Sunday, September 2, 2018

Memorable European Confrontations, Part 30-1980 Nottingham Forest vs. Ajax Amsterdam

Nottingham Forest and Ajax were paired in the Semi-Finals of the 1979/80 Champions Cup.
The English side Nottingham Forest were the defending Champions of the trophy and seemed set to repeat as Champions despite lagging in the League.
Brian Clough along with able Assistant Peter Taylor, had assembled a squad containing many British Internationals such as Peter Shilton in the net, big-money signing Trevor Francis, English defender Viv Anderson, Scottish defender Kenny Burns, Northern Ireland midfielder Martin O’Neill and captained by the un-capped Scottish midfielder John McGovern.
Nottingham Forest had qualified from their opening rounds by defeating Sweden’s Osters IF Vaxjo (2-0 home, 1-1 away), Romania’s Arges Pitesti (2-0 home, 2-1 away) and East Germany’s Dinamo Berlin (0-1 away, 3-1 home) in the Quarterfinals.

Ajax, managed by Leo Beenhakker, had been declining in Europe since the glory years of the early 70s, but were still a force at home.
Captain Ruud Krol was the sole remnant of that glorious side. Another veteran of the side was Denmark’s Henning Jensen, who had played for Moenchengladbach and Real Madrid in the past. The side contained a pair of Danish players that would be known across the continent in a few years time (Soren Lerby and Frank Arnesen). A young Dutch winger Simon Tahamta was also starting to make a name for himself.
Ajax had qualified from their opening rounds by defeating Finland’s HJK Helsinki (8-1 away, 8-1 home), Cyprus’ Omnia Nicosia (10-0 home, 0-4 away) and France’s Strasbourg (0-0 away, 4-0 home) in the Quarterfinals.


The first leg, on April 9th, was played at Nottingham’s City Ground.
Brian Clough made one change from his basic lineup. Stan Bowles started in midfield in place of Ian Bowyer.
Nottingham Forest started the match maintaining their strategy of dominating the left side offensive sector.
Beenhakker was intent on man-marking Forest’s attacking trio. Cees Zwanborn was assigned with marking Birtles, while Boeve was charged with marking of Trevor Francis. Piet Wijnberg, started ahead of Wim Meutstege, to cover the left side threats of Robertson.
While Zwanborn managed to handle Birtles, Boeve appeared out of depth against Francis and Francis would be the driving force behind Forest’s win.
In addition, Lerby was unable to conjure up anything for Ajax as he had to defend from Martin O’Neill’s surges on the right side.
Ajax were also intent on repeated fouls and obstruction to break Forest’s rhythm.
Nottingham Forest took the lead in the 33rd minute. John Robertson’s corner from the left side (Forest’s eighth up to that point) was deflected by Lerby towards the near post, Schrijvers parried with his foot, and Francis struck the rebound from close range.
Early in the second half, Ajax’s Tscheu La Ling was injured, after a challenge by Frankie Gray, and replaced by Karel Bonsink.
Forest doubled the lead in the 60th minute. Francis tried to lob over Schrijvers in the box, Zawnborn tried to control loose ball but it hit his hand.
A penalty was awarded that appeared harsh, as clearly there was no intent. Robertson scored from the spot to give Forest a commanding (2-0) lead into the second leg.
Trevor Francis had been excellent and Manager Brian Clough stated afterwards that, “If Trevor (Francis) maintains his current form, not only will he take us to the Final but win it for us”.
Clough was still cautious of the return leg and stated, “We would be making a grave error if we thought our job is done”.
For his part, Leo Beenhakker stated that, “We suffered a collective loss at Nottingham…at the moment we are having difficulties but this loss is due to lack of concentration…our problems are mental’’.
Ruud Krol said afterwards, “If any English club had any interest on me, after such a night, they would have certainly changed their mind”. (Little did he know, but more on that later..)


Photo From: France Football, Issue 1775, April 15, 1980
(April 9, 1980, Champions Cup, Nottingham Forest 2-Ajax Amsterdam 0)

Photo From: Onze, Issue 53, May 1980
(April 9, 1980, Champions Cup, Nottingham Forest 2-Ajax Amsterdam 0)


Photo From: Onze, Issue 53, May 1980
(April 9, 1980, Champions Cup, Nottingham Forest 2-Ajax Amsterdam 0)


The second leg, on April 23rd, was played at Amsterdam’s Olympisch Stadion.
This time Beenhakker chose to start with Wim Meutstege ahead of Cees Zwanborn. Karel Bonsink also started ahead of Simon Tahamata.
There was only one change with Forest. Ian Bowyer reclaimed his spot in midfield ahead of Bowles.
Nottingham Forest chose to play with a defense in line and the use of the offside tactic, which confused Ajax as they would have expected defending in numbers from an away team protecting a lead.
Ajax would dominate the match without really making concrete chances, as most of their attacks would break up in the last third.
They had to resort to crosses that were  handled by the Forest defense.
Midway through the second half (66th minute), Ajax would take the lead. Frank Arnesen took a corner from the left side (Ajax’s 14th up to that point, and an unmarked Lerby headed in at the far post.
Clough would say afterwards, “ We should have never conceded the corner, let alone the goal.”

