Wednesday, December 31, 2008

There was no UEFA Cup yet – the third European club tournament was still the original Fairs Cup. Actually, the full name was much longer: International Industrial Fairs Inter City Cup, a tournament proposed in 1950 by the Swiss Vice-President of FIFA Ernst Thommen. The proposal was accepted and the tournament was launched in 1955. Bizarrely, the first tournament ended three years later – in 1958. It was designed for clubs or selected XI from cities with industrial fairs, which greatly limited the number of participants. Did not look like a tournament with any future by the design – more likely one more European club tournament. Of which there were still many active in the 1950s and 1960s – Mitropa still existed; the Balkan Cup; the summer English-Italian club tournament; Intertotto; and so on. But Fairs Cup was closely linked to international football governing bodies – approved by FIFA and supported by UEFA. It was organized differently – instead of one-leg final on neutral stadium, the finalists here played two-leg final, one at home, and one visiting. It was also something like laboratory for checking new ideas – away goals were introduced in the tournament in 1967 and in 1971 – penalty shoot-out replaced tossing of coin to decide winner after stubborn draw. In the same year UEFA took entirely the tournament under its wings and changed it into the UEFA Cup, the number of participants was increased to 64 teams from all European countries and industrial fairs had to do nothing with it anymore. The first UEFA Cup was played in 1971-72, so in 1970 it was still under the old name and somewhat related to its original design. Arsenal won the Fairs Cup, beating Anderlecht (Brussels) 4-3 on aggregate. The Belgians won 3-1 in Brussels, but lost 0-3 in London. No big surprise: both finalists were well known European clubs on one hand. On the other – the Fairs Cup was not exactly ‘fair’: few clubs from fewer cities were allowed to participate. Thus, Dinamo (Zagreb, then Yugoslavia) reached twice the final – losing in 1963 and 1964 – before winning the Cup in 1967. Two Hungarian clubs – from Budapest, as it was city organizing industrial fair – were finalists in 1968 and 1969 – Ferencvaros and Dozsa Ujpest (both lost – from Leeds United and Newcastle United). So Arsenal… good team at the time, forth British club reaching the final in succession, nothing new. Arsenal became English champion in 1971 as well.
Back row, left to right: George Wright (physiotherapist), Bob McNab, Peter Storey, Peter Simpson, Geoff Barnett, Bob Wilson, John Roberts, Ray Kennedy, Peter Marinello, Don Howe (coach)
Sitting: Charlie George, John Radford, George Armstrong, Jon Sammels, Frank McLintock, Bertie Mee (manager), Pat Rice, Eddie Kelly, George Graham, Sammy Nelson.