I started attending games at Celtic Park in 1974, just as the great European era of the club came to an end. With the exception of the 1979/80 season, between 1975/76 season – 2001/02 we saw no European football past Christmas. To be fair Europe was unseeded back then and in the early rounds we came up against;
Italian champions Juventus in 1981
Dutch champions Ajax followed by spanish champions Real Sociedad in 1982
Sporting Lisbon and then Nottingham Forrest in 1983
The Rapid Vienna cheats in 1984 (they then went on to lose to Everton in the final)
Atletico Madrid behind closed doors in 1985
Dynamo Kiev (just after Chernobyl) in 1986
In all of the above we were in with a shout, losing to Juve 2-1 over two legs, Sociedad 3-2, Forrest 2-1, Atletico Madrid 3-2 and Dynamo Kieve 4-2. Within that period we also had some memorable results including the 5-0 over Sporting Lisbon, the overturned 3-0 over Rapid Vienna and a 2-1 victory away over Cruyff’s Ajax and it is this latter tie that we look at today.
Taking place 37 years ago this week, it was just 10 1/2 years since Ajax had knocked us out of the European Cup in the quarter finals – Cruyff had again played in that game before heading to Spain. The Celtic starting 11 for the September 29th 1982 away game in Amsterdam was Bonner, McGrain, Reid, Aitken, McAdam, Sinclair, Provan, McStay , MacLeod, McGarvey, Nicholas Subs:Latchford Sullivan Crainie (McCluskey 72 on for Provan), (Moyes 78 on for McStay)
Celtic scorers: Nicholas (33), McCluskey (88)
Hard to believe in these modern times but this game couldn’t be seen in Scotland. Why? Because Ajax had sponsorship on their Jersey!
It was a good week for Scottish clubs in Europe. In addition to Celtic progressing (to then lose to Real Sociedad in the next round) Aberdeen beat Dinamo Tirana, Rangers beat Borussia Dortmund and Dundee United knocked out PSV Eindhoven.
If you want to know more about the game, check out the Celtic Wiki