Motherwell in Europe
Motherwell have qualified for Europe on five occasions. Our first appearance was after winning the Scottish Cup in 1991 and we have qualified for the UEFA Cup through our league position on three occasions. Despite finishing 7th in the SPL in the 2008/09 campaign, the ‘Well qualified through UEFA’S Fair Play League and would be the first Scottish side to play in the newly formed Europa League. Watching your side away in Europe, no matter what location the club is travelling too is perhaps the greatest experience a fan of a provincial club can enjoy. Below is a reminder of past European campaigns. Included are teams, reports and some photographs from each encounter.
Cup Winners Cup 1st Round
Motherwell versus GKS Katowice
Motherwell’s reward for winning the 1991 Scottish Cup was entry into the Cup Winners Cup. This was the clubs first time in European competition and the fans waited with baited breath to see which part of Europe the club would have to travel to. GKS Katowice, a Polish side who had qualified as they had beaten Legia Warsaw 1-0 in the Polish Cup Final. Katowice was not the glamour location that many fans would have hoped for but just over 500 of the ‘Well faithful travelled to witness the club debut in Europe.
The official party flew from Glasgow airport to Krakow airport, the plane was delayed for four and a half hours in Glasgow before Polish authorities had demanded £10,000 as additional landing fees mainly due to trouble in Yugoslavia at the time.
The game proved to be a huge disappointment as the home side ran out 2-0 winners, it seemed the tie was already out of our hands. Billy Thomson received the man of the match award for a string of vital saves.
Two weeks later over 10,000 jam packed Fir Park as there was strong belief we could peg the polish outfit back. This indeed was the case when Steve Kirk put the ‘well in front after linking up great with Davie Cooper in the first half. Sadly, Katowice would throw a spanner in the works when Rzeznicek netted early in the second half ultimately ending the Steelmen’s European dreams. Two late goals from Nicholas Cusack and Kirk did raise hope of a miracle but despite drawing the tie 3-3 over the two legs, Motherwell would crash out of Europe on the away goals rule.
1st Leg: GKS Katowice 2 Motherwell 0
TEAM: Thomson, Griffin, Nijholt, Dolan, Philliben, McCart, Russell, O’Donnell, McLeod, Kirk, Cooper.
SUBS USED: Cusack, Gardner.
SUBS NOT USED: Dykstra, Ferguson, Shepherd
2nd Leg: Motherwell 3 GKS Katowice 1 – AGG 3-3 (Katowice win on away goals)
TEAM: Thomson. Griffin, Nijholt, O’Donnell, Dolan, McCart, Russell, Kirk, Cusack, Angus, Cooper.
SUBS USED: Ferguson, Philliben.
SUBS NOT USED: Dykstra, McLeod, Gardner
SCORERS: Kirk 2, Cusack
UEFA CUP PRELIMINARY ROUND
It wasn’t too long before the club would yet again venture into Europe, Tommy McLean guided the side to third in the League and the reward was a place in the Uefa Cup. This time the club were drawn to face a side from the Faroe Islands “Havnar Boltfelag”.
By the time the game came around a new management team of Alex McLeish and Andy Watson had been installed and the game in Europe would be there first in charge.
The first leg was played at Fir Park and was won quite comfortably as the steelmen won 3-0. Paul McGrillen and Steve Kirk were on the score sheet and so was Tommy Coyne who had not long returned from World Cup duty with Ireland.
1st Leg: Motherwell 3 Havnar Boltfelag 0
TEAM: Woods, Shannon, McKinnon, Philliben, Martin, McCart, Lambert, Dolan, McGrillen (Kirk), O’Donnell (Davies), Coyne.
SUBS NOT USED: Allan, Burns, Ritchie.
SCORERS: Coyne, McGrillen, Kirk
2nd Leg: Havnar Boltfelag 1 Motherwell 4 – AGG 7-1
TEAM: Woods (Allan), Shannon, Philliben, McLeish, Martin, McCart, Burns, Dolan (McMillan), Kirk, Davies, McGrillen.
SUBS NOT USED: Coyne, O’Donnell, Lambert.
SCORERS: Kirk2, Davies, Burns
UEFA CUP FIRST ROUND
The draw for the first round paired the club with German giants Borussia Dortmund. Over 1500 Dossers travelled to Germany for which proved to be one of the best performances under Alex McLeish. Dortmund clearly under estimated the well and were almost made to pay the penalty as the defensive were solid and on several occasions the attack threatened to score. In the end only Andreas Moller managed to snatch a clean sheet from Stevie Woods grasp as the Germans won 1-0.
The second leg however was a huge let down as Dortmund made sure there would be no further surprises. Referee Anders Frisk hardly helped Motherwell’s cause and as frustration surfaced things turned nasty in the game which resulted in the dismissals of Rab Shannon and Dougie Arnott. The giants from Germany won the game 2-0 but many fans still reminisce in the delightful performance over in Dortmund despite the disappointment at Fir Park.
