Chapter 12: A Forgotten Trip - 1964 European Championship
Chapter 12:
A Forgotten Trip


Following the unexpected run of Wales at the 1962 World Cup, the Dragons found them at the centre of much interest and curiosity from all around them with some of the players, mainly Roy Vernon who had moved to Italy to play his football out there and would return to the Welsh side as a complete player ready for success. However there would be mixed success as during the two following British Home Championship tournaments. Wales were brought down to Earth from their heroic World Cup adventures when during the 1962-63 tournament they would finish in third though this was nothing to the disaster during the 1963-64 season in which they flopped hard by finishing rock bottom of their group with zero points and to add more salt to the wounds, they were the only Home Nation not to win anything as England, Scotland and Northern Ireland all finished on four points and thus shared the championship. Victims of overhype or just plain bad luck?

While it must be said that following now what was looking like foregone concluded qualifying campaigns to World Cup, it was starting to make the Home Internationals look out of date and if they wanted to improve then all of them would have to venture outside the British Isles if they had any desire to remain on top and that wasn't including the huge amount of money that was on offer for those who qualified and compared to the rather woeful amount awarded to winners of the Home International, it was little wonder why the four British associations were moving away from what was at one point the sporting tournament in all of the UK. Something that would have been unthinkable just over a decade ago. If that wasn't bad for the Home Internationals, there was now another new sport that look set to upset the apple cart...

In 1958, qualification for a new tournament was launched by UEFA known as the European Championship (or the Euro's for short by many) and the inaugural tournament would take place in France in 1960 with four teams taking part being France, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union, the latter of who would win it. That said, the idea of a European tournament had been an idea conceived as far back as 1927 by Henri Delaunay, French FA's secretary-general, though he would wouldn't live to see it take place though nonetheless, the trophy would be named after him. Much like how the Home Nations had refused to take part in the early World Cups, they would do the same for Euro 1960 though to be fair, a number of nations like Italy, West Germany and Sweden didn't take part.


Henri Delaunay, the father of the Euros

However it wouldn't take long until the Home Nations would take part in the qualification rounds for the following Euros...well, except for Scotland that is who for some reason decline to take part when the rest of the British Isles did. It is unclear among Scotland fans as to why this was though stories range from scepticism from the SFA or thinking that the Home Internationals and especially the end of season game with England was far more important than some new tournament that was taking place across the English Channel.

That said, qualification for the rest of the British Isles proved to be something of disappointment as England lost badly to the French, Northern Ireland didn't do too badly beating Poland before losing to Spain, the eventually tournament hosts. Out of all of them, it would end up being none other than Wales who would be the sole British team to appear at that tournament. After such a dreadful 1963-64 Home International tournament, this was the one place of comfort Wales did have to hang on to. Jimmy Murphy (who since after taking his Welsh team to the final in 1962 had been awarded an OBE for his services to football) would lead his swashbuckling and plucky Welsh side had a unlikely successful run in which victories over Hungary, East Germany and France to reach the finals of a European Championship. Once again much like being the first to reach a final, Wales had gotten a major one-up over the rest of the British Isles which they could not brag about.

That being said, they would find the whole experience a challenge both in terms of the teams involved but also the environment itself which when the Welsh team might've been familiar to cold Tuesday nights playing in Cardiff or Wrexham, playing in Madrid on a stick hot summer night against the hosts felt like an alien contrast for all concern. There had been some negative views about Spain in which despite having some of the greatest football clubs in the world such as Real Madrid and Barcelona to show for, many in the British public felt that it was a backward country ruled by a fascist dictator known as General Francisco Franco...and the Welsh would have an audience with him for their semi final match with Spain in the famous Bernabéu stadium in Madrid. No pressure then.


The famous Bernabéu stadium in which Wales would play Spain in

Then again, it hadn't been the first time Wales had been here as only three years ago during qualification to the World Cup they had defeated Spain in this very ground that ultimately saw them go to Chile and thus the Bernabéu was a place that the Welsh might have felt that this place was the start of that fairy tale run with hindsight. Though judging the cold treatment they had gotten when they arrived in Spain, there was a feeling many were out for revenge and that wasn't including that at their hotel, there would be infamous stories by the players, FAW members and members of the British press finding the food to be slightly suspect of potentially food poisoning and maybe some fascist activities to make their lives hell?. Why did football always had to bring out the worse in people like that when all they wanted to do was play a game of football?

Then came the night of the big game, it was in many ways a Semi-Final as there were only four teams taking part though it would be played on a hot summer's night on a Wednesday. Jimmy Murphy had mentioned to his staff that playing at this time and in these conditions were something he wouldn't had wanted as it only led to players feeling exhausted and prone to doing something stupid and while he was happy to be in this very famous stadium, it felt a bit of shell of what people said it would be like. The Bernabéu was barely over half full and it was hard to think why this was the case. Was it was because it was a night people had to work early the following day with the game kicking off at eight o'clock in the evening? Was it the fear of seeing lightning strike twice with the Welsh? The heat and humidity being too much for some or that perhaps they didn't care about paying the Welsh? Maybe all of the above?

To take charge of such an important match, Murphy had appointed John Charles to act as captain as he needed a leader who had experience of playing in a environment like this, though this wasn't including the fact that Charles was past his prime and no longer the famed goal scorer that could on his own drag Wales to finals all on his own. With the benefit of hindsight, the 1962 World Cup had been his last chance at winning a World Cup and now this was truly his last chance at glory. The Welsh team, wearing their alternate shirt and shorts of all yellow with green lining, would run onto the pitch at the Bernabéu where they were greeted to the sight of a rather aphetic crowd in which was hard to tell if they really wanted to be there and in those days of tabloid press making things seem sound worse than what they were, the thought among the Welsh players and the few hundred brave supporters who had followed them to Spain might've suspected they were forced to watch the game.


The Spanish team that Wales would play in Madrid
Despite doubts about the game, the Semi-Final with Wales and Spain began in a sweaty and humid air that might've been fine for the Spaniards who were all very well acclimatised for it but not for the Welsh players and early on in the game, Spain were attacking the Welsh goal and one attempt in the ninth minute by Carlos Lapetra nearly went in via a chipped kick over poor Welsh goalkeeper Gary Sprake and only avoided going in thanks to hitting the crossbar in which had that been a few inches lower, Spain would be deservedly in front early on in this game. It was at that moment on the bench that Murphey then figured out a grave error he had made in which he figured out that the team should have arrived out here a week earlier just so that they could get use to the climate and the attitude from the FAW had been a case of 'straight in, straight out' for this tournament. Not the first time the governors of the Welsh game have made a blunder on such preparations.

That attempt though from Lapetra had suddenly ignited the previously lukewarm crowd into making the stadium a fortress for the hosts and if that wasn't bad enough, anytime a yellow shirt Welsh player got a foot on the ball, he would be jeered and whistled resulting in the poor player losing their nerve slightly losing the ball very easily and that wasn't including the fact that a certain dictator was looking down on them. It wasn't hard to see why the Welsh might've been finding it rough out there. However after manging to hold of a storm for the first ten minutes, Wales did start to slowly get their way back into the game with John Charles and Ivor Allchurch leading the way forward in a very British 4-4-2 formation.

Some tackles began to take place with the Spaniards playing quite dirty with one dirty sliding tackle taking place in the 13th minute by Zoco on Barrie Jones which looked like a something for the referee to take action, however the Belgian referee for some stupid reason didn't do anything for Wales and Spain kept lumbering along looking like a team that had all the cards in their favour no matter how bad they did and this all seem to add to the reek of suspicion for any Welshman in the ground of conspiracies. What on Earth were they to do?


