this type of tournament seemed valid.  USSR easily beat Czechoslovakia, 3-0 in the other Semi, in Marseille.  The Czechs won the Third Place Play-off, beating France, 2-0, a day before the first ever European Championship Final.

10th July 1960 was the date for the inaugural European Championship Final.  A disappointing crowd of just 17,966 at the Parc des Princes, witnessed a match decided after extra time.  Galic had given Yugoslavia the lead 2 minutes before half-time, which was then equalised by Metreveli, 4 minutes into the second period.  With 7 minutes of extra time remaining, Viktor Ponedelnik headed the winner for the USSR and they won 2-1.  It still remains the only major international championship won by either USSR or Russia.

Trivia fans might be interested to know the referee for the first final was one Arthur Ellis, who would later attract fame as referee on ‘It’s-a-Knockout’.

10th July 1960, Paris

PhotobucketThe second tournament saw an increase in the countries competing as 29 nations took part.  Austria, Luxembourg and USSR received a bye to the first round and Greece withdrew after they were drawn against Albania.

West Germany was still missing, but Italy and England decided to enter this time round.  England were up against France.  A 1-1 draw at Hillsborough, then saw England being given an exhibition in Paris when France romped home, 5-2.  An England team which included Bobby Moore, Jimmy Greaves and Bobby Charlton had been dumped out at the first hurdle.  Italy didn’t have any trouble with Turkey.  4 goals from Alberto Orlando helped them win 6-0 in the 1st leg, then a solitary goal was enough in the 2nd leg.

Northern Ireland beat Poland, 2-0 in both legs, but Wales lost, 2-4 to Hungary.  There was drama between Bulgaria and Portugal.  Portugal lost the 1st leg, 1-3, but were 3-0 up in the return with 6 minutes to go before Iliev grabbed a late goal for Bulgaria and the tie was levelled.  The replay was held in Rome, in front or barely 2,000 spectators, with Georgi Asparuhov scoring the only goal of the game to give Bulgaria the win with just 4 minutes to go.

The First Round saw Northern Ireland pull off a great result by holding Spain to a 1-1 draw in Bilbao.  Unfortunately, Gento grabbed the only goal of the game at Windsor Park and the Irish were out.  The shock of the round was when Luxembourg went to Rotterdam and beat the Dutch, 2-1.  This was enough to see them progress with, probably, the best result of their history.  Italy were then knocked out by the defending champions, USSR.

In the Quarter-Finals, Spain beat Republic of Ireland, 7-1 on aggregate, and USSR saw off Sweden, 4-2.  France were beaten at home by Hungary, 1-3 and then in front of over 70,000 spectators, the Hungarians finished the job off with a 2-1 win.  Luxembourg continued their excellent form with a 3-3 draw against Denmark.  Ole Madsen scored a hat-trick for the Danes and then grabbed another double in the 2nd leg, but a late goal from Schmit saw Luxembourg force a replay.  Madsen then scored again in the replay, which Denmark won 1-0.

The final tournament was held in Spain in June 1964.  In Madrid, Spain were taken to extra time by Hungary, before Armancio won it for the hosts.  In Barcelona, USSR won through to their 2nd successive final as they beat Denmark, 3-0.

Ironically, the final would be between Spain and USSR.  The irony was that four years earlier the Spanish refused to play their opponents on political grounds, but presumably because the final was held in their country, they ignored this minor detail.  Until their win in 2008, this remained Spain’s only major tournament success.

The Final was held in Madrid on 21st June 1964, in front of over 79,000 supporters.  The USSR contained just two survivors from their 1960 triumph.  Both teams scored in the opening 10 minutes, but the game seemed to heading for extra time before Spain won with a late goal from Marcelino Martinez in the last 6 minutes.

21st June 1964, Madrid

PhotobucketThis was when the competition had a makeover.  Renamed the European Championships, it now consisted of a qualifying competition with 31 teams divided into 8 groups.  Each group winner then went into a knock-out stage.  Holders Spain, won their group, as did Bulgaria, USSR, Hungary and France.  Italy won a goal-laden group.  Italy, Romania and Switzerland all scored 53 goals between them.  Group 4 contained just 3 teams, West Germany, Yugoslavia and Albania.  Yugoslavia pulled off the first surprise by beating West Germany, 1-0 in Belgrade twelve months after the Germans were losing finalists in the ’66 World Cup.  West Germany then won the return, 3-1, and then travelled to Tirana in December 1967, needing a 1-0 win to progress.  They couldn’t do it, and remarkably Albania held their illustrious opponents to a 0-0 draw with Yugoslavia going through.  To date, Germany/West Germany has then qualified for the finals of every major tournament since.

Group 8 contained the home nations and the results were taken from the British Home International Championships of 1967 and 1968.  15th April 1967 is a date many Scottish fans remember as Scotland became the first side to beat the World Champions, England.  Dennis Law gave the Scots a first-half lead at Wembley.  Bobby Lennox then doubled it with 12 minutes to go, before Jackie Charlton got a goal back 6 minutes from time.  Jim McCalliog then scored Scotland’s 3rd and Geoff Hurst’s goal 2 minutes from the end was merely a consolation.  Scotland had been held in Cardiff and then lost 0-1 in Belfast, which ultimately cost them as England twice beat Wales and Northern Ireland.  This set things up for the big game at Hampden in February 1968.  Martin Peters 20 minute goal was then cancelled out by John Hughes (his only ever international goal) and the game ended 1-1 and England were through.

The Quarter-Finals were held around April and May and played over 2 legs.  Italy overturned a 2-3 deficit to beat Bulgaria, 4-3 on aggregate, and USSR came from 0-2 down in 1st leg to win 3-0 in return against Hungary.  France were held at home 1-1 by Yugoslavia, but then in Belgrade they were stuffed, 1-5.  England were up against Spain and a Bobby Charlton goal 6 minutes from time won the 1st leg at Wembley.  A month later in Madrid, Spain took the lead but then Martin Peters and Norman Hunter won it for England.

The finals were held in Italy and contained two nations (Italy and England) who weren’t interested in the competition when it first started in 1960.  The first Semi-Final in Naples was a 0-0 draw between Italy and USSR.  Neither side could be separated after 120 minutes of football and so the bright idea UEFA had to settle it all was, the toss a coin!  The Soviet captain called incorrectly and Italy were through to the final.  In Florence, the game between Yugoslavia and England looked to be heading for extra time before Dragan Dzajic scored a late winner and the World Champions were out.

Goals from Bobby Charlton and Geoff Hurst gave England a 2-0 win over USSR to claim third place.  The Final was played in front of 85,000 in Rome and Dzajic was on the scoresheet again giving Yugoslavia a first half lead.  Angelo Domenghini levelled things with just 10 minutes remaining.  The game ended 1-1 after extra time, and this time a replay was necessary.  Only 55,000 turned up two days later to see Italy carry off the trophy with a 2-0 win.

8th June 1968, Rome

10th June 1968, Rome

PhotobucketThe Qualifying round had settled into the standard group phase, with 8 groups of 4.  As in previous qualifying phases, Eastern European teams came to the fore.  Hungary won their group containing France, and USSR won theirs containing Spain.  Yugoslavia beat Netherlands to Group 7, and holders Italy were unbeaten in theirs.  Belgium won Group 5, beating Scotland in the process, and Romania won Group 1, which contained Wales.  West Germany won Group 8 with Gerd Muller scoring 6 of their 10 goals.

