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
NOTTINGHAM FOREST 2-0 OSTERS IF
Bowyer (63, 74)
Shilton; Anderson, Burns, Lloyd, Gray; O’Neill, McGovern, Bowyer, Robertson; Woodcock, Birtles
2nd Leg – 3rd October 1979
OSTERS IF 1-1 NOTTINGHAM FOREST
Shilton; Anderson, Burns, Lloyd, Gray; O’Neill, McGovern, Mills, Robertson; Woodcock, Birtles
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
NOTTINGHAM FOREST 2-0 ARGES PITESTI
Woodcock (12), Birtles (16)
Shilton; Anderson, Burns, Lloyd, Gray; Mills, McGovern, Bowyer, Robertson; Woodcock, Birtles
2nd Leg – 7th November 1979
ARGES PITESTI 1-2 NOTTINGHAM FOREST
Bowyer (5), Birtles (23)
Shilton; Anderson, Burns, Lloyd, Gray (Gunn); O’Hare (Mills), McGovern, Bowyer, Robertson; Woodcock, Birtles
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
NOTTINGHAM FOREST 0-1 DYNAMO BERLIN
Shilton; Gunn, Burns, Lloyd, Gray; O’Neill, Bowles, McGovern, Robertson; Francis, Birtles
2nd Leg – 19th March 1980
DYNAMO BERLIN 1-3 NOTTINGHAM FOREST
Francis (15, 36), Robertson (pen, 39)
Shilton; Anderson, Needham, Lloyd, Gray; O’Neill, McGovern, Bowyer, Robertson; Francis, Birtles
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
NOTTINGHAM FOREST 2-0 AJAX
Francis (33), Robertson (pen, 61)
Shilton; Anderson, Burns, Lloyd, Gray; O’Neill,Bowles, McGovern, Robertson; Francis, Birtles
2nd Leg – 23rd April 1980
AJAX 1-0 NOTTINGHAM FOREST
Shilton; Anderson, Burns, Lloyd, Gray; O’Neill, McGovern, Bowyer, Robertson; Francis, Birtles
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)
EUROPEAN CUP FINAL
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
NOTTINGHAM FOREST 1-0 SV HAMBURG
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.