This week’s Video Of The Week comes courtesy of RSC Anderlecht’s YouTube page, and is the complete 1976 European Cup Winners Cup Final between Anderlecht and West Ham United. West Ham’s achievement in reaching a European trophy final in a season during which they finished in eighteenth place can’t be understated, but they met their match in an Anderlecht team that contained, amongst others, François Van Der Elst (who went on to play for West Ham between 1981 and 1983) and the Dutch pairing of Arie Haan and Rob Rensenbrink. Both of the latter two went on to play in the 1978 World Cup final for the Netherlands against Argentina – a match which the Netherlands came within one kick (one Rob Rensenbrink kick, as it happened) away from snatching away from the host nation.
The match was played at the Heysel Stadium in Brussels, but it wasn’t quite a home match for them. They played their home matches then, as they do now, at the Stade Constant Vanden Stock, in the Anderlecht suburb on the western side of the city. This was the first of three successive European Cup Winners Cup finals for Anderlecht, who lost the 1977 final to Hamburg before beating Austria Vienna 4-0 in the 1978 final. Anyone doubting their quality (they were kept out of the European Cup by Club Brugge, who only narrowly lost the 1978 European Cup final at Wembley against Liverpool – this remains the only appearance in the final of the competition by a Belgian side) should also consider that in both seasons that they won the Cup Winners Cup, they went on to win the European Super Cup with wins against Bayern Munich and Liverpool.
So, they were formidable opponents but West Ham United (who were relegated to the Second Division after several seasons of struggle in 1978) played outstandingly well and pushed them all the way. Their team that evening contained the original Frank Lampard, Trevor Brooking and Billy Bonds, amongst others. West Ham, of course, found themselves back in the European Cup Winners Cup in 1981. The commentary – not that this detracts from the enjoyment of watching it – is in Belgian French (we think) and this is the full ninety minutes, so it might be an idea to get yourselves a nice cup of tea before you settle down and watch it.