First written in September 1999 for my website verso.me.co.uk
The campaign started with a match against Greece’s Aris Salonika. We emerged victorious, with a score of 5-1, thanks to Sir John Wark’s impressive performance – he netted four (three of which were penalties). I distinctly recall the referee booking Mariner for kicking the ball over the stand. It’s just as well we didn’t have that ref around when Lee Chapman was on our team. My father took me to the game, and we ran into Mick and Ira Hare. After the final whistle, we hitched a ride back home in Mick’s blue camper van, just in time to catch the highlights on Sportsnight. In case you were curious, Mariner scored the fifth and final goal.
Due to time zone differences, I missed listening to our 3-1 loss in the second leg. Our next opponents were Bohemians Prague and we had the privilege of hosting the first leg. Unfortunately, I couldn’t attend as my father wouldn’t take me. Luckily, I had my trusty portable radio and tuned into 257 Radio Orwell. Live commentary was not available back then, so I had to settle for occasional insights from Pete Barraclough. The downside of evening games was having to endure Nigel Rennie’s country show. Just as I was getting into a song about a man who had lost everything but still had his loyal dog, the jingle interrupted my listening.
Warky’s goal sent Pete Barraclough into a delirium, causing me to jump up and accidentally knock my radio to the floor. The back of the radio fell off, spilling batteries all over the carpet. Frustrated, I got down on my hands and knees to search for them. I found three, but the fourth was elusive. Suddenly, my mother opened the bedroom door and yelled at me for playing the radio too loudly. I denied it and she left to go downstairs. Finally, I found the fourth battery under my brother’s bed and playfully squeezed his nose. After putting all four batteries back into the radio, I crawled back under my covers and turned it on.
Rennie was playing yet another depressing tune, much to my disappointment. It was halftime and to top it off, I had missed Warky’s second goal. With fifteen minutes to spare before the second half began, I decided to take a risk and sneak downstairs to grab a wagon wheel. I cautiously opened my door and tiptoed along the landing, making sure to avoid the broken floorboard outside the airing cupboard. I had a system for the stairs; creep for the first three steps, skip the next two, and then creep down the rest. When I reached the bottom, I breathed a sigh of relief that the sitting room door was closed. I made my way past it and into the dining room, and finally into the kitchen. Unfortunately, the biscuit tin was on the top shelf, just out of reach. I had to climb onto the twin tub to grab it, but I managed to successfully retrieve a wagon wheel and a fruit club. Carefully, I returned the biscuit tin to its place on the shelf and climbed off the twin tub, accidentally knocking the peg bag off its hook in the process.
As I was putting the pegs away, I stumbled upon an unexpected surprise – an old videocassette. It turned out to be the old man’s secret porn stash, and my mind immediately raced for the chance to watch it myself. I carefully put everything back in its place, making sure not to leave any evidence behind. As I made my way back upstairs, I remembered to avoid the two creaky stairs. Just as I passed by Tracey and Paula’s room, Paula caught sight of me. I had to quickly bribe her with a wagon wheel to keep her from grassing me up. After tossing the wagon wheel her way and calling her a name, I retreated to my room to enjoy the second half.
Instead of the country show, the radio station played two hours of love songs. Minnie Ripperton’s “Lovin’ You” was playing when an action jingle interrupted. Barraclough was again excited. Beattie scored a goal from 35 yards out, only seconds after entering the field during a free kick. He slammed the ball past the keeper, resulting in a 3-0 win and a promising lead for second leg.
Once again, the second leg of the game was scheduled for midday due to the absence of electricity in Czechoslovakia during that time. Unfortunately, we lost the match 2-0 but were able to advance to the next round with an aggregate score of 3-2. Our next opponents were Widzew Lodz from Poland, who had already defeated Manchester United and Juventus in the first two rounds. Despite the excitement, I was unable to attend the game at Portman Road as my younger sister Tamara was being born. After school, we went to Granny’s house where we had sausages and chips for dinner followed by homemade trifle and R Whites lemonade. In the evening, we played a board game called Conquer Everest, where the goal was to guide your Sherpas to reach the summit before others. However, the game ended abruptly as my sister Paula cheated by stealing one of my Sherpas. In the ensuing argument, she cried, and I was sent to bed without access to the radio to listen to the game. Fortunately, our team won 5-0 with Warky scoring another hat trick and Mariner and Brazil adding two more goals. Despite losing the second leg 1-0, we were still able to advance to the next round.
