The Story of the 1977-78 European Cup Adventure


Iceland became familiar territory for Glentoran in the late seventies, playing there twice within a year; in the 1977-78 season they lost a European Cup tie 1-0 against Valur at Reykjavik, which had also, of course, been the World Cup graveyard for Northern Ireland in 1977, The Glentoran squad that travelled to Iceland in 1977 but triumphed 2-0 in Belfast.

Glentoran played disappointingly in the first match at the Laugardalsvoller Stadium. Players had been warned not to get involved when Valur resorted to pushing, ankle-tapping and shirt tugging which is part of their tradition. In deed Alex Robson was fortunate he did not get marching orders for an off-the ball incident which Norwegian referee Rolf Haugen failed to notice. This in volved the rugged pivot and Valur striker Alti Edvaldsson, a brother of Glasgow Celtic's Johnannes, who finished prostrate on the pitch clutching his face. Warren Feeney, too, was continually spat on by his shadow Bergs who scored the goal with a header from an in-swinging corner.

The second leg at the Oval on 9 September was watched by 7,000; Glentoran's win should have been much more decisive against opposition which spectators considered second-rate. Robson got his first European goal that night and Johnny Jamison the second with an in-swinging corner punched over the line by the keeper.

Teams: First Leg:

Valur: Dagsson; Alfonsson, Saemundsson; Hilmarsson, D. Gud mundsson, Bergs; Albertsson, A. Edvaldsson (sub. Eir nasson), A. Gudmundsson, Portbkornsson (sub. Sveinson), Peterusson.

Glentoran: Matthews; McCreery, R. McFall; Walsh, Robson, Moreland; Dickinson (sub. O'Neill), Jamison, Caskey, Q. McFall, Feeney.

Second Leg:

Glentoran: Matthews; McCreery, R. McFall; Walsh, Robson, Stewart; Moreland, Dickinson, Caskey, Jamison, Feeney.

Valur: Dagsson; Kjartnasson, Saemundsson; Hilmarsson, D. Gud mundsson, Bergs; Albertsson, A. Edvaldsson, A. Gudmund sson, Thorbkoernsson, Alfonsson.


The mighty Juventus were the next opponents. Here again Glentoran put up a satisfactory showing only going down 1-0 at the Oval, a match watched by 25,000. A missed penalty by Feeney with five minutes remaining prevented a fairytale ending but nobody really worried. They went home limp from the ex citement, delighted with the competence of Glentoran in such exalted company and inspired by the technical qualities of Juventus. Glentoran with skill? understanding and controlled passing went at the Italian defence; they concen trated on technique rather than subduing opponents. They should have earned a draw and, what's more, deserved it.

The Juventus goal came after 38 minutes from Causio, a dream player who possessed a fantastic work-rate; Gentile a "hard man" who met his match in McCreery, had floated a centre into the goalmouth for Tardelli to nod it on. This was an example of how a goal should be taken.

The inevitable happened at the Stade Communale before 35,000 on 2 November, Juventus winning 5-0 and it could easily have been double figures but for the brilliance of goalkeeper Dennis Matthews, hero of a defence which played resolutely against superior odds. In the 90 blistering minutes Juventus had 34 attempts, scored 5 through Virdis (2), Boninsenga, Fanna, Benitti, (an out of this world first time shot) and also struck the upright; Matthews saved six certain goals. These cold statistics tell the one-sided tale.

Teams First Leg

Glentoran: Matthews, McCreery, R.McFall, Walsh, Robson, Moreland, Dougan (sub Stewart), Jamison, Caskey, Q. McFall, Feeney.

Juventus: Zoff, Cuccuredu, Gentile (sub Cabrini), Furino, Morini, Scirea, Causio, Tardelli, Boninsegna, Benetti, Bettega (sub Vidis).

Second Leg

Juventus: Zoff, Gentile, Cabrini, Furino, Spinosi, Scirea, Fanna, Causio (sub Cuccureddu), Virdis, Benetti, Bettega (sub Boninsegna).

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