Kick Off

The Day I Beat Jan Tomaszewski…

by Rob Shepherd

Even for those who were not remotely born then, the events of that night 40 years when Poland knocked England out of the World Cup are familiar.

Roy Hodgson takes England into tonight’s game dismissing the role of history, especially that long ago.

He has a point. Then again for Poland that game still has a special meaning to players who would have been told tales about the legends of ’73 as they started to make their way in international football.

The Polish are a particularly proud nation, as indeed the mass of their 18,000 fans will show tonight by unfurling a massive red and white flag as a mark of respect to the English who – under the banner of Great Britain – stepped into the Second World War after Poland had been invaded.

The presence of so many Polish fans will create a passionate atmosphere so even if Poland can’t qualify they will be playing for pride and some perhaps for a move to the Premier League.

And Southampton goal keeper Artur Boruc knows he could play his way into the list of Polish legends if comes close to emulate one man…

The 1-1 draw, which eliminated England from the 1974 finals, was of course most memorable for the goal keeping heroics of Jan Tomaszewski who stuffed Brian Clough’s Clown taunts down this country’s throats.

England approach Tuesday night with a nagging fear of de ja vu.

Even if Poland are not as strong a team now as they were back then (they went onto finish third in the 1974 finals) they still have two menacing forwards in Borussia Dortmund’s star striker Robert Lewandowski and club mate winger Jakub Blaszczykowski. And the keeper Boruc is a serious item too.

As indeed was Tomaszewski who went into politics and TV punditry when he hung up his gloves. But I can assure you he has a sense of humour.

In September 1999 in Warsaw on the morning a decisive European Championship game, a match between the Polish and English press had been arranged.

We had Trevor Brooking and Terry Butcher and they had Zbigniew Boniek and Tomaskzeski as their “ringers”.

I was a bit peeved to have been left on the bench; although it may have had something to do with the early start and me missing the team bus and getting changed late.

Anyway mid-way through the second half with the game locked at 1-1 I got sent on up front.

As the final whistle loomed a cross come over from the right and my scuffed near post shoot fooled Tomaszewski, dribbling over the line at the far post; 2-1 England !

I couldn’t contain my excitement. I jumped into the giant arms of Big Jan, then 51 but still an item between the sticks, planted a kiss on his cheek and exclaimed: “That’s for 1973, you clown!”

He burst out laughing and we had a great chat after.

What people tend to forget is how soundly Poland had beaten England (who were wearing a curious yellow and blue kit) in the home game of the group back in 1973.

MooreYellow_468x286

It was a match which brought Bobby Moore’s England career towards its end. Indeed he was dropped for the return at Wembley before playing for the 108th and final time in a friendly against Italy a month after Poland had pulled off their amazing backs-to-the-wall draw

Moore was at fault for both Poland’s goals in the 2-0 defeat in Chozrow – the only time Poland have beaten England, who have won 10 with seven drawn in 18 meetings – especially the second when he got caught in possession deep inside his own half. To compound England’s woe Alan Ball was sent off in that game and he missed the Wembley return.

Clough Was Taylor Made – The Story of Peter Taylor

October 4th is the anniversary of the death of Peter Taylor, Brian Clough’s right hand man throughout the most successful spell of his managerial career. Here KARL HOFER pays tribute to the often unheralded number two.

“I’m not equipped to manage successfully without Peter Taylor. I am the shop window and he is the goods.” Brian Clough.

Sport. Football. pic: circa 1980. Peter Taylor, Nottingham Forest Assistant Manager (who had a successful career at "Forest" working with the Manager Brian Clough).

Peter Taylor

You have to wonder if there was ever a better number two than Peter Taylor..? Assistant managers are not the men that go down in the history books as the ones who delivered success to a club or have their names sung by the adoring crowd, but those in the game will appreciate what they bring to the table.

It’s a strange existence for sure, never heralded when times are good but just as culpable as the boss when things go wrong, the number two rarely stays when the manager exits…

But every great man needs a rock behind them and that’s exactly where Taylor, who died on October 4th 1990, came in.

Brian Clough is universally regarded as one of the truly great managers and arguably the most fascinating character in English football history. He has roads and stands named after him, statues erected in his honour, countless books written and films and TV documentaries made about him.

And rightly so.

It would be wrong to say that Taylor’s role in the success story that was Brian Clough’s career has largely been ignored, but it cannot be over stated.

As a player, Taylor’s career was pretty uninspiring. He played less than 250 games as a goalkeeper for Coventry, Middlesbrough and Port Vale before hanging up his gloves and taking charge of Burton Albion in 1962.

The most significant period of his career was his spell at Boro, that was where he met an up-and-coming striker by the name of Brian Clough. When Clough’s career was curtailed by injury he took over as manager of Hartlepool and Taylor was quick to join him.

Perfect Partners

They quickly established a successful partnership, and soon found themselves at Derby County, where they won promotion to the First Division in 1969 and incredibly brought the Championship to the Baseball Ground two years later, the first league title of the Rams’ 88 year history.

DerbyTitle_468x404

The pair celebrate Derby’s first ever league title

So it was quite a coup for third tier Brighton & Hove Albion to have the pair take charge of the South coast club after Clough’s mouth led to them leaving Derby. After eight not so successful months Clough left to replace Don Revie for an ill-fated 44-day spell at Leeds United, but Taylor stayed on the south coast, building a team that went on to win promotion the season after he left to join Clough at Forest.

Much as they are now, Forest were struggling in the second tier when Clough arrived in January 1975. A little over five years later, they had won the European Cup. Twice.

Clough had enjoyed a steady first season at the City Ground with Forest finishing in 8th spot in Divsion Two, but when Taylor joined him in July 1976 the clubs fortunes enjoyed a meteoric rise.

Forest were promoted the next season and in their first season back in the First Division Forest romped home to the title, finishing seven points clear of runners-up Liverpool. The next season they won the European Cup and would go on to retain it the year after, going down in history as the only club in Europe that has won the European Cup more times than their domestic league.

Fall Out

The twin European Cup successes were the pinnacle of the pair’s relationship. Relations began to deteriorate and Clough and Taylor had an almighty falling out following the publication of Taylor’s autobiography in 1980, that was entitled “With Clough by Taylor”. Clough was incensed that Taylor had not consulted him over the book

Six months after retiring Taylor became manager of Forest’s biggest rivals, Derby County.  And when Taylor signed John Robertson without informing him, Clough was incensed, seeing this as the ultimate act of betrayal. Clough and Taylor never spoke again.

When their teams met in the third round of the FA Cup in January 1983, the two managers ignored each other.

cloughgallery02_650x467-jpg

Cracks in their relationship were starting to appear

In a tabloid article, Clough called Taylor a “snake in the grass” and declared that “if his car broke down and I saw him thumbing a lift, I wouldn’t pick him up, I’d run him over.” Taylor retorted that Clough’s outbursts were “the sort of thing I have come to expect from a person I now regard with great distaste.”