1st Leg: Borrusia Dortmund 1 Motherwell 0
TEAM: Woods, Shannon, McKinnon, Philliben, Martin, McCart, Lambert, Dolan, Coyne, Arnott (McGrillen), Davies (Kirk).
SUBS NOT USED: Allan, McLeish, McMillan
SENT OFF: McGrillen
2nd Leg: Motherwell 0 Borrusia Dortmund 2 – AGG 0-3
TEAM: Woods, Shannon, McKinnon, Philliben, Martin, McCart, Lambert (Kirk), Dolan, Coyne, Arnott, Davies (Burns).
SUBS NOT USED: Allan, McLeish, McMillan.
SENT OFF: Arnott, Shannon.
UEFA CUP PRELIMINARY ROUND
Finishing 2nd in the League in 1994/95 meant for the second year running the club would embark on Europe once again.
It looked like a reasonable draw when we were paired with Mypa 47 of Finland. The 1st Leg was at Fir Park and couldn’t have gotten off to a better start as Shaun McSkimming netted a diving header after only 8 Minutes, sadly a series of defensive disasters allowed the Finnish outfit to net 3 times and suddenly the tie looked out of our reach.
The team did however produce a fantastic effort in the 2nd leg, winning 2-0 thanks to goals from Burns and Arnott. Despite drawing the tie 3-3 on aggregate, Mypa would advance on the away goals rule. The fans who travelled to Finland will never forget the moment when young striker Lee McCulloch hit the post in injury time.
It wouldn’t be until thirteen years later the club would embark on another venture into Europe. Mark McGhee built an impressive side which finished 3rd in the league in 2007/08 and there reward was to go straight into the first round of the UEFA Cup. The draw would pair the side with French outfit Nancy. Over 2500 fans dawned on France to see the Steelmen play in Europe again. Nancy never looked in real danger of losing and won the game 1-0 thanks to a superb header before the half time interval. Graham Smith pulled off a man of the match performance making a stunning save in front of the Well fans and who will forget his penalty save? Fantastic!
The 2nd Leg at Fir Park provided a nice scene as the East Stand, Davie Cooper and Phil O’Donnell were jam packed with also the south filled with home fans. Within 23 Minutes the tie was out of our reach. Motherwell’s lack of European experience showed as Nancy won two VERY soft free kicks outside the box and they duly netted from them both to leave the man from Lanarkshire disappointed.
EUROPA LEAGUE 2009/2010
The club were rewarded with a place in the Qualifying rounds of the inaugural Europa League in 2009 as the side finished 2nd in the Fair Play League, as Celtic topped the League and were already in the Champions League it meant the Well would yet again be on a European tour, this time providing a very exciting pre season, perhaps one of the best in years.
New manager Jim Gannon was literally days in the door and had a thread bear squad as the likes of Paul Quinn, David Clarkson, Stephen Hughes and Graham Smith amongst others all decided to move on. Fir Parks pitch was also on the mend so Airdrie Uniteds Shyberry Excelsior Ground would be used for the clubs home games.
Welsh side Llanelli provided the opponents in the first round and would shock Motherwell 1-0. The 2nd Leg would provide no shocks as a fine professional performance in Wales saw the club win 3-0 and advance to play Flamurtari of Albania.
Firstly a special mention must go out as despite the club discouraging fans to go 10 supporters would travel to Albania to see there side away. Sadly a poor refereeing decision cost Motherwell as he ruled out a John Sutton penalty as Flamurtari players encroached on goal, Sutton would of course miss the retake and not so long later Ermir Strati would net a nice winner. Motherwell fans were optimistic that the result could be overturned but no one expected quite what was to come.
Jamie Murphy and Paul Slane in particular lit up the home tie as the club would record an amazing 8-1 victory. A Jamie Murphy hat trick, a Ross Forbes penalty and stunning long ranger, a long mesmerizing run and goal by Paul Slane, A tap in by Shaun Hutchison and a neat bit of trickery and finish by Robert McHugh saw off the men from Albania.
Next up was Romania giants Steaua Bucharest. The class oozed off the Romanians and Motherwell were duly beaten 3-0 away from home, perhaps one positive to look back on was the debut of new keeper John Ruddy who pulled off a string of fantastic saves plus saving a penalty. The home game provided hope as Steaua were blown away in the first 45 minutes. A stunning goal from Ross Forbes put well back in the tie, only the Romanians keeper pulled off a string of wonderful saves to keep them in the tie. Sadly however the side conceded a soft penalty which they converted. That seemed to fill them with confidence and they would net a further two running out 6-1 on agg.
Hopefully it won’t be too long before Motherwell Football Club embark upon another European tour.
2…………….. Alex Burns, John Sutton
1……………..Tommy Coyne, Nick Cusack, Paul McGrillen, Paul Slane, Billy Davies, Shaun Hutchison, Shaun McSkimming, Robert McHugh and Dougie Arnott.