FEATURE : 1970... the year Rotherham United fans won the Kop Choir competition and booked a trip to the European Cup final

FEATURE : 1970... the year Rotherham United fans won the Kop Choir competition and booked a trip to the European Cup final

By David Beddows | 24/04/2020

FEATURE : 1970... the year Rotherham United fans won the Kop Choir competition and booked a trip to the European Cup final
Millers fans with souvenirs from their trip to Milan for the European Cup decider between Celtic and Feyenoord.

 

IT'S a fair bet that the songs from the stands will be sung with a fair bit more gusto when football eventually kicks off again.


But 50 years ago the lads and lasses on the Tivoli End at Millmoor really did pump up the volume when the BBC cameras turned up for Rotherham United's home league game against Halifax Town.


They were there to film the crowd for a Kop Choir Competition, featuring fans from around the country, including Tottenham, Southampton, Wolves and red-hot favourites Liverpool.


The Millers fans sang their hearts out at that Division Three fixture in March, 1970, making a big impression on the organisers from the BBC with songs including Mighty Quinn, Ilkley Moor and Yellow Submarine.


And when the winners were eventually announced on the Beeb's midweek Sportsnight programme, there was another huge cheer when the Tivoli singers were voted top of the kops.


Their prize was a trip to Milan to see the European Cup final between Celtic and Feyenoord on May 6 — and they even got the chance to hold the prized trophy.


Les Payne, the Advertiser's Millers reporter at the time, remembers that the all-expenses paid trip, complete with a stay in a five-star hotel, was paid for by the Ford Motor Company, which had organised the competition with the BBC.


His report stated: “Travel to Milan and back was by Alitalia DC9 and BEA Trident jets. For all but two of the Millmoor choir, it was their first flight.”


Celtic had put out the great Leeds side in the semi-finals and went into the final as strong favourites.


Although the Rotherham party among a crowd of 53,187 at the San Siro Stadium saw Tommy Gemmell put the Scots in front after 30 minutes, the Dutch proved to be the stronger side. 


Rinus Israël quickly equalised from a free kick and the tie was in extra time when Ove Kindvall scored four minutes from the end to make Feyenood the first side from Holland to win the European Cup.

Feyenood lift the European Cup at the San Siro. The Rotherham party got to lay hands on the trophy on the way home.

“I missed the goal,” remembers Les. “Someone dropped some peanuts and by the time I'd reached down   and picked them up, the ball was floating over the goalkeeper's head.”


As luck would have it, the Millers supporters bumped into the victorious Dutch team at Milan airport on the way home.


“They had a long chat during which they congratulated the winners,” said Les.

“In turn, Feyenoord gave the Rotherham United choir a chance of admiring the trophy.”


The party included Ford Motor Company representative John Cave, who was sales manager at the old TC Harrison garage, Football League review editor Harry Brown and Rotherham United FC's secretary, Jim Bennison.


There were six women on the trip and its only couple, Mr and Williams, described it as “unbeatable”.


It was also something of a dry run for Millers fan Eric Reeley, of Maltby, who was due to spend his upcoming honeymoon in Italy.

Les added: “I have never experienced anything like the atmosphere in the stadium.

“The match was played to the accompaniment of hunting horns which were blown the whole time by the Dutch supporters.

“It was marvellous.”