One of the most incredible double acts in British football was no more. Taylor once described their working relationship like so: “We just gelled together, we filled in the gaps… My strength was buying and selecting the right player, then Brian’s man management would shape the player.”

Following the falling out Clough’s Forest side, although often successful, would never hit the heights of the halcyon days of his partnership with Taylor. Just a year before his untimely death, Taylor wrote an article encouraging Clough to retire gracefully, before he was either forced out by his chairman or his ill-health got the better of him. Clough responded that Taylor’s comments were not fit to be in the “wrapper that we used to eat fish and chips in Middlesbrough.”

Taylor proved to be right.

Remorse

Peter Taylor died suddenly whilst on holiday in Majorca at the age of 62. Sadly the rift between the pair had not been repaired, and when Clough was told of his death on the telephone he fell silent, hung up and wept.

DSC_0246

The statue of Clough and Taylor outside Pride Park

Clough attended Taylor’s funeral but couldn’t bring himself to sit near the front. The grief he felt at the death of his great friend was palpable. It’s hardly a coincidence that Clough turned to the bottle a lot more in the years immediately after Taylor’s death, the deterioration in his health was public and obvious.

You can hear what Clough truly thought about Taylor from his words. He later said of Taylor’s knack of finding players: ‘He was always 24 hours ahead of me when it came to seeing things and spotting players. I don’t like to name drop, but Frank Sinatra once told me that the written word is the first thing in his business and the music comes later.

‘Well, in football, the man who picks the players comes first. All the bullshit comes later.’

Clough later dedicated his 1994 autobiography to his former assistant. “To Peter,” it read. “Still miss you badly. You once said: ‘When you get shot of me there won’t be as much laughter in your life.’ You were right.”

 

The Deutsche That Left Their Mark – The Top Ten Germans to have played in Britain

by Karl Höfer.

With new Arsenal signing Mesut Ozil now settling in to life in North London we thought it would be nice to put together a list of the Top Ten German imports to play the game on these shores.

German connections go back further than you may think, in fact the first European-born foreigner to play in England was German. Max Seeburg joined Chelsea in 1906 and went on to play for Spurs, Burnley, Grimsby and Reading.

There are currently a number of Germans plying their trade in the Premier League, including Robert Huth, Lucas Podolski and recent Chelsea recruit Andre Schurrle. But whilst their contribution to the game over here is a continuing one there are plenty of Germans who have left something of a legacy where they’ve played.

Here’s BOBBY’S list of Top Ten German players to play in Britain; kudos to Steffen Freund and particularly Markus Babbel who just miss out despite massive contributions to the game over here.

It’ll be interesting to see where Herr Ozil ends up on this list when his time in England eventually comes to an end…

 

10. Andreas Thom  (Celtic)

In December 1989 Thom became the first East German to sign for a Bundesliga club when he joined Bayer Leverkusen from Dynamo Berlin. The former East German Footballer of the year spent five years with Leverkusen winning the German Cup in ’93 before Celtic spent a then club record £2.2 million to take him to Glasgow in June of ’95.

He quickly became a huge favourite with the fans – I suppose smashing them in from 25 yards at Ibrox helps (see link)- and won the Celtic Player of the Year award in his first season.

Thom won the League Cup with Celtic and also a League Title medal after making enough appearances before his move back to Dynamo (by then renamed Hertha) Berlin in January 1998.

Thom is still at Hertha, where he manages the Under-17 team.

 

9. Karl-Heinz Riedle  (Liverpool, Fulham)

RiedleLiverpool

“Ich bin ein Scouser!”

A dynamic aerial presence, Riedle arrived at Liverpool with some pedigree; he was a World Cup winner as back-up to Rudi Voller and Jurgen Klinsmann in 1990 and two years later was joint top scorer at Euro ’92, and most famously he netted twice against Juventus to help Dortmund to Champions League triumph in 1997.

But things didn’t go as planned at Anfield, the explosion onto the scene of a young Michael Owen restricted Riedle’s opportunities and after 11 goals in 60 appearances he moved to Fulham in September 1999. At one point he was actually caretaker manager for a spell at Craven Cottage alongside Roy Evans.

He now owns a hotel and runs a football academy in the village of Oberstaufen.

 

8. Christian Ziege  (Middlesbrough, Liverpool, Tottenham)

ziege

“Hello operator..? I need the number of a barber in Middlesbrough please…”

After successful spells with Bayern Munich and AC Milan, Ziege made the natural progression to Middlesbrough in 1999. After an impressive season with Boro, Liverpool made a £5.5m bid which exactly matched a get-out clause in Ziege’s contract. Middlesbrough insisted they had received offers in excess of £8m for the exciting dead-ball specialist, but were forced contractually to allow Ziege to talk to Liverpool, who then signed him.

Liverpool were later fined by the FA for making an illegal approach for Ziege. His time at Anfield was short lived, mainly due to injuries, and a move to Spurs soon followed.

Ziege’s injury problems got continually worse and by 2004 his contract was terminated by mutual consent so he could return to Germany. He sadly was forced to announce his retirement in 2005 because of an ankle injury.

He now coaches the Germany U-18 national team.

 

7. Jörg Albertz (Rangers)

Nicknamed ‘The Hammer’ for his powerful long range shots, Albertz left Hamburg for Scottish giants Rangers in a £4 million move in 1996. Albertz was a hero of the HSV fans and it didn’t take him long to win over the Rangers support as well, becoming a massive fans favourite in his five years at the club.

After Walter Smith moved on in 1998 Albertz struggled to get along with new manager Dick Advocaat and eventually returned to HSV amid much hype in 2001. Here he is in happier times scoring in the UEFA Cup with one of his trademark left-foot rifles;

Albertz won seven trophies in his time at Ibrox, including three titles.

 

6. Michael Ballack (Chelsea)

Michael+Ballack+Chelsea

The Dog’s Ballacks

The captain of the national team arrived at Stamford Bridge from Bayern Munich on a free transfer after his contract ran out. His time at Chelsea is sometimes regarded as not a great one, Ballack rarely seemed to capture the same form he had when playing for his country when playing for The Blues, but that may be because of the presence of Frank Lampard in the Chelsea team. It’s no coincidence that Ballack’s best spell in a Chelsea shirt came when Lampard was out of the team injured, which freed Ballack to play his more expansive game.

Despite being plagued by injuries Ballack won every domestic honour in England during his time at Chelsea, including three FA Cups, and was a runner-up in the Champions League final, making him arguably the most successful German import to come to England.

 

5. Uwe Rösler (Man City)

After playing for a selection of teams in his native East Germany, Rösler joined Manchester City on trial in March 1994. A three month loan was agreed after he scored twice in a reserve match against Burnley and he made his first team debut the following Saturday against QPR. The move became a permanent one at the end of the season.