Manager Jimmy Murphy, along with his assistant, watch on as Wales struggle with Spain
Despite the Wales' bad luck, they weren't doing too bad in keeping Spain out and were notably doing well on the counter which was proving to be their more stronger aspect to them and in the 17th minute, Herbie Williams would slip the ball past a few Spanish players where it connected with Allchurch who ran with the ball on the counter and it was then he saw that the Spanish players had left their defence wide open having been busy flooding the frontline and thus with a pass over towards Charles on his right, the Welsh captain lashed the ball home with a delicious curl on it and went past a hapless Iribar in goal into the top right corner of the net. Yes, against all the odds and in a moment of throwing a cat among the pigeons, the Welsh had gone a goal up on the hosts!

The Bernabéu was stunned into silence as Charles ran off wheeling off in celebration, he wasn't the youngest man by any stretch but he did have the joy of a young child as that goal went in. After how quick it took Brazil to get back into the World Cup Final before, Wales were hoping that things were not going to repeat themselves now here. After the game restarted, Charles did look around seeing the Spaniards looking more determined and angry as if Wales had pulled on a lion's tail and were about to feel their wrath. And they would. From that opening goal, Spain went all out to cause all sorts of problems for the Welsh to the point when Wales just could not find a shot to take as they spent most of first half trying to defend for their lives. It seemed Charles' goal was really needed in the grand scheme of things,

Despite their best efforts in trying to fight back the Spanish, it was only a matter of time until Spain would get back in the game and it would come in the 35th minute when Pereda would let fly a rocket of a volley past Welsh goalkeeper Sprake in which the ball got lost in the nylon netting and now the Spanish crowd roared in delight and what was quite honestly a well deserved equaliser after how much pressing they'd done by this point. Spain weren't done yet by a long shot; they were here to win and Wales were going to find it to be a rough ride to follow now with the game all square.


Happy Spanish crowd celebrate Pereda's
Because it became clear as the first half rolled along, Wales looked like they were never going to score so thus Wales were pretty much acting all out on the defensive with both Allchurch and Charles fading into the midfield to try and bolster that line. For the next ten minutes, Spain absolutely battered Wales with it looking certain that they were going to score a barrel load of more goals before the first half was over. Though by the amazement of many in the stadium by the time the referee blew for half time, the score was still level and Wales had dug in to save themselves from a hiding.

The local crowd applauded at the efforts at the hosts for getting back into it and expected surely in the second half that they would crush the plucky Welsh under their feet. The yellow shirt Welsh players all made a beeline towards the tunnel heading towards the dressing room for them to catch their breath and try and plan something that could help get them back into the game. Though for Jimmy Murphy as he looked up at the sky now getting darker by the hour, he had to wonder they were going to have any luck at all. He didn't admit it to anyone, but something in the back of his mind was telling him that this wasn't going to be Wales' night...

The dressing room during half time had been a strange one; though they were pleased to have gotten a goal early on and starting quite well there was that feeling that they could've been better. Pretty much all of the players were sweating and their kits were drenched in it. Hot weather with running around like that was always never a good thing for a British born player. Nonetheless, Murphy rallied the players to not show any fear and try and play a few risks in order to get another shock goal. By the time the Welsh players emerged from the tunnel, their opponents were already out on the field awaiting impatiently to get the game started and Wales would kick off to begin the second half.

Those who hoped to have more goals take place were to be left disappointed as to while Wales were trying to go out and win the game, Spain pretty much threw that idea out of the window and began to kick lumps out of the Welsh players in order what seemed to be trying to stop them from getting some sort of game going. There was one such bad moment in the 56th minute when Rivella tried to hack down Allchurch which looked pretty bad for the Welsh player though the referee seemed more interested in keeping the game going and poor Allchurch looked weak from then on. In those days before substitutes were made a rule, the poor Welshman had little choice to but to carry on with the game as best he could though it was clear that he was nowhere near the player he was earlier.

The second half was in many ways was not really something to talk about as neither side really had a chance at scoring and it was more that poor Wales were getting knocked around by the Spaniards as if the latter like a pack of school bullies. They didn't know if that Belgian referee was trying to keep the game flowing, useless or had been bribed for the hosts to win, either way wouldn't be much of a surprise in all fairness. Either way things would only start to change by the 82nd minute when then it looked like extra time was looming, Wales thanks to one Herbie Williams fired in from a long distance what looked like a shock winner though much to his and his fellow country men's dismay, it was ruled off. To this day no one seems to pin point as to why that was the case as it didn't look like it was offside and thoughts of bribes being made would have felt like a real possibility.

The second half in all truth had been one to forget for Wales as they never really got the chance to find any rhythm or game plan in this match and Spain had been more interested in stopping Wales rather than win compared what they were trying to do to them after they had scored the equaliser and when the whistle blew for full time, the local crowd were not pleased at what they had seen and jeered at how poor they had been and that they would have to do with Extra-Time. Things though would get better in the second half but not by much...


The Spanish team during the part of the game in which they got a goal back

Extra time would see Wales looking absolutely out of it and even if they were to get to the final, there was a sad feeling that they might not be up to with the bruises they had suffered from Spain not exactly helping them. They were just tried with how the game had gone and the humid climate and that left them open to be exploited and it was just a matter of time before Spain would finally put this game to bed. It was because of this that Spain late on in the one hundred and sixth minute would take their chance that saw Amanico fire home the winner after the Welsh keeper had tried to punch it away and only succeeded in finding the ball in the back of his own net with it looking like he had accidently punched it into his own net. It wouldn't take long until the final whistle blew in which stadium roared in delight that Spain were through to the final and while some would say that in the end Spain deserved the victory, the Welsh felt more livid by the whole experience as shortly after the final whistle, they didn't bother to stay to congratulate the Spanish team and quickly headed down the tunnel to get away from it all, not that their victorious opponents seemed to care as they celebrated with the many supporters in the ground.

Spain would go on to win the tournament later on against the Soviet Union but that's another story. Wales were out of their first European Championship and just like Chile, they had been the victim of quite horrendous bad luck and just an unpleasant time in Spain. The Welsh though would end on a somewhat positive note when they would win the third place game against Denmark, a match that was a truly dreadful affair in which neither side looked as if they wanted to play in it and it would end with two goals in Extra-Time for Wales that saw them win. With that, Britain's first step in the European Championship ended on a sour and forgettable note and speaking of which despite being rather historic of making it to this tournament for the first time, Euro 1964 is sometimes known as the Forgotten Trip by many Welsh football fans due to it being sandwiched between two World Cup tournaments and how Wales never reached the final. It is always rather amusing to hear many being surprised to hear that the Welsh football team took part in this tournament to this day which shows you how few seem to think about it.

This part of Welsh football history would be looked back on of the Welsh team of the early 1960's having a habit of going so far yet ultimately falling to such bad luck. As Wales would in the years go by see their neighbours win trophies, they would wonder someday if that they would get their hands on silverware in the near future and that some sadly felt the Welsh team of that decade was their only chance of winning anything. Then again time would tell to see if that was the chance for success would be a little bit more closer to home in more ways than one...

