The Beginning: Early History and the 1950 World Cup Qualification
  • All to Play for Cover.png

    Written by QTXAdsy

    The Beginning: Early History and the 1950 World Cup Qualification

    Situated across a set of islands north of the European continent there lie a race of different nationalities known as either English, Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish though if you check their passports, most of them would say that they are British. That said many of them are loyal to their nation and each of these four lands are dub as the Home Nations and throughout history they have often had wars on each other; mostly with most of them turning their rivalry or even hatred to the English. It's hard to imagine that four different races of people could have one point helped create the world's largest empire at one point but strange things have always happened as they say.

    While it's obviously they never agree on most things, there is one thing that that they all share a common love (or as Americans call it as 'soccer', much to many in the British Isles' dismay). Football is in the national mindset for the nation and it's origins start back from the Middle ages with first recorded moments of football beginning in England as far back as 1170 though it would only really step up to become part of the country's DNA when the nineteenth century emerged as many towns and cities would end having their own team to support with the Football Association (better known as the FA by many) would be formed in 1863, though it would be in 1870 that the idea of having a team that played for a country which featured the best talent each club had took hold and it was that year in which two teams representing England and Scotland would play each other in what few knew then the groundwork for international football.

    Between 1870 and 1872, the two nations would play at the Oval in London with England often getting the better of the Scots with the latter only getting a draw at the best of times. However these games are not recognised by FIFA due to the fact that the Scotland team had a team of London based players and even in those years decades before FIFA would be formed, many north of the border felt some anger that a Scottish team failed to have any homegrown players and a call would go out for having a match to take place in Glasgow and for Scottish players to play for their country. It would be Queens Park that would answer the call and eleven of their players would play for Scotland and the game with England would take place at Hamilton Crescent. Though England might be football's 'home', this match would be the first international game to be played outside of England thus Scotland could be considered the home of international football as all know it today.


    The very first intentional match recognised by FIFA
    The 30th November 1872 would become the very first official recognised international football match played and though the game ended in a 0-0 draw, it would light a fire for football to become a sport for the working class and a year after that match, the Scottish Football Association (SFA) was created and the two sides would play each other only until 1876 when Wales became the third nation to have a football side with the Football Association of Wales (FAW) being created with their first match being against Scotland in which their more experienced opponents smashed them 4-0. Then in 1880, the Irish Football Association (IFA) would become the fourth national in the world to become a football nation though it wouldn't be two years later that Ireland would play in their first international match against England though they would end up being annihilated 13-0, a record to today is still the largest victory for England and loss for the Irish that is likely never to be topped one way or the other.

    As the years went along, many other nations around Europe began to create their own football associations along with Argentina and Uruguay in South America, though it was in 1883 that the nations of England, Scotland Wales and Ireland would come together to create the world's first international football tournament known as the British Home Championship and the chance to become the best side in the United Kingdom caught the public's imagination and throughout the early years England and Scotland would always dominate the tournament with the match between the two sides often being not only the game that decided the championship but also became the biggest game in the British sporting calendar. For the Welsh and Irish, they wouldn't get the chance to win the tournament until decades later at the dawn of the twentieth century which just so happen to coincided with the formation of FIFA in 1904 with the four Home Nations becoming members of it.

    The British Home Championship remained unafflicted for the years that followed with only the outbreak of the First World War halting the tournament between 1914 and 1918 with the Championship starting again in 1919, though soon it would not be the only football tournament for in 1930, FIFA would start a new tournament known as the World Cup with the plan to play it every four years with the first in Uruguay in 1930, Italy in 1934 and France in 1938. One might think that the British teams would have played a part in those early years however they refused to take part which considering the appeal of the World Cup today might seem like a ludicrous thing to do however it must to be said for the time the World Cup was looked upon as just a curious novelty in a far off country. This was also that after WWI, the four Home Nations had withdrawn from FIFA over the fact that former Central Powers nations would become part of the organisation though they would re-join in 1924 yet nonetheless refused to take part in the World Cup over the disagreement of the status of amateur players. To say the relationship between them and FIFA was rocky would be an understatement and many football fans across the British Isles do wonder what if they had played at those early World Cups in the 1930's and how well they might have done considering how good these teams were compared with many with the rest of the world.

    The dream though of playing at a World Cup would happen following the end of the Second World War when they finally decided to join the party...


