Football Special Report #7: Euro 84

Our previous Football Special Report was the first to deviate from the original format of highlighting a specific interesting match and what it entailed (but that is currently a fanzine exclusive installment). Now, having continued to peer quizzically around the retro footballing world, we cast our gaze upon the Euros of 1984.

Background:

The 1980 European Championships in Italy had been the first to feature eight teams in the competition, rather than the four that had been involved since the inaugural 1960 edition. But, uniquely for an eight team format, 80 would only see the top placed team in each group progress, with the two runners-up granted the “honour” of a third place play-off.

West Germany defeated Belgium in the final in Rome to take their second championship in the last three Euros, after the Soviet Union, Spain, Italy and Czechoslovakia had also picked up continental wins in the 60s and 70s. The latest West German triumph, following their second World Cup victory in 1974 (with further runner-up spots at both a Euros and World Cup to their name), had consolidated their status as Europe’s top team, and the nation’s footballing administrators hoped to be rewarded by bringing the tournament to their country in 1984.


The West German squad celebrate on the pitch after winning the Euro 80 final against Belgium, 22/06/1980.

The only other nation to contest the bidding process was France, who had hosted the original competition in 1960. The 74 West German World Cup was perhaps too fresh in the memory of the UEFA Executive Committee, who unanimously voted for the French to hold the next European Championships in a December 1981 meeting (although Germany would not have too long to wait for their turn).

With the ball for Euro 84 now rolling, the next step was the qualifying draw in Paris in January 1982. France of course entered automatically as hosts, leaving 32 other European nations to make up seven groups of four and five where the top placed finishers would progress.

Played out between May 1982 and December 1983, the only group that proved particularly clearly cut for the eventual victors was Belgium’s Group 1. Entering a third European Championships, the Belgians had comfortably seen off Switzerland, East Germany and a poor last placed Scotland, with their only group loss coming to the Swiss after qualification had already be secured.


Belgium vs Scotland in the yet-to-be-infamous Heysel Stadium, 15/12/1982.

Group 2, conversely, came down to a last day decider between Portugal and the USSR in Lisbon. With Poland and Finland already out of the running, the Portuguese claimed a 1-0 win to leapfrog the Soviets into first, and in doing so made their first major finals since World Cup 66.

Group 3 started with a smoky affair in Copenhagen between Denmark and England where the points were shared. A further blip occurred for the the English when they drew 0-0 at home to Greece in March 83, before the Danes astonishingly took “all two points” (still awarded for a win instead of three at this time) in Wembley in September. 9-0 and 0-4 defeats of Luxembourg, as well as home and away victories over Hungary, were not enough for the unconvincing English, as a 0-2 win over Greece in November 83 sealed an exciting Denmark team’s qualification by a single point.

In Group 4, three-time tournament participants Yugoslavia proved too strong for the Welsh, Bulgarians and Norwegians, taking pole position with eight points to Wales’ seven. Similarly in Group 5, Romania impressively came out trumps over Sweden by a point, as supposed heavyweights Italy and Czechoslovakia disappointingly finishing third and fourth with Cyprus propping up the table.


The picturesque scene for Yugoslavia and Wales' Euro qualifier in Titograd (now Podgorica, capital of Montenegro) that would end in a 4-4 draw, 15/12/1982.

While Austria, Turkey and Albania made up the numbers, Northern Ireland looked set to qualify ahead of West Germany in Group 6 after a marvelous 0-1 upset in Hamburg in November, 1983, having already won on home soil in Belfast. The Germans still had to play Albania in Saarbrücken five days later, but the waiting North were on course to make it to their first ever Euros until the 79th minute when the home team finally went 2-1 up; both West Germany and Northern Ireland finished level on 11 points, but the former went through on goal difference.


Northern Ireland fans in Hamburg for their side's 0-1 Euro qualifier win away to West Germany, 16/11/1983.

