You can tell this is Alternative History both Scotland and England go to a Tournament and outta the two of them Scotland do better. I enjoyed this update.
You can tell this is Alternative History both Scotland and England go to a Tournament and outta the two of them Scotland do better. I enjoyed this update.
Well given how the OTL 1974 Scotland team were an inch away of beating that Brazil team and were hugely unlucky not to get to the second round, they do deserve their place here. England even if they had qualified for 1974 probably wouldn't have done well given how the team was by that point.

What are you enjoying so far or what are you looking forward later on ITTL? :)
Game One
Scotland vs. West Germany
Sweden vs. England
Game Two
England vs. Scotland
West Germany
vs. Sweden
Game Three
England vs. West Germany
Sweden vs. Scotland
Well given how the OTL 1974 Scotland team were an inch away of beating that Brazil team and were hugely unlucky not to get to the second round, they do deserve their place here. England even if they had qualified for 1974 probably wouldn't have done well given how the team was by that point.

What are you enjoying so far or what are you looking forward later on ITTL? :)

For some reason, I've got a certain song that came out in 1977 playing in my head and always seems to do so when I end up reading an update and we are getting close to it it's like the Master in Doctor Who hearing drums it's driving me nuts well nuttier than usual.
Chapter 26: It's Not Gone All Well...
Chapter 26
It's Not Gone All Well...

While Northern Ireland had made an early exit home after a rather poor set of performances in the first round, it meant that both England and Scotland would be now the only British teams left in the World Cup and the 26th June would see both teams play with Scotland playing West Germany first off which would be followed by England taking on Sweden following that game. The BBC would cover the former game games live and ITV with the latter and there was great excitement for Scotland fans going into this game as they had played the Germans in a friendly the preceding year and drawn with them 1-1 which gave them hope that not only could they match that result but maybe better it (though they would lose in the reverse leg 2-1 just back in March). Indeed, there was good reason to think that if they could defeat Brazil, the now ex-World Champions, then surely the same could happen for the much fancied West Germans? On the day of the game in Düsseldorf, the Rheinstadion is filled with over sixty-seven thousand spectators with just over a thousand of them being Scots with the rest of the ground being filled up overwhelmingly the local German population.

As the teams walked out, Scotland captain Billy Bremner looked around seeing the German flags flying around and part of him had to feel a little bit sorry for the people as he was vaguely aware that since the end of the second World War, the citizens really didn't want to celebrate patriotism due them trying to live down their war time past and how any German pride might awaken some ugly thoughts; the World Cup was probably the only time the German people could have the chance to celebrate in taking pride in their country. It only seem to come to the Scotland captain to think just how lucky he and his fellow countrymen really were to show off their Scottish colours freely and in some ways that they in some ways took that fact for granted. As the two teams then lined up for the anthems, he could see the odd Scotland supporter in that mass of German fans waving a Lion Rampart flag or wearing the usual bit of, admittedly, rather tatty tartan clothing that one could easily have bought from one of those cheap tourists shops around the country (and no no doubt would have made a killing on selling them to any Scotland fans heading to West Germany), nonetheless it made them easy to be seen quite easily in the vast crowd here.

Scotland started the game in order to try and make it difficult for the Germans as they begin to keep the ball away and this causes the home fans to jeer the Scots and even their own team for not getting a grip in this game like they expected them to do. It all makes for a very strange atmosphere where it seems neither team has the backing of the support here and for the next ten minutes of the game, the Scots prevent West Germany from scoring and the longer it goes on, the jeers and whistles in the ground start to become more frequent with the small Scottish support in the ground trying their best to cheer on their players and unknown to the Scottish players was that there were many more supporters left outside the ground that didn't have a ticket but no doubt would be listening on any portable radio set to cheer their team on regardless. Finally in the fifteenth minute, Müller finally makes a shot on target but the ball but David Harvey saves it to keep the score at 0-0. Scotland manager Wille Ormond knows that if they can at least come away with a point from this game, it would set them up nicely for the next game with England, one that many have focused their attention too and one that the Scotland manager hopes that his players haven't been caught up in the hype of it all.


Scotland and West Germany lock horns in their first group game of the second round
As the game goes on, it seems like it'll be a repeat of the of the Brazil game in which the Brazilians made the mistake of underestimating the Scots and the underdog nation would go on to put them to shame by dumping them out of the World Cup, the West Germans themselves don't look all that comfortable and their fans are giving them plenty of stick up there on the terraces for good reason. Going into this game, they suffered some humiliation in which they were beaten by East Germany in their final group match to come in second place and finishing in that place for having the advantage of being the host nation did not gone down well for the locals. Speaking of which in the twenty-first minute, many Germans in the ground all have their hearts in their mouths when Joe Jordan has a golden chance to take the lead for Scotland when he slams the ball on goal but his shot is knocked over the bar by Maier and a nervous sigh of relief is felt around the stadium but it does show that this West German team might be under pressure. The chances of getting a shot on target for the hosts are pretty poor it must be said as in the first half with Scotland getting seven shots and the West Germans have only managed to poor three shots in which the Scottish goalkeeper has had not much hard saves to make though the main field of interest is in the midfield in which Bremner and his fellow Leeds United teammates in the Scotland team are all preventing the Germans from getting something from this game.

If you are Scottish, you'd be saying it is great first half, if you are Germans then it's been a dreadful half though for everyone else it has been rather insipid which hardly anything dramatic happening in which it becomes clear that the main plan for the Scots isn't to go all guns blazing but rather play the long game with the hosts until they crack and finally give them a sucker punch. That said there is really nothing to talk about in this first half other than Sandy Jardine getting a yellow card in the 43rd minute which afterwards, the first half ends 0-0 and the halftime whistle is greeted by jeers from the crowd as the teams walk off. As the West German players walk off, those fans situated around to the mouth of the players' tunnel start rubbing their fingers and thumbs together, a reference to the much-publicized dispute over bonuses that has soured the players' relations with the German public since the start of this World Cup and it would seem that that this distance between the fans and team can only be fixed if they not only show their worth in this game, but win the tournament itself.

So far, it's not all gone well at least as far as things are on the pitch. There has even been many rumoured stories in the newspapers flying around from the West German camp that some of the players have even threatened to not play in this World Cup unless their bonuses were to increase which has, wherever it's true or not, not gone down well with the German fans and has only added more fire to a now far more damaged and broken relationship between the players and supporters; as what legendary Celtic manager Jock Stein said, "football without fans is nothing." For the Scotland players who themselves were offered some, with some hindsight looking back on it, rather questionably deals that would help make them money but would turn it down, they might as well thought that they had dodged a bullet if things with the Germans are to be seen to be believed.

"Are you still on strike?!" one angry middle aged German fan yells out at his team as they sheepishly head down the tunnel; doing so, bizarrely, in English, for the benefit of the Scots. Willie Ormond smiles knowing that perhaps they can make things worse for the Germans in the second half and plans out for the players as what to expect to do in the upcoming second half...


Some other moments during the game in which Scotland hold the Germans to a 0-0 draw at the break

When it comes round for the Second half to start, the West Germans now start playing to their worth as if they have all gotten a fire placed up their backside and they do start to create good chances and the hostile crowd do seem a bit supportive to them...just a little bit. The Duel threat of Willie Morgan and Tommy Hutchinson, on the left and right flanks respectively, also prove their own worth as they fire in crosses for Joe Jordan to open the scoring and there is one such glorious moment in the fifty-seventh minute in which the ball is passed to him by Hutchinson in which not only is the goal open, it's gaping for him to score. All that happens next for every Scotsman watching that game is an almighty cry of disbelieve as Jordon slid in to tap it in, but for crazy reason, the ball somehow misses his foot by what seems like a quarter of an inch. Jorden falls to his knees before finally falling face down on the field with him absolutely sickened that he couldn't get that ball in and his teammates all have their hands on their heads all in utter shock that the best chance for Scotland has gone and now the consequences for missing such a chance could come back to haunt them.

West Germany known they have been let off the hook and, after a few bits of sweat wiped off from their foreheads after seeing that chance, they begin to make amends for themselves as the Scots now look weary as if missing that chance has sapped all the life out of them but nonetheless now seem to formulate their plan to act more on the defensive. As the game rolls on, it is starting to look likely that it is set to be a goalless draw that will not go down well of the hosts for their chances to try and win the group and reach the final. With this in mind, the Scots seem to enjoy the moment of playing the villains in this game if they are the ones about to gives the hosts nightmares. A couple of substitutions are made on both sides but neither really make much of an impact and when ones looks at both managers upon seeing their reactions over how poor the changes have been, it's unknown who is the more happier here.

By the time the game is in the seventy-sixth minute, the game is still firmly deadlocked and the crowd is now becoming more restless as the game as fear is starting to grip them as the prospect of a second, possibly crippling defeat, is on the cards as they had already suffered a major setback by East Germany last week. A sudden defeat by Scotland could be fatal for the hosts. Then not long later in the seventy-ninth minute, the West Germans, now being willed on by the desperate crowd, get a chance when Billy Bremner makes a poor touch on the ball which the ball finds it's way to the feet of Müller who then slides his way into the six yard box in which the Scottish defence is caught off guard and with this, he simply prods the goal in and Harvey goes close to try and save it, but the ball just manages to find a way under him and to his and many of his fellow countryman's horror, West Germany now lead the game 1-0 and now the Scots are the ones looking like the ones about to face defeat in this game.


The moment West Germany take the lead in the game against Scotland

From all around on the terraces and in many homes and bars across West Germany, there is an outpouring of relief from the supporters as flags suddenly are risen up and are being waved all around knowing that victory has been snatched from the jaws of defeat if they can just hang on for the final. The Scotland players all look on in despair and now they have to try and find way to snatch a point in this game if they have any ambitious going further. In the eighty-second minute, Jordon looks to be the one Scottish players trying to drag his team back into the game as he attempts a rather ambitious volley from thirty yards out from the box but instead he blasts it way over and his miss is greeted by sarcastic cheers from the large German support in the ground.

Scotland do try all they can in trying to find a goal yet no matter how hard they try or whatever skills they know of trying to save a game, they all just can't seem able to find said goal as the West Germans seem more than happier with the slender lead and as of a result, end up pulling most of their players back in order to make the defence as stack as possible to the point in which nothing can get through. To add more to the despair of the Scots, the Germans despite having much of their players back nearly make the day worse for their opponents in which in the eighty-six minute, Heinz Flohe (one of the substitutes) is given the ball and charges down the field on a counter attack in which there is hardly in Scottish player marking him and the noise in the stadium rises as there is a likely situation that the hosts are going to extend their lead.

Thankfully for the Scots, the move is prevented thanks to a late sliding tackle from Sandy Jardine who boots the ball away but alas it is only just a mere consolation as Scotland fail to make the most of it in which before long after trying to hard to break down the German defence, the final whistle is blown and the Scotland players can only look at each other with heartbroken expressions after all their effort of getting something from this game has all been for nothing. The game has ended 1-0 to West Germany and that is all that is needed to help them get on their way for what they hope is reaching the final. For the Scots, the pressure is now more intense as they have to win their next game and the one after that to have any chance of getting to the final, and it's against England of all teams they have to pressure then.


A despair ridden Bremner after Scotland's defeat to West Germany

Speaking of England, later that day the English would play Sweden in Stuttgart and hoped that they could do better than what had happened for their rivals. After hearing about Scotland's loss to West Germany, Sir Alf Ramsay knew that England had to simply beat the Swedes in order to have any chance of making it to, what he was hoping for, a straight third final in a row. That all being said, his players, his staff and several travelling FA officials all noticed that he looked rather uncomfortable at the start of the day and had seemingly gotten more nervous an hour before kick off. What was wrong? He was in fear. Fear for failing and facing the wrath of the tabloid press though admittedly his fears were understandable if anyone knew their history.

Back in 1958, England had defeated by Sweden, who had been the hosts in that World Cup in the Quarter-Finals and ever since then, the England manager and several players who had been playing at that World Cup and had this uncomfortable feeling about playing the Scandinavians and all this wasn't including the fact that the Swedes were a damn good team. They themselves had always had played their part in any World Cup and this World Cup was no exception in which while they had managed two 0-0 draws and a 3-0 hammering of Uruguay in the first round, they had gone through unbeaten so it would be utterly foolish of anyone to simply write off the Swedes as they weren't a Brazil or West Germany.

Nonetheless just prior to the game starting, there is a great sea of people in the stadium at Stuttgart and the England fans are making themselves know by flying a sea of Union and St George Crosses flags in their end of the ground, yet Ramsay is possibly the only Englishmen watching that game knowing that it won't be all plain sailing for them. When the game does start, neither side really show their worth early on in the game despite the knowledge that whoever might win this game had a damn good chance of going through to the final depending on other results to follow. To most of the England fans watching the game in the first ten minutes, there is a sense of frustration that their side is wasting chances and making various slack passes in which the Swedes have no trouble in stopping the English from getting anywhere.


