Supporter Snap Back #5: Como vs AC Milan, Serie A, 15/05/1988

Last time in Supporter Snap Back, we spent a little longer than usual on on the background of featured club Leeds United. Since we have a tendency to ramble on as it is, the series returns to it’s ideals now with a briefer look at the last day of the 1987/88 Italian domestic season, and a fan invasion at the game that would decide the title.

By the 87/88 season AC Milan could boast an impressive eleven scudettos to their name, even if the last had been won back in the previous decade. The club’s on-the-field success over the years was mirrored in the stands with the creation of one the country’s first ultras groups in Fossa Dei Leoni (Lions’ Den, named after a former training ground), followed by Brigate Rossonere (Red-black Brigades, named after the the left-wing Italian terrorist group Brigate Rosse) and many others.

The 1980s had so far been dominated by Juventus, with a couple of shock championship wins for the likes of Verona and Maradona’s Napoli, but with Milan’s addition of Dutch stars Ruud Gullit and Marco van Basten in 1987 – along with a weakened Juve – the club looked poised to present a renewed challenge. Napoli again lead the pack for much of the year, but a 3-2 win for the Rossonere over the champions on May 1st, 1988, propelled them into first and set up a title race-finale that would go down to the wire two weeks later, when Milan were to travel 50km north to Como.

Match File:

  • Como vs AC Milan
  • Serie A, 87/88
  • 15/05/1988
  • Stadio Giuseppe Sinigaglia (Como)
  • 26,036 spectators

The team had followed up their victory over Napoli with only a draw the next week, but the side from Naples also slipped up and lost, giving Milan more breathing room and leaving the championship in their own hands. Masses of Milan fans make the short journey up the road to occupy most of Como’s Giuseppe Sinigaglia (with beautiful scenic background), in the hopes of witnessing a new generation of players win their club a 12th league title:

As seen above, the majority of the two main side-stands are filled by the invading army. Continuing down to the curva, we see how Como’s own ultras, led by Fossa Lariana – evidentially named after the Lariana breed of goat previously found in the region (extinct since 2007) – have basically been relegated to the status of away-team in their own stadium by the Milanese giants, but admirably have prepared a choreography in their section:

In the stands beneath them, a mesmorising black, red and white dance is played out as many Milan flags are expertly twirled:

More professional flag wavers (among other abilities) are to be found at the far corner of the ground as well, as this is where the groups banner of Fossa Dei Leoni and Brigate Rossonere are located:

In fact the entire end is also completely full of Milan tifosi, with another (after Como’s) Italian flag-themed display prepared and more seas of pleasing flags:

As the teams finally emerge from the the tunnel, flares and smokes are seen in the home section:

At the other end is an awe-inspiring sight as the away fans unleash their own huge smoke-show, on front of the epic backdrop of the mountains:

The visitors start perfectly with a goal after just two mins before Como equalise even earlier in the second half, but as Napoli are again on their way to defeat in the other important game, the scudetto ultimately belongs to Milan. Queue great graphics – which would fit in well in our What Football Is Supposed To Look Like series – explaining such:

Scenes of jubilation from around the stadium ensue:

The players follow suit by commandeering flags for themselves and parading them on a victory lap, while a reporter tries to catch a literal dash interview with the new champions:

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YouTube Links:

Como vs AC Milan, 1988
Como vs AC Milan, 1988

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Supporter Snap Back #4: Leeds United away to Oxford United, Football League Second Division, 10/03/1990

So far on the site, we have barely scratched the surface when it comes to the rich history of football related chaos in England from the 1970s to the 1990s. One side that will pop up more than once in this era, both for player and supporter malfeasance, is Leeds and starting now we shall be seeing more of them. For previous entries in this fan-focused series, including some UEFA Cup ties and a Scottish trip to Switzerland, click here.

Leeds United’s golden age began around 1964, when the team were promoted from the Second Division and the following season finished second to Manchester United. They would win two league titles in the following nine years while finishing runners-up a further four times, as well as FA Cup, League Cup and Inter City Fairs Cup x2 victories (the last ever holders in the case of the latter).

Renowned for their hardmen players and style of play, the nickname “Dirty Leeds” was as apt for the the team as it was for the swathes of the support who, like clubs the country over, were playing their own new game on the terraces. Leeds’ hooligan element first made a name for itself internationally at the 1975 UEFA Cup final in Paris against Bayern Munich, throwing ripped chairs after dubious ref calls, clashing with police and invading the pitch.