The following season Rösler fromed a productive partnership with Paul Walsh and scored 22 league and cup goals despite missing several games through injury. His performances that season meant he was the club’s leading goalscorer, and he won the club’s Player of the Year award.

Much publicised disagreements with the manager Alan Ball culminated in Rösler being dropped from the side. When he was brought on as a sub in the Manchester derby Rösler scored a wonder goal and his celebrations saw him running to the bench, shouting at Ball and pointing to his name and squad number on the back of his shirt. City were relegated at the end of the campaign, but Rösler opted to stay with the Blues. Rösler again finished top scorer the following season. After another spell out with injury, Rösler would eventually leave City in May 1998 following relegation to Division Two. In his four years at City he played 176 games, scoring 64 goals. He was admitted to City’s “Hall of Fame” in December 2009 and still to this day City fans will occasionally burst into a joyous refrain of “Uwe’s grandad bombed the Stretford End” at matches. Here he is opening the scoring in the Manchester derby from February 1996;

Rösler retired in 2003 after he was diagnosed with cancer. After chemotherapy, he made a full recovery and while in remission he obtained his coaching badges and is now the manager of Brentford.

 

4. Jens Lehmann  (Arsenal)

lehmann1

Jens ‘Hasselhoff’ Lehmann

Lehmann joined Arsenal in July 2003 as a replacement for longtime ‘keeper David Seaman. It can often be difficult stepping into the shoes (or gloves) of someone who had established himself as a legend at the club, but not so for Jens. Lehmann played every match as Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’ went unbeaten for the entire 2003–04 Premier League season.

Like a lot of good goalkeepers Lehmann was a trifle eccentric, prone to the odd error but equally capable of moments of genius.

Lehmann was a key figure in Arsenal’s run to the Champions League final in 2006 and holds the record for the most consecutive clean sheets in the competition having not conceded a goal in 10 matches. Lehmann didn’t concede a goal in the final either, but that was because he sadly became the first player to be sent off in the European Cup/Champions League final and wasn’t between the sticks when Barca scored their goals late on to snatch victory from Arsenal.

Jens is currently with Arsenal working for his full FIFA coaching license.

 

3. Dietmar Hamann  (Newcastle, Liverpool, Man City)

Coming in at nummer drei on the list is TV pundit and all round nice-guy ‘Didi’ Hamann.

Dietmar arrived in England after playing for his country in the 1998 World Cup, Kenny Dalglish recruiting him for Newcastle United for £5.5 million. Overcoming an early foot injury, Hamann played in 31 matches and scored five goals.

5625547-w-600

Didi gets busy with the Champions League trophy

That was enough to impress Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier who paid £8 million for his services. ‘Didi’ was a big hit in his seven seasons at Anfield, he was a key figure in The Reds winning three cups in 2001. But he is held in greatest esteem for his role in Liverpool’s 2005 Champions League comeback win over AC Milan.

Although he was struglling with a broken toe during the final, Hamann came on as a substitute for Steve Finnan at half time with the team 3-0 down and was the catalyst for Liverpool’s historic fightback. The team rallied back to 3–3 and finally won in the penalty shootout; Hamann also showed great composure and bravery as he converted the first Liverpool penalty with his broken foot.

Didi finished his playing career in England with Manchester City and MK Dons before later managing Stockport County for a stint.

 

2. Jurgen Klinsmann  (Tottenham)

It was July 1994, and the Tottenham chairman Alan Sugar was feeling very pleased with himself. Moored on his yacht just off Monte Carlo, he had completed negotiations with the Monaco striker Jurgen Klinsmann, who was to join Teddy Sheringham, Nick Barmby and Ilie Dumitrescu in Ossie Ardilles’ exciting new attack.

The 30-year- old Klinsmann was one of the few Germans to return from USA ’94 with his reputation enhanced, and Spurs had pulled off a real coup to capture him.

Not that his signing was met with great adoration in the UK; the English were still sore from the Italia ’90 semi-final defeat to the Germans and Klinsmann was also considered a bit of a diver.

That soon changed though; Jurgen was a sensation scoring 29 goals and winning the Football Writers’ Player of The Year and the Spurs fans took to him like a fat lass to Bratwurst.

The influx of leading foreign internationals like Klinsmann and Dumitrescu, Bryan Roy and Stefan Schwarz was a new thing in England; it was down to the recently formed Premier League, it was down to money.

The quality of the football though was noticeably higher, Sky TV and all the razzmatazz that came with it created a new type of excitement about English football – the beautiful game was beautiful again.

And the man we think of when we recall those times is Jurgen Klinsmann. Above are the goals from his Spurs debut plus a few words from the great man himself.

It’s easy to forget it only lasted for one season before Jurgen left for two successful years at Bayern Munich. Klinsmann then briefly moved to Sampdoria in Italy, but that wasn’t working out and he returned to Tottenham on loan in the 1997–98 season, his goals saving the club from relegation. He played the last game of his club career on the final day of the Premier League season against Southampton.

Klinsmann, affectionately known as the “baker’s son from Botnang”, is currently the manager of the US national team, he speaks five languages and one of his hobbies is flying helicopters in Southern California.

 

1. Bert Trautmann (Man City)

bert-trautmann-filer-310x415

The legendary Bert Trautmann

The story of Bernhard Trautmann is a famous one, perhaps deserving of a movie one day; After surviving the conflict on the Eastern front (and earning the Iron Cross in the process) Trautmann was transferred to the Western front for the closing stages of the Second World War where he was captured by the British and sent to a prisoner of war camp in Lancashire.

After the war Trautmann refused an offer of repatriation and instead set up home nearby and began to play football locally. In October 1949 he joined First Division Manchester City, but the signing of a former Axis paratrooper caused great uproar and over 20,000 people attended a demonstration against his signing.

Over the following years the public slowly warmed to Trautmann though, and through his brave performances he gained acceptance and recognition. This culminated with Trautmann being voted FWA Player of the Year in 1956 – and then came the game that saw him written into football folklore forever, the FA Cup Final of the same year.

With 17 minutes of the match remaining, Trautmann in typically courageous fashion dived at the feet of Birmingham City’s Peter Murphy and suffered a serious injury., He continued to play despite his injury, making crucial saves to preserve City’s 3–1 lead. Dazed and a little unsteady on his feet, Trautmann admitted later that he had spent the last part of the match “in a kind of fog”.

Wembley-Stadion-Bert-Trautmann

Trautmann saves bravely at the feet of Birmingham’s Murphy and breaks his neck in the process

His neck was noticeably crooked as he collected his winner’s medal but he attended the post-match banquet despite being unable to move his head. Three days later and still in pain he had an X-ray that revealed he had dislocated five vertebrae, the second of which was cracked in two. The third vertebra had wedged against the second, preventing further damage which could have cost Trautmann his life.

