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.
It says that FIFA deliberately placed England, despite being seeded as you said, in Italy's group which is over TTL'S Frankfurt riots as a ploy to try and make sure England don't qualify.

And please no more, I'm in an awful way today you had to find me in, sorry.
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.

Thank you for that if you can't tell I hate that goddamn song.
Chapter 32: Mixed Results
Chapter 32
Mixed Results

Much like with the last World Cup, the 1978 World Cup would have a rather strange second round in which wasn't a knockout stage but rather just another group stage. There has always been questions marks raised as to why it wasn't just another straight forward knockout stage like it had been done before though it seems that it had been done as an attempt for making more money from TV revenue in which would mean that the reward of making the second round would be a guaranteed three matches to play and would make getting the World Cup from all around the world much more tempting. The way the second round worked was that the two final groups would see the group winners reach the final though some felt that it might have given certain teams an advantage to get momentum and giving all the suspicion surrounding this World Cup, one could say good reason.

The second round itself brought with it two very tasty groups in which the hosts' reward of winning their group was one that featured (in order of scheduled to play) being West Germany, Austria and Peru. But it was the other group that raised a few eyebrows of who were in it with these being Brazil, England, Poland and Scotland; a group that many would say was the true group of death. Indeed many years later in a poll conducted just prior to the start of the 2018 World Cup, many would say that Group B of the 1978 tournament would be voted as the greatest group of death of all time and given the talent of these teams had to boast it was clear to see why both then and even now after all these years later.

With England and Scotland both in the same group much like a repeat of 1974, there was a great deal of excitement and trepidation in which this match was to be the first time the two rivals would face each following the end of the annual Home International Championship in 1975 which had been brought on after the now infamous Frankfurt riots of 1974, speaking of which, that the was the last time the two faced each other at a World Cup. With the memories of what happened then still on the minds of many, there had been hope that the two wouldn't be see each other at all in this World Cup but alas fate had other ideas and the real prospect of the two sets of fans having a punch up in the middle of junta regime was a crazy thought that no many wanted to imagine.


Scotland manager Willie Ormond sometime in training with the team in Argentina
For both Home Nations, they'd kick off their games on a 14th June with Scotland starting their second round games with a rematch with Brazil with England then facing Poland, then the second fixtures would be England vs Brazil and Scotland taking on Poland before finally the two old rivals would face each in their final group match in what might be, depending on previous results, a winner takes all decider in which might send one of them through to the final. That all sounded fine and dandy but that final game could also likely be in turn a dead rubber if either side never got off to the best possible start in which neither Brazil or Poland could be said to be a push over and both teams had revenge in mind in which Brazil wanted to get back on Scotland after they humiliated them four years ago while Poland wanted to do the same to England for not letting them qualify for that World Cup.

The Scots would travel to Mendoza, the same stadium in where they stunned the Dutch and there might have been a few of Tartan Army who might have been hoping that lightning would strike twice if they were to get something from Brazil but alas, the majority felt that this Brazil side had something to prove after what had been so far a lacklustre World Cup for them so far for their standards in which they had only gotten two draws from Spain and Sweden and a tight 1-0 victory over Austria, the latter of which actually topping the group. Either way, many felt that this Brazil team was overdue to put in a performance to rubber stamp their credentials if they were to go on and win the World Cup.

Scotland manager Willie Ormond had tried to play down the media in saying that he wouldn't expect a performance like in West Germany would happen again but alas, much to his annoyance, it seems the media had not bothered to listen to his pleas with the Scottish newspapers rather happily pointing out how poor Brazil were and that surely now this was the moment in which if Scotland won this game then honestly they would pretty much have one foot in the final. So as a good number of the Tartan Army had taken their place in the stadium and awaited to see what their country would bring to the table, it would be a game that they wouldn't forget though not exactly for all the right reasons it must be said.


Scotland and Brazil just prior to the kick-off in Mendoza
With a blast on the whistle from the Romanian referee, the match started off with the Brazilians coming right out of the traps clearly with a point to prove and nearly finding the opening goal after just two minutes by Reinaldo in which Scottish goalkeeper Andy Rough had to quickly come out to prevent the early Brazilian goal from happening. Despite the Brazilians getting the better start of the game, the Scots try pressing forward themselves yet even the Brazilian defence is not giving any chance for Scotland to have any joy in the field; clearly the men in yellow are wanting revenge for their last World Cup exit from the hands of the Scots and are a very different beast to the team Scotland humbled four years ago.

Then right in the sixth minute, Andy Rough gets the ball and passes it up towards Sandy Jardine, however right before Jardine could get a foot on it, Reinaldo races in to snatch the ball off his feet and fires the ball from a right angle which screams past the hands of Rough before crashing into the right hand wall of the net and Brazil have already gotten an early lead in this game already and it's really the last thing Scotland wanted but nonetheless the best thing that Brazil would have wanted. Ormond looks on with a bewildered look as in he didn't honestly think Brazil would score in this game so soon. Despite this early setback, Scotland try to come back into the game with an equaliser and Dalglish almost gives Scotland hope in the seventh minute as he fires from fifteen yards outside the box, but it is a shot of desperate matters as the ball goes way wide over the crossbar and to say it is a waste of a chance is only putting it nicely.

Then in the eleven minute, a defensive blunder between Jardine and Kennedy follows as a lack of communication follows between the two men as they crash into each other while trying to get the ball and this only leads for Zico to run to get the ball without any problems before he rushes deep into the Scottish half before he performs the classic 'one-two' move in which he knocks the ball over to Rivellino who volleys the ball past the hapless Andy Rough and sending the Brazilians 2-0 into the lead. If was supposed to be a deliberate comedy moment then it would be comedy gold, alas, it was indeed a farcical moment from Scotland for letting Brazil get further in the game and even now there didn't seem to be any chance for Scotland to get back.


During one rare moment when Rough had his hands on the ball for once
Ormond from the bench cries out orders for the team to follow and this means that for the time being, Scotland have to stop any attacking play and pull back to prevent further embarrassment. It takes time but by the half hour mark, the game has somewhat settled down in which Scotland have plugged up their rather ropey defence though they are still two goals behind and still have an almighty mountain to climb if Scotland have any chance of getting a result from this. It is looking not that bad as long as Scotland keeps Brazil back but in the thirty-fifth minute, the Brazilians win a corner and from it, Zico fires in an thunderbolt of a header in and thus, Brazil are now 3-0 up on the hapless Scots. Even you didn't have any knowledge of anything to do with football, it is pretty much clear that Scotland are down and out with not even the first half played. Brazil look certain to reach the final on this game alone and there is no denying to anyone in the know that they have gotten their revenge on Scotland and isn't a truly glorious one for them.

With this first half already such a rout and the Scotland players looking lost and flustered as to what is there to do in being such a bad position, some Scottish fans who have paid a lot of money to get out to Argentina can't take what they are seeing and an unfortunate incident takes place up in the terraces in which two fans fight each other and one unfortunate Brazilian fan finds themselves caught up in the action which leads to police to lead the two clearly drunken fans out of the stadium. It is a sorry situation that seems to reflect what's happening on the pitch. One could almost feel the whole thing imploding around the Scots and from the bench, Ormond fears for the Scotland fans being taking away by the police and with all the scary stories about people going missing in Argentina, he has to wonder what might happen to them.

It isn't just the supporters that Ormond has be fearful as it has to apply to the pitch in which that third goal has clearly knocked the wind out of Scotland and Brazil nearly score a fourth goal in the forty-first minute which this time, Rough saves it. Yet despite his efforts, Scotland have still got it all to do if they are to get anything out of this game. The Brazilians don't seem that bothered to add to their already big lead and to rub it in, they start to show off to the crowd with their skills and eventually the first half ends and the Scottish players make a quick getaway down the tunnel to escape their raging fans that some have camped around the mouth of the entrance and one angry fan throws a half empty bottle of whisky that Andy Gray just barely avoids from hitting him.


The angry Scotland fans in Mendoza with the team down 3-0 at half time to Brazil


When your team is 3-0 down at the break, what are you suppose to do? For Ormond, he decides to make a change for the second half in which he makes a switch for Hartford to come on for Gemmill in the hope of having an attacking forward of four at front, playing in what seems to be an odd 4-2-4 system which raised a few eyebrows. Either this is a work of genius or perhaps just a real last desperate act of a man who knows he has to risk everything to avoid this being an utter humiliation for Ormond. Despite their handsome lead, the Brazilians go in on the attack again and have pinned the Scots back into their own half so much that Brazil's own keeper has pretty much been forgotten about and just stands idly leaning against the goalpost watching his teammates play the beautiful game and becoming something of a spectator himself.

Whatever happens now, the performance that many felt Brazil owed everyone has finally turned up and it'll be hard to find someone to criticize this team after what they are seeing. Scotland do seem despite the circumstances to be holding on pretty well during the start of the second half, but alas in the fifty-seventh minute, Rivellino makes a mockery of the hapless and bewitched Scottish defence that try all they can so top the Brazilian player from getting a goal but alas, to no avail. Rivellion shoots on goal and although Rough manages to find his fingers to it, the ball is just nudged upwards where it hits the crossbar and heads downwards and makes the score line read 4-0 for Brazil. Just like that, Scotland are in a tailspin that is hurting for certain doom.

In all honesty, no one is really suprised by yet another goal from Scotland who have without any question been very poor. To add to all this in classic gallows humour, the Scots start cheering for the Brazilians after that goal is scored as they have nothing to cheer for now and begin chanting over towards the Scotland bench that they want their money back and Ormond and some of those on the bench can't help but feel that they want the ground to open up and swallow them whole. Ormond doesn't care about the result now; it's now a foregone conclusion as is to any World Cup glory fool hardy souls might have might thinking about has crashed and burned. The Scotland manager now fears now of a grilling from a largely hostile Scottish press in which he knows he will feel the wrath of from over seeing this disaster take place.

Just then, he is brought out of his senses when the Scotland bench all suddenly leap up and cheer over something.

"Huh? What's goin' on?" Ormand asks and he see's some of the Scotland players celebrating. Believe it or not, Scotland have managed to somehow score in this game right in the sixty-first minute thanks to Gemmill (admittedly nowhere near as good as his goal against Holland) and the score is now 4-1 for Brazil. It seems that the change he did to bring on Gemmill has actually worked and is an epic unlikely comeback on? Of course not.


Footage from the live broadcast of the game

No sooner after that sudden goal from Scotland just two minutes later, Jardine brings down Reinaldo and receives a booking and the Brazilians are awarded a free kick from twenty yards outside the box. Rivellion steps up to take it, hoping to get his hat trick and he pulls of a stunning free kick that curls into the top of the net to put Brazil 5-1 further in front and from then, Brazil mercifully don't heap more humiliation on the shell-shocked Scots and instead pass the ball around the field for the entertainment of their traveling fans. In the end, 5-1 is the final result in Scotland's biggest loss at a World Cup and it is a numb but very Scottish feeling for Willie Ormond as the match comes to an end.

Not only did he oversee a victory over the World Champions four years ago which some could say was one of the greatest moments of the Scotland team, now the very same team that they defeated have turned the tables on the Scots and given Scotland their heaviest defeat ever in a World Cup. It is a set of facts that Ormond will be unsure as to what to think about having those to his name. Despite their Brazilian opponents sharing shirts with the Scots and shaking hands and all that, the Scottish players look mortified at how heavy the defeat was and like a bunch of school boys being caught from doing something awful, they trod off slowly where by the entrance of the tunnel, their fans begin chanting, "What a load of rubbish!" at them.

It all seems even worse to the treatment they got after the Iran game. Regardless of what happens now in the next games and baring a set of crazy results to favour them, Scotland are pretty much out of this World Cup and now it is just a slow march to the next flight out of Argentina for them.