The last group, Group 7, turned out to be a similar situation, as Netherlands and Spain emerged ahead of Ireland, Iceland, and group whipping boys Malta (although they did beat Iceland 2-1 in the first game of the group). But what was to come in the final round of fixtures proved the most intriguing situation in all the qualifiers.

Having lost only once (away to each other) in their games up to now, the Dutch and the Spanish went to into December 1983 level on eleven points, both with one last respective home game against Malta to come. It would effectively be a straight shoot out against the poor Maltese, to see who could amass the greater goal difference and advance.

First came the attempt of the Netherlands who ended up 5-0 winners in Rotterdam, delivering a final goal difference of +16. As Spain currently had +5, this meant an eleven goal victory was needed in Madrid five days later for the home side to qualify, but the Maltese goalkeeper brazenly and bizarrely claimed beforehand that the Spanish could not even score eleven goals past a team of children.

Spain missed a penalty minutes into the match, before going into the break only 3-1 up. To the delight of the crowd though, an amazing nine goals were scored after half time, with the last in the 84th minute making it 12-1 come the final whistle. The Spanish were through, but of course questions of bribery were instantly raised, along with sinister claims by two Maltese players of doping as “they (the Spanish players) had foam in their mouths and could not stop drinking water”.


The 12th goal in the 12-1 win over Malta that sent Spain to Euro 84, 21/12/1983.

Like the 78 World Cup final, the Dutch could perhaps feel hard done by and, after already missing out on Euro 80 and World Cup 82, they would have to wait another four years before they would finally return to the big time when they would at last win a trophy. Regardless, the eight finalists going to France had been decided, pleasingly with two debutante qualifiers (Portugal and Romania); two making their second appearance (Denmark and France); two making their third appearance (Belgium and Spain); and, you guessed it, two making their fourth appearance (Yugoslavia and West Germany).

The format for the upcoming tournament was again adapted, as the top two countries in each group would now thankfully progress to semi-finals before the final; equally thankfully, the rather useless third place play-off was dropped. The eight cities of Paris, Marseille, Lyon, Saint-Étienne, Lens, Nantes, Strasbourg were to host the matches, and a trim squad of twenty was to be brought by each qualifying nation.

UEFA European Championships 1984

We cannot confirm, but presumably the final draw took place in Paris sometime between December 83 and January 84. The two groups created were:

Group 1

Belgium
Denmark
France
Yugoslavia

Group 2

Portugal
Romania
Spain
West Germany

One thing that jumps out about this tournament was some amazing synchronicity in scorelines between games played on the same day. Only one goal in each group would end up preventing identical scorelines in Group 1, and identical results in Group 2.

Another major feature was some of the revolutionary jerseys on show, with both France and Belgium in spectacular bespoke Adidas designs that were primed for retro-revivals in years to come. The Germans and Romanians used Adidas’s slightly more understated “Aberdeen” template, with Portugal and Yugoslavia rocking the mega-classy, diagonal pin-striped “Chelsea” variety. The only non-Adidas apparel was provided by recent converts Spain, now in Le Coq Sportif, along side the always welcome Hummel of Denmark.


France home, Belgium away, Portugal home.

Round 1:

The hosts kicked off the show taking on the Danes in a sold out Parc des Princes, Paris, on June 12th. The real talking point for us was the huge plume of smoke coming from outside the stadium at half time. Whether this was a controlled industrial blaze, or if something was seriously on fire is unknown (it was probably explained by the commentators but we don’t speak French):

A huge marching band also entertained the fans before the game and during the break:

As can be seen in the background, the visitors were well represented in the stands with some nice flags on show:

Not so nice, however, was the injury suffered by Danish striker Allan Simonsen, after a 50-50 challenge left him with a broken shin. Apparently the sound in the stadium was like “a branch breaking in a tree” as it occurred:

Despite a red-card for Frenchman Manual Amaros – for throwing the ball at/headbutting Jesper Olsen – a second half Platini goal gave the home side the win. The following day in the Lens’ intimdating Stade Félix-Bollaert, Belgium took on and beat Yugoslavia with a comfortable 2-0 win, as many fans with yellow hats looked on:

Group 2 was to commence on June 14th, first with the meeting of West Germany and Portugal in Strasbourg – a game notable as the scene for the only major hooligan disturbance during the final. Apparently a group of Germans were responsible for the incidents (we are unclear on what happened exactly), but were swiftly arrested and sent the short distance back across the border.

