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The Best of Enemies
Classic Scotland v England Encounters of the Past

The oldest rivalry in international football will be renewed on November 18th when Scotland entertain England at Celtic Park.

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 only been played once 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

EngSco1977

Scottish fans celebrate becoming unofficial World Champions

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

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

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


When The Beautiful Game met the Greatest Of All Music
Mark Webster

MarkQUIZ1LR_1_What’s that, ‘soccer and soul’ you say, Bobby? The football, and the funk? I think this is where I came in! So here’s my hat trick of moments where The Beautiful Game met the Greatest Of All Music…

3) Ilford in Essex is an unlikely birth place for a movement. But there is no doubt that in the mid seventies, the rather tatty old Lacey Lady club in the High Road was where it was at. And that ‘it’ was underground disco and early jazz funk, played to a racially mixed crowd of aficionados wearing the new cutting edge of fashion – carpenter jeans, straight leg trousers, plastic sandals, Hawaiian shirts and, get this, the fellas had haircuts where you could see their ears!

First record I heard when I walked in there for my underaged debut on the nightclubbing scene in the summer of ‘77 – Chic’s ‘Dance Dance Dance’.

Also born in Ilford, in 1967, was Paul Ince. So he’d have been pushing it a bit to have been at The Lacy hearing those pioneering dance sounds ten years later. Mind you, I have it on good authority from a friend of mine who went to school with Incey, and subsequently some of the same local night spots a few years after, that The Guvnor’s favourite record was… Joyce Sims’ ‘Come Into My Life’.

Released in 1987, this was an innovative hybrid of soul vocals with hip hop production – courtesy of pioneering hip hop producers/mixers Mantronix. It was released on the brilliant, but short-lived New York label Sleeping Bag, which was also home to other groundbreaking acts such as EPMD and Todd Terry. Incey may now be plying his trade in one of the hotbeds of the Northern Soul scene, Blackpool, but back then as a young John Lyall discovery, making his way from West Ham’s famed youth academy into the first team, his first choice, was Joyce.

2) It’s 1994, at  the famed Soldier Field – the oldest stadium in the NFL and home to the Chicago Bears – and the World Cup is about to get underway with all of the usual overblown pageantry that we have so come to hate over the years at these kind of events. But what’s this, bursting through from the half wine line, leaving at least 200 defenders in white in her wake? It’s none other than the Queen of Motown,  Diana Ross. Dressed in what can only be described as a Liverpool FC trouser suit,  noone can get near her as she approaches the penalty spot – all of 6 yards from the goal.

La Ross, it should be pointed out, was 50 when she made her one and only World Cup appearance. So, yes, nearly as old as Ryan Giggs. But at the time she was married to Norwegian Arnie Naess, so it’s likely that she did have some grasp of the job in hand.

The ‘Supreme’ athlete takes a breath, shimmies, then begins her stuttered approach to the ball – in doing so, making a mockery of the penalty taking rules that insist on an unbroken run up. But these were different times, when England were represented at the tournament by the Republic of Ireland squad, for example.

Nevertheless, in spite of the kit, the knowledge and the guile, Ross only succeeds in dragging it, sticking the ball wide of the keeper’s right hand post. But if she’s anything, Ross is a competitor and without taking a beat she bursts through the goal which has now inexplicably exploded – she missed! – and carries on with the show.

Point being: all of this happened to the magnificent strains of what was to become her anthem, the Chic-produced ‘I’m Coming Out’; a paean to her having left her musical (and emotional, given her relationship with Berry Gordy) home of twenty years, Motown. The song also became a triumphant gay anthem, and had it’s roots on that scene because the writer/producer  Nile Rodgers came up with the lyric when he saw 3 drag queens all done up as La Ross, when out clubbing in New York. In spite of the Liverpool reference, Nile Rodgers, as far as I know, is not related to Brendan.

1) If you stick your head in a few of the pubs in the streets around Celtic Park, chances are you’ll find an old boy who’s a fan of The Bhoys and who’ll remember a game against Morton back in 1951 when a young player scored on debut. That player was to become known as ‘The Black Arrow’ during his brief tenure at Celtic. And his name was Gil Heron.

Gil was born in Kingston, Jamaica but emigrated to Canada where he joined the Air Force to do his bit. He was a good all round athlete, but decided to have a go at making a career in the heavily-handled ‘North American Soccer Football League’. Which is where he was scouted by Celtic and brought over as the first black player in that League.

Gil Heron

Gil Heron

He continued to have a career as a player – including a stint at Kidderminster Harriers –  and ultimately made his way back to North America to play his football in the home town of Motown, Detroit.

Although never really a couple, there was a relationship around this time with an opera singer, Bobbie Scott – one result of which was a son, Gil Scott-Heron.

By the time Gil Scott-Heron arrived in the artsy Chelsea part of Manhattan in the late Sixties, he was already proving to be a master of the written and spoken word. He was a published author, then recorded a spoken word album, ‘Small Talk At 125th & Lenox’ for the jazz label Flying Dutchman. A year later, in 1971, he then recorded what I consider to be possibly the greatest album ever made, ‘Pieces of A Man’. What ensued was a magnificent career, and troubled life, that saw him record his last album, ‘I’m New Here’ on XL in 2010, and die at 62 in 2011.

Back at that  nightclub in Ilford in 1977, I’d have been dancing to his best known tune, ‘The Bottle’, but out of an incredible array of great tracks, perhaps ‘It’s Your World’ is the one that really does it for me.

 

@ItsMarkWebster

 


Sven’s Obsession With Beckham Was The Reason Why The Golden Generation Failed

by Rob Shepherd.

Rio Ferdinand is the first player of England’s golden generation to hint at the real reason why it became the wooden spoon generation.

It remains heresy to say it but read between the lines of Ferdinand’s new book and he suggests it was the cult of David Beckham which undermined England when the golden boys should have peaked under Sven-Goran Eriksson.

Appraising the Eriksson era, Ferdinand says: ‘I think Sven was a bit overawed by Beckham.

