To round off the series, this part will look into the final of the 1959-60 European Cup between holders Real Madrid and Eintracht Frankfurt, conquerors of Rangers. For some, that final at Hampden was the greatest game of football ever played.
Of course, Eintracht had defeated Rangers in the last four, but beforehand had eliminated Kuopion Palloseura by walk-over, Young Boys of Berne (2-5), Wiener Sportclub (3-2) before defeating the Scottish champions 12-4 in the semi-final.
Real Madrid, who had won each of the previous four editions of the European Cup, had received a bye in the preliminary round courtesy of being the defending champions. They eased past the Luxembourgers Jeunesse Esch 12-2 in the 1st Round, before Nice were beaten 6-3 in a controversial quarter-final. A pair of 3-1 wins over Barcelona in the all-Spanish semi-final handed them a 6-2 aggregate victory and secured their place in the Glasgow showpiece.
Having included a section on the Eintracht team in the previous part of this series, the remainder of this segment will focus on Real Madrid.
Los Blancos were formed in 1902 but became the dominant force of Spanish and European football in the 1950’s with superstars such as Alfredo di Stefano, Ferenc Puskas and Francisco Gento. All three would play against Eintracht, with di Stefano and Puskas featuring against Rangers when Real Madrid came to Ibrox in the 1st Round of the 1963-64 European Cup. When they met in the 1960 semi-final, Real Madrid had actually trailed Barcelona in the number of La Liga titles won. Madrid had won six in comparison to Barca’s seven, and it was the Catalans, the reigning champions, who would win the 1959-60 championship (finishing level on points, but Barca with a superior record on head-to-head).
I have included the pen pictures below for both times published in the programme of the Final.
The Final (Hampden Park, 18th May 1960)
The match was initially in doubt. Due to unsubstantiated doping allegations levelled at the West German national team some years earlier by Ferenc Puskas, the DFB had banned any West German team from playing against a side featuring the Hungarian maestro. A written apology from Puskas ahead of the Hampden clash satisfied the German football authorities.
The Sunday before the Wednesday final saw Spain easily defeat England at the Bernabeu 3-0. The team included three of the Real side: Pachin, Franciso Gento and Alfredo di Stefano. The official Real Madrid party planned to arrive in Glasgow on the Friday, but due to the inability of their hotel in Troon to accommodate them, the plans changed so they would arrive around 1700 on the Saturday. They squad flew into Prestwick, minus those who were to play against England in Madrid, which attracted the ire of Real. Interestingly, the man responsible for their upset was Helenio Herrera, Manager of Spain (and Barca when Los Blancos met them in the semis), and someone who Real had only the previous month offered a massive amount of money to become their own boss which was turned down.
On the Saturday, the SFA’s public allocation of tickets went on sale. Some had begun to queue since midnight, but a queue was forbidden until 0800, and there was a need for mounted police to break-up a section of the crowd at one point.
Eintracht would arrive in Scotland on the Sunday evening, and would be based at Skelmorlie. Unlike Real Madrid, they had made no request to the SFA to train at Hampden prior to the Final.
Despite the threat of heavy rain putting a dent on Real’s training programme, they were able to complete a session on Sunday evening albeit at Rugby Park. The following day was spent resting at their hotel in Troon, with the players ordered to arrange breakfast in bed and weren’t to be seen until after 1100. Afterwards, they took a quick walk around the local area and then headed in to Glasgow for some shopping. A final, light training session in the evening would be undertaken and would last roughly 75 minutes, this time at Hampden.
The Germans, however, preferred a game of golf at Largs. They would return back to their hotel for a siesta, and then come back to Largs for a training session. Team-manager Ernst Berger explained the decision of not wishing train at Hampden ahead of the final, “We don’t feel that travelling so far from our training hotel will be good for our players. We will find out about the pitch soon enough.” Herr Berger also disclosed that with no injury concerns, Eintracht would be fielding the same XI that had faced Rangers. He also revealed the Germans would be sporting a new strip, red with white sleeves, as opposed to the striped jerseys their players were more accustomed to.
In an interview with the Evening Times, Real Madrid’s President Santiago Bernabeu offered some insight into what made Real different to other club sides in the world, “Real is not a football club. It is what you say a college, or a school. Every day we learn something. Every day I learn. Every day the manager learns. Every day the players learn. No learn, no good.”