England were in Group 3 with Switzerland, Greece and Malta.  They won the group, unbeaten, conceding just 3 goals.  England were quite a changed team from the one which reached the Quarter-Finals in the World Cup in Mexico 1970, illustrated by just 5 of their 15 goals being scored by players who were in the World Cup squad that year.

During the Quarter-Finals, Belgium pulled off a shock when they knocked-out the holders, Italy.  A 0-0 draw in Milan saw Belgium win 2-1 in Brussels.  USSR continued their tradition of good performances in this competition by beating Yugoslavia, 3-0 over 2 legs.  Hungary needed a replay to get past Romania.  1-1 in Budapest and then 2-2 in Bucharest, as the away goals rule didn’t apply.  Hungary won the replay, 2-1 in Belgrade.  The 4th tie was a repeat of the 1966 World Cup Final as England took on West Germany.  The Germans, still buoyant from having put out England in Mexico, scored first at Wembley through Uli Hoeness.  Into the final 15 minutes and Francis Lee equalised.  Then with 5 minutes left, Gunter Netzer converted a penalty and Gerd Muller finished things off and England had been beaten 1-3 at home.  Two weeks later in Berlin the game ended 0-0 and England were out.

From the four qualifiers, Belgium was announced as hosts.  The final competition was held between 14th June-18th June 1972.  The hosts, Belgium were up first against West Germany and Gerd Muller, in Antwerp.  ‘Der Bomber’ scored another 2 goals and the Germans prevailed 2-1.

The other Semi-Final, in Brussels saw Anatoli Konkov score the only goal of the game to see USSR beat Hungary, 1-0, and reach their 3rd final in the last 4 tournaments.  Belgium won the Third Place play-off, and then came the main event between West Germany and USSR.

The Germans were in a transition period, but were putting together a squad of players who would dominate European football for much of the decade.  9 of the players were drawn from just 2 clubs, Bayern Munich and Borussia Monchengladbach.  Gerd Muller scored 2 more goals to take his tally to 11 for the competition, and West Germany won comfortably, 3-0.

18th June 1972, Brussels

PhotobucketThis would be the last tournament with just 4 teams in the final stages.  During the qualifying round, Yugoslavia beat Northern Ireland to win Group 3.  Spain beat Scotland to win Group 4, and USSR beat Republic of Ireland to win Group 6.  Belgium reached the Quarter-Finals again, by beating France to win Group 7.  Netherlands, runners-up in the 1974 World Cup, won their group beating Italy in the process.  World Champions, West Germany won Group 8 despite only winning 3 of their 6 matches.  In Group 2, Wales were drawn with Hungary, Austria and Luxembourg.  They lost their opening match, 1-2 in Vienna and then won the rest of them, conceding just a further 2 goals, and stormed to become group winners.  There were plenty of goals in this group, and all against Luxembourg, who conceded 28 goals in their 6 matches.  Tibor Nyilasi scored 5 when Hungary beat them 8-1.  Wales beat them 5-0 and Austria won 6-2.

England were drawn in Group 1 along with Czechoslovakia, Portugal and Cyprus.  Having failed to qualify for the 1974 World Cup, Don Revie had replaced Alf Ramsey.  England began well beating the Czechs, 3-0 at Wembley, but were then held at home to a 0-0 draw by Portugal.  In April 1975 they beat Cyprus, 5-0 when Newcastle United’s Malcolm MacDonald scored all 5.  Kevin Keegan scored the only goal of the game to win in Cyprus but then just when they were leading in Bratislava to a Mick Channon goal, the Czechs then hit back and won 2-1.  England couldn’t win in Lisbon either and they finished 2nd in the group to Czechoslovakia.

The Quarter-Final stage saw Czechoslovakia beat USSR, 4-2 on aggregate.  West Germany beat Spain, 3-1, and Wales were beaten by the same score by Yugoslavia.  Netherlands were up against neighbours, Belgium.  Rob Rensenbrink scored a hat-trick in a 5-0 win for the Dutch in Rotterdam.  Johnny Rep and Johann Cruyff then scored in Brussels and Netherlands progressed 7-1.

From the four nations who qualified, Yugoslavia was named as hosts.  Czechoslovakia were up against Netherlands, including most of the side who were runners-up in the recent World Cup.  19 minutes in and Czech captain, Anton Ondrus opened the scoring.  This remained the only goal of the game until Ondrus scored again with 17 minutes to go.  Unfortunately for the Czechs, it was at the wrong end and the game went into extra time.  In the second period of extra time, Nehoda and Vesely completed a surprise 3-1 win for Czechoslovakia.

The next day, in Belgrade, Yugoslavia were 2-0 up inside the opening half-hour with goals from Popivoda and Dzajic.  Heinz Flohe then got a goal back midway through the 2nd half, before Dieter Muller (no relation to Gerd) forced extra time.  Muller then scored twice in extra time to complete his hat-trick and West Germany were through to their 3rd successive major Final.

Netherlands then won the Third Place Play-off, which again went to extra time.  The Final looked set for another major trophy for West Germany.  Jan Svehlik put the Czechs in front in the opening 10 minutes.  Karol Dobias then doubled the lead, before Dieter Muller got a goal back.  With a minute to go, Bernd Holzenbein grabbed a dramatic late equaliser for West Germany, to take the game into extra time.  The two sides couldn’t be separated and so, for the first time in international football, a major Final went to penalties.

The Czechs lead 4-3 as each kicker had been successful, before Uli Hoeness skied his kick over the bar.  Up stepped Antonin Panenka.  Score and his nation were European Champions, miss and the Germans were still in the game.  Panenka, who played his football for Bohemians Prague, calmly stepped up to the ball and as Sepp Maier dived to his left, he coolly chipped the ball into the middle of the goal.

This was the first time the watching football world had seen this type of penalty and it went down in history, mainly down to, not just the cheek of it, but the fact that Panenka, hitherto unknown, could commit such an act under such pressure.

Czechoslovakia were European Champions.  This was the last tournament under this 4-nation final stage, as the tournament was expanded to 8 countries for the next competition.

20th June 1976, Belgrade
Czechoslovakia won 5-3 on penalties.

For the rest of this series we will concentrate on each tournament seperately.  Next up is the 1980 Championships in Italy.

Austrian Bundesliga – Update 3rd April 2012

The big game in the Austrian Bundesliga was on Sunday when leaders Salzburg, travelled to 4th placed Austria Vienna.  Salzburg were 3pts clear at the start of the weekend, and hoping to maintain the lead as the season reached a crucial stage.

Vienna took the lead as their Czech striker, Tomas Jun, scored in the 33rd minute.  It looked as if it would be the only goal of the game.  But in the final minute, Salzburg’s Brazilian striker Leonardo, scored a dramatic equaliser.  This is Leonardo’s first season at Salzburg after 10 years in various clubs in Holland.  The 1-1 draw means Salzburg has now dropped 4pts in the past 2 matches, but their unbeaten in 6.  Austria Vienna still have a chance of the title, as wins are proving very valuable in a season full of draws.

Salzburg’s lead is now just 1pt as Rapid Vienna thrashed Admira, 4-0.  Admira didn’t help themselves by scoring two own goals.  It was an important win forRapid after their defeat to Wacker last week.

