People On The Pitch #10: Coventry City vs Nottingham Forest, Football League Division One, 22/04/1978

Last time in People On The Pitch, we looked at a fiery Italian affair in which Salernitana’s hopes of promotion in 1996 were dashed. We now turn to another end of season episode from a couple of decades earlier in England, but one with quite a different vibe.

Background:

In January 1975, Brian Clough became the manager of English Second Division side Nottingham Forest. This came off the back of a disastrous 44 day spell as Leeds United manager the year before, but Clough had already won Second (68/69) and First Division (71/72) championships with Derby County, as well as victories in the prestigious Watney Cup (1970) and Texaco Cup (71/72).

A 16th place finish was followed with an improved 8th in the manager’s first full campaign the next season, before the trajectory continued with 3rd in 76/77. The position meant automatic promotion for Forest, as this was before the days of play-offs when the top three finishers would go up.


A goal and celebrations in Nottingham Forest's City Ground, vs Hereford United, as the home side head towards promotion, 76/77.

By the time 1978 rolled around, Clough’s team had only been defeated three times in Division One, with the latter of these – away to Leeds on November 19th – ultimately turning out to be their last league loss of the season. With two points awarded for a win at the time, a trip to Coventry City’s Highfield Road in April would see Forest take an amazing league title for the first time in their history with only a draw.

In terms of the fan scene, England was swiftly hurtling toward the hooligan hey day of the 1980s. But of course the 70s had also it’s share of chaos, as fighting and pitch invasions became more and more common.

As the decade had progressed, joyful, celebratory invasions (such as this or this) were joined with deliberate attempts to stop matches when the result was not going your team’s way. With organised hooligan firms already in places since the late 60s, at least in proto-form, violent encounters became more and more usual too, as demonstrated by a famous clip of a Chelsea fan outnumbered by flare and platform boot wearing Tottenham supporters in 1975.


A section of the fighting on the pitch between Tottenham and Chelsea fans, 74/75 season.

The activity of making your way on to the pitch went “viral”, with many young, mischievous fans seeing it as a marked target. By the 80s, this would manifest in menacing fencing in many grounds around the country, with disastrous results later. But until then, it remained easy for larger and larger numbers to leave the terraces and hit the grass, as that April day in Coventry would show.

The Match:

22/04/1978: Highfield Road is packed, as 36,881 supporters fill the ground for the game that could decide Forest’s title. A win could be important for the home team too, as a UEFA Cup spot lay within their grasp:

As the away team emerge from the dressing room, we can see the shiny, futuristic Adidas shirts they have acquired since the Second Division, although interestingly goalkeeper Peter Shilton’s jersey is made by Umbro:

As for Clough himself, a characteristic yellow jumper is employed, along with a classic Adidas tracksuit top on his assistant:

A chance for City in the first-half triggers a mini-avalanche in the home end:

Shilton turns out to be the hero of the day for the visitors as he makes a sensational point-blank save in the second-half, much to the adulation of the Forest supporters behind him:

It’s a save that wins them the championship, as soon after the final whistle is blown and Nottingham Forest, having just come up the year before, are champions of England. The fans sing:

For the second time in his career, Brian Clough had taken a Second Division team, gotten them promoted, and swiftly won the league, but this time in even quicker succession than with Derby:

But we still haven’t gotten to our people on the pitch.

The first sign of it is one away supporter, clearly in a state of euphoria at his team’s inaugural championship, who in the clip below can be seen breaking the police line just as the camera zooms in on the raucous terrace. His goal, once on the pitch, is unclear, but presumably the need to burn off some excess energy made a sprint around the grass the most obvious thing to do:

Surprisingly, however, it is from the home end that a leak is sprung. Perhaps due to the polic being busy with the Forest fans, Coventry supporters enter the pitch en masse and head towards the other end of the stadium:

What happens next, though, is a bit of a let down for those expecting all-out carnage. Clearly not knowing quite what they wanted to achieve, the young mob stops short of the penalty box. Corralled by only a hand-full of police, a few Nottingham nut-jobs (they won’t mind us calling them that) do make it on to confront the Sky Blues fans:

Most of the away support continue to sing and hold up scarfs, while the coppers on the pitch move the invaders back towards their own end:

With the constables happy to contain them around their own penalty box, the Coventry fans conduct their own sing-song. The sight of scarfs in the air is one that would become obsolete in the following decade, as casual culture took over:

Just when the situation seems under control, the inverse of the earlier scenario takes place. With the police occupied at the other end, the Forest fans seize their chance and, in large numbers, stream out of their enclosures:

Once again, though, anyone expecting full scale war watching on from the main stand will have been heart broke, as the Forest fans police themselves by stopping around the half-way line, showing an “innocence” still of the age that would quickly fade:

At last, some brawls do actually take place, although the authorities successfully keep the two bodies of humanity away from each other from the most part. Perhaps with two teams of more sinister reputations, a critical scene would have developed. :

Back in the terrace, the remainder of the away fans continue to celebrate their brilliant season and league win:

And so concludes our story. It may not have been a particular aggressive incident – more like young people showboating and taunting each other than hardened hooligans fighting – but the sheer astonishing scale of the invasions clearly displayed that the amount of police deployed would not be equipped to deal with any potentially explosive situations in the might occur in the future, as things got even more out of control.

As for the two teams involved, Clough’s Forest would go on to make even more history with back-to-back European Cup wins in 1979 and 80. Meanwhile, Cov’ would finish in 7th that 77/78 season, one place off the UEFA Cup spots. They would not go on to make history with back-to-back European Cups.

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YouTube Links:

Nottingham Forest vs Hereford United, 76/77
Tottenham Hotspur vs Chelsea, 1975
Coventry City vs Nottingham Forest, 1978
Coventry City vs Nottingham Forest, 1978
Coventry City vs Nottingham Forest, 1978

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Gif of the Day Superpost, Part 4: #76-100

It’s another weird and wonderful array of gifs from our not-quite-daily Gif of the Day on the POTP Facebook and Twitter pages. Once the series goes past another century we will add the next four blocks, but for now click here for parts 1, 2 or 3.

January – February 2019

Gif of the Day #76: 1992Nigerian supporters celebrate in Stade de l’Amitié, Dakar, Senegal, after their team go 1-0 up against Kenya. African Cup of Nations, first round, 14/01/92:

Gif of the Day #77: 1991 – Days before Croatia’s independence referendum, Davor Šuker scores his one and only goal for Yugoslavia on his second and last cap (having already played for an unofficial Croatian selection against Romania in 1990) with the 7th goal in a 7-0 drubbing of Faroe Islands. Great kit too. Euro 92 qualifying group 2, Belgrade, 16/05/91:

Gif of the Day #78: 1986 – Not phones, but lighters in the air act as make-shift pryo for a penalty. Nantes vs Internazionale, UEFA Cup quarter-final 2nd leg, 19/03/86:

Gif of the Day #79: 1983 – 36 years ago today Leeds go on the rampage by the family seats of the Baseball Ground. Derby County vs Leeds United, League Division 2, 22/01/83:

Gif of the Day #80: 1980 – A cold weather European classic with beautiful luminous yellow Adidas Tango ball, often overlooked for it’s equally great orange counterpart. Sochaux vs Eintracht Frankfurt, UEFA Cup 3rd round 2nd leg, 10/12/80:

Gif of the Day #81: 1981 – Raucous scenes in the Idrætspark, Copenhagen, following a fabulous 3-1 victory for the home side. Denmark vs Italy, World Cup qualifying Group 5, 03/06/81:

Gif of the Day #82: 1988Manchester United in beautiful away kit score against Liverpool in Anfield, note the pockets of United fans on the left celebrating in the home sections. League Division 1, 04/04/88:

Gif of the Day #83: 1988 – Ultras Bari in action. Bari vs Bologna, Serie B, 24/04/88:

Gif of the Day #84: 1992 – Classic Adidas Ghana kit and line-up graphics for the day, vs Zambia, African Cup of Nations first round, 15/01/92:

Gif of the Day #85: 2008 – Not as retro as usual, but one of the most emotional and beautiful moments born out of tragedy in football history (along with the Christmas truce of WW1 in our book) as Rome unites in memory of Gabriele. Lazio vs Roma, Serie A, 19/03/08:

Gif of the Day #86: 1973 – Police try to create a terrace divide (apart from one nonchalant fan) between rival supporters in the Eastville Stadium. Bristol Rovers vs West Ham United, Watney Cup first round, 11/08/73:

Gif of the Day #87: 1993 – Flags! Padova vs Ascoli, Serie B, 13/06/93:

Gif of the Day #88: 1988 – What at first may appear to be a running flare-launch attack turns out to be the fusing of an elaborate chain of pyro arranged by Cosenza’s Nuclei Sconvolti (Stoner Core). Cosenza va Reggina, Serie B 23/10/88:

Gif of the Day #88.5: 1988 – Heartwarming joy as the display is deemed a success. Cosenza vs Reggina, Serie B 23/10/88:

Gif of the Day #89: 1966 – Welsh ecstasy in Ninian Park, Cardiff, as the home side go 1-0 up in what was both a British Home Championship 66/67 game and a Euro 68 qualifier. Wales vs Scotland, 22/10/66 – taken from People On The Pitch #2:

Gif of the Day #90: 1979 – A packed terrace, flags and torrential rain combine to make a perfect European night as fans celebrate the goal that will win the tournament (the result of a dubious penalty), Borussia Monchengladbach v Red Star Belgrade, UEFA Cup final 2nd leg, Rheinstadion, Düsseldorf, 25/05/79:

Gif of the Day #91 – 1977Everton in Swindon Town’s County Ground, FA Cup 4th round, 29/01/77:

Gif of the Day #92: 1994 – Bizarre/great footage of fan-band on pitch (with unplugged instruments..) spliced in between that of supporters and the match. US Alessandria vs Mantova, Serie C1 Group A, 22/05/94:

Gif of the Day #93: 1978Italian fans in Mar del Plata, Argentina, for their tie with France, World Cup first round, Group 1, 02/06/78:

Gif of the Day #94: 1990 – A pre-match fracas breaks out at Landsdowne Road as an English mob scatters the crowd. There would be clashes in Dublin after the game also, coinciding with a protest march against the extradition of an IRA political prisoner (now a sitting member of the Irish parliament) to Britain. Republic of Ireland vs England, Euro 92 qualifier, 14/11/90. (Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4F2IY–CnjM):

Gif of the Day #95: 1993 – Heroic head-gear, tracksuits, and a great Puma template of the era on show from the home team. Ruch Chorzów vs Widzew Łódź, Ekstraklasa (Polish top flight), 21/05/93:

Gif of the Day #96: 1983 – Mesmerising flag and Roma is magic. Roma vs Cagliari, Serie A, 16/01/83:

Gif of the Day #97: 1992/93 – This is great, player for the away team scores a penalty and then runs the length of the pitch, ignoring every team mate as he goes, to celebrate on front of the traveling fans. Cavese vs Nocerina, Eccellenza Campania (Italian 6th tier) Group B, 92/93:

Gif of the Day #98: 1989Japan vs North Korea, kits including a unique Adidas affair for Japan in red, and fans including a sizable amount of Korean support (made up of state officials no doubt) with even a card coreo visible to left. World Cup 90 qualifiers AFC 1st Round Group 6, Kita, Tokyo, 04/06/89:

Gif of the Day #99: 1990 – Absolute terrace carnage and a flying Yorkshireman. Leeds United away to Oxford United, Division 2, 10/03/90. Taken from Supporter Snap Back #4:

Gif of the Day #100: 1985 – ULTRAS, Avellino vs Atalanta, Serie A, 14/04/85:

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Gif of the Day Superpost, Part 2: #26-50

Part two of our compilation of Facebook/Twitter “Gifs of the Day”, follow the pages to catch the gifs as they come in real time (thick and fast). Click here for part 1, 3 or 4.