For the Germans, they would take a sailing trip on the eve of the final, before travelling back for another training session at Largs. The following day they would check-in at the St Enoch’s hotel and have an afternoon of relaxation before the game. They had however, developed a fitness concern over Dieter Stinka, scorer of two goals against Rangers. He was adjudged to be around 50-50 to take to the Hampden pitch on Wednesday.
Real also had an injury to contend with. Outside-right Canario was struggling, and Emilio Ostreicher would wait until late-on to name his team, giving him every opportunity to be ready.
Rangers had arranged that their bus driver of 12 years, Archie Logan Pittman, would be at the disposal of the Eintracht team for the duration of their stay in Scotland.
It was fair to say that Real were firm favourites to be taking home the trophy again, but there was fighting talk coming out of the German camp. Ernst Berger said, “All the newspapers say we are going to be beaten tonight. Real are a wonderful team. The newspapers are entitled to their opinion. But we did not come to Scotland to lose.”
Both sides were boosted with news on the injury front. Both sides would be a at full-strength, meaning Eintracht could name the same side that had defeated Rangers.
The teams were as follows:
Real Madrid Eintracht Frankfurt
- Rogelio Dominguez
- Jose Maria Vidal
- Jose Santamaria
- Jose Maria Zarraga (C)
- Luis del Sol
- Alfredo di Stefano
- Ferenc Puskas
- Francisco Gento
- Egon Loy
- Friedel Lutz
- Hermann Hoeffer
- Hans Weilbacher
- Walter Eigenbradt
- Dieter Stinka
- Richard Kress
- Dieter Lindner
- Paul Stein
- Alfred Pfaff (C)
- Erich Meier
Referee: Jack Mowat (Scotland)
In the event of a draw, an extra 30 minutes would be played, and if the teams were still level, the European Cup committee would convene to arrange a date and venue for a replay.
It was a sunny evening in Glasgow. There was no rain, but a fair wind blew. The Germans won the toss, giving them the choice of ends and Real kicked-off first. Over 134,000 watched on at Hampden as Real, right from the off, played offensively with some neat and clever passing moves. A near miss occurred within the first quarter-of-an-hour when a goalward drive from the left could only be diverted over the bar from close-range by di Stefano.
However, the Germans were by no means overawed by the Spaniards. Kress carried the ball towards the Real penalty area, before touching it out wide to Lindner, who controlled the ball before delivering a knee-height cross. The Eintracht no.7 carried on his run and was able to get onto the end of it and steer it from the front post beyond Dominguez in the Real goal. After 18 minutes, the Germans led.
Eintracht followed up. Shortly afterwards they were awarded a corner, but the dangerous-looking delivery was captured by Dominguez.
The champions soon began to find their way again. Canario broke down the right-wing and struggled a low cross into the box which somehow progressed all the way to the back-post where Alfredo di Stefano was on-hand, unmarked, to touch the ball into the Eintracht net. The German lead had lasted for less than 10 minutes.
Almost immediately, Real were on the prowl again. A high ball into the box was unable to be properly cleared by the Germans. A careless header could only go as far as del Sol on the edge of the area who nudged the ball sideways to Canario. The right-winger unleashed a low shot with the outside of his boot towards to the goalie’s near post. Loy dived magnificently to stop the shot but failed to take it cleanly and di Stefano was on it like a shot, blasting the ball into the net to give Real a 2-1 advantage on the half-hour mark.
The Madridstas maintained their dominance. Another effort on-goal came when Jose Maria Vidal struck a clean shot with the outside of his foot. As it headed for the goal it found the head of Eintracht left-back Hermann Hofer whose nod deflected it onto the post and the ball bounced clear. Not long after, Eintracht were again on the backfoot. A long ball dropped like a stone into the danger area. Under pressure from Gento, the German defender was unable to deal adequately with the threat. Puskas arrived late, touched the ball beyond Eigenbradt into a wide area of the penalty box and rifled a shot into the roof of the net in the very final minute of the first period. Real Madrid went into half-time 3-1 up. Eintracht had been tenacious, particularly early in the game and had offered some attacking threat of their own, but they were no match for the masterful Madrid attack.
