The Dominance of English Football Clubs in The European Cup
Before the likes of Lionel Messi & Christiana Ronaldo dazzled the Champions League crowds with their modern game skills of technical excellence, the European Cup was once dominated by the English clubs.
Back in the late 70s and early 80s it was Merseyside clubs like Liverpool under the direction of Bob Paisley and Joe Fagan that stole the show, boasting the same European Cup glories in their silverware cabinet as Juventus and Man Utd put together. Liverpool have lifted the European Cup, or Champions League as it was renamed in 1992, a staggering 5 times with 4 of them victories between 1977 and 1984. From 1977 the English clubs dominated the European Cup for 6 years on the trot and it wasn’t just Liverpool on the back page headlines. Even current Championship clubs like Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa were in on the action, with Forest lifting the European Cup not once but twice in 1979 & 1980, and then Villa in 1982.
Above: The 1981 Liverpool European Cup squad at the Parc des Princes, Paris.
The beautiful game has certainly changed a lot in the last 30 or so years but as Spanish teams like Real Madrid and Barcelona still dominate the Champions League, 2018 could potentially see Liverpool take their 6th European Cup glory. Could Jurgen Klopp claim his first Champions League honors with Liverpool and bring the 6th European title to Anfield?
Above: Liverpool’s current manager, Jurgen Klopp, holding up a scarf with the teams famous slogan ‘You’ll never walk alone’.
With European dominance throughout the late 70s and early 80s, Liverpool fans were stampeding their way across Europe becoming known as the ‘Scouse Vikings’ in the process. A term derived from their looting and stealing of designer sportswear stores across Europe on their European tours. Die hard fans would bring back brands like Sergio Tacchini and Fila to the UK, brands that before had had no common connection to the working classes but more for the private tennis club elitist types. Lacoste became so big after European tours that people would sow fake crocodile’s onto plain polo shirts to try and claim their casual status. The terrace catwalk was born with predominantly working class followers now splashing out a weeks wages on the latest sportswear apparel and trainers. Thanks to clubs like Liverpool, the casual panache spread like wild fire across the country with other clubs following suit and adopting the new found colourful style.
Above: Liverpool European Cup disaster. Fans trying to flee the carnage at the Heysel Stadium in 1985.
The Heysel Stadium disaster in 1985 changed everything when Liverpool fans charged at rival Juventus fans in the European Cup final in Brussels. 39 football fans, mainly Juventus supporters, sadly lost their lives that day, another 600 were injured as result of a collapsed wall as carnage kicked off in the ground between the Urchins and the Ultras. The disaster not only marked a new era of where hooligan firms would now meet for battles, it also marked the end of the UK’s dominance in Europe. A ban was placed on all English football clubs competing in all European competitions until 1990. Throughout the late 80s teams like Porto, CSA Steaua București & PSV Eindhoven would go on to take European glory as English clubs were left to their domestic duties.
Above: The original 80s Casuals sporting the likes of Benetton, Pringle & Sergio Tacchini.
If it wasn’t for the European dominance from the English clubs throughout the 70s and 80s would the casual movement have ever existed as we know it today? It’s a good topic of debate as the stereotypical hooligan prior to the casual movement was the skinhead bovver boy look, a million miles away from being kitted out head to toe in the latest Sergio. Whilst bringing back new and unknown sportswear labels a new breed of football hooligan had been born. Unknown to the authorities at the time who were still looking for the Dr. Martens boots and red braces look. Obviously it didn’t take the Old Bill long to catch on to the new designer trend but in the process a whole new movement had begun. The music, the culture, the terraces and the fashion all came together as groups of teenagers and young men suddenly felt a belonging and the ability to escape from their everyday working class lives. Casual fashion will always evolve, but one thing is for sure, it’s the classic 80s stuff that will always have the closest connection with the casual movement.
Above: We are the casuals. A group of young casuals gather in their numbers sporting the latest casual attire of the era.
The importance of the English football clubs dominance in Europe throughout the late 70s and early 80s is just as important as the first Tacchini top you ever bought or the first pair of 3 stripes you wore, after all, it was these supporters who made us all aware of the gear in the first place.