In the quarterfinals, we were matched with St Etienne, playing away first. St Etienne was considered one of the top teams in the world and had never lost a home Euro tie. We tuned in to the radio for full match commentary, and Ipswich dominated the game. In front of a near patisan 42,000 fans, we gave St Etienne a footballing lesson. Warky scored, Mariner scored twice, and Muhren added his sixth goal of the season, leading us to a 4-1 victory. Atfter the game he DJ celebrated our amazing win by playing Bonnie Tyler’s “Lost in France.”
I missed the second leg of the football match because it coincided with my mum’s birthday, and my dad had taken her out for drinks and pork scratchings at the Labour Club. Meanwhile, Tracey was babysitting and her friends came over to put on makeup and engage in typical teenage girl activities upstairs. I spent my time watching Coronation Street while Paula monopolised the fireplace, which made me wonder how she never burned her private parts given how often she positioned herself in front of it.
After Corrie ended, I headed upstairs to catch the second half. As I walked by Tracey’s room, I couldn’t resist taking a peek and caught a glimpse of Dee Dee Mills and Elizabeth Turner in their underwear. It was quite a sight. However, my curiosity got the best of me and I was caught in the act. As punishment, I was forced to sit on a chair while Tracey and her cruel friends covered me in makeup. By the time I washed off the last bit of gunk, the second half was over and Town had won 3-1, securing a spot in the semifinals.
In the semifinals, we played Cologne. Once again, the old man had squandered all the funds, causing me to miss a crucial match. Warky scored the winning goal, leading to an intense second game. However, the night of the second match coincided with my acting debut at Causton Junior School. I portrayed Baron Useless, Cinderella’s father. The production almost fell through due to some discord among the cast. Despite being only 10 years old, the annual pantomime was nearly canceled due to some petty arguments among the girls. Nicola Finch Anderson Read had hoped to play Cinderella, but Lisa Frankland was given the part. In support of her friend, Karen Burgess refused to play the wicked stepmother, causing chaos on opening night. Fortunately, Michael Hogan saved the day with an impressive performance as my spouse.
The stars of the show were Ian McKinnon and Stuart Hazlewood, who played the ugly sisters, Michael and myself. However, during the first night, I missed a crucial scene where I had to console Cinderella when she was forbidden from attending the ball. Instead, I was in the TV room watching an enthralling episode of King of the Rocket Men on BBC2, where the hero had to save the world from a lethal virus using his jetpack. Fortunately, Cinderella improvised the scene flawlessly, and the audience was none the wiser. I made it back for the remainder of the performance and delivered an impeccable performance reminiscent of Dickie Attenborough.
During our performance, the blues clinched their first and only Euro final with a rare headed goal by big Terry Butcher. The following night, I made sure to show up for all my scenes and delivered an amazing performance, according to some critics. However, Ian McKinnon and I had a minor mishap when we accidentally broke the television while trying to catch the sports round up on both Look East and About Anglia. After witnessing big Tel’s goal on BBC1, we switched to ITV, only to find a blank screen. We turned off the television and continued getting ready for the show, thinking we had gotten away with it. Unfortunately, Sarah Shepherd exposed our secret and we were punished with a two-week ban on football during breaks. It’s always frustrating when girls have to tell on us.
Town faced AZ67 Alkmaar in the two-legged final (all games were over two legs), starting with the home match. Unfortunately, this was a repeating tale, as I couldn’t attend due to my father’s drinking habits. Despite missing the game we were victorious with a 3-0 score line. However, we lost the second game 4-2. Nevertheless, we managed to win the UEFA cup, and I felt proud to have contributed to the team’s success. Even though I only attended the first game and followed the rest on the radio, I considered it a valuable contribution.
John Wark shared the record of being the highest goal scorer in a single European competition. He scored 14 goals in 1980-81 and shares the record with Jose Altafini of AC Milan in 62-63. Jurgen Klinnsman who scored 15 eventually beat this record in 1995-96 season. The two foreigners were forwards, Warky was a midfielder so he wins.