England players line up for their game with Sweden
England do get a great chance in the fifteenth minute in which Alan Ball after running through a sea of yellow shirts goes for goal but alas his shot instead cannons off the crossbar and the Swedes survive another day. The English though over the next five minutes do seem to have a lot more touches on the ball compared to the Swedes but alas the frustrating thing for the English supporters watching as they want to see goals as they are needed now. However in the 27th minute in the game with the game still at 0-0, Mick Channon sends home a rocket of a shot that hits the back of the net and it seems that England have the breakthrough...or do they? For some odd reason, the Uruguayan referee rules the goal offside which to the confusion of the English and this is quickly replaced by outrage.

Norman Hunter has a few rough words to say to the referee though to add to this troubles he is given a yellow card from the referee after getting into an argument over a goal in which he felt he was wrongly ruled offside. It is stupid booking to get with Ramsay sitting on the bench shaking his head in disbelieve, his mood not improving in the slightest. Nonetheless, England keep pressing to try and find the opening goal and it seems that the supporters won't have long to wait for in the thirty-first minute of the game, some hope for England does arrive when Mick Channon attempts a shot at the goal which looks like a repeat of Alan Ball's goal but this time the Swedish keeper Hellstrom makes a brilliant save to deny England the chance of breaking the deadlock.

The game is difficult to make who will come out of top as it is a very open game with both sides very evenly matched. Those at home watching on TV while sitting on their chairs must've been wondering when the goals would come from and who would score them. Slowly and surely as the game enters the final ten minutes of the first half, England are by far the more dominate team and the travelling England support are greatly excited by what they are seeing as it hopefully gives them an idea of who might be the better team in this game. Despite a couple of chances coming for Sweden, England are clearly the better team here yet have failed to get the ball into the back of the net. Then in the 43rd minute, a goal is scored by a bad error from the keeper which sends one of the stadium in raptures...but it's not England.

Yes, it is against all the odds that it turns out that the Swedes have broken the deadlock. Ralf Edstrom, the goal scorer celebrates wildly with teammates and supporters while the English part of the ground are silent. What makes it more painful for England is that the goal came from a sudden counter attack and in that moment England were left exposed and Ray Clemence despite his best efforts can do nothing to stop it. In that moment, Ramsay's fears about the Swedes seem to be about to come true. His moment of shock is quickly replaced by anger in which he yells at the players to get back into the game, but with just two minutes left, they fail to find a quick fire equaliser and they walked off, despite looking like the better team throughout the game, 1-0 down at the end of the first half with their own supporters booing them as they head down the tunnel. What on earth were they going to do now?


Sweden celebrate their goal against England

There are a lot of words expressed at halftime between Ramsay and the players over what to do and the word for the England manager is just keep it up as sooner or later they will break down the Swedes and get the goal they feel that they deserve. To England's credit, they do start bossing the Swedes around at the start of the second half and it would seem that they are very likely going to score, yet the cunning Swedes 'park-the-bus' on England and for the rest of the game keep them out from scoring. It is not a good look and the English players are all showing signs of frustration that they can't seem to play their style of game and the best they can do is just keeping trying and hope Ramsay's prediction becomes true.

The best chance so far for England in the second half in which the English have a corner kick in the fifty-seventh minute in which Channon finds his head on the ball and attempts to header the ball onto goal, however Hellstrom pulls off a masterful save from close range in which he barely has time to knock it over the bar which all in the end helps keep the Swedes in the lead in this game at least for now. That said Sweden aren't resting on their laurels so easily as about six minutes later after that chance for England, Roland Sandberg attempts for a shot on target himself but alas his shot blazes over the bar. Nonetheless, it does show that England have to be careful if they wish to avoid going further behind.

In the sixty-ninth minute, Ramsey decides to make a substitute in which turns out that he takes off Allan Clarke, who for the most part has done not much in this game and in his place turns out to be a young Kevin Keegan who now makes his first appearance at the World Cup and from the get go, he does seem to make a difference as he tries to convert chances but sadly much like the rest of the team he can't seem to find a way through that frustratingly stack Swedish defence that clearly have no intention in letting their guard down and show that they too want to win this game.

Mick Channon during the match with Sweden

After eighty-three minutes and with all the pressing coming from England, they still haven't been able to score and there is now an ever growing feeling among any Englishman that this World Cup looks like it might be slipping away from them and now the Swedish supporters are the ones making all the noise in the ground. However in that eighty-six minute would be the moment that would be of great controversy for England. Kevin Keegan during a move near the box is brought down right on the edge the by one of the Swedish defenders and every English person either on the field terrace or back home all cry out for a penalty. Surely they deserve this after all the hard work they have been trying?

Alas, for some bizarre reason which nobody knows why, the referee waves off the penalty claim by only booking the Swedish defender who made the foul but then points for a goal kick to take place. Uproar. Cries of 'Cheat! Cheat! Cheat!' can be heard from the England end of the ground who feel that the referee has made a foolish mistake of not giving England the penalty, not to mention that they perhaps deserve it after the way England have dominated the game. From the bench, Sir Alf Ramsay's fears about Sweden are going to be proven right unless something can happen late on.

However despite the Swedes not being able to find the back of the net, the game eventually ends 1-0 to Sweden and the English walk off feeling dejected knowing that things now seem impossible for making the final though there is a great deal of anger among many that they might have been cheated from getting a result of some kind just to get them off the mark. To make matters worse for them to add to the pressure, Scotland lie in wait who in turn are needing a win to do anything in this World Cup. In conclusion, it has been a bad day for the British teams as it's not gone all well though the next game would be well documented though not in the ways anyone would have imagined...

Oh dear, it's not gone well for either England or Scotland here with both losing 1-0. Next update will be England vs Scotland in West Germany and the question is who will be the one that has the better chance of going through or will they and what do I hint at near the end of this chapter? Until then, find out next time!
Chapter 27: The Battle Of Frankfurt
Chapter 27
The Battle of Frankfurt

The Waldstadion in Frankfurt, West Germany - June 30th 1974. A day and football fixture that would be remembered by the supporters or anyone from England and Scotland but not for all the reasons one might think. On that morning all across the UK, there was a great deal of anticipation, excitement and quite a good deal of tension as June 30th would be the day that England and Scotland would play each other, not for the first time, in crucial World Cup match in which both sides badly needed a win in order to keep their hopes of reaching to the final alive. Why was this? Due to the strange way this second group stage had been designed with only the group winner being able to reach the final and with the English and Scots both losing their opening matches, anything other than a victory for either would mark the end of the road for both nations in the tournament.

The build up to the game was extreme; arguably much more so than when the two nations faced each other in a World Cup final nearly ten years ago, with many pundits calling the game hard to call by and with the game being played on a Sunday, many would be at home from work to watch the game with a kick-off time at four in the afternoon and viewing figures in Britain alone were expected to range some where just under twenty-five million to watch the game live. Though this might have not been the final and in the big picture of things it was just another World Cup fixture in the eyes of the rest of the world, it felt as though there was so much at stake than just the usual bragging rights that came whoever would win these games and many in pubs and living rooms around the country could feel tension grip them as it got closer to kick off. It was a hard feeling to say why other than both needed the victory and defeat or even a draw would pretty much kill of both had to reach the final.

That all said, all those sitting at home or in pubs preparing to watch the game weren't the only ones though feeling the pressure. Over in Frankfurt where the game was to be played, the traveling support for both sides felt even worse for they could not only feel tension throughout the day but in cases could almost taste it which said everything for how the situation was. With such trepidation in the air it was almost a certainty there would be fights taking place prior before the game even started and the German police had to step in to break out various skirmishes that were happening between English and Scottish supporters and many of the huge crowd going to the game didn't even have a ticket for the match and just seemed there to purely cause trouble, at least as what the local German police thought so.

There was also another and perhaps more important edge that many officials from both football associations had been fearing that that was a worst kept secret in British football that most politicians didn't know or even wanted to know about and that was a now emerging problem of football hooligans. The stories about hooligans across the United Kingdom have been well documented over the years though the origins of they came about from theories about broken families, mass unemployment that gripped the country in the 1970's and feeling like they were shunned by the rest of British society were all suggested; only thing that was certain is that football hooligans were starting to become more and more frequently at club level since the start of the decade and was only starting to get seen at now international level in which included England and Scotland and the last thing anyone wanted was the whole world to see an almighty football riot to take place at a World Cup with the whole world to see it.


Some relaxed Scotland fans heading to the game, though they would be rather the minority out of the many thousands there

Even as the supporters who had tickets were led into the ground, It only seemed to get worse as when the large crowd was packed into the Waldstadion at near capacity as the local police didn't think of segregating the supporters and this not only was a foolish situation in which the local authorities had utterly failed to read the situation and the rivalry between the two supporters, it only helped make the situation into being a very likely to be a powder keg. At one point with just ten minutes to go until kick off, another scuffle broke out between rival supporters, this time in the stadium and although the police quickly stop the fight it did very little to ease the tension and vile chanting that was being heard all around the stadium and several German neutrals in the crowd who simply wanted to see this famous fixture in the flesh all felt trapped and probably wished they'd stayed at home.

The stadium was turning into a cauldron of hate and the longer it seemed to take until the players would appear then the more likely it was for things to quite literally spill onto the pitch so when the players did arrive to be led onto the pitch by the East German referee they were greeted the with sight of Union and Lion rampart flags being waved across the ground, chanting and an almighty sigh of relief to the police in the ground who could only hope that they wouldn't be needed for anymore and that a crises had been averted. That said when the England and Scotland teams walked out onto the field, they were shocked to see the huge police presence that were lined up around the ground that were facing the supporters; it was unlike anything they had ever seen either at Wembley or Hampden Park and clearly there was a hostile atmosphere in the air that the German police were not wanting to take chances with.

Finally after what felt like an age from early in the morning that had the whole country on the edge all day, the game would finally start and one German police officer years later would describe the roar that greeted the first kick of the ball as one of the loudest he'd ever heard in not just this World Cup but rather at any football ground he'd been to. Just like the thousands of fans here in Frankfurt, the players all had a point to prove with it most likely being with England due to to the fact that in their last game with Scotland at Hampden Park in May in the Home Championship, they had lost 2-0 in which the Scots had gone on to win the Championship that year. Now with just a month later after that game, here was the great chance to not only get revenge on the Scots, but knock them out of the World Cup with a win.


Early moments of the game between England and Scotland

Though Scotland might have won the last tie rather comfortably, everyone knows that in derby games like this, anything can change quickly and it wasn't out of the realms of possibility and a 5-0 hammering from England like what they had inflected upon the Scots a year ago for what was the SFA's centenary celebrations could honestly happen again here in Frankfurt. Nonetheless in the early moments of the most recent game between the two rivals, the game itself wasn't a graceful nor a scrappy affair as both sides seemed to take great care with the ball and the first half alone hadn't really been all the exciting game it had been built up in the press for with the commentators and many watching at home all wondering when things would really kick-off.

The only thing to note was not relating to the field but rather the actions of the Scotland and England supporters both trying to out chant each other which made for quite a strange yet amusing experience. In the thirteenth minute however, the game finally came to life when England took an advantage on with Martin Peters almost scoring for England but his attempt is saved by David Harvey who knocks it up over the bar to prevent England getting the early lead. The game itself is noticeable for having many of the players for both sides playing for Leeds United with half of the Scottish team alone having Leeds connections and it had been joked that a Leeds civil war was on the cards with the makeup of this tie and no doubt when the players were to return to Leeds Untied after the World Cup, there would no doubt be some interesting questions asked.

Then in the twenty-third minute of the first half, Scotland are awarded a corner kick and Jimmy Johnstone takes it and it flies over a sea of heads in the box before connecting with that of Joe Jordon who sends the ball thundering downward past the hands of Ray Clemence into the bottom left of the goal and it is a goal that fires Scotland into the lead, their fans in raptures and hopefully maybe a critical goal that keeps Scotland's World Cup hopes alive. The German police look on with nervous expressions at the Tartan Army not knowing what was more dangerous; a drunken Scot celebrating or a drunken and furious Englishman wanting to fight each other. Pretty much any hopes of peaceful game at least of what was happening up on the terraces seemed very much misguided.