After last Saturday’s sequence of all drawn results from the 4 matches played, this week saw just 2 draws, but only 2 teams scored.  Rapid were one, and the other was Wacker, who beat Kapfenburg, 2-0.  Kapfenburg are in desperate trouble, 12pts from safety with just 4 wins all season.  Wacker’s two goals have meant they now average a goal a game.  Turgid stuff

Third place Ried, drew 0-0 with Sturm Graz. It is looking increasingly unlikely that Sturm Graz will retain their title.  One of the reasons for their disappointing season is the lack of goals.  Roman Kienast was joint top scorer in the league last season with 19 goals.  He’s managed just 6 this season and has now joined Austria Vienna on loan.


3rd plays 4th this weekend, as Ried play host to Austria Vienna.  Salzburg are at home to Wacker and Rapid are at home to Wiener Neustadt.

Salzburg  v  Wacker
Ried  v  Austria Vienna
Kapfenburg  v  Admira
Rapid Vienna  v  Wiener Neustadt
Mattersburg  v  Sturm Graz

Bulgarian A League – Update 3rd April 2012

A busy period in the Bulgarian League with 2 games played in the week for each club. CSKA Sofia has opened up a 6pt lead at the top as they continue their excellent form after the winter break. Since losing their first game back, CSKA has now won their last 6, conceding just once and none in their last 5. They beat Pfc Beroe Stara and Vidima Rakovski both 1-0.

Early leaders, Ludogorets suffered their 3rd successive defeat and their first at home, as they went down 0-2 to Cherno More Varna. They then managed to stop the rot as they travelled were up against 3rd placed Levski Sofia. Levski, had just lost, 0-1 to the reigning champions, Litex Lovech. This represented their 2nd successive defeat after a run of 8 straight wins.

Igor Stoyanov put Ludogorets in front in the 36th minute, for what proved to be, the only goal of the game. Three players were sent-off in the final 3 minutes as the home side, Levski, ended up with 9 men.

Levski’s wobble has meant they have been overtaken by Chernomorets Burgas and Litex Lovech. Chernomorets are on a good run, of 1 defeat in their last 14 matches. They earned their 3rd successive win when they thrashed Svetkavitsa, 6-0. Their winning run was halted by a 1-1 draw at Slavia Sofia, but they’re unbeaten in 5 and into 3rd place.

Litex Lovech, winners for the past two seasons, have moved into 4th place, although they’re 7pts off the pace. Like CSKA, they’ve been brilliant since the break. Unbeaten during that period in their 8 matches, as they beat Levski Sofia, 1-0 and then Botev Vratsa, 3-1.

At the bottom, Svetkavitsa look in desperate trouble. Just 7pts from their 22 matches so far and they’re still 10pts from safety. The bottom two clubs go down with the club in 14th competing in a play-off to determine the 3rd relegated club. Kaliakra also looked doomed.

Unbelievably, both clubs picked up a win in the last couple of games. For Svetkavitsa, it was their first win of the season. They beat Kaliakra, 1-0. Kaliakra had just beaten the side immediately above them, Vidima, 3-2 with a goal from Dimitrov in the 90th minute.

Things are looking a little tricky for Lokomotiv Sofia. Four times winners of the Bulgarian League, have 1 win in 10 and just 1pt from their last 6 matches. Back-to-back 0-3 defeats has seen them drop to just above the danger zone.

So, with 8 games to go it looks like CSKA’s title to lose. They are keen to add to their 31 championships, as they have seen rival clubs win the past 3 titles. For a club so successful domestically, 1 title in the past 7 is not good enough. The battle could all be about the two Europa League places with 4 clubs in contention at the moment


A Moment in Time : Part Nine – 1980, Forest Win European Cup, Again

Nottingham Forest had won the European Cup in 1979 in their first attempt at a European competition. This entitled them to qualify automatically for the following year’s tournament.

After winning the First Division in 1978, they finished 2nd the following season. 1980 would see them finish 5th in the table as Liverpool claimed their 2nd successive title.

As with 1979, both Nottingham Forest and Liverpool were in the draw for the First Round. However, unlike 1979, they wouldn’t meet each other.

English clubs had now won the European Cup in 1977, 1978 and 1979. Nottingham Forest were about to embark on their attempt to keep the trophy in England.

Such was the open nature of European Leagues back then that only 8 of the 32 teams competing in 1980, had qualified for the 1979 trophy.

Here is the list of the qualifiers


As there were 33 qualifiers, a Preliminary Round was played with Republic of Ireland Champions, Dundalk, beating Northern Ireland Champions, Linfield, 3-1 on aggregate.


The draw was made for the First Round. Forest had beaten Swedish side, Malmo, to lift the trophy in 1979, now they were drawn against the next Swedish Champions, Osters IF. This was a golden period for the club as they’d just won the first of three titles in four years. But their first entry into this competition gave them possibly their toughest task. Liverpool were drawn against Dinamo Tblisi. They’d just won only their 2nd Soviet title, beating Dinamo Kiev, the previous season’s winners. Celtic were up against Albanian side, Partizan Tirana.

Defending their title for the first time, Forest were workmanlike in the 1st leg. A goalless first half, but then the deadlock was broken just after the hour as Ian Bowyer gave Forest the lead. Bowyer, then scored his 2nd with 15 minutes remaining and Forest took a useful 2-0 lead to Sweden.

Two weeks later and Forest cruised through to the next round as a 1-1 draw was enough to give them overall victory. Mats Nordgren put the home side in front just into the second half, but Tony Woodcock equalised on the night with just 10 minutes to go, and Forest had successfully negotiated their first hurdle.

1st Leg – 19th September 1979
Bowyer (63, 74)

Shilton; Anderson, Burns, Lloyd, Gray; O’Neill, McGovern, Bowyer, Robertson; Woodcock, Birtles

2nd Leg – 3rd October 1979
Woodcock (79)

Shilton; Anderson, Burns, Lloyd, Gray; O’Neill, McGovern, Mills, Robertson; Woodcock, Birtles

Other Results

Liverpool had been drawn against Soviet champions, Dinamo Tblisi. Tblisi were full of players who would impress on the world stage in Spain in 1982, but were largely unknown in most of Europe. Liverpool won the 1st leg at Anfield, 2-1, but the 2nd leg was a disaster. 3 second half goals for the home side gave them a 3-0 win, and for the 2nd season running, Liverpool were out in the 1st Round of a competition they’d won twice.

Celtic were up against Albanian side Partizan Tirana. Considered one of the real minnows of European football, the Albanians took a shock lead by winning the 1st leg, 1-0. At Parkhead, Celtic defender Alan Sneddon put through his own net, and the Scottish champions were staring down the barrel. Rod McDonald then quickly equalised, with Roy Aitken putting them in front soon after. But Tirana had the away goal. Celtic fans needn’t have worried as goals from Davidson and another from Aitken gave Celtic a 4-1 lead by half-time and the tie was over.

Two of the favourites also cruised through. Real Madrid saw off Bulgarians, Levski Spartak, 3-0 on aggregate. In the 2nd leg, goals from Vincente Del Bosque (future Spanish national manager) and Laurie Cunningham (former West Brom winger and first black player to represent England at any level), were enough to see them progress. Ajax were the most impressive. They travelled to Helsinki to meet HJK. They were 4-0 up by the break, and ended up with a crushing 8-1 win. Goals from players such as Ruud Krol (Dutch captain in 1978 World Cup), Soren Lerby, Simon Tahamata and Frank Arnesen (yes, that Frank Arnesen). For the 2nd leg Ajax were again 4-0 up by half-time. They again won 8-1 with 4 goals from a 19-year old called Ton Blanker.

