BY STEVE MITCHELL
Nottingham Forest completed their miracle rise from Second Division also rans to European Cup winners, after a 1-0 victory over Swedish side Malmo in Munichâ€™s Olympic Stadium last night. The match will not be remembered as a classic, but no one from the East Midlands will care after Brian Cloughâ€™s men lifted the biggest prize in European club football.
It was the million pound man, Trevor Francis, who settled the contest in first-half injury time after getting on the end of another wonderful cross from John Robertson. That goal also saw Forest pocket Â£1million, the first time any club has earned such a windfall for winning a major trophy.Embed from Getty Images
The recently deposed First Division champions went into the match as strong favourites and it was obvious from the first whistle that Malmo had come to stifle the attractive football Cloughâ€™s men had been playing since their incredible rise from Division Two.
Nobody would have predicted that these two would be contesting the final especially Forest, who had to eliminate reigning champions Liverpool in the first-round of this seasonâ€™s competition.
The first-half was a dour affair â€“ the English side had the majority of the possession, the Swedes quite happy to concede ground to their opponents. Forestâ€™s strike pairing of Garry Birtles and Tony Woodcock were finding it difficult going and were getting more and more frustrated being caught in offside positions.
Just when it seemed as though the two teams would be heading back to the dressing rooms all-square, Forest broke the deadlock. The ball was played out to Robertson on the left and the Scottish international set off on one of his trade-mark runs. When he delivered the centre, Malmo goalkeeper Jan Moller completely misjudged the flight of the ball and there was Francis on the back post with a stooping header to score the gameâ€™s only goal.
Up until that point, Robertson had had a quiet game and was unable to have any influence on proceedings with the Malmo defence constantly forcing him to cut inside. The first time he was allowed to go on the outside, he did what he has done all-season â€“ deliver the perfect ball into the box.
The big question now was could Malmo offer anything in attack in the second period? The short answer to that was no. In fact Forest should have extended their lead with Birtles and Robertson both going close.
The Forest fans in the Olympic Stadium vastly outnumbered their Swedish counterparts and as the minutes ticked by, the home of Bayern Munich was turned into a sea of red and white. Many had spent days on the road to get to the match and many were ready to party the night away having no hotel room to go back to.
After the game, Clough was his usual ebullient self and he repeated what he had said last season that Robertson was; â€œA very unattractive man.â€ Before adding, â€œBut give him a ball and a yard of grass and he turns into an artist.â€Embed from Getty Images
Young striker Birtles was almost overcome with the emotion of it all. Three years ago he was playing Non-League football and now he was adding a European Cup winnerâ€™s medal to his First Division champions one from 12 months ago.
â€œIt was like playing against the land of the giants,â€ Birtles explained in reference to the sheer size of their opponents, before setting off on a victory lap with the rest of his teammates.
Nottingham Forest: Shilton, Anderson, Clark, McGovern, Lloyd, Burns, Francis, Bowyer, Birtles, Woodcock, Robertson
Malmo: Moller, Andersson (R), Erlandsson, Jonsson, Andersson (M), Tapper (Malmberg 34 mins) Ljungberg, Prytz, Hansson (Andersson T 82 mins) Cervin, Kinnvall
Referee: Erich Linemayr (Austria)
We asked Forest fans to send in some of their memories of that famous night in Munich. Hereâ€™s a selection of the best ones:
My big memory of #Munich79…
Thinking I was dreaming at the airport heading home the day after the final when the #NFFC team strolled in! They were amazing with me. A moment I will never forget! â€œWeâ€™ve been to Europe and weâ€™ve won the cup twice!â€ pic.twitter.com/MsufGiGdEd
â€” Phil Randall (@philrandall) February 20, 2018
I went altho I had a broken leg in a plaster cast! The downside is that my g/f stopped me dancing in the fountains after the game. The Swedes were mega friendly and we got pissed in the bierkellers together after the game
â€” Egor The Red (@EgorTheRed) February 15, 2018
It was 5 days before my birthday, which was spent about 100 miles away in Austria. I always remember the journey from Munich to Austria as we ran into Erich Linemayr en route who clearly did not want to discuss the match in the same detail that my dad did.
â€” Nottz TV (@NottzTV) February 15, 2018
I remember the day after when a mate and I were waiting at the City Ground for the team coach to come in. We were 13 years old at the time and in awe of the players stepping off the bus holding the trophy. I also recall following Trevor Francis shouting for his autograph 1/2
â€” Stu Walker (@studidit) January 28, 2018
2/2 and he completely blanked us. Â£1m scorer of the winning goal or not, he still got a mouthful from two Clifton council kids.
â€” Stu Walker (@studidit) January 28, 2018
THE WHOLE 1978-79 SEASON IN THE ENGLISH FIRST DIVISION WAS BRILLIANTLY COVERED BY STEVE MITCHELL HERE ON THE FOOTBALL PINK. FOLLOW HIM ON TWITTER @barafundler
PROGRAMMES COURTESY OF MILES MCCLAGAN https://www.flickr.com/photos/114058793@N05/sets