Posts Tagged ‘England’

Hat-Trick Heroes
Who Has Scored the Most Hat-Tricks While Playing for England?

by Richard DJJ Bowdery.

This Thursday, 9 October, England take on the footballing minnows of Europe or, to give them their full title, San Marino.

It’s a game the three lions are expected to win and win comfortably. But will any of our players put a hat-trick of goals past this team from the Italian Peninsula?

The thought got me to thinking about which England player had scored the most hat-tricks whilst on international duty.

But before answering that question, I’d like to regale you with one or two other facts of a hat-tricky nature.

My first, and one that might augur well for one of our boys on Thursday, is that England’s Stan Mortensen scored his third and final hat-trick of hat-tricks against Northern Ireland at Windsor Park on 9 October 1948: 66 years ago to the day of this week’s Wembley fixture.

However, we have to go back to the 19th century to find the first recorded hat-trick by an England player. His name was Howard Vaughton and he achieved this feat whilst playing against Ireland in Belfast on 18 February 1882.

The game also featured another remarkable first. Arthur Brown became the second Englishman to notch a hat-trick of goals on international duty. But what makes him more than the Buzz Aldrin of hat-tricks (and to my knowledge the only time it has happened during an England match), is that it was achieved in the same game.


Greaves is England’s hat-trick hero

England won 13-0 with Vaughton adding two more goals to his tally, scoring five in all, whilst Brown ended up netting four.

At the time both Vaughton and Brown played for Aston Villa and were the first Villa players to be called up by England.

To date there have been 81 hat-tricks by an English player representing his country. The last of them was scored by ex-Tottenham striker Jermain Defoe, when England took on Bulgaria in a European Championship qualifier in September 2012, at Wembley.

And the player who scored the most hat-tricks for England..?  The ex-Chelsea, AC Milan, Spurs and West Ham striker (and goal poacher extraordinaire) Jimmy Greaves, he scored six.

Yet I bet 80 of those 81 England players would gladly give up their achievements for just one hat-trick: the one scored by Geoff Hurst at Wembley on 30 July 1966!


England v San Marino
PLUS: When Platt Ignored My Advice and Missed Out on Record!

by Rob Shepherd.

England v San Marino, Euro 2016 Qualifier, Thursday 9th October, KO 7.45pm

It seems ridiculous that San Marino – which is a mountain top “state” in North East Italy – is allowed to compete in qualifying groups for the Euros and World Cup without going through a pre-qualifying group along with other UEFA minnows like Faroe Islands or Gibraltar.

This week the issue will not be if England will win but by how many they will win by, because not only will San Marino’s part-timers double park the bus, their squad will have bus drivers in it!

No doubt though in the build up we will be reminded of the moment San Marino shook the world, albeit briefly, when David Gualitieri scored the fastest goal in World Cup history at 8.3 seconds by latching onto to Stuart Pearce’s poor pass-back to tuck the ball beyond David Seaman.

England went on to win 7-1 in Bologna with Ian Wright scoring four but it was not enough to lift England above Holland or Norway in the World Cup qualifying group and Graham Taylor’s side were eliminated from the 1994 finals.

San Marino’s first meeting with England was at Wembley in the February of that year which was won 6-0 by the hosts. It should have been seven…

David Platt had already hit four goals when England got a penalty, and with it Platt was poised to equal Malcolm MacDonald’s record of five goals in one match for England (against Cyprus in 1975, highlights below).

But it was saved by the diving Pierluigi Bendettini.

A strange personal twist; A few days earlier I had challenged Benettini to face five penalties from myself at a training session. I bagged three out of five.

On the eve of the game I told Platt which way the San Marino keeper, who yes was a bus driver and a postman, preferred to dive.

I never tire of telling Platty when I seem him that by ignoring my advice it cost him equaling SuperMacs record!

A sad poignant memory of that night; that match was attended by a very ill England legend, a certain Bobby Moore, who was working for Capital Radio. It would be Bobby’s last Wembley appearance. He passed away a few days later of bowel cancer.


Selected Odds

Correct score: England win

4-0: 6/1, 5-0: 5/1, 6-0: 11/2, 7-0: 6/1

First Scorer:

Rooney 2/1, Welbeck 5/2, Sterling 9/2, Baines 10/1, Cahill 16/1

No Goalscorer: 100/1

To Score a Hat-trick:

Rooney 11/5, Welbeck 31/10, Sterling 17/2

(Odds courtesy of Ladbrokes)



A Safe Pair of Hands
The player who quick-stepped his way to the top of English football

by Richard DJJ Bowdery.

SeamanBrumIt is alleged that this footballer entered the world hands first. If it had been feet first he might have become a better dancer. As it was he became one of English football’s great goalkeepers. Just ask ex-Liverpool stopper David James who was kept out of the England side by this man.

