Nottingham Forest v Malmo FF – Wednesday May 30th 1979
£78 each is a lot of bread to a fledgeling printer and a schoolboy, but Nick and I decide that we have to be in Munich for the biggest football event of our lives so far, and we splash the cash ready for our three day rail-jaunt across Northern Europe to see Forest in the European Cup Final.
It looks like half of Nottingham is queuing with us outside the station, where we are ready to board one of eight trains setting out this Tuesday morning. Ahead of us is a 24-hour hike by rail/ferry/rail and are we prepared? Not really, I’ve got a sandwich and we didn’t bring any beer, but there’ll be some en route, surely! We pass close to Scratchwood Services just outside London, where the car park is full of cars and coaches decked out in red and white and heading ultimately for the ferry ports. By the end of the day we’re in Belgium and making for the German border. We’re sharing a compartment with four guys we’ve never met before, and I think it a shrewd move to lay claim to the overhead luggage rack before anyone else gets the notion that it would make a useful bunk. It’s not really, the supporting struts are in the wrong place and so it’s something of a relief when the German border guard at Aachen slams open the compartment door WW2 escaped-prisoner-on-train fashion and demands to see our papers .. er sorry, passports… and I snap to attention.
It’s around midnight and Aachen station is dead save for a solitary loco driver leaning out of his cab opposite us. We’re hanging the flags out of the window, singing the Forest songs, and he looks at us disdainfully before offering ‘Hamburg is de best’. We’ll prove that to be wrong in the future, maybe! I get a bit of kip before waking at about five in the morning to the awe-inspiring sight of the Rhine Valley, all misty sunshine and Disney castles. As we swing in towards Munich we go through Dachau, with all its grim history. I look out of a window along the train and it’s a mass of red & white flags and scarves .. truly a sight to behold!
Nine o clock on the Wednesday morning and we pull into Munich station. I’m amazed by the amount of stop-me-and-buy-one ice-cream sellers until I realise it’s actually beer that they’re selling – truly an enlightened nation! Like everybody else we set up camp in the Marianplatz and spend the whole blazing hot day singing our songs, with an occasional foray into a bier keller. As Nick’s officially a minor he doesn’t want to run the risk of being hauled off by the local bobbies, so our alcohol intake is minimal. Taking in the atmosphere, however, is non-negotiable. Rumour has it there’s around 20,000 making the trip from Nottingham, but there’s very little evidence of Swedes. Even the local German hot-heads are conspicuous by their absence, and the rows of police vehicles, with their riot-gear clad occupants, drawn up in the back streets have nothing to do.
Towards kick-off time the square starts to empty as we set off by metro to the Olympic Stadium, which is on the outskirts of Munich. The plaza in front of the ground is again full of ice-cream sellers, and by now we’re thirsty enough to partake of a few. Although by no means full, the game has attracted a crowd of 57,000, meaning a good turnout from the locals. There’s a group of them stood in front of us and they appear to be taking the piss, not a good move when you’re surrounded by some of the earthier elements from the travelling red hoards. A quick poke in the back from a flagpole reminds the miscreants who won the bloody war!
The game is not a classic and is settled by a far post header from Trevor ‘Young Man’ Francis. Robbo hits the post later on but we know twenty minutes from the end that Malmo won’t score in a month of Sundays and we start to celebrate. Nick’s got his camera and he’s snapping away like fury. The aftermath of the goal, the presentation of the trophy, Clough & Taylor’s lap of the ground with the players, the elation of the fans. As the ground empties we’ve time to kill before our train leaves at midnight. We move to an area where the few Malmo fans are standing and order a couple of beers. In conversation with some of them we find out that their poor turn-out – estimated to be little more than 1,000 – was due to the fact that they expected to get a tanking both on and off the pitch, such is the reputation of English fans in Europe.
On the way home we travel through Cologne, who we beat in the semis. They’d been so confident of going to the final, having held us to a draw in Nottingham in the first leg, that they were distributing leaflets before the second leg advertising package trips to Munich. How we laugh now! We arrive back in Nottingham 26 hours later at 2.00am on Friday morning. Unbeknown to us the cup has been paraded through the streets of the city about six hours earlier … they could have bloody waited for us to get back! Not to worry, there’ll be plenty more days like this, surely?
Subject: RE: Blog
Date: 1 June 2009 14:31:54 BDT
Great memories, and some more from me…
..how about the fat Derbyshire chap in our compartment who stunk like hell and we couldn’t understand a word he said?
..or the train stopping somewhere near Cricklewood on the way back and several guys jumping off, finding an offie, and making it back on again with more booze?
.. or those bloody bells on the Belgian level crossings driving us mad while trying to get some kip?
..or running out of toilet paper as it had all been used as streamers down the train?
..you’re right about the Disney castles as dawn broke over the Rhine – magical.
..the general good-naturedness of the scene around the Marianplatz
..the game was actually very dull
..being chatted up by the Swedes after the game
..the boring journey back across Belgium
..going round London with everyone hanging out the windows singing
It was actually the first time I’d ever been abroad in my life (I was 17) and our usual family breaks were at Sutton-on-Sea! Still, an amazing three days and never to be forgotten.