THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

UEFA Cup final first leg, 1981

IpswichAlkmaar81May 6 ~ Alkmaar trainer George Kessler tells us why his team won't be seeking accommodation at the Copdock Hotel in Ipswich: "Too many teams stay there and lose." It didn't help – his side went down 3-0 to the most exciting English club team of their era, and a 4-2 response in the second leg two weeks later in Amsterdam wasn't enough to turn the tie around.

The programme still stands up as a worthy documentation of Town's arduous road to the final that probably cost them the League title (they finished second to Aston Villa).

John Wark recalls the first-round home leg against Aris Salonika of Greece: "They were pulling shirts and continually kicking us off the ball." A picture of Eric Gates being heavily yanked upon backs up his account. After the away leg, a window on the team bus is smashed by rioting Greek fans, but is related with a “what-do-you-expect?” shrug.

Manager Bobby Robson, meanwhile, is unequivocal in his analysis of a 5-0 win over Widzew Lodz, who had already knocked out both Manchester United and Juventus: "We destroyed them and ran them ragged."

Steve Chambers of the Daily Star tells of his adventures covering the Suffolk side in Europe. In Prague against Bohemians during the second-round second leg "it was so cold that even dialling on the phone was an ordeal because of numb fingers. But a cigar proved to be a godsend. A Czech fan in front of me had the gloves: I had five King Edward cigars. A swap enabled me to write and telephone in some comfort and he tasted a piece of western decadence."

In Poland Paul Cooper and Alan Brazil handed out chocolate to young fans "and gave one of the youngsters a cassette of The Police." So even back then Sting was spreading peace, love and understanding around the world, albeit via the unlikely medium of a future raving right-wing nutjob radio talkshow host.

Looking ahead to the game in question, Town had pulled out all the stops for their pre-match entertainment. "A couple of genuine Alkmaar cheese-bearers have been flown over specially for tonight's game and, together with the girls in Dutch national costumes, will be presenting cheeses to the Town players.” But how will the fans know that they're genuine? Is there a recognisably authentic way of bearing and presenting Dutch cheese? Only those who were there on the night can reliably testify.

Targeting the fan demographic There's not a single advert in the programme except for match sponsor Contship, an awkwardly named container shipping company. The programme feels obliged to talk them up in equally strained language: "It's quite appropriate that they should sponsor a European tie because Contship's trade is literally worldwide." Literally worldwide – that's what people used to say before the word “globalisation” was invented.

Result Ipswich 3 (Wark pen, Thijssen, Mariner) Alkmaar 0
Crowd 27,532
Ipswich Cooper, McCall, Mills Thijssen, Osman, Butcher, Wark, Mühren, Mariner, Brazil, Gates
Alkmaar Treijtel, van der Meer, Metgod, Spelbos, Hovenkamp, Peters, Jonker, Arntz, Nygaard (Welzl), Kist, Tol

Ian Plenderleith

The paperback edition of Ian Plenderleith's book Rock n Roll Soccer: The Short Life and Fast Times of the North American Soccer League (Icon Books) is now available for just £8.99

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