Robbie Ashcroft (aka Mottman) relives the path to European cup glory in 1977.
JOEY ATE THE FROGS LEGS - MADE THE SWISS ROLL - NOW HE'S MUNCHIN' GLADBACHS.
THE EUROPEAN CUP 1977
Date 25h May 1977 - European Cup Final – Olympic Stadium Rome.
Liverpool 3 [McDermott 27 – Smith 64 – Neal 82 pen] – BM Gladbach [Simonsen] 1 - Attendance 57,000
"Now he’s Munching-Gladbach. "
1. Ray Clemence
2. Phil Neal
3. Joey Jones
4. Tommy Smith
5. Ray Kennedy
6. Emlyn Hughes
7. Kevin Keegan
8. Jimmy Case
9. Steve Heighway
10. Ian Callaghan
11. Terry McDermott
Subs not used: Dave Fairclough – Alan Waddle - Dave Johnson - Alex Lindsay - Peter McDonnell
6. Wohlers (Hannes)
8. Wimmer (Kulik)
Subs not used: Koppell – Kleff - Herdenreich
This is the greatest game in Liverpool FC’s incredible history, winning the European Cup for the very first time. So the journeys to Rome started to get booked – a day and a night of which that will go down in folklore for evermore. The mass pilgrimage of fans to Rome in 1977 began straight after the disapointing FA Cup Final defeat at the hands of Manchester United. "Stolen property - stolen property give us back our FA Cup" We sang then realising this was an opportunity to put it down we sang "The FA cups a tea pot – the FA Cups a tea –pot" as we left Wembley for the trip back home. This would call upon Bob Paisley’s judgement and very best motivational skill’s to lift the team now that the treble dream had been broken.
On the Monday we prepared ourselves for the "Soccer special from Lime Street and back" [costing £59.00] indications in the local press suggested that up to 10,000 Liverpool supporters would be making the trip to cheer on our heroes in the Eternal City "Liverpoolitis" had reached new peaks. The mass exodus of Liverpudlians was about to converge on the Italian capital to cheer on the Reds. The night-time train journey down to Dover was a quiet affair as we let the effects of many pints in the Yankie Bar take their course of action. On reaching Dover [around 2.00 in the morning] we stumbled to the ferry terminal each with plastic bags full of butties and ale to find quite literally thousands of Liverpudlians ahead of us. It was that congested ahead of us that the Customs & Excise people didn’t bother checking for passports, they just watched gobsmacked at the volumes of people. In time we managed to board our boat and made our way straight to the sleeping quarters [that we hadn’t booked.] and left a coat and a couple of bits an bobs to show the bunks were taken. Someone had forgotten to tell the crew that we weren’t supposed to drink, and no one was in much of a hurry to remind them otherwise. A full frontal malicious attack took place will Scouse bartenders supplying the troops with free ale.
Refreshed after a few hours sleep we were not too far away from Ostend as the ship’s steward gave us regular updates on our way. We docked at Ostend something like 6.30 in the morning, it was cold and I wished I’d had brought a coat. Some bloke rallied us all around and said “That we had 3.00 hours to wait for our train” so we stashed our stuff in the left luggage area and went for a walk around Ostend. Dawn was still breaking and the Town looked empty apart from Scouse compatriots. The smell of freshly made bread filled the air as we let our noses lead us to where our bounty lay. We entered this delicatessen none of us could speak Belgian and the Belgian couldn’t speak English. We pointed at various foodstuffs so he could understand what we wanted, he added up the bill and we quickly figured out how much this was in English money [We only had Lira and English on us.] He waved his hands in a no no fashion as we left him a reasonable price and walked away with something warm and fresh to eat.
Thanks to the French Rail service we couldn’t travel through France as they were on strike, we had to travel around through Belgium, Switzerland, Germany and then Italy. We boarded our train [without any tickets being checked] and made ourselves comfy as possible [The seats reminded us of the likes of Man U, Chelsea and Millwall away – they were dead hard and a pain in the Arxx.] Our compartment held eight people [at a push] each bank of four seats had a luggage rack above, we decided to take turns a piece to climb up and have a sleep. Not long into our journey a voice comes over the tannoy system and tells us not to drink the drinking water as it was contaminated, free can’s of coke an that would be available from the food compartment. Like locusts everybody converged to the food compartment and helped themselves, I don’t think they meant help yourself to foodstuffs as well but that’s what happened. You must remember that some rail borne travellers were so skint that they carried no little more on the 3,000 mile trip than two tickets – one for the train and the other for the match.
As we progressed on and on through Belgium the heat and humidity grew worse and the few cans of coke an that had long since gone. Many complaints where made to the few Belgium staff on board but they could do nothing but pass the complaints ahead via radio. We hit Strasbourg early that Tuesday afternoon and where told the train‘s water supply would be replaced and replenished, for some reason the Swiss wouldn’t refill the water tanks. Now this was getting serious some people hadn’t had a drink since we left Ostend. The buffet compartment had been restocked with food and cans, but most of the people didn’t have any spare money, people would have to take matters into their own hands. Desperate times call for desperate measures! A delegation of older supporters tried to reason with the Belgium staff but to no avail. In time a full-scale attack took place on the buffet section, with food and drinks being distributed fairly amongst each other. In times of need the Scouse nation always stick together and look after its own. It wasn’t until we reached the Italian border some 15 hours later that we got our water.
The train journey was a monster - here are some of the train stations that I think that we passed through: Ostend, Brussels, Aachen, Colonge, Strasbourg, Airolo, Basle, Zurich, Milan, Genoa, Pisa and finally Rome. You can imagine the immense boredom we had to endure as the train scuttered along, in time each station looked the same apart from an occasional recollection preserved like a snapshot. To help relieve the boredom, a lad in his mid twenties from Scottie Road was offering free haircuts, a great many took him up on his offer, didn’t fancy a number one or a bowl cut so we declined his invitation.