    Following the end of the Second World War, the world could look forward to hopeful everlasting peace and for some, the return of football with 1950 being the year in which the FIFA World Cup would return being hosted in Brazil, only the second time at that time be hosted in South America. As a way of making the qualification more tempting for the British teams, the top two sides would be given an automatic place at that World Cup in which the 1949/50 British Home Championship would double up as a qualify group which in a modern mindsight might look strange but nonetheless quite a straight forward way to get to Brazil for two teams summer holidays with the teams only needing to play three games compared to more that other nations had to do. Not only that but it cut down on the games needed to play and in some ways made a already competitive tournament with more at stake here.

    To the surprise of perhaps no one, England and Scotland would destroy the Irish and Welsh teams which made it more than clear that they were the ones that would be heading on the next flight to Brazil in the summer. However other than being either nation's first time taking part in qualification, it would be the last time there would be seen an all Irish side before they would be split in two sides, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland from 1953 onwards.

    However for the Scots despite looking pretty much set for the World Cup they found themselves facing a really bizarre and some might say ludicrous and hubrious decision from the SFA Chairman, George Graham, saying that Scotland would only go to the World Cup if they won the British Championship in what set to be a winner takes all game at Hampden Park. It would seem that second place was no good for the Scots, even if they were on level points with England (goal difference had never been a thing for the Home Championship.)


    Poster of the winner takes all decider

    The English were planning to go even if they finished in second place so the pressure was all on the Scots to not only beat England, but secure their place at the World Cup. The build up to the game was quite infamous with Scotland captain George Young and his English counterpart Billy Wright along with players in both teams pleading to the SFA to go regardless though it despite what many will say was the SFA's utter hubris, a more rational point might have been that the SFA were wary of the huge costs of flying a Scotland team to South American and to finish in second might have been an excuse not to go, something in which other nations such as Turkey would highlight as to why they would not go to Brazil. Alas, the only way the Scots would be able to go to Brazil was to simply not to lose and little did anyone knew then was that this certain 'Auld Enemy' clash was to be perhaps one of the most important in the history of British football and in some ways more so for the nation as a whole.

    With a huge crowd of over 130,000 at Hampden and cheering their team on to make it to Brazil, the game itself would be a tight affair with it looking to go either way but it would be in the 63rd minute when England would break the deadlock via Roy Bentley which as it stood looked like Scotland were going to miss out on a place in Brazil. However it would be in the 70th minute when Scotland responded when Willie Bauld's shot saw the ball nearly hit the bar but just managed to squeeze in to put Scotland level. It would seem however that might've been it, but with the mindset that they mad to win the group, the Scottish players decided to risk it and go for the jugular and win the game. Indeed the English looked rattled by that goal and it would be right with five minutes to go in which Willie Waddle volleyed in a wonderful shot below the bar which give Scotland the lead and thus in the victory that saw not only, Scotland triumph over the English at Hampden, but also saw them win the British Home Championship that season and secure their place in Brazil for that World Cup. Talk about killing three birds with one stone...


    Photo of the match between Scotland and England at Hampden Park which would see Scotland win 2-1 after falling 1-0 earlier in the game
    While the Scotland fans celebrated that their team had fulfilled what was needed to get to Brazil for the summer, the SFA were backed into a corner in which they couldn't back out on, their worlds at saying that they would only go if they won the tournament had come back to haunt them and now there was little they could do than otherwise get ready for something that no Scotland team up that point had ever done before.
    While the English might've been hurt from their loss, they didn't really seem to mind that if it meant that their fellow rivals were to join them on the way to the World Cup then that was all good, though the travel arrangements were to be quite unusual by modern day standards. With many nations pulling out from qualifying either it being due to post war depression or other various factors, the FA and the SFA would see both sides share the same flight over to Brazil and agreed to cover the costs of the traveling needed in Brazil even though the hosts were willing to help with said costs.

    In the end however despite many nations being invited to play at the first post war World Cup, only the two sole British sides taking part in the World Cup would be the only debut teams in that tournament and while they were about to experience a brave new world of football, them appearing in that tournament wouldn't be the only thing they would make their mark on which was to have an effect on the football world in this and the many years that were to follow...


    Final results of the 1949/1950 British Home Championship

    And finally here it is...the redux of what many of you were waiting for...ALL TO PLAY FOR! I know many of you know the POD for the TL which is the same here in which Scotland go on and win the game, though the TL will have many differences later on thanks to more information I found regarding the history of British football and given the amount of retcons I did previously, it seemed a better idea to reboot it all and improve on it in which as you've seen in the old TL.