Irish champions, Dundalk lost 0-1 in Malta against Hibernians, but turned it round with a 2-0 win at home. English fans were also interested in the performance of SV Hamburg, as they included the England captain, Kevin Keegan. Hamburg were up against Valur of Iceland. They won 3-0 in the 1st leg and then 2-1 in the 2nd. 3 of the goals came from Horst Hrubesch who scored twice in the European Championship Final in 1980.

The biggest shock was AC Milan losing to Porto. 0-0 in the 1st leg in Portugal, Milan were then stunned by a 0-1 defeat at home. This was the 2nd successive season the champion club from Italy had gone out at the first hurdle.

Arges Pitesti  3-2 AEK Athens  (3-0,0-2)
Dynamo Berlin 4-1 Ruch Chorzow (4-1, 0-0)
Servette 4-2 Beveren (3-1, 1-1)
Dukla Prague 4-3 Ujpest Dozsa (2-0, 2-3)
Strasbourg 6-1 Start (2-1, 4-0)
Ajax 16-1 HJK (8-1, 8-1)
Omonia 7-3 Red Boys (6-1, 1-2)
Celtic 4-2 Partizan Tirana (0-1, 4-1)
Dundalk 2-1 Hibernians (2-0, 0-1)
Porto 1-0 AC Milan (0-0, 1-0)
Real Madrid 3-0 Levski Spartak (1-0, 2-0)
SV Hamburg 5-1 Valur (3-0, 2-1)
Dinamo Tblisi 4-2 Liverpool (1-2, 3-0)
Vejle 4-3 Austria Vienna (3-2, 1-1)
Hajduk Split 2-0 Trabzonspor (1-0, 1-0)


The draw for the Second Round put Forest up against Romanians, Arges Pitesti. The Romanians had just won only their 2nd national title, and to this day remains their last honour. Celtic would meet Dundalk. Real Madrid were drawn against Milan’s conquerors, Porto, and Tblisi’s prize for knocking out Liverpool was a tie against Hamburg. Ajax were now up against Omonia from Cyrpus

As in the 1st Round, Forest were at home in the 1st leg. 16 minutes in and Woodcock and Birtles had given them a 2-0 lead. The Romanians struggled to make an impact and couldn’t grab an away goal.

This proved crucial as 5 minutes into the 2nd leg and Ian Bowyer scored his 3rd goal of the campaign and Forest were in total control of the tie. John McGovern was a surprise name on the scoresheet (he only scored 6 goals in over 250 games for the club) midway through the first half and Forest were into the Quarter-Finals. Barbulescu got a goal back for the home side, but Forest were never under any real pressure and cruised through to the next round.

1st Leg – 24th October 1979
Woodcock (12), Birtles (16)

Shilton; Anderson, Burns, Lloyd, Gray; Mills, McGovern, Bowyer, Robertson; Woodcock, Birtles

2nd Leg – 7th November 1979
Bowyer (5), Birtles (23)

Shilton; Anderson, Burns, Lloyd, Gray (Gunn); O’Hare (Mills), McGovern, Bowyer, Robertson; Woodcock, Birtles

Other Results

Celtic and Dundalk played out a cracking game at Parkhead. McDonald gave Celtic the lead and then midway through the first half, there were 3 goals in 2 minutes as Celtic were now 3-1 up. Mick Lawlor then got a goal back for the Irish which would mean a tricky away 2nd leg. Celtic managed to see out the away leg with a 0-0 draw.

The big game was Real Madrid against Porto. Porto won the 1st leg, 2-1 as Cunningham scored again for Real. At the Bernabeu the home side had to wait till 20 minutes from time before Benito grabbed the only goal of the game and Real were through on away goals.

Hamburg were up against Dinamo Tblisi, and went one better than Liverpool with a 3-1 victory in the home leg. Keegan was on the scoresheet. In the 2nd leg, Gutsaev scored early for Tblisi, but then Keegan equalised. Hrubesch then put the Germans in control with a 2-1 lead. Hamburg ended up 3-2 winners and went through 6-3 on aggregate.

Ajax had won both legs of the First Round, 8-1 and followed this with a 10-0 win over Omonia Nicosia of Cyprus. Their Danish winger, Soren Lerby scored 5 goals. Ton Blanker grabbed his 2nd hat-trick of the competition. The Dutch fans were then expecting further goals in the 2nd leg. There were, but unbelievably they were all for the Cypriots, who won 4-0.

Strasbourg and Dukla Prague played out a dramatic tie as Prague won the 1st leg, 1-0. Strasbourg had equalised the tie, so they needed to play out extra time. With 4 minutes remaining, the French finally scored the winner.

Dynamo Berlin 4-3 Servette (2-1, 2-2)
Strasbourg 2-1 Dukla Prague (0-1, 2-0)
Ajax 10-4 Omonia (10-0, 0-4)
Celtic 3-2 Dundalk (3-2, 0-0)
Real Madrid 2-2 Porto (1-2, 1-0)
Hamburg 6-3 Dinamo Tblisi (3-1, 3-2)
Hajduk Split 4-2 Vejle (3-0, 1-2)


Into the last eight and the four favourites were kept apart. Nottingham Forest got Dynamo Berlin, Ajax had Strasbourg, Hamburg were drawn against Hajduk and Real Madrid were to meet Celtic.

For the third successive round, Forest were drawn at home in the 1st leg. But it was a changed side Brian Clough had put together and the performance suffered. They had just lost to bottom club, Bolton, in the league, and also seen Tony Woodcock move to Cologne. Trevor Francis appeared in his first European tie since his goal won the Final last season, and in midfield Clough included Stan Bowles. Bowles had been signed in the previous December as he’d fallen out with new QPR manager, Tommy Docherty, who was also credited with George Best’s departure from Manchester United a few years earlier. Neither Francis nor Bowles could inspire Forest as East German international, Hans-Jurgen Riediger scored the only goal of the game. Forest had lost a European tie for the first time.

Two weeks later in Berlin and Forest were a much more settled side, although they’d just lost in the League Cup Final to Wolves, with Andy Gray getting the only goal of the game. 16 minutes into the game and Trevor Francis scored, and Berlin’s away goal had been wiped out. 20 minutes later and a good turn and shot from Francis made it 2-0 on the night. With just 5 minutes of the half remaining, Robertson was brought down in the area and he converted the penalty himself and Forest were cruising. Forest eventually won 3-1 to go through relatively comfortably in the end, to yet another Semi-Final.

1st Leg – 7th March 1979

Shilton; Gunn, Burns, Lloyd, Gray; O’Neill, Bowles, McGovern, Robertson; Francis, Birtles

2nd Leg – 19th March 1980
Francis (15, 36), Robertson (pen, 39)

Shilton; Anderson, Needham, Lloyd, Gray; O’Neill, McGovern, Bowyer, Robertson; Francis, Birtles

Other Results

Celtic entertained Spanish giants, Real Madrid for the 1st leg. This was a game that remains in Celtic folklore at George McCluskey and Johnny Doyle scored the goals that gave them a famous 2-0 win. The return leg saw Real score just before half-time through Santillana. 10 minutes into the second period and West German international, Uli Stielike then levelled things on aggregate. As extra time approached, Juanito won it for Real and Celtic had come so close to putting out the 5 times winners of the trophy.