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Final results of Euro 1964

And thus, this is 1964 and the first appearance of the European Championship ITTL. Anyway not the biggest update I know but the early days of the Euros were often small with just four teams to boot, in the meantime we get to 1966 which I'm sure many of you will be wanting to know what will happen that will be different from the old TL. There will be a few changes so keep an eye out on that and until then, catch you all later!
Chapter 13: The Gang's All Here - 1966 World Cup
Chapter 13
The Gang's All Here

When England was chosen to host the 1966 World Cup back in 1960, it was one that even then that the likes of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all simply had to qualify not for the reward of money for qualifying, but for the rare one off chance for all four British teams to play at a World Cup on home soil was simply a chance neither could afford to miss. As hoped, the three neighbouring teams all managed to join England and many of their supporters could hardly wait as they had booked hotels, B&B's and anywhere they could stay all over England for their summer holidays. To get there, there had been several shock upset results in which Scotland would deny Italy a place for that Summer while Wales would prevent the Soviet Union making a trip to England though Northern Ireland squeaked through at the expense of Switzerland. While it was great to see all the United Kingdom's football representatives at the World Cup once again, it might have been better for an all Irish experience in which the Republic of Ireland (or sometimes rather foolishly simply named Southern Ireland by some) almost made it to England had they managed to get the better of Spain in a two legged Play-Off then they would have ended up in Group two along with Northern Ireland and that missed opportunity remains a big 'what if' question among many Irish football fans.

Speaking of which, in a repeat of 1962, Scotland and Wales would both find themselves both in a group together in which in Scotland was being built up as a revenge match for their embarrassment for being knocked out by the Welsh in the last World Cup though this was rather questionable due to the fact that in the last several British Home International matches with Wales that Scotland had since managed to get the better of the Welsh since then but it did seem now results in the World Cup only mattered such was how the World Cup was taking more importance more than ever. Prior before the tournament with the fact that all British teams had qualified for the first time since 1958, there was serious talks to have a geographic seeding system like that in that World Cup which had caused controversy then. The idea would have been had the Republic of Ireland qualified, they and Northern Ireland would have been placed in Group three which one of the venues were Liverpool in which the city had a large Irish community and the idea would have been was to attract bigger attendances and the same thing was done for Scotland in which placing them in Group which was set in the North East of England would have helped attract Scottish supporters to make the short trip South of the Border.

This idea was favoured by FIFA president Stanley Rous though it was quickly shot down as a suggest with many claiming that it blatantly favoured the British teams, especially as England would, throughout the group and if they won said group, would play all their games at Wembley and thus a straight forward seeding system was brought in though ironically Scotland would end up playing in the North East as planned and some felt there was some collusion and corruption at FIFA though such claims were laughed as to to how could FIFA be corrupt...?


Scotland's Jim Baxter in his Sunderland gear, fittingly enough, Scotland would play in Sunderland during the group stage
While much was said for England, Scotland and Wales, poor little Northern Ireland had been almost forgotten about by much of the press and to make matters worse for them, they would be placed in a horrendous group along with Argentina, West Germany and Spain. Funnily enough eight years ago when Northern Ireland played at the World Cup for the first time, with the exception of Spain being there, it was the same three teams, West Germany and Argentina, who had been in the group at that time with the Northern Irish though unlike that time, things would be very different here. After England had began their World Cup campaign with a poor 0-0 draw with Uruguay at Wembley on the 11th July, most British eyes turned towards Northern Ireland the day after as they began their World Cup in Sheffield playing West Germany.

Sadly, things were worse for the Irish as the Germans, who hadn't forgot the shock defeat they suffered at the hands of the Ulstermen, ripped them apart right from the get go which to give an idea of how bad things were, the Germans were 3-0 up at half time and added a further two goals in the rout of Sheffield with only Northern Ireland scoring from a mere consolation goal from a young and then rather up and coming man called George Best. Nonetheless, a 5-1 thrashing at the hands of the Germans was a sad sight for the large traveling Northern Irish support, as well as the small Irish community in Sheffield, who had waited all summer for their wee country to win to be back in the World Cup and it would all start with what can only be described as one almighty anti-climax.

At that point in Northern Ireland's second game with Spain, many would have written off their chances. Nonetheless, Northern Ireland manager Bertie Peacock had not decided to change his team around and stuck with the team that lost to the Germans which had not gone down well with some of the Irish press following the team on their English adventure. However, Peacock thought otherwise that a big loss like that would actually be a blessing in disguise as for some of the players as it could help give them a little bit more freedom with nothing to lose and hopefully give the Spaniards a surprise. It also helped that they were back playing at Hillsborough and that after that game with the Germans, quite a fair number of the locals felt quite sorry the Irish, not to mention sadly some anti-German sentiment still lingering on from WWII, and the team were actually quite amazed when their team bus arrived at the stadium that some of the locals were there waiting for them and had actually adopted them as their 'local' team. Not to mention it was time to send in Northern Ireland's secret weapon...


Northern Ireland's secret weapon, George Best, during the game with Spain
The game with Spain was as important for the Spaniards in which they too in their opening match had lost and needed a victory to keep their hopes alive so there was a whole lot of things riding with this game. Much of the crowd were backing the plucky team in green and white though it was Spain causing many problems at first in which during the tenth and sixteenth minutes of the game Manuel Sanchís had almost scored with the first going over the bar and the second being saved by Pat Jennings. Much to Peacock's dismay, the team were starting to play deep and Spain were starting to rain down terror on the Irish defence, one had to wonder if that defence would break as the men in red tried to get through.

That said after the twentieth minute Northern Ireland did start to relax more and the game would end up being more open and it was here that everyone could see the talent that was George Best who pretty much dancing around the Spanish players and his efforts would be rewarded when he struck him a rocket of a volley to give his side a shock lead and from that, Spain never really recovered as despite trying everything, the plucky team in green and white held on to record that victory which brought their hopes of further progression back from the dead and the scenes of utter joy as their delighted supporters invaded the pitch to celebrate. Peacock and the rest of the coaching staff join the players on the pitch and congratulate them; one thing is for certain and that is Northern Ireland are not out of this World Cup by a longshot as they moved into their final group game with Argentina. A match that would go down in infamy...

Argentina had so far record a victory and a draw which meant all they needed to go through was a draw though Northern Ireland needed victory in order to progress. Despite the odds all looking to be, rather unfairly in some ways, being all out against his men, Peacock had felt proud of his players after their win over Spain and knew the pressure would be on the South Americans to do well. The Sheffield locals had taken the Irish to heart and after the Spain game, they were more than willing to back Northern Ireland to go through to the next round at the expense of the Argentines. More fittingly was if whoever finished in second, there was a Quarter-Final tie with England at stake.


The Argentine team waving to the crowd before their game with Northern Ireland

With just twenty six minutes of the game having been played in which quite a fairly even game that the Argentines hadn't really expected, the Ulstermen has started to look comfortable with crowd getting behind the men in green and Best ran down on the left wing but when he saw Antonio Rattín charging towards him, he passed the ball over to Billy Johnston running alongside him before passing back to Best as he carried on running with it right up towards the eighteen yard box before making a skilful back pass to Crossan who runs with the ball, gets around Argentine keeper Antonio Roma by making him lose his balance before thrashing the ball into the top right corner of the net and putting Northern Ireland 1-0 up. It is an incredible moment and the fans watching the game are in raptures over what they are seeing as maybe, just maybe...their plucky team can do it and get into the Quarter-Finals. From then on, the Argentines are in a state of shock and quickly realise that this could mean them going out of the World Cup if they don't fight back and try to throw everything they can at them but alas while Northern Ireland aren't defending quite at their best, they are stopping Argentina from getting into a style of play.

Eventually the first half ends 1-0 to the Irish though the score line doesn't explain half the story in which the game would remember for all the wrong reasons in which the South American players ended up playing rough and the amount of fouls that took place was not something many liked to see and tempers are strained. The second half has the Argentines not going on the attack, but instead hold the ball as best as they can so that no player in a green shirt can stop them. As the second half progresses, Argentina are the better team but still are a goal down though rough play still follows. Twenty minutes are left and there are no goals scored. Ten minutes left and yet still no goals and the Irish supporters have probably started to think that they have this game in the bag and start chanting happily as the small number of Argentine supporters look on with worry at what time is left for them to save their skins. Then in the eighty-sixth minute would be the most infamous moment in that whole game when Oscar Más has the ball and is just on the outside of the penalty box with John Napier hot on his tail as he tries to get the ball off the forward player, however in what was perhaps the most blatant dive ever, Más goes down and all eyes turn towards the Portuguese referee thinking he'll have a stern talking to Más, but to the shock of everyone, he points for a penalty.

