This programme is from Aston Villa’s first game in the European Cup as holders, having won the competition four months previously with a 1-0 victory over Bayern Munich in Rotterdam.As Peter White of the ‘Sports Argus’ reflected in the programme 'it began in the cold, barren wastes of Iceland and ended on a balmy evening in Rotterdam. In between there were stops in grey and dismal Berlin, inhospitable Simferopol and the electric atmosphere of Anderlecht. A trail that was to end in triumph as skipper Dennis Mortimer held aloft the coveted trophy at a few minutes after 10 o’clock last 26 May, 1982'.
Villa’s first-ever European Cup campaign began in September 1981 against the Icelandic minnows FC Valur of Reykjavik, resulting in a 5-0 win at Villa Park and a 2-0 success in the away leg. In Round Two, Villa enjoyed a brilliant 2-1 win in the away leg against Dynamo Berlin, including a superb solo goal by Tony Morley, but lost the home leg 1-0 and only advanced on the away goals rule.
Fast forward to the quarter-final stage in March 1982 and an excellent goalless draw against Dynamo Kiev in the first leg laid the foundations for a 2-0 victory in the return, with Gary Shaw and Ken McNaught both on the scoresheet. Then, it was Anderlecht in the semi-final, with Tony Morley grabbing the only goal of the game in the home leg and the boys in claret and blue holding on to that advantage in Belgium following a 0 0 draw. Sadly, trouble caused by a few mindless Villa fans – a recurring problem with English supporters in this era – led to this match against Beskitas being played behind closed doors.After the crowd disturbances at the semi-final, the Rotterdam police were out in force for the Final but both sets of supporters were well-behaved and it was Villa who came out on top despite losing goalkeeper Jimmy Rimmer to injury early on, with replacement Nigel Spinks performing heroically in his place. Peter Withe snatched the only goal of the game after good work by Tony Morley, but put every Villa fans’ heart in their mouth by playing a one-two off the post!
The 1982-83 season started badly for the new European champions as they lost their first three games, including 5-0 at Everton. But Tony Barton’s side then won their next two League games 4-1 so came into the match with Beskitas in form, winning the home leg 3-1 then drawing the away tie 0-0 to advance. In the second round, Villa thumped Dinamo Bucharest 6-2 on aggregate, with Gary Shaw grabbing a hat-trick in the home leg.
Before the knockout stages of the competition began, Villa lost 2-0 in the World Club Championship to Penarol of Uruguay but defeated Barcelona in the European Super Cup, losing the first leg 1-0 in the Camp Nou before taking the second 3-0, Gary Shaw levelling the tie with ten minutes of normal time remaining and Gordon Cowans and Ken McNaught sealing the victory in extra-time.
But in the quarter-final of the European Cup, Villa were unable to overcome a strong Juventus side featuring Michel Platini as well as a host of Italian stars fresh from their 1982 World Cup success, including Dino Zoff, Paolo Rossi and Marco Tardelli, losing 2-1 at home and 3-1 in the Stadio Comunale. Juve made it to Final but lost 1-0 to Hamburg, ending the six-year domination of English clubs in Europe’s premier football competition, stretching from Liverpool in 1977 and 1978, Nottingham Forest in 1979 and 1980, Liverpool again in 1981 and, of course, Villa in 1982.