‘If truth be known he was a bit too much of a Beckham fan.’

That was never more true than at the 2002 World Cup finals.

Yes, Beckham had made sure England got there when he scored THAT memorable free-kick goal in final minute of the game against Greece to make it 2-2 at Old Trafford thus securing qualification to the finals in South Korean and Japan without the danger of going to a play off.

It was one of the great dramatic moments in the history of the England football team and cemented Beckham’s iconic status. But that’s also when the cult of Beckham took over. In my opinion to the detriment of the England team.

It was swimming against the tide to argue as much back then, but I know there were a few England players of that era who felt the same at the time, certainly now.

While not anti-Beckham, many felt his domination of England as ‘Brand Beckham’ expanded into a global empire undermined a team that had the best group of players since 1990, when England reached the semi finals of the World Cup, potentially even better.

They should have got closer to winning the 2002 and 2006 World Cup than they did. Certainly the 2004 European Championship.

But in each tournament Team England seemed, for some of us observers, more like Team Beckham.

Team Beckham was indeed a phrase some players would mutter under their breath.

Ferdinand was and remains friends with Beckham. And the way football world has gone in a commercial sense Ferdinand is hardly going to come out and suggest Beckham’s international career was allowed to run and run under Eriksson despite the fact it seemed obvious he was being picked for his name, his status as captain and his danger from free-kicks rather than the all round contribution he offered at his height.

But the phrase: ‘If truth be known, he (Eriksson) was a bit too much of a Beckham fan’, speaks volumes.

In 2002 Beckham, who was at the peak of his game then, suffered from a metatarsal injury.

It should have ruled him out of that World Cup, but Eriksson made the decision to nurse him back in South Korea and Japan.

Beckham did return, even scoring the winner against Argentina from the penalty spot. But he was clearly a passenger as it would prove in the defeat to Brazil.

By Euro 2004, Beckham, by then at Real Madrid, simply was not the force of nature he had been for England and would miss a decisive penalty in a shoot out against Portugal in the quarters.

In his book Ferdinand says Beckham was something close to a distraction at times

In his book Ferdinand says Beckham was something close to a distraction at times

In 2006 Beckham did not seem fit enough again but was still picked yet in the quarter final which England would lose to Portugal (again on penalties), lacked the energy and urgency he once had and was eventually replaced by Aaron Lennon with an injury at half-time.

All of this was not Beckham’s fault. He was a great player and leader for England. But at crucial times he was not fit enough to play with the energy his style required. Yet it seems Eriksson was too much of a Beckham fan to see the obvious and make the decision to leave him out to get to the best out of the team.

After all it wasn’t as if England were lacking in midfield talent. There was of course Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Paul Scholes around and others such as Joe Cole, Owen Hargreaves, Danny Murphy and the fleeting hopes of Lennon or Kieron Dyer.

Indeed had Eriksson not been ‘blinkered’ by his Beckham obsession and slavery to 4-4-2 there was a system that could have harnessed the best of England’s golden generation and even won the 2006 World Cup let alone the Euros.

Looking back, had England gone 3-5-2 when all fit they could have fielded this team:
James; Campbell, Ferdinand, Terry; G. Neville, Gerrard, Scholes, Lampard, A. Cole; Rooney, Owen.

Beckham would still have been part of the squad, but not the focal point of it. Indeed in some games he could have replaced his pal Gary Neville at right wing back.

The above team from the so-called golden generation looking back now looks like it could have struck gold, but the obsession with ‘Golden Balls’ meant it underachieved.

Eriksson’s successor Steve McClaren must have felt that, which is why he axed Beckham. But when results went wrong the coach would and bring Becks back.

Fabio Capello then indulged in Beckham too, enabling him reach an outfield record of 115 caps, before injury made the decision for him. He could not play at the 2010 World Cup, by which time the golden generation, drained by as Capello’s ‘prison camp mentality’, phrased by Ferdinand, had lost their sparkle.

Rio Ferdinand #2Sides My Autobiography is to be released on October 2 published by Blink Publishing.

@robshepherd5

 

 

Sterling Red a Bonus!
PLUS Italy Game Set for Draw & Long Way Yet for Ladies

by Rob Shepherd.

Red is Good!

Englands-Raheem-Sterling-011-300x185

Sterling can’t believe it

Most seemed to think Raheem Sterling was hard done by with the red card he suffered in England’s 2-2 draw against Ecuador. But much ridiculed American referee Jair Marrufo could well have done England a favour…

The incident when Sterling brought down Antonio Valencia highlighted the restraints players will be under at the World Cup. They simply cannot afford to go diving in with the flying feet.

Even if Sterling did get a bit of his foot on the ball his follow-through did catch Valencia. Yes, Valencia’s reaction seemed to make the situation worse.

But ref Marrufo will have viewed that Sterling’s challenge endangered the opponent, regardless of whether he got some of the ball or not.

Make no mistake refs, certainly in the early stages, will be under pressure from FIFA guidelines to show red for such tackles.

Over the years England players have fallen foul of strict guidelines over certain incidents that are regarded as “soft” in this country.

Take Ray Wilkins in 1986 then David Beckham in 1988. And of course Wayne Rooney saw red in 2006.

So Roy Hodgson should use the Sterling incident as a foot-on-the-ball warning to his team – not least because players don’t need to be making such lunging tackles by the touchline in the first place.

And whiles he’s at it remind Jack Wilshere if he gets seen by an official losing his rage like that he’ll be shown red too!

 

Anyone For A Nil-Nil…?

A bloody Ince organises England

A bloody Ince organises England

England’s last two meaningful matches versus Italy have ended in goal less draws.

Two years the 0-0 was regarded as a dire display as Italy won the penalty shoot out 4-2 to knock England out of the European Championships.

Agreed, Italy were the superior side but in the end the margins came down to the cruel cut of pens.

In October 1997 England played a 0-0 draw with Italy in Rome to clinch a place at the 1998 World Cup finals and force Italy to get their the hard way via a play-off.