Ajax turned up at Strasbourg having scored 26 goals in 4 games. The French, who included French manager Raymond Domenech, held them to a 0-0 draw. The return leg saw the Dutch knock the goals in again as they won 4-0.

Hamburg had won their 1st leg, 1-0 at home to Hajduk Split. They doubled their lead overall as Hrubesch scored within 2 minutes of the start of the 2nd leg. Vujovic got a goal back for the home side but Hamburg went back in front, before Hajduk scored twice in the second half leaving Hamburg to go through on away goals.

So the big four were all through to the Semis with many predicting an Ajax v Real final.

Ajax 4-0 Strasbourg (0-0, 4-0)
Real Madrid 3-2 Celtic (0-2, 3-0)
Hamburg 3-3 Hajduk Split (1-0, 2-3)


Forest were drawn against Ajax for the Semi-Finals, and as with every other round this season, were at home first. In fact in 8 rounds over two years, Forest had only been away from home first, once. Real would meet Hamburg in the other tie.

Ajax had already scored 30 goals when they arrived at the City Ground, with Soren Lerby scoring 9 and Ton Blanker, 10. Blanker had only played 3 games and wasn’t in the team for either leg of the Semis. On a typical European night in England, the crowd were enthralled as Forest took the game to their opponents. With 10 minutes of the first half remaining and Francis scored from a corner to give Forest the lead. In the second half, Zamborn handled in the area and Robertson stepped up to score the penalty, just as he’d done in Berlin. Forest took a useful 2-0 lead to Amsterdam.

A capacity crowd in the Amsterdam Arena willed the home side on. Ajax had won the European Cup three times in 1971, 1972 and 1973, but only contained Ruud Krol from that side. The goalless scoreline was finally broken in the 65th minute as Soren Lerby headed in from a corner for his 10th goal in the competition. But Ajax were unable to add to that and so Forest had won to go through to their 2nd successive final in only their 2nd appearance in the competition.

1st Leg – 9th April 1980
Francis (33), Robertson (pen, 61)

Shilton; Anderson, Burns, Lloyd, Gray; O’Neill,Bowles, McGovern, Robertson; Francis, Birtles

2nd Leg – 23rd April 1980

Shilton; Anderson, Burns, Lloyd, Gray; O’Neill, McGovern, Bowyer, Robertson; Francis, Birtles

Other Result

In the other tie, Real Madrid beat Hamburg, 2-0 in the Bernabeu, as Santillana scored twice to give them a useful lead. In the 2nd leg, Manny Kaltz scored from the spot in the 10th minute, and then Hrubesch made it 2-0 to the Germans to level things up on aggregate. On the half hour and Laurie Cunningham gave the Spanish a crucial away goal, but Kaltz scored again, 5 minutes before the break to give the Germans a 3-1 lead on the night. With Real still leading overall, and half-time approaching, Hrubesch popped up to score again and the West Germans went into the break 4-1 up and also leading on aggregate. The next goal would be crucial and it was the Germans who got it as Memering scored in the 90th minute and Hamburg were through to the final. Real were gutted, especially as the Final was to be played at the Bernabeu.

Hamburg 5-3 Real Madrid (0-2, 5-1)



This Final was keenly anticipated. Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest, all hard work, tough defence and counter attack. SV Hamburg, the new West German darlings with the European Footballer of the Year, Kevin Keegan, in their ranks. They also contained internationals like Manny Kaltz, Horst Hrubesch and Felix Magath. Keegan had been inspirational when Liverpool lifted their first European Cup in 1977, he was aiming to do the same for Hamburg.

Forest were without Trevor Francis, who’d picked up an Achilles injury. The Germans started brighter, and forced an early save from Shilton as Magath went close in the opening 10 minutes. Before the game, Keegan had predicted that Hamburg would keep attacking, and so it proved. But Forest worked hard and were well drilled in defending. 20 minutes into the game and Robertson exchanged passes with Birtles, beat his marker and as he reached the edge of the box, hit a shot that went in off the right-hand post. It was a goal against the run of play, but set the pattern for the rest of the match as Forest just defended their lead. Within a minute Reiman had the ball in the Forest net, but the flag was up for offside.

Keegan tried to inspire his team mates, as he ran and ran, but each chance they had was either saved by Shilton, or repelled by Burns or Lloyd. Forest were clearly tiring towards the end and may have conceded with 5 minutes to go but Buljan managed to put his shot wide from about 5 yards out.

Forest hung on to retain their trophy. They may not have had as much flair as their German opponents, but they were clinical and efficient. Even Clough had to admit the Germans superior technique, but he added “We beat them for application, determination and pride – all the things that portray our football.

He went onto say, “if you have to defend you have to do it well. It’s as important as attacking. At half-time I wondered how we could last. Mills was one of only three players we could have taken off. In fact, Birtles did not have enough strength to remove his shin pads when he came off at the end.”

28th May 1980
Robertson (20)

Shilton; Anderson, Burns, Lloyd, Gray (Gunn); O’Neill, Mills (O’Hare), McGovern, Bowyer, Robertson; Birtles

This was the pinnacle for Nottingham Forest Football Club. When Clough arrived in 1975 they were a struggling Second Division side, eventually winning promotion in 1977. By 1980, they had lifted the League Championship, 2 European Cups and 2 League Cups, the European Super Cup.

This win also meant they became the first club to have won the European Cup more times than their own domestic League title.

A Moment in Time – Part Eight : 1979 When Forest Were Kings of Europe


At the end of the 1976-77 season, Nottingham Forest finished third in the old Second Division (now The Championship).  They had gained promotion back to the First Division.  Twelve months later they were League Champions for the one and only time in their history.  This then qualified them for the European Cup starting in September 1978.

Back then, the European Cup was only for the Champions of European leagues.  32 clubs entered  a knockout competition with each tie played over two legs.  The holders of the trophy automatically gained entry for the following season, and if they weren’t the reigning Champions of their league, that country would then have two clubs in the competition.

This is what happened in 1978-79.  Liverpool had won the European Cup in 1978 and so were automatically entered, but they hadn’t retained their league title, which had gone to Forest, so England had two clubs entered.

Here is the list of the qualifiers

Several things to note about these qualifiers is the political situation in Europe during this time.  This was before the Berlin Wall came down in 1990 and so Germany is separated between West and East.  The Soviet Union has now been broken up into many countries, including Ukraine, Estonia, Georgia, Lithuania, Latvia and Russia.  Yugoslavia has now been broken up into countries such as Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia, Serbia and Macedonia.

As there were 33 qualifiers, a Preliminary Round was played where Monaco beat Steaua Bucharest, 3-2 on aggregate.


The draw was made for the First Round.  For the first time since 1968-69, England had two clubs in the European Cup.  Unbelievably, this time round they were drawn against each other.  Nottingham Forest would play Liverpool, with the 1st leg at the City Ground.

Over 38,000 packed The City Ground for Forest’s first ever European tie.  But it felt like a league match.  The home side poured forward, looking for the breakthrough and midway through the first half, it came courtesy of Garry Birtles.  22 year old, Birtles had replaced Peter Withe who’d moved to Newcastle after winning his League Championship medal.  Liverpool pushed for an equaliser, something they may not have worried about if they had been playing a continental side, but just couldn’t get passed Peter Shilton.  Then, with three minutes remaining, Forest gained a crucial advantage.  Birtles pounced on a mistake in the Liverpool defence and Colin Barrett found himself free in the area to volley home Tony Woodcock’s knockdown.  Forest had a 2-goal lead to take to Anfield.

