Posts Tagged ‘England’

Tinker Tailor Soldier Clown: The Spy Who Brought Down England

by Richard Bowdery

Brian Clough famously called him a clown. But this clown’s antics between the sticks were no laughing matter for England or for their legion of fans under the ‘big top’ at Wembley on October 17th 1973.


Jan won 63 caps for Poland and was named ‘Best Goalkeeper’ at the 1974 World Cup. Not bad for a ‘clown’…

England had to beat Poland in their final group match to qualify for the 1974 World Cup finals in West Germany. No other result would do. And they set about their task like men possessed. Yet despite wave upon wave of attacks on the Polish goal their keeper, Jan Tomaszewski, played out of his skin to deny England the breakthrough they so desperately needed.

Then in the 59th minute the unthinkable happened. Grzegorz Lato was fed the ball on the left wing and raced past Norman ‘bites ya legs’ Hunter as though he wasn’t there.  He slotted a pass across the England penalty to Jan Domarski who struck a low shot past the despairing Peter Shilton and into the net.

With England now needing to score twice there was even greater urgency to their play as they lay siege to the Polish goal.

Hopes rose in the 63rd minute when England were awarded a penalty for a foul on Martin Peters. Leeds United’s Allan Clarke scored from the spot to level the match.

But although they breached the Polish defence time and again they were unable to apply the killer punch.

When the final whistle sounded the Polish players’ jubilation contrasted starkly with the dejection felt by the England team, some of whom were in tears as they slumped to the Wembley turf.

As the England manager, Alf Ramsey, trudged off the pitch he must have realised the death knell had sounded on his reign.

A few short months later the FA sacked the man who had brought English football its greatest prize.

As journalist and author Leo McKinstry has said “England’s most successful manager would have had a legacy fit for a hero had it not been for the malevolence of the FA chief Harold Thompson.”

Forty years on almost to the day all the talk is off that game in 1973 and parallels are being drawn between that match and the game England must win to be certain of a trip to Brazil next summer.

Whilst a defeat won’t end England’s hopes of going to the finals as it did back then, with the Ukraine team expected to steamroller San Marino in their final group match, a draw for England will mean they have to negotiate their passage through the play-offs. And there are some tasty sides that could stand in their way.

And there is a final twist in the tail of the clown who laughed all the way to Germany in 1974. It was reported that he allegedly spied for Poland’s communist secret police.

In 1986 the Newsweek Polska magazine printed a story that alleged Tomaszewski was ‘a voluntary consultant’ who had been ‘acquired’ under the code name Alex. All very cloak and dagger.


Tomaszewski continues to be a public figure in Polish life

In his defence the keeper who worked for the Polish Football Association after hanging up his gloves in 1982, said: “I have never reported on anyone and was never a collaborator for the secret police. I do not know what I could have been a ‘consultant’ on. Maybe about training goalkeepers, perhaps the sex lives of ants…”

It is rather ‘odd’ that these allegations surfaced just after Tomaszewski became an MP for the Law and Justice Party who were intent on rooting out informants and communist spies from public life. Neither do the documents make clear in what capacity he is alleged to have ‘consulted’ on.

Looking back it’s a pity England didn’t engage in a bit of spying themselves; They might have discovered that the clown was in fact quite a capable shot stopper. Let’s hope Roy Hodgson’s backroom staff have engaged in a bit of espionage themselves to check out the opposition, before Tuesday night!



Monte’s Python a Danger as England Chase Holy Grail

england 1987

England’s lineup against Yugoslavia 26 years ago

By Rob Shepherd.

There is not much history between England and Montenegro. The country only gained independence from Serbia five years ago having previously been part of Yugoslavia.

That said in the three matches this small nation has played against England they remain unbeaten.

Montenegro held England to two draws in both matches of the Euro 2012 qualifying campaign. And last March it was another draw, 1-1 in Podgorica.

Wayne Rooney had given England an early lead but Roy Hodgson’s team fell away in the second half and Dejan Damjanovic equalised.

England will need to be wary of players of the quality of Man City’s Stevan Jovetic – who could well be Montenegro’s ‘python’ if you will – if they are to avoid slipping up.

