|Woods-Inspired Victory for Rampant Town|
Written by clivebleedingthomas on Thursday, 2nd Apr 2020 09:00
Town had already been on a far reaching European tour by early November 1977 when they reached the UEFA Cup third round.
Successful trips north to Sweden and then down to Las Palmas were followed by being drawn against one of the favourites, Barcelona; a team that included one of the world’s most gifted footballers of that time - the Dutchman Johan Cruyff, along with fellow Holland international Johan Neeskens.
I worked in Norwich at the time. Unsurprisingly many of my work colleagues supported the Budgies. Places in my car were eagerly snapped up by four of them, keen to watch a world class star humiliate the Town.
They were to be disappointed as Cruyff was shackled by a young man from a Suffolk village, a man who would later in that season surpass this achievement with one even greater - wearing shirt number seven, his name was Roger Osborne.
Wednesday 23rd November 1977 Ipswich Town 3 Barcelona 0
It was the norm to arrive early for matches, in order to be able to stand in your preferred spot. With a large gate expected, we were already in the ground one hour before kick-off, having joined a lengthy queue in Russell Road to reach the Churchman’s turnstiles.
The attendance that night was 33,272, which meant being packed in so tightly that you made sure you went to the loo before the game, there was no chance of getting there and back to the same spot at half-time!
Bobby Robson had gambled on the fitness of Kevin Beattie. He had not played since being injured in early October. It seemed unlikely that he would make the Barcelona game having failed to complete a reserve game just four days previously.
It was a gamble that paid off as he played his role in a formidable defensive barrier alongside Allan Hunter.
Once the game had started it was evident that Roger Osborne had been assigned a man marking job on Cruyff. It worked admirably; apart from one trademark 'Cruyff turn' out to the right as he attacked Churchman’s, he was kept on a tight leash all evening.
Town took the lead in the 16th minute. Clive Woods, having completely fooled the Spanish right-back, put in a low cross from the left which resulted in Eric Gates taking the pace off the ball before placing it perfectly beyond the keeper. Town continued to dominate the game and led 1-0 at half-time.
Attacking the North Stand, Town extended their lead following another dangerous cross by Clive Woods. The visiting keeper fumbled a powerful downward header by Paul Mariner. Reacting quickly to the rebound Trevor Whymark scored from a few feet out.
A two-goal margin became three after 78 minutes. Once again it was Woods who was constantly causing problems for the visiting defence. This time he had switched to the right flank from where he set up Brian Talbot to get on the end of a delicately chipped cross with a textbook diving header.
The crowd was in full voice, never did we expect to win, let alone by three goals. In the post-match interview Bobby Robson said: “I was very much afraid of Barcelona before the match. They didn’t play as well as I had anticipated. I am surprised we won 3-0.”
Unfortunately, the second leg ended with the score 3-0 after 90 minutes. Town had hit the woodwork twice at a cold and wet Camp Nou, sparsely populated with just 24,000 fans. The score was the same after extra-time and we went out on penalties.
Town team: Cooper, Stirk, Mills, Talbot, Hunter, Beattie, Osborne, Gates (Viljoen), Mariner, Whymark, Woods.
Barcelona: Artola, Macizo (Clares), Migueli, Olmo, De La Cruz, Neeskens, Sanchez, Heredia (Rexach), Cruyff, Asensi, Zuviria.
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