Jordon celebrates his opening goal that puts Scotland in front

Afterwards, the game starts to come to life though it is quite a brutal affair with both sides tackling and fouling each other with perhaps little consequence that they would be booked or sent off, the latter of which has, amazingly, never happened in the amount of games the two sides have played in. In the twenty-seventh minute, there has been already been three yellow cards for John Blackly, Terry Cooper and Jim Holton respectively and the fourth comes about when Norman Hunter brings down Scotland captain and his fellow Leeds United teammate Billy Bremner and although Hunter is booked, Bremner gets up and starts ranting in perhaps the most Scottish way possible towards Hunter using so many swear words under the sun and crying out that he hates his guts all of this despite being his teammate at club level. The situation of those watching what can be either an argument or a meltdown depending on who you ask is quite amusing in the middle of a this powder keg of a game and it hasn't gotten to the half hour mark, let alone half-time.

Willie Ormond and Sir Alf Ramsay, The two managers for Scotland and England respectably, stand there on the touchline glancing at each other with Ramsay being the more nervous of the two and for good reason. He had faced a vile reception by the English media following their defeat to Sweden and many were now calling for his head should they lose to Scotland which would surely end their World Cup hopes. To be an England manager and lose your last game in charge would be a terrible thing, but even worse if it was to Scotland and at a World Cup. England do try to push forward but Scotland seem more than happy to hang onto their 1-0 lead and play defensive football. As the first half winds down, the Tartan Army are making most of the noise in the ground with them chanting, 'If you hate the fucking English clap your hands'.

Despite Scotland holding onto the lead, throughout the final ten minutes of the game, England do look better with them having more of the ball and even some of the Scottish players, either thinking of the first half ending already or perhaps even what might happen next, make some foolish mistakes with one such embarrassing moment coming in the thirty-ninth minute when Jim Holton has the ball but suffers from a slip which has him lose the ball, much to the amusement of the English support and accidently lets the ball roll off the field for an England throw in Nonetheless despite England looking the better team prior the end, they fail to turn their chances into goals in which the first half ends right after Keegan almost scores a great chance that just goes wide of the post and the players walk of with England 1-0 down still.


In the heart of the action as England try to find the equaliser just before the break

Yet despite many wanting all things to happen on the field, one would imagine that sooner or later another scuffle would break out in the stands and sadly it does with terrible scenes, thankfully not caught on camera due to this being in the middle of half-time, the two teams are inside their dressing rooms and unaware of what is going on outside in which there is the sorry sight of two bloody faced Scotland and England fans who have gone on at whack a glass beer bottle at each other causing the blood the drip down their clothes. It is not the atmosphere nobody wanted for a family and it is just another example of how huge this game really is for both these teams. As it stood though, England looked liked they were going to be heading home and Scotland would be staying a little longer in West Germany...

Throughout the interval just before the second half begins, the German security try all they can to try and calm down the two sets of supporters as several fights in random pockets in the ground take place among the huge crowd of nearly fifty-eight thousand packed in the ground. Indeed years later, the head of the German police there had even considered stopping the game should things get more violent though others would blame the poor planning and operations that had seen the rather foolish and dangerous idea of putting both fans together instead of segregating them which honestly seemed to be causing a lot of the problems here. Lord knows if this operation was carried out with a crowd three times this size at either Wembley or Hampden Park..

Finally, upon with the players returning the field, the second half gets underway and it seems that after quite a big team talk that Ramsay has had with his players, England start to play much better and the Scots' original idea of holding back is seemly ruined as the England forwards all start to bring more chance of a goal for the team and Peters nearly scores in the forty-seventh minute, only for Scotland's David Harvey to make a vital save in the bottom left corner. Despite the save, England fans start to find their voice again after seeing the good play that their team is showing early on in this second half. Willie Ormond then makes a substitution just two minutes later after that chance in which Gordon McQueen goes on for Jim Holton after Ormond fears that the tension from the terraces is starting to get to him after it looks like the tackles he's been performing could see him being sent off.

Despite England having the better half in terms of possession, they just can't seem to find the goal and it looks like it could be a repeat of the Sweden game in which all Scotland need to do is defend all game. Then in the fifty-six minute of the game, Alan Ball attempts to cross the ball over to Allan Clarke just on the very edge of the box, however Sandy Jardine makes a rotten lunge in on the Englishman to get the ball off him and instead it only causes the Arsenal player to come crashing down right on the edge of the box. It looks like it might be a freekick for England in a rather tempting area, however every Scotsman is shocked when the referee blows his whistle and points to the spot for a penalty to England. The England fans in the ground roar in delight and the Scottish players all start protesting to the East German referee that challenge didn't happen in the box. However despite the fierce protests, it is still going to be a penalty and it'll be down to Kevin Keegan to take it and hopefully get England back level.


All flying heads during the second half between the two teams
With little error (as well as perhaps a good deal of praying from many Englishmen), he slots the ball past Harvey right down the middle with great confidence and England are back in the game in which while it has been a goal that the Three Lions have deserved, time is now running out for one of teams to find a winner that will save their World Cup; as it stands a draw for both will be terminal for both sides. The supporters are giving it their all which rubs off the players as in the sixty-first minute, Bremner and Trevor Brooking come together as the as the former tries to get the ball of the Englishman's feet, but they end up being rather tangled up and the fiery Scot finally loses his cool and elbows the England player in the face and sends him crashing to the ground with him covering his face.

The England players, bench and supporters both in the ground and watching the game back home all cry out for the referee to get involved and sure enough, he does. But to the horror of the Scots, the referee brings out a red card for Bremner. much like regarding the penalty, the Scottish players protest angrily as they surround the referee and their up-close nature is so that Joe Jordon finds himself booked just getting right up into the face of the East German referee. It seems that now half of the Scottish team is booked and any discipline they had has now fallen apart. Despite them trying all they can to reverse the choice, Bremner has to do the walk of shame and the Scotland captain gains the unwanted reputation of being the very first player to be sent off in a England/Scotland match; an award that no one will want to have.

Things aren't any better with the Tartan Army, now feeling great frustration of how things are now not going their way, try to pick a fight with their English counterparts on the terraces and the police try their best to stop the game turning into a bloodbath though the players and vaguely aware of something going on up in the stands, all they can do is keep their head down and play the game and hope the matter can be solved sooner or later. For any any sporting journalist watching crowd it has become something like that of a bad tempered rock concert that will sooner or later end with a riot and given the reputation of hooligans being here, the worst case scenario looks to be on the cards for all concern. With the Scots now down to ten men, the English seen a good chance to try and use this to their advantage to try and win the game.


Kevin Keegan, the scorer of England's equaliser, during the second half of the match

Yet the Scots, with their plans more or less ruined, can only try and play deep trying to keep at bay a rampant English onslaught inside the Scottish defence with the game now turning something like that of the Alamo with the Scots only very occasionally making some chances to get forward, but most the chances seen are English. With just ten minutes to go and despite England now looking like a team up and running, the score for some crazy reason remains 1-1 thanks to some desperate and dogged Scottish defending though as it would stand, England and Scotland would both find themselves crashing out of this World Cup with their last group games being nothing more than glorified friendlies unless one of them can find a winner.

To add to the mad situation unfolding here in Frankfurt, there has also now has been a total of eight bookings altogether and pretty much shows just what a violent and brutal game it has been that hasn't been a good advert for British football in contrast to the breathless 4-3 both sides played in the last World Cup. The Scots have done themselves good by holding off the furious English assault but it can't last forever as then in the eighty-eighth minute, Allan Clarke finally breaks through the Scottish defence and puts the ball into the back of the net which looks as though as put England in front, saved their World Cup hopes and finally kill of Scotland's World Cup hopes. However his celebrations are short lived when for some reason, the East German referee chalks of the goal and there seemly isn't any sign of offside flag being shown in which confuses both sides. It is pretty much a resemblance of the Sweden game with much like that penalty not being awarded, so too has been what looks like a perfectly good goal for the Three Lions

The England players now angrily protest not being given the goal and the English supporters cry out, 'Dirty German bastard!' at the referee. However the Scots have been let off the hook, a rather big hook, and yet still have a slim chance to snatch a winner from the jaws of defeat and instead turn the tables on the English. Alas, time is now near it's end. Despite the yelling and chanting become more intense from both supporters as the game enters it's final few moments, both sides throw out any plans they might've had before and Scotland start pushing forward to strike home the final blow. However in the end, neither side can score and before anyone knows it, the whistle is blown to end the game at 1-1 and for both sides hopes in this World Cup. England and Scotland have caused each other to crash out of the tournament, something that one couldn't make up.


The reaction that says it all at the end of the game

An almighty roar of booing roars around the ground as at firsts, fans on both sides cry out abuse at their teams before many walk off out of the stadium dejected with their World Cup hopes now all but at an end. While the game itself would be a rather sad affair for both teams, the game itself would not be remembered but sadly for another reason after the game in which why it would become infamous in the history of British football but perhaps in all of the World Cup. An event to be known as 'The Battle of Frankfurt'. With the tension that had been building up at the start of the day, the random fights in an unsegregated stadium, poor police tactics, much alcohol that was latter found to be consumed by both sets of supporters and finally the final result which ended both teams' hopes of reaching the final, it could only end one way.

Feeling angry and upset at what has happened, the bad police handling saw both fans meeting outside the ground in which given the circumstances of what had happened which like a red rag to a bull and thus from what was a handful of supporters would soon snowball and erupt into a huge street brawl in the city of Frankfurt in which England and Scotland fans decided to let their boiling frustrations at each other in a event that nearly lasted for the next few hours and with the cameras present on seeing this horrible scenes of vandalism and brawling happening, it was the worst case scenario that the FA and SFA had feared would happen and now they could only watch in despair as Britain's dirty little secret of football hooligans was there for all the world to see.

Though the police would eventually control the situation which saw over six hundred people arrested and many more either deported back to the UK are injured in what can be described as one of the worst scenes of football hooligan violence ever seen. The day itself at that point is said to be the darkest moment of British football in which FIFA and the Frankfurt authorities fine the FA and SFA an undisclosed sum of money, which is rumour to be in the millions though there is no way of confirming this, over the failure to control their supporters and even another from FIFA and UEFA who threaten that they will ban the two nations should something like this should ever happen again. To sum it up for the rest of the world watching on, one German journalist who had been at the Frankfurt game and saw what happened would later write down on the front page of one Germans newspaper saying, 'No football please, we're British' as it showed a picture of the fans fighting each other on the streets.


Rare news footage of a scene from the 'Battle of Frankfurt'

The anti-climax would be made more apparent on 3rd July when both teams played their final group games with England losing 1-0 to the hosts and eventually winners West Germany and Scotland losing 2-1 to Sweden who would make it to the third-place game where they'd lose to Argentina. Thankfully there wasn't anymore hooligan action in which a combination of deportation and many supporters who just wanted to go home following the draw though in a classic case of the tabloid twisting the truth around, they went to town on the former in saying about ten thousand supporters had all been deported from West Germany and would be facing lifetime bans though the reality was that the number of those who were was in fact much lower but alas, it seemed like everyone wanting to stick the knife into the football supporters.

Speaking of which, the fallout from Frankfurt would mark serious changes for the game in the UK going forward. With the whole world having seen the shameful scenes action was needed though the question was in terms of the international game of what to do. The rather brutal answer would be, as suggested by one certain Jock Stein was to end the British Home Championship in which he had felt, at least from a Scottish perspective, that only the England game and beating them seemed to be all the Scottish supporters cared about and that they should think that there was more to world than just playing England, not to mention the huge amount of money the SFA was getting in compared to most games in the Home Championship. It had been an idea he had thought about for a while now and with the thought of nationalism being bred from these games as well as more hooligan action happening, it would be with a heavy heart that the FA and SFA would announce that the 1975 Home Championship would be the final one though both the FAW and IFA were not happy at the news fearing the money they'd lose out all on what they said were a handful of mindless hooligans who had ruined it for everyone and that this tournament had been sacrificed just to please those at the top.

Many supporters shared the sentiment of the latter two associations but with hindsight and in a ever increasing world, the old Home Championship was looking more dated the more times each of the Home Nations went to the World Cup and the more money that was awarded for those who did make it, many soon began to take on Stein's mindset. The following year in May, the very last Home Championship was played in which ultimately England would win by beating Scotland 5-1 at Wembley and it was a bittersweet outcome in which that championship marked the end of an era. An era in which the Home Nations would no longer play each other, even talks of at least games between England and Scotland could carry on were shot down (likely in the wake of the Frankfurt scenes) and thus a brave new world appeared that was far greater than those games in the British Isles. The Home Championship would be nothing more than memories and while there have been countless talks in the decades since then to bring back the games, they have often come to nothing. The next tournament to see a post-Home Championship world would be Euro 1976 and who, if any, would make it. A strange new world had opened up...

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Final results of England and Scotland's second round games at the 1974 World Cup

Well then, 1974 ended with a bang though not for all the right reasons. Quite similar to how it all happened in the old TL though the consequences here are far more in which in big twist of history is that the Home Championship is over in 1975 and thus many things such as Wembley 1977 and NI winning it permanently in 1984 are all butterflied away sadly and even more sad from a Scottish perspective is that poor old Stewart Kennedy will be the last thing we'll remember of Scotland in that tournament which in a way makes this both a Dystopian and Utopian TL all at once. Not sure what to think of that.