A draw which would seriously damage England’s hopes of World Cup qualification is a distinct and disturbing possibility, although I fancy the stakes will inspire England and they can win comfortably 2 or even 3-0 ahead of next Tuesday’s final game against Poland.

And it would be wonderful if England repeated a display from a European Championship qualifier in 1987 against Montenegro’s parent nation; the former Yugoslavia.

England went to Belgrade needing a point in the final game to qualify for the finals.


Lineker battles in Belgrade

No mean task given that England had never beaten Yugoslavia on home soil.
It didn’t help that England’s form had been erratic (no change there then) and the knives were out for manager Bobby Robson. No change there either with the pressure mounting on Hodgson…

Yet within the 24 minutes England had blown Yugoslavia apart having taken a four goal lead.

Peter Beardsley, who was brilliant that afternoon, scored after four minutes and was the catalyst of superbly fluid display. John Barnes also had a stormer netting the second and Skipper Bryan Robson added the third before a very young Tony Adams rounded things off with the fourth on 24 minutes (his first ever for his country). England didn’t even need Gary Lineker to score!

Yugoslavia pulled a late goal back but it still ranked as one of England’s best all time displays away from home. You can see the goals in the link below:

Despite impressing in qualification, England would flop miserably at the 1988 finals the following summer failing to make it out of their group.

The Odds

England Win:

1-0:  6/1


Sturridge to score first at 4/1

2-0:  5/1

2-1:  8/1

3-0:  8/1

3-1:  12/1

3-2:  33/1

4-0:  16/1

4-1:  22/1


0-0: 14/1

1-1:  17/2

2-2:  22/1

3-3:  100/1

Montenegro Win:

1-0: 22/1

2-0: 60/1

2-1: 28/1

3-0: 150/1

3-1: 100/1

3-2: 90/1

First Scorer:

Rooney:  7/2,  Sturridge:  4/1,  Lambert:  5/1,  Lampard: 13/2,  Gerrard:  8/1

Wilshere:  14/1,  Baines:  14/1

Odds courtesy of Coral


Seeing Red for the First Time

The Ref’s Trump Card

caine 8

Croker: An unlikely inspiration to referees

In an iconic scene from that great 1969 film The Italian Job, Charlie Croker – played so memorably by Michael Caine – and his gang set about disrupting Turin’s traffic lights as part of their plan to steal a fortune in gold bullion.

Just a few years earlier another Englishman used traffic lights as part of his grand plan but it wasn’t bullion he was after. Let me explain.

Ken Aston was a newly qualified teacher when in 1935 he was asked to take charge of a school football match – an experience that was to change the course of his life.

It led to Ken qualifying as a referee and he spent the next 14 years working his way up through the football pyramid system before becoming a Football League linesman in 1949 and a fully fledged League referee in 1953.

He officiated at some of footballs blue-ribbon events including the 1962 World Cup and the 1963 FA Cup Final between Manchester United and Leicester City (won incidentally by the Red Devils 3-1).

Following that cup final he hung up his whistle only to be asked by FIFA three years later to join their Referees’ Committee. It was in this role that he  changed refereeing for ever.


Antonio Rattin gets violent with his tongue…

At the 1966 World Cup Ken Aston was in charge of the tournament referees. During a rather ‘feisty’ quarter final match between England and Argentina the German referee sent off Antonio Rattin the Argentine captain for ‘violence of the tongue’ – a decision hampered only by the lack of an interpreter.

At first it wasn’t clear what was going on and Rattin, to put it mildly, became very animated. Either the player did not understand or chose not to understand what the referee had done.

Enter Ken Aston who had to use all his refereeing experience to calm the rattled Argentine captain to prevent the match being abandoned.

It was an absolute nightmare for all concerned and in the melee England’s passage into the semi-final was somewhat lost.

The next day while out driving Aston considered how such misunderstandings could be avoided for the good of the game.

He recalled: “As I drove down Kensington High Street, the traffic lights turned red. I thought, ‘Yellow, take it easy; red, stop, you’re off’.” So was born the yellow and red card refereeing system.

This new system allowed both players and fans to clearly understand when a player had been booked or sent off. But it had one major flaw. It couldn’t stop those same players and fans questioning the ref’s parentage when one or other of the cards was flourished.