Gif of the Day #26: PAO pryo, Panathinaikos vs Olympiakos, Greek Cup Final, 28/05/1986:

Gif of the Day #27: World Cup 90 coverage on Japanese TV, 1990:

Gif of the Day #28: Red Star banners, Red Star Belgrade vs Portadown FC, Champions League, 19/09/1991:

Gif of the Day #29: Home fans celebrate the third goal in 3-1 win, Lithuania vs Albania, World Cup 94 qualifier, 14/04/1993:

Gif of the Day #30: Winning goal in Ghana 3-2 Italy, Olympics, Atlanta, 23/07/1996:

Gif of the Day #31: AS Roma supporters, Cup Winners Cup 84/85, vs Bayern Munich, 20/03/1985:

Gif of the Day #32: The disappointed “just conceded a goal” terrace sway, Everton vs Bayern Munich, Cup Winners Cup Semi-Final, 24/04/1985:

Gif of the Day #33: In 1992, BSV Stahl Brandenburg goalkeeper Wolfgang Wiesner disciplines a Bayer 05 Uerdingen ball-boy for kicking the ball away. He is immediately sent off:

Gif of the Day #34: Netherlands vs Germany, European Championships, 18/06/1992:

Gif of the Day #35: Crazy Dortmund terrace after goal, Borussia Dortmund vs Auxerre, UEFA Cup semi-final 1st leg, 06/04/1993 (credit to the YouTube channel of the amazing Soccer Nostalgia blog that we love https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrJOu5SKZimBK2s6N4VYUUw):

Gif of the Day #36: Packed Bayern Munich terrace vs AC Milan, European Cup semi-final 2nd leg, 18/04/1990:

 

Gif of the Day #37: Recipe for trouble, Ajax Amsterdam away fans celebrate a goal in a terrace also populated by home supporters, vs FC Utrecht, 1979/80:

Gif of the Day #38: FAI Cup final 1996 – after Shelbourne FC goalkeeper Alan Gough is sent off with no sub GK on the 3-man bench (on either side), an unhappy Brian Flood is forced to go in goal. vs St. Patrick’s Athletic, 05/05/1996:

Gif of the Day #39: 1983 – Scoreboard and fireworks, Anderlecht vs Benfica, UEFA Cup Final 1st leg, 04/05/83:

Gif of the Day #40: Italian TV “EuroGol” graphics, 1987:

Gif of the Day #41: 1977 – Superb bicycle trick pre-match entertainment ahead of Hafia FC (Guinea) vs Ghana, 28/09/77:

Gif of the Day #42: 1980’sKarlsruher SC home terrace in their recently deceased Wildparkstadion. Click here for our recently existing article that looked at their UEFA Cup tie with Bordeuax in 1993:

Gif of the Day #43: 1997Italian supporters in Stadio Nereo Rocco, Trieste; the city near Italy’s most eastern point that’s less than 10km from the Slovenian border. Vs Moldova, World Cup 98 qualifier, 29/03/97:

Gif of the Day #44: 1988 – Dutch supporters burn the host country’s flag after victory in the semi final. West Germany vs Netherlands, European Championship, Volksparkstadion, Hamburg, 21/07/88:

Gif of the Day #45: 1987 – A firm of Chelsea arrive in the away end at Vicarage Road with their side’s FA Cup fourth round tie against Watford already underway, 01/02/87:

Gif of the Day #46: 1979 – A passionate/delirious Inter fan wishes a nerazzurri player well before the match (continuing on for several more seconds after the gif). Internazionale Milano vs Juventus, Serie A, 11/11/79:

Gif of the Day #47: 1970 – Classic terrace avalanche of Chelsea fans in White Hart Lane for the FA Cup semi-final vs Watford, 14/03/70:

Gif of the Day #48: 1991FC St. Pauli going 1-0 up en route to a famous win in the Olympiastadion, away to Bayern Munich, Bundesliga 02/03/91:

Gif of the Day #49: 1985 – *clap clap clap* “United!” The Red Army occupy Manchester City’s Maine Road at Manchester United vs Liverpool, FA Cup semi-final replay, 17/04/1985:

Gif of the Day #50: 1986 – Linesman can’t abide time wasting. Mexico vs West Germany, World Cup quarter-final, 21/06/86:

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