Enjoyed that. One thing that used to at least try and make things fairer was sharing of gate receipts for league games. The decision for home teams to keep all the cash really affected the smaller clubs I seem to recall. I think it changed in the early 80s?
Real Madrid V Hibernian European Cup 13th June 1956
For anyone who dont want to click on the newspaper thread, this is the story of what might have been back in the day when Hibs were No 1 in the U.K. The story is a bit poetic with the crowd at the Man Utd game and the score was in fact Hibs 8 Man u 3 (the largest defeat in their history)
i have just picked out some of it,
Published on Fri 26 Feb 2010 12.20 GMT
NB: the point of the Joy of Six is not to rank things, only to enjoy them. This week's piece refers to matches that were already pre-drawn, not fantasy contests between two teams of the same era, such as, for example, Red Star Belgrade v AC Milan in 1990-91 1. Brazil v West Germany, 21 June 1970
Suggesting that Brazil's 1970 World Cup winners weren't much cop would be taking iconoclasm to absurd levels. But there is a case to be made that the legend is ever so slightly disproportionate. Setting aside the fact that the true reason for the team's greatness has been criminally ignored – it was put together by João Saldanha, a man who once reacted to adverse punditry by chasing his critic through a hotel foyer brandishing a loaded revolver – there are minor question marks.
After a poor 1966 World Cup, Brazil had been struggling until Saldanha took over in 1969. Unleashing his forwards like one would unsheath a pistol ahead of a wee rampage in a built-up area, Saldanha led Brazil through a multi-goal qualification romp – albeit against Paraguay, Colombia and Venezuela. A similar caveat, if you're being really picky, could be applied to their 100% record at the Mexico finals: England were top-drawer but in disarray behind the scenes, semi-final opponents Uruguay were primarily defensive, offering little other than demons from Brazil's 1950 final debacle, while Italy were simply knackered after their epic semi-final with West Germany. Factor in Mexico's searing sun – a distinct advantage to Brazil– and the fact the team regressed quickly after 1970, morphing into a thuggish shambles by the 1974 World Cup, and you have at least a debate on your hands. Even if it doesn't last much past a cursory mention of Pele, Jairzinho, Tostao, Gerson and Rivelino.
Still, it would have been nice to see them really tested, by the best European side in the world. Which was West Germany. Unlike Brazil's 1970 side – an (admittedly extreme) blip of quality between the relatively barren years of 1962 and 1982 – the Germans were in the middle of a purple patch. Finalists in 1966, the team had grown since then – they'd discovered Gerd Müller, basically – and would surely have edged past Italy to the 1970 final in that 4-3 rollercoaster had Franz Beckenbauer not been forced to play on with a dislocated shoulder. West Germany went on to win the 1972 Euros, followed by the 1974 World Cup. Would they have been able to best Brazil? A 2-1 win in Stuttgart and a 2-2 at the Maracana in pre-Saldanha 1968 proves little, but does make the 1970 final that never was a damn sight more tantalising. 2. Real Madrid v Hibernian, 13 June 1956
Hibernian's post-war front Five of Gordon Smith, Bobby Johnstone, Eddie Turnbull, Lawrie Reilly and Willie Ormond weren't famous for nothing. Between 1948 and 1953, they won three Scottish titles and were pipped at the death to another two, all the while playing the most attractive and innovative football in Britain. Smith, Johnstone, Turnbull, Reilly and Ormond knew each other's games inside out and interchanged freely, their relentless attacking now described by those lucky enough to see it as a precursor of Total Football.
Matt Busby was a particular fan, and would often take his Manchester United side up north to play in hotly contested friendlies; Hibs once returned the favour by thrashing them 7-3 in front of a 70,000-strong testimonial crowd assembled for Smith in 1952. They were also enticed over to Brazil in 1953, to be showcased three times at the Maracana. Their credentials were not in question – and that reputation earned them an invitation to the inaugural European Cup. (The Scottish champions of 1955, Aberdeen, were overlooked because of their notorious aversion to floodlights, a prerequisite for the fledgling midweek competition. The Dons refused to play Hibs under the Easter Road floodlights until the end of the decade, believing the home side had an unfair advantage).
Hibs hit the ground running in their first European match. While Real Madrid needed a last-minute equaliser to salvage a draw at Servette, and Milan lost 4-3 at home to Saarbrucken, the Scots went to German champions Rot-Weiss Essen and thrashed their hosts 4-0. Turnbull, Reilly and Ormond got on the scoresheet, while Smith was denied in the final seconds when the referee blew for full-time before the ball had crossed the line. However, while Madrid and Milan were sides on the up, Hibs were on the way down: Johnstone had left for Manchester City the previous summer, and Raymond Kopa's Reims were too strong for them in the semi-final (although at 1-0 down away in the first leg, they were looking good for an equaliser until a last-minute defensive mistake led to a second and effectively killed the tie).
"The European Cup came a couple of years too late for us, or we'd have certainly won one," said Smith, a couple of years before he died in 2004. Even so, having given Reims – who were 11 minutes from beating Madrid in the final before losing 4-3 – a battle in the semi, there's no reason to think Hibs' remaining Famous Four couldn't have seriously troubled the eventual champions, for whom defence was never a strong suit. 3. Liverpool v Manchester United, 1 May 1965
English football swung in the Sixties all right, as the title made like a pendulum between Anfield and Old Trafford in the middle of the decade. But while Bill Shankly's Liverpool and Matt Busby's Manchester United yin-and-yanged – Shankly's team the superfit, well-drilled, one-for-all machine, Busby's a more mercurial off-the-cuff bunch – there would never be a single defining summit meeting between the two superpowers.