On the same day after Scotland were ripped apart by Brazil, England would begin their game with Poland and while a few might have been quite flippant on talking about Poland's chances, that didn't mean to say that they were any pushovers and in this would prove that for good reason. Unlike the other game which had seen goals galore happening, it wasn't quite the same in no goals at all. Twenty-three minutes had been played between England and Poland and although the score line was showing it to be 0-0, the game had been anything but dull with England getting quite a number of chances against a rather stubborn Polish side who had only had two chances on goal in compared to England's nine chances on goal. Despite all this had war, England just couldn't seem to get the opening goal with them either shooting the ball past the posts or perhaps it had only been the divine intervention of the Polish keeper, Jan Tomaszewski, that was the one thing that was keeping the score level.

England manager Ron Greenwood though sat on the bench looking really unhappy at how things were going. His team should at least three goals up by now with the way they've been playing and it was perhaps a view shared by many of his fellow countrymen watching the game at home. However it seems even from these early exchanges from the game, it looks like it'll be one of those games in which no matter how hard you play, the keeper will have an excellent game that'll be enough to save his team. God how anyone doing all the attacking hated those sort of games in which just couldn't seem to get the goal you need. However at one point, hope nearly griped everyone in England in which during the twenty-sixth minute, Keegan performs a great back pass towards Francis and he looks set to score and at last, the ball flies past the hands of Tomaszewski...

...But crashes off the post and out for a goal-kick for Poland. Francis places his hands on his head is disbelief of how he has blown that wonderful chance for England to take what many will say is a very deserving lead and from the reaction up on the terracing, the view is keenly felt among the traveling England fans who are only feeling frustrating only starting to kick in. Then again, it might be worse as they might end up like Scotland and already a few are thinking about what are the going to do when they face Brazil, clearly it'll have to be better than this.


Keegan during the game with Poland
Poland might have been fancifying their chances to get the better of England the longer they could prevent the Three Lions from scoring but honestly it has been a frustrating game to watch no matter who you are unless you're Polish and the latter's first chance to take a shock lead happens in the thirty-sixth minute when Lato lets one flies onwards for goal but instead Ray Clemence has to act to knock it clear and out for a corner kick for Poland in which it is taken but alas it comes to nothing and England live to keep up the score remaining at deadlock. But so too are Poland who seemed to be in no mood to make this game any easier for England.

England have a great chance in the forty-second minute to get the opener from Keegan what aims at goal but much to his own despair, the ball clatters on the crossbar and once again the ball just doesn't seem like it wants to go into the back of the net. With all the strange things happening in this World Cup, there is a thought in the back of the mind of every English and Polish person in which the junta might have rigged the ball in trying to make sure neither score. Sounds crazy? Then again this is a World Cup being hosted in a military dictatorship.

Finally the whistle for half time is blown by the Swedish referee and there are no goals and, quite honestly, nothing to speak about in all fairness. The two teams trot off at the end of the first half with both wondering just what on earth they have to do to try and win this game. Still, with another forty-five minutes of a second half still yet to play, anything can happen as they always say.

When the second half starts, it becomes clear that the game doesn't have the same intensity that the English had earlier on in the game but neither too do the Polish who look more than happy to ride this game out for a draw even though it might not be a good idea in the grand scheme of things. Then in the forty-eighth minute after a fairly uneventful opening few minutes, Keegan is given the ball by Trevor Brooking who has threaded the ball up to him and he lobs it up over the keeper and at long last, England have gotten the lead they deserve...or so they think. The linesman nearby has already risen his flag for offside and their is confusing from the England players who feel that they were onside.

From the England dugout, Greenwood is not happy as he gets up from the bench and looks like he'll be given that linesman a earful as to why that is not offside, but it's only thanks to his assistant coach that holds him back from doing whatever the England manager was planning on doing. The game resumes from a goal kick and the ball and this time the Pole start making some inroads into the England half and Szarmach nearly fires his team in front in the fifty-seventh minute and Clemence has to make a save once gain to prevent a sudden lead being taking by the Germans. It is going to be a long game...


Clemence leading from the back
If anyone had hoped for something to happen, then sadly enough, it was to turn out to be something of an anti-climax in which Poland pretty much seemed hellbent on getting a point from the game in contrast to England who are hellbent on trying to get all three points from whatever needs possible. In what can only be described as one of the most stuffiest and frustrating games to play at this World Cup, the final score ends as it started; 0-0 between the two sides.

It's hard to say who is the more happier or disappointed compared to the two and while perhaps Poland may have not gotten revenge on England for them not qualifying last time, them holding them to a goalless draw might be of something for them to feel happy about in all fairness. However with the fact for England that they have to face Brazil next, everyone knows that they have to play better than that if they want to have any chance of going through to the next round. For both Home Nations, it had been a night of much mixed results.

And there we are! Not the best update but it has to be real as possible in how things might pan out in which Brazil thrash Scotland and Poland frustrate Poland. Anyway, next update will be England vs Brazil and Scotland taking on Poland, can both do it? Find out next time P.S as of the time of writing, it is my birthday tomorrow so by the time you read this, it will be be my birthday, so yeah. Until then, catch you all later! :)
Chapter 33: No Room To Hide
Chapter 33
No Room To Hide

After the lacklustre start for both Home Nations, It was vital that both of them had to simply get a result in their second group games just four days later (June 14th) if they had any hope for wanting to win the group and reach the final. That said it wasn't easy for either as Scotland would first take on Poland while later on, England would take on Brazil in a mouth-watering clash in which many felt that the latter two were the most likely ones that had a chance of reaching the final. Bottom line, there was no no room to hide though it was hard to think who was feeling more pressure.

The first to play was Scotland who in many ways looked like a team that following their thrashing at the hands of Brazil seemed like a team that was there for the taking for Poland and it was fair to say that the Tartan Army didn't hold up for much hope in their own team's chances themselves if they were being honest. It wasn't helped that much of the British press didn't feel that Scotland had any chance to get something and even most of the Scottish press had given up on the team which no doubt would have rubbed off the players up the wrong way but shockingly even that wasn't the worst of it.

The aftermath of the defeat to Brazil, their heaviest ever in a World Cup, had gotten a little bit too personal when reports came home from Scotland that members of Willie Ormond's family back home were apparently being suffering from abuse from angry Scottish supporters and news journalists. So bad this was that even England manager Ron Greenwood, upon hearing this, told the press and those who had given hell to Ormond's family to give him a break. A real sporting moment from a man who himself wasn't doing much better from the press following England's frustrating draw with Poland.


Footage of the interview Greenwood did for ITN calling out those who abused Ormond
Despite this support in which Ormond was grateful for, he knew that the only way he could silence the critics was by beating the Poles which would get Scotland's World Cup hopes back on track. That all said, Ormond would find it difficult to understand in which how someone like him who had become a public darling in Scotland following that victory over Brazil in the last World Cup only for it all to change so dramatically to treat him as a pariah as the one responsible for making Scotland look like a joke on the world stage even if this Brazil team was a vast improvement on the team Scotland had beaten. Then again, that was perhaps the power of the press as they say.

So on the 18th June, Scotland faced off Poland in the Estadio Ciudad de Mendoza, the same stadium where they had suffered the high of beating the Dutch and now the absolute low of losing to the Brazilians in this very same stadium. Oddly enough but nonetheless welcoming for the Scotland team, the locals there all felt sorry for what had happened the Scots, helped by the fact that they had been beaten by Argentina's big rival and had decided to cheer them on for the game ahead. It wasn't much but for Ormond and what had happened, he'd gladly take it.

Soon enough the game began and what was rather worrying for the Tartan Army was that Ormond had decided not to change the team selection and kept ten of the players that had lost to Brazil with the only change being with Graeme Souness being added to help out. Some felt this was not enough and argue that he should've been playing in the Brazil game which Ormond admitted he got that wrong. As the game got underway, the Scotland fans were not holding up any hope that this team would really turn up for the big games and for good reason.

The Scots found themselves at the mercy of the Polish who pushed them back and was proving to be painful viewing for a Scottish perspective. It only then gets worse in the third minute when Alan Rough, after making a rather comfortable save, made a terrible free-kick right into the path of Andrzej Szarmach who headed the ball into the empty net and Rough looks around feeling very foolish for that attempt and knowing that he might end up as a bigger joke than he fear and that the English will add that howler to the list of Scottish stereotype of goalkeeping blunders.


Szarmach, the man who opened the scoring for Poland
Not even five minutes gone and Scotland are already a goal behind and an early exit from the World Cup seems like the only fate that seems to be staring Scotland dead in the face. The camera then shows a rather sorry image of Willie Ormond looking a total shadow of a man with his expression is grim and his eyes are bloodshot from no doubt the lack of sleep he's had lately. Even though he had become a popular joke, many can't help but feel bad for their past actions and everyone else who didn't get involve in the witch hunt just want to give him a hug for comfort. It's going to be a long game.
After that opening goal, Poland begin pressing for another goal and nearly do so just ten minutes later when Zbigniew Boniek flashes a volley at goal only for the crossbar to stop it going in and save Scotland from further humiliation. It seems for now, the only thing Scotland can do is just keep soaking up the pressure and then when the time was right, strike back. Ormond knew that his team selection was never going to win over the hearts and minds of many but for the one change he had made was more than making an positive impact to the team.

Graeme Souness proves his worth of what one change can bring to a team and the Liverpool midfielder has been a standout player in this Scottish team as he has performed a number of brilliant tackles to prevent the Poles from scoring with one such moment being in the twenty-second minute when he has to make a well timed sliding tackle to prevent Lato from scoring the second for Poland. Whatever any thought Scotland fans had about how well this game might end up, they could all at least admit that Souness' appointment into the team was very much welcomed.


Souness during the game with Poland

By the half hour mark, not only have Scotland prevented any more chances for the Poles but are now starting to press up the field in their attempt to try and find an unlikely goal from somewhere. From the bench, Willie Ormond can actually sit back and relax with his arms crossed with some hope that he knows that the players will deliver for him, it's only just a matter of time that they will deliver for him. Then in the thirty-second minute, Andy Gray manages to thread the ball through the legs of Jerzy Gorgoń, nutmegging him, which gets a big cheer from the crowd and that the ball is linked up with Joe Jordon on the other side who slides the ball into the penalty box in which he back passes it towards Kenny Dalglish who then knocks it over Zygmunt Kukla who can't do nothing about and from out of nowhere, Scotland have gone level with Poland.

The Scottish supporters in the ground celebrate that after all the hell they went through with the Brazil game, at last they have something to cheer about. Willie Ormond now looks like a man reborn as he looks like the weight of the world is on his shoulders has been lifted knowing that his faith in his players has paid off. Poland though are no push overs and it seems that they are determined to punish the Scots for making them look like fools for losing their lead and almost less than a minute after that goal, Lato nearly strikes back with a goal but his attempt is knocked over the bar by Andy Rough but it does lead to a corner kick.

The corner kick is well taking and Kazimierz Deyna (the Polish captain) tries to header in a quickfire goal but the plucky Scottish keeper, almost wanting to make up for his embarrassing mistake from earlier in the game, punches the ball over the heads of the players in the box before it lands right at the feet of Boniek who tries to fire it through for a goal, but his effort is too ambitious and the ball heads wide of the post and the Scots have a moment of calm to catch their breath before the goal kick is taken. Thankfully, Scotland keeps Poland at bay throughout the rest of the first half and the two teams leave the pitch with the game tied at 1-1. At last, some hope for Ormond.


Dalglish celebrates the goal that makes it 1-1

When it came round for the second half, the message that Ormond had for the players was more or less keeping playing the same as they had done towards the end of the first half as if things carried on the way they did then surely another goal would come to Scotland and hopefully the winner. The start of the second half started of with Scotland looking like a different beast that was a contrast to the rather feeble way they had started and nearly get off to a wonderful start when in the forty-seventh minute when Dalglish nearly scored a second a second when he ran down on towards the edge of the box with a lovely curl but alas he put too much of a bend on it and the ball went wayward over the bar.