They were first used in the 1970 Mexico World Cup but it wasn’t until the mid seventies that they made an appearance in the Football League.

Wagstaffe was the first to see red

And it was during the game between Blackburn Rovers and Leyton Orient on 2 October 1976 that David Wagstaffe entered the annuls of English football history.  For it was he who had the dubious honour of being the first player to be red carded when he was sent off after 36 minutes for arguing with the referee.

Later that same day an ageing George Best also saw red for using foul language whilst playing for Fulham against Southampton at the Dell.

But the passage of this new system into the English game wasn’t without its controversy.

At the start of the 80s the FA had concerns over violence on and off the pitch and they thought that overt displays of red cards contributed to the problem.

In early 1981 the FA decided to withdraw their use. The last two players to receive a red card before the FA decision was implemented were David Hodgson and Nicky Reid while playing in a match between Manchester City and Middlesbrough.

However, in 1987 the games rule-making body, the International Football Association Board, said that England should reintroduce cards which the FA duly did for the 1987-88 season.

Step forward Luton’s Mick Harford who was the first player to be shown a red card after their reintroduction. He lasted a mere four minutes of the Hatters first match of the season: a defeat at Derby County on 15 August 1987 in the old Division One.

Since then, according to the English National Football Archive, over 9,000 red cards have been issued to players representing English teams in domestic and European games.

And over 23,000 yellow cards have been shown in Premier League matches since the 92/93 season.

At the end of The Italian Job the coach carrying the bullion back to Blighty is teetering on the edge of a ravine. Charlie Croker turns to the rest of the gang and says rather optimistically: “Hang on, lads; I’ve got a great idea.”

I wonder if that is what Ken Aston said to the FIFA Referees’ Committee after the Rattin debacle..?


by Richard Bowdery

Will It Be Pain in the Ukraine..?

As an international country in its own right, Ukraine is a relatively new force. But it is getting stronger all the time as it proved by holding England to a 1-1 draw at Wembley in the reverse fixture of this World Cup campaign.

And England must avoid defeat in Kiev if they are to avert putting qualification for Brazil next summer in jeopardy.

Until 1992 The Ukraine played under the Soviet Union badge. Two of the strongest clubs over the years during the year of Soviet rule were Ukrainian – Dynamo Tbilisi and Dynamo Kiev.

In the Seventies and Eighties The Soviet Union should have done much a better in European Championships and World Cup’s given the talent at their disposal, especially from the Ukraine.

But deep rooted prejudices and jealousies usually meant that it was difficult for Soviet Union national team to play with any harmony or the team spirit needed to match the talent.

And many individual players suffered the frustration of not being able to transport themselves and play for the big clubs in Western Europe with The Iron Curtain preventing players from moving abroad.


Blockhin: Play for Madrid..? Not for all the Levi’s in Camden!

The first to do so was Oleg Blockhin – but only towards the end of his career when Glasnost started to come in – but even then he played for small teams in Austria and Cyprus.

Most football fans will know him as the cantankerous and controversial manager of the Ukraine national side at the last European Championships. He has since gone back to Kiev to manage his old team.

But at his height Blockhin was bigger and better than Andriy Shevchenko would become in the Ukraine.

It was a mark of his talent that in 1975 he not only won the Ballon d’ Or but was also voted as European Footballer of the Year even though much of what he did was shrouded by that Iron Curtain.

His record for Kiev between 1969-88 reads 211 goals from 432 games. He scored 42 goals in 112 internationals.

The Odds

England have met Ukraine on six previous occasions but after two comfortable wins it’s been ever harder going, and this match in a hostile environment could well prove the hardest yet after the 4-0 stroll over Moldova on Friday.

Ukraine can be especially dangerous upfront with one striker Mario Devic, supported by three floating forwards. Devic is 7-1 to be first goal scorer.

The odds reflect how tight the game could be. A 1-1 draw at 5-1 looks a decent shout but 2-0 to Ukraine at 11-1 has an unpatriotic but tempting look to it.

Ukraine v England Betting

Odds supplied by Paddy Power

Match Betting
Ukraine 8/5
England 13/8
Draw  23/10


Can Lambert continue his great scoring form for England..?

