With days to go before our Euro fate is decided, we’re going to stir the memories up a bit. Who remembers Spurs?
On the 14th of September 1983 Drogheda United stepped onto the field of European competition for the very first time. Their visitors that night were Tottenham Hotspur, a team loaded with household names such as Ray Clemence, Gary Mabbutt, Steve Perryman and our own Chris Hughton and Tony Galvin. There was only ever likely to be one winner but the margin of defeat was, perhaps, a little greater than the United Park faithful expected.
With the draw for the First Qualifying Round of the Europa League fast approaching the list of potential opponents has stopped looking like a random list of football teams and taken on the sheen of reality as it slowly dawns that, very soon, we will actually be going to one of these places.
The first thing that Graham Gartland says when it is put to him that he started 12 of the 14 games that make up Drogheda United’s European history is that he was “only being born” when the first two took place. It’s a fair point, well made. ‘Garto’, all of five months old when the Drogs trotted out against Tottenham Hotspur for their European debut in the 1983/84 UEFA Cup, can hardly be held responsible for the 14-0 aggregate defeat that followed, but there is something in his tone that suggests he is still annoyed that he didn’t get to play in those games.
Just nine short years ago, Mick Cooke’s fledgling League of Ireland managerial career endured a baptism of fire.
From the dismal depths of deepest winter to the promised land of milk, honey, and European football of course, the rollercoaster journey both endured and enjoyed by the loyal legions of claret and blue supporters over the last year truly ranks among the greatest stories of resurgence ever to emanate from our beleaguered league.