Great Reputations: Wolves 1957-60 – the mighty men from Molineux

CHAMPIONS of the World! That was how Wolverhampton Wanderers were known for a while when they beat some of Europe’s best club sides in the mid-1950s. Of course, these were mostly in the pre-European Cup era, when foreign teams were as familiar to British audiences as Martians. But in the early floodlit days, there was something magical about Wolves’ encounters with Russian and Hungarian sides … Continue reading Great Reputations: Wolves 1957-60 – the mighty men from Molineux

Great Reputations: Borussia Mönchengladbach 1974-77 – mythical rebels

IT’S part of popular football culture that Bayern Munich have always been the dominant force in German football. Certainly, Bayern is the country’s most high-profile club and undoubtedly the most successful football institution from the Bundesliga. In recent years, only Borussia Dortmund have challenged Bayern on a sustainable basis, but the first club to grapple with the slick Bavarians was a team from North-Rhine Westphalia, … Continue reading Great Reputations: Borussia Mönchengladbach 1974-77 – mythical rebels

Great Reputations: Dinamo Tbilisi – Georgia’s on our mind

IN 1980-81, Dinamo Tbilisi put on a scintillating display when they met West Ham United at Upton Park in the European Cup-Winners’ Cup. They won emphatically by playing a brand of fast, attacking football that stunned the London crowd. “Those Russians, bloody marvellous football,” said one Hammers fan as he left the stadium. “I’ve not seen football like that since we had Moore, Hurst and … Continue reading Great Reputations: Dinamo Tbilisi – Georgia’s on our mind

Great Reputations: Arsenal, the Art Deco club

IN THE 1980s, a television series called The Thirties highlighted a turbulent and exciting decade. An entire chapter was devoted, quite simply, to “The Arsenal”. The 1930s was the age of the Gunners, a time that the club has strived to replicate ever since. Arsenal were as 1930s as Crittall Windows, British dance bands, mock-Tudor housing and Bakelite. They were thoroughly modern in every way, … Continue reading Great Reputations: Arsenal, the Art Deco club

Great Reputations: Red Star Belgrade 1973-74 – the team that changed English football

IN 1978, Chelsea chairman Brian Mears, desperate to change the fortunes of his ailing club, started to court Miljan Miljanić the Yugoslav coach rated among the best in Europe. Miljanić sat in the Stamford Bridge stands, dark glasses shielding him from the autumn sun and watched a calamitous first-half display by Chelsea against Bolton Wanderers. For a man used to rubbing shoulders with Europe’s footballing … Continue reading Great Reputations: Red Star Belgrade 1973-74 – the team that changed English football

Great Reputations: Anderlecht mid-1970s, trusting in purple

BELGIAN teams never made much of an impact in Europe in the early years of UEFA’s club competitions, the country was largely seen as an also-ran when it came to football. Teams like Anderlecht and Antwerp sustained very heavy blows in the first European Cup tournaments, often suffering double figure aggregate defeats. But the dynamic across the continent began to change in the 1960s and … Continue reading Great Reputations: Anderlecht mid-1970s, trusting in purple

Great Reputations: WBA 1978-79 – uncrowned people’s champions

THE PASSING of Cyrille Regis is an appropriate time to assess the West Bromwich Albion team of 1978-79, a side that would have been very popular champions should they have kept pace with the all-conquering Liverpool unit of that era. Albion played with an attitude that was as flamboyant as their manager at the time, Ron Atkinson. Love him or hate him, Atkinson always divides … Continue reading Great Reputations: WBA 1978-79 – uncrowned people’s champions

Great Reputations: Cagliari 1970, thundering to the Scudetto

AS in England, there’s always been something of a north-south divide in Italy. The industrialised northern cities of Turin and Milan are a marked contrast to the rural south and islands like Sicily and Sardinia. The big money in Italian football came from business families such as the Agnellis and the Morattis, giving Juventus, AC Milan and Inter a big advantage over lesser clubs. Hence, … Continue reading Great Reputations: Cagliari 1970, thundering to the Scudetto

Great Reputations: Leeds United 1969-72 – champions in all but name

LEEDS UNITED won the Football League championship twice under their patriarchal manager, Don Revie, in 1969 and 1974. But in between those title victories, Leeds could easily have been crowned champions three times between 1970 and 1972. They were arguably the best team during that period, perpetual runners-up and victims of their own consistency. If fixture congestion had not got the better of them or … Continue reading Great Reputations: Leeds United 1969-72 – champions in all but name

Great Reputations: Porto 1987 – Polka in the Prater

PORTO, believe it or not, had a life before Jose Mourinho and they also won the European Cup some 17 years before the “special one” led the club to the 2004 Champions League. It is a triumph that has often been overlooked by the international community, although the Porto team that beat Bayern Munich in May 1987 has a special place in the hearts of … Continue reading Great Reputations: Porto 1987 – Polka in the Prater

Great Reputations: Manchester United 1968 – triumph before the fire went out

WE’VE ALL seen the footage of George Best rounding the keeper, of Bobby Charlton weeping, of Matt Busby embracing the players, remembering the fallen of Munich, and of Eusebio congratulating Alex Stepney on a superb save. It’s an episode in the history of the game that is as vivid as the unfamiliar blue shirts that Manchester United wore on May 29, 1968. Manchester United’s European … Continue reading Great Reputations: Manchester United 1968 – triumph before the fire went out

Great Reputations: Arsenal 1968-70 – The Mee too generation

WHEN Arsenal won the “double” in 1970-71, they received very little praise for their considerable efforts. Were it not for Charlie George’s messianic fall to the ground in the FA Cup final, Arsenal would be remembered for merely grinding-out results and out-slugging Leeds United’s relentless machine. But the seeds of Arsenal’s triumph were sown in three seasons leading up to 1970-71. From 1953, when Arsenal … Continue reading Great Reputations: Arsenal 1968-70 – The Mee too generation

Great Reputations: Stoke City 1972-1975 – Clued-up with Mr Waddington and Mr Hudson

ACCORDING TO Deloitte, Stoke City are among the top 30 football clubs, bigger than the likes of Ajax Amsterdam, four times European champions. Of course, this is attributable to the remarkable level of wealth that exists in the English Premier League rather than Stoke’s success on the field of play. Although one of the founding members of the Football League in 1888 – they finished … Continue reading Great Reputations: Stoke City 1972-1975 – Clued-up with Mr Waddington and Mr Hudson