Joey Ate The Frogs Legs

Robbie Ashcroft (aka Mottman) relives the path to European cup glory in 1977. This article was previously published on the forum of redandwhitekop



Date 2nd March 1977 - European Cup 3rd round first leg held at the Geoffrey-Guichard stadium  St Etienne 1 [Bathenay80] - 0 Liverpool - Attendance 38,000

St Etienne
1. Yvan Curkovic
2. Gérard Janvion
3. Gérard Farison
4. Oswaldo Piazza
5. Christian  Lopez
6. Dominique Bathenay
7. Dominique Rocheteau
8. Jean-Michel Larque
9. Herve Revelli
10. Christian Synaeghel
11. Jacques Santini (current Spurs manager!)

1 Ray Clemence
2 Phil Neal
3 Joey Jones
4 Phil Thompson
5 Ray Kennedy
6 Emlyn Hughes
7 Terry McDermott
8 Jimmy Case
9 Steve Heighway
10 John Toshack (Dave Johnson)
11 Ian Callaghan

Subs not used: Peter McDonnell – Tommy Smith – David Fairclough

After safely seeing off Turkish based Trabzonspor in the 2nd round of the 1976 – 77 European Cup competition. The Tricky Red’s where paired against the previous years European Cup beaten finalists, the very highly rated and respected St Etienne from France. "Les Verts" [The Greens] as their supporters called them were unluckily beaten 1.0 by Bayern Munich at Hampden Park, they were very strongly tipped to win this seasons European Cup competition.   

The journey to France was one of the longest coach trips we’d made up to that point.  Thankfully Town’s Travel had provided coaches with a toilet and tea/coffee making facilities on board [Rather than the normal antiquated charabangs that they would use for normal away games].  Slab after slab of alcoholic beverages where loaded onto the coach as we prepared ourselves for another trip into the unknown.  The majority of our fellow travellers were mainly teenage lads [like us] with a few Dads, lads and surprisingly a few girls. As we waited to board the coach, you could cut the air with a knife - the excitement amongst us was prevalent for all to see. The journey Southbound was relatively uneventful… a few wise cracks, a bit of banter and a gab to find out if anyone knew "anything" about St Etienne. Strangely enough a few people had heard reports of a large Turkish community in that area. This was dismissed in a split second this meant nothing to us, in time we would think otherwise?  As you would expect, the drink flowed and in a matter of time the floor of the coach resembled the River Mersey on a bad day. Every time the coach turned a corner – a wave of empty cans would flow from one side of the coach to the other, one more turn and another wave appeared from out of the darkness.

We hit Portsmouth just after teatime and had to wait around for our boat to dock and be made ready for the night-time journey to Le Harve. Meanwhile coach after coach of Liverpool supporters duly arrived there was a "special" buzz in the air and it was building up. We didn’t fancy just loitering around doing nothing, so we asked "What time is the boat due out" we didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when we were told around 9.30 that night.  In an effort to relieve the passing of time we decided to have a walk into Portsmouth to see what the local hospitality was like.  It didn’t take long to realise that we were not alone in our thoughts and soon our ears guided us to a nearby boozer full of singing inebriated fellow Scousers.  In time we knocked a few ales down our necks and fed our faces on fish and chips as we walked back to the boat terminal.

On reaching the terminal, it shocked us to see just how many Liverpudlians were making the trip to watch the Reds. We made our way to the front of the queue to find that the Customs and Excise people where checking people’s passports on an individual basis. We where all right but a few of the lad’s around us didn’t have passports. Very slowly groups of people three or four across approached the “check-out” area. Those with passports on the right nearest to the people who were checking for identification, those to the left those without passports. A great many people made their way onto the boat in this way.  All aboard the Sky lark. A lot of the people sat on benches braving the elements of the weather… We decided to have a look around too see if there was anything better on offer. After ten or fifteen minutes [or so] we found a communal sleeping area with loads of empty beds, a quick nip upstairs and a quiet word with some of the lad’s we knew and they where sorted. The ships bar was packed to the hilt with travellers intent on maximum revelry, whilst some ravaged the ships shops. We got our heads down and tried to grab forty winks, despite the continuous never-ending drone of the ships engine. In the early morning we awoke much refreshed amongst a sea of Liverpudlians in every state of slumber. All hands on deck - the cold sea breeze and the bright sunshine quickly brought us to our senses.  We all had grin’s on our faces as big as the Mersey Tunnel as we sighted what once was a far foreign land.

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