2906: Europe:1995/96 - Season of Hum
by : Sam Cullen
On reflection, it may appear for British sides that 2005-06 has been rather disappointing in terms of Europe. Celtic suffered the 5-0 humiliation at the hands of Artmedia Bratislava, Man Utd slumped out of the Champions League at the group stages, and Everton were unable to get into the group stages of the UEFA Cup, which had previously be considered a formality for English sides. At the time of writing, only Middlesboro and Arsenal remain in European competitions. It may seem a rather dismal season by recent high standards, but cast your minds back ten years to see how far we’ve come.
In 1995/96, there were still the three tournaments as the Cup Winners Cup was still going. Rangers and Blackburn were in the Champions League, Celtic and Everton in the Cup Winners Cup and Leeds, Liverpool, Man Utd, Motherwell, Nottingham Forest and Raith Rovers were in the UEFA Cup.
Blackburn had a disastrous time in Group B, winning only one of their six matches, finishing bottom of their group with 4 points and featuring the notorious sight of David Batty and Graeme Le Saux fighting each other during their tie against Spartak Moscow. Rangers managed to go one worse in Group C picking up only three points. Their “highlight” was a 4-0 home drubbing by Juventus, their worst ever score at home In Europe.
Celtic fared little better in the Cup Winners cup, losing 3-0 at home to PSG in the second round, another worst ever result. Everton also exited meekly in the 2nd round, losing 1-0 overall to Feyenoord.
The UEFA Cup proved more British embarrassment. Motherwell couldn’t even make it past the qualifying stages, defeated on away goals by the “illustrious” MyPa47.Man Utd were knocked out in the 1st round by the all but unknown Rotor Volgograd despite Peter Schmeichel scoring a late equaliser but they were still eliminated under the away goals rule. Leeds went out in a 8-3 aggregate demolition by PSV, while Liverpool were beaten 1-0 by Danish part-timers Brondby. Raith Rovers were eliminated 4-1 by eventual winners Bayern Munich. However, considering they currently ply their trade in the Scottish 2nd division, they won’t mind being reminded of the days they actually played Bayern Munich.
Nottingham Forest were the best achievers in Europe, reaching the quarter finals of the UEFA Cup. Drawn against Bayern Munich they lost narrowly 2-1 in the away leg, prompting fans to be optimistic about their side’s chances. In the season of humiliation though, Bayern had one final egg to be put on the face of British football. They smashed Forest 5-1 at The City Ground to progress with ease.
Even after the football finished, the humiliation didn’t stop. At the start of 1995/96, Spurs and Wimbledon had entered the InterToto cup. However they viewed it with disdain, put out weakened sides and were duly eliminated. UEFA caught wind of this and as punishment, stripped England of a UEFA Cup place. This season may not have been the most thrilling for British cups in Europe, but be thankful for small mercies it wasn’t anything like 1995/96.
12 March 2006