programme to feature Welsh football's great forgotten story
match made headlines around the world and the fallout had a direct
effect on Welsh football fortunes for years to come - yet it has
now been largely forgotten by even Wales's keenest football fans.
Wales is set to prepare for its live coverage of Wales's big Euro
2004 qualifier against Serbia & Montenegro in Belgrade with
a special programme remembering one of the most controversial matches
in Welsh football history.
Wales came back from Belgrade in May 1976 trailing 0-2 to Yugoslavia
after the first leg of their European Championship quarter final,
everything was set for a fiery return at a packed Ninian Park in
Great Match (BBC 2W, 19 August, 8.30pm) shows what happened
1976, football hooliganism was at its height – Ninian Park
had become one of the first grounds in the UK to erect perimeter
fencing – and there was nothing to prevent alcohol being taken
into football grounds.
was a potentially explosive mixture and it was ignited by an East
German referee called Rudi Glockner.
Glockner had been one of the world's top referees – controlling
the 1970 World Cup Final and the UEFA Cup Final only a week before
his trip to Cardiff – but, with his brylcreemed short back
and sides and military manner, he looked out of place among the
flowing locks and drooping moustaches of 1970s football.
20 minutes he had the Welsh crowd seething as he adjudged Birmingham
City's Malcolm Page to have brought down Popivoda in the area although
the replays show clearly that the Yugoslav had dived.
despatched the resultant penalty leaving Wales needing a miracle
to reach the semi-finals.
Evans of Crystal Palace equalised before half-time and that miracle
looked possible for one fleeting moment after the break when John
Toshack squeezed John Mahoney's knock-down into the net.
Glockner ruled Mahoney's bicycle kick – which would have been
allowed by any Football League referee – to have been dangerous
and awarded a free kick.
crowd of 30,000 exploded. Full beer cans were thrown at the referee,
a handful of spectators scaled the fences in an attempt to attack
him and the pictures show spectators aiming Nazi salutes at the
game was halted as Glockner threatened to abandon the match.
minutes he had further stoked the fires of resentment as another
Toshack effort was disallowed – this time for offside –
prompting another hail of beer cans from the Bob Bank.
Terry Yorath missed a late penalty, the Welsh crowd's misery was
complete and their anger was aimed squarely at the referee.
he blew the final whistle, a guard of 16 policemen surrounded the
official to shepherd him to safety.
the cameras zoom back, it is possible to make out a thin, white
object flying towards Glockner. It was a corner flag. A spectator
had hurled it towards the East German like a spear. It was to land
in the neck of a policeman.
photographs were flashed to newspapers around the world and Welsh
football supporters were vilified.
the next potential flashpoint game arrived (a World Cup qualifying
decider against Scotland) Wales had to play at Liverpool's Anfield
where Joe Jordan's infamous handball started a series of Welsh qualification
near misses that has continued to this day.
the rot had first set in on that hot May afternoon in Cardiff.
one of the great forgotten stories of Welsh sport," said programme
producer Peter Williams.
The Great Match, Tuesday 19 August, BBC 2W, 8.30pm
Euro 2004 Live Football – Serbia & Montenegro v Wales,
Wednesday 20 August, BBC TWO Wales/BBC 2W, 6.45pm
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