Dangerous conditions in Malta, a riot at Lazio and a trip behind the Iron Curtain - the story of Town’s early days in Europe
PUBLISHED: 06:00 17 November 2019
Ipswich Town have a great history in Europe since their first foray in 1962. Tony Garnett followed them throughout and brings his memories of those early trips.
Ipswich were drawn against Floriana of Malta for their first taste of European Cup football in 1962. The first leg was away.
The Ipswich squad stayed in the famous Phoenicia Hotel in Valletta.
The facilities at the Floriana ground were basic. The pitch had been relaid with sand and lime.
There were sharp stones and rusty nails on the surface. Sliding tackles were dangerous. I brought home samples of items I picked up off the pitch for photographic evidence.
Floriana were the stars of Malta at the time but they were no match for Ipswich. The trip was the first time I had met such respected writers as Geoffrey Green of The Times, Laurie Pignon of the Daily Mail and Bernard Joy of the Evening Standard. Joy was England captain in the 1936 Olympics, won the FA Amateur Cup with Casuals and later played for Arsenal. How charming and helpful they all turned out to be to a young reporter on his first European assignment.
I watched Floriana some 50 years later, this time on a grass pitch at the Victor Tedesco Stadium in Hamrun.
Back to that first visit though and I had a relatively early night only to find Town chairman John Cobbold and manager Alf Ramsey had decided to visit my room and roll me out of bed. Maybe I should have stayed in the bar longer.
The next European adventure was to play AC Milan a few weeks later.
Shortly before the visit to the San Siro I broke bones in my ankle playing Sunday League football at Bourne Park in Ipswich.
I had just scored a goal with a cross that crept fortuitously under the bar near the far post. Minutes later there was a 50-50 ball near the half-way line. I elbowed the opposition winger away. A defender took exception to this challenge and crunched into my ankle. Referee Gordon Blake, later a top official with the Suffolk FA, accused me of acting.
When I took my boot off after the match my ankle was swollen. I assumed it was just a bruise. The next day I drove my father, who was suffering from cancer, to Manchester to see the family accountants. He was keen that I should meet them. I parked in Manchester but there was no way I could put my foot on the ground to walk to the accountant's office. I stayed in the car.
This model of Sunbeam Talbot I was driving had the dip-switch on the floor, unlike today's cars.
I could not move my foot so drove home with no full beam. I visited the doctor the next day. I had multiple broken bones and was put in a plaster up to my thigh and given crutches. That was how I flew to Milan.
My biggest challenge was making my way on crutches to the Italian newspaper offices to secure prints of the match for use both in the paper and the Ipswich Town club programme. Not speaking Italian was a handicap but the Italians were understanding.
The country cousins of Ipswich, with no experience of the underhand Italian tactics being used in those days, were well beaten.
Milan went on to win the trophy with stars like Cesare Maldini, Dino Sani, "golden boy" Gianni Rivera and Giovanni Trapattoni later to manage the Republic of Ireland.
Crack marksman Altafini was a Brazilian who scored 14 goals in Europe that season, a figure matched by Ipswich's John Wark in 1981. Rivera was runner-up behind Russian goalkeeper Lev Yashin for the Ballon D'Or in 1962 and was winner in 1969. Rivera later became a member of the European parliament!
My next visit to Italy with the Blues was in 1973. Ipswich had already beaten Real Madrid in the first round of the UEFA Cup, a feat present-day Ipswich supporters can hardly comprehend.
Then in November they faced SS Lazio for experiences I will never forget.
The Italians came to Portman Road for the first leg. Coach Tommaso Maestrelli made changes to tighten his defence. They backfired.
Ipswich established a 4-0 lead with Trevor Whymark scoring all four goals. The fourth was hotly disputed by the angry Italians who claimed that Whymark had handled the ball.
It was a rugged match. David Johnson, the Ipswich centre-forward, took a blow to his private parts. During the night he found there was blood on his bedclothes. It transpired that he had a nasty gash under his foreskin.
Sightseeing in Rome went smoothly for the return leg.
It was when Ipswich had their first training session in Rome that the flames of Lazio fury were ignited.
A delegation from the AC Roma supporters, Lazio's big rivals, arrived to make a presentation with Press photographers present.
Pietro Magliocchetti, their president, handed Whymark a trophy with the following inscription.
"To Whymark in recognition of Ipswich v Lazio 4-0. Il Roma Club FC 12" Giallorossa, with affection and gratitude.
There was an atmosphere of intimidation in the Olympic Stadium. Whymark took a blow to the head early on and Bryan Hamilton later admitted that he was "genuinely scared" by Lazio's physical and violent approach.
When my first call from Ipswich in the Press Box it was EADT editor Donald Simpson on the line. "We don't want a report from you tonight." He would not tell me why.
