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Joy of watching poorly attended European cup finals

There’s excitement to be found in low crowds

icon nofans28 November ~ Only this week’s closed-door European fixtures will have been as underpopulated as the 1964 Cup-Winners Cup final. Sporting Lisbon met MTK Budapest in front of 3,208 – in Brussels’ 67,000-capacity Heysel Stadium. Perhaps the Belgian equivalent of Coronation Street was particularly good that night. But any local casually nipping along would definitely have got in and had the pinnacle of two clubs’ continental history all to himself. With months of expensive planning now required, by clubs and fans, such easily accessed European finals are the stuff of fantasy.


Get with the programme ~ QPR v Sheffield Wednesday

League Cup fourth round, 1993

QPRvWednesday9328 November ~ This was the tale-end of an era when most First Division teams still took the League Cup seriously, and clubs like Sheffield Wednesday tried, according to the programme notes, “to live up to their pre-season label of Championship contender” (and writers still referred to the title as “the Championship”). QPR manager Gerry Francis was, meanwhile, mildly dissatisfied that his team were only eighth in the table, when at the same stage in the previous season they’d been sixth.

Badge of the week ~ Stand United, Tanzania

Stand15027 November ~ When Stand United were formed in 2012, the club’s owners showed they meant business by acquiring the very latest model of team coach on the market. The Silvikrin 425 was the shiniest and fastest team coach in the whole of the country, inviting awe and wonder wherever it travelled. Read more

On this day in history ~ Division One, 1979

D1 RESULTS 24111424 November ~ Manchester United's scorers in their thrashing of Norwich included Joe Jordan who got two, and Irish defender Kevin Moran who later became the first player to be sent off in an FA Cup final during United's 1-0 win over Everton in 1985. Dave Sexton's team were top for another two weeks then spent the rest of the season in second place – their best league finish for 12 years. Defending champions Liverpool made a relatively slow start, winning only four of their first ten games, but a run of six straight victories in December gave them a comfortable lead.

Arsenal 4-0 Manchester Utd, Division One, 1970-71

22 November ~ Arsenal host Manchester United this evening and both teams will be slightly disappointed with their starts to the season, lying in sixth and seventh respectively. In August 1970 the two clubs met at Highbury early in the season, with a 4-0 win for the home side moving them up to third, while United remained second-bottom. John Radford scored a hat-trick (he achieved his highest goal tally that season, 21) while future Arsenal manager George Graham got the fourth. Arsenal remained unbeaten at home all season as they won the title by one point from Leeds, their first since 1953. United, whose team contained Nobby Stiles, George Best, Bobby Charlton and Denis Law, finished eighth.

Helsinki Olympic Stadium – home to Bubi the owl

Helsinki300The Helsinki Olympic Stadium is the largest ground in Finland, with a capacity of 42,062, and home to their national team.

On this day in history ~ Division One, 1935

D1 RESULTS 16113516 November ~ Runners-up the previous season, Sunderland stayed at the top and took the title, their sixth, by eight points from Derby. Seven of the team at Brentford were Scots. Two of the English players who scored in the 5-1 win, striker Bobby Gurney and inside forward Raich Carter, ended up with 31 goals each out of the team's total of 109. Sunderland's goalkeeper, 22-year-old Jimmy Thorpe, was to die of head injuries sustained in a league match against Chelsea in February 1936.

Photo collection of Russia’s grassroots stadiums

Taken by Sergey Novikov

Russia60015 November ~ Since 2009, Russian photographer Sergey Novikov has been documenting amateur sports in his home country. This has resulted in an extensive photo library of Russian grassroots grounds, each of which displays the “place of the stadium in the urban infrastructure”. In the Tver region stadiums are often surrounded by concrete tower blocks, while Murmansk’s pitches are normally artificial because of its polar location. Throughout the country churches are also situated next to stadiums, with both considered key elements of Russian towns. This example is from Kurganinsk in Krasnodar. You can see more of Sergey’s photos here.

WSC 334 out now

December issue available in shops and online

wsc334 The new WSC is out now, available from all good newsagents or dispatched on the day of order from the WSC shop.

- Ticket prices: fact and fiction
- The Battle of Highbury
- Chelsea's lost generation
- Paul Gascoigne at Radcliffe Borough
- Dulwich Hamlet: a model club?
- Premier League looks abroad

Special offer - Played in London by Simon Inglis

£5 off to WSC readers

pilWSC contributor Simon Inglis has launched the latest book in his Played in Britain series. Played in London charts the spaces, buildings and sports that have shaped London’s cultural and urban landscape for centuries. Beautifully illustrated with original photographs and detailed maps, the book is based on over ten years of in-depth research. There is an extensive chapter on football and even if your team isn’t based in the capital you’ve probably watched them there.

Played in London is priced at £25 but publishers English Heritage are offering the book to WSC readers for just £20 with free p&p (UK only). Telephone 01235 465577 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , quoting reference number 722010025. Offer ends January 31, 2015

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