On 15 April 1964, he ended his career with a testimonial in front of a crowd estimated to be close to 60,000 – three times the number that had taken to the streets to demonstrate when he arrived at City 15 years earlier.

After Trautmann died at his home is Spain in July this year at the age of 89, former City legend Joe Corrigan described him as “a fantastic man and was one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time”.

TrautmannOld

Bert Trautmann 1923 – 2013

 

 

Best: His Name Said it All…

65_george_best_250x350

The young Best makes his debut

by Rob Shepherd.

This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of George Best making his league debut.

It’s tempting to think that if Gareth Bale is worth a fee of 100 million Euros then Best would on the current market be worth, what, 300 million..?

In terms of influence on the pitch and allure off it, the modern day equivalents are Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

One also wonders whether in the ‘money talks’ language of the modern game whether Manchester City would out-bid everyone and lure Best away from United as they tried to do with Wayne Rooney.

Many books, films and documentaries have been written about Best. The list of ‘Bestie’ anecdotes quips and quotes would make a book in itself. Many, especially those about wine woman and song, still bring the house down at after dinner speeches.

Below is a random selection of the not quite so obvious and some video evidence to boot.

Gone but never forgotten, here’s to you Georgie Boy…

Sir Bobby Charlton on Best’s debut :

“To be honest, his first performance for the team in a league match against West Bromwich at Old Trafford in September 1963 does not linger in my mind.
I am sure he showed some nice touches. But the overall impact was not overwhelming. It was when he returned to the first team, a few months later against Burnley at Old Trafford, that we began to see all that would be.”

*****************************************

“For those who witnessed Best’s brief zenith in the 60’s, the effect went beyond the realisation that we were seeing the world’s most popular game played better than all but two or three men in its long history have ever played it.”
Hugh McIlvanney, Sports Journalist

*****************************************

“Shellito was taken off suffering from twisted blood!” United team-mate Pat Crerand after Best had given Chelsea full-back Ken Shellito a torrid time.

“There are times when you want to wring his neck. He hangs on to the ball when players have found better positions. Then out of the blue he wins you the match, and you know you’re in the presence of someone special.” Paddy Crerand, again

*****************************************

Sir Alex Ferguson on the “stupidity” of likening Ryan Giggs to Best.

“He’ll never be Best. Nobody will. George was unique. The greatest talent our football has ever produced – easily! Look at the scoring record, 137 goals in 361 league games. A total of 179 goals for United in 466 matches played. That’s phenomenal for a man who did not get his share of gift goals that sometimes come to specialist strikers.”

*****************************************

“He has ice in his veins, warmth in his heart and timing and balance in his feet.” Danny Blanchflower, Spurs star and Northern Ireland captain.

BestDebut

Little did he know it, but Best was set to enthrall the world with his skill and style

*****************************************

“Keegan is not fit to lace Best’s drinks.”
John Roberts, football writer, after Best said Kevin Keegan was not fit to lace his boots.

*****************************************

“George Best was the greatest player in the world.” Pele, considered by many as the world’s greatest, admired Best.

*****************************************

Best, in retirement, to a small group of journalists, with a wry smile on his face: “If I had been born ugly…you would never have heard of Pele.”

*****************************************

Best on Sir Matt Busby: “He never said much after a game. ‘Well done son’ would make me feel great. In fact the best compliment he ever paid me was to say I was the best tackler in the club. ‘Sometimes I’m frightened for you’ he said.”

*****************************************

“With feet as sensitive as a pickpocket’s hands, his control of the ball under the most violent pressure was hypnotic. The bewildering repertoire of feints and swerves … and balance that would have made Isaac Newton decide he might as well have eaten the apple.”

McIlvanney, writing in The Sunday Times.

*****************************************

1969manchestergeorgebest1

Best: Twisting the blood of defenders everywhere

“He was able to use either foot – sometimes he seemed to have six.” Sir Matt Busby on Best.

*****************************************

Of Best’s courage, David Sadler said of him circa ’68: “At the time he was the complete man. He was so brave, so strong in comparison to his size and build.

If he got injured he’d still play. In my opinion he was without doubt the greatest player I ever saw or played against”.

*****************************************

Best on his demise at the age of just 26:

“It had nothing to do with women and booze, car crashes or court cases. It was purely football. Losing wasn’t in my vocabulary. When the wonderful players I had been brought up with – Charlton, Law, Crerand, Stiles – went into decline, United made no real attempt to buy the best replacements. I was left struggling among fellas who should not have been allowed through the door. It sickened me that we ended up being just about the worst team in the First Division.”

*****************************************

“As a Manchester United fan I always saw George Best as a football legend and it was a proud moment for me when I wore the same number seven shirt as him. He is one of the greatest players to have ever graced the game and a great person as well.” David Beckham on following in Best’s footsteps.

*****************************************

Bobby Charlton:

“When I look back on a life that was too brief, too troubled – whatever bright light George attempted to shine on it at time – I share that sense of wonder, sometimes disbelief when I think of how good he was and all those improbable things he achieved under such immense pressure.”

*****************************************

And Van Morrison
In a factory in a street called Bread in East Belfast
Where Georgie knows best
What it’s like to be Daniel in the lion’s den
Got so many friends only most of the time

From the song ‘Ancient Highway’

The 100 Club: Lampard Joins a List of Legends

by Rob Shepherd

The day before he made his England debut against Belgium at The Stadium of Light in 1999, I asked then manager Kevin Keegan if he felt Frank Lampard had a great international future ahead of him and could even go on to captain his country.

Keegan retorted with a “steady on” smile but agreed young Lampard had the qualities and potential to have a chance of going to the top of the world stage.

Some of the other football writers in the room were less diplomatic, a few even chuckling with a certain disdain at such a suggestion.

Even before he had kicked a ball for his country a bizarre campaign started by West Ham fans – that Lampard was not really good enough for the top level – was a in motion and had begun to seep into the psyche of parts of the media.

And the footage we showed in a recent article of a West Ham fan giving an 18 year old Lampard pelters now looks plain ridiculous (see the clip on Bobby TV on our home page).

Fourteen years after that, ahead of a pivotal World Cup qualifier against Ukraine all the media fawned over Lampard at a press conference as he spoke about the prospect of picking up his 100th cap for England in Kiev.

France's Zinedine Zidane holds the World Cup trophy after an exhibition soccer match in Saint Denis

Zidane: Knows a thing or two about football. And headbutts.

And while he has only captained his country on the odd occasion no less an authority than former France star Zinedene Zidane suggested that 35 year old Lampard – rather than midfield side kick and skipper Steven Gerrard – is the key figure in the England team.

