Tigers will soon be flying again as European adventures beckon

Bradford's Dean Windass (left) celebrates with Lee Sharpe (centre), and Dean Saunders after scoring against Waalwijk during their UEFA Intertoto Cup third Round at Valley Parade, Bradford, in 2000.
Bradford's Dean Windass (left) celebrates with Lee Sharpe (centre), and Dean Saunders after scoring against Waalwijk during their UEFA Intertoto Cup third Round at Valley Parade, Bradford, in 2000.
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FOR Hull City fans making the walk back to Wembley Park tube station on Saturday night, being drowned out by their noisy and jubilant Arsenal counterparts was not an option. They had their own song of choice.

A touch inebriated some may have been, and no doubt many were nursing hangovers yesterday morning, but a rendition of the anthem they were singing the previous evening will have represented the perfect tonic.

We’re All Going On a European Tour (repeat). Not wishful thinking, glorious reality.

For the county, it is about time the passports were brought again out on the footballing front. Yorkshire clubs have hardly been frequent visitors to the continent since UEFA competitions began in the mid-Fifties, have they?

We had no representation whatsoever in the Eighties, although Sheffield Wednesday will point to being denied a UEFA Cup place due to the Heysel ban in 1986-87 .

For many years, the White Rose story in Europe pretty much began and ended with Leeds United, although their main contribution is sadly remembered for a night of shame in Paris in the European Cup final of 1975, when fans rioted and refereeing officials stank out the place.

Aside from the obvious example of Leeds, Yorkshire clubs can “boast” a combined tally of seven seasons of competing, with just three clubs – Wednesday, Middlesbrough and Bradford City – having dipped their toes in footballing waters on the continent.

The most recent were Boro, whose fans luxuriated in being just a “small town in Europe” in a brief, but golden era from 
2004-06 when they never had it so good. Given their moribund past few seasons, those memories have assumed even more resonance and must seem like a world away at the minute.

It was only eight years ago that Boro were one game away from lifting the UEFA Cup with Lazarus-style comebacks of epic proportions against Basel and Steaua Bucharest, inspired by latter-day “super sub” Massimo Maccarone – not once, but twice – sealing a final spot and enthralling fans across the land.

The showpiece in Eindhoven was where the fairytale stopped with Dani Alves-inspired Sevilla breaking Teesside hearts in a 4-0 drubbing. But what a ride it had been with Roma and Stuttgart also sent packing along the way.

Europe was a long time in coming for Boro, despite going close in their first season back in the top flight under Jack Charlton in 1974-75, with seasoned supporters pointing to a last-gasp goal at Ayresome Park from Derby’s Bradford-born striker Kevin Hector in a 1-1 late-April draw as effectively being the difference between a shot at the UEFA Cup and missing out.

But Boro were not to be denied in 2004-05 after their Carling Cup win of the previous year, with Banik Ostrava providing their first European opposition. Boro beat the Czechs 4-1 on aggregate, the precursor to topping their group section which contained Lazio, Villarreal and Partizan Belgrade.

They eventually bowed out with grace at the last 16 stage to Sporting Lisbon, who went on to lose in the final to CSKA Moscow, before qualifying for a second European helping in 2005-06.

It shows just how much football’s order has shifted that Boro overcame Manchester City in the two-horse race for Europa League qualification on the final day of the 2004-05 season.

In what effectively constituted a cup final at Eastlands, with the prize at stake for Boro if they won or drew being European football once more, a memorable last-minute penalty save from Mark Schwarzer to deny Robbie Fowler saw the game end 1-1. If he had converted, City would have qualified at Boro’s expense.

You have to go back to the early Sixties for Sheffield Wednesday’s maiden European voyage in the old Fairs Cup, 1961-62 to be precise in the season after they finished runners-up to Spurs.

Lyon and Roma were dispatched before Barcelona ended the Owls’ participation in a 4-3 aggregate triumph in round three in a journey notable for a 4-0 home sinking of the Italians with Gerry Young firing a hat-trick and a thrilling 7-6 aggregate win over the French.

A second campaign followed in 1963-64, again under the management of Vic Buckingham, with Utrecht beaten before the Owls bowed out to Cologne.

Hillsborough had to wait until 1992-93 before it staged European football again in a season not exclusively notable for four Wembley visits – including an extra-time defeat in the FA Cup final replay to Arsenal. In the opening round, minnows Spora Luxembourg were swatted aside 10-2 on aggregate, with Viv Anderson, Chris Bart-Williams and Paul Warhurst scoring twice in an 8-1 first-leg win at S6.

But participation was brief with German outfit Kaiserslautern proving too strong in a 5-3 aggregate triumph, with a 2-2 draw in the second leg, following the Owls’ 3-1 loss at the Fritz-Walter Stadion, a night which saw David Hirst score and also be sent off.

The Owls also featured in the Intertoto Cup of 1995, with Karlsruhe topping their group with their two home games actually played at Rotherham United’s Millmoor home versus Gornik Zabrze and Aarhus.

The Broad Acres’ other European representative aside from Leeds was their near-neighbours Bradford City.

While their Intertoto Cup campaign may have been brief and comparatively unheralded outside of Bradford, the summer of 2000 will be remembered fondly by Bradfordians.

It began in the Baltic nation of Lithuania with City, under a new manager in Chris Hutchings, triumphing 3-1 at the Zalgiris Stadium before coasting to a 4-1 victory at Valley Parade.

Bradford’s campaign took time to get off the ground at first with their flight to Lithuania delayed after the engine on the plane they were destined to fly on blew up. Thankfully, a replacement was found.

Next opponents were Dutch side RKC Waalwijk, beaten 2-0 in Yorkshire before City – who entered the competition at the second-round stage along with Aston Villa – prevailed 1-0 in the second instalment.

Many Bradford fans may have been loving it, but a daunting start to the league season on paper, which saw the club scheduled to face Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal, meant some were a touch less enthusiastic about their involvement in European matters.

It ended in the fourth round at the hands of Zenit St Petersburg, one of three winners to qualify along with Stuttgart and Aston Villa’s conquerors Celta Vigo.

After a 1-0 loss in St Petersburg, Zenit cruised to a 3-0 triumph in Yorkshire, a game which marked the debut of a young man by the name of Arshavin. Now Yorkshire’s European baton is in the hands of Hull City. Bonne chance.