The 0-0 draw was deemed a triumph. True, England inspired by the head-bandaged Paul Ince and disciplined Paul Gascoigne produced one of a tactically stoic display under Glenn Hoddle, but it could easily have ended in tears.

In the final minute after Ian Wright had hit a post Italy should have snatched a last gasp winner but Chrstian Vieiri headed a fraction wide.

Again the slimmest of margins.

One suspects it will be very tight and tense once again in next Saturday’s opening game.

But if England needed any added inspiration they could do no worse than watch a re-run of that game in the Rome nearly 17 years ago.

 

Lady Maybe..?

It was great to be a guest of FootballFanCast and Strongbow last Wednesday who hosted a TV link of the England – Ecuador match and the results of their RioChallenge competition at Riley’s sports bar in Pimlico.

In a nutshell the winners of a Strongbow male five aside competition went over to Rio in Brazil to take on a ladies team.

Former footballer now Sky pundit Chris Kamara was a speaking guest and he suggested that in the near future a woman would be in the squad of a Premier League team.

I disagreed with “Kammy” who coached the chaps in Brazil. That caused some waves with the PC crowd.

But despite their skills I can’t ever see women competing with men physically at the top level. That’s not sexist.

Besides, why undermine the growing sport of Ladies football..? Woman’s tennis, golf, cricket, hockey, athletics etc all get on in their own right .

Indeed after a good start the skillful Vasco Ladies eventually lost 7-1 to a team from the Royal Navy (footage below).

 


Adrian Chiles and ITV Sport Team Get on a Sweat During 40 Minute Storm Delay

MarkQUIZ1LR_1_

by Mark Webster.

I suppose you could call it good preparation, in the end. Not necessarily for the England team, but for ITV Sport. Because the team’s second friendly in Miami provided the channel with the kind of challenges they are going to have to deal with in Brazil if things don’t go exactly to plan.

Of course, Adrian Chiles and the team have had previous in these matters. A couple of years ago in Poland, rain also stopped play. A situation that, among other things, exposed Andy Townsend as something of a trendsetter. Forced into action on camera, he introduced the football world to the pitchside gilet. And just two years later, there was Jose and Tim Sherwood following suit. As it were.

Not much call for extra layers in Miami, though. Although Adrian had decided to go with a jacket that he would very soon be regretting as something of a fashion faux pas. Speaking of which, perhaps it was his geographical gaff of welcoming us ‘to Rio’ that caused all the problems? Because the Floridian branch of the weather gods certainly took their wrath out on the stadium. Causing fans to flee to the inner concourse, and the fun to begin with over half an hour of ITV tunnel vision.

Clive Tyldesley told us Chiles, with Lee Dixon, Ian Wright and Glenn Hoddle, had been ‘forced to abandon their pitchside presentation position’. Which is long-winded speak for ‘legged it’. And in doing so, had little to fill the time with other than their wits, and two mics between four men.

Adrian quickly grabbed the opportunity to test out both of these by introducing us to ‘a fella here who looks like he’s in charge’. That fella, wearing a referee’s kit, being, well, the referee. We saw from a caption he was one Ricardo Salazar, but clearly that information hadn’t filtered down to Adrian. His body swerving of his name, coupled with that jacket in rocketing temperatures, had the Chiles brow visibly caking with sweat.

Then came the mic delegation between our four ITV men. First up, Glenn Hoddle made a grab for the one Ian Wright was holding, but he was having none of it. Giving his old Arsenal pal Lee a little wink, Wrighty went on to prove himself quite the expert at mic management.

And so they pressed on, with Glenn looking nearly as uncomfortable as Adrian in the conditions. He also didn’t know what to do with his hands, and even occasionally opted for a bit of ‘air mic’ – clasping his left hand into a fist as if he were holding one. Nevertheless, he still managed to get his point across of where he thought we were losing the battle in midfield.

ITVsweat

In a sweat: The ITV Sport World Cup team had a lightning storm to contend with during the England v Honduras game

At one point, Chiles had even resorted to telling everyone ‘the key thing to do – talk as slowly as possible. (We) could be filling for hours’ before Wrighty cheered ‘there’s the gaffer’ and Roy Hodgson enter the frame to save the, well, next five minutes.

And in spite of the presenter insisting on asking the manager to express more ‘despair’ while Dixon was trying desperately to ask him something about football, Hodgson was a steady hand on the tiller. Roy calmly told us he’d ‘encountered it here on golf courses’. And he was equally as sanguin when Glenn could resist it no longer and decided to tell the England manager exactly what he should be doing!

Adrian was equally as zealous about telling someone how they should do their business when the ‘stadium manager’ joined them. Who promptly pointed out he wasn’t but did, in fact, ‘handle soccer game operations’, had lived in the area many years, and that they were experiencing ‘what we call thunderstorms’.

The presenter, quite rightly, didn’t blame him for these ‘thunderstorms’. But he was rather taken aback by the fact that the stadium didn’t have a roof on it? The head of ‘soccer game operations’ smiled benignly and mumbled about the prospect of a roof. But the subtext seemed to be, ‘oh ok. I’ll just nip off and get my tool bag, shall I?’

But he didn’t need to defend himself. Because Wrighty was on hand to do that! ‘What we’ve done with Wimbledon, and you’re going to cane the geezer for not having a roof’, railed Wrighty, as Adrian mopped his brow with a tiny, sodden piece of tissue. ‘And you want one in 35minutes!’.

Luckily there was no need to get the builders in as the game was now set to get under way. Giving Gabriel Clarke the chance to come in and steal the whole rain-soaked show. With the ongoingly affable ‘fella’, referee Salazar, alongside him he asked in his classically earnest style ‘I saw you in the radar room. Just describe what you were doing in there?’. Somewhat breathless from clearly running around in humid conditions, Ricardo took a beat and replied ‘we were tracking the radar’.

And so we got back to the football. And I bet the boys at ITV could only have been happier if they were actually on the road to Rio. Weather permitting, of course.

@ItsMarkWebster

(First published at MailOnline)


World Cup? Time for a scandal…remember the Bobby Moore case

by Steve Curry (From February 2010)

The stag night maxim ‘what goes on tour stays on tour’ has long been the sacrosanct dictum of the football dressing room.