Anyway, the idea of getting rid of the Home International much earlier than OTL has more truth to it than you'd think in which Jock Stein did say that it should be stopped but alas it carried on for many years afterwards which did see attendances, other than the Scotland/England games, fall away. This does happen here with perhaps a very good excuse to finally end it which in terms of hooligan action might be a good or bad thing depending on who you ask. So yeah, Euro 1976 is next and this is first big change that never happened in the old TL and if you are Welsh, you might say that an old wrong will be righted...

Before we go though for those who are interested how the other group went, here it is:

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So there we are, what did you think and what changes to you see coming in either Euro 1976 or beyond? Fair to say a lot of butterflies will all be at work here going forward so I hope you enjoyed and until next time, catch you all later! :)

Coulsdon Eagle

Monthly Donor
I would have clicked Like but...

The post itself is excellent, and totally credible. Neither team was that good at the time, and you have captured the off-field "activities" in an entirely rational manner - the alcohol-fueled clashes that would not be ended until the 21st Century in England's case.

Like didn't seem to be right. How about "Excellent but horrible"?

Coulsdon Eagle

Monthly Donor
Was constantly surprised the England team was not banned from tournaments - I suppose TV money talked. I was unlucky enough to be in Belgium in 2000 (on a non-football trip) when our thugs decided to demolish the centre of Charleroi. I have seldom felt more ashamed of being English that evening. Was also the last time I saw armed police on the Franco-Belgian border which had been deserted for years.
I would have clicked Like but...

The post itself is excellent, and totally credible. Neither team was that good at the time, and you have captured the off-field "activities" in an entirely rational manner - the alcohol-fuelled clashes that would not be ended until the 21st Century in England's case.

Like didn't seem to be right. How about "Excellent but horrible"?
Suppose that is about right, a riot in the middle of the World Cup between two British teams would pretty much have seen the Home Internationals ended much sooner than OTL so yes, it may seem like a kneejerk reaction to happened here in Frankfurt but alas it is all plausible if this had all happened.
Was constantly surprised the England team was not banned from tournaments - I suppose TV money talked. I was unlucky enough to be in Belgium in 2000 (on a non-football trip) when our thugs decided to demolish the centre of Charleroi. I have seldom felt more ashamed of being English that evening. Was also the last time I saw armed police on the Franco-Belgian border which had been deserted for years.
True, then again this is the start of big named stars in football and the sponsors they had if you remember earlier ITTL such as George Best, then many of the stars of the day came from the English leagues and yes it is rather a big contradiction that FIFA would lay it heavy to both sides yet considering how many players in the 1970's that were getting star recognition such as Keegan, FIFA would not want to lose any good sponsor money. All a bit of backing two horses in the race but then again that is the world of FIFA when it comes to making money.

Thanks for your comments all the same.
Chapter 28: The Dragon's (Violent) Centenary - 1976 European Championship
Chapter 28
The Dragon's (Violent) Centenary


Just two years after West Germany would lift the World Cup for the second time in their own backyard, it would be time for the fifth European Championship to take place, but for those on the British Isles, it would be a special year for one of the Home Nations. 1976 would mark the centenary of the Football Association of Wales (FAW) from it's formation and the association had wanted to mark this occasion with some big games to celebrate this which included three friendly games against all the other British Home Nations, though it must be said things for the Home Nations had gone all very different following the fallout of the now infamous Battle of Frankfurt (or Frankfurt Riots as some would call it) over the fact that the 1975-76 football season would mark the first time in which the Home International Championship, running since 1884, would not be played and for something that had been part of the British sporting calendar for what felt like generations, it felt like a big hole in the mindset of many. One of the biggest fears about it was that it had helped breed hooligan action in which now the British authorities were now trying to stamp out as best they could and by stopping the Home International was seen as a sign that they were taking great steps to tackle it though many argued that it was used as a scapegoat to throw under the bus and there were much bigger problems in regards to hooligans such as that was being clearly seen at club level; something that the Home Intentional had nothing to do with as just a year later following the World Cup, the European Cup final in Paris with Leeds United and Bayern Munich would be one of great controversy in which a set of rather infamous and quite honestly biased decisions from the referee would see not only Leeds lose in the aftermath saw their fans go on the rampage in Paris to let out their anger. An event well documented and so fierce not only were Leeds were banned for four years from playing in Europe but it had even made some in UEFA seriously consider to abandoning the tournament altogether. Another low in what many on the continent saw of British football hooligans causing chaos.

That all said it was rather an irony in which the anniversary celebrations would bring the Home Nations together, albeit all in Wales with the first of the anniversary matches being played at Wrexham's Racecourse Ground on March 24th when Scotland were invited to play in a friendly to mark the hundredth anniversary of the first game the Welsh football team had played which just so happened to be Scotland on that occasion which had had been played all the way back on March 25th 1876. It had ended in a 4-0 defeat to Wales on that occasion and it would be a 3-1 defeat suffered on Wales' centenary which might have not been what the FAW had wanted, two more games with Northern Ireland and England in May would all be a mixed bag with a 1-0 victory over the Ulstermen at Swansea's Vetch Field and finally a 1-0 defeat to England at Cardiff's Ninian Park. However those friendlies were sandwiched in between what was perhaps an arguably far more important tie with Yugoslavia which was in fact a two legged play-off Quarter-Final battling it out for a place at Euro 1976. The other Home Nations had mixed fortunes in which England and Northern Ireland just missed out both finishing in second place, Scotland would also make the last eight though they would eventually suffer in a 3-1 aggregate defeat to West Germany. What better way for the Welsh football team to mark it's centenary by not only qualifying for a major tournament, but for being the only Home Nation to do so and end ten long and frustrating years for their supporters of not being able to make it to a major finals?

That said things weren't easy, in the first leg of the tie in Zagreb they would lose 1-0 which meant they had it all to do it in the second leg in Cardiff. That said the absence of a Home Intentional Championship would in fact despite the sad loss be a blessing in disguise. Without having to worry about those games, it meant that Wales manager Mike Smith could focus all attention on the tie and it would be memorable night in which Wales would win 3-1 thanks to a double from Ian Evans and a penalty from Wales captain Terry Yorath and finally Wales would end a decade away in the football wilderness though what should of been a happy moment for Welsh football, things sadly in that game at Ninian Park would be remember for things off the park and how the Yugoslavs would somehow find a twelve man in the form of the referee. The referee, Rudi Glockner, was a native of East Germany and the FAW would make the horrendous choice of raising the flag of West Germany by mistake, leaving Glockner not too happy to say the least and it was claimed by some of the Welsh players that the referee would not start the game until the East German flag was flown above the stadium. It appeared that the damage to referee’s ego had already been done but that was only the tip of the iceberg that followed.


Just a scene that says it all during the tie in Cardiff
The game itself would be infamous for a number of questionable choices by the referee such as penalty that wasn't given to Wales only for not long later award the Yugoslavs a penalty of their own which would put them 2-0 up on aggerated and left the Welsh fans there furious of the feeling they were being robbed; the infamous events of the European Cup Final between Leeds United and Bayern Munich of the previous year would have been felt for Yorath who had been in that game must have felt a sense of lightning striking twice. Though Wales would buckle down and strike back with the goals needed, it seemed that most of the anger of the Welsh fans was directed at the referee. Much of the things that happened such as disallowed goals, Yorath even missing a second penalty in second half and the referee, fearful of the atmosphere in the ground would rush over to Mike Smith on the bench to warn him that if the unruly Welsh fans couldn't settle down then the game was in danger of being abandoned. Thankfully the latter didn't happen though by that point even as what was a great moment for Wales quickly descended into chaos in which many Welsh fans mixed with joy of finally qualifying and much anger fuelled by alcohol and the actions of the East German referee, a pitch invasion followed in which many running over towards the referee to confront him and would he barely get out of there as he made it down the tunnel while avoiding several missiles from the crowd.

The Yugoslavs didn't cover themselves as humble losers in which the Yugoslavian players were also getting a tirade of verbal abuse thrown their way – so much so that as Jurica Jerkovic entered the players’ tunnel, he walked back out and punching a Welsh fan overhanging the tunnel which did little to calm the situation in what had turned into a near riot. With the memories of British hooligans causing chaos in Frankfurt and in Paris both still fresh in the mind, the violent and horrible scenes of fights in the terraces and the violent pitch invasion that followed were the last thing that anyone wanted and all this did not gone unnoticed by UEFA who quickly acted upon what had had happened and the scenes in Cardiff did jeopardised Wales’ chances of participating in the European Championship but also a ban from qualifying for the 1980 European Championships. UEFA initially banned Wales from entering for Euro 1976 and looked like in truly horrible situation in which their chance to appear at a major tournament after ten years was going to be cruelly yanked away. Much frantic negation and talks happened to try and overturn the ban with the FAW pointing out that all the scenes wouldn't have happened if the referee hadn't played such a poor game in which in turn caused the crowd to turn ugly and also pointed that unlike the English and Scottish supporters, this was a one of for the Welsh that would surely never happen again.

Amazingly, UEFA did agree with some of the questionable performances that day and thus, the sanction was later reduced to just banning Wales playing fixtures held in Cardiff for the near future. After all that, Wales were now going going to the European Championship though many wary that Wales were very damn well lucky to even going after all what had happened. Still, as the sole British team at the tournament, much attention from the British press was placed on the Welsh football team and there many messages of good luck from various politicians and even one memorable meeting on the day that the Welsh team would fly out from Cardiff Airport they would encounter the Prince of Wales himself, Prince Charles, who wished them all the best and pointed out that after the Welsh rugby team this year had also gone out and won the Grand Slam in the Five Nations that it was a good year for Welsh sport though admitted that if the Welsh were to be victorious out there then he did promise to have a word with Her Majesty to award OBE's and maybe even Knighthoods in the event of a Welsh triumph. All sounded very good though as they flew off for the continent, the location of the tournment? The Netherlands. That said, there were some FAW officials on the plane expressing some regret that for the FAW's centenary that the tournament wasn't being hosted in Wales though in truth, it really could have been a thing.

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Locations of the stadiums used for Euro 1976

When Wales reached the Quarter-Finals for Euro 1976, the location of the finals hadn't been chosen yet but some in the FAW had been hoping that for this being a special year that UEFA would award Wales the hosting rights for the tournament. Of course, this never happened as the Netherlands were awarded to host the tournament and Welsh hopes to do this were severely undermined by a war of words with UEFA over allowing them to go over the violent scenes in Cardiff in which seemed to kill of any hopes Wales had to host and some even said that the Welsh should've been considered that they were even going to the tournament. However, even without the hooligan action that happened that day, it seemed though that the FAW's hopes of hosting the tournament were over before things had started. The plan would have been that Cardiff's Arms Park and Swansea's Vetch Field would both host the Semis with the former going on to host the final, however there was a third stadium to host the Third-Place match which would be Wrexham's Racecourse Ground. Something that many FAW officials based in the north felt was a must due to it's status as the oldest football ground in Wales and one of the oldest in the UK.

Of course, such things were casted aside in which while the hooligan action was never mentioned, it did seem that the stadiums did have problems for various reasons it seems. While the Arms Park seemed fine, the other two weren't really up to much in which during those days in Britain in which football stadiums were pretty much crumbling terraces that were filled with hooligans or sometimes ever far-right activists and Vetch Field was given a examination by visiting UEFA chiefs who felt the stadium's condition to be utterly woeful for ever thinking of hosting a finals game there and that seemed another nail in the coffin for Wales to host the tournament and there was no time to spruce up some of the stadiums (something that would be majorly overlooked nine years later at Heysel but that is another story). But then seemed to be another excuse from UEFA in which while they at least supported the idea in principle of Wales hosting Euro 1976, it was felt that with England having hosted the World Cup just ten years before that it was just a bit too early to have another tournament make a return to the British Isles though this seemed like a large contradiction according to the FAW who pointed out that the Netherlands being the hosts for this tournament shouldn't be the case due to the fact that their next door neighbours being Belgium and West Germany had both hosted the last European Championship and World Cup respectably in which in that case the tournament should've gone somewhere else like Czechoslovakia (one of the four nations at this tournament) though strangely this fact was greeted by a rather muted silence from UEFA.

