Those European Nights!

Last updated : 19 March 2009 By MotherwellBlue
The 1978/79 European Cup was another fairytale ride for Gers fans with three of the best teams in Europe at that time coming to Ibrox. The first round brought us the reigning Italian Champions Juventus to our doorstep. Many of us probably sighed when the draw was made thinking that we had been hard done by. But in the days before seeding was invented you just crossed your fingers and hoped for the best. So it was off to Turin for the first leg.

Many younger Bears will find in hard to believe that now in the days of wall to wall live coverage of the Champions League that neither match was shown live on TV. In those days it was the Final only and maybe the odd high profile tie involving an English side that made it "Live" to our screens. The Juventus side of that year was a who's who of Italian Football. The National side had just finished 4th in the World Cup in Argentina and no fewer than 7 of the side that had played in the 3rd Place World Cup match were in the Juventus pool and indeed

So it was down to one of those worrying nights in front of the radio listening to commentary from a far off land. Now listening to matches on the radio as many will know is a nerve racking occasion each rise in the commentators tone spells danger and you just wait for the roar of the crowd to confirm that the ball had hit the net. So another nerve wracking night was in store. Wave after wave of Italian attacks were met by resistance and by the end of the night the commentator had only had to go into overdrive once to describe the ball hitting the net when the million pound (Yeah that's right One Million in 1978) starlet Pietro Virdis scored for Juventus in front of 60,000 fans.

It was back to Ibrox 2 weeks later and a night to remember for Gers fans. Ibrox at that time resembled a building site with work underway on the redevelopment of the stadium as we now know it. In store for the fans that night was one of those legendary European Night's under the Ibrox floodlights.

Alex MacDonald brought the tie level after only 17 minutes when he reacted to a rebound and sent a header looping into the net. Could we actually pull this off and take out one of Europe's leading sides. Well in 69 minutes we were to find that out when a high Tommy McLean cross was met by Gordon Smith and his header dropped beyond Dino Zoff and into the Italian net. Cue bedlam and frantic attempts by Juve to get that all important away goal. Thankfully it never came and we held out for a place in the 2nd Round. Leaving us with another night to remember and the promise of another top notch tie when PSV Eindhoven were drawn to be our opponents in Round 2.