Despite calls of protest from the players, coaching staff and even supporters who could see it was a dive, the penalty would go ahead and up to take it was Luis Artime. Sadly for Northern Ireland keeper Pat Jennings, he went the wrong way as Argentina were level and for the South Americans, they would be staying on for the World Cup while the Irish would go home. In the closing minutes of the game, the mostly British crowd began chanting 'Cheat! Cheat! Cheat!' and Northern Ireland tried everything to score a winner though sadly all their efforts came to nothing. The game ended 1-1 and the crowd let out an almighty boo that could probably heard all over Sheffield and the Irish players headed off down the corridor dejected knowing that they were cheated out of this World Cup. The South Americans celebrate their achievement but quickly leave the pitch as many people up on the terraces all start throwing objects at them and putting up threatening gestures and they quickly make a get away out of the ground.

The supporters then began chanting out for Northern Ireland endless until this causes the players to return out to the field where they are greeted with perhaps the warmest reception that can be ever given to by a set of supporters and as all the team return to the pitch, a pitch invasion follows and the police, probably wisely, don't try to intervene as the supporters head out to the players and start carrying around the park on their shoulders like heroes, one could've mistaken that the Irish had won the game. Sadly it would be last time that the Sheffield crowd would see of the men in green and white and George Best would always look back on this game with great disdain as what would be known as 'The Disgrace of Sheffield' and that how they were cheated from this World Cup.


Supporters express their sympathies for the Northern Irish players after the controversial draw which sent Northern Ireland out of the World Cup

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Final results of Northern Ireland group at the 1966 World Cup

Away from Yorkshire and up the road in the North East of England, both the Scots and the Welsh had taken over the area though it was mostly with the former in which many of their supporters had less distance to travel and would pretty much turning Sunderland into a mini Glasgow in which was said that there was not a single piece of living accommodation that was taking over by the Scottish fans which went to show how many had decided to head south for their Summer holidays. That said the Welsh had brought a fair number up too though many would be staying in Middlesbrough and in their first game, they would be playing an unknown and what seemed like easy pickings in North Korea. It must be said that this Welsh team, which was no longer the same side that had done well in Chile as their star player, John Charles, was only half the man he once was and had only decided to stick with the Welsh side as this World Cup was closer to home. Wales would get the victory many expected though it wasn't that convincing in which they only won 2-1 and North Korea scored at the death; a goal that little did anyone know then was to have huge consequences later on.

Meanwhile, things were rather touch and go for Scotland in their opening game as despite Roker Park being turned into something of a mini Hampden Park with most of the crowd being Scottish waving their flags and tartan scarfs in the air, the number of Chilean supporters in the ground are feeling quite daunted by the chanting from the Scottish fans and the odd Sunderland local in to watch the game. However while Scotland started well with Denis Law scoring after just eight minutes, Scotland didn't seem to have anything else to add to that and it was a bit of a dangerous game for Scotland in which Chile might score right up until the eighty-eighth minute when Jim Baxter, the hero of Roker Park, would score Scotland's second which the sigh of relief was so loud that it could have been heard from the other side of the border.

That result would set up both Scotland and Wales to meet up in the second group game in which was considered to be the revenge match for the Scots and also was important for whoever won the game would be in Knockout stage. That said after Scotland's rather lacklustre win over Chile, few wondered if this Scotland team had improved from the last World Cup. What followed was one of Scotland's finest ever World Cup games in which they ripped the Welsh a new one beating them 3-0 and not only getting the revenge they craved for but also an answer to their critics and booking their place in the next round.


Scotland vs Wales in the Group Stage
Wales' hopes of moving forward were suddenly looking shaky in which they had to avoid defeat in their final group game which was against Chile, though that game would be put in the shadows for what happened in Middlesbrough in the game with Scotland and North Korea. With the Scots having already booked their place into the next round, the game with North Korea might have been a forgone conclusion as in thinking the Koreans would be a walkover. What followed was to be one of the biggest shocks in the history of the World Cup. What followed would be known as 'The Miracle of Middlesbrough' in which Scotland were left stunned when North Korea defeated them 1-0 in which while Scotland still won the group, the reaction to their embarrassing loss to the Koreans was in many ways over the top as in the wake of the defeat many pubs in the area ended up become wrecked as angry Scotland fans had brawls with each other over the result and even when the now shell-shocked team returned to their hotel, they were given a harsh reception by many angry Scotland fans expressing their displeasure. Then again, it wouldn't be Scotland if there was an embarrassing result somewhere and many of the Scotland team then mostly Denis Law, will always say that this game was perhaps the worst game either of them played in though it must be said that any neutral watching it will point out that Scotland simply made the mistake of underestimating the Koreans.

The unexpected North Korean victory suddenly brought more pressure on both Wales and Chile who knew that victory for either of them could put them through to the next round. A draw was not good for either of them and that would sadly be the case in which despite Wales coming out in that first half all swinging to take the lead thanks to Roy Vernon, though this was not to last when Chile scored shortly afterwards and the game would end up being a tense affair in which both sides spent more time trying to cancel each other out rather than going out to win and this would come back to haunt them as in what was in all honesty a truly turgid game of football, that game ended 1-1 which meant Wales and Chile were out and North Korea had snuck into second place by the slimiest of margins. It turns out that their consolation goal against Wales had proven crucial in getting them through via goal difference as Wales had a worse record with goals against.

It was a shock fall from grace in which Wales, the runners up in the last World Cup, had fallen at the first stage by the tightest of margins though they weren't alone in a early dismissal in which their fellow finalists Brazil had bizarrely made a shock early exit too in which meant nether team from the 1962 Final would play in any further part in this World Cup. Like Northern Ireland, Wales would make a quick exit from England few knew then just how long the Welsh would be out from playing in major tournaments until further notice...

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Final results of Scotland and Wales' Group at the 1966 World Cup
With that though, the group stages had been sorted and now it was time to see what would happen in the last eight for the two remaining Home Nations left standing...

And so we are, 1966 and all that. Few changes from the old TL in which Portugal do play here and Scotland get their revenge on Wales for 1962. Anyway here is the last eight as it stands:
England vs. Argentina

Portugal vs. North Korea

West Germany vs Uruguay

Scotland vs. Hungary
So how will the last eight play out? There will be some changes here and there so stay tuned for the next update! Until then, hope you are enjoying this and hopefully I'll be seeing you all later!
some felt there was some collusion and corruption at FIFA though such claims were laughed as to to how could FIFA be corrupt...?
This is why corruption is never dealt with. Because for all the outrage when Wales got robbed, now everyone in Britain is going "Corruption? What corruption? Fifa corrupt? NAAAHHHH!"

North Korea
True Germany
Chapter 14: Baxter's Jolly Boys Outing
Chapter 14
Baxter's Jolly Boys Outing

With the group stage now complete, it was time for the knockout stage to begin and across England on the 23th July, four matches would be played in which would decide which four teams from those games would be in the Semi-finals of the World Cup. Only two of those games had British interest with England taking on Argentina at Wembley while Scotland taking on Hungary in Sunderland. For many who had hoped all four would go through, it was rather disappointing of how only two had made it through and even those who did were not getting their praises sung in which England had started off sluggishly and though they did won the group, they hadn't impressed much. That though was nothing compared to the Scotland team in which following their disastrous loss against North Korea had seen the Scottish press being utterly ruthless to the team and this was to a team who had won the group! The Daily Record newspaper even going as far as wanting the team to leave the World Cup and head home in disgrace. Lord knows what the reaction would've been if that North Korea result had knocked the Scots out of the World Cup. Some of the players had already speculated that they'd never be allowed back into the country let alone play for the team again.

