Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The next level of international football – the European club tournaments – will be slightly changed here: the European Champions Cup will be last. The Cup Winners Cup was a Scottish triumph: Glasgow Rangers won their only European club title. It was sweet – Celtic dominated the Scottish league for so many years, the Old Firm were becoming desperate. Finally, the gloom was over. At least, if one was Rangers fan… for the final was somewhat tainted: Rangers faced Dinamo (Moscow), the first Soviet club to reach European final. There was a bit of irony in it: Lev Yashin was still a player of the team winning the Soviet Cup in 1970 (because of their one-year season, the Russians were unable to field their cup winners in the same year, but actually the next – so, Dinamo started the 1971-72 Cup Winners Cup, reaching the final in 1972, almost two years after winning the domestic cup). He retired in 1971, and the greatest goalkeeper of all time missed the greatest international success of his club. Rangers was leading 3-2 a minute before the final whistle of the final and its fans rushed on the field to celebrate. In the chaos, the referee ended the match. The Russians protested – they, and not only they, felt the rules were breached and Rangers were made winners unjustly. Political discrimination, fumed the Soviets. But UEFA sided with the referee – the time left of the match was negligible and there was no reason to think the Russians would have equalized, left alone scoring two goals, during the few seconds left. Rangers got the cup, but for puritans of the game taint remained. It was felt that the fans effectively helped their team to get the cup. The pitch invasion also left a bitter taste of different nature – security. It was still cheerful and harmless crowd, yet, it was dangerous and intimidating event. Football hooliganism was just becoming noticeable and in the next years became severe and growing problem. As for me, I have no clear opinion: at that time it was common crowds to invade the pitch to celebrate with their team. It was traditional. I was also glad that the Russians lost the final – I never supported Soviet team for political reasons. In purely football terms – hard to say. What difference few seconds could make? It was not like Dinamo player was in a position to score when the final whistle came. More or less, I felt the Russians used formal reason to protest, hoping the result to be annulled and the match replayed. Rather weak protest, though.
Final, Nou Camp Stadium, Barcelona, 24 May 1972, att 35000
Rangers (2) 3 Dinamo Moscow (0) 223' 1-0 R: Stein40' 2-0 R: Johnston49' 3-0 R: Johnston60' 3-1 DM: Estrekov87' 3-2 DM: Makovikov
Rangers McCloy; Jardine, Johnstone, Smith, Mathieson; Greig, Conn, MacDonald,McLean, Stein, Johnston
Dinamo Moscow Pilgui; Basalayev, Dolmatov, Zykov, Dolbonosov (Gershkovich); Zhukov,Baydachny. Yakubik (Eshtrekov), Sabo; Makhovikov, Yevryuzhikhin

Thanks to Igor Nedbailo for Stadion team photos!