Stationed at RAF Laarbruch, in Germany during the summer of 1979, I was fortunate to be given the chance to see a major soccer event.
The European Cup final in the Olympic stadium in Munich, the match was between Nottingham Forest of England and Malmo of Sweden. At this time Forest were not a major team in the UK, only the year before having been promoted from the old Division 2. Any British soccer fan, will tell you this was the start of Forests greatest era since the late 50s, when they won the FA cup in what became known as the Roy Dwight final. Dwight scored a goal after 10 minutes, Tommy Wilson put Forest up 2-0 after 14 minutes.
Fifteen minutes later, tragedy struck as Dwight broke his leg in a tackle with Lutons’ Brendan MacNally, Luton pulled a goal back in the 66th minute when Dave Pacey scored, Forest held on to their slender lead for the last 25 minutes, this meant Forest had to play with only 10 men for an hour, as substitutes were not allowed, even for injuries until 1968. Forest became the only team to beat the Wembley hoodoo and win with 10 men.
Under the Clough & Taylor reign Forest won the league at the first attempt since entering the top in several years. The season before, when Brian Clough took over. Forest were languishing near the bottom of Division 2, in two years he took them from obscurity to the top of Europe, people no longer thought of Elton Johns’ cousin ( Roy Dwight), when you talked of Forest, now it was of Brian Clough and Peter Taylor.
The talk of the season was Cloughs’ signing of Birmingham citys’ Trevor Francis, at the time a record fee of £1m (how things change). Under FIFA rules he was ineligible to play for three months, which meant his first game was the final Bought as a centre-forward, Francis played the game on the right wing, as Gary Birtles and Tony Woodcock were the regulars with Forest at the time. A friend was lucky to acquire for us some tickets to the game, how I never knew and never asked. Even though I was neither a Forest fan nor a football fan by this time I decided to go. Mainly to see Munich, as I thought I would never get the chance again.
The journey from the Dutch border station down to Munich took over four hours, we set out after tea and arrived early morning, tired and aching and craving for a drink, being in Germany and with the big game on, the bars were open early. Some of the guys hit the beer early, German beer is weaker than any I have tried. No wonder they serve such large amounts with huge heads, no English pub would dare serve a pint, that was hlalf foam.
After spending the lovely day of 30th May, in the sun, admiring the city, I decided to go to the match, in time to get a good view I went about an hour before the game started. When I arrived, there was a junior cup final in progress, and all the crowd was cheering No. 10 like mad, I did not understand, until I looked at the electronic scoreboard and saw his name was Fuchs. I thought “What an honour for these young boys to play in the stadium, on the same ground as their heroes Franz Beckenbauer, Gerd Muller, Sepp Maier and Paul Brietner.”
It wasn't long after this, that the incident happened. I was standing watching the final, when a German policeman, looking at me, went for his gun “What have I done wrong? “ I thought.
The man next to me had spit in the trench, and the guard who had been looking at me, when he went for the gun. If the guard thought I was a trouble maker, let me explain my position.
I was standing next to a three foot wall, after climbing this. I would have had a ten foot drop to a trench approximately fifteen feet wide, then would have to climb back up fifteen feet to the grassy area, before running about thirty feet to the pitch. Then get past the guards on patrol. As you see there was no way, anyone could have got near the pitch, unless you were a special forces member.
Francis scored the only goal just before half-time, in what was a bit of an anti-climatic game for such a prestigious even in the stadium. When we left, both Brits and Swedes cheering and laughing, swapping shirts and flags, we spent a lovely late summer evening in the city I don't have many memories of the game itself, just of Larry Lloyd and the Forest team parading the cup, I still have some slides I took there, and somewhere even the programme.
And of the day I nearly got shot.