That said even though the players would get flak, always in situations whenever things go badly wrong for the team then it is the manager who would often get the full brunt of the anger over team selection and this would be no exception for Scotland manager Ian McColl. Everyone knew that following Matt Busby leaving the job after the disaster in Chile four years ago in which Busby went to concentrate fully with Manchester United that it was always going to be big boots to fill. That (unlucky if you like) person to step into this position would be Ian McColl who would actually surprise many by winning the Home Internationals three years ago and oversaw qualification for the 1966 World Cup which more or less made his choice to be selected more or less justified. That said it wasn't the Scotland job he had as just the previous year, he had also taken on the job at Sunderland and it was a rather fitting set of circumstances in which Scotland had been playing two of their group games at Roker Park and with the fact that Jim Baxter also played for Sunderland (incidentally also joining Sunderland the same time as McColl did) so it is fair to say that in that time with the Scots playing at that stadium, now for the third time for this game, had become something of a mini Hampden and the local people of Sunderland had been rather friendly to the Scots so there was the comfort of familiar surroundings.

That all saying, on the morning of the game at the hotel while the team and SFA staff were all having breakfast, McColl was going over his team sheet for who would be playing in this game and had a made a few changes for the line up with Charlie Cooke replacing Pat Stanton, who had been injured in the North Korea game, Tommy Gemmell replacing Willie Bell and Willie Johnston replacing Alex Scot. Helping him with the team selection would be his assistant manager that was none other than newly made Celtic manager Jock Stein though if things had gone differently, the roles of who would be who might've all be all so different. After Scotland crashed out in the first round of the last World Cup, Jock Stein, who was managing Dunfermline Athletic at the time, had been the favourite to replace Busby, however much to everyone's surprise he said that even if he had been given the Scotland job, he would've eventually falling out of favour with it as he was determined to focus more work at club level. That all said, he was happy enough to act as McColl's number two for the Scotland team and had helped supply the team with a number of Celtic players for the World Cup.


Scotland manager Ian McColl

As McColl drank his cup of tea he glanced over at the several newspapers sporting sections and his eyes darted at at the Daily Record which a horrible and scathing write up of the team wanting them to head home after the North Korean debacle.

At that moment, one of the staff members of the hotel ran up to him and spoke in a thick Mackem accent. "Sir, sum o' the press lads are here tuh see yee.."

Busby glanced up from his drink before placing the mug down. "English or Scottish?"

"...Sorry?" Replied the member of staff in confusion.

"The press chaps," Busby added. "Are they English or Scottish?"

The staff member made an 'ah' shape with his mouth as he understood what he meant. "Oh I see, uh, they're English, from the BBC or ITN ah think."

The Scotland manager smiled as he stood up. "Ah good staff, lad. Thank God it's the English as I cannae stand oor bloody press at home." He pointed to a Daily Record newspaper that was on the table with it's horrible headline to prove his point. "At least yer folks are more acceptin'."

"Not always wi' England, sir," the staff member replied with a chuckle with McColl and Stein joining in. Jokes aside however, as McColl walked away to meet up with the press who were somewhere in the hotel awaiting to interview him, he knew now that it was all to play for now there was no room for slip ups. With that all said, the interview went about as well as what he expected with much asking him what was his game plan and could he avoid embarrassment like with North Korea? He managed to get through it without incident though there was one question that he had been wanting to avoid and one that was a real elephant in the room; where was Jim Baxter?

The night before the game, the Scotland star had gone for a sneaky trip up the A1 back to his native Fife to catch up with his family though there were rumours flying around the city in which he was still here and in that time was out chatting up some of the local girls in the area and drinking it out in some pub in the North East. Knowing Baxter, it wasn't exactly unreasonable to think he'd be doing the former despite being married for just over a year now. At the same time, it was a pain for the players and coaching staff as Baxter was suppose to play in this game but he was still missing on the morning of the Quarter-Final and the longer this went on for then it was more than likely that Dundee player Andy Penman could take his place in the team. It was the last thing the team wanted though it was kept secret as if the press were to find out no sooner after what had happened, they'd likely have a field day with this.


Rare photo of Baxter somewhere in Sunderland meeting with the locals during the World Cup

It would be though just before team were to have an early lunch just before twelve in the afternoon that the wanderer did return into the dining room and pretty much all of the Scottish contingent were left stunned and Baxter's unannounced arrival. "How do lads?" Baxter greeted them as he took an empty seat beside a bemused Willie Bell at the breakfast table. "What's the matter? Gettin' ready fer the game?"

At once, the silence that greeted him was replaced by an uproar of anger of many trying to get a word in all asking the same question or saying they wanted to pay him out over what he had pulled off. The shouting match was quickly halted when McColl banged his fist on the table to get everyone's attention which quickly they went back to silence as the Scotland manager stood up looking red in the face.

"Where the hell have you been?!" McColl snapped, rarely showing his anger like this to his players. "I've already been gettin' the team selected and ye come in to muck up all the plans!"

"What were you doin' anyway?" John Greig asked from a table nearby.

"Obvious isn't it?" Baxter replied. "We were gettin' absolute pelters frae th' press so I took a wee trip back hame to meet the wi' the family to relax before comin' back doon the road."

No one had expected this from the team's joker and they all looked at him silence, he then turned to look at McColl and Stein. "You've nae planned th' tactics yet have ye? That means nothin' has been affected." He paused then a cheeky smirk appeared on his face. "Actually, whit if ah told ye already kent th' tactics?"

Jock Stein rolled his eyes, "How would ye know?"

"I do ken the plan though," Baxter replies with a crafty grin. "Ye want us to play attackin' fitba and try and naw lose a goal by th' Hungarians, we'd be playin' 4-3-1-2, I'd be in Midfield and ye'd want me tae pass th' ball up tae Denis so he can score the goals."

Both McColl and Stein look at him stunned and the rest don't know how to react upon hearing all this. "H-how did ye ken all that?!" McColl gawks.

"Simple," Baxter replies as he pulls out a sheet from his bag, "Found th' team sheet lying in our hotel lobby you must've left th' other night, I read it and it's a good tactic I'll say though ye must've leave things around th' place. Could fall in th' wrang hands."

Stein and McColl were stunned, somehow that crafty joker of a man had discovered their plans and had made them look like a bunch of fools in front of everyone. Silence gripped the players and staff and then almost at once, all of the players roared with laughter with some coming up to pat Baxter on the back. It is hard to say if it is good idea for him for Baxter to do these antics and what he put the whole team through, but it seems that in the moment, he has helped relax the players before such a big game.


Baxter and Law during warm up training prior to the Quarter-Final tie with Hungary
After that, lunch goes without incident and the team head off to Roker Park with the story of Baxter's Jolly Boys Outing being kept secret from everyone and it would only come out years later of what happened that everyone would know of just how close Baxter came to turn all plans upside down because of his antics. The game would kick-off at three in the afternoon and like what the team had gotten use to at this point, they were greeted to a large and mostly Scottish crowd backing them, though it must be said that they weren't being optimistic about their chances due to the last game. The locals who were there did find great joy in seeing that Baxter was in the starting line up, though like everyone else was made oblivious of the drama before the game.