Nonetheless, the only chant that was going on in the stadium in Córdoba was the mostly Argentine crowd chanting, 'Es-co-cia! Es-co-cia! Es-co-cia!' The local crowd and the traveling Tartan Army were cheering on the Scots and the plucky underdogs were given the Poles a run for their money and as each minute went by through this second half so far, Scotland had grown more and more confident as they began to believe that they had nothing to fear now. Poland looked frustrated in trying to contain the Scots and the real feeling by many was that Scotland were going to nick a winner sooner than later. In the fifty-third minute, Ormond brings on John Robertson to replace Andy Gray as a secret weapon to try and sneak said victory.

Seven minutes later, he has become quite a standout player given it his all and decides to run with the ball into the box and the Polish are looking suspect at the back in which look like it is there for the taken. Robertson however gets too excited thinking that he'll find his name in lights and the ball goes flying over into the disappointed Scotland fans behind the goal up in the terraces. It is a good chance missed but it does show that Scotland look likely to cause an upset but a cynic will point out that they have to make the most of this good play otherwise they might end up kicking themselves.


Robertson during his introduction
That certain fear that Scotland might end up shooting themselves in the foot is actually something that is on Ormond's mind and the Scotland manager rather quiet as the watches the game. That all said, he does have that little gleam in his eyes that has not been seen following the Brazil disaster; maybe their World Cup hopes aren't all that dead? His little dream there is nearly shattered in the sixty-sixth minute in rather cruel fashion in which Szarmach goes on the break and with no Scottish player around, looks set to score and many Scottish fans can't help but look away fearing the worse.

But the Polish didn't expect Souness rushing in to defend like a man possessed by the devil and right on the edge of the penalty box, he pulls of a tackle that could rival any world-class tackle and snatches it off the feet of the stunned Polish player and Souness wastes no time is punting it up the field. It is a move that the crowd applaud for a brilliant effort and it seems like the goodwill of the crowd is egging them on to get something out of this game. Then again as the game now enters the final twenty minute of the game, time is running out to find a winner from either team.

Another chances happens to fall to Scotland in the seventy-fourth minute when Robertson tries to let one fly at goal but his shot is saved by Kukla who quickly wastes no time in keeping it up the field for the game to keep flowing. Despite what is being said with Scotland looking positive going forward, that isn't meaning to say that Poland weren't creating chances themselves on the other end of the field in which Lato went to fire his shot on target only for Andy Rough to stop it just three minutes later after that chance for Scotland. Honestly, it was hard to tell who would even win the game.


Some of the Scotland fans during the game with Poland
In the final ten minutes, the game becomes a lot more tense in which the vibe one can get from both teams is that neither want to lose this match though it is unclear if a draw is good for both team's hopes of reaching the final. It is during this period however is that Scotland start to look rather tired, their work rate in that second half will have caused them to grow tired and now Poland can smell blood in the water as the fear of the Tartan Army, Scotland have slowly started to turn back into the ropey team that had started this match and to lose now would be terminal for their hopes going forward.

When it does come to injury time with the score still at 1-1 despite the late Polish pressure, for some reason the referee had ordered five minutes of stoppage time. It had been agony for the Scots in the closing stages who despite playing for most of the second half with promise, they have now been reduced to having their backs pressed up against the wall and have been trying everything to halt the Polish advance. Five minutes to go, Ormond is sitting on the bench with his hands over his mouth and praying that his team has to surely get something out of this? Four minutes to go, Lato nearly breaks Scottish hearts as he slides the ball under the legs of the Scottish players and it's only for the hands of Rough that keeps it out. Three minutes to go, The Polish in their battle to find a late winner gets themselves another corner and Boniek gets his head to it but thankful his shot goes over the bar.

Final minute, Rough kicks the ball as far as he can up the pitch to let the time run out and several of the players run forward to hold the ball and pray no man in white shirt and black short gets anywhere near the ball. Thirty seconds left, surely it should be over now? Ormond checks his watch to make sure the time is up. Then at long last, the referee blows his whistle and Scotland have gained a much deserved point from a tough game and the Poles' hopes of getting to the final are starting to look slim. The crowd celebrate and so do the players for a good result and it is surely vindication for the Scotland manager who feels that with a little bit of luck, they might've pulled off a victory. Alas, he'll take this result and now knows that their final group game will be a crunch match with England. A rematch of the infamous game of 1974...

A couple of hours later after Scotland's game with Poland, up next would be a match up between the two favourites of the group battling it out for a place in the final; England and Brazil. For a Brazilian point of view, it was a rather simple following their victory over Scotland - all they had to was beat England and they'd surely be more or less in the final would a group game to spare. Not so good for England and their manager Ron Greenwood who knew that after the disappointment of the draw with Poland, they'd have to simply beat Brazil if they had any hope of wanting to make it to the final.

That being said prior to the second round in which Brazil had looked rather poor in the group stage, those comments about them had gone out of the window following their mauling of Scotland and the England players were very much wanting to avoid such a fate knowing that a loss here would kill any hopes they had. The game would be played in the Estadio Gigante de Arroyito in Rosario and despite a large number of Brazilian fans in there, there would be some Argentines in their actually secretly rooting for England over the fact that they didn't want Brazil to get a victory here. With that though, the game began and right from the get go, both sides weren't really going in for kill but rather seemed wanting to probe each other and this does look frustrating for many who wanted blood and thunder from the start.


England vs Brazil in the 1978, note England wearing their away colours
In the build-up, there has been some predictions made that despite it being a tight game that Brazil will in the end come out on top in the end. Despite that, England weren't performing too badly after ten minutes of play and even though neither side had scored, Greenwood's men had gone toe to toe with the Brazilians and knew that they could be beaten if they didn't lose their concentration. Even the crowd are starting to warm up to the English seeing that they might cause an upset on the Brazilians. In the sixteenth minute, Zico tries to cut through the English defence and firing home the ball, but his shot is saved by the hands of Peter Shilton and taking notes from Greenwood of not giving the Brazilians a moment of rest, he quickly kicks the ball up the field towards the middle of the field where Ray Wilkins is waiting for him to get his head onto the ball leaping into the air in which Edinho leaps up to try and stop him but fails.

It is bang on the twentieth minute when Wilkins then gives the ball towards Trevor Brooking who goes on the run with several Brazilian defenders try to stop him and right before he can be stopped by any of them, he crosses the ball up over towards Keegan who keeps his eye on the ball the whole time as it descends and before it even touches the ground, he fires a rocket of a shot on target and straight past the hands of Leão in which he can only watch the ball try to rip the back of the net and thus, that goal has put the English up 1-0 on Brazil. The small number of English supporters and even parts of the Argentina crowd celebrate seeing the Brazilians finally having someone score against them and that the game is not a foregone conclusion.

Keegan celebrates with his teammates and he looks over towards the England bench seeing them celebrating too, but Greenwood remains calm and instead gives him a double thumbs up for his efforts. His plan of rattling the Brazilians like that has worked and the men in yellow can't seem to know what to do to get back in this game, it is almost like they weren't expecting to go behind in this game. No sooner just five minutes after that goal, England start pushing back the Brazilians back once again and after a very well worked set of passing from Wilkins, then to Keegan and then over towards Trevor Francis who tucks in a wonderful goal that looks like England have gone 2-0 up. However to his dismay and Brazil's relief, Francis discovers that the goal has been marked offside by the linesman and it's a frustrating one to take.


A happy moment, England take the lead in the game with Brazil
It is though a big let off for the Brazilians who are lucky that they haven't been further humiliated and this in turn does finally wake up the Brazilians to get going into the game and at last start pushing the English back and Ron Greenwood stands on the touchline with his arms crossed watching his men pushed back and though he doesn't want to show it, a horrible thought crosses him mind. Have they scored too soon? It is a thought that any team with a lead in a game that no one wants to have and with it still being very early in the game, who is to say that the worst is still yet to happen?

Any Englishman watching the game might have been thinking the same thing as the sight of yellow shirted Brazilian players start flooding the English half of the pitch with one attempt from Alves in the twenty-sixth minute saw him breaking through the defence and beating Clemence in goal though it is only thanks to the goalpost that helps prevent that goal from Brazil from happening. Five minutes past by and despite Brazil trying all they could for an equaliser, England have kept their 1-0 lead but they are looking rather ropey in which since they had that goal disallowed, England really haven't troubled Brazil since then and thus the South Americans have been enjoying the game despite not getting the goal they feel they deserve.

The first half end ups being quite a blur with some mad end to end action in which before anyone knows what has happened, it is now half time with England leading the game 1-0. When the players left the field and it seems that Greenwood's tactics were working a treat and if it wasn't for that goal being chalked off, England could've been 2-0 ahead. Still, as it stood, if they won this match then they would be that close to the final. Then again, the England manager would rather not think about that as getting ahead of himself would be a big mistake should Brazil strike back and who knew that this Brazilian team was defiantly a side that could not only come back, but punish you severally.


The players going off at half time

As the second half began, Greenwood eyed up a large number of Brazilian fans who were making quite a din and cheering their team to try and get back into the game. Then he looked behind him seeing hordes of Argentina men up on the terraces watching the game with serious looks and for all the talks prior for coming out to Argentina about this junta, the England manager felt a bit sorry for these people being ruled by a dictatorship. He feels that the Argentinian's love for the beautiful game being used for very much unwelcomed reasons that shouldn't be done for he and felt that he wished he could help them somehow. Their game with Argentina in the first round had been a bit of an eye opener for him as their game had all these untrustworthy-looking group of men overlooking the game like a pack of vultures.

Apparently not only his game, but all of the host nation's games had these caricatures of movie-style gangsters at their matches. Shifty-eyed, fidgety, oily and suspicious types in long overcoats that look so typical of gangster types that it could almost be comical if the whole atmosphere surrounding this tournament wasn't so suspect. His mind drifts away from the game but he soon breaks out of his thoughts when the referee has blown his whistle and looks over to see what has happened. Trevor Cherry has brought down Zico is badly timed tackle in the forty-seventh minute and is given a yellow card from the Hungarian referee and awards Brazil a free kick.

Reinaldo steps up to take it and despite being quite a fair bit back from the penalty box, he tries his luck and knocks it for quite a big distant and the curls down looking like it might just go in, English hearts going into their mouths. The ball does come down...but only on the top of the net in which the English can take a sigh of relief knowing that their lead is still intact. Greenwood sits back down on the bench and rubs his chin in thought in thinking what to do, he has wanted his players to give it their all here, but he doesn't want to exhaust them out here; 1-0 leads are a very dangerous thing to hold on to. Still a long way to go in this game.


The action packed game in action during the start of the second half
Though the score remains 1-0 to England come round by the sixtieth minute, it has been anything but dull. The crowd inside the stadium and watching the game on TV couldn't take their eyes of the game as the two styles of football seemed to have everyone in a trance. Unlike the Polish team, the Brazilians didn't look that flustered despite being behind and pepper potting the English defence with an estimated 17 shots on goal in the second half alone by this point while England had managed just 12 shots on goal. Pretty much anyone could win this game and in a fair world, the game should've been a draw considering how much the two sides were level with each other in terms of play.

England have done a fairly good job of shutting up shop yet those up the field such as Keegan have been yelling at his teammates to get moving forward so that he and any others alongside him can find another goal from somewhere. Finally then in the sixty-eighth minute, Keegan has the ball but is brought down by Oscar and is given a yellow card for his actions. The ball itself is in a fairly good area being just 30 yards out from the box and Keegan steps up to take it. The referee blows his whistle and rather than Keegan trying to fire the ball over the Brazilian wall of defence, he knocks it to his right towards Francis and the man in question has an open area in which the Brazilians are unguarded and unprepared for this and thus, Francis knocks it right into the right side of the goal and looks set to score.

However against all the odds and much to relief of his fellow countrymen, Leão comes to the rescue of Brazil who has to make a dramatic save to deny England the chance to increase the lead and, by this point, have a firm grip on winning this tie which is still so finely balanced. That said by the final fifteen minutes of the game, Brazil only now start to panic knowing that letting England win this match would mean that whoever makes it to the final would be blown wide open in terms of being open for anyone to get it. It could have been all so simple if Brazil could just win this game...


