The times they have a-changed

8 11 2015

Thirty years ago little old Bangor City strode purposely on to the Estadio Vicente Calderon turf.

By the end of the match the Northern Premier League’s finest had restricted the famous European aristos to a 1-0 victory. Bangor’s efforts were so memorable they earned a standing ovation from the very knowledgeable crowd of 20,000. The proof is below.

The home leg was only lost 2-0. Fillol was so overcome by the emotion of being the first World Cup winner to set foot on Farrar Road in competitive conditions since Bobby Charlton – a mid to late ‘70s Anglo-Italian sojourn – he went off injured.

The Bangor side of 1985 were all verve, shiny polyester and bubble perms. They were a lovely mixture of the home grown and the non-home grown.

The goal was guarded by the football geriatric Dai Davies, the defence was organised by future FA chairman Palios and the present Bangor manager, Neville Powell, did his midfield thing. Dai the drop cut short a long-planned family holiday in Corfu and underwent painkilling injections to play in Madrid. He saved a penalty in Madrid.

It wasn’t just the fact that such a match took place that lends an anachronistic air, it was the little details; A £160 two night trip organised through a local Travel Agency, scouts from Atletico Madrid scouts going to Bangor in Northern Ireland by mistake, Atletico giving a sword to Bangor as a present and Mark Cartwright being threatened with the sack if he went to Madrid (he went).

My favourite aspect of the story is the fans working together to make sure that Farrar Road complied with UEFA’s match regulations by installing fences and such like. This was a real reaction against Thatcherite mores of the time, as someone more erudite than me once explained to Eddie Butler on BBC 2.

Apparently there was lots of interest in Bangor as the European ban meant they were the last British club left in the Cup Winners’ Cup. Atletico knocked Celtic out in the last round, including a behind closed doors match at Celtic Park;

A semi-pro club a round away from a European quarter final? We’ll never see the likes of these days again. European football is now bespoke number fonts, Official Online Trading Partners and mind control by the Archbishop of Banterbury.

A prosaic cocktail has ruined my chances of seeing a European quarter final involving Bangor City; the collapse of state capitalism leading to the proliferation of Eastern European leagues populated by mercurial playmakers, Cardiff, Swansea and Wrexham ruined our coefficient by refusing to do the decent thing and join the league of Wales and they stopped Welsh clubs (Bangor City mainly) playing in the European Cup for three years.

Where once the likes of Merthyr beat Atalanta and the likes of Wrexham were capable of beating Danish opposition before bowing out gracefully against Manchester United just before the quarter finals Welsh sides are now swotted like flies in every nook and cranny of the Baltic sea coast.

In a seamless 1985 transition, on the Saturday after the Madrid Wednesday Bangor City played an away match against Goole Town.

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