Flashback Special: Rovers in Munich - 20 years ago

The famous half-time scoreboard in Munich - Bayern 0 Raith 1
The famous half-time scoreboard in Munich - Bayern 0 Raith 1

The iconic scoreboard - FC Bayern 0 Raith Rovers FC 1 - is one of Scottish football’s most enduring and iconic images. This Saturday marks the 20th anniversary of that incredible night when the wee team from Kirkcaldy came close to ultimate glory. Here we take a look back through The Fife Free Press archive reports from an epic performance at the Olympic Stadium...

Miracle in Munich was on the cards - Special UEFA Cup report from Munich by Fife Free Press Sports Editor John Greechan (October 31, 1995).

RAITH’S final appearance - for this season, at least - on the European stage had everything a good drama needs.

In one of the most theatrical of venues in world football, the quite stunning Olympic Stadium, Rovers belied their bit-part status with a virtuoso performance.

The impossible dream, overturning a 2-0 deficit from the first leg of this UEFA Cup tie, was sadly never realised.

But for 22 glorious minutes - half-time interval included - the biggest shock in Scottish football’s European history was definitely on the cards.

The late Ronnie Coyle challenges Jurgen Klinsmann in Munich.

The late Ronnie Coyle challenges Jurgen Klinsmann in Munich.

Having weathered the early Bayern maelstrom, which included French ace Jean-Pierre Papin missing a penalty, Danny Lennon fired Raith into a 1-0 lead just two minutes before half-time.

Bayern hit back after a slip by Ronnie Coyle allowed Jurgen Klinsmann to equalise, with a scrambled second from Markus Babbel giving the Bundesliga leaders a 4-1aggregate victory and securing their passage to the third round.

Jimmy Nicholl decided not to gamble on youth for one of the biggest games in Raith’s history, denying Mark Buist and Ian McMillan their European debuts just three days after the defenders made their first Premier League starts.

Alex Taylor stepped in at right back and Shaun Denis returned to central defence, although Davie Sinclair held on to the captain’s arm band.

Danny Lennon scores his famous free-kick for Raith Rovers against Bayern Munich on October 31, 1995

Danny Lennon scores his famous free-kick for Raith Rovers against Bayern Munich on October 31, 1995

Keeper Scott Thomson made two outstanding saves before 15 minutes had passed, foiling Andreas Herzog and Alexander Zickler.

Bayern always looked capable of breaching the remodelled Raith defence and it was no surprise, therefore, when Christian Nerlinger left Coyle for dead and the Rovers veteran was forced to scythe him down inside the box.

Papin had the ball on the spot almost before his team-mate hit the ground - but he blasted the penalty well over the bar.

The reprieve sparked fresh life into Raith, although they still had to work hard as the deadly duo of Klinsmann and Papin, aided by the quicksilver Zickler, threatened to break the deadlock.

But the Germans weren’t quite so clever at the back at times, Nerlinger making a great recovery after captain Thomas Helmer had left his pass back short, and Rovers looked dangerous in spurts.

When Lennon was fouled by Herzog 20 yards out the Rovers midfielder immediately decided to take the free-kick himself - and his attempted curler was sent past Oliver Kahn by the unlucky Herzog, whose attempted headed clearance completely wrongfooted the German national keeper.

Euphoria swept up the giant slope of stand behind the Raith goal as the visiting fans went absolutely berserk with delight.

The joy turned to confidence as Raith began to dominate after the interval, Tony Rougier hitting the side netting three minutes in.

But just a further three minutes elapsed before Klinsmann netted the equaliser for Bayern, Zickler pouncing as Coyle slipped and crossing for the striker - scorer of both goals in the first leg - to almost casually fire the ball into the roof of the net.

The tie was killed off after 63 minutes when Thomson, who appeared to have one hand held by a Bayern attacker, missed an outswinging corner and, in the ensuing stramash, Babbel stuck out a foot to score from two yards.

Substitute Ally Graham, on for Rougier, just let the ball get away from him when he chested a Sinclair cross down inside the box, Kahn diving at the striker’s feet to deny Rovers one more moment of glory.

In the closing stages Jimmy Nicholl’s men were chasing shadows as the Germans, with a 16-man squad boasting nine full internationals and seven under-21 national stars, began to stroke the ball around like a truly world class team.

Fife’s finest can be proud of their efforts against such strength and the rousing reception the players received as they took a Brazilian-style bow at the end of a glorious night was well deserved.

Sinclair joined Coyle in the ref’s book for dissent, while Dietmar Hamann was yellow carded for a late lunge on the Rovers skipper.Half-time: 0-1

Scorers - Bayern: Klinsmann (51 mins), Babbel (63). Raith: Lennon (43).

Bayern: Kahn, Babbel, Hamann, Strunz, Helmer, Nerlinger, Zickler, Herzog (S45 Witeczek), Papin, Sforza (S78 Frey), Klinsmann. Subs (not used): Sheuer (GK), Born, Gerster.

Raith: Thomson, Taylor (S64 Kirkwood), Broddle, Coyle (S80 McInally), Dennis, Sinclair, Rougier (S60 Graham), Cameron, Crawford, Lennon, Dair. Subs (not used): Fridge (GK), McMillan.

Referee: Vasily Meinichuk (Ukraine). Crowd: 27,000.