On 5 October 1984 a 21 year old David Andrew Seaman began his meteoric rise from the lower reaches of league football to the very pinnacle of the game.

By the time he hung up his gloves he had played 564 times for Arsenal and won 75 full England caps. He is also credited with keeping a record 130 clean sheets in the Premier League. Not bad for the boy born in Rotherham on 19 September 1963.

However, his start in the top flight didn’t meet with everyone’s approval. More of that later…

Seaman started his football career with Leeds as an apprentice. Though he never made an appearance for the Yorkshire club, fourth division Peterborough saw something in the young keeper and took him to their London Road ground where he stayed for just over two years.

His spell at Posh brought him to the attention of a number of clubs playing higher up the Football League and on 5 October he was sold to second division Birmingham City.

SeamanQPRCity were a club desperate to reclaim their First Division berth and in young Seaman they saw a keeper who could help them realize that ambition.

With Seaman in the side they were promoted at the end of the 84/85 season.

The next stop on his travels was west London club Queens Park Rangers where he stayed for four years.

Then in 1990 Arsenal came calling.

At the time John Lukic was between the sticks but George Graham had other plans. He is reported as saying: “I still think John Lukic is one of the top three keepers in the country. I just think David Seaman is the best.”

The Gooners took a lot more convincing. On hearing that their idol in goal could be replaced they would chant “We all agree… Lukic is better than Seaman!” during games.

Seaman soon won them over and proved George Graham right when he signed for the Gunners for £1.3m, then a record fee for a goalkeeper.

arsenal-david-seaman-1-proset-1991-1992-football-trading-card-20425-pOn the England front he went from hero to zero in the space of six years.

During Euro 96 his penalty saves against Scotland and Spain – cometh the hour cometh the man – helped propel England to the semi-finals where they lost to the other ‘auld enemy, Germany. Seaman was a hero to every English fan.

Fast forward to the 2002 World Cup finals where Seaman’s blunder, when he was caught out by a Ronaldinho free kick from 40 odd yards, left England exiting the tournament at the hands of Brazil.

There is a defining incident in many player’s careers and for Seaman, this was his.

But that one bizarre moment shouldn’t overshadow his tremendous contribution to English football, though it did see him leave Arsenal on a free for Manchester City a year later.

He finally hung up his gloves in January 2004 after a career spanning over 1,000 games for club and country. And he can be justly proud of all that he achieved.

One question still remains. Did a BBC producer on Strictly Come Dancing recall Seaman being left flat-footed against Brazil and think ‘Aha, another contestant’?




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.




Rooney Has Sir Bobby Charlton In His Sights As He Chases Immortality

by Roy Dalley.

Wayne Rooney has been calling himself England’s “Big Man” since he arrived late at the 2006 World Cup, clutching a note from his doctor declaring himself fit for duty. We all know how that worked out…

A new chapter begins in an international career that has so far brought 95 caps, 41 goals, and not much else apart from a few red cards and the odd broken metatarsal. Rooney has been awarded the captaincy he long cherished a month before his 29th birthday, and is saying all the right things as he looks ahead to the challenge.

Coupled with his appointment as new skipper at Manchester United there is no doubt Rooney’s chest will be even more barrel-like as he leads England into the forthcoming qualifier against Switzerland.

But he will do well to compartmentalise his pride, for the Big Man has taken on a Big Job, and the next two years may well show us once and for all what sort of stuff he’s made of.

Alistair Cook knows only too well of the pressures both mind and body suffer in such a lofty environment. Well, you can probably multiply the weight of hope and expectation Rooney will carry onto the pitch as the eyes of a nation burn into him.


Rooney is set to take Sir Bobby Charlton’s scoring records for club and country

He’s already getting it in the neck from former England and United right-back Paul Parker, whose scathing critique of Rooney’s early performances as United captain rivalled a spell under Sir Alex Ferguson’s hairdryer in their venom. Views probably shared by many football watchers from Old Trafford to Wembley who reckon he shouldn’t be in their teams, never mind leading them out.

It will be fascinating finding out if Rooney can hold his nerve as the immortality he seeks appears on the horizon. Granted, United won’t win much more for a while… they’ve only effectively got the FA Cup and a top four place to play for over the next nine long months, for example.

But by the time of the European Championship Finals in 2016 Rooney might not just be captain of club and country, but their respective record goalscorers too. Something to tell the grandkids I daresay?

Who knows, a Knighthood may even be in the beckoning. Sir Bobby Charlton is the one currently holding those particular aces, scoring 49 for England and 249 for United. Rooney needs 9 and 33 respectively to surpass Wor Bobby, easily attainable in two seasons one would have thought?