Of course when it came to hooligans, the main difference between Euro 80 and the other European Championships of the time (Euro 80, 88 and 92) was a lack of England, who’s presence would have almost certainly increased the rate of trouble by several hundred percent. The failure to qualify also meant that the ever-insular English decided against broadcasting most of the tournament live on TV, with only the Spanish-German match and final set to be shown in the UK as they happened.

In the match itself at Stade de la Meinau, the Portuguese managed to hold the cup holders to 0-0. As always, the Germans were well represented in the stands, as evident by their array of flags which included one banner in the German Empire colours:

The less political, but just as colourful, Portuguese savored their first summer back in action in nearly two decades, as well as celebrating a great result:

Later that evening in Saint-Étienne’s Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, Romania began their first ever major finals. Like Portugal earlier, they will have been satisfied to take a 1-1 draw from their encounter with another former champion in Spain, especially having come from behind:

Back to Group 1 and June 16th would see the first regional derby of the Cup, with France taking on Belgium in Nantes’ Stade de la Beaujoire. The teams emerged to show that France – led by a Platini who looked dead inside – were debuting their stunning change kit (as they were the “away” team in the tie), while the Belgians strangely wore what looked like Argentinian-inspired anthem jackets:

Once the jackets came off, the traveling team’s own home jersey was revealed for the first time in tournament, which was another masterpiece:

A match-fixing scandal involving Belgian clubs Standard Liege and Waterschei a few years earlier had left the Belgium without several key defenders, who were suspended. This weakness, as well as the host’s strength, was evident as the French booked their place in the semis with an embarrassing 5-0 defeat for the visitors, as a now smiling Platini bagged a hat-trick (pictures of fans are more interesting though):

Stade de Gerland in Lyon was the scene a couple of hours later for Denmark vs Yugoslavia and amazingly it would be another 5-0 scoreline, this time with the Danes taking the points. The heavy loss was not what you would expect of the “Brazil of Europe” (as the Balkan superstate were known with regards only to football) and, reflecting this, their manager Todor Veselinović was admitted to hospital after the game for stress and exhaustion.

The next day, Lens hosted a now “hooligan-free” German contingent for their game against Romania. Although the team were under-performing, the German supporters on the terraces more than made up for it with their banners:

In this “battle of the Aberdeen shirts”, the Romanians in their red change kit will have been hopeful for a repeat of their earlier match, as the sides went into the break at 1-1. But Rudi Voller’s second of the game after the break secured West Germany’s first win of the competition:

That evening, Marseille’s Stade Vélodrome – the largest stadium in the Championships with 55,000 capacity – saw it’s first use for the Iberian derby between Spain and Portugal. Unfortunately, less than half the ground was filled as only 24,464 watched another 1-1 draw.

On June 19th, Group 1 would conclude with simultaneous games in Saint-Étienne and Strasbourg. The French continued their championship form with a 3-2 win over the hapless Yugoslavs (although they had gone 0-1 up), as Platini bagged his second consecutive hat-trick – seven goals in only three games overall:

But continuing on from the manager’s health scare following the Belgium game, there would be more darkness for Yugoslavia at full time as the team doctor of all people suffered a heart attack on the pitch and later died in hospital. The cause of death may indeed have been the sudden appearance of a nightmarish chicken-man:

After what must have seemed like a cursed tournament, Veselinović unsurprisingly resigned as Yugoslavia coach as short time later. The other match between Denmark and Belgium, meanwhile, was a more exciting affair to see who would take second place in the group:

