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InterToto Logo InterToto Competition Review

Newry Town FC in Europe? Two years prior to the summer of 1999 and people would have laughed at the notion...and they did !
They laughed when newly installed Chairman Joe Rice predicted that Newry Town would be playing in Europe within three seasons on January 10 1997. The laughter has now subsided to be replaced with elation and tidy revenues which are sure to help The Town next season.

Newry Town had entered the Intertoto Competition courtesy of finishing fourth in the Irish League and although no Irish League team had ever progressed in the competition Newry were out to prove their worth. There are 60 teams taking part this year, and three of them qualify for the first round of the Uefa Cup. The competition is played over five rounds. For further information on results and the teams taking part click here for UEFA Intertoto Cup WWW Page

The Town had been drawn against Croatian opposition Hvratski Dragovoljac, full-time professionals from an ever stronger Croatian soccer scene. They were guaranteed 24,000 for playing the two fixtures and a further 25,000 if the unthinkable happened and they won. Further to this an even more lucrative fixture against Bundesliga team Duisburg awaited the winners.

The first leg of the first round played in Zagreb on Sat 19 June 1999, witnessed a spirited performance from the part-timers. Kevin McKeown returned to his goalkeeping position to give an outstanding display as did Alan Hall, Stuart McLean and new boy Shane Reddish. Newry lined up in 4-5-1 formation with Dessie Gorman alone up front. Although the speed of John Kenny and Mark Rutheford down the wings caused problems the Hrvatski Dragovoljac defence was tight. The Newry defence also came under pressure particularly from Ivo Maglica and Lalic Mari who set up the only goal of the game after 53 minutes when Nikica Miletic scored from 30 yards leaving McKeown with no chance.

After the first leg, Newry Manager John McDonnell promised a more attacking formation with 'different formation, players and positions'.

After the first leg it was reported in a regional newspaper that Chairman Joe Rice was considering his future at the helm of the club. It was reported that he was finding it hard balancing his day job and footballing interests - not unlike Ollie Ralph and Harry Fay.

The second leg at the Showgrounds meant that the Town needed to win by two clear goals to progress. The team came out in positive form despite the poor Irish weather and the large attendance bouyed the players on.

Kevin McKeown built on his first leg performance in a commanding role in the goal, his many saves kept Newry in the tie. But it was two local lads Robbie Casey and Adrian Larkin who were the heros of the day. An early goal in the first half by new signing and Newry local Robbie Casey made it all square on aggregate and left Newry in a promising position. Dessie Gorman was making little impact up front and was replaced by Adrian Larkin 10 minutes from time and as soon as he got on the pitch he scored.

When the final whistle came after a very long ten minutes Newry fans went wild but the most delighted person was surely Joe Rice who ran around the pitch waving a Hvratski Dragovoljac scarf. 

The croatians who had already begun planning their trip to Germany left the pitch dejected and returned to the Mourne Country Hotel.

For the second round against MSV Duisburg whose team includes such players as Erik Bo Anderson formally of Rangers, Tony Scappaticci found himself suspended after picking up two yellow cards in the first round.

Celebrations soon began and there were high spirits among other things in the changing room after the game. 

MSV Duisburg in the 1997 Intertoto Cup were in the running for the UEFA cup until the final, but were finally beaten by Auxere. Their team is as follows:
Goalkeepers:Kramer, Carsten Cristof ; Menger, Andreas ; Stauce, Gintaras
Defence:Drsek, Pavel ; Hajto, Tomasz ; Hoersen, Thomas; Kovacevic, Marijan ;Neun, Jorg ; Schneider, Martin ; Schramm, Thorsten ; Schyrba, Peter ; Wohlert, Torsten
Midfield:Emmerling, Stefan ; El Hamrouni, Yasser ; Hirsch, Dietmar ; Keidal, Ralf ; Osthoff, Markus ; Steffen, Horst ; Torres, Reiner; Vana, Thomas; Voss, Andreas; Wedau, Marcus; Wolters, Carsten; Zeyer, Michael
Forwards:Andersen, Erik Bo ; Beierle, Markus; Bugera, Alexander; Guvenisik, Sercan; Spies, Uwe

Erik Bo AndersonA player of note is Erik Bo Andersen who is formerly of Glasgow Rangers. Duisburg came Eighth in the Bundesliga and their nickname is the Zebras. The capacity of their stadium Wedau-Stadium is a mere 30,112 as opposed to The Showgrounds 8,000 ? -ish. Their stadium was built in 1926 and was last renovated in 1989. Their team colours are blue and white stripes (sound familiar?), blue shorts and blue socks - Although they'll be in their away strip on Saturday of red-black, black shorts and red socks. The Duisburg team manager is Freidhelm Funkel who has been managing the team from 1996.

Newry Town managed to keep the scoreline to a respectable 2-0 defeat in the away leg in Duisburg. Newry survived to half time at 0-0 but Uwe Spies scored after 49 minutes and although Kevin McKeown deflected a powerful shot to the post Uwe Spies headed home. Although Duisburg scored another goal it was ruled as off-side. They made amends after 74 minutes an excellent shot by Stefan Emmerling was saved by McKeown but did not catch it squarely and the deflection was put home by Markus Beierle.By the full-time whistle Newry had had 4 attempts on goal and Duisburg had 13. After the game at the press conference the German coach Funkel commented to Steven McCullagh The Showground Press Officer 'I am dissappointed that there were not as many goals, we should have had at least one more but we are happy !'. Trevor Anderson retorted saying 'It wasn't a pretty game' and when asked how his team may fare next week he repilied 'expect the same again' - an obvious reference to the fate of the Croatians.

In the return leg at the Showgrounds Duisburg looked less than impressive. The Newry pitch was compact ans suited Newry's tactics. Mark Rutherford scored for Newry but the Town couldn't manage another giant-slaying. They had beaten a multi-million pound outfit but overall failed to progress any further in the competition.....until next year!

  Copyright 1999 Jonny McCullagh
  DISCLAIMER: The views expressed on this page are those of the originator and in no way represent the views or opinions of Newry Town Football Club 1997 Ltd.