Ahead of FC Bayern München’s impending Champions’ League quarter-final against FC Porto, Rick Joshua provides his own memories of a match that still remains burned in the collective psyche of all FC Bayern fans who were around to experience it at the time.
May 27th 1987. The Praterstadion, Vienna, and the European Cup final against first-time finalists FC Porto. A game that promised so much for so long, only for hopes to be dashed right at the end; a familiar story in Die Roten’s long and at times turbulent relationship with Europe’s most famous European club tournament.
As in the 1982 final against Aston Villa the Bavarians were again the favourites, even though they would be without midfielder Hans Dorfner and striker Roland Wohlfarth – both out through injury – and suspended sweeper Klaus Augenthaler, shown the red card in the second leg of a heated and at times violent pair of clashes against arch-rivals Real Madrid.
Everything was set up nicely. Following coach Udo Lattek’s decision to retire at the end of the season, it was the perfect opportunity for the team to see the legendary Trainer end his second spell at Bayern on a Henkelpott-winning high. Post-match parties were arranged, large numbers of Bayern fans flocked across the border into Austria, and I set about making my own plans for the evening.
Being at boarding school had continually got in the way of my wanting to watch the late night European football highlights, and one might have thought that things should have been considerably easier with the match kicking off a quarter past seven on a Wednesday evening. After all, there were no issues with bed times, even if the match went the distance to a penalty shootout. The problem was instead caused by our daily preparation – boardingschoolspeak for “homework” – which ran up until eight o’clock. There was no getting out of it.
Thankfully with my being my final year I could do my “prep” in my own dormitory – though the formation of coral atolls or quadratic equations were the last things on my mind as I tuned into the live commentary on the radio. No sooner had the clock struck eight, I charged down the corridor to the common room to get the best seat, turfing out a number of juniors who had been watching EastEnders or some other rubbish. Bayern were one goal up, scored in the twenty-fifth minute by young winger Ludwig Kögl.
As I settled in front of the television the first half was just coming to an end. Most of the 62,000 crowd in the Praterstadion were decked out in red and white, and the atmosphere was like that of a home game. Rather than their traditional all-red, Bayern were kitted out in red shirts, their “Brazilian” pale blue shorts with yellow trim, and red socks.
During the half-time break I managed to see Kögl’s goal. Having won a throw-in out on the left, Norbert Nachtweih had flung the ball into the box, where it took a slight deflection off a Portuguese head towards Kögl. Although not particularly famed for his aerial ability, the 5’ 7” “Wiggerl” launched himself at the ball, guiding a diving header that made its way into the net and past the outstretched left hand of Polish ‘keeper Józef Młynarczyk in the Porto goal. From what I could tell, there had been few other opportunities and Bayern had looked more than comfortable.
The opening minutes of the second half appeared to support these thoughts. The Bavarians quickly settled into a steady rhythm after the restart, with their wingers holding sway over the narrow Portuguese 4-4-1-1 formation. Missing their leading striker Fernando Gomes, the Porto attack looked toothless and desperate, and for the Bayern fans that made up the majority of the crowd it was surely just a matter of time until skipper Lothar Matthäus would finally get his hands on the famous silver trophy to seal Die Roten’s first European triumph in over a decade.
As the seconds ticked by, I too had a growing sense of expectation.
But this is a story of my life as a Bayern München fan, and nothing was ever going to be this simple. Indeed, over the years I have learned that nothing could be taken for granted, particularly on European nights like this.
At the start of the second half, Porto coach Artur Jorge replaced holding midfielder Quim with the Brazilian striker Juary, transforming the staid 4-4-1-1 into a more fluid and conventional 4-4-2. The change saw Lattek’s side thrown onto the back foot, but despite not being able to exercise the same dominance as in the opening forty-five minutes the time continued to tick away.