Apart from being a Quarter-Final tie, the game itself had more than just a Semi-Final spot as the prize for whoever won as McColl felt that there was jokes to be put down as despite being a proud football nation who took the game seriously, they were actually the only Home Nation who had not reached the last four of a World Cup and this was a bad record that followed the Scotland team around like a bad stench and now this game was surely a chance to put that unwanted record to bed and move into the last four for the first time. It was rather funny for a Hungarian point of view in which in the last World Cup at this very stage that had lost to Wales and now here they were again at this stage with yet another British team to fight off, only this time it seemed to be more daunting as the huge amount of Scottish fans who had all made the short journey to Sunderland had turned the game into more of a 'home' game for the Scots. Was lighting going to strike twice for them?

When both teams walked out, this 'home' advantage the Hungarians feared became apparent when they were greeted to the sight of hundreds of Lion Rampant flags being flown from the terraces and that was not a nice sight if you weren't Scottish. The game would soon begin and this time Scotland were playing more as a team that not only meant business but were determined to silence the critics and their game plan of high pressing football was there to be admired and the Hungarians didn't look at all comfortable. Things for them would all go wrong quickly in the fifth minute in which Baxter looks like he is about to cross the ball towards Law to shoot it in on target, however he finds a good positing that he came aim for and instead lobs the ball from outside the penalty box and the ball hits the crossbar before bouncing downwards, hits the goal line before bouncing upwards to hit the roof of the net and putting Scotland a goal up.


Scottish players celebrate taking the lead in the Quarter-Final
Many a Scotsman either in that crowd, listening on radio or watching it live on television would have felt great joy at that early goal, no more so than McColl and Stein and the two men say nothing but smile at each other knowing that they'll not only answer their critics, but make them eat their words for what they have said about the team prior to this game. Great pressing play follows as the Hungarians seem helpless to hold off the Scottish attack and this attacking style of play. The crowd are roaring in delight at what they see and are all crying out for another goal and their wishes would be answered in in the twenty-seventh minute when Bremner crosses the ball up towards Cooke who runs with the ball before performing a delicious back pass towards Law who then takes it into the box and slotting the ball into the back of the net and making the score line read 2-0 for Scotland.

Scotland are flying with just less than half an hour played and it is a vast improvement the last game. The previous lukewarm supporters, who quite a number of them came down with more hope than expectation, have now starting cheering loudly as if it is like a long lost love affair has been reignited, it is nothing short of redemption for the team. However, all around the ground, news has filtered through of other results being played and one in Liverpool of a most incredible kind. That game in question was Scotland's conquerors North Korea playing Portugal and to the shock of play, they had only just gone 3-0 on Portugal and suddenly all thoughts of Scotland's humiliation at their hands didn't seem all that bad now as maybe there was more to them than what anyone was willing to give them. (Portugal would eventually fight back to defeat North Korea 5-3 but that's another story.)

Nonetheless here in Sunderland, Scotland were well and truly on top and with such a score, it looked as though the Hungarians were not going to have any luck and ended up out of frustration more than anything and all this bad play was all not going well for them and the Scots would keep them at bay for the rest of the first half while at times trying to find a third goal that would surely kill this game off. Alas that would not be the case as the first half would end 2-0 for the Scots and everything in that moment seemed all perfect, a far contrast of where they were before as they waited to play for the second half.


Jimmy Johnstone during the Quarter-Final tie with Hungary

When it was time for the second half, Scotland were looking to carry on from where they left off and there was a few tweaks made to the team just to keep things in check though Hungary looked different for the second half as now they seemed more like a team that meant business and was keeping the Scots out for the best part of ten minutes in that opening half and there is a nagging feeling at the back of many people's minds that Scotland might be about to hit the rocks if they aren't too careful and this proves to be true as in the fifty-seventh minute of the game and from looking quite good in that opening period of the half, Bene scores for Hungary that makes the score line read 2-1 and there are some nervous expressions on the faces of the travelling Scotland fans in the ground and watching the game on television know that there is still potential for the Scots to mess this up. No one would deny that Hungary deserve that goal and from the dug out, McColl could be see shouting at the players to wake up as there is a game to play.

The game after that becomes more open in which both teams try to find another goal in which both knew was important in which if Scotland scored then the game would be put to bed though in Hungary scored...things could get messy to say the least. Even the huge Scottish support in the crowd seem nervous and they are not chanting as much as they were before as even they know how finely balanced this game seems to be now. It is during one Scottish counter attack in the sixty-sixth minute that Denis Law attempts to volley in a nice shot but it is blocked by the Hungarian keeper, however his block is more of a punch as it goes out of the box and right into the path of Jimmy Johnstone and fires the ball back just as it hits the ground and sends it rocketing right past the keeper, catching him off guard and making the score line now read 3-1 for Scotland.

It is a great goal and a good response to Hungary's goal and one might have been able to hear not just the roar of thousands of Scotland fans but also the sigh of relief that must have went with it. The game however it far from other as Stein and McColl keep on yelling at the players to keep a hold of the ball and start holding it back and their confidence and even arrogance in a way starts to show so much that they even start entertaining the forty-thousand something strong crowd in Roker Park by performing little tricks with each teammate while frustrating their Hungarian opponents by not letting them get a touch of the ball. The most memorable moment would of that man Jim Baxter showing off to the crowd as he would entertain the fans to show that he wasn't just a joker but a key player too.


Live broadcast footage of Baxter showing off to the crowd towards the end of the match

This goes on for most of the game and despite Bene nearly scoring a goal in the eighty-third minute, which would have caused many a brown trousers, thankfully just goes wide of the post. But there is also a shot by Baxter in the eighty-eighth minute which while goes in is sadly is ruled offside much to annoyance of the crowd. Nonetheless, Scotland hold onto that score and book their place into the Semi-finals for the first time in their history and following the final whistle by the Spanish referee there is a minor pitch invasion of delighted Scotland fans who want to celebrate with their heroes.

After all the drama going into the game prior at the start of the day, the victory felt well and truly worth it and now all roads would leave to Liverpool while news would also filter through that England managed to dispatch Argentina in a bad tempered game and that Scotland's opponents would be West Germany. For now though, Scotland would leave the North East and head south to Liverpool in which Merseyside was about to see a tartan invasion of thousands...

And here we are, Scotland are in a Semi-Final and we get to have more fun and frolics with one Jim Baxter who let's be honesty would likely do some of the things you've read here had Scotland been at the WC in 1966. So then, here is the final four as it stands...
West Germany vs Scotland

England vs Portugal
So yeah, all the other games (and England's run so far) is pretty much the same as OTL. Nonetheless stay tuned for the Semi-Finals in which will see what happens next...!
Chapter 15: When On Merseyside
Chapter 15
When On Merseyside

July 25th would mark the first of the two Semi-final games to be played during that World Cup (The other game between England and Portugal would happen the following day) and the first of the games would be in Liverpool between West Germany and Scotland. After making themselves comfortable in the surroundings of Sunderland, the Scots bid a fond farewell to the people of Tyne and Wear and would make their journey south westwards to Liverpool along with their large support of tartan hordes following in their wake. Liverpool, much like Sunderland, was a working class city and one that was very much like Glasgow when it came for the love of football, thankfully without all the negative and horrid sectarian profanities that blighted it, nonetheless for the Scottish players and supporters from Glasgow, the whole city had a great deal of familiarly about it. That wasn't all though as when the team arrived the day before the game, the Scots were surprised to find the Merseyside locals getting right behind them and wishing them well to beat the West Germans thanks to the Liverpool manager and fellow Scot Bill Shankly who in the run up to the game had been staging a one-man guerrilla campaign to whip up local support for the locals to support Scotland for the game.