The second-half began just as the first had ended with Madrid on top. First, Loy did well to turn a long-range Puskas shot away from danger with the aid of Lutz. Then Eintracht went forward. A move down the right resulted in a crossed ball, but the resulting shot went high over the bar.
With around 10 minutes played of the second period, Puskas moved forward on the counter and attempted to slip through Gento. Friedel Lutz went shoulder-to-shoulder with the great left-winger and looked to have successfully seen the ball safely back to his goalkeeper when the referee’s whistle went. After a word with the linesman, ref Mowat awarded a penalty for an alleged obstruction. There didn’t appear to be too much in it and justifiably the Germans were aggrieved. The ‘keeper stood still as Puskas lashed the ball to his left-hand side and into the net. 4-1.
Almost instantly after the resumption of play, Eintracht launched an attack of their own and forced a tremendous save by Dominguez. However, any flicker of hope was short lived. Again, Madrid went on the attack. The great Gento moved down the left side and hooked a ball into the box which was nodded in by Puskas, for his hat-trick, on the hour-mark to extend the Spaniards’ lead to four goals.
Again, Gento was threatening down the left side. On one occasion he centred the ball dangerously, finding di Stefano who flicked a header and forced a fantastic diving save by Loy, who conceded the corner.
With the clock just leaving 70 minutes, Puskas strode through the Eintracht half imperiously. Arriving at the 18-yard-line, he lashed a left-footed shot high into the top corner of the Eintracht goal to make it 6-1. This goal was the pick of the bunch.
In all credit to Eintracht, they weren’t too dejected at being 5 goals down with under 20 minutes still to play. Irwin Stein progressed through the Madrid half, beat two defenders, and put the ball high into the top far corner of Dominguez’s net, leaving him with no chance. It was a great goal.
Less than 60 seconds later, and di Stefano struck from well outside the box an absolute thunderbolt which nestled in the bottom left corner of Loy’s goal. Three goals in as many minutes.
The excitement wasn’t over, though. With 15 minutes remaining, an Eintracht attack looked to have been foiled, but Vidal sold Dominguez short on a back-pass and Stein raced in to reduce the deficit to four.
The remainder was an exhibition of scintillating soccer, spearheaded by the magnificent trio of Puskas, di Stefano and Gento. In the final moments it was the aforementioned Gento who possessed the ball down by the corner flag. He stood with the ball stationery, attempting to coax his opponent to make a challenge. With none forthcoming, he got his foot under the ball, and very nearly managed to get it over the head of Lutz. It was a fine effort, and the crowd appreciated the attempt, but they were pleased to see the German saved from public humiliation.
The magnificent spectacle was brought to a close with Real winning 7-3 in what has since become one of the most famous European Cup Finals ever played.
After the match, Trainer of the German side Paul Oswald conceded that the Spaniards were a class above, even if they were aided by a contentious penalty decision. He said, “Naturally we were disappointed that we did not win. But it is no disgrace to be beaten by Real Madrid. Before the game I said they were the greatest club side in the world. That opinion was endorsed at Hampden. I leave with a great respect for the players of Scotland, for the club directors, and for the spectators who were so wonderful last night.”
Senor Bernabeu was also full of praise for the Scottish football public, “Hampden ees magnifico…the Scottish public I will never forget. Never have I heard such cheering in my life. If we are in the final next year we would like to come back to Hampden. This stadium is so good and the organisation so excellent that all finals should be played at Hampden.”
Madrid newspaper Marca had this to say about events at Hampden, “We watched a game of extraordinary beauty with seven goals of such quality. I do not think we should see a final like it again. For many years people will be talking about the legendary feat of a team which won the European Cup five times in a row.”
The compliments even extended to Frankfurt with newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau saying, “One cannot minimise their success with ifs and buts. In the second half when a penalty goal gave the coup de grace to Eintracht, the senors from Madrid began to dance. They proved to be magicians and out-tricked the Frankfurt team. The Spaniards are a super team. Like dancing Dervishes, Puskas and di Stefano beat the Frankfurters to their knees. The two men paid back an old debt, the one from an International in Frankfurt, the other from the 1954 World Cup finals in Berne.”
