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Remembering The Shameful Scenes When Linfield Played Dundalk In European Cup

Remembering The Shameful Scenes When Linfield Played Dundalk In European Cup
By Conor Neville
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It's 37 years since Oriel Park was smashed up by Linfield fans. So long ago that George Hamilton was still in the employ of BBC Northern Ireland. Not yet firmly clasped to the bosom of football followers down south.

More than any other IFA affiliated club, Linfield is synonymous with working class loyalism, while Dundalk was, among other things, something of a safe haven for northern nationalists who fled Belfast in the early 70s.

The Troubles were in an especially deadly phase. The first leg took place two days after the Warrenpoint ambush, when 18 British soldiers were killed by two roadside bombs.

The first game was fixed for Oriel Park. The two managers, Jim McLoughlin (Dundalk) and Roy Coyle (Linfield) protested that politics had no bearing on the encounter.

The Linfield supporters invaded Dundalk in great numbers.

In the hour or so before the match, the away supporters amused themselves by holding an impromptu tricolour burning festival. When the two captains strode into the centre-circle to perform the toss they were pelted with stones. A phalanx of charging Linfield supporters burst through a barrier and attacked the home fans.

One away fan clambered up on top the stand, shimmied up the flagpole, and tore down the tricolour, ripping it in half. An irate Dundalk supporter chased after him, followed by a policeman. Luckily, no one toppled off the Stand.

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Thirty Linfield supporters were arrested. A similar number of fans and policemen were injured.

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The match was drawn 1-1. Unsurprisingly, UEFA heaped most of the blame on Linfield supporters. As a punishment, they lost home advantage for the second leg.

The Dutch town of Haarlem was chosen as the venue for Linfield's 'home' tie. FC Haarlem has a Welsh manager, Barry Hughes who had contacts in Ireland.

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The match was played in Haarlem in front of a paltry crowd. Linfield were required to pay Dundalk's expenses in making the trip.

Dundalk won 2-0 through two goals from former Irish international Cathal Muckian. George Hamilton interviewed the two managers side by side in the airport after the game.

Setanta Sports produced a sensational documentary of the tie a couple of years ago.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KoU4sFtf0KI

Tonight, Windsor Park tonight hosts the first European match between clubs from either side of the border in eleven years.

In 2005, Shelbourne, a year after their heroics against Split and their respectable loss to Deportivo, demolished Glentoran 6-2 on aggregate.

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That was the fourth meeting of sides from either side of the border in European competition, all coming in the European Cup/Champions League.

The earliest was back in 1970. Waterford United - with Alfie Hale leading the line - beat Glentoran 4-1 on aggregate. Linfield have twice met Irish teams in European competition, losing to Dundalk in 1979 and beating Shamrock Rovers on away goals in 1984.

Read more: England Need A Manager To Connect With Their Players - And There Is Only One Man Who Can

 

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