When asked about his new goalscorer, Brian Clough said

“Birtles did well.  Two years ago he was laying tiles.  If he doesn’t score again on Saturday, he could be back there.”

One thing Clough had managed to master with this Forest side was the art of defending.  Forest had turned up at Anfield in the final game of 1978 and gained a 0-0 draw.  They managed this again, and so progressed to the next round.  Liverpool, who had won the European Cup for the past two years, were out.

1st Leg – 13th September 1978
Birtles (26)
Barrett (87)

Shilton; Anderson, Burns, Lloyd, Barrett; Gemmill, McGovern, Bowyer, Robertson; Woodcock, Birtles

2nd Leg – 27th September 1978

Shilton;  Anderson, Burns, Lloyd, Clark;  Gemmill, McGovern, Bowyer, Robertson;  Woodcock, Birtles

Other Results

Glasgow Rangers were drawn against Juventus.  The Italians, managed by Giovanni Trapattoni,  contained 9 players who’d just competed in the World Cup in Argentina in the summer.  One of the uncapped players, Virdis, scored the only goal in Turin.  In the return, goals from Alex MacDonald and Gordon Smith won it for the Scots.

The previous season’s runners-up, Bruges were up against Polish champions, Wisla Krakow.  They were 2-0 up in the 1st leg, before Kapka got a goal back for the Poles 7 minutes from time.  Early in the second half of the 2nd leg, Jan Cuelemans had wiped out the away goal as the game stood 1-1 on the night.  Into the final 10 minutes, with the Belgians leading 3-2 on aggregate, goals from Lipka and Krupinski surprisingly put Krakow through.  So, both finalists from the previous season’s competition fell at the first hurdle.

Real Madrid  12-0  Progres Niedercorn  (5-0, 7-0)
AEK Athens  7-5  Porto  (6-1, 1-4)
Grasshopper  13-3  Valletta  (8-0, 5-3)
Lokomotiv Sofia  4-3  Odense  (2-2, 2-1)
FC Koln  5-2  IA Akranes  (4-1, 1-1)
Rangers  2-1  Juventus  (0-1, 2-0)
PSV Eindhoven  7-3  Fenerbahce  (1-2, 6-1)
Austria Vienna  4-3  Vllaznia  (0-2, 4-1)
Lillestrom  1-0  Linfield  (0-0, 1-0)
Bohemians  2-2  Omonia  (1-2, 1-0)
Dynamo Dresden  2-2  Partizan Belgrade  (0-2, 2-0), Dresden won 5-4 on penalties
Brno  4-2  Ujpest Dozsa  (2-2, 2-0)
Wisla Krakow  4-3  Bruges  (1-2, 3-1)
Dinamo Kiev  4-1  Haka  (1-0, 3-1)
Malmo  1-0  Monaco  (0-0, 1-0)


Forest were drawn against Greek champions, AEK Athens in the Second Round.  They would be away in the 1st leg.  AEK were managed by Hungarian legend, Ferenc Puskas.  Glasgow Rangers were drawn against PSV and Bohemians Dublin were up against Dynamo Dresden.

Forest went to Athens for the first leg.  AEK contained several players who would appear for Greece in their first international tournament appearance in the European Championships two years later, including strikers, Ardizoglu and Mavros.  But it was Forest who struck first as captain, John McGovern put them in front after 10 minutes.  Right on half-time, Birtles then made it 2-0 and 2 away goals were like gold dust.  Mavros converted a penalty for AEK in the second half but Forest had come away with a magnificent 2-1 win away from home.

The 2nd leg proved to be one of Forest’s finest ever performances in Europe.  Already leading from the 1st leg, Dave Needham then put them further ahead as he scored after just 8 minutes.  Woodcock then doubled the lead on the night, inside the final 10 minutes of the first period.  Three minutes later and Viv Anderson made it 3-0 on the night and 5-1 on aggregate.

Five minutes into the second half and Bajevic got a goal back for the visitors but it was merely a consolation as midway into the half Anderson struck again.  Anderson spent 10 seasons at Forest, scoring just 15 goals, 3 of them in this match as he completed his only ever hat-trick in the 72nd minute.  The win was emphatic and Forest marched on.

1st Leg  –  18th October 1978
McGovern (10), Birtles (45)

Shilton;  Anderson, Burns, Lloyd, Clark;  Gemmill, McGovern, Bowyer, Robertson;  Woodcock, Birtles

2nd Leg  –  1st November 1978
Needham (8), Woodcock (36)
Anderson (39, 66, 72)

Shilton;  Anderson, Needham, Lloyd, Clark (Mills);  Gemmill, Bowyer, Robertson;  O’Hare, Woodcock, Birtles

Other Results

Rangers were drawn away to PSV Eindhoven, who were packed full of internationals who had competed in the World Cup Final in Argentina.  The Dutch had seen off Fenerbahce in the First Round, beating them 6-1 in the 2nd leg.  The 1st leg ended goalless, and Rangers found them a goal down early in the 2nd leg.  MacDonald equalised but then PSV were back in front.  Derek Johnstone equalised for Rangers and then with just minutes to go, Robert Russell made things certain with the 3rd.

Another of the favourites, Real Madrid, also succumbed at this stage.  They were up against Swiss champions, Grasshoppers of Zurich.  These two were the top scorers from the First Round as Real put 12 past Luxembourg side, Progres Niedercorn.  Grasshoppers had put 13 past Maltese side, Valletta, as Claudio Sulser scored 6 over the 2 legs.  Real won the 1st leg 3-1 as Sulser grabbed the away goal.  Sulser then put Zurich in front in the return too.  With just 3 minutes remaining, Sulser scored his 9th of the competition to put the Spaniards out.

Grasshopper  3-3  Real Madrid  (1-3, 2-0)
FC Koln  5-0  Lokomotiv Sofia  (1-0, 4-0)
Rangers  3-2  PSV Eindhoven  (0-0, 3-2)
Austria Vienna  4-1  Lillestrom  (4-1, 0-0)
Dynamo Dresden  6-0  Bohemians  (0-0, 6-0)
Wisla Krakow  3-3  Brno  (2-2, 1-1)
Malmo  2-0  Dinamo Kiev  (0-0, 2-0)


With Real Madrid and PSV out of the way, Forest were hoping to avoid West German champions, Koln.  They did as they were drawn out of the hat against Grasshoppers of Zurich.  Forest would be at home in the 1st leg.

The Swiss champions had put out Real Madrid in the last round.  They were to be feared too, as they’d already hit 16 goals in 4 games.  Striker, Claudio Sulser had already hit 9, including 5 in one match in the First Round.

Sulser, it was who scored first for Grasshoppers and Forest had conceded an away goal.  But the rest of the game was a joy for the home fans as Birtles equalised, and then John Robertson converted a penalty to give Forest the lead early in the second half.  That’s how it looked like it might end until Archie Gemmill grabbed a crucial third goal and then Larry Lloyd gave Forest a vital 4-1 advantage to take to Zurich.