But it has become increasingly difficult to impose in the self-destruct climate of the national game.

Just as a cuckoo’s call heralds the onset of spring, so a soccer scandal has become the precursor to a big football tournament. And they come no bigger than a World Cup.

MooreTheft70

Captain in the dock: Bobby Moore (second left) is met by Colombian policemen as he leaves a Bogota jewellery shop in 1970

Fabio Capello’s insistence on high levels of self-discipline are commendable but, if he puts aside his books on fine art and reads the history of England football teams, he’ll see that control on the pitch is no guarantee of compliance off it.

John Terry is far from the first captain of his country to be embroiled in controversy, and the furore is not restricted to notches on bed posts.

The late Bobby Moore, whose Wembley statue stands as a testimony to a great captain, always remembered the date and time when England’s 1970 World Cup bid was almost sabotaged.

It was 6.25pm on Monday, May 18, 1970, when he and Bobby Charlton strolled into a jewellery store in the foyer of their Bogota hotel to look for a present for Charlton’s wife, Norma.

Without asking to see anything, they left the shop and sat down in armchairs close by, only to be summoned back and accused of theft, the start of a 10-day ordeal that rocked the world game.

It was, of course, Colombian deception aimed at upsetting the World Cup holders but once again the question was asked: why England?
If Moore was the innocent party in the Bogota incident, there have been numerous since that have owed more to testosterone than treachery.

Though Terry’s misdemeanours have happened close to home, it has been abroad that most breaches have come to light.

Until the Eighties, footballers on tour were accompanied by sports journalists whose remit was to report matches not post-match parties. It has been the cult of celebrity that has caused footballers problems.

Their profile and exposure appear to have risen in proportion to their salaries so that they are followed more closely by showbiz and investigative writers than sports reporters.

TeddyDentistChair

Teddy Sherringham lets his hair down at Paul Gascoigne’s 29th birthday celebrations in Hong Kong in 1996

It seems the further they fly, the more they become immune to acceptable standards of behaviour.

In Malaysia I watched a Chelsea England youth international — a former friend of Terry — drop his team-mate’s expensive camera in a pint of beer, then urinate in the lift as he left a top-floor nightclub.

At the 1990 World Cup in Italy, there were allegations that three England players had been involved in a bedroom romp with a girl called Isabella. Just what Bobby Robson needed.

Nor was Terry Venables happy that his players took advantage of a night off in Hong Kong prior to the 1996 European Championship finals to celebrate Paul Gascoigne’s 29th birthday by visiting a club with the infamous ‘dentist’s chair’.

Pictures of Teddy Sheringham having neat tequila poured down his throat appeared across the following day’s newspapers. The FA also paid compensation to the airline Cathay Pacific for video screens damaged by drunk players on the flight home.

Glenn Hoddle had to deal with players going public on their need for psychiatric help. Paul Merson and Tony Adams had drug and alcohol addictions, while Gascoigne saw two counsellors after beating up his wife and admitting bouts of rage.

Hoddle met editors and sports editors to try to stem personal stories being leaked, an irony since he kept the best one — Gazza’s wild, drunken behaviour when told he was not in his final squad — for his own book.

There are hotels across the world where men on tour have indulged in rowdiness and promiscuity on the basis that away from home a different set of rules apply. It is also true that English footballers increasingly divorce their professionalism on the pitch from that off it.

If Capello is to lift the World Cup this summer, he has to change not his tactics but his players’ mentality.

This article first appeared in The Mail, February 2010.

 


David Moyes Has Gone, Time For Sir Alex To Follow Suit!

by Rob Shepherd.

MoyesSacked

Time ran out for Moyes – but shadow of Fergie made it impossible to move forward

Sir Alex Ferguson has regrets over how David Moyes was sacked and the manner of his fellow Scot’s dismissal should be a warning that his own days at the club may be numbered…

Ferguson’s role as an influential director and ambassador is now likely to be downsized at the very least in the wake of Moyes’ departure. Fergie might have argued Moyes deserved the dignity of a bit more time but if he did offer such advice it fell on deaf ears.

The Glazers, United’s American owners, may be ready to sideline Ferguson as they look to rebuild the club and perhaps should have addressed the situation sooner.

After choosing Moyes as his successor, Ferguson didn’t do him too many favours and not just in terms of leaving an ageing squad behind.

There is a feeling among the Glazers and some board members that Ferguson’s Long Goodbye lasted, well, too long, and sections of the support are of the same opinion.

Mistakes that were made in the early 1970s after Sir Matt Busby stepped down have been replicated despite assurances there would be no repeat and Ferguson cast a shadow over Moyes the way Busby did to Wilf McGuinness and then Frank O’Farrell.

Ferguson did not have as much direct involvement in the day-to-day running of the club after his abdication compared with Busby but he has been sitting in the stands, often caught on camera grimacing as his old empire crumbled before his eyes.

You get the impression that some of the players were just waiting for him to scamper down the steps, storm into the dressing room, turn on the hair dryer and get things back on track. No doubt on days when players bumped into him they would still refer to him as the gaffer.

There can be no doubt Ferguson’s physical presence around the club had a psychological effect on the players, many of whom appeared to stop playing for Moyes.

Alex-Ferguson-Book

Sir Alex didn’t do David Moyes a lot of favours with his presence and actions after retiring.

Then of course there was the high-profile impact of Ferguson bringing out his autobiography so soon. Why couldn’t he have waited a year or so rather than cause such disruption and controversy in the early days of Moyes’ reign?

Then there’s the frequent public appearances for lucrative fees. It’s not as if Ferguson needs the money or has anything to prove and basking in his past glories surely intensifies the pressure on his successor.

At a time when Manchester United needed the manager who had brought so much success to the club for 27 years to be selfless, the golden farewell engagements went on and on. Surely it would have been better all round had Fergie melted into background. Stayed away even, in the way that Pep Guardiola did after leaving Barcelona.