Correct Score Odds
1-0 Ukraine   13/2
2-0 Ukraine   11/1
2-1 Ukraine   17/2

1-0 England 13/2
2-0 England 11/1
2-1 England 9-1

First Goalscorer Odds
Rickie Lambert  13/2
Theo Walcott      7/1
Jermain Defoe    7/1
Marko Devic       7/1
Andriy Yarmolenko  7/1
Yevhen Seleznyov   15/2
Roman Zozulya   8/1
Frank Lampard     9/1
Steven Gerrard    11/1
Yevhen Konoplianka  11/1

Head To Head Record
England have played Ukraine a total of six times in their history, all of which have taken place since the turn of the 21st Century. England’s first win was a straight forward 2-0 win in 2000, which was followed by a 3-0 victory four years later. The Three Lions recently came up against Ukraine in their World Cup 2010 qualifying group, beating them 2-1 at Wembley but then losing the return fixture 1-0. The teams met again at Euro 2012, with a Wayne Rooney goal separating the sides, before drawing 1-1 in their first World Cup 2014 qualification meeting.


John Terry, England’s best player at Euro 2012, clears it off the line v Ukraine


Matches -6
England – 4 wins
Ukraine – 1 win
Draw – 1

The 100 Club: Lampard Joins a List of Legends

by Rob Shepherd

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Billy Wright and Ferenc Puskas exchanging pennants in 1954

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Lampard: A chip off the old block

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peter Shilton of England

Shilton leads the way with 125 caps for England

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


England’s Centurians

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



From Moldova to Hollywood: The World Meets David Beckham

by Rob Shepherd

No-one knew it at the time. How could we ? I was there and didn’t spot that the road from Moldova would lead to Hollywood.

But in hindsight, on a bumpy pitch in a poverty stricken Eastern European backwater, English football – the global game even – would change forever.

In the immediate after glow of Euro ’96 England embarked not just on a new era but a new epoch.

Soccer - World Cup Qualifier - Moldova v England

“Playing for England; This is what I want, what I really, really want…Hmm, quite like that song”

David Beckham, who a few weeks earlier had hit the headlines as something special – something a bit different – scoring that career-defining wonder goal from the halfway line for Manchester United at Wimbledon, made his England debut.

At the time there was more fuss about Andy Hinchcliffe winning his first cap than Beckham winning his. Andy Who..?

But looking back this was the day when football morphed from a sport into showbiz, because this was the day when Becks Inc took to the world stage.

And just as it is in showbiz it wasn’t exactly an overnight success.

Indeed, Beckham’s contribution to a 3-0 win in England first World Cup qualifier for France ’98 was very low key.

But Beckham had that three Lions number 7 shirt on his back and, despite an early rocky road, in terms of time line this was the beginning of football becoming more about the brand than the ball, with Beckham the ring master.

Never remotely the best footballer of his or any other generation, Beckham would become the biggest commercial football icon globally, not to mention the wealthiest that soccer had ever seen.

To some he was and remains a hero, a role model, an all- time great; to others he became an anti-hero, the definition of the game selling it’s soul, even the death of football as former German international Uli Hoeness once described.

So it was in a country which at the time was still struggling to move on from Soviet Union rule that ironically became the launchpad of the Americanization of football; the day that Becks Inc as it would become launched a thousand sponsorships; or conversely the day the music died.

It is September 1996, the Spice Girls are at number one with Wannabe (Posh hadn’t met Becks yet), Will Smith is battling aliens in Independence Day and, in the wake Euro 96, England are embarking on a new era under Glenn Hoddle and playing 3-5-2. Click below to see the goals;

It was Nick Barmby rather than Beckham who set England on their way with the first goal, Paul Gascoigne hit the second and Alan Shearer the third.

The Odds

It was all so easy – matter of fact even – and should be again this time with the real business coming next week against Ukraine.

That said you just can’t tell with England under Roy Hodgson, especially with a squad severely depleted because of injury.

But logic says a win of 3-0 (5/1 with William Hill) or 4-0 (6/1) at Wembley should be achieved.

Perhaps better value can be found with the goalscorer markets, where the in-form Rickie Lambert is 2/1 to score 2 or more.

Where Are They Now ?