While the choice of the Netherlands might have not been that bad of choice, some felt that the choice to award it was not only to try and make up for the nation losing in the final of the last World Cup but rather in this new era of football stars being more like celebrities such as half of the Dutch team being household names following their exploits in West Germany and the lure of money making opportunities out in the Netherlands seemed too good to resist for UEFA. Bottom line it seemed that no matter if either of the above hadn't happened such as the Cardiff riot, the poor condition of some of the stadiums or if it felt that enough time had past for there to be a football tournament based in the British isles, it just seemed that UEFA had a number of excuses of why Wales shouldn't host a tournament and thus, the riots of Cardiff was the perfect excuse as to why; it seemed though that the anti-British hooligan problem seemed to be reaching to the highest office.


The Welsh team (in their yellow away kit) having their portrait picture taken prior before flying out to Euro 1976
All those thoughts however were the last thing on Mike Smith's mind as the plane rose from Cardiff Airport and he peered down from his window as he saw a fair few Welsh fans dotted around the area that had been there to send them on their way and were easily seen in bright red and he was filled with conflicted thoughts. As much as he had achieved the goal of taking Wales to a major tournament and in this centenary year, the whole build up for it had been a draining one in which at one point it had looked that he and the team might had not been able to go. It seemed that rather that enjoying the hype of going to a major tournament, Wales' first for ten years no less, instead it had been mired in fear and loathing and this must had been perhaps the most hellish build up to any Home Nation heading out to a major tournament and that wasn't even the thought of how well they might be able perform out there.

Sitting some five rows away from the front, he glanced over at several of the other members of the Welsh team on board the flight all looking rather either excited of going or showing some trepidation as what was to be expected out there. Sitting next to him was Welsh captain Yorath who had pretty much been a shoe-in to lead the team at Euro 1976 and had only recently made a move from Leeds United to Coventry City at the end of the season though he did seem to look rather thoughtfully as if he and Smith were thinking of the same thing. Looking elsewhere on the plane, Smith also saw near the front of the plane and with no connection was another Welshman; a referee known as Clive Thomas who had been chosen by UEFA to be one of the four match officials at the tournament, bizarre considering how relations were at that time between UEFA and the FAW. It seemed that in the FAW's wisdom of wanting to be helpful, they had offered their countryman a place on the flight with the rest of the team to Amsterdam to help save costs of his own, though honestly he might have not been there as not once did he talk with any of the players or staff on the way over and instead kept his head down and was busy reading his book he had brought along to read.

About twenty minutes into the flight, Smith finally spoke to Yorath. "Well then, what'd you think?"

"Think what?" Yorath asked in bemusement.

"That we're here," Smith replied slightly raising a hand, "here as in we're on our way at long last to a major tournament. You wouldn't think that was happening after what we've been through going into this."

The Welsh captain nodded. "Very true, feels like we've been in the eye of a hurricane since that game with Yugoslavia."

The Welsh manager then chuckled suddenly.

"What's so funny?" Yorath asked.

"It just had to be when you think about it, it just had to be like this for a birthday celebration," Smith replied. "If we're going to celebrate the association's one hundredth birthday then we have to have to include a lot of fireworks to go with it though not in way we'd imagine."

The two men shared a short laugh and perhaps many years from now they'd be able to look back on all this and laugh but after everything that had happened then one would be forgiven of any of the Welsh contingent to feel weary about the drama that had threaten to ruin Wales' Dutch adventure before it had even started.

"But there is another thing that is funny regarding you," Yorath added.

"How so?" Smith asked raising an eyebrow.

"For being something to celebrate everything good about Welsh football, it just had to be that an Englishman of all people had to lead us to our first tournament in many years, you. Kind of funny, don't you think?"

Smith nodded slowly. "No, can't deny that. It is rather strange."

Yes, Mike Smith wasn't even Welsh, he was born in Hendon in London and as a youth, he represented Middlesex at Under-15 and Under-18 levels and was trained at Loughborough College of Education where he decided to become a teacher rather than a professional footballer. For nine years, Smith would coach in Sussex before becoming team manager and coach to the Conference of English Grammar Schools and all this seemed to show that he was a million miles away from anything to do with Wales. Despite this fact though, he would be appointed by the FAW with the responsibility for managing the Welsh amateur and youth international teams and would then be appointed as the first English born person to become the manager of the Welsh football team in 1974.

Despite his background that wasn't much special, let only the fact that wasn't Welsh, he would end up being the man to be the one to end Wales' wait to appear at a major tournament and the fact he was English in a centenary year for all things Welsh was an irony not lost on anyone. Then again it seemed many Welsh football supporters were more than happy to overlook this fact in which Smith felt that he might have become Wales' favourite Englishman and if he were to walk into a pub in either Cardiff and Swansea he'd be awarded a free pint.

Smith was then quiet as he looked out of the window as the landscape of South Wales was soon replaced with the sight of the English channel and the real thought that now they were really heading somewhere and a place in which no Welsh team had been before in years. The flight over would be an uneventful one and nothing like the madness way before they had ever step foot on a plane, though Smith would mutter a few words under his breath in which even Yorath next to him didn't hear but nonetheless they were words that really cemented how he was for Wales' cause.

"Happy centenary, dragons."

Well then, this is very different from the old TL as Euro 1976 was never covered. I was hoping to cover Wales' first game however this chapter ended up being much bigger than I would have liked and it is more of world building that covers more of the off field stuff rather than yet another football chapter which honestly makes for a nice change, mainly as we will cover Wales here.

As I said, for many Welsh fans Euro 1976 remains a great 'What If' story which I'm surprised hasn't been covered by anyone else here on AH, oh well, my gain then, haha. Lot of OTL stuff here such as the riots at Cardiff and what happened ITTL for Frankfurt with a mention of Leeds losing the final which is pretty much the same as OTL. Also fun to explore the idea of Wales trying and ultimately failing to hosting a tournament. Now as usual the fixture list coming up and here they are as follows:
Netherlands vs Czechoslovakia

Wales vs West Germany
So who will win and why? Next update will be the latter fixture and see you soon as Wales take on the Germans! :)

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Chapter 29: Jump In The Deep End
Chapter 29
Jump In The Deep End

When the Welsh contingent arrived at Amsterdam airport, there were no congratulation ceremonies for the FAW to mark their centenary but rather just a lukewarm reception from the local Dutch and UEFA officials alike whenever they encounter one of them. It was almost as if they were making no secret in showing of how much they weren't comfortable in having a British Home Nation here at Euro 1976 though honestly it wasn't much a surprise over the last three years all when regarding hooligan action. First there were the scenes in Frankfurt of England and Scotland fans having a fight in the city streets that might have been straight out of the times of William Wallace, then a year later there were the scenes in Paris of Leeds fans rioting following their controversial defeat in the European Cup final and now just a couple of months ago in Cardiff when Welsh fans nearly caused a full blown riot and had also scuppered their country's chance to play here in the Netherlands.

To be fair, it was for good reason why many viewed the travelling Welsh supporters arriving into the country with suspicion over what had happened, even if the former two incidents had nothing to do with the Welsh, but nonetheless it seemed that hardly anyone was willing to take a chance. While the Welsh players would enjoying some good training facilities and the travelling FAW officials would be living quite the high life with other UEFA dignities, the poor Welsh fans really got the short end of the stick anywhere they went as they could only find either crumby campsites or dodgy hotels in Amsterdam's infamous red life distract, the latter would have many crazy stories for any Welsh fan 'lucky' enough who were there. There was also the problem of some rather overzealous police troops who seemed to be hellbent on banging up on any Wales supporter and followed them around like a band stench and finally there was the trouble with getting tickets.

Though the FAW had warned supporters that there was no guarantee that they would get many tickets for the games due to the hooligan fears, that didn't stop thousands of Welsh fans descending on the Netherlands as then again as many of them wanted to be here. After all, what were they suppose do when their country was about to play in their first major football tournament in a decade? The plea to stay at home had woefully fallen on death ears and in the end, the vast majority wouldn't be able to get a ticket as despite the FAW trying to get a as much as possible, they would only be able to get a measly fifteen hundred tickets for their Semi-Final in Rotterdam with the rest going to local Dutch and the opposing fans. If all of this wasn't hard enough for Wales even before they had kicked a ball, their opponents would be the European and World Champions West Germany.


Handshakes before kick-off

On the day of the game, the atmosphere around the ground had been flat for in the previous day in the other Semi-Final, the hosts had lost out to Czechoslovakia in a disastrous period in extra-time and as of a result, most of the Dutch didn't really care about the tournament now. Welsh manager Mike Smith had felt rather sorry for the Dutch as after coming so close two years ago to winning the World Cup with that amazing Dutch team for only to lose it in the final, it had ended in sorry circumstances in the capital city and Smith deep down would have loved to have a chance of playing that team. Too bad that they had perhaps drawn the shortest straw in playing the team they didn't want to face; the Germans. A team that was hoping to make it to another final and defend their European crown and if Wales were going to have to jump in the deep end.

The De Kuip stadium, which could hold up to nearly seventy thousand spectators was barely half full though given the lack of interest the locals had for the tournament following their own country's elimination so it wasn't a surprise at the poor attendance. Mike Smith speculated that if they had been allowed to have more tickets for the Welsh fans then he had no doubt that they would be able to sell out most of the ground, nonetheless for the few fifteen hundred Welsh fans who were lucky to be here they were doing all they could to help make a lot of noise to help motivate the team. Though the Welsh team had a number of players who played in the English top flight, they were nothing compared to what the Die Mannschaft to offer with all of their talent coming from the West German league and half of them European Cup winners. It would be a brave person to put a bet on the Dragons to win this game.

With that all said, the Belgian referee blew his whistle to get the game underway and despite what many predicated that the Germans from the off would be on the front foot, the game was actually a lot more open that many expected and the Welsh seemed more than happy to play with most of the players back with the likes of John Toshack and Leighton James would strike out on any chance they had to go on the counter attack and stun the Germans. It would be Wales that would get the first corner of the game in the sixth minute of the game thanks to a rocket of a volley from Toshack in which West German keeper Sepp Maier had to clear away and could only send it over the bar. With the corner kick that followed, Brian Flynn would end up getting his head on the ball and blasted it home into the back of the net in which Maier and the rest of the German team was caught napping and to the shock of everyone, Wales had taken the lead!


Early moments during the game
The Germans are stunned and the small traveling Welsh fans erupt with happiness of an unexpected yet welcomed start for the game. For Mike Smith, it is the perfect start he probably didn't in all his wildest dreams had imagined. Alas it was all just a little bit too good to be true as right after that goal, West Germany go in all guns blazing as they were going all out to find a quickfire equaliser, pinning the Welsh back. Ultimately they wouldn't have to wait for long as it would be in the seventeenth minute that from some very poor marking from the Welsh, Uli Hoeneß would rip through the Welsh defence and slam home the leveller to put the champions level. With that, it was also as if reality had hit Wales in the face, the Germans were not going to give up without a fight.

That goal pretty much settles any German nerves and the men in white start zipping the ball around the field and running circles around the shell-shocked Welsh and things nearly get worse just five minutes later after that goal in which Hoeneß finds himself inside the box and makes an assist to Bernd Hölzenbein for him to strike but it is only thanks to the efforts of Dai Davis standing in for Wales' goalkeeper that he prevents such a goal from happening though it does mean it goes out for a corner kick for West Germany which is thankfully cleared away. By now in Rotterdam, it is the large German support who are making all the noise and are very much liking what they are seeing here; it is becoming clear that it is a case of not if but when they'll take the lead.

All Wales can do is try and hang onto a draw before half time is here and from the Welsh bench, Mike Smith can be seen with his assistant team sketching out tactics on paper over what should their plan of action will be going forward though the Welsh supporters keeping a close eye on the game will be feeling worried that something bad will happen and in the twenty-seventh minute, the Germans are awarded a free kick thanks to a tackle by Joey Jones on Dietmar Danner. Hölzenbein is the one to take it and he stands over the ball, some twenty yards out from the box and awaits for the referee to blow the whistle. When he hears the shrill blast, he lobs it over the Welsh wall and into the bottom left in which Dai Davis can't stop it despite going the right way and to Wales' despair and perhaps no one's surprise, the Germans have come from behind to lead the plucky underdogs.


Happy German players celebrate the moment they go 2-1 up
From the bench, Mike Smith can only feel his heart sink and perhaps many other Welshmen seeing that goal go in and sadly there is a lot of dirty looks directed towards the culprit of giving away the freekick, Joey Jones, but truth be told with given how the game was going, it was only a matter of time before West Germany would've scored to take the lead. The real fear is that now with the talent that is in this German team, there is almost the likely possibility that things can get worse for the Welsh if the Germans can get another goal and if they do that, then it would most certainly look like curtains for the Dragons. The small number of Welsh fans in the ground try to get their team up on their feet again by singing Land of my Fathers; a likely chance to that at least someone in Wales would be doing the same thing directed at their television set.

