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With Burnley having qualified for the Europa League in 2018/19 season, we today start looking back at our two previous European campaigns. We played in the Fairs Cup in 1966/67 but six years earlier we’d competed in the prestigious European Cup and that’s where we start, as we learned our first opponents.

Winning the Football League title in May 1960 meant Burnley would become only the third English club, following on from Manchester United and Wolverhampton Wanderers, to take part in the European Cup and when we were drawn out to play our first tie it was against Stade de Reims, the French champions and twice European Cup runners up.

The competition was going into its sixth season but was still looking for its second winner with Real Madrid having won it on all five previous occasions. They’d beaten Stade de Reims in the first ever final when the league champions of 16 nations had taken part. The only British club then were Scottish champions Hibernian; English champions Chelsea discouraged from entering. Hibs reached the semi-finals before going out to Reims who themselves lost to Real Madrid.

reims teamIn the next four years, during which time another eleven countries signed up, Real Madrid went on to win finals against Fiorentina, AC Milan, Reims for a second time, and Eintracht Frankfurt. The last of them, a 7-3 win against the West German team at Hampden Park in Glasgow in front of a crowd of over 127,600, is still spoken about today.

With Norway joining for the 1960/61 season, it gave some clubs a bye in the opening round and that included Burnley. There was no seeding and that meant some big established clubs were forced to play including Benfica, Ajax and Juventus as well as Reims who had been drawn against Luxembourg champions La Jeunesse D’Esch who they beat 11-1 on aggregate. Ajax and Juventus didn’t fair quite so well, then went out to Fredrikstad of Norway and Bulgarians CDNA Sofia respectively.

The competition wasn’t quite as well organised as it is today and no dates were set for the games. Burnley and Reims were asked to agree themselves and submit dates to the organisers, but the clubs couldn’t agree and were therefore instructed to play on 16th November in Burnley and two weeks later in France.

At the time, Reims were fourth in their league and had been playing without both of their great players Raymond Kopa and Juste Fontaine through injury although they were confident both would be fit for the tie. Fontaine had been the leading goalscorer in the 1958 World Cup in Sweden with 13 goals. That was seven more than any other player in those finals and it remains the record number of goals scored by one player in a World Cup Finals.

Reims were favourites, undoubtedly. Some were tipping them to win the competition and with two finals behind them they were more experienced than newcomers Burnley. They boasted ten full internationals.

The only country with more than one team was Spain. Barcelona had won their league and Real Madrid, as European Cup holders, were also admitted. They were paired against each other in the tie of the round.

The Full Draw

Benfica v Újpesti Dόzsa
AGF Aarhus v Fredrikstad
Rapid Vienna v Wismut Karl Marx Stadt
IFK Malmö v CDNA Sofia
Real Madrid v Barcelona
Spartak Hradec Králové v Panathinaikos
Burnley v Stade de Reims
Young Boys Berne v Hamburg

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