I found out next morning that there was an NUJ strike and Simpson did not want to inflame a tense situation in days when Unions were at their most powerful.
Lazio opened the scoring in 43 seconds and added another in nine minutes. A third goal after 26 minutes brought the Italians back into the game.,
They were pegged back after 73 minutes when Dutch referee Leo van der Kroft awarded what Lazio felt was a soft penalty after Clive Woods had been tripped.
Colin Viljoen calmly converted the spot kick. Whymark went to congratulate him and was chased back into his own goalmouth by enraged Lazio players.
Giorgio Chinaglia, the Lazio captain and super star, scored a penalty in the 82nd minute to set up a tense finish although the Italians had to score two more because of the away-goal rule.
Johnson was on the bench. He was spat on by an Italian which made him determined to play his part on the field despite his injury which had not fully healed.
In injury-time Johnson scored for Ipswich to clinch a 6-4 overall success.
On the final whistle Ipswich players sprinted to the dressing room.
Goalkeeper David Best had further to run and received a painful kick on his leg.
The Lazio fans got onto the pitch despite a metal fence and a moat. They threw full beer cans and lighted rockets at the Police who used tear gas in a forlorn effort to maintain control.
I doubt if I would have been able to phone a report with angry Italians charging over the seats towards the Press Box.
It is a bit of a blur so many years later, but I ended up with the Ipswich players in the dressing room with angry fans, probably including some Lazio players, banging on the door. The referee was also locked into his changing room for safety.
He was spirited out of the ground via a hidden exit.
After a couple of hours, when things had quietened down, Ipswich were given use of the SS Lazio team coach to take them to back to the hotel.
Everyone was told to lie on the floor because of the possibility of stones being thrown through the windows. There was broken glass and a smell of tear gas.
There was angry crowd waiting outside the hotel so we went to a restaurant in the hills for a meal to allow things to quieten down.
The Italian Press had a heading "Thugs of the Olimpico" and "Madness at Stadio Olimpico." It was not football but war.
The riot proved ever so costly for Lazio. That season they went on to win the Scudetto for the first time in 74 years but were banned by UEFA from playing in the European Cup.
Ipswich beat FC Twente from Holland in the third round
The next opponents were Lokomotive Leipzig
This trip behind the Iron Curtain was the end of Town's UEFA Cup road that year, after Mick Mills had been sent off and Allan Hunter (a star in open play) had missed the vital penalty in the shoot-out.
I suggested to Mick that we should hire a taxi and visit Colditz Castle the next morning. I thought this would help him keep clear of disappointed Town fans. Most of them had also decided to visit Colditz so there was no escape.
In that season Ipswich Town finished fourth in Division One. The relegated clubs were Manchester United and Norwich City.
Ipswich Town in Europe
1962-63 - European Cup
(P) v Floriana away 4-1
(1) v A.C. Milan away 0-3
1973-74 - UEFA Cup
(1) v Real Madrid home 1-0
(2) v Lazio home 4-0
(3) v F.C. Twente home 1-0
(Q) v Lok Leipzig home 1-0
You may also want to watch:
away 0-1 (Town lost on penalties)
1974-75 - UEFA Cup
(1) v F.C. Twente home 2-2
1975-76 - UEFA Cup
(1) v Feyenoord away 2-1
(2) v F.C. Bruges home 3-0
1977-78 - UEFA Cup
(1) v Landskrona away 1-0
(2) v Las Palmas home 1-0
(3) v Barcelona home 3-0
away 0-3 (Town lost on penalties)
1978-79 - Cup Winners Cup
(1) v AZ Alkmaar away 0-0
(2) v SW Innsbruck home 1-0
(3) v Barcelona home 2-1
1979-80 - UEFA Cup
(1) v Skeid Oslo away 3-1
(2) v Grasshoppers away 0-0
1980-81 - UEFA Cup
(1) v Aris home 5-1
(2) v Bo Prague home 3-0
(3) v Widzew Lodz home 5-0
(Q) v St Etienne away 4-1
(S) v F.C. Cologne home 1-0
(F) v AZ Alkmaar home 3-0
1981-82 - UEFA Cup
(1) v Aberdeen home 1-1
1982-83 - UEFA Cup
(1) v A.S. Roma away 0-3
2001-02 - UEFA Cup
(1) v Tor Moscow home 1-1
(2) v Helsingborg home 0-0
(3) v Inter Milan home 1-0
2002-03 - UEFA Cup
(P) v Av Beggen away 1-0
(1) v FK Sartid home 1-1
(2) v S Liberec home 1-0
away 0-1 (Town lost on penalties)
This article originally appeared in Issue 12 of Kings of Anglia magazine.
Issue 13 is out soon, including an interview with cover star Kane Vincent-Young,David Norris, Emyr Huws, Armando Dobra and Dean McDonald. Pre-order now, with free delivery, HERE