Zidane said: “The one that is standing out for England and is really a leader is Lampard.”

In that respect one wonders what might have been for England had Lampard been seen as an integral part of the side in the early days of the Sven Goran Eriksson era.

Lampard was often on the periphery of what for too long effectively became ‘Team Beckham’.

Indeed I remember sitting with Lampard in a hotel in Kensington doing an interview after the 2002 World Cup finals reflecting on what had gone on. Lampard had been omitted from the squad but Beckham travelled even though he had still not recovered from a serious injury and would eventually play despite not being fully fit.

When other midfielders started to pick up knocks England’s chances of success in Japan were undermined by a lack of midfield options in the crunch game against Brazil.

It seemed farcical that Lampard after completing an impressive first season with Chelsea after moving on from West Ham had not been in the squad. He was frustrated but vowed eventually to force his way into England’s midfield even if there didn’t seem much room with Beckham, Gerrard and Paul Scholes around.

But Lampard has energy and goal power; he has scored 29 for England putting him one short of Alan Shearer, Tom Finney and Nat Lofthouse as joint seventh in the all time list.

billy_wright

Billy Wright and Ferenc Puskas exchanging pennants in 1954

And his appearance in the Ukraine means he becomes the eighth member to join England elite Centurion Club.

The first was England’s giant of a captain from the Fifties, the Wolves centre-half Billy Wright who played 105 times.

Then there was Bobby Charlton (106) and Bobby Moore (108) who played in the games when there were no ‘cheap’ caps to be won from the bench and when there were less international games to be played.

Peter Shilton retains the record with 125 and had he not had to battle with Ray Clemence for the no. 1  spot for so long it could easily have been 200.

It was a long gap until Beckham made it over the 100 line and he sits third with 115 caps.

And it’s been a bit like London buses since with Ashley Cole, Gerrard (each 104 not out ) and now Lampard reaching the milestone.

Had it not taken so long to establish himself as a regular after that debut (in which he was overshadowed by cousin Jamie Redknapp) then Lampard might well have over taken Shilton by now.

And he admits there was a time under Steve McClaren when again he was not always included, that he questioned whether he had a future with England.

But a deep determination and dedication to succeed has seen him drive on. It’s an attitude instilled by his father Frank, the former West Ham player, who won just two England caps.

Frank-Lampard-England-press

Lampard: A chip off the old block

“Reaching this landmark is obviously a very proud day for me and my family” said Lampard.

And young Frank thanks his dad for “bullying him” to the top.

“My dad was a hero” said Lampard. “Mind you, when I was a kid, not as much as Frank McAvennie and Tony Cottee (West Ham’s star strikers of the Eighties). They put the ball in the back of the net. My dad was a ­left-back!”

“But he was my hero, day in, day out. He put that work ethic in me. He always made me very aware of my weaknesses.

“He’d praise the good things but he was always on about my pace, about trying to get in the box and score goals, and have the energy to be able to do that.

“There was no easy way to get there – he let me know that. It was extra runs, extra hours ­practising shooting and finishing, that became ingrained in me. He probably bullied me into it a bit in my younger years. I didn’t always like it. But I can’t thank him enough for it now.

Peter Shilton of England

Shilton leads the way with 125 caps for England

“If you are going to try to get to the top and get 100 caps, it was something I needed to do. I wouldn’t have been able to do this without that.”

 

England’s Centurians

Peter Shilton 125
David Beckham 115
Bobby Moore 108
Bobby Charlton 106
Billy Wright 105
Ashley Cole 104
Steve Gerrard 104

 

 

Hijacked Transfers: The Stories of Mo Johnston & Gianluca Vialli

by Rob Shepherd.

Transfer deadline has become Soap Opera as evidenced by the hysterical and smug coverage on Sky Sports News who have hijacked the day and turned it into a kitchen sink drama, with their front men pretending they are the ones breaking the news when actually they are just reading the auto-cue of tales coming from off the wires, web sites or Twitter.

And it beggars belief that after three months of the transfer window being open so many clubs leave it to a last minute Christmas Eve style trolley dash to spend vast sums of cash.

willianChelsea

“Yes, I always wanted to play for Spurs. Sorry, what was that..? A phone call for me you say…”

Some deals will go to the wire and even then extensions are asked for when servers crash and emails don’t get sent. Where IS an old photocopier and fax machine when you need one…?

Three years ago Tottenham signed Dutch forward Rafael van der Vaart after a move from Madrid to Bayern Munich was in the balance, under the midnight oil and were allowed to finish the paperwork the next day.

And of course as the day unfolds several clubs will be jostling with each other for the same player, as on Sunday when Liverpool beat off West Brom and Wigan to take Victor Moses on loan.

There will be gazumping, auctions, Dutch auctions, who blinks first shenanigans, brinkmanship and bullshit.

And even hijacking as witnessed last week when Chelsea embarrassed Spurs when they singed Willian from Russian club Anzhi after the Brazilian player had not only agreed terms to join Tottenham but had even completed a medical.

That ‘steal” prompted us at BOBBY to think back to some other infamous hi-jack transfer tales.

Perhaps the most notorious of all time was when Mo Johnston opted to join Glasgow Rangers – a Chelsea of that era if you like given the financial muscle they had – from French club Nantes in 1989.

Now when Johnston had joined Nantes from Celtic two years earlier there was a buy-back clause and Mo was indeed on his way back to Parkhead when then Rangers boss Graeme Souness intervened.

There was obvious outrage from Celtic at losing the player to their bitter rivals.

But the bile was even more bitter from the majority of staunch Rangers fans who were apoplectic that their club (with its fierce Protestant principles) had signed a Catholic.

Now while Catholic based club Celtic would actively sign non-Catholics (Aflie Conn had preceded Johnston playing for both clubs) Rangers had not pursued a Catholic of any prominence to play for the club since the end of World War I in 1918.

Mo Johnston

Gathered reporters, expecting to see John Sheridan unveiled, gasped as Mo Jo entered the room

It was a policy rooted in deep seated religious bigotry and so instead of being elated that Rangers had pulled a fast one on their rivals many fans were incensed and burned scarves and season tickets, while to Celtic followers Johnston was “Judas”.

Rangers fans mellowed as Johnston scored three goals in matches against Celtic in his two year spell there (taking a pie full in the face from the away fans after one of them at Ibrox!) and he would go on to score 46 goals in 100 league and cup games. But tension remained and although a number of Rangers fans took great delight in the one-upmanship over Celtic, many fans were not sorry to see him or Souness move on within a couple of years.

Vialli Scoop

A personal transfer hijacking memory for me also highlights the pressure a football reporter can be under and bizarre newspaper politics. It was before the transfer window had been introduced but there was still a frantic summer rush as the season approached.

