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  • 1971-72 then AC Milan Again

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    While all Rangers fans are rubbing their hands at the prospect of a European Cup Final against the seemingly invincible Italians of A.C. Milan, Dundee fans can recall with some pride our club's record against the Latin giants.

    We look back to another article written back in 1992 from our very own Billy Campbell's Ghost - Enjoy!

    A.C.MILAN - AGAIN

    For the record it reads:  

    P  W   D   L            F   A        %Success
    4   2    0   2            4   8         50%

    These were home and away legs in the European Cup and UEFA Cup in1963 and 1971 respectively and although Dundee lost both ties on aggregate they put up some magnificent displays which I will elaborate on later.

    1971 San Siro.jpgI have actually had the good fortune to have attended a match at the San Siro Stadium as it is more commonly called although its official name is the Stadio Guiseppe Miazza, after a famous Inter player of the Fifties and in fact it has been called this for a number of years now. For the record, San Siro is a district in Milan and the name is still used, as tradition is hard to change.

    Witness our own 'Dens Park Stadium' - it will aye be Dens Park to me!

    I was in Italy on holiday in November 1979 with an Aberdeen based Dee fan and we headed for Milan as soon as we heard that they were at home that night to Borussia Munchengladbach in a second leg UEFA tie with the first leg score at 1-1. Finely balanced and with no love lost between the Italians and Germans – probably since the end of the war!

    We didn't have a ticket so it was a bit of a shot in the dark and ours fears were confirmed when the gates were locked around one hour before kick-off!

    We heard the roar of Milan going one up and at half-time they opened the gates so we piled in with what seemed 10,000 others and squeezed into a space at the highest point of the terracing - it was like watching a game of Subbuteo, the players were so small!

    Shock, horror, Borussia equalised and the tie thus went into extra-time. Milan took an early lead as the crazed Italians went berserk, lighting bonfires on the terracing and hurling missiles at the German goalie just for the fun of it. Fortunately he was protected by high netting behind the goal - missile throwing was obviously fairly standard over there.

    The teams turned around and Borussia did the unthinkable – they scored twice to win the game 3-2 on the night and the tie 4-3 on aggregate and if we thought we had seen crowd frenzy, the best (or worst) was yet to come!

    A small band of German supporters were immediately set upon and the blood really did flow and sent a feeling of real fear through us, as with our accents we did not want to be mistaken for German fans and suffer the same fate!

    Fortunately, we did escape the mayhem and headed off into the night to relive the excitement of the positive sides of the game.

    What stands out more than anything is the fanaticism of the fans and I'm sure an Old Firm game is not a patch on the Milan derby for atmosphere especially as the element of religious bigotry is missing.

    In Italy, the Milanese rivals are known as simply Milan and Inter. Milan were formed by British ex-pats as the Milan Football and Cricket Club in 1909 and the introduction of laws banning quotas of foreign players led to a split within the ranks and the offshoot became Internationale, more commonly known as Inter Milan with their name reflecting their team make up.

    Both clubs had relative success before the Second World War but since then they have enjoyed great Championship wins and regular European triumphs.

    1971_Jim_Steele_small.jpgIf you are a viewer of Channel Four's 'Soccer Italia' you will notice on certain team jerseys there are gold stars above the club crest. Each gold star represents ten Serie 'A' championship wins.

    See how many you can spot - I think only Milan, Inter and Juventus have the coveted gold star - or stars!

    On the subject of team jerseys, has anyone noticed how the Italian clubs never mess with their strip design thus adding to the aura surrounding the traditions of these clubs- wouldn't it be nice to see your team wearing a strip that the players and opponents respected instead of whatever jazzy design that the marketing men produce each year?

    Dundee's tie in 1971/72 was epic and will always remain in the memories of fans who were there that cold December night a few weeks after an incredible victory over Cologne.

    Dundee crashed 3-0 in the first leg in Milan with star striker Romeo Benetti hitting two and the Golden Boy of Italian soccer, Gianni Rivera the only survivor from the 1963 encounter against Dundee.

    A modest crowd of around 16,000 turned up at Dens hoping Dundee could repeat the same amazing comeback they had achieved against Cologne with a few thousand stay-at homes convinced it was beyond them.

    Duncan Lambie played normally as a winger but that night manager John Prentice pulled a master stroke by moving him into an old-fashioned inside-forward role as he realised the Italians did not relish players running at them and Duncan had tremendous ability to take players on - and usually beat them!

    The teams that walked out that night on the 8 December 1971 were:

    Dundee: Hewitt, R.Wilson, Houston, Steele, Philip, Stewart, Duncan, Lambie, Wallace, Scott, J.Wilson.

    A.C. Milan: Cudicini, Sabatini, Zignoli, Anguiletti, Schnellinger, Biasolti, Villa, Bennetti, Bignon, Rivera, Prati.

    There was great anticipation in the air as the crowd gathered at Dens prepared to give the Italians the traditional booing which seems to be reserved for Italian sides - probably a throwback to their invention of the 'catenaccio', the lock, which made massed defending an art and this along with their reputation for the cynical foul made them a target for the boo-boys.

    Once the game had started, it was Dundee, as expected, who threw everything into attack and hit the Italians with a flurry of near things. It was only a matter of time till the Dark Blues scored and sure enough it was John Duncan who slotted one in early in the first half.

    By this time Duncan Lambie was causing havoc in the normally cool Milan defence and his darting, penetrating runs were running them ragged! Just before half-time Dens Park erupted as Gordon Wallace made it 2-0 with a close-range effort to put the home fans in the land of make-believe and dreaming of Euro-glory. There was still the second half after all.

    1971 gordon wallace.jpgAs time wore on into the second period Dundee grew more and more frustrated as Milan learned to cope with the onslaught and time ran out too quickly for Dundee. A despairing miss by Gordon Wallace had the Dens crowd almost hysterical and suddenly it was all over - it was one of those games when you expect a few minutes of injury time and the ref blows exactly on the 90 minutes!

    It was all over and Dundee for the second time in ten years had bowed out to the Italian giants, but again were far from disgraced and had perhaps even given them the fright of their lives.

    With the likes of Papin, Van Basten, Lentini and Rikaard, the Rangers team that may get the chance to play them should not only have a night to remember but make the most of the privilege as should the supporters because the current Milan crop are even more awesome than their predecessors with a run of over 50 games undefeated.

    In fact, Rangers may be the team with the last chance to defeat them this season if they reach the final of The Big One on 26 May 1993.

    One things sure, if they do break the unbelievable sequence they will become legends.

    One final thought - if Rangers succeed, does that make us European Champions on the strength of our 4-3 win earlier this season? - Just a thought, honest!

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