We might be in the middle of the World Cup, but European club football is almost up and running, and it’s time for me to update you as I pursue a pointless list.
What is The 102 Club? Simple. 102 clubs have played in the Final of either the European Cup, European Cup Winners Cup and UEFA Cup, and some people want to go and see them all play live in the flesh.
The membership remained at 102 as no sides reached a first European Final in 2017-2018. Any possibility was extinguished once Red Bull Liepzig went out of the UEFA Cup in the Quarter-Final. Any hope of a new member from the European Cup ended once Basel and Besiktas exited in the Last 16.
I wouldn’t say i’m actively pursuing completion of the list, but i’m going to see how many I can tick off.
During the 2017-2018 season, I added Sampdoria to my list, bringing me up to 36.
You may think that living in Northern Ireland, I wouldn’t get many opportunities to add to the list. You’d be surprised. The early rounds in July offer potential for me to add to my list.
In the European Cup, Crusaders (and Cork City) will be unseeded and could potentially face Celtic, Malmo, Red Star Belgrade (Yes please!! Showing my age by getting giddy at the mention of Red Star Belgrade) and Videoton.
If Crusaders were to draw Celtic, we’ll get to hear about Joe Miller telling the Daily Record about how he was probably attacked by a laser beam when playing at Seaview in the 1990s.
If either of them get through to the Second Round, they could face Dinamo Zagreb.
If either of them were to get to the 3rd or 4th Round, Red Bull Salzburg or PSV Eindhoven could await.
Any team that goes out of the European Cup will automatically enter the UEFA Cup, but can only face fellow European Cup exitees, so the same rules will apply.
When the Group Stages arrive, I may be tempted by a trip to Old Trafford for a game. Possible opponents for United who I haven’t seen include Dynamo Kiev, Standard Liege, Bayern Munich, Juventus, PSG, Schalke, Monaco, CSKA Moscow, Club Brugge and Inter Milan.
Meanwhile in the UEFA Cup, Linfield won’t be playing in it because the Irish League doesn’t believe in European places being decided on merit, and instead prefers Play-Offs which reward mediocrity.
Coleraine, Glenavon and Cliftonville will all be unseeded, as will Shamrock Rovers and Derry City. They could be drawn to face Partizan Belgrade, Slovan Bratislava, Dinamo Tblisi, Gornik Zabre or Rangers.
Having reached the Group Stage of the competition in 2016, it is unsurprising that Dundalk will be seeded. They need not worry about being left out, as they could face Ferencvaros or Ujpest.
Some biggies lie in wait in the 2nd Round, such as Sevilla, AZ Aalkmar, Steau Bucharest, Bordeaux and Aberdeen.
If any of them were to get to the 3rd Round, possible opponents include Zenit St Petersberg, Braga, Feyenoord and Rapid Vienna.
If any of them were to get to the Group Stage, possible opponents include Arsenal, Chelsea, Bayer Leverkusen, Anderlecht, Lazio, Sporting Lisbon, Marseille, Eintracht Frankfurt and AC Milan.
It isn’t just that, as Coleraine, Crusaders, Bray Wanderers and Bohemians will be participating in the Scottish Challenge Cup, with Dundee United being the one you want if you want to add to your list.
And no, Celtic, Rangers or Aberdeen’s Reserve Teams won’t count.
For those based in the Republic of Ireland (or if you fancy a road trip from Northern Ireland), Aberdeen (Cobh Ramblers) and Newcastle United (St Patrick’s Athletic) will be visiting soon for friendlies.
Meanwhile, Lansdowne Road will be hosting friendlies between Arsenal and Chelsea, and Liverpool and Napoli.
So, I shall sign off by providing you with the list to check off who you have. The teams I have are in bold with the year first seen in brackets.
Hope to add some more in 2018-2019
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