Photo From: World Soccer, June 1980
(Team captains John McGovern and Ruud Krol, April 23, 1980, Champions Cup, Ajax Amsterdam 1-Nottingham Forest 0)


Photo From: France Football, Issue 1777, April 29, 1980
(April 23, 1980, Champions Cup, Ajax Amsterdam 1-Nottingham Forest 0)

Photo From: France Football, Issue 1777, April 29, 1980
(April 23, 1980, Champions Cup, Ajax Amsterdam 1-Nottingham Forest 0)

Photo From: Onze, Issue 53, May 1980
(April 23, 1980, Champions Cup, Ajax Amsterdam 1-Nottingham Forest 0)



Photo From: Onze, Issue 53, May 1980
(April 23, 1980, Champions Cup, Ajax Amsterdam 1-Nottingham Forest 0)



Ajax could not make another breakthrough and were eliminated as many had predicted.
At the end of the match, Krol would say, “you are all living on the memories of the great Ajax, that team does not and will exist no more. Our team is just a good team and nothing more.”
It was obvious that the current Ajax crop were lightweight and not ready for European glory.

Photo From: World Soccer, June 1980
(Soren Lerby’s winner, April 23, 1980, Champions Cup, Ajax Amsterdam 1-Nottingham Forest 0)


During that week, Ruud Krol signed for Vancouver Whitecaps of the NASL. He later learned that Nottingham Forest had actually wanted him and he had not known about it.
Clough had preferred not to contact player before the end of contract, preferring to discuss with Ajax Club President and Manager of Ajax (In another source not contacting Krol directly was said to have been at the behest of Ajax hierarchy).
Nottingham were ready and willing to sign him, however, Vancouver had made a better offer.
Krol expressed regret saying he would have preferred and had the desire to go to England.

Ajax would go on to win the Dutch League title at the end of that season. Nottingham Forest finished fifth in the English League, but on May 28th at Madrid, they defeated SV Hamburg (1-0) to lift the Champions Cup for the second successive season.

Photo From: L'Annee du Football 1980
(Nottingham Forest players celebrating qualification, April 23, 1980, Champions Cup, Ajax Amsterdam 1-Nottingham Forest 0)


April 9, 1980
Nottingham Forest Football Club (England) 2- AFC (Amsterdamse Football Club) Ajax (Holland) 0
Champions Cup- Quarterfinals, First Leg
Venue: Nottingham-City Ground
Attendance: 31,244
Referee: Andre Daina (Switzerland)
Goalscorers: (Nottingham Forest): Trevor Francis 33, John Robertson 60 pen
  (Ajax): None
Lineups:
Nottingham Forest:
1-Peter Shilton, 2-Viv Anderson, 5-Larry Lloyd 6-Kenny Burns (Scotland), 3-Frankie Gray (Scotland), 7-Martin O’Neill (Northern Ireland), 8-Stan Bowles, 4-John McGovern (Scotland), 10-Trevor Francis, 9-Garry Birtles, 11-John Robertson (Scotland)
Coach: Brian Clough

Team Captain: John McGovern
Official Kit Supplier/Designer: Adidas
Shirt Sponsor:  None
Uniform Colors: Red Shirts, White Shorts, Red Socks

Ajax Amsterdam:
1-Piet Schrijvers, 2-Pete Boeve, 3-Piet Wijnberg, 4- Cees Zwanborn, 5-Ruud Krol, 6-Soren Lerby (Denmark), 7-Henning Jensen (Denmark), 8-Frank Arnesen (Denmark), 9-Tscheu La Ling (14-Karel Bonsink 49th), 10-Simon Tahamata, 11-Dick Schoenaker
Coach: Leo Beenhakker
Booked: Soren Lerby
Team Captain: Ruud Krol
Official Kit Supplier/Designer: Le Coq Sportif
Shirt Sponsor: None
Uniform Colors: Light Blue Shirts, Blue Shorts, Blue Socks