A new plan of action for the Welsh made on the spot by trying to go ultra defensive in the hope to prevent the champions from getting another goal and for the most part it does seem to work, though it does not look very attractive football to watch for the neutral. The Germans nearly had Welsh hearts in the mouth in the thirty-fourth minute when Danner lets one rip from thirty yards out which looks like it is going to be going but thankfully for the Welsh, the ball clatters on the crossbar and goes out for a Welsh goal kick and Wales live for another day. That said, the Welsh just can't seem to get forward to have any chance of a possible counterattack let alone try and get a goal and now seem more than settled to hear the half-time whistle.

Pretty soon the half-time whistle does come and the game has been pretty much a blur in which the Germans have been pretty much the better team here and are deserving of their 2-1 lead though there will be something of a disappointment that they haven't gone further ahead and perhaps hopes for another final on the spin to follow. The men in red trudge off the field looking tried and need some change of plan if they want to try and get back into the game and Mike Smith is the last the leave the field as he waits for the players to go down the tunnel first, he first of all stares up at the heavens and wonders what else could be done. Surely Wales' centenary celebrations can end like this...?

When the second half does begin, there are few raised eyebrows from the Welsh fans when they team return to the field and see that there are no substitutes made which many feel is badly needed to help them get something in this game. Whatever what the fans might think, it would seem that Mike Smith was willing to keep faith with the same players from that first half and who knows if he might regret such a choice. Much like the start of the first half, the Welsh actually start off the second half quite promising as while they aren't moving up the field to get into a position for goal, they are keeping the ball away from the German players and it becomes clear that the Welsh are planning to play up from the back.

In the fiftieth minute and after some careful build up play, Wales actually do get their first shot on target for the second half in which Leighton James tries to fire in a goal but because it is a weak shot, the shot is easily saved and a rare moment for Wales comes to nothing. Nonetheless it does show that Wales are far from out of this game there is suddenly a sense of uncertainty among the Germans that perhaps there is a twist in the tale yet to come and this is made more a little bit more uncertain when in the fifty-eighth minute Heinz Flohe, who had been brought on a substitute for West Germany, tries to extend his country's lead but his shot turns out to be a woeful one that skies right over the bar and the more this keeps happening then this will only encourage the Welsh to get back into the game.

In the fifty-firth minute, West Germany make a brilliant attack in which Flohe rips through to slip the ball up towards Hölzenbein and slams it home into the back of the net and surely given the Germans the third goal they have been craving for but alas, the goal is ruled offside for Hölzenbein being in a offside position and once again, things remain the same and that moment does bring a little bit of confidence for the Welsh for as long as they are only a goal behind then there is always the chance that just maybe they can pull of a miracle.


Live broadcast footage of the offside goal from West Germany
For a while nothing seems to happen in the game and West Germany start to look rather worried it must be said that something isn't right and this is reflected by their supporters who have gone rather muted and the small number of Welsh fans in the ground start to find their voice again though the Dutch police are clearly keeping an eye out on them to make sure there is no trouble. Actually, as Mike Smith looks at the Welsh fans from the bench, he can't help but feel that given area that the Welsh fans are in that police forces seem to surround them as if they are keeping wild animals at bay even if these certain supporters have done anything bad in their lives. Clearly the disdain of the British football hooligan is on full show here in Rotterdam.

Then in the sixty-sixth minute, Leighton James is given a chance to go on the counter by Carl Harries and James gallops down the field towards the box and it is right on the edge of the box and looking like he might let rip is when he is brought down by Bernard Dietz and at first it looks as though it'll be a freekick for Wales...that is until the referee blows his whistle and points to the spot. Penalty for Wales! The Germans players are furious and try to argue that James was outside the box though it must be said it was a very tight call to make that could have gone either way. It is a controversial penalty that can anger many a German looking back on it, though in the moment, it is James again who will step up to take the penalty.

The tension around Wales as he waits by the spot to take it must be hellish, but when he gets the order to fire, he slams the ball to the low right but the German keeper goes the right way and looks to have saved it but he fails to keep his hands on in and without wasting a chance, James runs in to knock the ball in on the rebound and the shock of many, Wales have clawed themselves back into the game and there is now well and truly a game on. The West Germans will understandably be furious about the penalty but now they have to pick themselves up to try and find a late winner.


Leighton James, the man who scored from the spot

There are two more substitutes for the Welsh in the sixty-ninth and seventy-fifth minutes in which Arfon Griffiths and John Roberts replace Carl Harries and David Jones respectably to try and freshen up the the team but other than that, nothing really happens of note in the game though it it turning out to be a more of an open contest as by now Wales do start to smell blood though a resolute German backline is doing all it can to prevent a another Welsh chance causing horror for them. In truth giving how open the contest is and by this point in the game with just ten minutes left with the score still level and extra-time and maybe penalties all a very likely possibility, it is hard to think who is the more happier team here.

The final ten minutes does some have start moments in which in the eighty-third, Flohe nearly squeezes the ball into the back of the net only for the ball to hit off the post and go out, then for another moment in the other direction in the eighty-seventh minute when Mickey Thomas attempts to find a dramatic late winner but some desperate defending from Franz Beckenbauer prevents any such goal and with that, there are no more big chances to speak of and with that, this Semi-Final that the Germans had thought they are surely in the bag as ended 2-2 and now this game will have to be sorted out in extra-time and maybe even penalties. Either way, it looks like this is going to be a long night...

After a brief talk with Mike Smith about what the plan is going forward, the Welsh players return and look quite eager to start extra-time perhaps much more than the clearly frustrated West Germans are are fearing that an upset might be on the cards and the start of more play turns out to be quite a cagey affair. Neither side seem wanting to risk anything just yet for with thirty minutes to play, anything can happen though it is the Welsh who are showing some promise as they try out their playing out from the back tactic as they slowly and surely try to get forward...


Clashing of the heads during the start of Extra-Time

Then it all happens in a moment that no one will quite forget. In the one hundredth and second minute, Wales have a corner and from it, Mickey Thomas finds his head on the ball and sends it heading goalward but slams on the crossbar before landing on the goal line before Maier rushes in to stop it from going anywhere. However, there is confusion among many in which the Welsh players feel that is crossed the line yet the referee isn't sure and the West Germans just want the game to go on. As of a result, the referee halts the game and rushes over to the linesman who had the better view and get his opinion on if it was a goal or not.

For some Welshmen, the memory of the wrongly chalked off goal in the 1962 World Cup final was still a painful one for all the fear of lightning striking twice here can be felt among the small pocket of Welsh fans in the corner. It seems to take a long time for a choice to be made until finally it does and the Belgian referee rushes back, blows his whistle and points to the centre circle...goal given! The roar of the Welsh fans is something else and the Dutch police are fearful of some overjoyed Welsh fans are about to invade the pitch and on the field, the German players are furious in first was a dodgy penalty and now a goal that they feel didn't cross the line.

In truth many years later when video footage of better angle of the goal is seen, it is rather tight, maybe almost if it hadn't crossed the line. Something like that being chalked off in 1962 wouldn't have been much of a shock, though here it is not hard to see why West Germany are not happy of what has happened. Then again considering how fate had screwed the Welsh over from glory all those years ago, maybe this was to make up for that ghost goal? Whatever the reason, Wales are leading 3-2 in extra-time and from then on, the champions pretty much seem to fall apart for they lose their heads at how things have all gone horribly wrong for them for they fail to find the back of the net and when the final whistle is blown, it is a true upset of major proportions in which plucky little Wales have knock out the reigning European Champions out of the tournament.


Sad looks from the West German players that say it all after the final whistle
Many of the Welsh players are on cloud nine, some of them like Terry Yorath and John Toshack fall to their knees almost in tears at what they have just pulled off and Mike Smith has more than cemented his place as Wales' favourite Englishman for it all starts to dawn on everyone of them that they reached their second major final. The Welsh fans in Rotterdam celebrate well into the night and across Wales from Cardiff to Caernarvon, a nation celebrates for not only do they reach a major final for the first time in fourteen years after ten years away from playing in any major tournament but all of this being in the FAW's one hundredth anniversary celebrations. If this doesn't make up for the long time away from being seen at a major tournament then who knows what will?

Next up for Wales will be Czechoslovakia in Amsterdam for the final and there is a little something sweeter for the Welsh supporters as they try to get tickets. From being mistreated and marched all over the place by overzealous Dutch forces then Wales getting to a final will be best revenge that the Welsh can ever hope to get over them and who knows, maybe lifting the cup in the capital might make it all the more better? Whatever the reason, the dragons were back!

And there we are, bit of a shock, eh? Anyway hope you enjoyed this update for next up, Wales take on the Czechs and can they do or will things go the same as with OTL? Find out next time and hope to hear from all of you soon! :)
Legend has it the women in Amsterdam's Red Light District suddenly all knew the words to Men of Harlech in both English and Welsh after this game.
Chapter 30: Daffodils From Amsterdam
Chapter 30
Daffodils From Amsterdam

Whenever one thinks about the Dutch capital, it can often be about it's cannels or that certain song called Tulips From Amsterdam, the latter itself would instead be adopted by the travelling Welsh hordes in the Netherlands to change the lyrics to 'Daffodils From Amsterdam' in honour of Wales' national flower. All this was down to the joy many in Wales was feeling regarding the country reaching only it's second ever major final on June 20th in Amsterdam. As great as this might've been for the Principality and perhaps the rest of the country who in a time of never ending industrial disputes, high unemployment and loss of much heavy industry, seeing a Home Nation reach a final was a very welcoming bit of good news. That said, not everyone was happy that the Welsh had gotten to the final, those being at UEFA.

From the moment the draw was made it was quite clear to everyone as to who UEFA wanted to play in the final; the Dutch and the Germans, the hope of a repeat of the 1974 final in what could be a great revenge game for the host nation. With that both had been placed in the different Semi-Finals but in a rather cruel irony, much red faces were left in which neither of those two teams would make it to the final and instead the final would be made up of either Czechoslovakia and Wales, a final that in terms of wanting an underdog to do well was great, not so if those broadcasters wanted a big box office final showdown that was sure to get the whole continent excited about it and a final containing the two last standing teams wasn't exactly going to set the world alight.

Either way, both nations were more than happy to be back in a final in which Wales hadn't been in one since 1962 while the Czechs hadn't done so since 1934; either way both sides would agree that it was good to be back again. That all said, the hope of a Netherlands vs West Germany match did happen in the form of a Third place play-off game in which the Dutch would win though in truth it was all but mere scant consolation for what might have been and for anyone living in the Netherlands, that might have been the tournament for many and wouldn't care less of who won in the final. This feeling was pretty much felt inside the Olympic Stadium in Amsterdam as it was barely half full and the rather subdued atmosphere being nothing like what many had hoped for what was a major final though even without the apathy among much of the Dutch, there were other reasons as to why this was the case.


The Czech team lining up for the final

The real problem at least for the Welsh was the fact that they still weren't allowed to have more tickets no matter how hard the FAW tried due to hooligan fears and the hope had been that if Wales had gone out at the Semi-Finals then any fears of hooligan problems would be over thus why the FAW had only been able to get a woeful number of tickets in which UEFA had hoped would decrease the chance of trouble. However, with the fact that Wales had made the final despite everything stack against them, UEFA now found themselves into awkward position about how many tickets should the Welsh get with on one hand trying to prevent trouble from happening in the stands while on the other hand, the sight of a half full stadium for a final would look lacklustre for the viewing public.

In the end, UEFA would bite the bullet and give the FAW more increase however from just fifteen hundred to twenty-five hundred. Nowhere near for what the Welsh wanted and this was reflected with the scenes of thousands of Welsh fans descending all over the Dutch capital in which despite many coming over the hope of possibly the biggest sporting moment in Welsh history, the vast majority of those fans would be unable to attend the final and this would be a frustrating affair for them and instead and to make do with finding any bar in the city that had a TV broadcasting the game.

With such numbers, Mike Smith would claim that had they had been able to get more tickets for the final then it would be certain that the Welsh fans would have at least filled out most of the stadium but alas UEFA feeling worried about hooligan problems balked at the suggestion. Something that in hindsight proved to be something of a mistake as despite fears of violence there was very little, if any, trouble among the Welsh supporter out in the Netherlands. Nonetheless, Smith would put together pretty much the same team that had defeated the Germans and there was a feeling among much of the Welsh fans that as the Czechs weren't a Netherlands or German team then surely they had a good chance, it would have seemed that they had made a mistake of underestimating them.


Live broadcast of the final, note Wales playing in their away yellow kit
When the game would start, there was a sense of confidence among the Welsh players that had been transferred from the small number of lucky fans up on the terraces trying to cheer their team on and indeed there seemed to be good reason to feel like things were going work in Wales' favour as they were seeing a lot of the ball though any sceptic would notice that they weren't really creating any chances with it. This spell of play would only last for about five minutes in which afterwards the Czechs starting to grow into the game and with that, all of the promise that Wales had shown from the start and seemly all come to nothing and the Welsh fans watching might have felt a sense of fear growing deep inside of them.