Only problem is will he play every week, even if he avoids injury? Certainly Ross Barkley will be eager to add his name to the challengers for his place in Roy Hodgson’s team once he returns to fitness. And Radamel Falcao’s arrival in English football has already got Rooney on the retreat as he speaks of a more deeper-lying role in the years ahead.

Perhaps it may be so. Perhaps he will look to Andrea Pirlo for inspiration as he contemplates his 30’s. Or perhaps will he end up crying in his pillow? It’s time to find out…



Hodgson’s Plastic Generation
PLUS: Switzerland v England History & Odds

by Rob Shepherd.

Frank Lampard’s retirement from international football saw much debate about why England’s so called ‘golden generation’ ended up with the wooden spoon. Time and again.

Bad management by the ridiculous Sven Goran Eriksson in particular as well as out-of-his-depth Steve McClaren and antique collector Fabio Capello are obvious reasons.

Predecessor to that trio Kevin Keegan was pilloried, but I have a suspicion he would have got more out of the talented wave of players that emerged at the turn of the millennium.

Hoddle at the World Cup in 1998 (Shaun Botterill /Allsport).

Hoddle at the World Cup in 1998 (Shaun Botterill /Allsport).

I am convinced Glenn Hoddle would have, had he not been rushed out of office.

A few months ago I was in Hoddle’s company and we touched on what might have been post France 98.

He felt the future was bright given the players he had under his belt and those on the horizon and in general would have adopted a 3-5-2 system.

A team like this could then have emerged by 2002: David James, Sol Campbell, Rio Ferdinand, John Terry, David Beckham, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Paul Scholes, Ashley Cole, Robbie Fowler, Michael Owen.

With a young and sharp Wayne Rooney to emerge and the likes of Gary Neville, Joe Cole, Michael Carrick and Jermain Defoe around to bolster the above team then by 2004 or 2006 the so-called ‘golden generation’ could have lifted big silverware.

And the future now under an increasingly hapless Roy Hodgson? As it stands it would seem more like a Plastic Generation.


Switzerland v England – Selected Bets

Switzerland:  17/10  Draw:  19/10  England: 19/10

Double Result: Switzerland/Draw  14/1

Correct Score: Switzerland 1-0 England 11/2, Switzerland 1-2 England 11/1

First Goalscorer: Sturridge 5/1, Rooney 11/2, Drmic 13/2, Sterling 8/1

BOBBY’S BET OF THE DAY: Raheem Sterling To Score & England To Win: 5/1

Odds courtesy of William Hill.

If You Know Your History…

The nations first met back in 1933 when England ran riot 4-0 in a friendly in Berne, with Arsenal legend Cliff Bastin bagging two of the goals.

The Swiss struck back with friendly victories in Zurich in 1938 (2-1) and 1947 (1-0) but England hit back with a 6-0 hammering in 1948 at Highbury.

That was the first of a sequence of six consecutive victories for the Three Lions, including a 2-0 win over the hosts in the group stages of the 1954 World Cup.

Unquestionably the most remarkable of these wins was at St. Jakob Park, Basle in 1963, when Bobby Charlton netted a hat-trick in a huge 8-1 England win.

The sides later met in the qualification stages for the 1972 European Championships with England getting the points in Basle with a 3-2 win before the sides drew 1-1 at Wembley, as England qualified for the championships in Belgium ahead of Switzerland.

Goals from Kevin Keegan and Mick Channon gave England a narrow 2-1 win in 1975 in another friendly in Basle.

England’s 34 year unbeaten run against the Swiss came to an abrupt end in 1981 as Switzerland prevailed 2-1 in a World Cup qualifier in Basle, although in the end it was not enough for them to join England in qualifying for the finals in Spain.

A 1995 friendly was notable as Terry Venables’ England side beat Roy Hodgson’s Swiss side 3-1 at Wembley.

Rooney is congratulated by Beckham and Lampard at Euro 2004

Rooney is congratulated by Beckham and Lampard at Euro 2004

Fast forward a year and the teams locked horns in a competitive fixture as Wembley hosted the opening match of Euro ’96. This time the Swiss claimed a well-earnt draw with Turkyilmaz converting a late penalty after Alan Shearer had opened the scoring for the home side.

Tottenham’s Ramon Vega scored for the hosts before Paul Merson equalised for England in a 1-1 friendly draw in Berne in 1998.

In the group stages at Euro 2004 England won convincingly 3-0 in Coimbra with a brace from Wayne Rooney and one from Steven Gerrard.

The very first game of Fabio Capello’s reign as England manager was against the Swiss in February 2008, and the Italian got off to a winning start with a 2-1 triumph with goals from Jermaine Jenas and Shaun Wright-Phillips at Wembley.

The 1981 match in Basle remains Switzerland’s last win over England.

