Sign in or
I Was There...Celtic 3 Rapid Vienna 0
Date: 7 November 1984
Venue: Celtic Park
Match: Celtic versus Rapid Vienna
Occasion: European Cup-Winners Cup, 1984-85, second round, second leg
Celtic Team: Bonner, Willie McStay, Grant, Aitken, McAdam, McLeod, Provan, Paul McStay, McGarvey, Burns, McClair
In The Big Wide World:
This was the year of the Miners Strike, which started in March, and would last 12 months. It was also the year of Ronald Reagan's re-election in the USA and the Brighton bombing,
A Bit of Culture:
Big music hits this year included Band Aid's 'Do they know its Xmas?' Madness's 'Michael Caine' Frankie Goes to Hollywood's 'Two Tribes' and the Special AKA's 'Free Nelson Mandela'. Stevie Wonder made a journey away from musical credibiity with the awful 'I just called to say I love you. Top films this year were Once Upon a Time in America and 1984.
Background to the game:
We lost the first leg of this tie 3-1 in Vienna. The match had been controversial, with Rapid's approach being a mixture of skilful attacking play, crude fouling and gamesmanship. Alan McInally was sent off in the 2nd half, which weakened us badly. Over the piece we didn't play very well, but Brian McClair's second half strike, a slide rule finish from 20 yards, following a great move down the left, gave us hope...
How confident were you that Celtic would turn it around?
I was fairly confident of this. We had a lot of good players back then, like Aitken, Burns, Provan, McStay, McGarvey, McLeod, McClair. On our day we could give anyone a game and a season earlier we had overcome a similar deficit when thrashing Sporting Lisbon 5-0. The team's form going into the game had been good for the most part. We had convincingly beaten both Aberdeen and Dundee Utd--our 2 main rivals, as Rangers were rank rotten back then-- in the league and were just a couple of points off the pace being set by Aberdeen. But on the Saturday before this return match, we had gone to Cappielow and lost 2-1 to Morton. So whilst I was confident, and felt we could do it, I also knew we'd have to be at our best and would need to sort out the silly mistakes.
What did you know of Rapid Vienna?
Not very much at this stage. I remember they had played Dundee Utd in the European Cup in the previous season and had been knocked out on away goals. I also remember some of the Dundee Utd players commenting on Rapid's dirty play, as their second leg at Tannadice had turned into a bit of a kicking match. In terms of players, I knew of Hans Krankl and the Czech, Anton Panenka. The goal Pacult scored in the first leg was a cracker so we knew he'd be a handful. Overall, I expected a good side to turn up, but one who would find it difficult to cope with the power and skill we had in our team at that point, and the Celtic Park atmosphere.
Tell us about the atmosphere that night Unusually, both ourselves and Rangers were at home that night; they were playing Inter Milan in the UEFA Cup at Ibrox, having been stuffed 3-0 away. So there were more than a few of that lot around that evening, and we seen a few of them in and around the town in the early evening. Walking up to Celtic Park, however was something special. European nights at Paradise have an unrivalled atmosphere, and that evening was no different. From what I remember, it was a fairly mild evening, and conditions were perfect for football. By the time kick-off came around, Celtic Park was full--the official attendance was about 15,000 less than the real one-- and the atmosphere was electric, one of real expectation and anticipation. I stood myself in my usual pitch--in the jungle, roughly in line with the 18 yard box of the Rangers end, and it was absolutely heaving by the time the game started.
How did the game unfold? It was clear right from the start of this game that we were going to go for it, and that Rapid would be up against it. The first 10 minutes or so were frantic, but even at that early stage, Rapid were finding it difficult to cope with the pace of the Celtic attacks. We were moving the ball around quickly, and before long gaps and spaces began to appear in their defence. Paul McStay was unlucky when, from a poorly cleared corner, he chested the ball donw and volleyed a few inches over the bar. Superb skill. McStay in particular was running the show in midfield and was head and shoulders above everyone on the field. He was just a boy then, but he was running over the top of their midfield. He was impossible to mark, because of his exceptional mobility and close control, and was slicing them open at will with his excellent passing. Murdo Macleod was also having a great game and also came close to scoring, when he shot low and forced a great save from their keeper. Rapid were clearly unnerved by the ferocity and relentless nature of the Celtic attack and in 32 minutes they cracked. It was a goal of great beauty. McStay again took possesion in midfield and split the Rapid defence in two with a wonderful pass down the right-hand side, taking the whole left-side of their defence out of the game. Provan hared down the flank, whipped in a low cross and Brian McClair, arriving like an express train, crashed it into the net. The jungle exploded. The goal had been a long time coming, but it was inevitable, given the pressure and the quality of the Celtic play. Rapid were now in deep trouble and they knew it. Celtic stepped up the pressure and made more chances, which were only stopped by some really desperate, last ditch defending. By this stage Rapid had disappeared altogether as an attacking force and were hanging on for half-time. As we moved into first half stoppage time, I remember thinking, this'll do us. Go in 1-0 up, and we're certain to get at least one more in the second half. Then, Provan won a corner and from the resultant kick, Rapid struggled to get it clear. The ball went back out wide and when Rapid again failed to clear their lines, it fell to Murdo MacLeod on the corner of the box. Murdo chested it down and drove it low past Rapid keeper, Ehn, to put us 2-0 up. The place went ballistic, one of those ones where you think the roof was going to come off the jungle. It was like the Sporting Lisbon game a year earlier, when McClair had scored to put us ahead on aggregate in first half injury time, but better, because Rapid were a superior side to Sporting. Without doubt that first 45 mins was one of the best I've ever seen at Celtic Park. The quality, pace, and skill that we showed was outstanding and I'm not exaggerating when I say that no team in Europe could have stood up to Celtic that night. We really were were that good. But, of course there were still 45 mins to go, and although Rapid were down, they were not yet out.