    I hope you will all enjoy this one who loved the original and for those new to this and maybe not care much about football (or soccer depending on where you come from) and that you might learn something about this. Next update will be all about the great Brazilian (mis)adventure and how will England and Scotland get on over there...Until next time!
    Chapter 1: Brave New World - 1950 World Cup Brazil
  • Chapter 1
    Brave New World


    Upon Scotland's victory over England in that final game at Hampden from that moment onwards, Scotland along with the English were set to make their international debut at the World Cup in Brazil that next summer. For the chairmen of the FA and SFA respectably, Amos Brook Hirst and George Graham, they would head out to Brazil in May of 1950 to watch the draw along with the many other chairmen and local dignitaries of various other places there would see England grouped with Spain, United States and Chile while the Scots were placed along with France, Uruguay and Bolivia.

    Even though by this point in Britain there had been much said about the great South American sides of Uruguay, Argentina and those up and coming upstarts known as Brazil, there was still a great deal of suspicious about South America in general. Rumours had swirled around that after the Second World War ended many Nazis and Fascists fled Europe and were hiding out in Brazil and Argentina to escape from justice with apparently Hitler being alive and well out there! However another thought which had made the English and Scottish contingents suspicious was that many players in the British leagues were being offered to play their club football in places like Brazil and Columbia with them being offered higher wages that would have been offered domestically. Few would know in those early days just how important money would become later on in football but that is another story...

    As both England and Scotland had never been at a World Cup before, let along step foot in Brazil, the whole thing was something unlike they had seen before and each of their small 'British-only' bubble world would be pop at just the fact there was a world of football outside of the British Isles. However things proved to be something of a changeable situation as both France and India would pull out late on shortly after the draw with the former pulling out due to the costs of traveling around Brazil and the other, perhaps oddly, due to not be allowed to play barefooted. In the end of the sixteen teams that qualified to take part, only fourteen would end up making it for the trip to South America with the two debut teams being that of England and Scotland with the main reason for many to pull out was due to the high costs of getting to Brazil despite the hosts promising to split the costs of traveling.

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    Final draw of the 1950 World Cup in Brazil
    Along with sharing the costs of the transatlantic flight to South America, the SFA and FA along with the host nation had agreed to share the cost of flying for to the various stadiums around the large country. Prior before leaving London, the players from both teams were given a grand send off from their supporters to wish them well on their endeavour, but all those players as well as the small number of FA, and SFA staff and various journalists to accommodate the team out in Brazil were about to step into the unknown and it would prove to be long flight in which they would finally touch down on Brazilian soil in Recife for refuelling before heading on the last leg to Rio.

    Another long set of hours later their plane began to descend into Rio, the players on both sides only felt something about this adventure to Brazil was really a watershed moment for England and Scotland. The players, staff of both football associations, journalists and various hangers on all looked down from their windows as the plane circled above the Brazilian capital Rio de Janeiro with Sugar Loaf Mountain jutting out and the world famous Copacabana beach seemingly stretching out for miles.

    Eventually the plane finally lands at it's final destination of Rio and as soon as both teams get off the plane, pandemonium breaks out from the locals welcoming the teams, it seems the build and excitement for the World Cup has reached fever pitch when the British teams arrived as journalists accommodating the teams write this fact down for the various newspapers they are covering. As they enter the terminal building and are greeted by the excited and happy crowds, there is something special that England and Scotland have arrived to a country that really loves it's football with the fact that the Brazilians respect the fact that England is the motherland of the game while for the Scots, they can take pride in the fact that it was a fellow Scot named Thomas Donohoe who introduced football to Brazil in 1893 and considered to be the father of Brazilian football. In many ways it's more of a homecoming.

    After arrival, there is a meeting at the British embassy in Rio in which the teams meet with Sir Nigel Ronald, British ambassador to Brazil, who gives the teams his best wishes and hopes that winning the World Cup here in Brazil would be a victory for all of Britain and a much needed lift for a country still getting over the traumas of the second World War. No Pressure indeed. It must be noted that up to this point it had been rare for both nations to have played anyone outside of the British Isles with England only starting to play foreign teams in 1908 onwards while the Scots, who's rather hopeless narrow minded view for all it's life and perhaps it's only purpose in life was to simply beat the English would only start playing foreign teams as late as 1929 and even then those sort of games were few and far between. If this lack of knowing about what teams were like outside of the UK carrying on from then, one can see were things start to go wrong...


