Brennan calls for Jumbo Showgrounds night
There is one night in Sligo Rovers’ history that has yet to be rivalled or matched and as the Bit o’ Red attempt to top it on Thursday, the man who scored the winning goal has urged the Sligo public to help find that feeling from 20 years ago.
It was 25 August 1994 when John Jumbo Brennan put his name in the history books of Sligo Rovers when scoring the only winning goal in a European tie for the Bit o’ Red.
As Rovers prepare for their crunch Europa League first round qualifying second leg against FK Banga this coming Thursday night in the Showgrounds, thoughts turn to if anyone can join Jumbo and advancement to round two of the competition.
It was a European Cup Winners’ Cup tie against Maltese side Floriana and after a 2-2 away draw, Rovers were in pole position in the Showgrounds and won 1-0 in front of a bumper crowd with Brennan getting the game’s only goal.
Jumbo, who is currently involved with Salthill-Devon, remembers the two games against Floriana well.
“Willie McStay had left and Chris Rutherford was in as caretaker manager. We were away first and got a 2-2 draw and in fairness we were shocked by how the game went when we went over there. They gave us so much time on the ball and we were expecting a tougher game.
“Padraig Moran gave us the lead and they got one but we got another to go 2-1 up. I remember in the last minute of our lads made a break down the wing but lost the ball and they whipped it in and scored an equaliser.”
Despite that late blow, the stage was set for memorable evening in the Showgrounds and it would be a night to remember for so many reasons for Brennan.
He scored the historic goal but was also sent off and still hasn’t served out his full ban, so if John Coleman was looking for some experience in this transfer window for this tie, Jumbo would be ruled out!
“Getting the 2-2 result was brilliant especially as we had two away goals and it was good to bring those back to the Showgrounds. The place was full when we played them in Sligo and it was a great night.
“I know we played really well and because of how the first game had went, they had to score and they were looking to push forward which was allowing us to get in behind them.
“At the time as well it was different to the way it was now as we were just into our pre-season and wouldn’t have been as fit or match sharp as the players are now. I always remember my goal and Gerry Carr passing to me. Scoring the winner in that game was one of the highlights of my career.
“Unfortunately I was sent off late in the game as myself and the centre half had been kicking lumps out of each other and he spat in my face and I hit him a slap and he went down like he had been shot.
“That was the only time I got to play in Europe and I was given a three-game ban and I still have one left and I think it’s the longest-ever ban to serve in Europe!”
That ban ruled Brennan out of the two games against Club Brugge which was when Lawrie Sanchez took charge.
Brennan was at the home game and remembers that Rovers were unlucky to have lost that night:
“That was a great night as well. Jack Charlton was in attendance, which showed what a big game it was.
“The Showgrounds was packed and it was an absolutely great game. We lost 2-1 with Johnny Kenny scoring for us but they were lucky that night Brugge as we deserved something from the game.”
Turning attention back to Thursday’s game and with Rovers again knowing a win would be enough to progress, Brennan believes that John Coleman and his management team have the players in their squad to get the win.
“I think that they can get the victory and get through the tie. Obviously the club has recently changed manager and the new manager has come in now and he will have new ideas and a different way of approaching things.
“Rovers have a great squad with quality players who play exciting football and they have a great opportunity before them on Thursday.”
Sligo Rovers vs FK Banga, Thursday 10 July, Europa League first round second leg, 7pm. Tickets on sale Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 10am to 5pm in The Showgrounds. Adult price €25, children €10.