Let’s take a look back at the team that started that day in Kishinev;

David Seaman The goalkeeper remained England’s first choice for many years to come, picking up 75 caps in all. He played all the way through to the World Cup finals in France, where England again suffered penalty heartbreak against Argentina and would go on to be first choice under Kevin Keegan at Euro 2000 and Sven Goran Eriksson at the 2002 World Cup. Now a goalkeeping coach at non-league Wembley FC.

Gary Neville Then a fresh-faced youngster breaking through for club and country, Neville went on to become a stalwart for England at right-back, playing at the 1998 World Cup, Euro 2000 and Euro 2004. He missed the 2002 World Cup due to a foot injury. He won 85 caps in total and every honour in the game with Manchester United. Now works as a pundit for Sky Sports.

Stuart Pearce With over 50 caps already to his name, Pearce had intended to retire after Euro 96 – where he had laid to rest the ghosts of his shoot-out miss in 1990 – but Hoddle persuaded him to continue. He played through the qualification campaign for France 98 but was not selected for the finals squad. Was looking after the next generation as England Under 21 coach until recently but some poor perfromances at the recent UEFA U21 Championships in Israel saw him replaced by Gareth Southgate.

Gareth Southgate After a busy summer in which he missed THAT penalty against Germany then starred in a Pizza Hut advert, Southgate was a regular fixture in the England side for another few years, playing at the France 98 finals. In all, he won 57 England caps and made over 500 league appearances. After retirement, he managed Middlesbrough and worked as a pundit for ITV after leaving his post as Head of Elite Development at the FA. Now the U21 manager.


“What would you do if I dropped you Gazza?” he said. ‘A spot of interior decorating Boss’ I said…”

Paul Ince An integral part of the England team at this time, having played superbly at Euro 96, Ince would go from hero to zero. His heroic, blood-stained performance in Rome secured England’s qualification for the finals, but he missed a crucial penalty in the shoot-out defeat to Argentina. Played the last of his 53 England games at Euro 2000 but didn’t retire from club football until 2007, after which he became a manager, with mixed results.

Gary Pallister The game in Moldova turned out to be Pallister’s penultimate England cap and he was gradually squeezed out of the Manchester United side as well, eventually leaving Old Trafford for his first side Middlesbrough in 1998. Has worked since as a television pundit and in roles at Darlington FC.

David Beckham The match in Moldova was just the start for Becks, who went on to win 115 England caps, many as captain, and became arguably the most recognised footballer in the world (and the wealthiest). Won every major honour in club football and only recently retired after a spell at PSG, as well as being wheeled out as a well-known face when Britain wants to win something or someone wants to promote something.

Paul Gascoigne This campaign was the beginning of the end for Gazza, even though he had proved at Euro 96 that he retained much of his genius. Playing for Rangers at the time, Gascoigne featured in half of England’s qualifying campaign, before injuries and ill-discipline started to cast doubt on his first team place. In the end, he was left out of Hoddle’s squad for the finals and didn’t take it particularly well – wrecking his manager’s room.

Alan Shearer The top goalscorer at Euro 96, captain of England and the world’s most expensive player after joining Newcastle United, Shearer was truly at the peak of his powers. He went on to score five goals in the qualification campaign despite a number of injury setbacks and scored in the finals against Tunisia and Argentina. In all, he scored 30 times for England in 63 appearances and is now a mainstay on the Match of the Day sofa.


They could make a film about me now I’m an international – ‘Bend It Like Hinchcliffe’ – Yeah, that has a good ring to it…

Nicky Barmby Scored the first goal of the Hoddle era in Moldova but was never able to hold down a regular starting place. In total, collected 23 caps for England and scored four goals spaced over seven years. Ended his career as player and manager for Hull City.

Andy Hinchcliffe Would have been optimistic of becoming an England regular after making his debut here but never made the grade winning just seven caps for England in all. Hinchcliffe who was playing for Everton at the time, continued a decent but unspectacular career and now does some TV and media work. But a coach would tell you his left foot delivery from open play and dead ball was every bit as pin point as Beckham’s – but he didn’t marry a pop ‘singer’…

Alan Mullery
“Alan Mullery: The Autobiography”


Publisher: Headline
ISBN 978 0 7553 1482 9

Alan Mullery was the first player to be sent-off representing England.