That is what must happen now and in all likelihood a new manager will demand it. Certainly it appears Ferguson will have a limited influence on an appointment the club must get right if they are to avoid going into the wilderness.

It was only when Tommy Docherty managed to make sure Busby was pushed firmly into the background that the club started the long process of re-inventing itself after relegation from the top flight.

Sport/Football, 1973, Tommy Docherty, Manchester United Manager with the former Manager Matt Busby

Docherty had to escape from Busby’s shadow

‘Relegation’ from the Champions League this season is in many ways more of a blow to the club now than it was dropping out of the old First Division in 1974. Certainly from a financial point of view with the loss of up to £80million in revenue equating to annual interest payments the Glazers pay on financing the debt.

It’s a massive call for the club to make as they seek to attract over £200million worth of new talent and it will be done, rightly or wrongly, with the Glazers putting on their corporate hats.

There is no longer any room for romance in seeking Fergie’s counsel in the guise of the Godfather from Govan.

Indeed, one suspects the board will prefer to see Ferguson spend most of his time in the coming months lecturing at Harvard business school again, not loitering around Old Trafford.

 

@robshepherd5


When The Beautiful Game met the Greatest Of All Music
Mark Webster

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhat’s that, ‘soccer and soul’ you say, Bobby? The football, and the funk? I think this is where I came in! So here’s my hat trick of moments where The Beautiful Game met the Greatest Of All Music…

3) Ilford in Essex is an unlikely birth place for a movement. But there is no doubt that in the mid seventies, the rather tatty old Lacey Lady club in the High Road was where it was at. And that ‘it’ was underground disco and early jazz funk, played to a racially mixed crowd of aficionados wearing the new cutting edge of fashion – carpenter jeans, straight leg trousers, plastic sandals, Hawaiian shirts and, get this, the fellas had haircuts where you could see their ears!

First record I heard when I walked in there for my underaged debut on the nightclubbing scene in the summer of ‘77 – Chic’s ‘Dance Dance Dance’.

Also born in Ilford, in 1967, was Paul Ince. So he’d have been pushing it a bit to have been at The Lacy hearing those pioneering dance sounds ten years later. Mind you, I have it on good authority from a friend of mine who went to school with Incey, and subsequently some of the same local night spots a few years after, that The Guvnor’s favourite record was… Joyce Sims’ ‘Come Into My Life’.

Released in 1987, this was an innovative hybrid of soul vocals with hip hop production – courtesy of pioneering hip hop producers/mixers Mantronix. It was released on the brilliant, but short-lived New York label Sleeping Bag, which was also home to other groundbreaking acts such as EPMD and Todd Terry. Incey may now be plying his trade in one of the hotbeds of the Northern Soul scene, Blackpool, but back then as a young John Lyall discovery, making his way from West Ham’s famed youth academy into the first team, his first choice, was Joyce.

2) It’s 1994, at  the famed Soldier Field – the oldest stadium in the NFL and home to the Chicago Bears – and the World Cup is about to get underway with all of the usual overblown pageantry that we have so come to hate over the years at these kind of events. But what’s this, bursting through from the half wine line, leaving at least 200 defenders in white in her wake? It’s none other than the Queen of Motown,  Diana Ross. Dressed in what can only be described as a Liverpool FC trouser suit,  noone can get near her as she approaches the penalty spot – all of 6 yards from the goal.

La Ross, it should be pointed out, was 50 when she made her one and only World Cup appearance. So, yes, nearly as old as Ryan Giggs. But at the time she was married to Norwegian Arnie Naess, so it’s likely that she did have some grasp of the job in hand.

The ‘Supreme’ athlete takes a breath, shimmies, then begins her stuttered approach to the ball – in doing so, making a mockery of the penalty taking rules that insist on an unbroken run up. But these were different times, when England were represented at the tournament by the Republic of Ireland squad, for example.

Nevertheless, in spite of the kit, the knowledge and the guile, Ross only succeeds in dragging it, sticking the ball wide of the keeper’s right hand post. But if she’s anything, Ross is a competitor and without taking a beat she bursts through the goal which has now inexplicably exploded – she missed! – and carries on with the show.

Point being: all of this happened to the magnificent strains of what was to become her anthem, the Chic-produced ‘I’m Coming Out’; a paean to her having left her musical (and emotional, given her relationship with Berry Gordy) home of twenty years, Motown. The song also became a triumphant gay anthem, and had it’s roots on that scene because the writer/producer  Nile Rodgers came up with the lyric when he saw 3 drag queens all done up as La Ross, when out clubbing in New York. In spite of the Liverpool reference, Nile Rodgers, as far as I know, is not related to Brendan.

1) If you stick your head in a few of the pubs in the streets around Celtic Park, chances are you’ll find an old boy who’s a fan of The Bhoys and who’ll remember a game against Morton back in 1951 when a young player scored on debut. That player was to become known as ‘The Black Arrow’ during his brief tenure at Celtic. And his name was Gil Heron.

Gil was born in Kingston, Jamaica but emigrated to Canada where he joined the Air Force to do his bit. He was a good all round athlete, but decided to have a go at making a career in the heavily-handled ‘North American Soccer Football League’. Which is where he was scouted by Celtic and brought over as the first black player in that League.

Gil Heron

Gil Heron

He continued to have a career as a player – including a stint at Kidderminster Harriers –  and ultimately made his way back to North America to play his football in the home town of Motown, Detroit.

Although never really a couple, there was a relationship around this time with an opera singer, Bobbie Scott – one result of which was a son, Gil Scott-Heron.

By the time Gil Scott-Heron arrived in the artsy Chelsea part of Manhattan in the late Sixties, he was already proving to be a master of the written and spoken word. He was a published author, then recorded a spoken word album, ‘Small Talk At 125th & Lenox’ for the jazz label Flying Dutchman. A year later, in 1971, he then recorded what I consider to be possibly the greatest album ever made, ‘Pieces of A Man’. What ensued was a magnificent career, and troubled life, that saw him record his last album, ‘I’m New Here’ on XL in 2010, and die at 62 in 2011.

