In England it was called the «ghost party» and in Spain it was not even named. It was a bad memory, although it was much more than that. It was the first European competition match to be played behind closed doors. West Ham and Castilla contested it on October 1, 1980, the first round of the Cup Winners Cup. A minimum paragraph to say that Castilla (Real Madrid subsidiary) was the fashionable team in Spain. He made his debut in Europe after being runner-up in the Spanish Copa. As Real Madrid, the champion, had also won the league, Castilla subsidiary completed its magical year with its international debut. Another subsection to point out that West Ham was also a second division team. He had won the FA Cup at Arsenal (1-0) and would take a year to rise.
In the first leg, on September 17, the city of Madrid suffered firsthand what a decade earlier had come to be called “hooliganism”. Until then it was a British disease confined to the islands; an alien virus, allow comment in these turbulent times. Heysel was eight years away.
Before the game the first incidents were registered. During the meeting, the West Ham ultras were dedicated to urinate from the first amphitheater on the spectators of the preferred stands. After the clash, and who knows if even more upset by the defeat (3-1), the pitched battle continued around the Bernabéu stadium. Added to the material damage were 50 detainees and one death, an English supporter run over by a bus.
UEFA took action on the matter and announced exemplary measures. In a first decision it determined the closure of the West Ham stadium for two European competition matches and a fine of 7,750 pounds. The English club would have to find an alternative field no less than 300 kilometers from London. Sunderland proposed their stadium and the offer was accepted.
West Ham appealed and his appeal infuriated UEFA, which toughened the penalty. The team was finally due to play behind closed doors at its own stadium, Upton Park. The club thus lost the income from the collection, higher than the financial penalty estimated in principle, and the fans would not have the possibility of seeing their team, even if it was close to Scotland.
In the history of European competitions, a closed-door match had never been organized, so the conditions had to be defined. Only players and technical teams, referees, managers, administrative staff, police and journalists could enter the stadium. In total, 262 people.
Only one issue remained to be resolved, television. The BBC had everything ready to broadcast the game, but UEFA objected: «Behind closed doors means behind closed doors.» West Ham then considered the possibility of offering the game by closed circuit and showing it in some cinemas in the area. That too was prohibited. No one would see the game except the 262 authorized witnesses.
And so it was played. The match was so strange that no cards were shown despite the drama of the tie. Not a single player is said to have faked a foul. No footballer protested to the referee, perhaps everyone was embarrassed by the general silence. They say that a transistor was heard from the field.
The tension must have been maximum. Bernal forced extra time with a shot from 30 meters (63′) and in extra time Castilla collapsed (5-1).
By the way, West Ham wore white, like Real Madrid.
Outside the stadium, the fans celebrated their qualification and proclaimed David Cross, who scored three goals, two in extra time, a hero. Ghosts of Glory, headlined a newspaper. Nobody titles like the English.
In Spain we preferred to forget that game. In the midst of the construction of the myth of Real Madrid’s European comebacks, the subsidiary misstep was filed away as an anecdote. But it wasn’t. It was a precedent of what we live now.