The night Town beat Real Madrid - and why they're still part of elite club

Ipswich Town beat Real Madrid 1-0 at Portman Road in 1973

Ipswich Town beat Real Madrid 1-0 at Portman Road in 1973 - Credit: Archant

While European giants Real Madrid bid for another Champions League title against Liverpool in Paris tonight, Ipswich Town remain in elite company in regards to the Spanish super club. Mark Heath explains why...

It seems staggering now, with Ipswich Town failing to get out of League One for a third straight year and Madrid gunning for their 14th European Cup/Champions' League crown.

But, back in 1973, Bobby Robson's Blues dumped Real out of Europe, one of Town's first big steps on the way to what would be a glorious period in club history.

Before Portman Road was all-seated - the crowd during Ipswich vs Real Madrid in the UEFA Cup in Sept

Before Portman Road was all-seated - the crowd during Ipswich vs Real Madrid in the UEFA Cup in September 1973. Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

Madrid headed to Suffolk for a UEFA Cup first round first leg clash on September 19. Bobby's Blues had won the Texaco Cup the season before - beating rivals Norwich City 4-2 on aggregate - to collect Robson's first piece of silverware as boss.

But this was something of an entirely different scale. Just the second time that the Blues had played in Europe, against a side who had already won six European Cups.

More than 25,000 fans packed into Portman Road for the clash, with Town fielding the following starting XI: Best, Beattie, Hunter, Collard, Harper, Mills, Hamilton, Viljoen, Lambert, Johnson, Whymark.

A goalless first half ensued, before Town made the breakthrough 12 minutes into the second stanza. 

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A Mills effort was deflected into his own net by Benito Rubinan, and the Blues were ahead.

On this day 45 years ago, Town beat Real Madrid 1-0 at Portman Road

Town players enjoy their goal against Real Madrid in 1973 - Credit: Archant

They hung on to win 1-0 and, perhaps more remarkably, secured a 0-0 draw in the second leg in Spain to make progress and dump Madrid out.

Robson’s side made it to the last eight that season, beating Lazio and FC Twente before falling to Lokomitive Leipzig. They finished fourth in the First Division table.

Madrid finished eighth in La Liga in 1973/74, but won the Spanish Cup with a 4-0 thumping of fierce rivals Barcelona in the final.

And now, almost 50 years later, that win and draw means Town are still part of an elite club regarding Real Madrid in Europe.

The Blues are one of just ten teams on the planet to hold a winning record against Los Blancos in European competition.

Arsenal (W1 D1 L0) and Aberdeen (W1 D0 L0) are the only other British clubs to hold the upper hand over the Spanish giants in the record books.  

Ipswich vs Real Madrid in September 1973

Ipswich vs Real Madrid in September 1973 - Credit: Archant

Boca Juniors (Argentina), Necaxa (Mexico), CD Toledo (Spain), Peñarol (Uruguay), CSKA Moscow (Russia) and Benfica (Portugal) also make the list, with none of those sides facing Real more than four times. 

But it’s Bayern Munich whose presence is most-significant, with the two sides meeting 26 times and the German giants winning 12 compared to Real’s 11, along with three draws. 

Town, of course, hold a 31-game unbeaten home record in European competition, winning 25 and drawing six.