London Hearts Supporters Club

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European displays certain to keep the home fires burning

ian paul

2 Oct 1992

MAYBE it would be stretching the case to suggest that the Lion is rampant again but, in football terms, at least it got off its knees this week.

None of the maligned premier-division teams let the country down in the European competitions and, indeed, three of them produced performances which enables us to blow the dust off the Saltire.

Maybe we will need it this season after all.

Nothing that Celtic, Hearts, or Rangers did in midweek will sweep away the contention that our teams are a distance behind the classiest in Europe but they have made a start, and Scots will settle for that.

It has not happened for a long time.

There is no question that the victories of the three teams will give the home game an enormous and much needed boost.

A wee bit self-belief will do no harm to any of the players who populate the top division nor will it dampen morale as the national side head for another testing contest in the World Cup qualifying campaign.

Certainly, in the case of Celtic, no-one could dispute that they were about due a break after a depressing couple of weeks when all the familiar old faults seemed to be overwhelming their attacking talents once again.

"We don't need reminding that we have had a couple of bad weeks," said their manager, Liam Brady.

"In that context, our win was very important.

But the three results, ours, Hearts' and Rangers', are great for Scotland.

"It will give everyone in the country a lift.

It may be the case that we have been overtaken in technical ability, even by the Scandinavians, but our teams have the resilience, the fight, the heart, whatever you want to call it.

The continentals can't quite match that although, they are catching up."

Brady also confirmed an unusual hint of personal anger when he recalled the way his after-match comments were received in Cologne by the local hacks.

"I thought they were very rude to say the least," he said.

"They chuckled when I said that I thought it wasn't a bad Celtic performance and that we didn't deserve to lose by two goals.

That brought a smile, but I was deadly serious.

"We never showed our hand over there, but we showed that although they are technically good, there has to be a reason for them being at the bottom of the Bundesliga.

We exploited that after the first goal.

They were looking at one another, struggling to cope with us."

Brady admitted to being still elated after the 3-0 win which overturned Cologne's 2-0 lead from the first leg -- "the team was written off but they did it" -- but did not want to dwell too long in the glow of satisfaction.

"They have written their own piece of Celtic history but that is what it is, history, and we must now get on with other things."

He did linger a little to reflect on the importance of not losing a goal and the part the defence had played in the European success.

"Mike Galloway did particularly well and Peter Grant, too, in a defensive midfield role.

And as far as Gordon Marshall is concerned, he can hold his head high.

We are fortunate to have two such good goalkeepers."

Bonner will return tomorrow for the trip to Dundee when, apart from him and a possible place in the side for Dariusz Wdowczyk, if he has recovered from injury, the team who restored the pride to Parkhead will appear at Dens Park.

Brady has no strong opinions about which team he would prefer to tackle in the second round, but Rangers manager Walter Smith conceded that he would like to avoid the major teams like Barcelona, AC Milan, and PSV Eindhoven.

He returned to a familiar, if valid, theme when he talked of the difficulties of bridging the gap between our clubs and the top continentals because of the number of games Scottish sides have to play.

"We have to find out if they are simply better or better because they play less."

Smith, none the less, was content with his side's 1-0 win over Lyngby in Copenhagen, which gave Rangers a comfortable 3-0 aggregate in the Champions' Cup.

Much of that was down to Scotland keeper Andy Goram.

He surely has made full retribution for the error which has haunted him since this time a year ago when he allowed a Scott Nisbet passback to beat him in the tie with Sparta Prague at Ibrox.

"Keeping a clean sheet in both legs this time has eased my mind a lot," said the keeper, who made some outstanding saves in the National Stadium.

Hearts manager Joe Jordan is anxious that people do not underestimate the achievement of his players in their 4-2 win over Slavia Prague at Tynecastle, giving them a 4-3 win on aggregate, in the UEFA Cup.

"I believe they were a quality team, the kind you would expect to meet in a semi-final in Europe," said the manager, who yesterday completed the deal which took Dundee United winger Alan Preston to Hearts and Scott Crabbe to Tannadice.

Glyn Snodin, who hit the clinching goal, his first for the club, admitted that he thought Hearts were out when the Czechs scored their second goal.

"But it was great to score -- I can't remember my last goal, although I have hit the bar five times since I came to Hearts -- and it completed a good display by our lads."

Airdrie, the only team to go out on Wednesday, following Hibs' gallant effort the previous night, had no need to feel they let anyone down either in their first attempt in Europe.

The Broomfield lot were still feeling aggrieved yesterday at the treatment they received from the Bulgarian referee, Viktor Iliev, in the second leg of their Cup-winners' Cup-tie in Prague.

Said striker Andy Smith: "I went for a cross and had my eye on the ball all the time.

I was definitely pushed or I would have got to it.

The referee indicated I had taken a dive and that's nonsense.

"Sparta were worried about us.

You could see that by the way they reacted at the final whistle -- it was as if they had won the cup." Smith suffered from a trapped nerve in his leg near the end of the match, but should be fit for tomorrow's Lanarkshire derby against Motherwell at Fir Park.

However they do, they will have benefited greatly from their first experience in Europe, even if they will forever rue the chances missed in the first leg, which they lost 1-0, and the penalty kick they missed in the second leg which they lost 2-1.

It has been one of those rare weeks of tartan triumph.

Fly the flag.

It won't do us any harm.

Taken from the Herald

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