It’s hardly how he would want to be remembered but Mullers doesn’t shy away from the incident when in the last minute of the semi-finals of the European Championship, which England lost 1-0 to Yugoslavia in 1968, he lashed out in retaliation after an opponent slashed open his calf with a crude studs up lunge.

“I lost control and deserved go. No doubt about it,” said Mullery. “As I walked off I felt ashamed. I’d let Alf ( Ramsey) down. I’d let my country down. And I’d let myself and my family down. I could forget playing in the World Cup (1970) that was for sure…”

Mullery tried to keep out of Ramsey’s way in the dressing room fearing the worst; a bollocking then being dropped.

“I felt a hand grab my hair and lift my head up. Alf was looking down at me. I braced myself this was it. But all he said was “I’m glad somebody decided to give those bastards a taste of their own medicine.”

Those were the days!

This read-in-a-day autobiography charts Mullery’s rise from the tough streets of post war Notting Hill (long before the Hugh Grant types pranced in and gentrified the area) to captaining Fulham and Tottenham, his England experiences as the player who took over the Nobby Stiles mantle and his roller coaster managerial career at Brighton, QPR and Charlton.

In summary it reads like you are sat at the bar with Mullers, and that is always good fun.

BB Rating: 8/10

Terry Venables
“The Making of the Team: Venables’ England”

VenablesTMOTTTerry Venables has had many books written by him and about him. Some are very good and others are bad and some are plain ugly. Venners even co-wrote a cult TV series in the 70’s called ‘Hazel’ which was a cross between Minder and Lovejoy.

In terms of literary merit, this one (which was written in collaboration with Jane Nottage, who was briefly Paul Gascoigne’s Girl Friday in Rome) is, well, pretty bland.

But given that it plots how Venables took over from Graham Taylor and shaped the Euro ’96 campaign, which for a while raised the status of the England team to near respectability, there are some fascinating insights into El Tel’s team building philosophy.

In that sense it explains why so many England players of a certain era swear that Venables was the best England coach they ever worked with.

Which is why Gary Neville, a Venables disciple, should suggest to current boss Roy Hodgson that he ought to go out and buy it now and learn a few things ……and quickly!

BB rating: 7/10

England World Cup Italia ’90 sticker album

No swapsies needed this time! Here is the England team as depicted in the Panini World Cup Italia ’90 sticker album. Did you need any of these for your album…?



Tartan Rampage!

How could we focus on the upcoming England v Scotland game without remembering the incredible Tartan Army invasion of Wembley and those infamous images of broken goalposts..?  Estimates are that 70,000 of the 98,000 fans were from North of the Border and looking at this photo you can almost smell the whiskey…


England 1 – 2 Scotland

EngSco1977For the travelling Scots it was joy unconfined just before halftime as the thunderous, hairy head of Gordon McQueen rose above all others in the box and powered the ball in for 0-1. Fifteen minutes into the second half, Kenny Dalglish sealed the deal with a goal of sheer willpower. After making a run & seeing his shot blocked, Dalglish forced the ball in for a 0-2 lead. England would score a late penalty in a formality before the real bedlam broke out. In truth it was celebration rather than hooliganism but some of the media went on to report it unfavourably.

The jubilation felt by the 70,000 in the Tartan Army was just too hard to contain, especially considering the last trip to Wembley was a 5-1 win for the ‘Auld Enemy’ two years earlier.

4th June 1977 Wembley Stadium

Attendance    98,103


Gordon McQueen      43     

Kenny Dalglish          59

Mick Channon (pen)  87     


Starting lineups:


Ray Clemence

Dave Watson

Mick Mills

Phil Neal

Brian Greenhoff

Emlyn Hughes (captain)

Ray Kennedy

Brian Talbot

Trevor Francis

Stuart Pearson

Mick Channon

 Manager: Don Revie


Alan Rough

Tom Forsyth

Danny McGrain

Gordon McQueen

Willie Donachie

Don Masson

Willie Johnston

Asa Hartford

Bruce Rioch (captain)

Kenny Dalglish

Joe Jordan

Manager: Ally MacLeod


Trevor Cherry for Brian Greenhoff   
Dennis Tueart for Ray Kennedy      
Lou Macari for Joe Jordan    
Archie Gemmill for Don Masson