Original footage of the match
In the eighty-third minute, Rivellino comes close to scoring an equaliser but his shot is saved by Clemence who knocks it out for a corner kick for Brazil, one that the latter fail to make the most of and now with it being so late into the game, it's starting to look like there is little chance that this Brazil team are going to get something from the game. All England have to do now is sit back and just soak up the pressure to snatch those two points.

More frustrating for the Brazilian supporters there is seeing their team finally come to life after being on the backfoot for so long in an annoying one and wonder how different things might have been had England not scored so soon. Ironically, something that Greenwood had feared that would come back to haunt England when in the end, it seems that that was not going to be the case. No matter what Brazil try to do, it is little too late and England hold on to win 1-0 and the English players on the pitch celebrate wildly their famous victory which means they are now so close to the final.

Any victory over Brazil will be very much welcomed by the English press and this means that, in theory, they'd only need maybe just a point in their final group game to reach the final though a victory will pretty much confirm this. However, standing in their way from reaching another final is none other than their oldest rival who will be wanting more than most to prevent England from reaching the final...Scotland.

And here we are! Mixed results there but a good day at the office for England a rather 'meh' one for Scotland. However stay tuned for the dramatic next update in which England and Scotland will play in the final group match in which England will hope to make while Scotland will try all they can to prevent them. Don't miss the next update so until then, catch you all later and I think a certain few of you might like it...

P.S. Thank you all for the lovely birthday messages from the last update, had a quiet one but nice day all the same. :)
Chapter 34: One Night in Rosario
Chapter 34
One Night in Rosario

After everything that had happened before, it all came do this final group game in which for the first time since the ending of the Home International Championship, England and Scotland were to meet once again in a World Cup in what had more riding on it than just bragging rights. On the day of the game on June 21st, Brazil and Poland had played earlier that day in which the Brazilians would defeat the Poles 3-1 that left Brazil sitting on top of the group and looking set to play in the final. However that was not quite all settled as later on in the day would see England and Scotland battle it out in which the former knew that if they were to beat the Scots then they'd leapfrog Brazil and would win the group.

Even though the game would kick-off at quarter past eleven on a Wednesday night for UK viewers due to the time difference, that wouldn't stop millions of people to tune into ITV that night (STV for Scottish viewers) with many even calling sick to turn up to work the following day in which was estimate to be something around about twenty-one million viewers that night and for good reason mostly if you were English. If they won, then England would be playing in their first final for eight years and no one wanted to miss it. Scotland were up for such a game, well rather any game against the auld enemy, though even if they did win, their own hopes of reaching the final were dead and the best they could do was win by a barrel load of goals to at least get into the third place play-off.

However what was more apparent for the Scots was the prospect that England might reach the final. It would be bad enough to see England get there and worse if they went on to win the World Cup, but it would all be the more horrifically unbearable if it were Scotland of all teams that had to be the one that was the team England needed to beat to get into the final. Fair to say that many in that Scotland team knew if that nightmarish thought happened then likely most of that squad would never be allowed to set foot in Scotland ever again and the best they could do was to at least prevent England reaching the final which would give the Scots the last laugh. Even without the football aspect, the whole situation both politically and on a culture level prior going into this World Cup has gripped both nations and there is a feeling shared among many that no matter what happens, something about this particular encounter could have major ramifications in the UK though no one knows what.


One of the two special TV Times front covers that were made for the World Cup; this being for the Scotland and the other made was for England
This was to be the ninety-sixth of the two teams though only four fifth time they would cross paths at a World Cup and interestingly, this would be the first time the two sides would play each other in South America and the people of Rosario would be presented with the once in a lifetime chance to see this famous fixture being staged in their own backyard with about three thousand English and Scottish supporters joining them in the hope to see their respective side come out on top. While in comparison to the sight of the hordes of supporters from both sides in Frankfurt was not repeated here, the large travelling distance and expensive cost to get out to Argentina was likely a big factor in this, there was still a fear that trouble might happen out here either before or after the game.

Mercifully there didn't seemed to be any chance of that happening thanks to a suspiciously large number of police troops around the ground that were on the lookout for trouble taking place. Whatever anyone might have felt, when the managers of both teams shook hands just before the anthems were played they both knew that this could be a match that would go in history either as a famous result or something more infamous in which both Greenwood and Ormond will wanting to avoid. Both teams would start with pretty much the same players in either side that had been part of the second group games and it was a sign that both managers were willing to keep faith with those who they knew could help them get something from the game.

That said, there was a great deal of confidence from the English supporters and for good reason; they had managed to defeat Brazil, one of the favourites no less, and the same team had also utterly destroyed Scotland in that 5-1 hammering so with that all in mind, the English felt that this was all set up to be in their favour. But as there is in every derby, all form goes out of the window and the Scots would put their lives on the line if it meant denying England's moment of glory. Before long with millions tuning in for the late night game and a more than likely chance of at least someone praying for a good result, the French referee blew his whistle to start the game and thus, the two noisy neighbours that they were would begin play.


Early moment during the game
It wouldn't be long until the crowd of nearly forty-thousand would see some action as no sooner after that attempt in the seventh minute after a fairly busy period from both sides, Steve Coppell and Peter Barnes work together to make a good shot on target for England, but Alan Rough comes to Scotland's rescue in preventing an early lead for England. Just two minutes later, Keegan attempts to try and score on the left flank, but he is forced out by Stuart Kennedy which leads for a Scottish throw in though it is clear from these early moments of the match that England have started the more positive team with Willie Ormond standing on the touchline shouting out orders for his team to wake up.

Wherever or not his shouting works to get the players motivated, it isn't until the twelve minute in which Joe Jordon is given the ball up by Andy Gray and the Manchester United player takes it into the English penalty box and looks set to score from out of nowhere after all that pressing from the English. However his shot towards the top left hand corner of the net is somehow saved by Ray Clemence which keeps the game level, nonetheless Scotland are now playing a massively improved performance that has not been seen since the Dutch game; then again Scotland seem always want to do their best against England which does frustrate their supporters over why can't they play like this more often against any other team they play.

By this point Scotland are the ones putting pressure on English but much like their opponents, they can't seem to find a way through to get the opening goal and it isn't too long until the play drifts back in favour of the English. A waste of time in trying to get something for Scotland and before they know, It all goes from bad to worse. In the twenty-first minute of the game, Keegan breaks the deadlock in which, but some unfortunate bad luck on the part of the Scots, Rough drops a clanger and the English player rushes in to capitalise on this mistake and fires the ball into the top left of the net and put England in front. The Scottish goalkeeper lies face down on the pitch feeling shameful for yet another mistake of his and it's only the help of captain Graeme Souness that has to help him back on his feet and get up and find a way back into the game.


Keegan helps England take the lead with Andy Rough not wanting to look...
Willie Ormond and the rest of those on the Scottish bench groan in despair, a terrible thing they and perhaps every Scotland fan watching is that they have only just realised just then was that Scotland had coincided a goal at all of their matches at this World Cup and it was clear that the Scots' ropey leaky defence had been pretty much the problem for much of their ropey performances. Nonetheless, Scotland don't decide to give up so easily and they try all they can to get back into this match and much to the enjoyment of the neutrals in the stadium watching, the game quickly opens up with both sides pressing forward in either half and in all fairness, either side can score. Question is who would it be? Then in the thirty-third minute there is another chance from Jordon as he tries to slip it in but his shot is a wasted on in which Ray Clemence saves it and kicks it up the field for the game to carry on.

On the English bench, the reaction one can see from Ron Greenwood and much of the England assistant team is one of cautious optimism and knows that a slender 1-0 lead can easily change the longer this goes on. Greenwood's actions are justified as then in the thirty-seventh minute, Scotland are awarded a free kick due to a tackle on Jordon by Phil Neal and Dalglish steps up to take it. He awaits as the referee tries to push back some of the players from getting too close to Dalglish. Finally he is given the call as he fires it over the English wall, but sadly the ball goes wide of the post and a good chance for Scotland goes amiss. The Scottish supporters in the ground look uncomfortable as their fears of England getting into the final because of beating them is now a real possibility, they can't be given up like this now?

Despite the said slender lead and that freekick that could have gone badly wrong for England, the Three Lions look rather comfortable it must be said as if they are under no pressure despite the gravity of the situation while the Scots seem to cut a frustrated look at how they just can't seem to have any luck falling their way. There is one chance right of the death of the half for Scotland in which Gray makes an utter blunder of it seeing the ball clear over the bar and before they know, the first half ends with England leading Scotland 1-0. It is only as the players are walking off the field that it dawns on them all that should the result remain the same then England is now only just forty-five minutes away from reaching a World Cup Final...


England and Scotland clashing towards the end of the first half


After a fairly eventful team talk from both managers over what needed to be done, the teams are back on the pitch and Scotland come out of the traps flying in hoping to find that elusive goal that could help stop England reaching the promised land of a final any many nervous fans across Scotland are feeling really tense about this. For some weird reason though, England look rather lazy and don't seem the need to get into this game, it's like they already feel like they are already in the final, don't they know that Scotland will punish them if they play like this? Greenwood notices this and gives his players an angry yell to concentrate as Scotland start to cause problems for England on their flanks.

Then in the fifty-fourth minute, Jordon, while running down the right, volleys a shot to Clemence who rather than save the ball, punches towards the left of the field and right in the ball's descending path, there is Dalglish right on a collision course. The Liverpool keeper's eyes widen in horror at what is about to happen as he stumbles back to try and make the save, but the Scottish forward makes the advantage of this and fires a low ball home past the England keeper and finally brings Scotland level in the game. It is major relief for the Scots though for some realise something strange about the situation in which The Liverpool star. Dalglish, has scored against his Liverpool teammate, an irony not lost on the disappointed England fans watching from the terraces who now know that they have a game on their hands.

it is a wonderful start of the second half for the Scots yet a horrible start for England and In the fifty-ninth minute, Greenwood decides to make a switch in which Greenhoff goes off for Emlyn Hughes in the hopes that the team can freshen up and retake the lead. The game goes along at quite a steady pace and then right in the sixty-third minute, another change is made and this time it is for Scotland with Archie Gemmill going on for Don Masson in the hopes to find another goal and maybe attempt to replicate his wonder goal against the Netherlands. Although England do make a couple of good chances during the second half, the momentum is with the men in dark blue as they are fighting tooth and nail to get the winning goal.


Dalglish going in for the kill to level the game out
The next eight minutes of the game proves to be quick a tasty affair with tackles coming in from mostly Souness who is pretty much without question playing for the shirt and leads the charge on England; clearly he wants more than anything to stop England reaching for final in which as it stands, Brazil are going through though only on goal difference. Yet like before, Scotland just can't seem to break down Clemence and that backline and while a draw might be just enough, a draw is never quite just what Scotland want to get out from this game. Either way it is a tense affair for those in the ground and watching on TV across the UK, and surely there is another twist in the tale to follow?

It is a good game, a damn good game by all accounts, perhaps one of the best England/Scotland games to be seen and is indeed a much more exciting game than that dull tudi affair in the last world cup and that rout at Wembley in 1975. Ormond yells out to his players to switch their formation slightly...or pretty much throw the kitchen sink in and show no fear to ruin England's World Cup hopes. Scotland have now switched to a 4-3-3 shape and make great assistance to each other, Greenwood looks quite nervously and fears the worse might yet fall upon on his team. Then in the seventy-ninth minute, Gemmill replicates his solo move that he did with the Dutch and both Dave Watson and Phil Neal can't seem to stop him, but rather shoot on target, he back passes towards Joe Jordon who only manages to keep the ball out of play and runs with the ball on the left towards the penalty area.

This time he aims up his shot and without any fear, he thumps home the ball into the back of the net and puts Scotland 2-1 into the lead! At last, the Scots have gotten the goal they wanted and in all fairness, probably deserved and Willie Ormond looks certain to have masterminded victory over England and probably one that might be more important than any other result previously in terms of the situation. There are now looks of dismay among the England bench and there is a sinking feeling among many England fans watching that they might have chucked this game. Could they do something in these final ten minutes?