Ruud Gullit had taken over from Glenn Hoddle as Chelsea boss and wanted a star signing and had identified his old pal at Sampdoria, striker Gianluca Vialli.
But at the time Rangers still had money and clout and it looked as if Vialli had opted to move to Scotland.

I was working for the Daily Mail in London and the Scottish office were convinced Villa was on his way to Ibrox. They had run a back page exclusive to say so.

The following day I got a call from a good contact -a leading agent infact – who told me Chelsea had hijacked the deal and Vialli would fly to London and sign for Gullit the next day.

I filed the story at about 6pm. First edition deadline was looming. The sports editor called me into his office and explained the Scottish office were adamant the move to Rangers was still on and my story was being dismissed by the Scottish sports editor to the point where he was championing ‘his’ reporter and rubbishing me.

A few heated phone calls between the editors followed.

“How Good is my source ?” Good. “Was I Sure?” Well, as sure as I can be. “Will he definitely sign for Chelsea?” As it stood, yes but how could I know if he slept on it and then changed his mind …?

It was getting silly.

Weren’t we meant to be on the same side ? Could we not work together on this one. In the bizarre world of behind the scene machinations at national newspapers than answer was no.

Ridiculous really.

Did I think my info was correct ? Yes. Would I have bet my mortgage on it ? No.

In the fickle football world a done deal is never done until it is done. But I stood by my story and suggested to the editor it was his call.

He went with my story. The Mail’s back page in all but one its editions went with: Vialli to sign for Chelsea.

But since the Scottish edition of the paper had a lot of autonomy their back page the next morning was: Vialli to join Rangers.

GullitVialli

Gullit signs the man who would eventually replace him as Chelsea manager

Now getting such stories wrong were not quite sacking offences but you could get knocked way down the pecking order if you got such a big one wrong.

At 11 am the next day the Press Association wire service announced Chelsea would be unveiling a new signing at Stamford Bridge at 1pm.

Chelsea had indeed successfully hijacked Rangers and in a bizarre twist I had scooped one of my own colleagues.

I later told Vialli that the night after he joined and all the copy (it felt good writing it!) had been filed, several bottles of champagne had been consumed by the Mail sports desk close to its London offices in Kensington, not far from Stamford Bridge, each toast being in Vialli’s name – and that my expenses credit was good for the tab.

Gianluca, who became a Chelsea legend, had a good laugh about it and then smiled: “If anyone thought I was going to sign for Rangers after Chelsea had come in for me they must have been mad…”

 

Can Bale come close to the Black Prince of the Bernebau..?

Bale

Ole! Bale gives Real fans a glimpse of what they can expect

by Rob Shepherd.

Gareth Bale’s imminent move to Real Madrid elevates him to the status of Galactico, at least until the business of playing the game, rather than the transfer roulette table, starts.

Many in Spain have already cast doubt about the wisdom of the Spanish club spending so much (in the region of £86 million) on the back of just two exhilarating seasons for Tottenham.

A big fish from a small pool? Few if any see him as remotely in the class of Cristiano Ronaldo or for that matter Brazilian Neymar, a player Madrid courted but who opted to sign for Barcelona for a transfer fee of ‘just’ £49million this summer.

And off the pitch it’s difficult to imagine how Bale can match either on the commercial front especially when it comes to selling shirts, a significant factor in the mega money that has been spent on the 24 year old Welshman.

After all – and this is not Bale’s fault of course – this is a player who won’t be playing at the World Cup finals next summer.

A Lot to Prove

While there are many who will argue that David Beckham never really lived up to the billing of Galactico on the pitch, he overwhelmingly did deliver for Madrid when it came to flogging merchandise, especially in the Far East.

becks

Beckham: Sold shirts. Oh, and he played a bit as well

So Bale has to hit the ground running if he is to win over some of the most demanding and influential fans in the world.

On that front he is hindered by the fact that he has not had a proper pre-season because of injury and the protracted transfer saga.

The pressure on Bale is not helped when the money involved in his move has been dismissed by Barcelona’s coach Gerado Martino as “A lack of respect for the world we live in.”

If he doesn’t produce magic from the off – by definition Galactico’s have to be more than just star turns – then he could suffer in the way Michael Owen did whose move from Liverpool proved a disaster.

Jonathan Woodgate is one of five British players to preceede Bale at the Bernebau but he probably remains baffled how he ever ended up there in the first place.

The Other Two ?

Well, Steve McManaman did better than most think and has two European Cup winners’ medals and a great goal in one of the finals as evidence.

And there was the first: Laurie Cunningham.

It was in the summer of 1979 that Cunningham moved from West Bromwich Albion to Real Madrid for what was then the staggering fee of £950,000.

He was an instant hit. In his first season Cunningham, who like Bale was just 24 when he joined the club, helped Madrid win a league and cup double.

Although a sequence of injuries undermined him thereafter, Cunningham remains a legend among the Madrid fans of that era.

Spain’s current national coach Vicente del Bosque puts Cunningham into huge context by comparing him favourably with Cristiano Ronaldo.

Del Bosque says: “I don’t think his qualities were any less than Cristiano Ronaldo.

“He came to Real Madrid after having played a great game against Valencia for West Bromwich Albion in the UEFA Cup, and Madrid viewed him as one of the most distinguished players in Europe.

“I think that was a period in Madrid’s history where there weren’t many international signings and the club made a big effort, financially, to sign Laurie, to sign a star because all of the rest of us were from the youth team.

“Truly, he was fast and agile, very dynamic, had a good shot and he could head well.”

LaurieC

Cunningham was good enough for Real Madrid but not for England apparently

Although Cunningham was the first black player to represent England when he played for the under 21 side in 1977 he was shockingly overlooked by Ron Greenwood, not just because of some injuries but because he had opted to play in Spain and made just six full international appearances.

As former England star John Barnes points out, Cunningham was not just ahead of his time in terms of breaking down racial barriers in English football but also in terms of the way he played, which despite race issues in Spain still made him so popular in Madrid.

“He was probably ahead of his time in English football in terms of the way he played, not just as a black English player” says Barnes.

“I suppose that Laurie didn’t really have the impact for England that he should have had. For a winger to have played with the flamboyance that he did, also to come in field and do what he did, he was like Cristiano Ronaldo.

“I mean, this Fancy Dan with all of these tricks and skills, everybody loves that now but Laurie was doing that back in the ’70s. He was standing on the ball, and rolling his foot over the ball, but he wasn’t appreciated because that wasn’t what the good old English players do. We just get stuck in…”

Bale does a bit more than get stuck in but it remains to be seen whether his style, based on surging runs rather than subtle chicanery, and over reliance on his left foot will come close to wooing the fans like Cunningham did or Ronaldo does.