April 23, 1980
AFC (Amsterdamse Football Club) Ajax (Holland) 1-Nottingham Forest Football Club (England) 0
Champions Cup- Quarterfinals, Second Leg
Venue: Amsterdam– Olimpisch Stadion
Attendance: 60,000
Referee: Nicolae Rainea (Romania)
Goalscorers: (Ajax): Soren Lerby 66
  (Nottingham Forest): None
Lineups:
Ajax Amsterdam:
1-Piet Schrijvers, 2-Pete Boeve, 3-Wim Meutstege (13- Cees Zwanborn 46th), 4-Piet Wijnberg 5-Ruud Krol, 6-Soren Lerby (Denmark), 7-Henning Jensen (Denmark), 8-Frank Arnesen (Denmark), 9-Tscheu La Ling, 10-Karel Bonsink, 11-Dick Schoenaker
Coach: Leo Beenhakker
Booked: Pete Boeve, Wim Meutstege
Team Captain: Ruud Krol
Official Kit Supplier/Designer: Le Coq Sportif
Shirt Sponsor: None
Uniform Colors: Red (White Sleeves) Shirts, White Shorts, White Socks

Notttingham Forest:
1-Peter Shilton, 2-Viv Anderson, 5-Larry Lloyd 6-Kenny Burns (Scotland), 3-Frankie Gray (Scotland), 7-Martin O’Neill (Northern Ireland), 8-Ian Bowyer, 4-John McGovern (Scotland), 10-Trevor Francis, 9-Garry Birtles, 11-John Robertson (Scotland)
Coach: Brian Clough
Team Captain: John McGovern
Official Kit Supplier/Designer: Adidas
Shirt Sponsor: None

Uniform Colors: Yellow Shirts, Yellow Shorts, Yellow Socks





Nottingahm Forest Football Club:
Players who took part in these matches:
Goalkeeper:
Peter Shilton (September 18, 1949 , Leicester)

Defenders:
Viv Anderson (July 29, 1956, Clifton, Nottingham)
Kenny Burns (September 23, 1953, Glasgow, Scotland)
Frankie Gray (October 27, 1954 (age 63 years), Glasgow, Scotland)
Larry Lloyd (October 6, 1948, Bristol)

Midfielders: 
Stan Bowles (December 24, 1948, Collyhurst, Manchester)
Ian Bowyer (June 6, 1951, Little Sutton, Cheshire, Ellesmere Port)
John McGovern (October 28, 1949 (age 68 years), Montrose, United Kingdom
Martin O’Neill (March 1, 1952, Kilrea, Northern Ireland)

Forwards:
Garry Birtles (July 27, 1956, Nottingham)
Trevor Francis (April 19, 1954, Plymouth)
John Roberston (January 20, 1953, Uddingston, Scotland)

Coach: Brian Clough (March 21, 1935, Middlesbrough-September 20, 2004, Derby)
Official Kit Supplier/Designer: Adidas



Photo From: Panini England 1979-80
(Nottingham Forest crest)



Photo Credits:
All players (Panini England 1979-80)
Except:  Stan Bowles (Panini England 1978-79)





Photo From: L'Annee du Football 1980
(Nottingham Forest Manager Brian Clough)



Ajax Amsterdam:
Players who took part in these matches:
Goalkeeper:
Piet Schrijvers (December 15, 1946 , Jutphaas) 

Defenders:
Ruud Krol (March 24, 1949, Amsterdam)
Pete Boeve (March 14, 1957, Staverden)
Wim Meutstege (July 28, 1952, Lochem)
Piet Wijnberg (October 20, 1957) 
Cees Zwanborn (March 28, 1952, Alblasserdam)

Midfielders:
Soren Lerby (February 1, 1958, Copenhagen, Denmark)
Frank Arnesen (September 30, 1956, Copenhagen, Denmark)
Henning Jensen (August 17, 1949, Nørresundby, Denmark-December 4, 2017, Aalborg, Denmark)

Forwards:
Tescheu La Ling (January 6, 1956, The Hague)
Simon Tahamata (May 26, 1956, Vught)
Dick Schoenaker (November 30, 1952, Ede)
Karel Bonsink (September 21, 1950, Amsterdam)


Coach: Leo Beenhakker (August 2, 1942, Rotterdam)
Official Kit Supplier/Designer: Le Coq Sportif




Photo From: Panini Holland 1979-80
(Ajax Amsterdam crest)




Photo Credits:
All players (Panini Holland 1979-80)
Except:  Zwanborn (Panini Holland 1984-85)




Photo From: Panini Holland 1979-80
(Ajax Manager Leo Beenhakker)





Match Referees:
Andre Daina (Switzerland) (July 8, 1940, Esclepens)
Nicolae Rainea (Romania) (November 19, 1933, Braila-April 1, 2015, Galati)




Photo From: Onze Issue 115, July, 1985
(First Leg Referee, Andrea Daina)



 Photo From: France Football, Issue 1888, June 15, 1982
(Second Leg Referee, Nicolae Rainea)



References:
Onze, Issue 253 May 1980
France Football, Issue 1775, April 15, 1980
France Football, Issue 1777, April 29, 1980
L'Annee du Football, 1980
World Soccer, June 1980

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