Jordon barely keeps out the ball
With it dawning on the England players about how close they are to are losing the game, the English now seem to wake up and now it's their turn to throw the kitchen sink at Scotland in order to find an equaliser late on into the game. However, in the eighty-fourth minute, Keegan looks certain to score when he get's through a gap in the Scottish defence that leaves the goal open with only Alan Rough there. In fact no, not only is it open, it's gaping. However he panics in the heat of the moment and balloons his shot over the bar and into the dismayed England supporters sitting behind the goal. Cue a sigh of relief from the Scottish contingent in that stadium.

The tension is building from both. England are desperate to keep pressing while Scotland now find themselves pinned back and are on the defensive while anyone looking not on the pitch will see suddenly a long line of army troops entering the stadium to stand between the pitch and the terracing in what seems like a precaution in fear of violence spilling over or a pitch invasion. It seems that after what happened in Frankfurt and with the reputation of British sporting hooligans, that the Argentine forces are wanting to risk it; either way those sort of scenes are nothing like what you'd see at either Wembley or Hampden Park.

The last ten minutes are pretty much the most tense anyone watching this famous fixture will remember, so much so that there are stories that many across the UK were having heart attacks from the sheer tension that was happening but by this point, Scotland were still leading 2-1 but they had their backs against the wall. After a mad rush from the English players in the mad chase for a goal, it turns out to be all too late as that certain shrill sound of a referee's whistle is heard by all abd the game is eventually brought to an end as Scotland have signed off from this World Cup on a high with a victory over England and in turn, ending their arch rivals World Cup hopes.


A look of victory
The Scottish players and supporters celebrate while the English are crestfallen, some of the players fall to the ground from how just how close they were from reaching a final but alas, the Scots have decided to get the last laugh and in some ways this victory for the latter might be even better than winning the whole tournament. Eventually the two managers go over to shake hands to congratulate each other on a great game. Despite Greenwood's disappointment of not leading England to the final, he can't help but feel happy for his Scottish counterpart who, if rumours he hear are true is his final World Cup and if so then what a way to sign off.

"Well done chap," Greenwood speaks to Ormond, "deserved win that."

"Aye, well done too," Ormond replies with a grin. "Good luck for the next game now."

That indeed is true, even though England may have failed to reach the final, they have though finished in second place and thus will play in a third place play-off game in which Greenwood has to put his disappointment to one side and focus on gaining some pride for England. Shortly after the game, Ormond would make the announcement to the press that he would be leaving the Scotland job and while he didn't get any silverware or reach a final for his country, he would be looked back with fondness by the Tartan Army with that victory over England going down in Scottish football history. With that though, the great South American adventure was over.

1978 ALT 1.png

Final results of Group A and B of the 1978 World Cup
After that thrilling game, England would return to the capital to play West Germany and the game in question would be quite a turgid affair in which a combination of feeling sad for not reaching the final and not wanting to be there, England would win the game 1-0 thanks to a goal from Keegan who while doesn't gone on to win the golden boot, he does get a lot of interest from many clubs across Europe who all want him to sign him though that is all for another story. Speaking of which, it wouldn't be long until England and the Germans would end up crossing paths again much sooner that expected.

When it came to the final, it would be an all South American affair that perhaps everyone wanted; Argentina vs Brazil. Though it would be something a little bit more than a football game with a lot riding on it mostly for the junta to remain in power. When the players do appear onto the pitch, there is a huge amount of ticker tape raining down onto the field and although there is about 2,000 Brazilian fans who have made the daunting journey to Argentina, they are vastly overwhelmed by their Argentine counterparts. Despite this, the Brazil do have an advantage of surprise right from the very start of the match. The normal thing for all footballers the world over to do when kicking off from the centre circle is for one of the two players standing over the ball to play it backward to a midfield player and play the game from then.

However, the cunning Brazilians buck the trend and instead of doing this, Rivellino taps the ball to Reinaldo and instead of knocking the ball backwards, he takes it forward, surprising the two Argentina strikers, whom he duly passes them with ease. After then twisting the ball around Osvaldo Ardiles and then Daniel Passarella before threading the ball forward towards the supporting Rivellino as Daniel Bertoni closes in with a killer tackle. Rivellino moves it wide to Zico who gives it back to Dirceu. The midfield player, on the right side of the field, just outside the Argentinian penalty area, notes the Argentines flooding back toward their own goal and then he dinks a beautiful pass over their heads where Reinaldo sprints forward to meet the ball and headers it in past the hands of Fillol, the Argentinian goalkeeper. With just less than a minute played, Brazil are 1-0 up in the final.


Photo from the final

It is only the help of Fillol that keeps the score the way it as Brazil prove to be utter ruthless trying to add to their lead, Argentina are utterly rattle and so are members of the junta watching from the VIP box. The first half is nothing sort of painful for the hosts as they struggle to find a way back into the game but to their credit as the first half goes along, the hosts get into the game and do get a couple of chances to find the equaliser. Then with just exactly ten minutes of the first half still remaining, Kempes takes matters into his own hands as he rushes with the ball past many Brazilian defenders and reaches into the penalty area and many spectators rise to their feet expecting the goal. Then it does arrive. From ten yards outside the box he lobs it over the Brazilian keeper and the ball neatly falls into the back of the net. The Buenos Aires crowd, who have been growing restless at this point, leap up in celebration and ticker tape rains down onto the pitch from the higher tier of the stadium. It comes at the right time to end the first half 1-1 and everything still has to be played for. However what would follow next in the second half would be a feeling of how Brazil felt many years ago when the World Cup was in their country and what happened when Uruguay came to spoil the party...

With each passing minute of the second half with the hosts wasting many chances due to what seems like pressure, the home crowd grows more nervous with each passing minute and in the sixty-eighth minute after Brazil and forced off the field in order for an Argentine throw in. Argentina's manager, Menotti, gets to his feet and runs over to the touchline and, in an effort to get his team back on the rails, he yells out to them crying, "There are only eleven of them and seventy thousand of us, we can't lose this!" Try as he might, it now becomes clear that Argentina have, ever since that very early goal by Brazil, look weak and it does become more clear that they are slowly cracking under the weight of pressure that has been placed on the shoulders of the unfortunate players.

With the game getting into the eighty-seventh minute, it looks like that despite Brazilian pushing and pressing, the final will go into extra time. However the Brazilians have one more trick up their sleeve as they are awarded a corner and there is a mass of bodies in the Argentine box all scrambling to get into the right position for the kick. The corner kick is taking and the ball doesn't get to the head of any player and instead it becomes a mad scramble to get the ball somewhere. Then from in the middle of this madness, Rivellino finds the ball rolling to his feet and with one slightly over powered shot, he fires it upwards into the roof of the net and puts Brazil 2-1 up in the final. Cue many Argentinians covering their eyes in horror at the nightmare about to unfold.


One brave Brazilian fan at the final
The crowd grow more restless again and despite Argentina throwing everything to bring the game into extra time, it is too late, the referee has blown his whistle and in the end, Brazil are world champions for a fourth time, but their victory is greeted with near silence from the stunned crowd who can't make any amount of noise. The Argentinian players on the pitch are still as statues, they are in a state of shock for what has happened while the Brazilian bench gets up and runs onto the field to celebrate their historic victory. Videla waits to carry out his duty of presenting the World Cup, a matter now uncomfortable for him as he can't use the moment for propaganda purposes. Finally, the large crowd finds it's voice and a great roar of furious, bottled up hatred engulfs the stadium.

It is as if, in the vacuum left by defeat, they recognise how empty a regime-backed victory for Argentina would have been. The stadium has become a tinderbox and this is no longer about football, but a turning of the tables on the men who have tried to use the Argentinian's love of football for their own means. One young man, with a blue and white hat, leaps over the wall separating Videla and his men from the crowd and a solider steps in to stop the man. But rather than shoot him in plain sight, he smashes the butt of his rifle down on the man's face, bloodying the national colours on the man's head. The solder's violence only makes the crowd worse as Videla stands frozen as a dozen more people from the crowd leap forward and, undaunted by a similar fate, rush forward to the VIP box.

More and more angry fans descend like a swam of wasps onto the box and Videla and his men have no choice but make a hasty retreat down the corridor behind them. But it is unlikely he'll get far at all. On the pitch, thousands of supporters invade the field and security probably wisely withhold their batons and the Brazilian players have retreated to the tunnel fearing what might unfold for them. In a crazy set of circumstances, as horrible as the loss is for Argentina to lose the final at the hands of their arch rivals, it would bring about the end of the junta and Argentina would move into democracy; who would have thought a football match could achieve such a thing?

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Final results of the third place and final of the 1978 World Cup
With that though, the 1978 World Cup would end in perhaps one of the most explosive and incredible finales ever for a World Cup though not exactly for the reasons one would think. The 1970's were drawing to an end and next time there was to be a tournament would be at the start of the new decade and who knows how well the Home Nations could do in this crazy and ever changing world...?

And so, here we come to the end of 1978. Pretty much the same as in the old TL though a few tweaks and improvements here. It is strange having no MacLeod here in Argentina for a football TL and it does makes things boring for Scotland though honestly when you think about it, I suspect that whole 'It's shite being Scottish' actually started because of the Argentine disaster. Think about it, notice that after that, every tournament we entered and exited tip toeing and reducing our hopes to such a low level that we not not had bothered to be there all because of the massive hype we had going into 1978.

Without that, the butterflies on Scottish football and perhaps all culture takes a different path here going forward. Hope that doesn't mean butterflying 'Trainspotting' here, christ above...Anyway hope you loved this update and see you next time for Euro 1980! :)
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Excellent stuff, and thanks for preserving the iconic final from the original TL, even if it is a bit less dramatic without Clough's 'little speech'!

Also, does Clive Thomas allow the Brazil goal ITTL like in the old one?
Excellent stuff, and thanks for preserving the iconic final from the original TL, even if it is a bit less dramatic without Clough's 'little speech'!

Also, does Clive Thomas allow the Brazil goal ITTL like in the old one?
Thanks, yes, wee bit of a shame without that speech but hey, win some you lose some. I did consider giving the speech to Ron Greenwood but honestly it would be utter ASB for him saying that unlike Clough who wouldn't give a flying fuck what others think, especially the FA! :p

And for the Brazil goal, the disallowed goal here still happens like OTL though it doesn't matter as such considering they win the cup here. Few changes for Euro 1980 and WC 1982 to follow compared to the old TL which keeps things more interesting and I am admittedly wanting to make things a little bit more realistic for the Home Nations instead of making it a full on British wank TL here which looking back on the old TL, it might have felt like that for those who aren't from the British Isles admittedly.
Chapter 35: New Decade, New World - 1980 European Championship
Chapter 35
New Decade, New World


The 1970's had come to an end; a decade that saw the United Kingdom go through something of a mixed year on a culture and political level and even one for it's Home Nation football teams. When looking back on it, many will likely have rose tinted glasses when looking back on football in the country during the decade in which many teams from both England and Scotland would do well in Europe and even some winning silverware and of course there was the Home Nations qualifying for tournaments. Some would like to point out the good times in which both Wales and Northern Ireland nearly stunned the continent in becoming European Champions or how Scotland beat the World Champions Brazil or how England came within a hairsbreadth away of reaching a final in 1978.

That said, it wasn't all good for the Home Nations. The infamous Frankfurt riots of 1974 between English and Scottish supporters had brought shame on the country and it's now ever-growing hooligan problem being exposed to the World and both nations barely avoided being banned for the following World Cup. To try and combat this problem, it would lead to the shock news that would ultimately lead for the long running Home International Championship, the world's longest running football tournament since 1884, to come to end the following year in the wake of those shameful scenes in West Germany which was hoped would stop further battles between hooligan supporters from either side of the border. This did not go down well with football associations of Wales and Northern Ireland who felt it was foolish to end it though with hindsight, that loss was made up for the fact both would do well in the European Championship for qualifying so it wasn't so bad.

