Earlier today Linfieldfc.com asked for your special memories from our 99 European games to date. Here are the first 2 replies and as further entries are received via firstname.lastname@example.org, this news item will be updated with more special memories.
1.The match against FC Copenhagen at Windsor is one of my best memories of European football. Beating a team of their calibre in the first leg was a great achievement, and we were so close to winning the tie overall.
Winning the tie 3-0 at Windsor we were looking good to go through, but in the second leg in Copenhagen, as we will all remember, it took a cruel 96th minute free kick to force extra time in which we would subsequently lose another goal to end the tie.
The fact FC Copenhagen got AC Milan in the next round, who were probably the best team in Europe at that time, made it all the worse to take.
The fact that AC Milan only beat FC Copenhagen 1-0 at the San Siro made the Linfield result at Windsor seem all the better.
I'm a bit young for the Man City game, but that was one my uncle always talked about, how we lost on away goals against them.
We as supporters can take pride at some great performances in the past.
Audaces Fortuna Juvat
Favourite European game was probably in 1975 at home to PSV. Billy Campbell's team against a team containing a number of the great Dutch team from the 1974 World Cup.
Lost 2-1 but anyone who was there would tell you that we should have beaten them on the night. They overpowered us in the second leg. Unfortunately, the way the European competition is now organised, it is unlikely we can draw a champion club from one of the major leagues.
I have had oh so many wonderful nights as a Linfield fan that it is difficult to pick just one, so here a few of my assorted ramblings.
The PSV Eindhoven game with, if I remember correctly, the two Malones playing was one of my first really, ”big”, games and brought home to me just what a wonderful club and support we have, although the details of the actual game are sketchy, except to recall that it was very close, but it will always be my European first.
The away game in Dundalk I will remember for all the wrong reasons, and then there are the, “so close but so far”, hard luck stories, like travelling to Wrexham to see us go out on the away goals rule against Turun Palloseura in the old UEFA Cup, or a similar experience at hime against 17 Nentori of Albania in the Champion’s League when they scored an underserved goal in a game we dominated. Who could ever forget the glory night against Panathinaikos when we raced into a 3-0 lead while playing some of the most complete football I have ever seen from the boys in Blue, but it was ultimately a disappointment, so I’ll move on? Shamrock Rovers at home was a disappointment in that it was a dreadfully dull game amid a tension fuelled atmosphere back when Belfast was a much more dangerous city, but the ban on away fans was an ever bigger disappointment, until I decided to go and visit friends in Dublin and sneak into the game with them, and we all know what happened that night?
I was in Iceland when we lost, undeservedly in my opinion, 1-0 to FH Hafnarfjardar, but we progressed thanks to a wonderfully dramatic 3-1 win at Windsor, so that progress will always stick in my mind, as will the wonderful company I experienced in Iceland, including being invited into the boardroom for a brandy by the HF Chariman the night we trained there, such was the temperature. Then there is the trip to Ventspils in 2005 when one of the greatest ever Linfield sides held on the win on the away goals rule after a hard fought 1-0 win at Windsor Park. We also put up a magnificent performance in Trondheim, eventually going down 2-0 only to a late goal as we chased an equaliser, and this against a team that regularly qualified for the group stages of Europe’s most prestigious tournament. We played superbly that night and the difference between the teams was negligible.
Last year’s game against Skoda Xanthi was a disappointment, but only insofar as I was dreadfully disappointed with the way the Greeks performed, play acting and rolling about at the slightest opportunity, but the boys played fantastically, and looked every bit as much a full-time team as our supposedly superior opponents. Luckily I was working abroad for the Copenhagen game, because I really don’t think I could have taken that one but, over the years, it has been a real roller coaster ride against teams from all over Europe. My only regret is that the draw could have been kinder to us on occasions, and I still fervently hope for a European away day to Wales or Scotland.
4.I just finished reading a Belfast Tele article by Ivan Little logging his memories of the South Stand.
He and I were class-mates at Grosvenor during the 1960's. Being Bluemen we were in the minority as most of our contemporaries supported the Glens.
One of my favourite memories of those Linfield glory days was when we beat Aris and Valarengen to progress to the European Cup Quarter-finals in 1967.
I usually cheered on the Blues from the Kop, however on that occasion Ivan invited me to join him in the "Reserved Stand".