Brazil's memories of incredible season

SITTING stripped to the underpants, sweating and cramped in a lift with three other men, is hardly the ideal preparation for a UEFA Cup final.But for Alan Brazil it was just another incredible moment, in an incredible season, with an incredible team.

Derek Davis

SITTING stripped to the underpants, sweating and cramped in a lift with three other men, is hardly the ideal preparation for a UEFA Cup final.

But for Alan Brazil it was just another incredible moment, in an incredible season, with an incredible team.

The 1980-81 season was arguably Ipswich's finest ever, although Sir Alf Ramsey's winning the old Division One title in 1962 will run it close for many Town fans.

But the joy of winning the UEFA Cup, just hours after Brazil was trapped in the hotel lift on the way to the second leg against AZ Alkmaar with Bobby Robson, Mick Mills and Eric Gates, masked the pain of missing out on a glorious treble.

Brazil talks in detail about the agonies and ecstasy of that campaign with Gary Imlach, as ESPN broadcast a unique documentary of the 1980-81 season, on Monday at 10.30pm.

Most Read

Looking ahead to the programme Brazil last night told how he feared they would not even get the game.

He recalls: “It was boiling hot that afternoon and the lift got stuck. We had on our club suits and ties but soon we were down to our underpants.

“All we could talk about was what would happen if they didn't get the lift working and we were really concerned we weren't going to make it.

“In the end we got down and there were a few shocked faces when the doors opened and we were stood there in nothing but our underpants.

“Happily we made it but it was hardly the ideal preparation.”

As everyone knows Town went on to lose 4-2 in the second leg but had already established a big enough lead at Portman Road to ensure that Mills lifted the trophy, with his last remaining strength.

Town played 66 games that season, with Russell Osman playing in all of them, and Brazil remembers being so tired they could barely raise a glass in the hotel later.

He said: “It was a good job we scored early because we were dead on our feet. They hit the bar, Paul Cooper made a couple of amazing saves and

Brazil remembers that the achievement was made greater because Town had suffered a disappointing double blow in the previous couple of weeks by going out of the FA Cup in the semi-finals at the hands of Manchester City.

More upsetting, was seeing the league title slip away with a defeat at Middlesbrough, and then at home to Southampton, despite Brazil and John Wark scoring for the Blues.

Aston Villa won the title; even though Town had doubled them, and they went on to win European Cup the following year.

Brazil said: “It would have been a disaster if we had not won something that year. We had a magnificent team that set all sorts of records. The previous season we beat Manchester united 6-0 and went to Goodison Park and 4-0 against Everton.”

Glasgow born Brazil still lives on the Essex/Suffolk border and the Blues are still close to his heart, although he also enjoys watching Colchester united occasionally.

While he hopes Jim Magilton's side go up he doesn't believe they are a patch on the boys of '81.

He said: “I would hate to compare the two teams because there is no comparison.

“From what I have seen Jon Walters is a decent player. But we had ten internationals and many of us thought Paul Cooper should have been capped.

That team was a one-off. We had Paul Mariner and (Terry) Butcher, Eric Gates, miserable sod but what a player, John Work who was phenomenal with 36 goals that season, George Burley the list goes on and of course Mick Mills. What a leader.

“We had Arnold Moorhen and Franz Thijssen and everything they brought to a game, the whole blend was magnificent.”

But how would they fare in today's Premier League.

“No problem,” roared Brazil.

“We would have been just as fit and as quick. I remember playing for Spurs on the Saturday and running the Welwyn Garden City half marathon the next day for charity.

“I would love it as a forward with the time and space and protection you are given nowadays.

“Also as a team we would be right up there. We had great characters and a togetherness that is hard to beat.”

Brazil continues to show great stamina with the Breakfast Show on TalkSport, charity events and a host of other public appearances keeping him busy.

And the sporting prowess continues in the family with his eldest daughter Michelle completing the London marathon last Sunday.

Alan Brazil is a contributor to a special ESPN Classic studio based show about Ipswich's 1980-81 season to be shown on ESPN Classic, Sky Channel 442, Monday night @ 10.30pm.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter