First written in September 1999 for my website verso.me.co.uk
It all started with a game against Aris Salonika from Greece. We won the game 5-1 with Sir John Wark getting 4 (3 pens). I remember the ref booking Mariner for kicking the ball over the stand, its a good job we didn’t have that ref when Lee Chapman played for us. My old man took me to the game and we bumped into Mick and Ira Hare. After the game we got a lift back in Micks blue camper van so we could get home in time to see the goals on Sportsnight. If you were wondering Mariner got the other goal.
We lost the 2nd leg 3-1, I never got to listen to this due to time zones meaning the game kicked of when I was at school. The second round saw us drawn against Bohemians Prague. Yet again we were at home for the 1st leg, I never went because my dad had spent all his money on whisky and all the money he borrowed or nicked had to buy wine and food. Its a good job I had my old portable radio, I tuned into 257 Radio Orwell, in those days we never had live commentary and had to make do with the occasional pearls of wisdom from Pete Barraclough. The worst thing about evening games was we had to put up with Nigel Rennie and his bloody country show. There I was just getting into a song about a man whose wife had left him, had lost his job, his car broke down but his dog still loved him when there was a burst of noise and the familiar jingle was playing.
Pete Barraclough was delirious as Warky had made it 1-0, I jumped up knocking my radio to the floor, the back fell of spilling the batteries all over the carpet. I was livid, on my hands and knees searching for the blessed batteries, I found three but the fourth remained elusive, suddenly the bedroom door opened, it was mother, are you playing that bloody radio again? she hollered. No came the response, well keep your noise down or you’ll wake your brother. With that she shut the door and went down stairs to, I presume, fill her glass and light another cigarette. I finally found the fourth battery, it had slid under Rory’s bed. I picked it up and then gave his nose a little squeak. I giggled as his mouth spluttered open allowing himself to breathe I managed to put all four batteries back into the radio got back under my covers and turned it on.
To my dismay Rennie was spinning another depressing tune, it was half time, to make matters worse I’d missed Warky’s second goal. Oh well fifteen minutes to waste before the second half starts, I decided I would risk creeping downstairs to nick a wagon wheel. I opened my door and crept along the landing expertly missing the broken floorboard outside the airing cupboard, now then it was creep on the first 3 steps miss the next 2 and creep down the rest. I was at the bottom of the stairs by the front door, luckily the sitting room door was closed, I crept past that into the dining room and then into the kitchen. The biscuit tin had been put on the top shelf and I couldn’t reach that so I had to climb on the twin tub and grab it. I opened the tin and took out a wagon wheel and a fruit club. The biscuit tin was placed back on the shelf with all the skill and guile I could muster. I climbed off the twin tub knocking the peg bag off its hook in the process.
Bloody hell, another few minutes picking up pegs, as I was putting the pegs back into the bag I noticed a videocassette. I had inadvertently stumbled across the old mans porn stash, I put everything back in place whilst my brain was thinking of the first opportunity I could view my very own crock of gold. I made the reverse trip back up stairs remembering to avoid the 2 creaky stairs. I was just passing Tracey and Paula’s room when Paula spotted me, I had to give her the wagon wheel or she would grass me up, I chucked the wagon wheel at her called her a fucking grass and went back to my room for the second half.
The country show had been replaced by two hours of love songs, Minnie Ripperton was telling us that loving you was easy cause you are beautiful when the goal action jingle interrupted. Barraclough was carrying on like a school kid who catches a glimpse of his teachers nipple when he is getting his maths marked (just me?). Beattie had scored from 35 yards out, he had only been on the pitch for a few seconds when we got a free kick. He walked up to the ball and twatted it past the keeper, 3-0 and looking good for the second leg.
Yet again the second leg was in the middle of the day, as they had no electric in Czechoslovakia in them days. We lost that game 2-0 and scrapped into the next round 3-2 on aggregate. Up next was Widzew Lodz. Who? Widzew came from Poland and had beaten Manchester United and Juventus in the first two rounds. Yet again I was absent from Portman Road, this time was because my little sister Tamara was being born. After school we had to go to Granny’s as we were staying there whilst Tamara was popping out. We had sausages and chips for tea followed by homemade trifle and R Whites lemonade. After tea we played Conquer Everest, which was a board game. There were four sides to the mountain and the object of the game was to get your sherpas to the summit before the other players. The game didn’t last long as Paula cheated by nicking one of my sherpas. I kicked her, she cried, I got sent to bed and missed the football as I never had access to a radio.