The Belgians were 2-0 up after 40 minutes, but one pulled back before the break followed by two in the second half gave the delirious Danes a famous 3-2 victory. And, for the second time in two Group 1 days, five goals had been scored in both games:

Nantes and Paris played host to last group matches on June 20th, with Portugal taking on Romania in Stade de Beaujoir. The game saw both sides in their away kits, with guards conspicuously standing on front of the stands:

Just about coming out on top both in the fashion stakes and on the pitch, the classy-kitted Portuguese were able to secure their place in the next stage with a 1-0 win:

But the big game was happening in the capital, as even the English watched on from home to see West Germany take on Spain. With the Spanish having only managed two points so far, the Germans looked set to progress until the 90th minute when goal scoring defender Antonio Maceda – who had found the net four times during qualifying – arrived in the box to head in a 1-0 winner:

Like the “miracle of Madrid” against Malta, once again the Spanish had somehow managed to progress, while the Germans would be following their hooligans with an early trip home:

Semi-finals:

On June 23rd, the Velodrome would at last be used to it’s potential as locals filled the stadium to capacity for the home nation’s semi against Portugal – ultimately the biggest crowd of the tournament. With the score at 1-1 after 90 minutes, extra-time was needed in which another two goals made it 2-2 with seconds to go:

Penalties looked assured, until that man Platini scored in the last minute of extra-time to deliver another 3-2 win. Absolute carnage of course ensues, and pyro:

The second semi-final in Lyon on the 24th proved an equally tight encounter between Denmark and Spain. The Danes went one-up early on through Bayern Munich’s Søren Lerby, but amazingly Maceda was again on hand to equalise in the 67th minute:

This time, after two hours of football, it did go all the way to a shoot-out. Unfortunately, Danmark’s star man Preben Elkjær was the only player to miss his spot-kick as the Spanish triumphed by five penalties to four, but his displays at the tournament earned him a transfer from Belgium club Lokeren to Italy’s Hellas Verona shortly afterwards.

Final:

Only 15 days after they had started the cup there, France returned to Paris for the final against Spain on June 27th. The media hyped an epic contest and of course all eyes were on Platini, who kicked off the game to a vintage cacophony of horns from the crowd:

Pockets of colourful Spanish also made themselves seen among the overwhelmingly home support:

The match turned out to be somewhat of an anti-climax for the neutral. At the break it was still 0-0, as we can see from the excellent graphics:

The French substitutes demonstrated some of the other beautiful gear that the team had, with an array of sweat-shirts based off the jersey (one not pictured was devoid of any insignia):

The home nation soon reveled as Platini did indeed fulfill his destiny of scoring in every game (9 overall, still a record) by giving France the lead on 57 minutes. Winger Bruno Bellone secured the trophy with a second goal on the 90th minute – the French had won their first ever piece of silverware at senior level:

With some exciting games, decent football, and a lack of major trouble, the tournament was deemed a resounding success. These would go on to be crucial factors in France’s bid to host the 98 World Cup, which would turn out to be scene as they next won a trophy in the exact same stadium – fittingly wearing a tribute shirt to the 84 design. But worryingly, unlike 1984, this time the English were coming.

*

Helpful ‘1980s Sports Blog’ post on Euro 84
Video links:
West Germany vs Belgium, 1980
Belgium vs Scotland, 1982
Yugoslavia vs Wales, 1982
West Germany vs Northern Ireland, 1983
Spain vs Malta, 1983
France vs Denmark, 1984
Belgium vs Yugoslavia, 1984
Portugal vs West Germany, 1984
Spain vs Romania, 1984
Belgium vs France, 1984
Denmark vs Yugoslavia, 1984
West Germany vs Romania, 1984
France vs Yugoslavia, 1984
Denmark vs Belgium, 1984
Romania vs Portugal, 1984
Spain vs West Germany, 1984
France vs Portugal, 1984
Spain vs Denmark, 1984
France vs Spain, 1984
France vs Spain, 1984

*****

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