As the match entered its final quarter Bayern still held their narrow advantage, but as the increasing pressure from the Portuguese side started to take its toll on the harried red-shirted defence things started to wobble. As is usual watching games like this, my confidence was slowly being transformed into nervousness with each passing second; the one tactical change from Artur Jorge had clearly altered the balance and flow of the game, and having created next to nothing in the previous seventy-five minutes the Portuguese underdogs were suddenly looking the more dangerous of the two teams. Star man Paulo Futre had come right back into the game and had started to terrorise the tiring Bayern defenders, while Lattek’s side slunk back into their shells and adopted something resembling a siege mentality.
With just twelve minutes remaining in the contest, Porto produced one of the most memorable moments in the history of the tournament – well, unless you happened to be a Bayern fan. As a number of blue and white shirts streamed into the Bayern penalty area, with substitute Juary working the ball past ‘keeper Jean-Marie Pfaff and cutting it across the face of the goal. There to meet it was Algerian Rabah Madjer with – in the worlds of the late ITV commentator Brian Moore – a “cheeky little back-heel”. Of course, this was the same Rabah Madjer who had scored Algeria’s opening goal in Germany’s infamous World Cup defeat at the hand of the North Africans in Spain five years earlier.
Caught completely cold, the Bayern players knew that it would be a struggle to get back into the game, let alone restore their advantage. With the hitherto dominant wing-backs completely neutralised and forced into playing a more defensive game, the onus was on movement through the centre and the lumbering Dieter Hoeneß – a superb finisher, but a player who had really never set the world alight with his pace or agility. Crucially, the pendulum had swung completely, and the momentum was now firmly with Porto.
Bayern never had sniff of a chance to retake the lead, for as soon as they had relinquished it the rampant Portuguese side kept their foot firmly down on the accelerator, capping two minutes of mayhem with a second and ultimately match-winning goal. This time Madjer turned provider, setting up Juary who slammed the ball into the roof of the net to complete a stunning turnaround.
Completely floored, there was no way back for Lattek’s side, and Bayern had fallen at the final hurdle against first-time European finalists for the second time in five years. If the result against Aston Villa in Rotterdam had been seen as a genuine surprise, the nature of the result in Vienna was quite hard to bear.
I had been watching the game live with a collection of other schoolchildren who had been either neutral or rooting for the Portuguese, and when the final whistle blew everybody else just got up, walked out and carried on with their lives. I however just sat there in stunned silence as the post-match analysis went in through one ear and out through the other, with what felt like a tear rolling down my fifteen year old face.
At that very moment, I simply hated football.
Never before had I experienced such desperate emotions as a football fan, and having nobody around me to sympathise with just made it hurt even more. When the post-mortem was over I slowly retreated back to the solitude of my dormitory, trying desperately to rewrite the final lines of the nightmarish plot that had unfolded on that dramatic and bitter May evening.
Since the 1987 final I have never been able to listen to Ultravox’s Vienna – one of my favourite tracks as a new wave fan in the early 1980s – without thinking of this awful match and the memories it invokes. Perhaps the most famous line of the song is “it means nothing to me” (oft-repeated in jest as we drive or fly into the Austrian capital), but as hard as I tried I could never make it so – the bad memories will always remain. As far as the 1987 European Cup final defeat is concerned, Joe Dolce’s awful Shaddap You Face – the ridiculous ditty that kept Vienna from taking the number one spot in the UK charts in 1981 – is far more appropriate.
European Champions Clubs Cup Final
Praterstadion, Wien, 27th May 1987
FC Bayern München – FC Porto 1:2 (1:0)
Kögl 25. / Madjer 78., Juary 80.
FC Bayern: Pfaff, Winklhofer, Nachtweih, Eder, Pflügler, Flick (82. Lunde), Matthäus, Brehme, M. Rummenigge, D. Hoeneß, Kögl
FC Porto: Młynarczyk (c), João Pinto, Inácio (66. Frasco), Eduardo Luís, Celso, Quim (46. Juary), Magalhães, Madjer, Sousa, Futre, André
Yellow Cards: Winklhofer / Magalhães, Celso, Sousa
Referee: Alexis Ponnet (Belgium)
Extract taken from The Pain and the Glory: Thirty-Three Years with FC Bayern München, Rick’s almost complete FC Bayern fan epic.
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