It’s that time of year. We might be midway through Euro 2016, but we are only less than two weeks away from the first games of European competition in 2016-2017.
But what is The 102 Club? I hear you say. It’s a list of the 102 clubs that have played in the final of UEFA’s three club competitions – European Cup, European Cup Winners Cup and UEFA Cup, and the quest to see them all live in the flesh.
Obviously, if a club reaches a final for the first time, it will become The 103 Club, The 104 Club and so forth.
Last season, there was no new members, thanks to Villarreal’s uselessness at Anfield. Thankfully, it was the set-up to a wonderful night in Basle.
I’m currently on 35, which is better than last year, when I was on 34. PSV Eindhoven were the club I added in 2015-2016.
Admittedly, i’d need a three figure million lottery win to help me complete the set, and let’s face it, i’m the sort of person who would spend that sort of money watching form East German giants now struggling in Germany;s lower leagues.
It’s not impossible to add clubs to your list living in Northern Ireland, as there are sides that Irish League clubs could face in Europe who you can add to your list.
Starting in the European Cup, Crusaders will begin in the Second Round and will be unseeded (as will Dundalk, for the League Of Ireland minded of you) and can face not one, but two former European Champions in the shape of Celtic (1967) and Red Star Belgrade (1991)
I’ve already got Celtic ticked off, so i’m hoping to see Red Star Belgrade come to Belfast.
If you want to tick Celtic off your list, they play Barcelona in a friendly in Dublin in late July – a doubler, if you will.
Other member clubs Crusaders could face include Red Bull Salzburg, Dinamo Zagreb and Dinamo Tblisi.
After that round, there are no member clubs that Crusaders could face until the Group Stages.
In the UEFA Cup, Linfield will be seeded (as will Shamrock Rovers and St Patrick’s Athletic, for the League Of Ireland minded) and the only member club they can face would be MTK Budapest.
Ideally, a team from Gibraltar or San Marino would do me.
Cliftonville and Glenavon will be unseeded (as will Cork City) and have more potential for games against member clubs such as Aberdeen, IKF Gothenborg, Slovan Bratislava and Videoton.
If Linfield were to get through to the 2nd Round, they won’t be drawn to face any member clubs entering in the 2nd Round.
Glenavon and Cliftonville however, could face Austria Vienna or Partizan Belgrade.
If an Irish League team was to get through to the 3rd Round, they could face West Ham United, Saint Etienne, AZ Alkmaar, Panathiniakos or Rapid Vienna.
An Athletics event means that if an Irish League team drew West Ham, if would be played at another club’s ground, denying them the honour of being the first away team to have their bus bottled at the Olympic Stadium.
Dreaming of a trip to Old Trafford? They’ll have to reach the group stage for that to happen.
There’s a bonus for Linfield and Crusaders supporters, with their side entering the Scottish Challenge Cup this season, and the possibility of a game against Dundee United.
Which brings up an interesting issue regarding rules, there are no official rules, but you can’t seriously tick off Aberdeen, Celtic and/or Rangers if you watch their Under 20 team in the Scottish Challenge Cup.
But who is on the list? I hear you say. Don’t worry, here’s a list for you to tick off for your own reference. The clubs i’ve seen are highlighted in bold, with the year first seen in brackets.
1. FC Lokomotive Leipzig
1. FC Magdeburg
Aston Villa (1993)
Atlético Madrid (2011)
Birmingham City (2010)
Carl Zeiss Jena
Dinamo Zagreb (2008)
Dundee United (2013)
Leeds United (1999)
Manchester City (2000)
Manchester United (1993)
Newcastle United (1993)
Nottingham Forest (1996)
PSV Eindhoven (2015)
Real Madrid (2003)
Red Star Belgrade
Stade de Reims
Tottenham Hotspur (2010)
West Ham United (1997)
Wolverhampton Wanderers (2010)
Zenit Saint Petersburg