Monday, June 29, 2009

The third club tournament was both new and old – it was the first year the UEFA Cup to be contested. The old International Fairs Cities Cup was transformed into UEFA sponsored and organized competition with new rules and format: first, it was the largest club tournament with 64 clubs participating. Different countries had different quotas, depending on complicated standing of their total club performance in European tournaments during the last 5 years. Thus, football powerhouses got 4 clubs each, but the weakest nations – only one participant. Third, domestic final table promoted participants to the UEFA Cup – the general rule was those finishing second, third, and so on, to go to the UEFA Cup. The idea was to provide international competition to clubs still strong, but not winning neither championship, nor national cup. It was fair idea. Forth, no more innovations to be tasted, like it was in the old Fairs Cup, except for one surviving rule – there was to be two-leg final, instead of one final match on neutral field, like the other two European tournaments. So far, so good – the new format provided for tradition as well: English teams won the last few Fairs Cup competitions, and the first UEFA Cup featured two English teams at the finals – Tottenham Hotspur and Wolverhampton Wanderers. Since the UEFA Cup was not to be simply continuation of the Fairs Cup, a tournament never really sanctioned by UEFA, the old winners were not to be counted. But they were and are, so in reality UEFA Cup is treated as continuation of the old Fairs Cup. Sounds complicated, so better not think about it. Brits rule!

Final 1st Leg, Molineux Stadium, Wolverhampton, 3 May 1972, att 45000

Wolverhampton Wanderers (0) 1 Tottenham Hotspur (0) 257' 0-1 TH: Chivers72' 1-1 WW: McCalliog 7287' 1-2 TH: Chivers

Wolverhampton Wanderers Parkes; Shaw, Taylor, Hegan, Munro, McAlle, McCalliog, Hibbitt, Richards,Dougan, Wagstaffe

Tottenham Hotspur Jennings; Kinnear, Knowles, Mullery, England, Beal, Gilzean, Perryman,Chivers, Peters, Coates (Pratt)

Final 2nd Leg, White Hart Lane, London, 17 May 1972, att 54000 Tottenham Hotspur (1) 1 Wolverhampton Wanderers (1) 130' 1-0 TH: Mullery41' 1-1 WW: Wagstaffe

Tottenham won 3-2 on aggregate

Tottenham Hotspur Jennings; Kinnear, Knowles, Mullery, England, Beal, Gilzean, Perryman,Chivers, Peters, Coates

Wolverhampton Wanderers Parkes; Shaw, Taylor, Hegan, Munro, McAlle, McCalliog, Hibbitt (Bailey),Richards, Dougan (Curran), Wagstaffe

Tottenham Hotspur won the first UEFA Cup. Tottenham were good team, perhaps one of the best the club ever had, but were not exactly strong enough to win the competitive English championship. The European cup was a good consolation for a team featuring World champions from 1966, various old and new English national players, and great goalie, handicapped by nationality – Pat Jennings. Playing for weak national team, Jennings had little chance to shine internationally (Northern Ireland finally reached World Cup finals in 1982, when, by then, veteran Jennings performed strongly. At least he was luckier than George Best.) The Wolves also had one of their best teams, although not crowded with big stars. Derek Dougan was Jennings’ teammate with Northern Ireland, but did not last until 1982. For the rugged Scot McCalliog the yellow jersey was perhaps a bit down from the champion’s red and white of Arsenal he was sporting just a year before, but still it was not bad to play at the final. Having two English finalists provided for attractive football – both played typical British football: fast, attacking, fair tackles, long balls and great headers. Good beginning of UEFA Cup. Yet, in the British battle Tottenham looked stronger and apparently not only by names.

The first UEFA Cup. Not the last for Tottenham.

Almost golden boys… the Wolves ended speared by Spurs.