Finally with all those things going on, it was all being played to a backdrop to a UK that was seeing miner strikes, black outs, three day weeks, civil, political and social unrest, high unemployment, loss of heavy industries and rampant inflation; one has to wonder if it was all that good during that decade and maybe the British teams both at club and international level would act as a escapism to the unhappy life that seemed to plague the country. That said with a new decade now here there was a feeling that change was in the air and for good reason. In 1979, Scotland would vote in favour of devolution (a similar one in Wales failed) and the following year on May 1st, the first elections of a Scottish assembly took place with a Labour victory and Scotland enter Euro 1980 just a month later after first election and in bizarre twist of fate, England would be there waiting to face them in Turin.


England manager Ron Greenwood (left) on a plane to Euro 1980 while reading
Despite rumours that both teams would be kept apart in the draw by UEFA, the two would end up playing each other in their opening game in Turin and there was certainly a lot riding on this. While the Tartan Army might have been going into this game with not just the feel good factor due to devolution but also with the proud memory of denying the English a place in a World Cup final two years ago, the only one of their countrymen who wasn't quite so pleased about this was Jock Stein, the new Scotland manager. Stein's appointment was one that was not only one that many expected but also one that perhaps the vast majority of Scotland fans wanted though he had made no secret on his desire that the Home Internationals should have been scrapped claiming that there was a bigger world out there for Scotland other than wanting to simply beat England at the end of every football season and in many ways his wish did come true with the tournament meeting it's end in 1975, though ironically he would now have to lead his nation against England out here in Italy.

For most of the Tartan Army, Italy would always be remember for their historic triumph in Rome when they stunned the host nation and the whole continent when Scotland became European Champion in 1968, incidentally the last time the Scots played in the European Championship. More so, there were even some who thought that lightning would strike twice for Scotland and they'd be victorious once again though things had changed since then and this included the format of the tournament which had now expanded from four to eight teams in which there would be two groups of four and, much like with the previous two World Cups, the winner of each group would meet in the final while the runner up would head into the third place match. Not including the English and the Scots being placed in the same group, they also had to face Spain and the host nation, the latter being a heavy favourite to reach the final.

While some may have laughed at the thought that Scotland could reach the promise land like they had done before despite some impressive talent in the team, there was a great deal of expectancy for England to do well after an impressive showing at the last World Cup though despite being arguably the strongest Home Nation, they had never once qualified for the European Championship before while their three fellow Home Nation had not only got there before they had but had all managed to make a final with the Scots of course being the only one to win something. This was no doubt something a minor embarrassment for England but now they were here and hoped that they could get success out in Italy, after all, if their fellow neighbours could do it then surely they could match it and maybe do far better?


Scotland and England fans mingling prior to their opening game of the tournament

Thursday June 12th would have to two face off each other in Turin and many would rush home from work and school to watch the big game which as cliché as it might have sounded being more than a football, off field events certainly gave it an extra edge and that wasn't down to the fact they were playing again in a tournament. Even before the game started however, there was sadly troubled as fights between both sets of fans took place and as sad as this might have been, it wasn't really a surprise in all fairness though thankfully it got nowhere near the levels of the Frankfurt riots though even how there had been little trouble between both fans when out in Argentina, one had naively thought that relations had turned a corner though this might have been down that only a small number had gone out and that they were being heavily watched by some scary looking military police as you'd expect from a junta. This was in contrast to the larger numbers that had swarmed around Turin.

When the game started, the Scotland fans began chanting and bragging to their English counterparts about their own assembly and that they meant business, this all ended up being nothing more than egg in their face as just after eight minutes, Trevor Brooking scored the opening goal after just eight minutes and this was followed up by a second from Ray Wilkens in the twenty-sixth minute which pretty much ended the game for Scotland before it had even begun and ultimately, that 2-0 result would be in the end result and England would get the last laugh. For what had been Scotland's first game in a tournament since voting for devolution and all the pre-match hype and pride around it, the opening game would be something of an anti-climax though now the bragging rights now lay with England after that defeat to Scotland in Argentina.

The press in Scotland was savage towards Stein and his team selection in which the Daily Record newspaper would have the infamous headline lamenting the defeat with it saying '1968 again? You're having a laugh, Stein!' This was almost ironic coming from the same newspaper publisher who just prior to the tournament had been one of the few big Scottish media outlets that had been confident of Scotland doing well and when it all went badly wrong, it seemed that lashing out was a way to try and cover their tracks and save face though it would be lying to say that they weren't the only ones who got carried away. A study carried out years later suggested that in the wake of the act of devolution, the country's confidence seemed to hit a major high and it all went south quickly following that game with England though it is debatable if true. What was true was that England were up and running and Scotland had to go back to the drawing board.


England and Scotland facing each other in the balmy heat of Turin
For England manager Ron Greenwood, he couldn't have hoped for a better start and knew that another victory in their second group game would put them on course for the final, that said they were to face the Italians in which was said to be the hardest game thanks to the home advantage though things seemed to look good in England's favour as the host nation had stumbled to an opening group game draw with Spain and pressure was on the hosts knowing that a loss to England now would mean an embarrassing early exit for the host nation. The game itself was also said to be the most important of the group as both nations were favourites to go make the final though some reckoned that Italy might just edge out England here.

What started would be an even contest in which neither side seemed to be able to find a way through to find an opening goal though Ray Kennedy did struck the woodwork for what might have been an opening goal for the Three Lions. England knew that a draw here would be a good result for them while the pressure mounted on the Italians who knew that a draw could be disastrous for them if results all didn't go their way and Kevin Keegan would later say that it was one of those games in which you could feel the tension coming off from the terraces. Finally after eleven minutes from time, the game would be settled when Phil Neal failed to win a tackle against Francesco Graziani who put over an excellent cross for Marco Tardelli to score from close range past Shilton and fire Italy in front and in the end, a 1-0 victory for the host nation and the revival of their hopes going forward.

On the face of it, it seemed to be a straight shootout between England and Italy, or so people might have thought. Early that day prior to that game in Turin and all the way in Milan, Scotland would face Spain in which both sides badly needed a positive result if they had any hope going further in this tournament and more so for Scotland who in the wake of that bad defeat to England needed a positive response. What followed would be the result that the Tartan Army wanted in which thanks to a goal from John Wark in the seventeenth minute and a penalty scored from John Robertson in the sixty-second minute, Scotland would come out as 2-1 winners which killed of Spanish hopes and suddenly they realised that they had an outside chance of actually doing something special following hearing (and rather enjoying) the news of England's defeat to Italy.


Italy and England walk out onto the field prior to their second group game

The final group game for both Home Nations had huge ramifications for both as England would kick off first against Spain in Naples with Scotland playing Italy later on in the day in Rome, funnily enough the exact location in which eight years ago they had stunned the hosts in their own backyard. As it would happen, Spain would suffer another 2-1 defeat, this time to England who now sat on top of the group knowing that as long Italy didn't beat Scotland then England would surely be in the final, though there was the chance that if Scotland somehow managed to beat Italy then they'd go on level points with England and, depending on how many goals they scored, there was the crazy situation in which Scotland might actually snatch the top spot from England and enjoy a return to a final in Rome.

In many ways, it was a repeat of the group stage shenanigans in Argentina in which in the final group game, England had to beat Scotland to reach the final and the latter had to beat the former just to make sure they didn't. It was a strange situation for all as deep down, the Scots knew that they'd be up against it and even if they did win it might not be enough to reach the final and the English didn't know if they should be supporting Scotland to get a result against Italy. There was even some controversy with rumours that evening going round the Scotland supporters in which in order to prevent England reaching the final that the team would throw the game in order to make sure Italy would win to deny the English a place in the final.

While some still believe this story, many players have spoke up to claim that this is just a myth with the most vocal being Graeme Souness being rather angry about this story saying that years later after the event that the players were not even thinking of bending over just for what was quite honestly a petty thing to do and knew that a victory could actually put them into a final. What followed would be a nerve shredder of a game for all concern as Italy and Scotland needed the win and England were just hoping that it would be a result that suited them, funnily enough it is said to be the only time in which a large number of the English population would tune in to watch a Scotland game though not in the reasons one might expect.


Alex McLeish during the group stage
Italy would have a number of chances to win the game though it would be down to Alan Rough who despite having suffered a great deal of criticism as Scotland goalkeeper over how he had always let Scotland concede at least a goal in all of their games, that wasn't the case here in Rome in which the Scottish goalkeeper would, as he would later describe it, as his greatest game playing for his country as he would help his teams from a bombardment from the Italians who pretty much did nothing but attack all over the Scottish penalty area in the hope for the opening goal in the early moments of the game. Fortunately for Scotland, the game would end up going more open in which Scotland's attacking players began to move up the field.

Despite how much the odds were stacked against the Scots, they did more than enough to go toe-to-toe with Italy in which they did have a few good chances though it would be a game filled with controversy for the Scots in which at one point in the thirty-eighth minute, Scotland were denied which looked liked a clear penalty and even right at the start of the second half, Scotland would have the bad luck of a goal being ruled offside, though looking back on it, it did look to be onside and the reason why it was not allowed seemed to be the source of great confusion among many of the Scottish supporters. However, there was the dark cloud hanging over the host nation over the infamous events of Totonero that had emerged that March over match fixing in the Italian league and the ban of several players to play for the nation team.

Given the state of Italian football, it wasn't the most outrageous thought among the Tartan Army in which there was some form of bribes the referee had taken which would explain some of the choices that had gone against Scotland in this game. Despite both teams trying all they could to get the winner, neither could thanks a stubborn Scottish defence and a poor Italian attack, the game would end in a 0-0 stalemate and thus, England would thanks to a better goal difference to Italy would squeeze their way into what was a long awaited final and a cheer from across England might have been heard from over the border in Scotland in which the latter could only feel despair of failing to win but so too were the Italians who would end up failing to reach the final despite not losing a single game.


Alan Rough, Scotland's goalkeeper of Euro 1980

In a final but rather cruel twist that was typically Scottish, the whole position of the group finishing was one that was very much like 1978 but unlike the last time in which Scotland prevented England reaching a final, the Scots had now by total accident helped to get England to a first final in ten years. Indeed, in a night in which England celebrated a trip to Rome to face West Germany, something a little bonus had happened which was very rare for England in which the notorious north and south divide between the two had finally been laughing at the Scots 'helping' hand. The outcome had not gone unnoticed for the Tartan Army in which the whole situation felt as thought they had salt poured in an open and hideous wound and as the Scots left Italy, they could only hope that it wouldn't be an English victory in the final.

That said, it wasn't all doom and gloom for the Scots in which the following year, Joe Jordon would bag himself a return trip to Italy by signing for AC Milan and several more of his countrymen would follow suite. For their manager, Jock Stein would now turn his attention to the World Cup in Spain in two years time and hoped that there would be more promise for his country then...

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Final results of England and Scotland's Group at Euro 1980

And there we are! Euro 1980 is here and things are different in which time I just covered the final while this time I have now not only covered the group stage but also included Scotland into the mix. Apart from the England/Scotland result which is based on the OTL result the two had that same year, England's results are pretty much more of the same like as they were with OTL and Scotland take up Belgium's place albeit without getting to a final (sadly).

Next update is England vs West Germany in the final and you might remember in the last update of how things ended up then, though with no Brian Clough here, how will England do here? Find out next time! :)
Chapter 36: Gladiators
Chapter 36

At long last for England after ten years, they were back in a major final though it had been even longer since they actually won anything major. England manager Ron Greenwood was happy that he had been the one to lead his country to a European final for the first time though he was far from the first manager from the British Isles to lead a Home Nation to a European final as the other three had all beaten the Three Lions to have not only qualified but all reached a final at least once and in the case of Scotland, came of with the victory. It was ironic that with the latter that here in Rome inside the exact stadium that twelve years ago the Scots had stunned the Italians to take the glory for themselves and that was still the nation's greatest hour.

If Greenwood's men were to join the Scots to become part of a exclusive club and add another bit of silverware for the national team, then they have to face not the host nation but instead a well drilled and organised West Germany team who despite the English having gotten the better of in Argentina two years ago in that third place play-off game, the Germans were very much seen as the favourites to win the final and for good reason. Unlike the English who had never played in this tournament before, West Germany did have England's number in terms of experience having reached the final in 1972 and won it against fellow Home Nation, Northern Ireland. If England had any ambition to go out there and cause an upset then they all knew that they'd have to be all at their best.