Back at that  nightclub in Ilford in 1977, I’d have been dancing to his best known tune, ‘The Bottle’, but out of an incredible array of great tracks, perhaps ‘It’s Your World’ is the one that really does it for me.

 

@ItsMarkWebster

 

 


Who is Steve Curry..?
Legendary Football Writer Looks Back Over His Incredible Career

Fleet Street legend and BOBBY columnist STEVE CURRY celebrated his 70th birthday in October, here he looks back on a successful and eventful career.
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IT WAS Cassius Clay who was the springboard for Steve Curry’s career as a football writer.

And when a young, innocent lad from Lancashire came to London his life literally went to pot.

Curry forged a reputation as one of Fleet Street’s leading football news reporters, working hard and playing hard in an era when journalists were able to eat, drink and be merry with managers and players. And Ronnie Biggs.

These days, much of his time is spent helping his wife Carol at Morts wine bar/restaurant in Walton-on-Thames. “She does all the cooking,” said Curry who is a meeter and greeter to customers at the former Ruby’s.

A far cry from his first job on the weekly Blackburn Times where he began covering weddings, council meetings and law courts, reporting on Rovers at the weekend. He then moved to the Preston-based evening newspaper Lancashire Evening Post before being transferred to their offices in London in 1964 when he joined the Football Writers’ Association, making him one of the longest-serving members.

“Though basically a sub, I was allowed to write a Saturday column,” said Curry. “I did a piece on Cassius Clay, as he was still called then, which caught the eye of the editor. This earned me my transfer to London which was when I started to specialise in sport, principally football.”

Curry moved into a flat in Fawley Road, Hampstead with five girls who worked for United Newspapers. Upstairs were some guys who played in a jazz band and Curry said: “I was pretty naive and when I walked into the flat I sniffed the air and thought how peculiar it smelt. I asked one of the girls what it was and it turned out the entire block was smoking pot. Needless to say I didn’t get involved in that.”

In 1966, Curry covered England’s World Cup final win over West Germany which remains the highlight of his career. Clive Toye had left the Daily Express which created a vacancy for a football writer and with Toye’s recommendation, Curry got the nod ahead of Peter Corrigan who went on to serve the Observer so well.

A Fleet Street rookie, Curry was initially helped by the Daily Express football correspondent Desmond Hackett, who wore a trademark brown bowler in press boxes, and Geoffrey Green of The Times. “They were the doyens of the football writing circuit and were fantastic to me. They also taught me how to drink…”

At the Daily Express, Curry and the late Joe Melling were an outstanding news team, regularly leading the way with transfers and managerial appointments. “Joe was a great scuffler and had really good contacts in the game which rightly won him awards.”

After 30 years with the Daily Express “almost to the day” Curry left for the Sunday Telegraph where, in the mid to late Nineties, the sports desk enjoyed a golden era under sports editor Colin Gibson, now head of media and communications for the International Cricket Council.

The paper had a series of exclusives in 1998 including the breakaway European League and the demolition of the Wembley twin towers.

“We cleaned up the awards,” said Curry. “I was named sports news reporter of the year, Colin was sports journalist of the year, golf writer Derek Lawrenson won the sports correspondent of the year…it was almost a clean sweep.

“I’d say Colin and David Emery, my sports editor at the Daily Express, have been the two biggest influences in my career. Both were former writers, which is a help when you become sports editor and why I think Matt Lawton will do a good job in his new role on the Daily Mail sports desk.”

A 10-month spell at the Sunday Times was followed by a move to the Daily Mail which he left in 2006. Curry still does “bits and pieces for the Daily Mail” and the occasional newspaper review for Sky but most of all he is thankful he was able to experience reporting during the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties when football writers and players mixed freely, an impossible dream for the current generation.

He said: “Access was so much easier. We used to stroll into training grounds, stand on the touchline, shout at the players and have fun. It was all one happy family. Now, of course, you almost have to make an appointment to visit a training ground. They’re like Fort Knox.

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Ball: Beat Germany, then rode Curry!

“With England, we’d watch the training at the Bank of England sports ground at Roehampton, wait in a lounge in armchairs, Alf would come in booted and suited with his suitcase and the eight or 10 reporters present would chat to him. No cameras…it was far more relaxed than it is now.

“We made friends with footballers. After England won the World Cup I remember giving Alan Ball a piggy-back round the reception of the Royal Garden hotel in Kensington late in the night.”

Forty six years later the only contact football writers have with England players is in the mixed zone after internationals.

Curry continued: “My contacts book was full of home numbers – there were no mobiles then.”

No mobiles and no lap-tops which made filing reports far more challenging from the present era of pressing “send” and within seconds a story is with the sports desk. “In those days you had to have a phone installed in a press box. Not just that, you couldn’t ring out, you had to wait for the office to ring you. We’d sit there with our copy ready waiting and praying it would ring.

“There were occasions when only one paper could get a line out and after the reporter had put his report over to the copy taker, his switchboard would somehow transfer to another paper.”

The job has moved on in many ways and the current generation of football writers operate under far more pressure than those of yesteryear where working conditions were more free and easy.

Curry said: “I remember being in the Bernabeu in 1965 when Sir Alf Ramsey first played without wingers against Spain. It was a bitterly cold night and a chap was a walking round with some fiery liquid. By the time the match finished Geoffrey Green must have drunk almost a gallon of this stuff and was a little the worse for wear. Yet as always the next morning his report read like prose.”

England’s visit to South America in 1984, when John Barnes scored his supergoal against Brazil in the Maracana, was a particularly memorable trip for Curry. He said: “Jeff Powell of the Daily Mail and I went to a beef restaurant in Rio he knew and inside were Bob Driscoll [Daily Star] and Alex Montgomery [Sun] talking to this English chap about life in Brazil.

Ronnie Biggs on Copacabana beach

Ronnie Biggs on Copacabana beach

“They had no idea who he was, but I recognised him. It was Ronnie Biggs who was delighted to chat to us while we bought him drinks.”