Czechoslovakia kept probing and the Welsh defence was looking rather ropey and all of this would come to ahead in the eighth minute when some pretty bad defending from Wales would see Masný passed to Švehlík on the edge of the penalty box and his initial shot was saved by Dai Davis. The rebound then fell to Nehoda who passed the ball across the goalmouth, which was missed by Ondruš but converted by Švehlík and with that, the Czechs have taken the lead in a short space of time and the Welsh had only themselves to blame on their failure to make the most of the possession that they had earlier.

It was hardly the start that Wales would've wanted but they now had to try and dig themselves out of a hole they had gotten themselves in and it wouldn't be until the twelve minute of the game when John Toshack would get himself near the box and let rip a shot on target but his shot was saved by Viktor in goal and while it was a start for Wales to start making an effort into the game, it wasn't quite the quickfire response they wanted to get back level. It then went into an end to end battle in which shortly afterwards in the seventeenth minute, Mickey Thomas attempt a volley from thirty yards out but it would end up flying over the bar and just two minutes later, Nehoda would run up the other end to try and double the Czech's advantage though this time Dai Davis would prevent another goal from happening by making a great save.


One of the actual Welsh football tops used in the 1976 final on display in 2016

There was a bit of worrying scene just a minute later in which during an attempt near the Welsh penalty box, Švehlík and Yorath attempt to get themselves in a good position to collect a looping ball only for the Welshman in the scramble to elbow the Czech player in the head and required medical treatment, but the Welsh player was not booked for some strange reason. This did not go down well for the Czechs and it might have been worse for them in the twenty-second minute when during a Welsh counter attack, Brain Flynn then passed to James Leighton down the right wing but Viktor would came out to block the opportunity for Wales to score. It was fair to say that even if neither teams had the appeal of the Dutch or Germans, it was proving to be a thrilling final.

Then not long later in the twenty-fifth minute, Czechoslovakia won a free kick outside the Welsh penalty box thanks to a foul made by Joey Jones in which Masný would be the one who would take the resulting free kick. Many of the Welsh players crowded in the box as they awaited to hear the whistle being blown for the free kick to take place and when it did, the ball was crossed into the box and while it was cleared by Carl Harris, it wasn't far out of the box and in would end up near to Dobiaš who without thinking of anything would strike home half-volley past the outstretch arms of Davis in goals to make it 2–0 for the Czechs and with less than half an hour played, Wales were facing an almighty mountain to climb.

The small number of Czech supporters in the ground could only be seen enjoying themselves at how well the final had gone for far more than any of them in their wildest dreams might have done while the Welsh players on the field all couldn't help but have the look of flustered and frustrated in how dreadful this start has been; it's a far contrast to how things were going against the Germans. From the bench, Mike Smith has his head in his hands and TV broadcasts would have a camera pointed at him to show his reaction which might have been funny if you wanting the Welsh to lose, not so much if you didn't. The question any of the traveling Welsh fans inside the stadium had was simply now what on earth were they going to do now?

One Happy Czech player after going 2-0 up
Already from the moment they went 2-0 down, Mike Smith was already having a small council of war with his assistant team over what they were going to do, however they wouldn't have to wait for Wales to make a response in which just four minutes from that second goal, Wales would strike back fairly quickly in which perhaps from either a lack of concentration from the winning team or a sudden boost of energy from the Welsh, Yoreth would end up making a lucky volley crossing into the box before James Leighton would hammer home the ball into the back of the net and suddenly Wales were back in the game and their supporters now had something to cheer. And people said that a game between these two would be boring...

The deficit halved, Wales now started coming into their own with a great chance to score another goal happening in the thirty-first minute in which from a corner for the Welsh, Mickey Thomas gets his head on the ball and hammers it home towards goal but he can't get it on target in which the ball instead clatters on the crossbar and thus a chance for Wales to turn the game on its head goes begging. Nonetheless, it was encouraging for the Welsh fans to see their team putting their backs into it, only downside was that all the effort was only starting to happen with them in a losing position.

Wales were clearly looking to be a better team as the first half was nearing it's end though it didn't mean to say that the Czechs were still a force that had a point to prove in which Masný nearly got a third goal for his side in the thirty-fifth minute thanks to mix up in the Welsh defence and Dai Davis would end up being the man who would have to bail his team out once again and it wouldn't have been surprising if he was starting to feel that this was going to be a long day for him and hoped that they could regroup for the second half. Thankfully for him, the end of the first half would soon arrive though the Welsh were still 2-1 down and for all the promise they had shown following that goal, one did have to wonder if and when they could pull off a comeback in the second half...


Welsh keeper Dai Davis

The second half would begin at a rather cagey affair in which it seemed neither side seemed to know what to do as if the Czechs simply wanted to hang on to this lead until the end or if the Welsh were waiting for the golden moment to strike back. Either way, it was a case that whoever scored the next goal might certainly decide the game and anything could happen in the next forty-five minutes. Mike Smith had made a change to his team in which Mickey Thomas would be replaced by Alan Curtis in which was clearly done to help increase Wales' firing power up front and in fairness in nearly paid off in which Curtis curled in a lovely chip in the fifty-second minute towards goal, only for it to be blocked.

All looks promising for Wales up until the fifty-seventh minute when Nehoda charges into the Welsh box via a counter attack but is brought down by Joey Jones in a challenge that has every Welshman crying out in horror for the fact that he has done this inside the box and when the referee blows his whistle and points to the spot, that can mean only one thing. A penalty. Jones is booked for his foolish challenge and now things look set to get worse for Wales as one certain Antonín Panenka steps up to take it and it is down to Dai Davis to try and prevent this from going in.

What follows next is a moment in football history that becomes a watershed moment for penalties. Once the referee blows his whistle, Panenka takes a short and stuttering run-up before gently struck the ball in an arcing parabola into the net while Dai Davis had already dived and found himself resting on his knees. He can only lie there looking bewildered and the penalty that he and perhaps everyone else for that matter has just witnessed. It would be a penalty that many a footballer would talk about and attempt for years afterwards but in that moment for the Welsh, they were 3-1 down and surely the game was all but over for them.


The moment THAT penalty is struck
It is really a hammer blow for the Welsh in which all that ray of hope they had shown at the start of the second half had ended up being extinguished and deep down among every Welshman, it was a game that was looking to be one that was that Wales had no chance to turn around. Following the goal, the Czechs would end up playing much more freely and with all the confidence of a team that seemed to know that it was going to win the final. One scary thought for any Welshman watching was that with so much of the game left to play, the question was not a case of if the Czechs will win but rather by how much goals still yet to score.

In the event however, the second half become something of a blur in which despite Czechoslovakia having everything in their favour from the lead, possession, chances and perhaps the better players on the night, they didn't really do anything else to humiliate the Welsh as if they were trying to be sporting about the game even though Wales' performances after that third goal pretty much all but fell off a cliff. From the bench Mike Smith seemed to have to the look of a man who was slowly starting to resign to the fate that he was going to be on the losing side on this evening and part of him felt bad that for the FAW to celebrate their centenary celebrations, a bad loss in a final was perhaps not what they would have wanted.

Wales didn't do anything to merit to get anything from the game but right near the end, Curtis would end up making the impact the manager had hoped for when he came on in which upon seeing the Czech defence rather open at the back, he would lit rip a volley of a shot in which Viktor would get a hand on the ball but would not be able to prevent the ball from going in and thus Wales had finally gotten a goal back to make it 3-2...only problem was that it was right on the eighty-ninth minute and there was now little to no time Wales had to try and spark an dramatic finish to take the game into extra-time. In the end, the goal would be nothing more than a consolation in which the Czechs held on to win the final and when the final whistle was blown, the Welsh players fell to their knees in despair.

Youtube video on the UEFA channel that shows highlights of the final, note the thumbnail showing the moment the Czechs win the final
While the final score line might suggest a thrilling finale, truth be told the late goal from Wales was pretty much a fluke in a game that honestly the winning team had this game in full control for the most part and no one would really deny the Czechs their victory while the Welsh could only look on with regret at what might have been had they had just a little bit more luck but alas, it was not to be. That all said, many in Wales had fond memories of that tournament in which after being away from an international tournament for a decade, it was a wonderful way to mark Wales' return to the big stage.

The team would return home as heroes at Cardiff and during their open top bus parade, the whole city came out to welcome them home and with such huge crowds, one could imagine it might have been twice the size if they had won the whole thing. From this, there was great confidence that with this team that they would surely qualify for the World Cup in Argentina for 1978. In strange coincidence, Wales would also get some revenge in which in their three team qualifying group, they were also grouped in with Czechoslovakia and the Dragons would get revenge by smashing them 3-0 just a year later from the final in Wrexham.

With that, one would have thought that they would be making a return to the World Cup...that is if it weren't for the hand of a certain Joe Jordon which to this day would become infamous among Welsh football fans over what might have been. But that is another story as Argentina loomed large for 1978....

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Final results of Euro 1976


And there we are, Euro 1976 is done and next up is one that you are all waiting for...World Cup 1978! Yes, as you can see, we still get that penalty and Wales still get screwed over by Scotland all like IOTL However I have a shock for you regarding Scotland for 1978. Question is how to not make much of a joke? The answer is Ally MacLeod! Yes, you read that write, a Scotland 1978 TL without that man? Bit of a first but alas, you can start to see how things might work out for Scotland here.

Oh yeah and another thing, England are here too, not much to say there otherwise we don't get that damn song for better or for worst. Anyway until then, hope to see you all soon as we head off to Argentina!

Intruiging! Just as long as you keep the same final as the old TL as that was one of its most iconic bits!
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Oh, Argentina there are a few moments in history I wish I could change. Ally Macleod singing is one of them. Enjoyable update as always my friend.
Chapter 31: Hanging Together - 1978 World Cup
Chapter 31
Hanging Together


Two years after Wales nearly managed to take over Europe, the World Cup would return and this time heading to back to South America where it would be hosted in the football mad country of Argentina. Having won the bidding rights as far back as 1966 and with much time to prepare itself for the biggest sporting event on the planet, one would think that Argentina would be more than ready for the task in hand, though if anyone has a basic knowledge of the politics of South America, things never all go according to plan and Argentina were no exception to this fact. In 1976, the country would undergo a military coup and a year after that, it was said that over five thousand people had gone missing.

With this in mind, there was much serious talk among many if the World Cup be hosted in another country or if any nation should even take part due to the controversy reading the junta government, practically from the Dutch in which the 1974 runners-up might end up being a no show because of it and this was only added due to their star man Johan Cruyff refusing to go. Nonetheless, the Dutch team and many others all did end up heading out to South America to take part in the hope of becoming World Champions though it must be said among all the teams there, there was a great deal of suspicion in the air that everything seemed to be rigged in favour of the hosts winning it but that was just one of the few things that made this World Cup being called by some as one of, if not the most, dirtiest World Cup of all time.

Among the many that would be making the trip out, the UK would have two representatives being England and Scotland though there was some saddened that Wales couldn't make it considering their run at Euro 1976 might have given thought that they would be going to Argentina too but alas, they had found themselves in a three team group with the Scots and, ironically their fellow finalists winners Czechoslovakia in which while the Welsh would get revenge on them, they came up short against the Scots in a controversial game at Anfield over a handball from Joe Jordon which led to a penalty for the Scots and ultimately victory. Jordon would be a hated figure in Wales for many claiming that he would deny them in place in Argentina. Funnily enough with the Czechoslovakians also failing to make the trip, neither of the Euro 1976 finalists would be going to Argentina that summer.


Some build up on the Scottish side prior to the World Cup
Of course the Scots weren't the only ones going as England were also on the way to Argentina though at one point it nearly never did happen over the position of manager Don Revie. The former Leeds United manager might have not been a bad choice for the job following Sir Alf Ramsay stepping down but it would not be a happy time for Revie in which he not only had to deal with a team in transition but his relations with the FA in which many years later stories would come to the surface that there were several in the FA who were actually wanting him to fail. The latter really affected Revie and he would make a shock resignation from the England job where he would end up manging in the Middle East and while the FA and several newspapers called him a traitor though given how bad things had gotten with his relations with the FA, few who knew what was going on could blame him.

He would leave during the summer of 1977 and England's hopes of reaching Argentina hung in the balance and in the end it would be Ron Greenwood who would be the one to take control of trying to get England to Argentina for 1978. Things were made more harder as despite thinking that they'd be a seeded team, England were placed in a qualifying group with Italy in which the latter looked like a strong favourite to qualify and deny England a place at the World Cup. Many England fans cried out for foul play from FIFA and in truth they weren't half wrong. With the fact that the Frankfurt riots between England and Scotland fans at the last World Cup being still fresh on many people's mind, it seemed England being placed in this qualifying was seemed as some ploy that would deliberately prevent England from going.