However, even before the teams had walked out onto the pitch, never mind kick the ball yet, there was sadly still trouble involving the English fans unfortunately. It was said that following the moment that England made it to the final is that round about ten thousand English fans made the journey to Rome in the hope that they would be there to witness history though in places near the stadium, there had been some unfortunate news of fights that had been taking place with rival fans. Not the best news that Greenwood wanted to hear though he would say that he would blame the English press for whipping the public up into a frenzy and the rather unfortune and even downright xenophobic by certain newspaper outlets in England that beating West Germany would be akin to winning the second World War. Tasteless in any world.


The captains shake hands prior to kick-off

With all this, plus add a touch of alcohol to the situation, one could only see that it was all going to lead to trouble but now that the damage had been done, it was time for the team to go out and make amends as best as they could. Even without that though there was still trouble in the stadium as during the anthems, the West German national anthem was booed by the English supporters in the ground and it was something that Greenwood could only shake his head with disappointment. Then again, given the reputation that England fans had been gotten at either club or international level at home and on the continent, what else was he or anyone else for that matter expecting? Nonetheless after that with the referee blowing his whistle, the game began.

It was here that the experience levels between the two teams became apparent as to say the first nine minutes of the game had been terrible for England would be a massive understatement. Despite the score reading 0-0 the West Germans had been utterly battering the English lines and Peter Shilton has had to act a number of times to keep his country in without losing a goal early on. Over on the bench, Greenwood sits there and ponders as just whatever is the matter with the team. Is it the hype? Pressure? Some weird force of nature or just the lack of experience of playing in a final compared to the Germans? He's unsure and during that time while he's musing on the situation, Bernd Schuster for the West Germans in the eleventh minute rips past through the English defence as he passing the ball up towards Horst Hrubesch who then wastes no time in shooting the ball into the back of the net in which Shilton for all his hard work so far is completely undone by that shot.

The large scoreboard inside the ground flashes up to show that West Germany is 1-0 up on the English and as much as it is a hard one for the latter to stomach, the truth is that West Germany have deserved this lead and now Ron Greenwood will have to mastermind a great escape to get England back into this game or face the wrath of the English public. The English try to frantically get things back on track but the Germans are not letting anything easy for the English and in the fifteenth minute, Hrubesch nearly scores again but his ball just goes over the bar. Nonetheless it is clear that the West Germans are clearly the ones looking all the more comfortable here with that early lead and with all the backing on them many have them down as winning it, it isn't hard to see why.


Trying to get the ball during the first half
"Come on! Start playing!" Greenwood yells out to his players with one idea in mind he then cries out to them. "Get the ball up to Keegan!"

While that idea might seem like the most logical in which Keegan could do about nearly anything to create magic for England, so far though he has been nowhere to be seen in this game and as of a result, it is far from going well for England. Ron Greenwood could almost be absolutely sure of those English sports journalists all ready to start write up scathing things to say about what has been happening and honestly, who could blame them with what has happened so far. As it stands though, the best England could do was to go on damage control and try everything they could to prevent the Germans from scoring yet again. Another attempt from the West Germans comes about in the eighteenth minute in which Klaus Allofs has a great shot on target on goal to make it a second for West Germany but Shilton helps keep it at 1-0 with a brilliant save.

The travelling English fans in the ground can only just watch on and can only hope that things can only get better from here. Slowly and surely though after about thirty-five minutes, that hope does seemed to be answered in which England begin to push up the field and although it might've not looked like much, it was a damn better improvement from that miserable start they had at beginning of the match. Then just two minutes later while just some twelve yards away from the penalty box, Keegan is fouled by the West German captain, Bernard Dietz, and the England star comes crashing to the ground. He, along with his players and the many England fans in the ground cry foul wanting a free kick and a booking yet for some reason, the Romanian referee waves play on and the men in white shirts take the ball up into the English half.

Not surprisingly this hasn't gone down well with any Englishman in the stadium who feel the referee has made an absolute howler of it and Greenwood raises his hands up in frustration that they should've gotten something from it. Speaking of the fans, there is suddenly a rush of police officers heading towards the section where the England fans are situated and at first it looks as if to stop a fight which honestly wouldn't be a surprise to any. It isn't and it seems that in the wake of that bad mistake from the referee, a jumpy Italian police force are not wanting to risk things in making sure such a riot in the stadium won't happen. However, as quickly as this has happened, the ball is quickly knocked out of the field of play and some justice is given as the referee returns to Dietz and shows him a yellow card, much to delight of the England fans who actually cheer for once about something.


The many England fans out in Rome for the final

The first half slows down in it's final moments and in the forty-third minute, England actually get a chance to fire a shot on target thanks to Tony Woodcock but his shot is saved comfortably by the hands of the German keeper, Harald Schumacher. To give an idea how dominate the West Germans have been, they have outshot the English on shooting at the goal by eighteen to England's seven and all these stats all being in favour for West Germany don't make for any good reading for England. However despite all that, the first half concludes with the Germans still holding onto that 1-0 lead and their failure to add to their lead does lead to a ray of hope for the English as they trot off to the dressing rooms, but many punters are already saying that the game is all but over and England are only delaying the inevitable. What are they to do now?

There is a lot of questions raised about the England team in which Greenwood would have to make changes to make sure that they would play better for the second half if they had any desire to win. As the second half starts, England do start off as the better team and as cliché that it might say that it is a different team here, it is really just that as West Germany have underestimated England's renewed spirt and there is a deal of hope for England as they now start pushing forward to find that goal that can give them hope. In the forty-ninth minute, there is a great chance for England as the ball is crossed over to Keegan who gets the ball to loud on his chest before it bounces off and he crosses it up towards Steve Coppell who sends the ball flying past the German keeper, alas, it hits the crossbar and heads skywards.

It's a miss but nonetheless shows that England are far from out of this game at the way things seem to be going at this moment. There is a chance for Garry Birtles to score for England but his shot instead just clatters on the crossbar and the cry of anguish from the England fans up on the terrace near the goal says it all as to just how close it was for the Three Lions to score there. Still, it is a much more positive performance from England though they have to make it count as they only know too well that the Germans will likely come again and there are moments of this such as in the fifty-fifth minute in which Hrubesch nearly causes terror for England when he tries to hammer home a header from a corner but thankfully it is just past the post.


A tight affair in Rome
Then it all happens. On the sixty-second minute, Woodcock goes running inside the box and looks set to score but is brought down by Karlheinz Förster in a really reckless challenge which perhaps to the surprise of no one, the referee blows his whistle and points to the spot; penalty for England. The England fans roar in delight that some luck is finally going their way and to add more to the situation, Förster is booked for his troubles and up to take the spot kick will be Woodcock. He stands over the ball and awaits the orders to take the penalty, the whistle is blown and he runs up and slots it home right down the middle in which the West German keeper, Toni Schumacher is sent diving to the left and thus, England have gotten the goal they wanted.

There are scenes of great delirium from the terraces as the England fans celebrate wildly that they have something to cheer about and even on the bench, the mild mannered Greenwood can't contain himself as he leaps into the air near the touchline before he and his assistant coach embrace each other with sheer joy rushing through their veins. The West German players have only gotten themselves to blame for this as after all the chances they had to bury this game, England have punished them and now some of the players are wondering if they could now really take the game to their opponents now. For the England fans, the sight of either Union Jack or St George Cross are being flown from where they are situated and they have all now found their voice again.

That said, it's not all totally smooth sailing for England in which in the sixty-ninth minute, there is a foul by Dave Watson on Allofs in which has the English defender booked, though strangely so does the German player in which in his frustration of being taken down, he tries to have a go and Watson and he finds himself facing a yellow card. It is turning into an exciting game for a neutral though both managers will be hoping that there will be no more stupid challenges being down as the last thing either will want is a player being sent off and with yellow cards starting to get shown from the start of this second half alone, that fear is very much justified and with the score level, anything can still happen.

It's all hands to deck as the second half starts to wind down with the score still at 1-1

For Greenwood, his hopes of no more yellow cards are not answered in which in the seventy-third minute, there is a another booking for his team, this time by Ray Wilkins on Karl-Heinz Rummenigge which for course leads to a freekick for West Germany which unfortunately for the Germans adds up to nothing and England can clear it away up the field as they in turn try to make a counter attack on the German defence which for them much like their opponents all adds up to nothing. It is now very much an open game in which either side would win it though it could be a question if the game will be won in either the full ninety or maybe be settled in extra-time? Regardless, pretty soon the time ticks up and now there is only ten minutes of the game left to play. Who will be the hero or villain now?

England hold on well, though it is clear to many that England seem to have lost a bit of their attacking output from earlier as if they are exhausted already or of if the West Germans had this planned to tire out the English and then go in for the kill as what they seemed to be doing now. There are now clearly worried looks on the England fans with the great fear that maybe all their hard work they've done so far is about to all come to nothing and little do they know that this fear is about to become a reality. From a sudden counter attack by the West Germans in the eighty-sixth minute, Rummenigge is seen during that minute running with the ball on near the centre in which he is chased by some of the English defenders and there as he nears the penalty box, he lobs the ball over towards Hrubesch who headers it in and at long last, he and West Germany score the long awaited second goal.

The English players are gutted at what has just happened; they have been outdone by just one small moment which surely seems to be the moment in which they have lost the game the deflation would be felt from not just the English supporters on the terraces but also from back home in which the feeling of it all being too good to be true has really hit home with some. Despite this though, Greenwood tries to shout orders at the players to get something in the closing minutes of the game but alas, it is all for nothing. Before any of them know it, West Germany hold on to shut out the English from scoring again and with a blast on the referee's whistle's, West Germany have won the final 2-1 and the England players are devastated of coming so close yet so far.


The winning team of Euro 1980; West Germany
While some admitted that right before the game that West Germany were always favourites to win the final, England did give it a good go and who knows, if this England team can keep it up, then there is a likely chance that for the next World Cup in Spain in two years time that glory might await the English out there. Ron Greenwood would at least bask in the glory of being only the second English manager to lead his nation to a final, he though would come away empty handed and wonder how the English supporters would come to view him; he still had one more tournament left in him.

For some England fans, Euro 1980 would be regarded as something as a footnote for the team in which some even forget about but those who do remember it or where even there, they'll always say that despite losing, this England team fought like gladiators just like the slaves did in ancient Rome. For now though, this was West Germany's moment of happiness while the English players and fans (thankfully without much trouble to report on) all headed home to reflect on what might have been if some things had gone their way in the final and the hopes for the future.

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Final results of Euro 1980 last four

And there we are, Euro 1980 is done and if you remember the old TL it is different here in which England won that one, however that was with the help of a certain Brian Clough in which you put him there and anything is possible, not much so if you have Ron Greenwood there with no disrespect there. Anyway, creates a tad bit more realism here in which shows you that the Home Nations don't always get it their own way in this TL despite being much improved! :p

Anyway, next update will be the World Cup in Spain and with it will be a few more changes that I won't you to keep an eye on, so until then, catch you all later and tell me what are your hopes of seeing next for this TL and of any questions you might have. Next time is the pain in Spain!

ITTL Poland is a team, that just returned to World Cup after 40 years, never won any match at big tournament before and still Scotland is seen as underdog, while playing against team, that never achieved anything in football??? WTF?
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Interesting how this TL will cope with Scotland's collapse in talent that lasted decades - and whether England's golden generation will click this time around
Chapter 37: The Pain In Spain - 1982 World Cup
Chapter 37
The Pain In Spain


It's been estimated that thirteen million people from the UK visit Spain alone for the summer season alone and that summer in 1982 would seem like no exception, only for once though this wasn't just mainly to catch the sun in the south of Spain as millions would normally do. In fact, this was the twelve World Cup and for the first time since 1966, all four of the Home Nations had made it and the whole country had been gripped by football fever like never before. Yes, ever since England's victory (and so far only one) in 1966 there had been the other Home Nations reaching finals themselves and the many football clubs across the country had been ripping it up across the country winning European silverware, thankfully not in the sense of hooligan supporters, in which events were very much welcomed throughout the 1970's in a decade that was seen by many in Britain as one of economic malaise. Thankfully, the 1980's looked hopefully for the UK going forward with North Sea Oil being found, devolution in Scotland making some impact with the prospect of the UK going down a more federal road in the future and finally, the mood of the country seemed to be improving and nowhere better than to prove this was seeing the UK's four Home Nations at a World Cup together.