That all said, he perhaps didn't need to try all that as the West Germans, no mater how nice their football was nor how likeable the players were, they were sadly never going to win a popularity contest in a city that the Germans had blown to pieces during the second World War in which a lot of German resentment still hung in the air and the people of the city were more than happy to get behind the Scots. Another fitting coincidence about the tie was that as the Semi-Final was to played at Everton's Goodison Park, the Scots would also play in blue like Everton and this made it easier for the blue half of Liverpool to cheer on the Scots not to mention that many on the blue half of the city were more than delighted to see Alex Scott and Alex Young playing for Scotland who also just so happened to play for Everton. Despite all these things nodding in favour for the Scots, the only two Scots who felt worried going into this game were McColl and Stein. They both knew very well that this game would be without doubt be their most difficult match yet as the Germans have been unbeatable so far; their destruction of Northern Ireland being a good example of this. Busby has warned the Scots not be cocky that they have got this far but yet not treat the Germans with respect. That said though, West Germany could have been said to have a point to prove in which despite looking by far a very impressive side that no one would begrudge them reaching a final, their pre-tournament hopes were pretty poor in must be said in which many had them ranked as low as 25/1 outsiders to win the whole thing so one could imagine that them reaching this far was an answer to all of those who doubted them.

If the German odds had been pretty lacklustre then things weren't much better for the Scots as they were ranked lower as 30/1 outsiders to win the World Cup themselves so to say it was a match of two teams that might have punched above their weight would be putting it lightly though odds were also meant to be broken. England and Brazil were both ranked as favourites to win though the latter had ended up having a miserable time in England as they crashed out in the first round which proved that even sure fire bets could always collapse and that long shots could make it. That said, both sides did find something else to gripe about in which there had been a comment in which the game with England and Portugal, the two highest ranked teams left in the World Cup, was already being said to be by some as the real final and it didn't matter who won this Semi-Final as they would end up just being the bridesmaid. If that wasn't enough to get under the skin of the Scots and Germans then goodness knows what would.


Some of the small number of German supporters in the ground

With the game just about to begin with the captains on both teams, John Grieg and Uwe Seeler, taking part in the usual handshake and swap of pennants, McColl looked around at the packed stadium of nearly fifty-thousand souls cramped together in the ground that was filled up with mostly of Scottish supporters and local Liverpudlians cheering on the Scotland while only a brave amount of two thousand or less Germans were to be seen in the ground to cheer their side on though there was controversy about this. It had been said that the Germans had been allocated about fifteen thousand tickets at first however all plans for this had all gone off the rails when the Tartan Army had ended up taking more for themselves which of course did not leave a good impression among the German supporters who felt there was a collusion taking place with the British authorities over favouritism towards the Scots which given some of the anti-German sentiment they had noticed might have not been far out of the question. However, the most surprisingly answer to what happened was just sheer incompetence from the ticket authorities who were overwhelmed by the Tartan invasion on Merseyside and even with the huge amount of Scots in the ground, there were still at least a few thousand more still outside along with the rest of the unlucky German supporters who never got their tickets and those who never got in would have little choice but to find a nearby pub and watch the game live on television there.

With that said, the Italian referee blew his whistle and soon the game began and the West Germans have the nod to kick off first and right from the get go they soon show why they have a point to prove as they begin to ping the ball around the troubled Scots and even in the early stages of the game, the narrow predictions of a West German victory are seemly looking quite promising. During the sixteenth minute, Haller inside the penalty box fires on target but it is only thanks to the hands of Scottish goalkeeper Bobby Fergusson knocking it out of the way only for it to hit the ground and into the path of Beckenbauer who seems certain to score, only for a last second long kick by Bill Willie to kick it out for a corner kick. Through some ropey defending, the Scots have dodged a bullet, but it is a good example to so how pushed back the men in blue are and the crowd try to cheer them on though it is quite worrying to see how pinned back they are.

So far it has been painful viewing for the Scottish supporters at least more so for McColl who has gone under criticism for Scotland's ropey form which has made them an unpredictable team for many from doing so well like in the game with Wales or playing absolutely horrifically as with North Korea. However as the game goes on after about twenty minutes of German aggression, Scotland finally start to find a rhythm and start pushing their West German opponents back in which then in the twenty second minute, Baxter works his way past Overath and puts the ball up towards Henderson right through a gap in the German defence. The mostly Scottish crowd rises to their feet thinking something might be as they watch the Rangers right winger then makes his way towards the eighteen yard area before giving to Denis Law who manages to outwit Hans Tilkowski in goal before blasting it home into the back of the net.


Billy Bremner prior to the start of the Semi-Final
At first there are great scenes of jubilation; tartan bonnets are thrown into the air, the flags of St Andrew and the Lion Rampant are flown happily but all of this is quickly halted when the referee rather strangely chalks off the goal which gains a storm of booing all around Goodison with the claim that Law was in a offside position when he scored and it seems rather bizarre by all concerned. Despite fierce Scottish protest, the game resumes no goal scored and from the bench, McColl knows that chances like this are rare to get, yet at the same time, there is a feeling of suspicion going on with rumours that FIFA are bending over backwards to calls of protest from many that the British have an unfair advantage that at least one of their teams will be in the final and that some shifty looking folk are trying all they can to stop the Scots getting anything which might be calls of the referee being bribed.

If it's true or not, the Scotland manager and his staff have no time to dwell on such matters as the Scots, feeling cheated about that goal that should've counted, start throwing their frustrations out on the West Germans and make stupid fouls with hot-headed Billy Bremner making one practical tackle on West German captain Uwe Seeler and such a challenge would've been a sending off in which the small number of German supporters there cry out for action yet nonetheless the referee tries to calm the fiery Scot's nerves and the West German bench yell out wanting him off for a dangerous challenge in what seems like an attempt to keep the game flowing. Pretty much most of the Scottish defence and the midfield area, mostly the former, are performing the bad tackles trying to keep the Germans out with McColl and Stein only shaking their heads in disbelieve at how bad things are getting and how any plan that had for this game has pretty much gone out the window. This goes on nearly most of the first half up until the forty-second minute when Haller gets the better of Fergusson to blast home the goal that unlike the for the Scots doesn't get chalked off and thus the West Germans 1-0 in front.

Admittedly In some ways looking at it from a rational and neutral viewpoint, the better team has taken the lead and the Scots can only hold off the West Germans from scoring more in the dying moments of the first half in which if that happens then not only would the Scots have a mountain to climb but maybe end their World Cup hopes. Scotland does end up holding on before the whistle for the first half is blown and the two teams walk off the pitch, though it becomes rather hostile and perhaps rather infamous for the Germans as some angry Scottish supporters start throwing empty glass bottles at them and some begin chanting anti-German related WWII material which does not look good for a viewing public watching the game. It is ugly scenes as some unfortunate policemen has to come in and take away some of the supporters who threw the bottles at the Germans and that whole half from a supporters point of view ends on a very sorry note. The Scottish players can only hope a half time team talk can do wonders and McColl knows that this will be a huge forty-five minutes coming up for the Scots if they want to think about reaching the final at Wembley...


Haller and his teammates celebrate going 1-0 up on Scotland in the Semi-Final
As the players returned to the field, the Scottish and Merseyside supporters join together to cheer on Scotland in the hopes of them rescuing themselves from what currently stands as a looking to be a German victory. The halftime team talk McColl has giving to his players was simply not kick the players around as what they had done in that game which with some hindsight ended up backfiring on the Scots, but frustrate the West Germans by not giving them a chance to get a foot on the ball and if they were to do that then there was always a chance for Scotland to do something in this second half. As the match restarts with a shrill blast from the referee, the Scottish team starts to act more professionally and start taking the game to the West Germans. Stein has also told the Celtic players in the team to do what they do best for their team and become more instrumental for Scotland getting something out of this game. For all they know, their own actions might even change things around though among that Scotland team is of course Alex Scott of Everton who knows it's bad enough to lose at home, but to lose at home with your country is something quite unthinkable that he doesn't dare worth ponder about and he in that midfield ends up trying to be more helpful in getting the ball forward.