Alas the English wouldn't quite play to the script as despite everything stack against them, England had a team that had experience but also hunger and thus thanks to a 6-0 win over the Luxembourg and a 2-0 victory over the Italians, England would top the group by a goal difference of only one goal and thus Greenwood's men were on their way to Argentina and the Italians would fail to qualify for another World Cup. Many Italians would fear whenever they had a British team in the group as in failing to qualify for 1958, 1966 and now 1978, they had all fallen short at the hands of the Home Nation teams. The say lighting doesn't strike twice which is just happened three times for Italy.


England during their 2-0 victory over Italy which books them a place in Argentina
Nonetheless, the supporters of England and Scotland would now have to make the long voyage to South America and while there were not to be the large hordes of fans that had invaded West Germany during the last World Cup, there was still the fear that trouble might happen out there and with the fears of some quite frankly scaremongering stories in the British (red tabloid) press about missing people in Argentina and if hooligans did cause trouble then they might not be seen ever again. Then again bizarrely the response from the public about any football fan going missing was actually positive in which if it meant getting rid of many hooligans from this country then good riddance and to top it off, many football fans would all ignore the fears and head off to Argentina. So much for the power of the press as they say or a 'Springtime For Hitler' moment depending on who you ask.

Even by the late 1970's in which air travel and especially transatlantic air travel was now more widely available for England and Scotland's working class supporters, a trip to Argentina and for how long they might be out there for was still a hell of a lot of money for most of these supporters to stump up and there would be many stories of fans either leaving their job, selling cars or anything of value just so they can make it to the World Cup. Several newspapers would run competitions for fans to get tickets for the games and oddly, some of the papers doing this were the same that not so long ago were warning fans not to go. A strange change of heart no less and one that might have been done to try and save face following their warning story had instead been liked for all the wrong reasons.

With many all heading out there, supporters from both sides of the border would have to share hotel accommodation and transportation to get to this World Cup and for some who got there, end up staying with them for the rest of the time in Argentina, which many fans would later describe the tournament of them all hanging together which in some ways became a saying to describe their time in Argentina. It seemed almost strange that there was more than a likely chance that at least one or two of them had ended up fighting each other on the streets in Frankfurt four years ago and were now going together which seemed crazy; but then again being so far away from home and in country that didn't speak English, who did they have else to cope with in this strange new world?


Some of the Scotland fans who made it out to Argentina

When it came to the draw, England and Scotland would find themselves placed in groups that while the former might've been happy with their group containing Peru, Iran and the Dutch, the English would find themselves in what could be said to be the group of death as it featured the French, Hungary and the hosts themselves, the latter being the final team they'd play in the group while the former would be the first team they'd play and in addition, the first Home Nation that would play in this World Cup on June 2nd. While there had been much said about how good this England team was, they were an untested unit on the big stage with this World Cup being the first that the majority there would ever play in. Their first match against the French would a good test to see if these claims were valid though despite the French haven't not been seen at a World Cup for twelve years at this point, it is the French who come flying out of the traps from the moment the game starts and England nearly suffer the worst possible start when Lacombe nearly strikes home the ball in just thirty one seconds of the game and only for Clemence to make a save and spare the English early blushes.

Nonetheless despite a sluggish start, clearly having underestimated the French, England start getting their act together ten minutes later from that moment which all combinates in the twenty-first minute when an assist worked by Brooking and Keegan in which the latter crosses it over into the box for Trevor Francis to thump it home past the hands of Dominique Baratelli and send England in front. After that moment, England played well to keep it at that score line when half time arrived and the game would end as a contest during the second half in which England scored another goal in the fifty-fourth minute, this time by Keegan, which despite France trying all they could to get a goal back, it would all count for nothing as 2-0 to England would end up being the final score of the match.

With relief of an opening game win, it would be only a few days later in which England would play in their second match with Hungary and unlike the great team of the 1950's, this Hungary team was pretty much a pushover for the English in which what might have been long overdue revenge for England, they would utterly batter the hapless Hungarians 3-0 in which Keegan would score a hattrick in which the final result would pretty much book England's place in the second round but also condemn Hungary to the bottom of the group and thus and early exit from the World Cup. With the hard stuff out of the way, there was the option of Greenwood resting a few players for the final group match with Argentina but instead he decided that would be good if they could win the group. What was to happen next was to be a rather infamous encounter in Buenos Aires.


England vs Hungary during the second group match

For only the fourth time, England and Argentina would face each other again though for two of the games they had been fraught with infamous and dirty moments in which in 1966, many in Argentina felt that they had been robbed and four years later, the two would play out in a brutal 1-1 draw in West Germany. Now they were to meet again only this time in the host's backyard though it would be a game that for the English would be a rather controversial one that wasn't restricted to what happened on the pitch. Like with England, Argentina had also won their two opening group games and though both were guaranteed to go through, pride was at stake at who would finish top and Argentina were wanting it and they'd get a rather suspicious helping hand.

Even before kick-off, the atmosphere in the large stadium was really intimidating with the mostly Argentine crowd would be chanting out words of 'pirates' and 'animals' being of course reference to words exchanged regarding that encounter in 1966 and there was even a few large banners being flown from the terraces in protest of the UK in the Falkland Islands. While everyone knows how much the junta played a hand in making several results work in Argentina's favour, they also had ways of playing into opposing players' head and the fact that they turned a blind eye to these political banners that FIFA would refuse to have seen for a TV audience of millions really said a lot. Despite this fact, the England team kept their head down and would try and play the game though that would be be easier said than done.

It was during this game that the suspicious of referees being forced to make certain choices was very much alive in this game in which despite England actually starting out well, they seemed to have things against them. In the seventeenth minute, Keegan would get the ball into the back of the net though for some strange reason it was ruled offside by the referee even though there was no indication for this and this was only made worse just before the end of the first half in which Trevor Francis was brought down in the box by Luis Galván in what looked like a stonewall penalty yet despite booking Galván, the referee did not give a penalty. For all their hard work, England would end the first half with nothing to show but some really bad luck and questionable choices from the referee in which didn't need a genius to think that the junta were behind it.


England vs Argentina in the final group match

The second half would see a more stronger performance from Argentina though it must be said this might have been down to the fact that England became more frustrated that nothing that they had done seemed to be working for them and ultimately this would play into the hosts' hands. It would be a sixty-seven minute winner from Mario Kempes that would decide the match in which after that, England could do nothing to try and turn the game around which combined with a hostile crowd and how they just couldn't get a lucky break in which Argentina held on to win the game.

Argentina would win the group with England following behind in second and the game itself to this day remains a controversial one in which the English will say that they were screwed over by the officials and how they felt Argentina cheated their way to victory and a neutral watching the game might feel sympathy for the English though ask an Argentine about the game then they'll say that the game was revenge for 1966 and that if they hear accusations that they cheated then so be it; after all didn't similar things had happened to England in that certain match?

Whatever side of the fence you are on, it is a game that is one of the more controversial games ever to happen in the World Cup in would only be one of the many things to happen in this intercontinental rivalry. So much of what happened in that game that quite a few forgot that England had qualified for the next round but indeed there would be much for Greenwood to look over his team and make sure that they were more than ready to prepare themselves for what were to be much bigger challenges ahead. Only hope that he did has was that the junta of some shifty officials would be breathing down their backs...

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Final results of England's group stage at the 1978 World Cup

While most the British press might have been focusing on England, that didn't mean to say that they were the only Home Nation who were out there as Scotland too had their own hopes of doing well though it must be said it did feel like this felt more than just a Scotland team playing in World Cup if one was to focus on what was going in the country. Oil had been found in the North Sea, a vote on devolution for a Scottish parliament would take place the following year, they could boast of having the funniest man in Britain, Billy Connolly, they also had the band 'Bay City Rollers' that was making a lot of attention and tartan was actually becoming cool to wear. The football team was just one of the many things that Scotland were proud of and for good reason.

With the talent the Scotland team had in their ranks, there were some who felt that on paper that this Scottish team had what it took to become a World Champion; something that any other nation might have laughed considering the other teams at this tournament but then again it was just an example of the self-confidence that the country was oozing out at that time. One person who was trying to keep a lid on things was their manager Willie Ormond who was just wanting to keep his head down and made sure that the team didn't make a fool of themselves. They had come close to qualifying for Euro 1976 but fell in the Quarter-Finals to West Germany and he might have left the job in May 1977 but decided to stick out for at least one more tournament and he would in the end guide Scotland to Argentina.

Ormond would include a certain Andy Gray for the trip to Argentina and his inclusion would end up being a very important one in hindsight. In their opening match with Peru, Scotland would take the lead by Peru would get a goal back with the score level at the break however Ormond would pull out a masterstroke when he would bring on Andy Gray to replace Joe Jordan in which during the second half, Scotland were awarded a penalty and Gray would be the one to take and helped put Scotland ahead and not long later would get a second to put Scotland 3-1 in front and their World Cup campaign was up and running. Peru would score later on in the game and Scotland defended for their lives as Peru tried to break them down. In the end however, Scotland survived though there was an uncomfortable feeling in the air.


Scotland's opening match with Peru at the 1978 World Cup

Following the game, there would the now infamous Willie Johnston drug affair in which after the game, he tested positive for a banned substance and was sent home in disgrace, even though it was a prescription for his hay fever. Such was the controversy around this that all memories of the victory over Peru was forgotten about and this bad feeling of what happened spilled onto the pitch in which in their next game with what were supposed whipping boys Iran, Scotland would falter to an embarrassing 1-1 draw, Scotland's opening goal being an actual own goal from some poor Iranian player and not one Scotland did manage to get a shot on target which threw into question about if the team were even that good.

Ormond would call out the media who he had pleaded not to build the nation's hopes up but it seemed that it fell on deaf ears with some wanting Ormond out. That said, Scotland still had a chance to go through providing that they managed to get a point against the Dutch in their final group match then they would be through but few had any confidence after what they had seen with Iran. What happened next though is legendary in which despite going a goal behind early in the match, Scotland would buckle down and move on to stun the Netherlands by beating them 3-2 in which one of the goals by a certain Archie Gemmill would be said to be one of, if now, the greatest, World Cup goal ever scored.

With that, the runners-up in the last World Cup had fallen at the first hurdle and would make a shock early exit on goal difference to Peru and Scotland, despite all the drama behind the scenes, would move on to not only the next round but win the group. Ormond might have felt relief at how things had turned out though there was still a few bruised egos in that Scotland team but all those thoughts would have to be put to one side as now they had more games to follow and it was here that the serious stuff would take place and one wrong move would mean that the team would be out. What they didn't know though was that they would end up in what many will say was the all time greatest group of death at a World Cup; Scotland with Brazil, Poland and England. No words needed for that...

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Final results for Scotland's group at the 1978 World Cup

And here we are, 1978 without a certain Ally MacLeod running the show for Scotland which yes, you can see how that makes a huge improvement for Scotland's chances for this World Cup though I had to make things much like OTL E.G the Johnston affair and the Iran debacle. Can't be Scotland without something crazy. And yes, England are here in which being slightly better at this point than OTL you'd expect that and I wonder how things back home at a pop culture level might go about?

Anyway, here the upcoming fixtures for the group:
Scotland vs Brazil
England vs Poland

Scotland vs Poland
England vs Brazil

Poland vs Brazil
England vs Scotland
So who will make it to the final here? Until then, hope you enjoyed it and see you next time! :)

Coulsdon Eagle

Monthly Donor
I'm sure I read in one publication many, many years back that, sometime after the event, OTL FIFA docked Scotland 3 points for Johnston's drug test failure. Of course, as Scotland didn't qualify on results from the group, it made no difference. Does anyone else recall that? And what would be the implications of a similar actin with Scotland qualifying ITTL?
It might be the fact I'm sick as a dog and remembering things wrongly but wasn't Brian "I wouldn't say I was the best manager in the business. But I was in the top one" Clough manager of England the first time around for this timeline?
It might be the fact I'm sick as a dog and remembering things wrongly but wasn't Brian "I wouldn't say I was the best manager in the business. But I was in the top one" Clough manager of England the first time around for this timeline?
Aye, but I have to make things slightly more realistic for this TL in which like our own, the FA don't want him and as you read above, still treat Revie with contempt. It is pretty much down the players having the experience of taking England there that helps.

So yeah, without him and Macleod, things are a bit more 'boring' in terms of managers but nonetheless from a Scotland perspective, it isn't over the top here unlike our own.
There is little problem with WC qualification groups-in UEFA zone groups' winners from previous editions were seeded, thus England and Italy, both winning their qualification groups for World Cup '74, would be seeded in WC '78 qual. and could not be drawn into the same group.