England also played in Basle twice in the 1954 World Cup, drawing a group game 4-4 with Belgium and losing in the quarter-finals 4-2 to Uruguay.


Sir Bobby Robson: Brave Player, Great Coach… But Most of All a True Gent

sirbobbyrobsonBookCoverToday is Bobby Robson day.

It is five years since Sir Robert died.

The FA has established an annual tribute day to remember the great man and also support the Bobby Robson cancer trust.

Read below the fine tribute his official biographer Paul Hayward wrote in 2009. And for the whole story we recommend you buy the book (ISBN 978034 082 23477).

Sir Bobby Robson: Brave Player, Great Coach… But Most of All a True Gent.

by Paul Hayward, Sir Bobby Robson’s Official Biographer

One word captures the people’s view of Sir Bobby Robson. He was easily and universally recognised as a gentleman, which was no small feat in a sport with an increasingly wonky moral compass.

The two elder statesmen of our national game have been the two Sir Bobbys: Charlton for his achievements on the field and his ambassadorial aura, and Robson for his endless love of coaching and being around players.


Sir Bobby Robson and his wife Elsie.

Robson’s nirvana was a 7am alarm call and a cup of tea with his beloved wife Elsie followed by a long and intense session on the training pitch. The medical records are unavailable, but many suspect he was born in a tracksuit.

He could be profound, fierce, angry, sad, insightful and entertaining in a single answer. Often he would illustrate his point by turning the kitchen into a training pitch.

With a fine comic sense and an actor’s gift for delivery, Bobby would set off on a tale about how, on foreign trips, he would write the name of the Ipswich team hotel on the shirt cuffs of chairman John Cobbold, who was partial to a wander and a drink.

Then he would recall how the great Corinthian of the boardroom would tell him after a defeat: ‘Bobby, today it wasn’t our turn, but we’ve given the other team the pleasure of winning. That’s something.’

Robson would chuckle at that. The idea of losing charitably was anathema to him, because behind the avuncular exterior he was demonic in pursuit of success. Yet he also understood the value of civility and honour in an industry of careerists and carve-ups.

One morning I arrived at his London home to find him frantically calling a local radio station and failing to get through. He said he had been ringing for almost an hour but had succeeded only in listening to countless bars of Mozart.

‘Why?’ was the obvious question. It turned out that a stranger on a bike had stopped him in the street the day before and told him that if he (Sir Bobby) called the radio station and vouched for the celebrity sighting, a sum of money would go to charity while the cyclist would be eligible for a £1,000 prize draw.

On the back of this chance collision with a stranger, Robson was quite willing to spend the whole morning trying to report the meeting so the charity would get its money and the young man would have a chance of scooping the pot.


Bobby Robson playing for Fulham in 1953.

Walking 100 yards with him would take an hour, because builders would come down from scaffolding and taxi drivers would halt to salute him. Sure, they admired his achievements on the football field, but the deeper attraction was his decency, his consideration for others.

He had an ego like the rest of them. No manager could survive almost 40 years in the dugout without one. There was a hardness about him, too: a product, perhaps, of his early years below ground in the Durham coalfields.

He could be severe with players or journalists who crossed him. He also had a keen sense of his own market value. An initial offer of £400,000 a year in 1999 to manage Newcastle was rejected on the grounds that Alan Shearer was then earning around £3million. As the negotiations opened, Robson would not allow his love for the club to override his professional pride.

Acquisitive though he was, he would never trample on others to reach the top, or forget that manners are one of the simplest and most lasting measures of a man. In one sense, his was a career of nearmisses.

As a player he spent most of his 17 years among the rakes and rogues of Fulham: a fun-loving club where an injured player would be turfed off the treatment table to accommodate a team-mate’s greyhound who needed urgent physio for a race at the weekend.


Robson guided England to the semi-finals of the World Cup

With England, Robson was injured before the 1962 World Cup, which opened the door to a certain Bobby Moore, and looked back with anguish at his narrow failure to make the victorious 1966 squad. His 20 caps were no consolation as Moore lifted the trophy.

Robson said: ‘I confess I gritted my teeth and shook my head. I was in the top division with Fulham. I felt I could handle anyone. I could have played that day in 1966.’

As England manager he survived eight years and was denied a World Cup final appearance by a penalty shootout in the semi-finals of Italia 90.

In 1986 in Mexico, he preferred to ascribe Diego Maradona’s infamous goal to the ‘hand of a rascal’. But after tolerating vicious personal abuse with characteristic grace, he left the England job as the country’s most successful manager since Sir Alf Ramsey, by virtue of that World Cup semi-final.

The pattern was repeated in large parts of his managerial career. At Ipswich, where he worked miracles in a sleepy Suffolk town, he won the UEFA and FA Cups but missed out several times on the English league championship.