    One happy England team not knowing what horrors await them...
    The so called English arrogance that is looked on at the English which much negativity would be on full display here though given how odds were in their favour of being one of the favourites to win the cup and even being dubbed by the Brazilian press as the 'Kings of Football' it might have been no surprising though even that aside, the 1950 campaign would be one of so many things going horrible wrong for the England team in Brazil. Because the only competitive football they had ever played in had been the Home Championship, they would make the mistake of thinking that it would be easy to walk over them as Chile would prove in their first game to be a tough team to beat though England would win 2-0, also their first match at a World Cup played in June 25th and this would look like it would set them up with an expected victory over the USA in the next round being a foregone conclusion.

    What followed next would go down as one of the greatest World Cup shocks and England's most humiliating defeat at the hands of the United States losing 1-0 and England had only themselves to blame though it must be noted that not getting use to the heat, as well as the football gear that was not suitable to the Brazilian hot climate and some dodgy accommodation and a lot a bad luck caused it to happen and it was said that much of the local Brazilian crowd were delighted at supporting the American underdog. Despite this though there was still a chance that England would have a chance to go through if they could beat Spain in their final group game.

    That hope turned out to be false as England's hard luck story would carry on as they would lose 1-0 to Spain and that would be the end of England's World Cup hopes and they were left with bruised egos and a lot to think about if the so called 'Kings of Football' were to improve. When word got round back across England of what had happened in Brazil there was a great deal of shock and the bubble that the English mindset had been in for so long had been well and truly burst. Now it would be down to the Scots though would they have any more luck in their group...?

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    Final results of England's 1950 Group stage results

    On the same day as England defeated Chile, Scotland would also play in their first World Cup match against Bolivia in Recife were a crowd of just of over seven thousand curious locals to watch this match take place. While England's results were being more documented by the London based media, the Scottish coverage was rather small in comparison which wasn't really a bad thing in hindsight as a lot of the media coverage would not get in the way and this would come in handy as their first World Cup game on which had all the ingredients to be something of a banana skin for the Scots despite the Bolivians being regarded as the whipping boys of the group. The Scots would find the early goings of the game hard with Bolivia actually causing problems for the Scots thanks to the Scottish players being much like their English compatriots being uncomfortable playing in the hot, humid climate of Brazil with their heavy cotton kit being all nothing more than a bad mix. Before the end of the first half though the Scots would manage to break down the Bolivians to lead at 1-0. After that in the second half, the Scots do finally get the better of the South Americans to eventually run out as 3-0 victors in a game that by the end they might've gotten more...

    Had the original schedule gone to plan, Scotland would've faced France four days later but with the French pulling out, Scotland had time to relax and learn more about the style of football in Brazil that they would take back with them that would have an affect on the National side in the years that followed. Scotland's final group game would be with former World Champions Uruguay and there would be a sense of dread facing them as they would soon hear the news that poor Bolivia would be thrashed 8-0 by them and there was more than a likely thought that the Scottish players would have been very wary going into that final group game with Uruguay to compete for winning the group and going through..

    Uruguay would show their worth and perhaps to what everyone expected would pretty much dominate the game to defeat the Scots 3-1; Scotland's only goal in that game being something a fluke in a game in which the South Americans could have won by more. It would be wake up call for the Scottish players who could see Uruguay's kits being very different to their own. Their strips looked lightweight in contrast to the Scottish team’s heavy cotton tops and the South American players' boots are like carpet slippers while the Scots have ones which have stiff leather up the ankle, a steel plate in the sole and a bulbous toecap. Boots that quite honestly were never designed for comfort nor speed and as the players would leave the field after being taught a football lesson, one by one of the players and the small Scottish media team begin to think that maybe the British game, following England's equal dismay performances isn’t perhaps the greatest in the world and that it could be over taken in future. An unthinkable thought by anyone who follows and supports the British game. there would be no British side in the last four.

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    Final results of Scotland's 1950 Group stage results
    Both teams would stay behind until the end of the tournament were they would learn more about the styles in play of South American football and begin to debate how this can be put to good use back home. They would leave on the same flight home a day after the final game in which Brazil, the favourites, were left in deep shock and mourning after Uruguay stunned them to win the World Cup in their backyard and the dead atmosphere as they left the country was a far contrast to the joy when the first arrived. It was funny just how much football could play with one's emotions.

    It was an hour during the flight back home in which the heads of the FA and SFA would come together in a impromptu meeting to discuss what had happened and what was to follow next for the game. Neither wanted to admit but it had become clear that British football was no longer king; it's crown had clearly been snatched by the rest of Europe and South America. The one good news that both finances for the two associations had made a healthy profit out in Brazil which would all no doubt be important for the future development and that qualification for the next World Cup in Switzerland in four years time was one of great importance.