As a results, Leeds were granted the honour of being the first English club to be banned from European competition, with a four year sentence later reduced to two. The ban would turn out to be inconsequential, however, as the golden age on the pitch ended, ultimately resulting in the team’s relegation at the end of the 81/82 season.

Throughout the club’s 80s run in the second flight, supporters incidents around the country continued to haunt Leeds’s public relations department and terrify regular opposition fans and unfortunate third party onlookers alike. Their firm, the Leeds United Service Crew (formed the same year as the trouble in Paris), became so feared by 1987 that tiny Telford United understandably refused to host an FA Cup 3rd round fixture against the Yorkshire club, with the game moved 30 miles from Shropshire to West Brom’s Hawthorns.

In order to contain the likes of the LUSC, most grounds around the country (a noticeable exception being Highbury) had menacing, but often ineffectual, fencing around the pitch to keep wayward rouges in the stands. The aftermath of the disaster at Hillsborough in 1989 would see the end of fences and terracing in the top leagues, but it would take a few more years for the full transition.

After years of upper-mid table mediocrity, the 89/90 season set the scene for Leeds to finally make it back to the First Division. A great start to the season was followed by a new year dip in form, with only one win in six going into what had become a must-win game away at Oxford in March.

Match File:

  • Oxford United vs Leeds United
  • Football League Division Two, 89/90
  • 10/03/1990
  • Manor Ground (Oxford)
  • 8397 spectators

With the away fans filling the steep terrace behind the goal to the left, the main thing of note is the imposing fence in appropriate Leeds blue and yellow, also the colours of their hosts Oxford. It is a striking visual for a post-Hillsborough world:

While we don’t have much footage of the home supporters, there are one group of standing “lads” in the corner adjacent to away end. Although these could very well be a group of Leeds:

And we can see that the main stand opposite the camera is divided into at least three roofed parts at this time in the Manor Ground:

In the first half, the main traveling contingent can only watch on silently as the home team score twice, their side’s bad run looking set to continue:

Shooting towards their own fans in the second half though, Leeds pull one back to reignite the terrace:

Buoyed, the smell of a comeback is in the air:

Soon after (we don’t have exact times, hence the vagueness) the equaliser comes, queuing cascading chaos behind the goal:

The visiting supporters are now collectively purring like kittens as they suckle from the mother cat that is Leeds United:

Next comes the most epic moment, as the Oxford ‘keeper can do nothing about a beautiful looping header that makes it 2-3 Leeds. The result: pure, high grade terrace carnage, including one fan who ungracefully launches himself through the air in joyful abandon:

Feeling a euphoria like no other in life, more that a few bruises and cuts will have been sustained among the “lunatic” Leeds faithful (they won’t mind us calling them that) in the orgy of triumph, not least for our flying Yorkshireman.

But the wounds wouldn’t be stopping there as a while later as a fourth goes in to confirm the comeback victory. More mayhem and climbing of the fence ensues as the Leeds support erupt, while goal scorer Lee Chapman admirably attempts to elevate himself up towards the fans on an advertising board, but the hoarding proves weaker than first thought forcing Chapman to celebrate with his teammates:

Wild celebrations continue as more fan avalanches are triggered. With the impending transformation of English stadiums, it is a scene that would soon be obsolete:

The jubilation that day in Oxford was not in vein as Leeds United went on to win the Second Division title, with a huge invasion of Bournemouth on the last day of the season (a toxic affair that we will come back to). Following promotion, it would only be two seasons before another league championship as Leeds won the last English First Division before it became the Sky-backed Premiership, making them the final winners of an irrelevant competition in many modern eyes for the second time in their history.

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Credit to the YouTube uploaded: Oxford vs Leeds, 1990

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Supporter Snap Back #3: Karlsruher SC vs Bordeaux, UEFA Cup, 08/12/1993

It’s time for another glance back at a vintage match-up from the past, but as usual the sporting action on the pitch is the last thing on our minds.

Karlsruher Sport-Club Mühlburg-Phönix e. V., more commonly known as Karlsruher SC, were one of 16 clubs handpicked to be members of the original West German Bundesliga in 1963. Representing the city of Karlsruhe close to the German-French border, the club bounced between the top two divisions for the next few decades before 92/93 would bring a 6th place finish in the top flight; an all-time high that for the first time ever also secured European competition via the following season’s UEFA Cup.