At Portman Road, he was the unofficial lord of Suffolk, running the club from top to bottom while the Cobbolds sipped their gins and tonic and upheld sporting values from a vanished age.

He won league titles in Holland and Portugal, but finished second with Barcelona in his only year at the Nou Camp (1996-97).  Typically, though, he assembled a Barca side who scored 137 times and won two cups. Another of Robson’s enduring legacies is his devotion to adventurous, attacking football.

Robson lifts the UEFA Cup

Robson lifts the UEFA Cup

For him, football had a duty to excite. His teams expressed his character: energetic, fun, indefatigable. He was too proud to admit it publicly, but his time at Newcastle United scarred him to his bones.

When chairman Freddy Shepherd sacked him four games into the 2004-05 season, it’s no exaggeration to say Robson entered a period of bereavement. Many of us wondered whether he would ever recover from being first undermined and then fired by the club he had queued to watch as a small boy with his father immediately after the war.

‘I’ve been sacked for finishing fifth,’ he would complain. ‘Fifth! In my last three seasons there we finished fourth, third and fifth!’
He left it to others to point out that Newcastle then came home in 14th place in Graeme Souness’s first season in charge.

Robson’s five years on Tyneside cast an unflattering light on the modern footballer and he was frequently bemused by the antics of Kieron Dyer and Craig Bellamy, who got into a fist fight with Sir Bobby’s No 2 in a departure lounge on the way to a European game. He was baffled by the superstar lifestyle, the egocentricity of some modern players.

Robson, after all, had travelled home by train and bus after playing for England in front of 80,000 spectators at Wembley. He vividly remembered having to take his shoes off to ease his blisters as he limped the final few yards from the bus stop after scoring for England against Scotland in 1961.

It was not that he romanticised the era of dubbin and modest wages. More that he always thought the game was more precious than any material gain it might bring. Though the Newcastle experience broke his heart, retirement was unthinkable. It would have separated him from who and what he was.

And yes, he did occasionally struggle with names, however much he objected privately to people thinking he muddled them up. Once or twice he called me Peter. But I didn’t mind. He could have called me anything. To me he represented most of what is great about football. More importantly, he was an inspiration as a man.


Sir Bobby Robson, 1933 - 2009.

Sir Bobby Robson, 1933 – 2009.

Read All About It: England Win The World Cup! We have an original match report from 1966

This match report was  published on Sunday July 31 1966, the day after England became world champions. The report was written by Hugh McIlvanney (now of the Sunday Times)  who was then chief sports correspondent of The Observer, a post he held between 1962 and 1993. The piece, some 2,145 words long, would have been filed in the moments after the final whistle and at points you can sense McIlvanney’s journalistic instincts wrestling with the glorious emotion of the moment. In the circumstances, it’s an exceptional piece of reportage.


The greatest moment in the history of English football came at 5.15 this afternoon when Geoff Hurst shot the magnificent goal that made certain of the World Cup. It was Hurst’s third goal, England’s fourth, and, coming as it did in the final seconds of extra time, it shattered the last remnants of German resistance.

Germany had equalized with the last kick in the regular 90 minutes, and they had gone within inches of repeating the blow in extra time when Seeler lunged in on a headed pass by Held. But Moore took the ball coolly out of defence and lifted it upfield to Hurst 10 yards inside the German half. The referee was already looking at his watch and three England supporters had prematurely invaded the pitch as Hurst took the ball on his chest.

At first he seemed inclined to dawdle out time. Then abruptly he sprinted through on the inside-left position with a German defender pressing him. As Tilkowski prepared to move out, Hurst swung his left foot and drove the ball breathtakingly into the top of the net.

The scene that followed was unforgettable. Stiles and Cohen collapsed in a tearful embrace on the ground, young Ball turned wild cartwheels, and Bobby Charlton dropped to his knees, felled by emotion.

Almost immediately it was over and the honour that had escaped England for so long had been won. Soon the players, who had forgotten the crippling weariness of a few minutes before, were hugging and laughing and crying with Alf Ramsey and the reserves, who must go through their lives with bitter-sweet memories of how it looked from the touchline.


Moore holds the cup aloft

No failures
“Ramsey, Ramsey,” the crowd roared and in his moment of vindication it was attribute that no one could grudge him. Eventually, Moore led his men up to the Royal Box to receive the gold Jules Rimet trophy from the Queen, and the slow, ecstatic lap of honour began “Ee-aye-addio, we’ve won the Cup,” sang the crowd, as Moore threw it in his arc above his head and caught it again.

England had, indeed, won the Cup, producing more determined aggression and flair than they had shown at any earlier stage of the competition. In such a triumph there could be no failures, but if one had to name outstanding heroes they would be Hurst, Ball, Moore and the brothers Charlton.