There was a big difference for this World Cup though and that was the number of countries being seen at this World Cup would rise from sixteen to twenty-four and this was no doubt a major incentive to try and qualify though each of the Home Nations had mixed results to get to Spain. After England's run to the final at Euro 1980, it had been felt that it had been a foregone conclusion that the Three Lions would qualify with ease, though they did nearly blew it by finishing second in their group behind Hungary and just a point head of Romania; not exactly the form of a team looking to be favourites to win the World Cup. Scotland and Northern Ireland ended up being in the same group and both would end up taking the top two spots for themselves with Northern Ireland utterly delighted to be finally back at a World Cup after so long. Then there was the Welsh in which they would get the better of their Euro 1976 nemesis Czechoslovakia thanks to a victory over Iceland in Swansea one fateful night which ultimately booked them for their first World Cup since 1966.

All in all, a happy set of supporters now all turned their focus to Spain with big confidence that they could all do something and for good reason. It has been said by many historians of British football that individually, the Home Nations in that period were all at their best with the World Class talent they all had in their sides from the likes of Keegan for England, Rush for Wales, Dalglish for Scotland and Jennings for Northern Ireland just to name a few. With all this to boast about for each Home Nation, some have always wondered with such a wide array of talent on display that it might have been better to have put together a UK football team for the World Cup but alas, that is another story...


Scotland, Northern Irish and England mangers Stein, Bingham and Greenwood respectably at the 1982 World Cup draw. Note Welsh manger Mike England was unable to attend the draw that day.
Many football fans in the UK would always have a longing for the return of the Home International Championship but the football world had moved on and so too had the Home Nations in what was now a more exciting world, though that said some form of that wish would be answered in the draw when in Group Four, England and Wales would end up being drawn in the same group thought rumours were rife among Spanish authorities who had originally planned each of the Home Nations to be deliberately drawn apart from each other to avoid possible hooligan problems. However, given how infamously shambolic the draw for the 1982 World Cup had been in front of a bemused watching public of millions, one had to wonder than in all the confusion that the plan had gone out of the window. Whatever the reason, it was quite a tough group with France to deal with alongside Kuwait who were considered to be the group whipping boys.

England would kick off first playing France in a game that many had suspected that those two teams would be progressing to the next round with Wales playing a day later against Kuwait. The Three Lions would end up spanking the French 3-1 in the opening group game which made their credentials to go all the way look plausible while in the other game with the Wales, it was one that the latter nearly embarrassed themselves with Kuwait opened the scoring in that game and it was only thanks to a late brace from Ian Rush that helped the Dragons to win the game, though they hadn't exactly impressed anyone on their long awaited return to the World Cup. Then came the next game in which many had been waiting to see; England vs Wales in Bilbao.

It had been a while since the two sides had faced each other but that didn't mean to say that both sides felt that they had a point to prove though it was noted that both sides only needed a point to be sure of going through and there were rumours that both sides would enigneer a result to benifit both sides. Both managers called out those rumours as both were out for the win though the idea would come around involving the West German and Austrian teams though that is anther story.. It would turn out to be a really feisty game in which Wales would take the game to England and at one point might not only hang on to snatch a point, but also a victory. Could they stun the English and get the long awaited bragging rights for themselves?


Wales vs England in Bilbao
Alas for Wales, it was not to be. An effort from Trevor Francis with about fifteen minutes left to play would prove to be the goal that ultimately won the game for England and surely their place in the next round. Also regarding this match, the fears of hooligan fights between English and Welsh supporters by the police proved to be a storm in a teacup in which while there was some regrettable fights in scuffles after the game, it was nowhere near the levels as what some might have feared. Indeed, the Welsh supporters would end up making a name for themselves bringing in much colour and excitement to the tournament with a question among much of the Spanish locals being as follows; "¿Dónde está Gales?" (Where is Wales?)

Despite all the goodwill the Welsh had brought upon themselves, Wales still had it all to do and it was not going to be easy as up next were the French, they themselves having battered Kuwait 4-1 and in some ways the French only needed a draw in their final group game with Wales in order to go through thanks to a better goal difference. If Wales had any desire of moving into the next round then they would have to beat a star studded French team that contained the likes of Platini, Soler and Giresse just to name a few. What followed would be one of the biggest upsets of the tournament and perhaps one of Wales' finest hours in which despite being on the backfoot for so long, a stubborn defence from Wales kept France out throughout most of the game which would all come together in which a goal from Ian Rush would stun Les Bleus into a defeat and thus, crashing out of the World Cup.

With that, Wales would join England into the next round and speaking of which regarding the latter, England would defeat Kuwait in a rather tedious 1-0 victory themselves but honestly it didn't matter considering that they had won the group here. Welsh pride though had hit a new high and with this year being the twentieth anniversary of when Wales made it to a final, there was a feeling that the stars were starting to align for it to all go down well for Wales this time round and after beating a much fancied French team, who was to deny them of dreaming about bigger and better things as this World Cup was now really starting to begin...?

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Final results of England and Wales' group at the 1982 World Cup

When it came to Northern Ireland, it was fair to say that out of all the Home Nations, they were the ones who had the least amount of confidence going into this World Cup never mind trying to qualify, indeed, they were ranked as a hundred and one to one in terms of their World Cup hopes (England priced at twenty to one, Scotland forty to one and Wales at sixty to one to give the comparison). However despite being in a group that featured Sweden and Portugal, Northern Ireland would qualify for their first World Cup since 1974 and it couldn't have come at a more better time. At that time, Northern Ireland was pretty much undergoing 'The Troubles' in which anything coming out of the country was nothing but bombings and just horrendous news in general; qualifying for the World Cup was a much needed welcome boost of happiness that both sides of the religious divide could look forward to.

That said, Northern Ireland couldn't have gotten a more tougher group that featured the likes of Yugoslavia and host nation Spain in which the latter would be played in Northern Ireland's final group match. There was also Honduras in the group who were expecting to be surely a guaranteed two points for the three European teams in the group. With all that said, it would end up being a much more open group than anything else could have imagined in which both opening group games would all end in draws with Spain being embarrassed by Honduras draw while plucky Northern Ireland held their nerve in a goalless draw with Yugoslavia.

That didn't matter though for the Green and White Army (the new nickname the Northern Ireland fans had adopted) for as lone as Northern Ireland could beat Honduras in their next group game then they'd surely be through. That unfortunately didn't happen as Northern Ireland would end up letting a lead slip away near the end of the game and that meant that following Yugoslavia's defeat to Spain in their second group game, it all led to a game in Valencia in which Northern Ireland would have to play the host nation in which a victory, not matter how unlikely it looked, would put the Northern Irish team into the next round.


Northern Ireland vs Yugoslavia in the group stage
What followed is pretty much well documented in not just Irish, British but perhaps world football in which despite all the odds stacked against them, Northern Ireland would go out there in which a Gerry Armstrong goal in the second half would stun Spain and despite all of their efforts to try and put these upstarts in their place which included a sending off for Mal Donaghy, Northern Ireland held onto what would be for a new generation of Northern Ireland football fans as perhaps their greatest result and one that would fire them to the top of the group and send them onwards for the next round.

It can't be understated as to just what that result meant for the country and all over the place, many couldn't believe what had just happened and at a time in which Northern Ireland was just known for bombs and religious tension, this really was a positive moment the country that everyone no matter who you were could celebrate together. Tt just shows that when football can be used for a good cause, it really can make a world of difference for a country no matter the situation.

Spain were humbled and only barely managed to sneak through on second place over Yugoslavia on the tightest goal difference. Indeed, had the Ulstermen scored another on the hosts then it was possible that Spain might have ended up crashing out of the group stage. No matter what though, Northern Ireland had stunned the world and while there were a few who were trying to keep a level head on how far they could go, everyone else though was just happy to enjoy this wonderful moment and who knows just what might happen next for them?

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Final results of Northern Ireland's group at the 1982 World Cup

The final Home Nation to talk about was Scotland though it was fair to say it wasn't quite the easy group that the Tartan Army would have wanted to play in in which it featured a fearsome Soviet Union team and runners-up Argentina who both were out for blood. That all said, Scotland did have the benefit of playing New Zealand who were clearly the whipping boys of the group and Scotland made the most of it by beating them 5-2 though the fact that Scotland had allowed the Kiwis to score two goals like that was a worry regarding the defence Scotland had. Nonetheless, they had the win and up next, Argentina lay in wait in Seville and a team that Scotland manager Jock Stein would say looked to be one of the favourites to win the World Cup.

Despite many fearing a utter battering from Argentina, Scotland would actually hold the South American team to a 1-1 draw in which Scotland even managed to get the opening goal from David Narey before the lead was cancelled out by a certain player known as Diego Maradona, but more on that gentlemen some other time. What made that game more special for both sides was the connection of a one certain Alexander Watson Hutton; the Scotsman who is said to be the father of Argentine football. Even more so, the game was played on June 15th which was just eight days after of what would be the great man's one hundred and ninth birthday and in some ways it was fitting that it was a draw would have been the result that was would have been one that Hutton would have wanted.

Interesting at the time, this coincidental event wasn't realised by both sets of fans though in the years following with hindsight, it is a game that is celebrated more for historical value rather than the actual result itself. Nonetheless, Argentina knew victory against New Zealand would put them through and all Scotland needed now in their final group game with the Soviet Union was a draw and that would be enough to take them through though some pointed out that if Scotland were to win a barrel load of goals, they might even win the group though the former was considered the more plausible outcome.


The Scotland team lining up before their game with Argentina
What followed in Malaga would be a rather controversial and crazy affair in which Scotland took the lead but where denied a stonewall penalty in which theories ran riot that with the referee being a Romania that he was clearly biased in favour of the Soviets and this would all come to stun Scotland in which during the second half, the Soviets would come back to turn the game on it's head to lead 2-1 with the second goal from the Soviets happening because of an embarrassing mix up involving Alan Hansen and Willie Miller colliding and with that goal happening with just six minutes of the game left, Scotland were on the verge of going out.

Thankfully, Scotland captain Graeme Souness would come to rescue to salvage the draw that the Scots needed to go through and thus, they were on their way to next round though it is fair to say that they did it by the skin of their own teeth. With Scotland also going through, it meant that for the first time since 1958, all four Home Nations would move into the second round and there was more than a likely chance that there would be a meeting between the Home Nations once again, though for now, it was a time for all four sides to reflect on what had happened. In the end, it all wasn't quite a pain in Spain after all then.

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Final results of Scotland's group at the 1982 World Cup

And here we are, 1982 WC is here! Few changes here with the groups in which Brazil take Argentina's place and vice versa due to being World Champions here, speaking of which, Brazil win that group with Hungary coming in second in case you want to know there. Anyway, Northern Ireland's group is pretty much the same as OTL and the Welsh victory over France actually happened IOTL and had they gone instead of Czechoslovakia then you might have seen Wales taking on England in that group. Oh, if only...anyway, here is the group Brazil are in if you are interested...
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Yeah, always felt bad for that Hungarian team not making it to the next round despite that big win over El Salvador and the fact they topped England in their qualifying group but hey, just one of those things that happen in football.

Scotland's group as you can see is pretty much similar being similar other than the game with Argentina which ends in a draw. So as with always, here are the predictions for the second round group phrase:

Group A

Group B
West Germany

Group C

Group D
Northern Ireland


So then, who do you think will win those four groups and why? Find out next time and until then, catch you all later! :)
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