Cunningham returned to England in the mid-Eighties but then drifted around Europe until ending his career with Wimbledon.

cunningham-lead89-694551_478x359

Laurie Cunningham: 1956-1989

Having graced the Bernebau, playing at Plough Lane really was a case of shifting from Culture Club to the Crazy Gang. But there was a bonus; Cunningham, who began his career with east London club Orient, picked up an FA Cup winners medal coming on as substitute in the 1988 final victory over Liverpool.

Tragically Laurie Cunningham, who had returned to live in Madrid, died in a car crash the following summer. He was just 33.

 

Coming soon; History of the Galacticos.

Lampard: Flavour Of The Old School

By Rob Shepherd.

LampsFreekick-390x285

Frank smashes in his freekick against Hull

A new season but Frank Lampard was straight back in the old routine scoring a goal in Chelsea’s 2-0 opening day win over Hull. And to think earlier this year Chelsea had been prepared to let him walk out the door and end his career in the USA.

Having surpassed Bobby Tamblings’s record of 202 goals for the Blues last season Lampard hit his 204th with a stunning Ronaldoesque 35 yard free kick and that just a few minutes after having a penalty saved.

It obviously enthused Jose Mourinho that Chelsea will get back into the old routine they established when he was manager last time around and win the title as they did in the first season of that previous reign.

Back to the future ?

That is the Chelsea’s plan and why one of the first things Mourinho did before agreeing to come back to the club was to persuade Lampard to stay on for another season.

It can be revealed by BOBBY that having not been offered a suitable deal by the club at the turn of the year Lampard was on the verge of an agreement to take him to the MSL, with LA Galaxy.

But in March, when the deal to bring Mourinho back to Chelsea from Real Madrid was in an advanced stage, Jose still wanted to iron out a few issues. One of which was to offer Lampard the sort of one year deal that would make him stay.

A source close to Lampard told me recently: “Frank was all set to go to the States with Galaxy but then he got a text message from Jose telling him he was on the way back and urging him to stay. Jose wanted his experience and his goals. He worked hard on him and Frank couldn’t resist.”

The traditional man management skills Mourinho learned from the late Bobby Robson are one of his greatest assets. It’s how he gets key players on side and straight away Chelsea hit the ground running with Lampard back in the groove, old school routine even you might say.

If ever a contemporary player is a throwback to a previous era then Lampard surely is, especially in the sense he is more like an old fashioned inside forward (a ‘number 10’ or ‘number 8’) than what has become the more restricted role of most conventional central midfielders.

Perhaps that is partly due to the fact he inherits a strong DNA from his father Frank who was a West Ham legend in the seventies and eighties; he plays with a more thoughtful less rushed style of that era and his attitude and respect towards the spirit of the soccer reflects his understanding of the game’s history.

FrankSnr
When he was first coming through the ranks at West Ham he was referred to as Frank junior, because at the time his dad was still THE Frank and also assistant manager (and brother in law) to Harry Redknapp. Now of course young Frank is now plain Frank, while the old man is known as Frank senior.

It is incredible now to reflect not long after he emerged into the West Ham first team following a short spell on loan to Swansea, he became the subject of an increasing barrage of criticism from short-sighted West Ham supporters.

Essentially the allegation was that Lampard was only in the team because of nepotism.

An exchange at a fans forum where Redknapp had to defend Lampard’s ability (Harry is young Frank’s uncle) now looks plain ridiculous and exposes those West Ham fans who branded him ‘Fat Frank’ as, well, thick. (click on the below link)

Since his £11 million move to Chelsea in 2001 Lampard, still in fine physical shape at 35, has become an all-time Chelsea legend, one of Premier League ‘Platinum’ and is just two short of 100 England caps.

Not bad for a kid who couldn’t play.

For the record: Matt Holland did bounce back with Ipswich and Charlton, playing for the Republic of Ireland at the 2002 World Cup. Scott Canham drifted on from Brentford, played for Orient then did a tour of non-league clubs ending up at Thurrock. He is now manager of Aveley who play in the Isthmian League.

Coming soon to BobbyFC: Frank Talking with Frank Lampard Snr and Frank Lampard Jr.

Opening Day: Memorable Matches

We all love opening day weekend, here KARL HOFER looks at some past classics from the first weekend of top flight action.

The kick-off to the new season in the Premier League is almost upon us. Up and down the country fans will, for the most part, be entering this weekend with undue optimism and a bunch of utterly unrealistic dreams and aspirations.

But the opening day does tend to throw up the odd classic encounter and its share of strange results.

We had a rummage through the archives and picked out four of the best. So now we present to you Bobby’s Opening Day Belters!

19/08/1995  Aston Villa 3-1 Manchester United

We all know this one, don’t we…? it’s the one when Villa ravaged United’s youngBeckhamvVilla starlets after Alex Ferguson had sold Paul Ince, Mark Hughes and Andrei Kanchelskis in the summer, leading Alan Hansen to famously quip “you can’t win anything with kids” that night on Match of the Day.

Aside from the awful performance from United, the game was also notable for their piss-poor grey away kit, one that they would change at halftime later that season in a humping from Southampton at The Dell, and a tidy finish from the young Beckham as he rattled in a late consolation.

But let’s just address a couple of myths surrounding this match. There were a number of reasons United were slapped besides the oft-mentioned fact that they had seven players aged 21 or under in their squad that day. Missing through injury or suspension were a number of key players, including Cantona, Bruce, Cole, May and Giggs. And Villa were a decent side who went on to finish fourth. But what is rarely pointed out is the fact that Ferguson had one of his final flirtations with a 5-3-2 system, one that never worked for him.

The truth is the team that played this game would have won nothing for United that season. As the season developed they would usually play only three of their youngsters in a game; Butt, Beckham and a Neville. That they won the Double that year was largely down to Peter Schmeichel and Eric Cantona’s incredible efforts at the business-end of the season.

So Hansen was right. There, I said it.

29/08/1981  Swansea City 5-1 Leeds United

This season we will have not one but two Welsh teams in the top division. One of the greatest opening-day performances in English football history came from a Welsh team, when Swansea, taking their place in the top flight for the first time in their history, hosted the mighty Leeds.

Bob Latchford’s nine-minute debut hat-trick is an obvious highlight, but the finesse of Swansea’s fifth goal from Alan Curtis lives long in the memory.

This game was a pointer of what was to come later as Leeds would be relegated that season, but nobody had this down for a 5-1 home win beforehand. This was from the top drawer of opening-day shocks, no question. Highlights below.

15/08/1992  Arsenal 2-4 Norwich City

I’ll set the scene; Arsenal, many bookies’ favourites for the inaugural Premier League, entertained the Canaries who were being managed for the first time by Mike Walker.

The previous season the Gunners had finished top scorers in the league; in 1992-93, rather weirdly, they would be the lowest scorers. There was nothing to indicate that after an hour however, Arsenal led comfortably through goals from Steve Bould and Kevin Campbell.