Hurst, who just a month ago appeared to have only the remotest chance of figuring in the World Cup, had emerged as the destructive star of a feverishly exciting game, becoming the first man to score a hat-trick in the final. Ball, who looked like a boy, had done the work of two men. Moore, showing again that he is stimulated by the demands of the great occasion, played with an imaginative self-confidence that made it unnecessary for anyone to ask who was the England captain.

Beside him Jack Charlton was a giant of a player. And through the whole performance there ran the inspiration of Bobby Charlton. In the first half, when the foundations of England’s victory were being laid, it was his relentless but unhurried foraging, his ability to impose his experience and his class on the team’s play that counted most.

Pride in defeat
Every one of the others responded superbly and if some were sometimes short of inspiration, none ever lacked courage or total commitment. Of course the Germans were on the field too, and they let England know about it often enough. They may regret now that they set Beckenbauer to mark Charlton, for the young half-back had little opportunity to exploit his attacking genius until it was too late. Held and Haller, with tremendous early assistance from Seeler, did plenty of damage, but ultimately it was Tilkowski and his defenders who were left to save Germany.

They tried mightily, but in the end England’s spirit broke them. Germany had already won the World Cup, England had not, so they had a right to accept defeat with pride. They did, and the crowd cheered their lap of honour almost as much as England’s.


The teams line up before the game begins.

Wembley was charged with an atmosphere I had never known before. Long before the teams appeared the crowd was chanting and singing. When the band of the Royal Marines, who had played a tune for each of the 16 competing nations, came to play the national anthem it was sung as it may never be sung again. Deutschland Uber Alles boomed out in its wake and the battle was on.

The Germans began rather nervously, standing off from the tackle and letting England’s forwards move smoothly up to the edge of the penalty area. Charlton and Peters were able to work the ball along the left at their leisure and there was anxiety in the German defence before the cross was cleared.

Charlton wandered purposefully all over the field, bringing composure and smoothness wherever he went, again comparisons with di Stefano seemed relevant.

One of Hunt’s few imaginative passes set Stiles clear on the right and his high cross beat Tilkowski before Hottges headed it away. The ball was returned smartly by Bobby Charlton and Tilkowski had so much difficulty punching it away from Hurst that he knocked himself out.

The goalkeeper was prostrate, the whistle had gone and the German defenders had stopped challenging by the time Moores put the ball in the net. The crowd cheered in the hope that next time it would be the real thing.

Jack Charlton, carrying the ball forward on his forehead with a skill that would have done credit to his brother, moved swiftly out of defence and his finely judged diagonal pass let Peters in for a quick powerful shot from the edge of the penalty area. Tilkowski, diving desperately to his left, punched the ball round the post. Hurst met Ball’s corner on the volley but sent it much too high.

At that point Weber chose to give one of the agonized performances that have been the German hallmarks in the competition, but Mr Dienst quickly let him know he was fooling nobody.

Peters emphasized the eagerness of the England attack by surging in from the right to shoot the ball only 2ft wide from 25 yards.

Helmut Haller (far right) celebrates as he scores the opening goal of the 1966 World Cup Final

Helmut Haller (far right) celebrates as he scores the opening goal of the World Cup Final.

Then, stunningly, in the tenth minute England found themselves a goal behind. And it was a goal that anyone who had watched their magnificent defensive play earlier in the tournament could scarcely believe. Held glided a high cross from the left wing and Wilson, jumping for the ball in comfortable isolation incredibly headed it precisely down to the feet of Haller, standing a dozen yards out and directly in front of Banks. Haller had time to steady and pivot to turn his right-foot shot on the ground past Banks’ right side.

The equalizer
It took England only six minutes to reassure the crowd. Overath had been warned for a severe foul on Ball and now he committed another one on Moore, tripping the England captain as he turned away with the ball. Moore himself took the free kick and from 40 yards out near the left touchline he flighted the ball beautifully towards the far post. Hurst, timing his run superbly to slip through the defence, much as he had done against Argentina, struck a perfect header low inside Tilkowski’s right-hand post.

Moore held one arm aloft in the familiar gladiator salute while Hurst was smothered with congratulations. It was another reminder of the huge contribution West Ham have made to this World Cup.

Bobby Charlton reasserted himself with a sharp run across the face of the goal from the right and a left foot shot. It troubled Tilkowski but he gathered it at his second attempt. The Germans retaliated through Haller, who was just beaten by Banks in a race for a through pass but the most sustained aggression was still coming from England. Moore, playing with wonderful control and assurance, was driving up among the forwards, joining intelligently with moves initiated by Bobby Charlton.