What happened in the second half?
Celtic continued to play fast attacking football, in an effort to finish the tie completely. I remember us making, but not taking chance after chance. Murdo McLeod put wide from only a few yards out in front of an open goal, following a nice 1-2 and cross from Willie McStay. Brian McClair, who all night was far too sharp for the Rapid defence, cannoned one off the bar, following a knockdown from McAdam at a corner. Paul McStay then played a beautiful 1-2 with McGarvey around the half-way line, before again slicing the Rapid defence open with a wonderful through ball which was toe-poked past the onrushing keeper by Tommy Burns, but cleared off the line in a desperate fashion by a Rapid defender. Rapid at this stage were totally punch-drunk, and had lost all semblance of composure. I often wonder if they under-estimated Celtic that night, because they were blown away totally and should by this stage have been about 6 goals behind. But at the same time there was a nastiness now creeping into the game, which hadn't been as visible in the first half. Rapid players were leaving the boot in, and getting involved in off-the ball clashes with our players. Celtic weren't totally blameless, as seen when Peter Grant stamped on the head of a Rapid player, following a good tackle. On the whole, however, it was Rapid who were making this a dirty game, a result I think of the fact that they had completely lost their way and had cracked under the intense Celtic pressure.
Tell us about the third goal
The roots of this lie in the way that the Rapid keeper had increasingly become a bag of nerves, following the 2nd goal. As I said, Burns almost scored early in the 2nd half when put through by McStay, and the keeper had looked bad then. Around the midway point, McGarvey slid a great ball through the middle, taking the whole Rapid defence out the game, and allowing Burns to spring their off-side trap. Tommy reached the ball in the box at the same time as the Rapid keeper, but the keeper was unconvincing, and did not pick the ball up cleanly, allowing Tommy to slide through, pick himself up and knock it into the net. It was probably the type of goal that would be disallowed today but Burns hadn't actually fouled the keeper, and he hadn't knocked the ball out of his hands, as the Rapid players claimed. The park erupted again, and we looked safe and sound in the last 8.
What happened next?
Rapid complained long and loud about the 3rd goal, but the truth was they were being absolutely murdered, and deserved to be many more than 3 behind. Shortly after, Burns was again sent through on Ehn, but this time, the keeper, as he picked the ball up swung out his leg and booted Burns in the chest, kung-fu style. It was as clear a penalty as you'll ever see, but for some incredible reason, neither the ref or linesman did see it. Then, alll hell broke loose, when, at a corner kick, the Rapid defender Keinhast took a run and an almighty punch at the back of Burns' head, which floored him. Although I was at the other side of the jungle, I saw the whole thing clearly, as he ran for a few yards before hitting Burns. Incredibly, again, the ref did not see this, even though, again, everyone else in the ground did. But this time the jungle-side linesman had spotted the incident, and he waved the ref over.
This led then to the bottle incident?
It did. The Rapid players, led by that cheating Hans Krankl, surrounded the ref, arguing--against what they actually knew to be the case--that Keinhast hadn't punched Burns. The linesman signalled to the ref that this is what had happened, meaning that we would surely get a penalty. But the whole business seemed to take an age, and then, out of the blue, a Rapid player fell to the ground, and claimed he'd been hit by something. I would be lying if I said that I knew he was faking it, as I was too far away from the incident, which happened at the Celtic end of the jungle. I thought that something might have hit him, but I also felt that Rapid were using this as an excuse to get the game stopped. The ref seemed to have lost control of the situation, and it was over 10 minutes before he managed to get the Rapid players back onto the pitch, re-starting the game with a penalty for Celtic. Grant missed the kick, and the rest of the game--about 10 mins or so-- was played out in a strange atmosphere, one which was fairly quiet, with no real further trouble. The celebrations at the end were not as noisy as they might have been, because of the incident, but the players got a massive cheer, for what was a truly outstanding attacking performance.
What took place afterwards?
I recall travelling home that night, feeling that the team had played some of the best football I had ever witnessed as a Celtic fan but was worried that there might be reprecussions. Then, when I got home, I watched the highlights on Scotsport, and saw the bottle-throwing incident close up. it was obvious that the player, Weinhofer, had feigned injury and that he had seen a bottle coming onto the pitch a few yards away, and then, after a sneaky look around, had fallen to the ground holding his face. That made me feel better, as there was no way that UEFA would do anything drastic. Or so I thought. Rapid did appeal, and the first hearing threw out their case and fined both them and Celtic. When I heard they were appealing again, I didn't worry too much. But I remember, very clearly, turning on the radio on a Friday afternoon a couple of weeks after the game, listening to Richard Park of radio clyde, suddenly announcing that the second hearing had found in favour of a replay. Straight away I felt we should have withdrawn from the competition, because it was such an injustice. The team responded by knocking in about 20 goals in their next 3 or 4 games, showing their anger and determination. As Manchester would show, however, it would have been much better had we told UEFA to stick their competition up their arse. What a pity that such a great performance would ultimately count for nothing. What a shame that a talented Celtic side missed out on perhaps their once chance to go all the way in a major European competition. But, even though it has been wiped from the record books, it was still one of Celtic's greatest European nights and I game that I to this day, 26 years later, feel lucky to have seen.
********** COMING SOON - PAGE UNDER CONSTRUCTION - COMING SOON ******************
Latest page update: made by hampden57
, May 14 2010, 1:25 PM EDT
(about this update
About This Update
1163 words added
- complete history)
Keyword tags: None
More Info: links to this page