In the 2nd leg, Sulser scored again as he converted a penalty after 33 minutes.  Grasshopper needed 2 more goals to gain the advantage, but then Martin O’Neill wiped out their away goal as he scored 7 minutes before the break.  The Swiss couldn’t break down Forest’s defence and Clough’s men were through to the Semi-Finals.

1st Leg  –  7th March 1979
Birtles (31), Robertson (47, pen)
Gemmill (87), Lloyd (89)

Shilton;  Anderson, Needham, Lloyd, Clark;  O’Neill, Gemmill, McGovern, Robertson;  Woodcock, Birtles

2nd Leg  –  21st March 1979
O’Neill (38)

Shilton;  Anderson, Needham, Lloyd, Barrett;  O’Neill, Gemmill, McGovern, Robertson;  Woodcock, Birtles
Other Results

Rangers dream finally came to an end.  They travelled to Cologne for the 1st leg and the sides was separated by a goal from West German international, Dieter Muller.  Back at Ibrox and Muller was again on target just after half-time.  Rangers now needed to score three times, but could only manage once when Tom McLean scored 4 minutes from time.

Swedish champions, Malmo were a goal up away to Wisla Krakow, but lost the 1st leg, 1-2.  Their away goal advantage was then wiped out halfway through the second period in the return leg.  Then Andras Ljungberg then hit a hat-trick, which included 2 penalties, to help the Swedes to a 4-1 win.

Austria Vienna were the other qualifiers, as they saw off Dynamo Dresden of East Germany.  The Germans went 1-0 up in the 1st leg in Vienna, but then the Austrians came back with 3 goals included two from Austrian World Cup star, Walter Schachner.  The Germans won the 2nd leg 1-0, but it was not enough and the Austrians joined Forest, Koln and Malmo who were all in their first ever European Cup Semi-Final

FC Koln  2-1  Rangers  (1-0, 1-1)
Austria Vienna  3-2  Dynamo Dresden  (3-1, 0-1)
Malmo  5-3  Wisla Krakow  (1-2, 4-1)


Forest looked to get the tougher draw as they were up against the West German champions FC Koln.

Koln had won their 3rd Bundesliga title on goal difference from Borussia Monchengladbach.  To this date, like Forest, it remains their last success at that level.  They were packed with internationals, such as Harald (Toni) Schumacher in goal, Herbert Zimmerman, Bernd Schuster, Dieter Muller, Herbert Neumann, Roger van Gool (Belgium) and the first Japanese to play in Europe, Yasuhiko Okudera.

The first leg at City Ground saw Koln take the lead early on as van Gool gave them an important lead in the 6th minute.  20 minutes in and then Dieter Muller made it 2-0 to the visitors and Forest’s dream had just started to fade a little.  Birtles then grabbed a goal back and they went into the break 1-2 down.  8 minutes after the re-start and Ian Bowyer equalised.  10 minutes later and John Robertson had the home fans in raptures as he completed their comeback to put them 3-2 up.  Koln brought on Okudera as sub for the final few minutes and he scored a crucial goal to level it up on the night.

Forest travelled to Cologne for the 2nd leg, knowing they would have to defend like demons to progress.  Koln had Heinz Flohe back, although only on the bench, and they were confident of reaching their first European final.  No score at half-time and the game was finely poised.  Then Ian Bowyer scored a vital goal in the 65th minute and Forest managed to hold the Germans off to progress to the Final.

1st Leg  –  11th April 1979
Birtles (28), Bowyer (53)
Robertson (63)

Shilton;  Barrett, Needham, Lloyd, Bowyer;  O’Neill, Gemmill (Clark), McGovern, Robertson;  Woodcock, Birtles

2nd Leg  –  25th April 1979
Bowyer (65)

Shilton;  Anderson, Burns, Lloyd, Clark;  O’Neill, McGovern, Bowyer, Robertson;  Woodcock, Birtles

Other Result

Malmo  1-0  Austria Vienna  (0-0, 1-0)



Both clubs were appearing in their first ever European final.  For Malmo, they still remain the only Swedish club to reach this far.  They were managed by an Englishman, Bobby Houghton.  Houghton had a brief playing career at Fulham and Brighton and had coached at non-league level before taking up the post at Malmo in 1974.  He had taken them to three Swedish League titles by the time they turned up at the Final in Munich.

Forest manager, Brian Clough, had surprised many by leaving out Martin O’Neill and Archie Gemmill.  He brought in Britain’s first £1m footballer, Trevor Francis, and Ian Bowyer.  This would be Francis first European tie and this proved to be a masterstroke from Clough.  Clough had bought Francis from Birmingham in February 1979.  UEFA rules meant he couldn’t play in a European match for three months and so the first game he was eligible for was…..the Final.

A fairly dull game, finally burst into life just before the break as John Robertson took on the Swedish defence down the left.  His cross to the far post was met by a diving Francis for the only goal of the game.  Malmo created little for Forest to be worried about and, in the end, it seemed a fairly easy win.  Nottingham Forest had made sure the European Cup stayed in England for a 3rd successive season.

30th May 1979
Francis (45)

Shilton;  Anderson, Burns, Lloyd, Clark;  McGovern, Bowyer, Robertson;  Francis, Woodcock, Birtles


As Liverpool lifted the League Championship, England would again have two clubs in the following season’s competition.

Ahead in March, Celebrate in May

Manchester City entertain Sunderland on Saturday, knowing a win will take them back to the top of the table.  But will they still be there at the end of the season?

Let’s look back at the history of the Premier League to see if we can assess their chances.

This is the 20th season of the Premier League, and so far from the previous 19 there have only been 5 instances of a team leading at the end of March, and not winning the title in May.  Of those 5 occasions, it has happened to Manchester United just twice.  When you consider they have been top in March for 12 of those 19 seasons, being overtaken on just 2 occasions would suggest City’s chances are slim unless City can get to the top on Saturday.

However, of the 7 instances when United haven’t been top at the end of March, there has only been 2 occasions when they overhauled the leaders to win that title.  So if City can go top on Saturday, they may stand a chance of staying there, based on past seasons.

In 1993, the very first Premier League season, Norwich City lead the table at the end of March.  They were 1pt ahead of Aston Villa and 2pts ahead of United, both of whom had a game in hand.  Norwich had just beaten Aston Villa, 1-0 to replace them in 1st place.  But they were only able to win another 2 games from their final 7, which included a 1-3 defeat at home to United.  They picked up just 7pts after the end of March, whereas United earned 21pts from a possible 24 and finally won their first league title for 26 years.

In 2003, Arsenal lead the pack.  They had just beaten Everton, 2-1 and were 2pts clear of United with just 7 matches left.  They had lost just once in their previous 14 games.  Although they would only lose once more (2-3 at home to Leeds), they only won 3 of their last 7 matches, gaining just 12pts.  United picked up 19pts, only dropping points when they drew 2-2 at Highbury.

For United, this was payback for 1998 when they were top at the end of March, 2pts ahead of Arsenal, although they’d played 2 games more.  United picked up just 14pts from their final 6 matches, whereas Arsenal gained 18pts from their 8 games and beat United to the title by just 1pt.

Arsenal were also successful in 2002 when Liverpool lead at the end of March.  They were 1pt ahead of United and 2pts ahead of Arsenal.  But once again, Arsenal had games in hand.  Liverpool won 4 of their final 5 matches, but Arsenal won every one of their final 7 matches to win the title by 7pts.