The flight back from South America was delayed and Team Curry found themselves in a hotel in Montevideo where the foursome decided to try the Uruguayan Bloody Mary. They were soon joined by other football writers who also found the cocktail the perfect companion for killing time.

“After a while the waiter, dressed in a dicky bow, said as he put down the final round of drinks ‘Congratulations, you have now drunk 100 Bloody Mary’s.”

A bar tab, Curry maintains with a hint of pride, he has never given to anyone at Mort’s.

 


The Truth About The Turnip and Me
Rob Shepherd

It’s not every day the England manager tells you to “F**k off” out of the country.

Twenty years ago Graham Taylor did just that on the eve of England’s decisive World Cup qualifier against Holland in Rotterdam.

In a scene you might have seen on the cult fly-on-the-wall documentary: The Impossible Job, which has been re-named by its cult following ‘Do I Not Like That’ (one of several Taylor catchphrases), Taylor lambastes me for my pessimism about England’s chances of avoiding defeat.

“You can worry Rob, but don’t make the rest of us worry,” Taylor blasted – yes he really did blast – as his tirade against me gathered pace.

“Rise yourself man! Look, if you were one of my players I’d…”

Believe it or not there are some people out there who can recite the whole exchange and indeed the remarkable documentary made by Neil Duncanson and Ken McGill by Chrysalis for Channel Four.

In many ways it is football’s Spinal Tap with a hint of Monty Python.

To this day many people when I meet them want to talk to me about the cameo I was caught up in.

A few years later a mainstream movie came out entitled Mike Bassett: England manager. It was a decent film, and at times very funny, but essentially it was a dramatized version of “Do I Not Like That.” And in terms of comedic value not a patch on the real thing.

The fact was far stranger, far better, far more bizarre, and in the real sense of the word far more pathetic than the fiction.

Epitaph

I remember going to to see a press preview of the documentary about six months after the The Row in Rotterdam. I had been tipped off that I had featured significantly.

That worried me…

Had I been trailed by a camera man taking the wrong turn down a dodgy strasse on the road to England’s ruined World Cup campaign..?

What unfolded was astonishing.

My instant review that day was that what Graham Taylor; England manager had believed would be a eulogy to his prowess as a football manager became an epitaph.

I stand by that appraisal.

Graham-Taylor-in-Rotterda-001

Taylor believed the documentary would put him in a positive light

You see none of us “Hack Pack” who followed England at the time – in a pre-internet, pre-social media era there was a hard core of print radio and TV correspondents which ranged between ten and fifty depending on the size of the assignment – knew that a documentary was being filmed.

But Graham Taylor did.

Why on earth did he allow such access..?

It was an attempt to prove a point that he was not ‘Taylor The Turnip Head’ as he had been depicted after England were humbled at the 1992 European Championships finals in Sweden.

For the record (and isn’t it funny how time and ill informed perception alters mind) I, Rob Shepherd, was not the guy who cast Taylor as the Turnip. I can tell you many people now assume I did – but then some of them think I look like Desperate Dan! On that front; strangely enough my first job in journalism was working for DC Thompson who published The Dandy and I once had to do a photo shoot…er, that’s another story.

Graham Taylor - Sun Turnip 200

Taylor: Headline maker

So let’s get this straight; Taylor was pilloried by The Sun with a morphed image (yes there were fun photos before Instagram) of his head fused with a turnip.
Why..? It was on the back of one of the immortal tabloid headlines, dreamt up not by the sports editor of the time (although he has dined out on it and got jobs on the back of it for many years) but a stalwarts sub editor called Dave Clement.

The simplicity was stunning as England’s chaotic Euro 92 adventure ended in abject failure when Taylor’s team were eliminated in the final match of the group phase by hosts Sweden, who came from behind to win 2-1.

The whole campaign had been a shambles, defined best by Taylor’s ludicrous decision to take off Gary Lineker and replace him with Alan Smith as England chased the game.

It might have seemed a bit crass but Swedes 2 Turnips 1 summed up the feelings of the hoi polloi.

Backlash

As the son of a Journalist Graham Taylor had thought he could cajole, even control or at least appease the press with a combination of bravado and bon homie.

But he hadn’t accounted for the city-slick media machines who would dance over graves and, at least for the first edition, boast “Up yer Junta” when the battleship of a war time enemy was sunk and many lives were lost.

In contrast pillorying an England football manager was mere bagatelle.

Shocked by the intensity and cruelty of the backlash Taylor decided he needed to adopt a PR strategy. And so he agreed to allow a TV crew unprecedented access for a warts-and-all documentary.

He felt this would be the way to get his revenge in first. This was the way to prove he was the best man to manage England. This was the way how he would be the Pied Piper leading England’s merry men to the World Cup in the USA. And this was the way to reverse the tables and make the media men look like melons.

Graham also had a slight advantage. He knew the cameras were rolling. The Press didn’t. Neither did the players – well at least for a while, by which time they had allowed themselves to be filmed in some Pythonesque scenes.

But he hadn’t accounted for a, erm, Turn up in the books.

After only drawing to Norway and Holland at Wembley England’s World Cup campaign was suddenly on the back foot.

Then when England lost 2-0 against Norway in Oslo after Taylor has made disastrous tactical and team selections, it became a case of shit or bust when England faced Holland in Rotterdam.

The Oslo experience was on my mind when I challenged the team Taylor named for the Holland game 20 years ago. But there was more to it than that.

My agitated barrack room lawyer demeanour, which raised Taylor’s cackles, was enhanced by a heady mix of adrenalin and anger.

Adrenalin because I had actually scooped the rest of Fleet Street’s finest and named the team Taylor announced at the start of the press conference that morning in the now defunct Today Newspaper.

Anger? I was aghast. I so wanted England to qualify for the World Cup finals.
Three years earlier, after England had lost the World Cup semi-final to Germany the first guy I bumped into after I had filed my tear stained report was Bobby Moore who was working for Capital Radio at Italia 90.

“Don’t worry son,” Mr Moore told me.

“This time close, but in four years time the boys can do it. Let’s have a beer to that son.”

