On This Day: Nottingham Forest win at AEK Athens, 1978
Reigning European champions Nottingham Forest are words that might never be typed ever again, but at the end of the 1978/79 season and for quite some time subsequently, they were true.
In the days when only league winners and holders qualified, the two English entrants were drawn together in the first round, Forest prevailing over Liverpool – against all expectations – 2-0 on aggregate. Next, they were sent to Athens, setting about their opponents in the proper fashion and recording a well-deserved 2-1 win. Scorers were McGovern and Birtles, but hero of the night was 35 year-old Frank Clark, involved in the first goal and creator of the second. AEK’s came from what Ian St John described as “definitely never a penalty”, and he was right.
Forest won the second leg 5-1 – a “crucifying” according to the club’s official site. Still, could’ve been worse, could’ve been a stabbing: at least crucifixion gets you out in the open air and all that. They went on to win and then retain the trophy, parts three and four of a six-year winning streak for English clubs.