The last instance of a side being top at the end of March and not winning the trophy was just 3 seasons ago when United lead Chelsea by 1pt.  Chelsea then beat United 2-1 at Old Trafford and with United then being held to a 0-0 draw at Blackburn, this put paid to their title attempt.  This meant Chelsea’s 1-2 defeat at Tottenham wasn’t enough to stop them picking up their 3rd title in 6 years.

There seems to be no doubt this is far from the best United side ever seen, however their points tally per game at this stage of the season has only been beaten on 4 occasions since 1993.  Chelsea’s total of 77pts from 30 matches in 2005 is still the record.  Closely followed by their tally of 77 from 30 the season after and then matched by United the season after that.  In 2004, Arsenal had amassed 74pts from 30 games.

If United win every game from now till the end of the season, they will overhaul Chelsea’s record total of 95pts set in 2005.  Possible?  Well, they’ve done it before.  In 2000 they won all their matches through April and May.  In fact, they won their last 11 matches to take the title by 18pts.
Obviously, past performance is not necessarily a guide to future prosperity.  The players will be different from previous seasons, they will meet different opponents, each of whom may have different end of season priorities.  Whether City can get past United and then stay there, remains to be seen.  If they do, it will be their first title for 44 years, since they won in 1968

Here was the top of the table at the end of March


Here was how things ended up.


Bulgarian A League – Update 27th March 2012

Game Day 17 saw 5 of the top 6 win.  The exception was 2nd placed, Chernomorets, who went down 0-2 at Lokomotiv Plovdiv.  The leaders, Ludogorets, continued their excellent form with a 5-0 win over relegation threatened, Vidima.

Into Game Day 18 and Ludogorets gained another 5-0 win as they beat bottom club, Svetkavitsa.  Although, the scoreline probably flattered them as they scored 4 of those goals in the final 10 minutes.  Chernomorets then dropped more points as they were held at home, 2-2, by Zagora.  Champions, Litex Lovech beat Slavia Sofia, 1-0Levski and CSKA Sofia both won, 2-0.

Wednesday 21st March saw Ludogorets run come to an end.  Four straight wins, 16 goals scored and none conceded, had seen them look as if there was no stopping them.  It seemed as if they’d carry this on when they went to Lokomotiv Plovdiv, but Venkov’s goal just into the second half, gave Plovdiv their 2nd win over a top 2 club, in recent weeks.

CSKA Sofia thumped Lokomotiv Sofia, 4-0, and Levski Sofia went to Slavia Sofia and came away with a 3-0 win.  Both CSKA and Levski have begun very well after the winter break.

Then Game Day 20, saw CSKA Sofia go to the top of the table.  A 3-0 win at Plovdiv, who’d just ended Ludogorets unbeaten run, put them 3pts clear.  Since the winter break, they lost their first match back, but have since won 4 straight, scoring 12 and conceding just 1.

Ludogorets suffered their 2nd successive defeat as they went  down 2-3 to Slavia Sofia.  Slavia scored first, but then Barthe and Aleksandrov put Ludogorets 2-1 up.  But Slavia came back to take all 3pts, to see Ludogorets knocked off the top of the table for the first time in months.  They are joined on 45pts by Levski Sofia, who themselves missed a chance as they were beaten at home 0-1 by Minior Pernik.  Chernomorets and Litex are just below the Europa League places as the season moves towards the final 3rd.


Austrian Bundesliga Update – 27th March 2012

As if to illustrate how tight this league is this year, SV Mattersburg (2nd from bottom) beat Austria Vienna (3rd from top), 2-0.  Back at the beginning of the month, Mattersburg had shocked the league leaders by winning 1-0 in Salzburg.

The defeat for Austria Vienna, allowed both of the clubs above them to open up a gap at the top.  Salzburg beat Wiener Neustadt, 2-1 and Rapid Vienna beat Kapfenburg, 3-0.  With 4th place, Ried beating Admira Wacker, 2-1, Austria Vienna had slipped to 4th themselves.

But then, just in case they got too far ahead of the rest of the league, the top three all dropped points this weekend.

Salzburg found themselves trailing, 1-2 to Admira, after scoring first, before their Swedish midfielder, Rasmus Lindgren equalised in the final 10 minutes.  It was his first goal of the season and grabbed an important point, as the game ended 2-2.  On Sunday, Rapid Vienna failed to take advantage as they found themselves 0-2 down inside the first 10 minutes.  They ended up losing 1-2 to Wacker Innsbruck.  Wacker were the only winners this weekend, as once again most of the teams couldn’t be separated.

Salzburg still lead with a 3pt advantage over Rapid.  Ried and Austria Vienna are separated by goal difference.  In the race for Europa League qualification (2nd and 3rd place), Admira, Sturm Graz and Wacker are certainly not out of it.


The big game this weekend sees the leaders, Salzburg travel to Austria Vienna.  The top three are all away from home as Rapid go to Admira, and Ried visit Sturm Graz.

Is This The Closest League in Europe?

Austrian Bundesliga


The Austrian Bundesliga is one of the smallest leagues in Europe, consisting of only 10 clubs, but this season is looking really close.  Already 2/3rds of the way through and many of the teams are still in with a shout of winning the title.

One reason so many teams are still in the hunt is that over 1/3rd of the matches have ended in stalemate.  Salzburg, the leaders, has already lost as many matches as Wacker Innsbruck, in 7th place.  The difference between the two sides is that Salzburg has won 4 more matches than Wacker.

If you look at the top six, they are very difficult to beat at home, and away wins could well be the ultimate factor which decides the destination of the trophy.  The champions, Sturm Graz, are in the surprising position of having played 12 matches away from home and yet to come away with a win.  Yet, they are just 8pts off the pace with a game in hand.

Leaders, Salzburg, are the most successful club in recent years winning three out of the last five titles.  Sturm Graz title last year was their first since their back-to-back wins in 1998 and 1999.  Rapid Wien is still the most successful club in Austrian football with 32 titles.

Just before today’s matches, the top three teams were all on 38pts, with Ried just 3pts behind.  But a 1-0 win for Salzburg at Kapfenburg Superfund, gave them a bit of breathing space at the top.  Today’s results seemed to sum up the season as the four matches contained just three goals with only one producing a winner.  Goals have been hard to come by with three sides yet to average a goal-per-game.  Top scorers, Salzburg, has only managed 38 goals in 25 matches.


The Austrian Bundesliga is much like the Scottish Premier League used to be in which ten teams play each other twice at home and twice away.  The champions go into the Second qualifying round of the Champions League, with the 2nd and 3rd placed teams into the Europa League.  The 2nd placed club enters one round later than the 3rd placed team.  The team who finishes bottom is relegated to the Austrian Football First League.

In a league with so few teams, one aspect that has contributed to a bunching of sides is that the bottom club, Kapfenburg Superfund, has performed so badly compared to the rest of the league, wining just 4 games and scoring only 16 goals in 25 matches.  They’re 10pts from safety and look doomed.

For Champions, Sturm Graz, they need to pull themselves out of their current slump.  They’re yet to win or score in their last 4 matches, although they’ve only lost one of those.  They’ve won just 2 of their last 8 games, although they beat 3rd place, Austria Wien 5-1 in one of those victories.

The Austrian Bundesliga began in 1911.  Of the 10 clubs currently competing in this season’s Bundesliga, Ried, Mattersburg, Wiener Neustadt and Kapfenburg have yet to win a title.

This current competition could go right down to the wire.


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