The campaign started with a noteworthy defeat of recent European Cup winners PSV  Eindhoven, before a 3-1 away deficit to Valencia was overturned with an incredible 7-0 result in Karlsruhe to put the home side into the third round. After two encounters with classic western European teams already, it was now time for another rendition of the Germany vs France rivalry as Bordeaux were the next team drawn, who like the previous two opponents (and unlike Karlsruher) had a history of national league success with continental experience dating back to the 60s.

Evidently in light of the team’s qualification for Europe, the excellent new club nickname of Eurofighter had been introduced by Karlsruher that year (also applicable to the supporters of many clubs in the competition). The moniker would certainly be put to the test, as for second time in a row defeat in the away leg – here thanks one goal from a certain Zinedine Zidane – left a big performance needed in western Germany.

Match File:

  • Karlsruher SC vs FC Girondins de Bordeaux
  • UEFC Cup 93/94
  • Third Round, 2nd Leg
  • 08/12/1993
  • Wildparkstadion, Karlsruhe, Germany
  • 25,000 spectators

Before the teams emerge, a respectable blaze is already in full flower in the stands of amazingly named Wildparkstadion:

During team line-up graphics, featuring the magnificent Bordeaux crest, we get a decent look at some sections of the ground in the background:

This is followed by our first proper close-up sighting of the home supporters with their flurry of flags:

As you can see, future stars Lizarazu and Zidane are in he Bordeaux line-up, while Oliver Khan and Slavan Bilić are among the ranks of the home side. In the terraces, the fans brave the cold December night with some red stars of their own:

While confetti is added to the flags and flares from the crowd, below we can see the amount of yellow cards picked up in the competition by the “Eurofighters” so far. Compared to Bordeaux’s amount of zero, this nicely demonstrates the type of “fighting spirit” that Germans were not adverse to at the time, as we have seen recently on the site thanks to Stahl Brandenburg:

With kick-off seconds away, the packed-out Wildpark is living up to it’s name:

The match begins while the pyro continues:

As the smoke settles, the always welcome and very German sight of banners hung along the length of the pitch can be appreciated, on front of densely populated terraces:


Full image

Going from fabric surrounding the pitch to the fabric being worn upon it, the home side’s all-white strip is produced by German brand Erbacher, featuring an appropriately early-90s design. This is demonstrated well by a player in the midst of what is, despite appearances, actually just an unfortunately-maneuvered innocent arm gesture of reconciliation, after an error in play:

With Bordeaux temporarily switching first-preference colours from their recognizable navy and white to white with red trim, beginning in 92/93, the resulting clash here gives opportunity for very a classy crimson away kit to be used by the visitors. Understated compared to it’s Karlsruher equivalent, but with prominent chevron, smart collar, Uhlsport logo, a version of the aforementioned magnificent crest, and a sponsor that looks the part, one word springs to mind – exquisite!:

Despite pipping it in the style wars, Bordeaux find themselves on the backfoot after only 16 mins as Karlsruher open the scoring for the evening. The players are buoyed and the home crowd react in kind:

On 65 minutes the lead is increased to two, putting the home side ahead on aggregate. Likeable manager Winfried Schäfer, in a coat template often used by UEFA officials in the era, reacts as the Wildpark erupts into frenzy once again:

With the home team firmly control, pyro returns the stands. Given the time of year the swaying enclosure is dotted with Santa hats and points are given for the skull & crossbones flag, but the proximity of the flare-holder to the stewards is noteworthy for the latter’s calm, exemplary response compared to some similar modern situations:

Ten minutes later and it’s goal number three for Karlsruher, topping off another famous European night. More or less safe in the knowledge that the night is their’s, the home supporters celebrate the continuation of their historic, debut continental cup adventure into 1994:

And so it would finish giving Karlsrhuer a quarter final fixture with Boavista of Portugal, and after yet another impressive victory, a place in the final was only denied by an away goal courtesy Austria Salzburg in the semis. Two more third round UEFA Cup appearances came in the following seasons, but 93/94 was to prove Karlsruher’s high water mark, at least up to this point in their history.

Their defeated opponents meanwhile, Bordeaux, were in fact the ones on the true upward trajectory as soon to be runners-up of 95/96 edition of the competition, culminating with another domestic championship win before the end of the decade. And of course, a return to navy shirts with white chevrons.

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YouTube link 1
YouTube link 2

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