Steve Curry

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


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.

 


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.
060408SteveCurry_770726

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.

AlanBall12504_468x310

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 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