Thanks to Scott, along with most of that midfield, Scotland begin to show more chances with some even going on target but either of end up going over the bar or meeting the safe hands of Tilkowski. The West Germans strangely do not look threatening in this half and one has to wonder if perhaps the Germans have gotten cocky thinking that their opponents have nothing left to give and are surely out of this. Whatever the reason, this only leads for Scottish confidence to go up on both the pitch and the stands and the latter help make Goodison into a fortress for the Scottish team and the West Germans are taken aback by this as if they didn't know who the majority of the crowd was backing then they surely do now. The second half however despite the Scots more fired up here turns out to be something of a long and tedious affair in which the more wiser members of the crowd will pick up that the game will be won by taking their time no matter what others might think. Then it all turns on it's head in the sixty-ninth minute in which has Henderson racing down on the Right wing as before, but rather than give it the Law also heading into the penalty box, he instead back passes it towards Baxter which catches the Germans off guard and without thinking of anything and thumping hit, the ball slams home right towards the goal but the German keeper just manages to get a hand on the ball to punch it away and it looks like he has denied the Scots an equaliser, only for Alex Scott to rush in from out of nowhere to header the ball right on the rebound and slam the ball into the back of the net with such force that the net could've ripped apart.

Scotland are finally back in the game and great celebrations all around Goodison show this with flags and tartan scarfs being flown from all around and now the German players now know they have a game on their hands and it's a situation for that goal that one couldn't make up; the Scottish player who plays for Everton has scored the equaliser at Goodison Park. The irony would not be lost for the blue half of Merseyside watching the game. With the game now at 1-1, both teams start playing end to end stuff, the Scots now well and truly fired up from that goal. That said though game is looking like it might go anywhere and for example in the seventy-third minute, Seeler almost makes it quickfire goal to retake the lead for West Germany only for Fergusson to batter the ball over the crossbar, gain a hearty applause from the Scottish crowd and out for a corner kick for the West Germans in which in the end the set piece comes to nothing. It is now a truly thrilling match which one can't take their eyes off it and who on Earth will come out on top here?

Baxter after the equaliser in the Semi final, looking oddly relaxed...

The crowd are now really playing a part more than ever by the time the game in reaching the final ten minutes of the match with the match still tied at 1-1, however it is only now that the West Germans are now starting to look shaky and this has not gone unnoticed by the Scottish players who decide to risk all and go in for the kill. In the seventy-eighth minute, Jim Baxter has a golden chance to take the lead for Scotland from inside the penalty area only for him to utterly misplace his kick by falling over and sending the ball into the crowd behind the goal. Cue many cries of groans from the Scots for ruining such a wonderful chance to win the game and this game is far from over that might be settled in extra-time unless someone wants to be a hero.

The game is now into the last five minutes and it is becoming a nerve shredder for both sets of supporters there and some have to cover their faces from looking for the tension is so great. In the eighty-sixth minute, Scotland are awarded a corner kick and McColl is tempted to motion Fergusson to move away from the goals to go up the field to join his teammates in getting the ball in the hope of making something from this set piece. However he quickly shakes his head on this as he knows that he can't risk it as even some of the defenders are gathering in the penalty box awaiting for Dave Smith to take it. Nothing cannot be risked and it is down to those in dark blue to finally put a dagger into the hearts of the Germans. The whistle blows from the referee, Smith takes it and all eyes gather on the ball as it is sent towards the box as it gets closer to the players and Law uses his teammate Jimmy Johnstone as a boost to get his head on the ball. He gets a head on it and in a classic moment of slow motion he blindly headers it towards goal, not knowing if it'll be on target.

All look and the ball is heading towards the left with Tilkowski diving in the right direction to get it. But in his dismay, the ball fumbles out of his hands and crashes down over the goal line and simply rolls towards the back of the net, right in front of horrified West German supporters who can only cover their eyes at such a goalkeeping howler that has just happened...the Scots have done it by turning it around by going 2-1 up and are surely on their way to the final! Goodison erupts with such force that the stadium might rock to it's foundations, it's unknown if Goodison has ever known such cheering in all it's life and many will say that the scenes of joy from the stands was unlike anything seen in this World Cup as both Scots and Scousers alike hug each other knowing that they have all witness the winning goal that will send Scotland on a direct course for Wembley. That is if they can hang on...


Scotland fans after Law's goal and a taste of celebrations afterwards of what looks like a set course for the final.

The West Germans, despite looking all deflated following that goal, quickly recover and it seems as that Scottish goal has caused them to wake and now it is them pinning the Scotland players back in the desperate attempt to find a late goal that could take this Semi-Final to extra-time. All the Scotland can do is just hold the ball for as long as possible and not let the Germans anywhere near the box and the crowd begin to even sarcastically cheer every pass the Scottish players pass to each and boo every time a German gets a foot on the ball.

After a little spell of the Scots playing the game out, all eyes are darting towards the referee who for some reason seems to want to drag on this game for goodness knows how long and crowd begin to grow restless and whistles and jeers can be heard with such venom as it can almost be painful to hear for being that loud. Then finally at long last comes a wonderful sound...the final whistle is blown. If Goodison wasn't loud already, it reaches an almighty crescendo in which Scotland have done it as for the first time have made it to the final for the first time and not just anywhere, but Wembley!

The scenes of joy are all different yet remembered well, perhaps the most famous image being of Scotland captain John Greig holding Denis Law who is crying tears of joy of having helped his country make it to a final for the first time and is clearly overwhelmed by it all and looks like he'll collapse to the field at just the gravity of the situation. In some ways, it is almost in similar vein that of Pele crying tears of joy after Brazil won the World Cup in 1958. God knows how the man would act if Scotland do go all the way...?


Baxter embraced by some joyful Scotland fans after reaching the final
Other scenes follow in which a number of Scotland fans invade the pitch to celebrate with their heroes in a game that in some ways tops even a few famous victories over England and there is also the sight of McColl being lifted onto the shoulders of Greig and Bremner who carry him off around the pitch in which those still up on the terraces applaud him for letting them enjoy this wonderful moment; in all this no one seems to take notice of the West German players who makes a hasty exit down the tunnel towards the dressing room to escape from the Tartan invasion on the field and lick their wounds over their World Cup hopes now all but gone.

Across Scotland and in Liverpool, the Scots celebrate long into the night of making it to the final with them chanting one thing above all over than hopes of World Cup glory, "We want the English! We want the English!" A day later when England played Portugal, they, along with perhaps everyone in the British media get their wish...England defeat Portugal 2-1 and thus, the 1966 World Cup final on July 30th will see England and Scotland, the oldest footballing nations in the world, take on each other in what would be without question the biggest game ever known in British football history and the chance to be World Champions at Wembley.

The stars have lined up and now the question is who will gain the biggest prize and bragging rights of all time...?

And so yes...Scotland will face England in the final. Let's be honest, if Scotland had qualified for 1966 then this would have been the final I think many would have loved to have seen and for some of you this result isn't quite a surprise if you read the old TL and know me, however there have been improvements here and there and I do like going back fixing some horrid errors in the old TL, quite satisfying I'll saying.

Anyway next update will be ofc, well, ya know. Anyway until then, stay tuned for the final for 1966, catch you all later!
Disgusting result.

Giant Meteor over the British
Fake Germany over Portugal


As an aside, I just randomly thought, it'd be interesting to have a TL where East Germany (or some other Second Germany) actually makes appearances and somewhat performs, causing "Battle of Germany" or such.