Bayern v St Etienne: Franz Roth remembers & square goalpost curses

St Etienne Bayern

On an unsurprisingly bleak Scottish night in May 1976, the Rolling Stones played You Can't Always Get What You Want - a song of optimism and eventual disillusion - to a 3,500 crowd at the now defunct Glasgow Apollo.

That same night at the other side of the city, almost 10 times as many St Etienne fans experienced a similar emotional journey as Mick Jagger alluded to.

At Hampden, the French outfit came up against a Bayern Munich side in the midst of a golden age of European domination, going for their third consecutive European Cup title.

Forty four years on to the day, BBC Scotland looks back at the prominent role the ground's square goalposts would play, the match-winning "Bull", and the tale of "glorious failure".

The Stones, the Bull and the Kaiser

The travelling German contingent boasted some of the best players of all time. Franz Beckenbauer captained the side, while Gerd Muller and Sepp Maier were among his team-mates.

As if they needed one, they possessed another deadly weapon in Franz Roth, remembered with a degree of hostility by some Rangers fans as the player who scored the winner against them in the 1967 Cup Winners' Cup final. Roth, nicknamed the Bull because of his physical playing style, recounts the mood going into the match.

"Of course we won the previous two European Cups in 1974 and 1975, but this season was harder for us," he told BBC Scotland.

"We were housed in the Turnberry Hotel, which was about one hour away from Glasgow. We were extremely focused on our preparation and had no spare time. At the same time the Rolling Stones were in the same hotel - they had more leisure time and made a lot of noise all day long!"

Despite sharing digs with the raucous British rockers while they played three days in Glasgow, the Germans carried a steely focus heading into the match. In contrast, fans of their French counterparts were to bring a carnival atmosphere to Glasgow. Neutrals, meanwhile, were gearing up for what they hoped would be a match reminiscent of the only other European Cup final that had taken place in the stadium at that time - the legendary 7-3 win for Real Madrid in 1960.

"The atmosphere was incredible," Roth remembers. "Hampden was sold out and in the last seconds before the game, I think every player had goosebumps. For me the stadium was completely green - the colour of St Etienne. It felt like an away game."

St Etienne team
The St Etienne team is pictured before flying to Glasgow to face Bayern Munich

'Glorious failure'

Les Verts would need all the help they could get from their fans - they would have to start the game without their talisman Dominique Rocheteau, who was injured and had to spend most of the game of the bench.

Nonetheless, St Etienne would dominate much of the tense tie. Both a Dominique Bathenay strike and a Jacques Santini header would hit the woodwork - and this is why the famous square Hampden goalposts would live forever in the memories of the French fans.

Fans of the club believe they would have won the tightly contested final had the goalposts been round instead, as Richard McBrearty, curator of the Scottish Football Museum at Hampden, explains.

"To this day St Etienne fans will tell you the European Cup should have gone to France instead of Germany, and that it was the square shape of the goalposts that stopped them winning," he said. "They hit the bar twice, and they say it would have gone in off the woodwork if it wasn't for the shape - but the ball came straight back out instead.

"By the 1980s Hampden had to get in line with world football regulations, so had to get rid of the square goalposts. Occasionally, we had some St Etienne fans come into the stadium and ask about them. They were mainly in storage because they were so large, so we brought the fans down to have a look. It was like a love-hate relationship for them with the goalposts.

"There is an element of it being a glorious failure. St Etienne gave everything, and felt very unlucky. Looking at the goalposts they were tinged with sadness, as well as excitement to see them - it was a bit of a bittersweet moment to see the fans look at them. Just like any good Scottish football story."

That emotion would live on for decades to come. In 2013, St Etienne paid 20,000 euro for the goalposts to stand in their museum, with club president Roland Romeyer declaring them as a "very powerful symbol".

Sadly for fans of the French club, "les poteaux carrés" or "the square posts" is the legend that the 1976 final is remembered for, and not for being their first European Cup win.

'My most important goal since netting against Rangers'

As for the typically efficient Bayern Munich, it was Roth who would once more prove his talent as a big-game player and score the only goal of the game from a free-kick, securing the club's third consecutive European Cup.

"In my career, perhaps the most important goal was the 1967 one against Rangers nine years before that final," he recalls.

"We won our first international title - it was like an international kick-start for Bayern Munich to become one of the best clubs in the world. Of course this goal was always in my mind. But you know, every game starts up new from the first minute.

Franz Roth scores
Franz Roth, in white, watches his free-kick fly into the St Etienne net

"It was a really challenging game. St Etienne had a lot of technically strong players, in particular the two Revelli Brothers, and a good strategy. Especially in the first half the game was really balanced, two times our keeper, Sepp Maier, made big saves.

"[The goal] was a very special moment. Seconds of absolute silence and tension in the stadium. And then when I scored, the incredible relief and joy. Of course, the timing of my goal in the game, shortly after half-time in the 57th minute, was quite good.

"There is no secret [to scoring important goals]. I always wanted to win, every time I stood on the field. I was lucky always to score in the important international games."

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