Forty years ago today Derby County were in Czechoslovakia competing in the European Cup. Here, chief football writer Steve Nicholson looks back at the Rams' quarter-final against Spartak Trnava
AFTER seeing off the champions of Portugal, Benfica, in the previous round the next stop on Derby County's European Cup adventure of 1972-73 took them to Czechoslovakia.
Their opponents in the first leg of the quarter-final tie, Spartak Trnava, had a bye in the first round before they saw off Anderlecht in the second.
Rams manager Brian Clough admitted that he knew nothing about Spartak, who had only recently returned to league action after a winter break which made it difficult for Derby scouts to take a look at the opposition.
"We have not watched them because I would not authorise £10 of Derby County's money to see anyone play in a friendly," said Clough.
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"And we have not had them watched because there are few people whose opinions we can rely on.
"Our concern is to get our own players in the right frame of mind.
"We have here all the squad that beat Benfica, except for Terry Hennessey, and we have added to that David Nish and Roger Davies.
"We feel we are more skilful and the European Cup will be won by a skilful side."
Derby's players were issued with £2 per day spending money in travellers' cheques while in Trnava. Some 500 fans made the trip at a cost ranging between £38 and £43, depending on length of stay.
In his book "The Rams in Europe", Andy Ellis wrote: "The Derby fans were faced with an eventful journey to the game, leaving their Vienna hotel at 7.30am for a 2.30pm kick-off even though it was only 50 miles away.
"The journey had to include a one-hour stop at the border while everyone's hands and shoes were cleaned thoroughly owing to a foot and mouth outbreak."
Spartak's Zimny Stadium had no floodlights and so kick-off was brought forward to the afternoon. The Rams lost 1-0 to a goal by Hovarth four minutes before half-time.
A one-goal defeat in the context of a two-legged tie was seen as a good result and Spartak's manager Anton Malatinski was downcast.
Knowing that Derby had thumped Benfica at the Baseball Ground in the previous round, Malatinski said: "Our chance has gone.
"One goal is not enough, we wanted at least two. I think they will be too good for us in Derby."
Gerald Mortimer, who covered the game for the Derby Evening Telegraph, wrote: "This kind of utterance must not always be taken at face value.
"Nobody minds trying to lull the opposition into a false sense of security. Nevertheless, Derby are poised to reach the European Cup semi-finals at the first attempt. No longer are Spartak Trnava the great unknowns.
"The Rams are aware of their capabilities and their weaknesses and, next time out, they will have the full-throated backing of a packed Baseball Ground."
Derby beat Spartak 2-0 in the second leg to progress to the last four.
In the other quarter-final final ties, Johan Cruyff's Ajax saw off Bayern Munich 5-2 on aggregate and Real Madrid defeated Dynamo Kiev 3-0 over the two legs.
Italians Juventus went through on the away-goal rule following a 2-2 draw with Hungarians Ujpesti Dozsa.
Derby and Juventus would clash in the last four.