Sutton beats Bould to the ball

Sutton beats Bould to the ball

Then Walker brought on his new signing, Mark Robins, and everything became a little surreal. Goals from Robins, David Phillips and Ruel Fox gave Norwich an improbable lead. Then Robins sealed the deal with a superb chip after a mistake from Tony Adams, who at the time was being barracked with donkey chants from opposing fans every weekend.

The North Bank looked on motionless and in silence. OK, it was a mural which had been brought in to improve the Highbury atmosphere, but you get my point.

Norwich, despite having to suffer that awful speckled shirt each week, went on to their highest-ever finish of third position. Dwell on that for a second if you will…

Arsenal clearly learned a lot from this opening day disaster; the following year they kicked off their campaign with a 0-3 reverse at the hands of Coventry City and a hat-trick from Micky Quinn having the game of his life.

19/08/1989  Manchester United 4-1 Arsenal

At the risk of draining all remaining hopes and dreams out of Arsenal fans ahead of their season opener, we’re going to give this one a mention as well…

It was essentially the perfect opening day for the title-starved Reds fans. It all began with businessman Michael Knighton, who had just agreed to buy Manchester United for – wait for it – £10m, showing he was a genuine fan by kitting up, ball-juggling and then smashing one home in front of the Stretford End.

Then United trounced the champions Arsenal 4-1.

During the game new signing Neil Webb topped off a splendid debut with a neil-webbpstunning, swirling volley. The long wait for the title was seemingly soon to end, it was all so intoxicating. It wasn’t the start of a new season; it was the start of a new era.

Or not. The cash-strapped Knighton was soon exposed as a chancer. Webb’s career was ruined when he ruptured his Achilles on England duty only 18 days later. And United were embroiled in a relegation battle for most of the season.

So our advice is to not get too carried away with opening day results as they are often not much of a guide for what is to come. Or sometimes they are. It depends really. I don’t know, you decide….

 

The Auldies Were Goodies:
England v Scotland Remembered
Steve Curry

The oldest rivalry in international football will be renewed on August 14th when Scotland visit Wembley as part of the FA’s 150th anniversary calendar.

The two ‘Auld Enemies first met in Partick in November 1872 when the match finished goalless in front of 4,000 fans. What was once an annual fixture has not been played since the European Championship play-offs in 2000.

However past conflicts provoke debate and stir memories and here STEVE CURRY recalls two of the most memorable, one for fans north of the border, the other recalling a famous victory for England.

ENGLAND 2 SCOTLAND 3

April 15th, 1967 Wembley
European Championship qualifier

There was bitter-sweet poignancy for Scottish fans from this victory. They claimed it made them unofficial world champions but it was England who progressed to the European Championship finals in Italyin 1968.

North of the border they had squirmed eight months earlier when Bobby Moore had lifted the World Cup on this hallowed turf but here was their chance to exact some kind of retribution.

The Tartan Army moving south numbered 30,000 and they were to produce a cacophony rarely matched in the long history of the old Wembley.

It was manager Bobby Brown’s first game in charge but at his disposal was some of Britain’s finest talent. John Greig was leading out mystical players…Jim Baxter, Denis Law and Bill Bremner among them.

Anecdote has it that during Brown’s pre-match team talk, Slim Jim Baxter sat in a corner reading the Racing Post. When Brown said: “Anything to add, Jim” he replied “See this England side, they can play nane” At which he stretched his left leg, then his right and said “OK that’s me warmed up”

If that was not exactly true there was some wonderment from my seat at the way the Scots moved the ball like inspired brushstrokes from an artist and it was therefore no shock when Law scored in the 28th minute.

England had been on an unbeaten run of 19 games and this was not in the script by it was the denouement of the game that was to make it the stuff of folklore.

So swaggering was Baxter, so confident of his own ability and that of his team, he began to play keepy-uppy out near the corner flag with Nobby Stiles not more and a yard away.

When Bobby Lennox added a second goal in the 78th minute it triggered a remarkable finale. First Jack Charlton, who had been injured earlier in the game, pulled a goal back in his switched role of centre-forward.

But within two minutes Jim McCalliog had restored Scotland’s lead and Geoff Hurst’s header 60 seconds later came too late for an embarrassed England.

The hordes came spilling onto the pitch carving out lumps of the Wembley turf and wrapping it in newspaper to take home as souvenirs of the day Scotland became UFWC – Unofficial Football World Champions.

ENGLAND 9 SCOTLAND 3

April 15th, 1961 Wembley
Home International Championship

Eng9Sco3

Jimmy Greaves scores England’s third goal in the 9-3 rout of Scotland at Wembley in April 1961 in front of 97,000

England were on a roll at the start of the 1960-61 season. They had been told by Walter Winterbottom at the start of the season that the players selected for the first game of the season that that squad would be the basis

for the World Cup assault the following year in Chile.

It triggered an avalanche of goals, five against Northern Ireland, nine against Luxembourg, four against Spain and five against Wales going into the the biennial game against Scotland at Wembley.

As Jimmy Armfield, the ever-reliable right-back reflects: “The England v Scotland were ultra competitive. Half our team at Blackpool were Scots and our five-a-sides became so physical the manager had to stop them.”

There was nothing to suggest this latest Wembley meeting would be any different with a Scottish side that boasted Dave Mackay and Billy Bremner, neither a shrinking violet, not to mention Billy McNeill and Davie Wilson.

But then England were bursting with confidence, Jimmy Greaves on fire and Bobby Smith using his weight to some effect. And in mid-field the pairing of Bobby Robson and Johnny Haynes, the skipper, was just as formidable.

Armfield says: “There was little in the way of TV footage in the early Sixties so maybe we remember ourselves as better players than we really were. But if memory serves we were pretty tasty in that match.”

That was the way it seemed in the opening 30 minutes of the game with England careering into a three-goal lead, Robson opening the scoring and Greaves grabbing two in ten minutes

Haynes of the silken pass and first £100 per week pay packet, controlled the game from mid-field with his broad vision and Blackburn’s jinking little winger Bryan Douglas was dribbling his day down the right .

When barrel-chested Mackay pulled a goal back just after half-time and Wilson added a second five minutes later it seemed as if the Scots might have worked their way back into the game.

Step in first Douglas and then Smith to restore England’s nerve and though Patrick Quinn made it 5-3 Haynes took over with two in three minutes. And when Greaves and Smith scored their second goals in the last eight minutes the roiut was complete.

Poor Celtic keeper Frank Haffey was totally shell-shocked, never really recovering from what had been, for him, a nightmare afternoon. The torment lingered on as up in Scotland the gag “What’s the time? Nearly ten past Haffey”

Eventually Haffey decided to get away from it all and emigrated to Australia and eventually went into the entertainment business as a cabaret singer, a far cry from life in post-war Glasgow and well away from his worst nightmare.

by Steve Curry