Unfortunately, however, Charlton could not be in two places at once. Time and again the attacks he conceived from deep positions cried out to be climaxed with his killing power. After Ball had been rebuked for showing dissent he took part in one of England’s more effective attacks. Cohen crossed the ball long from the right and Hurst rose magnificently to deflect in another header which Tilkowski could only scramble away from his right hand post, Ball turned the ball back into the goalmouth and the German’s desperation was unmistakable as Overath came hurtling in to scythe the ball away for a corner.

Certain to score
Not all the uneasy moments were around Tilkowski, however. First Ball and then Cohen toyed riskily with Held near the byline. Jack Charlton, maintaining the remarkable standard of his World Cup performances, had to intervene with a prodigious sweeping tackle on the ground to get them out of trouble. It cost him a corner and the corner almost cost England a goal. The ball went to Overath and from 20 yards he drove it in fiercely at chest height. Banks beat it out and when Emmerich hammered it back from an acute angle the goalkeeper caught it surely.

When a Wilson header into goal was headed down by Hurst Hunt appeared certain to score. But when the Liverpool man forced in his left foot volley Tilkowski was in the way. Soon afterwards a subtle pass from Charlton bewildered the German defence but Peters could not suite reach the ball for the shot.

The hectic fluctuating pattern of the first half was stressed again before interval when Overath hit a bludgeoning shot from 20 yards and Banks turned the ball brilliantly over the crossbar.

Martin Peters scores England's second goal.

Martin Peters scores England’s second goal.

Bobby Charlton, moving through on Moore’s pass early in the second half, fell after being tackled by Schulz, but the claims for a penalty were understandably half-hearted. Cohen was making regular runs on the right wing but his centres were easily cut out.

Mr Dienst was at his most officious but he was entitled to reprimand Stiles after the wing-half had bounced the ball in disgust at a harsh decision. Hunt was crowded out in the last stride as he met a cross from the left, but after 75 minutes he had a hand in England’s second goal.

He pushed a pass to Ball and when the winger shot Tilkowski pushed the ball onto the outside of his net. Following the corner Hurst’s shot from the left was deflected across goal by Schulz, and Peters, strangely neglected by the German defenders, came in swiftly to take the ball on the half volley and drive it into the net from four or five yards.

A free kick given against Styles was guided accurately above the English defenders by Emmerich, and Weber should have done more than head weakly past. In the last seconds of the 90 minutes the English supporters were silenced by an equalizing goal.

Charlton was doubtfully penalized after jumping to a header and the free kick from Emmerich drove the ball through the English wall. As it cannoned across the face of goal it appeared to his Schnellinger on the arm but the referee saw nothing illegal and Weber at the far post was able to score powerfully.

Wonderful shot
From the kick-off in extra time England swept back into their penalty area. Ball had a wonderful shot from 20 yards edged over the crossbar by Tilkowski. Charlton hit a low drive that Tilkowski pushed against his left-hand upright.

The Gemans looked weary but their swift breaks out of defence were still dangerous. Emmerich moved in on Banks but when he passed Held was slow to control the ball and Stiles cleared. Then Held compensated for this by dribbling clear of the entire English defence and turning the ball back invitingly across goal. But there was nobody following up.


England appeal for a goal to be awarded after Hurst’s shot hits the crossbar.

When England took the lead again in the tenth minute of extra time they did it controversially. Ball made an opening for himself on the right and when the ball went in to Hurst the inside forward resolutely worked for a clear view of the goal. His rising right foot shot on the turn from 10 yards was pushed against the underside of the crossbar by Tilkowski and when it bounced the England players appealed as one man for a goal. The referee spoke to the Russian linesman on the side away from the main stand and turned to award a goal. The delayed-action cheers shook the stadium.

Then we were up and yelling and stamping and slapping one another as Hurst shot that last staggering goal. The sky had been overcast all afternoon, but now the clouds split and the sun glared down on the stadium. Maybe those fellows were right when they said God was an Englishman.

England's Jack Charlton holds the Jules Rimet trophy aloft as he parades it around Wembley with teammates Ray Wilson, George Cohen  and Bobby Moore following their 4-2 win.

England’s Jack Charlton holds the Jules Rimet trophy aloft as he parades it around Wembley with teammates Ray Wilson, George Cohen and Bobby Moore following their 4-2 win.

Should Stevie Stay or Should He Go..? Roy Dalley on why the decision shouldn’t be his to make…


Gerrard; lumped-on a tad…?

by Roy Dalley.

Steven Gerrard, the Liverpool, England and Mars midfielder, has rather a lot on his plate, don’t you think..?

Never mind all those lucrative commercial contracts he fulfils away from the football field, including flogging confectionary to the country’s youth, Gerrard will lead his club back into the Champions League next season.