We won 5-0 with Warky getting another hat trick with Mariner and Brazil getting the other two. We lost the 2nd leg 1-0.
It was now quarterfinal time and we got paired with St Ettienne with the away leg first. St Ettienne were at the time one of the best sides in the world and had never lost a home Euro tie. Out came the trusty radio and for this game we had full match commentary, the boys were rampant and in front of 42,000 partisan fans handed out a real footballing lesson. Warky got his obligatory goal, Mariner got a brace and Muhren scored his 6th goal of the season as they raced to a 4-1 win. To celebrate this amazing victory the disc jockey played Bonnie Tylers’ Lost in France.
The 2nd leg fell on mums birthday so I couldn’t go to the football as dad had taken her out (I think they went to the Labour Club for a couple of drinks and a bag of pork scratchings). Tracey was babysitting and her mates came round. They all went upstairs to put make up on and other stuff that 15-year old girls do. I was watching Coronation Street and Paula was yet again hogging the fire, I’m quite surprised she never burnt her fanny the amount of time she spent pointing it at the fire.
When Corrie finished I went upstairs to listen to the second half. On my way past Tracey’s room I had a peek through the door to see Dee Dee Mills and Elizabeth Turner in their undies. It was nice. Unfortunately I got caught looking, for punishment I had to sit on the chair whilst Tracey and her sadistic mates covered me in make up. By the time I’d washed all the gunk from my face the second half had finished, town run out 3-1 winners and were in the semis.
We faced Cologne in the semis. Yet again the old man had spent all the money so I missed out on a major semi-final. The game was won by a goal by Warky and set up a tense 2nd leg. The night of the 2nd leg clashed with my acting debut, Causton Junior School. I played Baron Useless who was the father of Cinderella. The pantomime was nearly called off due to a bit of dissension in the ranks. Here we were 10 years old and the annual panto was almost brought to an early end by bitchy girls. Nicola Finch Anderson Read wanted to be Cinders but that role went to Lisa Frankland, in support of her mate, Karen Burgess refused to be the evil stepmother, all this happened on the day of the first performance, luckily Michael Hogan stepped in and gave an Oscar winning performance as my wife.
Ian McKinnon and Stuart Hazlewood played the ugly sisters and along with myself were the stars of the show. During the first night I missed an important scene, it was a scene filled with pathos. I had to comfort Cinderella because she wasn’t allowed to go to the ball. Where was I? I was in the TV room watching King of the rocket men on BBC2. It was a top episode, the eponymous hero had to save the world from a deadly virus. Using his jetpack he managed to destroy the virus just before the closing credits. Somehow Cinders managed to blag the scene and nobody in the audience noticed. I managed to make it for the rest of the show and put in a faultless display in the style of Dickie Attenborough.
Whilst we were performing the show big Terry Butcher scored a rare headed goal to send the blues through to their first (and only) Euro final. The following night saw show number two and I remembered to turn up for all my scenes and yet again stole the show with a performance that some critics have described as amazing. We did have one minor blip during the second night as Ian McKinnon and myself broke the telly. Look East and About Anglia were on at the same time so we kept flicking between the channels so we could catch the sports round up. We had just seen big Tel score on BBC1 and flicked the channel to ITV but nothing happened. The screen had gone blank and we could get no picture. We turned the telly off and finished getting ready for the show. All was going well and we thought we had gotten away with it until Sarah Shepherd grassed us up. 2 weeks without football during breaks was the punishment. Why do girls have to tell tales?
We were to play AZ67 Alkmaar in a two-legged final with the home leg first. A familiar story is emerging, as I yet again didn’t go due to the drinking habits of my father. We won the first leg 3-0 and lost the second leg 4-2. We had won the UEFA cup and I had played a part in it. Yes I had, I went to the first game and listened to most of the others on my radio. That counts in my book.
John Wark shared the record of being the highest goal scorer in a single European competition. He scored 14 goals in 1980-81 and shares the record with Jose Altafini of AC Milan in 62-63. Jurgen Klinnsman who scored 15 eventually beat this record in 1995-96 season. The two foreigners were forwards, Warky was a midfielder so he wins.