What a year 1997 was. Sheep were being cloned, Mike Tyson had bit off part of Evander Holyfield’s ear, and the first Harry Potter book was released.
But more importantly than all of that, Glenavon won the Irish Cup on a hot May Saturday at Windsor Park.
They had been beaten in the previous year’s decider by a Glen Little goal for Glentoran, but on this occasion Glenavon would not be pushed over by Cliftonville.
Tony Grant’s winner ensured that the Lurgan Blues would win the tournament without conceding a single goal.
Their prize – apart from the actual trophy, of course - was a UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup tie against Legia Warsaw, who were known officially at the time as Legia Daewoo due to a sponsorship tie-up with the Korean car manufacturer.
The first leg at Mourneview Park had a lower-than-anticipated crowd of 1,500, mostly down to an early kick-off to suit Polish TV coverage.
Glenavon fell behind to a well-taken strike from midfielder Tomasz Sokolowski in the first half, but in the second half that man Grant came to the rescue once again on the hour mark to give Nigel Best’s side a fighting chance of progressing.
Unfortunately, the second leg didn’t go just as to plan. Despite a resilient performance over the first three-quarters or so of the game, four late goals ended Glenavon’s hopes of progression. Sokolowski scored twice at the Stadion Wojska Polskiego while Jacek Kacprzak and Pawel Skrzypek also hit the tarket.
Press play to watch the goals from the first leg played in Lurgan.
FIRST LEG TEAM: O’Neill, Byrne, Gregg, Quigley, Glendenning, Prizeman, Murphy, Doherty, Caffrey, Grant, Ferguson. Subs: McCartan (Murphy 46), Scullion, Russell, Mooney, McCoy, Tumilty, Patton.
SECOND LEG TEAM: O’Neill, Byrne, Smyth, Quigley, Gregg, Glendenning, Doherty, Caffrey, McCartan, Grant, Ferguson. Subs: Russell (Smith, 74), Prizeman (Doherty 36), McCoy (McCartan 64), Scullion, Tumilty.