Now here we were in Holland. Bobby wasn’t going to make it to the USA, tragically he had died six months earlier. Neither I feared would England, and I kept thinking how upset that would have made Mr Moore.

I just had to vent my view that Taylor’s bizarre (as it seemed to me, even if I had the heads up) team selection would mean it ending in tears just as it had done against Norway in Oslo.

And here I just have to point out that there was more to me than just being a 31 year old big chinned gobby journo having a dig at the England boss in search for a headline.

I had done some decent journalism too.

Airport

In those days the press and players all flew on the same plane and we departed from Luton Airport at around midday on the Monday for the Wednesday night game.

I had a phone call very early that Monday morning from a contact I will not and will never reveal. I was told the team.

It was read to me from one to eleven (bearing in mind Paul Gascoigne and Stuart Pearce were suspended); Seaman, Parker, Adams, Pallister, Dorigo; Palmer {really!!! are f**king sure?} Platt, Ince, Sharpe (really!!!); Merson (No!), Shearer (What? So no Wright or Ferdinand??).

I was shocked. A month earlier England had beaten Poland 3-0 in the previous qualifier and Ian Wright (who declared we will win with “BullDog Spirit Man”) and Les Ferdinand had monstered the opposition.

WrightvPoles

Not Wright: The Arsenal striker had tormented the Poles the previous month

Even give the suspensions and Shearer’s potential, FIVE changes and no Wright or Ferdinand seemed very strange.

Merson was a super player. But how could he get the nod ahead of Wrighty who most of the hack pack assumed was a nailed on selection..???

As team news ahead of a pivotal international goes, this info was dynamite.

But it had to be checked. Not easy. But with the help of my colleague Dave Harrison we nailed it.

In the duty free at Luton I pulled Paul Parker aside. He said he couldn’t divulge. So I struck a compromise. If I ran through the one to eleven could he nod or shake. Parks gave me a nod and a wink all the way through.

So did Paul Ince.

When we got to Schiphol the Dutch started some dirty games – which would continue during the match two days later thanks to a German referee Karl- Josef Assenmacher – by pretending there were no baggage handlers. Nor courtesy buses.

So for nearly 90 minutes the England team were left loitering on the tarmac getting more and more wound-up.

It did give me and Dave Harrison the chance though to tug a few players and have a discreet word.

Once we both had got the nod from David Platt we were decided; the crazy info was correct. Well as far as we could make out and we’d done enough checks to satisfy a demanding sports editor in Mike Crouch who decided to go to town.

Our snapper Eddie Keogh had taken a picture of Carlton Palmer (“Carlton! Carlton!”) playing a piano in the team hotel.

As far as I was concerned, as good as a club player as Palmer might have been, Carlton couldn’t hit a cows arse with a banjo (that was a saying of ex-Wimbledon boss Dave – not Mike btw – Bassett, not mine) at international level.

That he was playing in such a big game beggared belief really. In fact I still didn’t really believe it despite at all the checks.

After all the players could have been playing a blinder, their version of three card brag and I can assure you Mr Ince was very good at three card brag back then.

But we went for it and beneath this strange picture of Palmer playing the ol’ Joanna was the team in 24 point emblazoned on the back page.

In many ways my balls were on the line.

After filing my copy I suddenly got very nervous.

If I got that wrong I would be hung out to dry by Taylor. The Turnip would have ridiculed me as Shepherd’s Pie.

But one thing I was sure on was that Wright would be on the bench and Merson would start. That’s because Merse told me.

I went on the missing list that night as far as the other hacks were concerned. This was too big a story to share. Except one who worked on a paper that was owned by the same company as Today.

We arranged to meet and slip out for dinner and few glasses of wine away from the hack pack. Just before we left the hotel he told me he had done a big piece on how Ian Wright could fire England to the finals. The first edition of Today has gone off the press by then so I advised him to re-write his piece and change the name Merson with Wright.

He did so. By that point I was confident.

Let Down

But even then when I went into the press conference the following morning my stomach was still churning. It was a similar feeling to getting exam results at school.

And I passed.

Taylor revealed the team…and I was right in terms of the facts but I felt he had got it so wrong.

Maybe as a football writer I was too passionate about the game back then, too patriotic. But we are who were are. And I kept hearing Bobby Moore’s soothing words in my ear and I just felt Mr Moore was being let down. England were being let down.

“Does the whole nation rest on whether Rob Shepherd’s happy or not?” Taylor intoned.

He was aware the cameras were rolling. I was not.

Ahead of the game this could have been his coup de grace. The Turnip tables would be turned.

As Taylor continued his tirade against me nervous stares from the Hack Pack turned into some polite twittering then guffaws of laughter. It was funny.

But who was the joke on; Taylor or me..?

I held my own for a while, then let it go. I didn’t want to ruin the rest of the press conference for everybody for the sake of an unseemly row. I had made my point but maybe he had a point. I was determined to show respect.

Whatever mistakes Taylor made as England manager he was not nasty man. Naïve back then perhaps. But not nasty. We got on.

But I thought he’d called it wrong. So it proved.

The team which had displayed so much energy and purpose in the win over Poland just a month earlier was all over the place in terms of shape and direction.

Yes, decisions and luck went against England and thus Taylor, but it was an accident waiting to happen given the team he had selected.

Holland won 2-0 and World Cup qualification was beyond England.

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Koeman, who should have been dismissed earlier, scores to seal England’s fate

The following month Holland beat Poland to seal their place in USA 94 with Norway which meant England’s 7-1 against San Marino was meaningless.

My match report intro that night – which became part of the closing scenes of the documentary – was, using a slight twist of Kenneth Wolstenholme’s brilliant last minute commentary of the 1966 World Cup final: ‘They Thought it was all Over…It is Now.’

Later that night I collared Graham Kelly, the chief executive of the FA at the time, who “off the record” told me Taylor was finished.

Taylor and England parted company the following week.

Six months later the documentary came out and Taylor’s reign as England manager was a bit like a Month Python sketch. Bobby Moore would not have been impressed.