Rangers’ Opponents of 1959-60
RSC Anderlecht – The Brussels side went on to finish second in the Belgian First Division, just a single point behind Lierse from Antwerp. They would return to the European Cup in season 1962-63 and reach the quarter-finals.
Red Star Bratislava – In a close-run Czechoslovakian League campaign, Red Star would finish in 5th place, but just 4 points behind winners Spartak Hradec Kralove. They represented Czechoslovakia in the 1960 Mitropa Cup, a cup competition open to countries of central Europe, and went out in the first round to the Hungarians Tatabanyai Banyasz. They wouldn’t compete in Europe again until the 1975-76 UEFA Cup, by which time they had become TJ Internacional Bratislava. Scotland were drawn in the same qualification Group for the 1962 World Cup as Czechoslovakia and some members of the side came up against familiar faces. Finishing level on points, a play-off between the two nations was organised. A Scotland side featuring three Rangers players (Jim Baxter, Ralph Brand and Eric Caldow) were upset 4-2 AET by the Czechs, who featured old foes to Caldow: Adolf Scherer and Jiri Tichy. In the regular group games, Davie Wilson, Bobby Shearer, Alex Scott and Ian McMillan had also faced the men from the East. Titus Bubernik had played in the second of the regulation group matches.
Sparta Rotterdam – The plucky part-time Dutch side faced a disappointing domestic campaign. Relinquishing their Eredivisie title, they finished in 7th, a whole 16 points behind Ajax and Feyenoord (Ajax defeated Feyenoord in a play-off for the title). In 1962-63, they would return to continental competition, in the shape of the European Cup-Winners Cup by virtue of winning the previous year’s KNVB Cup. Just weeks after losing out to Rangers, they returned to Glasgow for a meeting with Celtic as part of the City’s Dutch week.
Eintracht Frankfurt – The beaten finalists finished 3rd in the Oberliga Sud, missing out on qualification for the 1960 German football championship by a solitary point from Kickers Offenbach and six behind table-toppers Karlsruher SC. Eintracht would be forced to wait over a decade for a return to European football, losing out to Liverpool in the 1st Round of the 1972-73 UEFA Cup.
Despite progress to the last four of the European Cup, it had been a disappointing season for Rangers. Two days after being eliminated by Eintracht, the Light Blues completed their final league fixture of the season which was a 2-1 defeat to Third Lanark in-front of 8,500 at Ibrox. The end result was a third-place finish in the league, 8 points behind Kilmarnock and 12 off Hearts. The Ibrox men then had the traditional season-ending Glasgow Merchants’ Charity Cup. Ralph Brand scored as the Gers drew 1-1 with Celtic at Ibrox, only for the home side to progress to the final on the toss of a coin. Rangers then played their fourth game in six days as Millar and Brand scored to secure the trophy with a 2-0 victory over Partick Thistle at Hampden. The Charity Cup joined the Glasgow Cup, and, the season’s saving grace, the Scottish Cup in the Ibrox trophy cabinet for season 1959-60.
Rangers had also been selected to represent Scotland in a new competition: the Friendship Cup. This intended to pit four teams each from Scotland and England against eight teams from France. Dundee, Motherwell and Clyde were the other Scottish sides chosen.
However, all throughout the season there had been discussion of organising other European competitions, owing to the success of the European Cup and to a lesser extent the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup. One posed by the Mitropa Cup Committee was to arrange a tournament open to the winners of the Cup competitions of Europe’s national football associations. There were some issues. Firstly, was that not all national associations had cup competitions, and in many of those that did, unlike in Scotland and England, it was often held in low esteem. The SFA were keen, as were the FA and the Italian Football Federation, and a semi-pilot was arranged for season 1960-61. Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, West Germany, East Germany, Austria and Switzerland all agreed to take part. Other associations were put off by the unofficial nature of the competition, and others did not believe there would be public demand for a secondary continental cup competition.
Born was the European Cup for Domestic Cup Winners, or the European Cup-Winners’ Cup. As winners of the Scottish Cup, Rangers would compete in the first edition. As a result, the Ibrox side would no longer play in the Friendship Cup and were replaced by Celtic.
The semi-final of 1959-60 remains the furthest Rangers have ever progressed in Europe’s premier Cup competition. The following season’s continental campaign wouldn’t be too bad either.