That’s not all. He’s currently deciding whether or not to give his country one last chance to add some silverware to his collection, despite the fact he’ll be 36 by the time England compete for the 2016 European Championship. All being well…

It is a big decision.

So big, in fact, many are wondering whether he is the right man to make such a call, particularly when the England manager is, in fact, somebody else.

One man who has witnessed each of Gerrard’s 114 international appearances from pitchside is Henry Winter, while providing match reports for the Daily Telegraph.

After watching Gerrard struggle to reach the required standards at the World Cup, Winter sat down and estimated the number of decent performances he could recall.

Would you care to guess the total Winter arrived at..? Go on… !?

Thirty would be a modest total, wouldn’t you say..? That’s a very rough average of one good game in four in an England shirt, a level of inconsistency that would lead to a spell on the sub’s bench in almost every other team in the world.

In fact Winter suggested he has seen Gerrard play well in a sum total of eight international matches. Eight! And one of those was against the mighty Andorra. Well played Stevie…


Gerrard’s good performances for his country have been few and far between

If you think I’m having a pop at Gerrard here you’d probably be right.

Granted, one cannot blame him for continually turning up for his country whenever he gets the call. But equally one can’t help suspect he is now a round peg in a square hole… a once marauding Roy of the Rovers type footballer whose legs are no longer up to the task, resulting in a compromise job sitting in front of the back four.

Even in that more restricted yet highly specialised role he was a long way short of being properly match-fit for last month’s engagement in Brazil.

As skipper and one of the squad’s leading penalty takers, he should have been ready and able to run, turn and jump for anything up to two hours if necessary… and then have enough strength in legs, heart and mind to make the long walk from the halfway line and score from the spot in a shoot-out.

No such luck of course. Instead Gerrard barely rose six inches off the ground when he headed the ball into the path of Luis Saurez to score the goal that resulted in England’s defeat by Uruguay.

One crucial mistake, such as his slip against Chelsea that perhaps cost him his last chance of winning a Premier League title, could be deemed unfortunate. Two bad mistakes suggests carelessness.


Gerrard’s oh-so-costly slip…

Certainly he looked a little overweight to me, despite training and acclimatisation in Portugal and Miami before England’s arrival in Rio. The designer stubble under his chin couldn’t disguise his lack of conditioning.

A cynic might suggest he entered into the spirit of things a little too hungrily in his part-time role as a Mars bar salesman, on behalf of the Football Association.

Perhaps. One thing is clear: He has to quit something…



The Case For The Defence
Not Keeping 3/4s of the Chelsea Defence Together Was Costly Error

by Roy Dalley.

Easy to be wise after the event, as they say, so I’ll begin by directing you toward a tweet I wrote before Roy Hodgson announced his squad for the World Cup.

You probably can’t be bothered to check so here’s an action replay;

“Hart (alas); Johnson, Cahill, Terry, Cole; Gerrard, Henderson; Sterling, Barkley, Rooney; Sturridge. Job done!”

Got most of them right, at one time or another. Alas it’s the two who didn’t make the cut, Terry and Cole, who might have made a difference. A rather big difference.

Evertonians will probably protest, of course; but how many others are also bemoaning the presence of Jagielka, in particular, in the England team? And Baines, for all his quality in his opponents’ half, is not an international full-back (the key word in the sentence being ‘back’).

Yes, Terry and Cole are both getting on a bit and had issues with the Football Association, not to mention almost everybody else. But… are they any good..?


Would Terry & Cole’s experience have made all the difference to England’s World Cup campaign..?

Well those boffins in the stats office reckon so. Chelsea had the best defensive record in the Premier League last season, again, with Terry seemingly rejuvenated by the return of Jose Mourinho to Stamford Bridge. Cole, of course, played less of a starring role, and there is no doubt he can no longer bomb-on past the halfway line.

But doesn’t it make sense to select three club mates for your international team..? Three guys who have been around the world together keeping clever, quick and sometimes downright nasty opponents at bay..?

Hodgson would have been forced to employ a low defensive line but, in doing so, would have played to England’s strengths both in defence and attack.

Hodgson felt he was in a dilemna; play to his instincts or play to the crowd. If he’d only played like Chelsea in the Champions League, he could have done both – sitting back and allowing our wonderfully exciting forward line the room to use its explosive breaking potential.

Rather they were stifled trying to break down ranks of experienced and disciplined Italians and Uruguayans.

Yeah I know my tweet suggests Rooney on the left but, in truth, I would have liked to have seen an interchangeable attitude between the front four.

Certainly I would have told Rooney he is no longer the Big Man, as he declared himself before the 2006 tournament in Germany.

He’d have to put in the yards just like the rest of ’em! And, if not, then let’s see what Lallana can do…

 Roy Dalley is a former Fleet Street sportswriter (@RoyDalley)