    Few would come to realise just how important that meeting on that flight would be as to laying the foundations for England, Scotland and soon Wales and Northern Ireland to follow in their rather stubborn quest to make sure that British football would regain it's crown and show why, at least to them, as to why they are the true masters of the game. A brave new world indeed...

    And here we have the first chapter, how things will be is that group stage games will all be done in one chapter and given how England's OTL results remain the same with Scotland acting in probably how Scotland would act at a WC you'd believe, the 1950 World Cup isn't that long of a section though many more things will get better later on, everyone has to start from the bottom somewhere as we have seen with these two fools.

    So yes, next up, onwards to Switzerland next!
    Chapter 2: In The Foothills of Switzerland - 1954 World Cup
  • Chapter 2
    In The Foothills of Switzerland


    Following their return from Brazil four years ago, the FA and SFA had both seen their eyes made wide open at the world of football outside the British isles and it was said that the plane flight on the way home back the United Kingdom was said to be one of the most important hastily arranged meetings between the two organisations as what to do next. With both having failed to make an impact in Brazil, this would lead to an unlikely collaboration saw the two rivals brought together to prepare themselves for the next World Cup tournament, one that would be much closer to home in Switzerland. For some, Switzerland seemed like a strange choice given that unlike Brazil, it never never really had football in it's mindset and everyone knew the Swiss for being famously neutral, however 1954 would mark the 50th anniversary of the formation of FIFA and Switzerland just so happened to be the location of where FIFA is based so better way to celebrate this occasion than to have a World Cup here in the foothills of Switzerland.

    In the time between England and Scotland's adventures in Brazil and now, both took note of the new techniques that were starting to appear in football and had began to adapt them for the British game in order so that they would be ready for whatever came their and one of the new things they had brought with them was the new lightweight shirts and comfortable boots the South America teams had worn and which had helped them along the way; the heavy cotton tops and heavy leather boots were never going to have a future in this new world of football and those instead would be forced into the history books.

    As well as for taking part and feeling grateful for the British coming to Brazil, mainly after many nations dropped out, FIFA had once again allowed for the 1953-54 British Home Championship to act as a qualifying group for the World Cup. With their experience of Brazil, the new gear they had taken upon themselves to wear and wanting to get back the thrill and atmosphere of the World Cup, England and Scotland would run over their Welsh and Irish rivals and although England won the group and the Scots finished second place. That said both the Welsh and Irish would also get a hand in what their larger neighbours had to help them but that is another story.


    Programme of the Scotland vs England match in 1954, a game doubling up as a qualification match in which Scotland lost 4-2 just months prior before the tournament kicked off

    Much like how the 1950 World Cup had used a group format for all the games, the 1954 tournament would also employ a unique format. The sixteen qualifying teams would be divided into four groups of four teams each. Each group contained two seeded teams and two unseeded teams. Only four matches were scheduled for each group, each pitting a seeded team against an unseeded team. This contrasts with the usual round-robin in which every team plays every other team: six matches in each group. This meant to go through, any team would have to pretty much win those vital two matches if they wanted to go through.

    Another oddity was that extra time, which in most tournaments is not employed at the group stage, was played in the group games if the score was level after 90 minutes, with the result being a draw if the scores were still level after 120 minutes. With qualification completed, the draw came and England would go in as one of the seeded teams going into Group Four alongside Italy, Belgium and hosts Switzerland while Scotland would be placed in Group Three along with Austria, Czechoslovakia and Uruguay, the latter being the team they had faced in Brazil and who would go on to win the World Cup back then.

    With everything in place, it looks as this time both England and Scotland were going to give a good crack at the World Cup, though drama is never quite far away as for Scotland, the behind the scenes action would become infamous...


    For the first time in the history of the Scotland team, the 1954 World Cup would see Scotland employ a manager by the name of Andy Beattie during February of that year, though it is fair to say that the SFA were somewhat behind with the times in that regard as many countries had a few years earlier had already been doing this, even England were ahead of Scotland in this field as they appointed their first manager, Walter Winterbottom, in 1946. Nonetheless Scotland were keen to catch up and Beattie would take the team on a brief Scandinavian tour to get prepared for the tournament ahead though if he thought he would have a free hand at picking the team he wanted, he was to be very much mistaken.

    Scotland had a very troublesome preparation to put it bluntly; Rangers had been planning a tour of the United States and Canada during the Summer and wouldn't allow to let any of their players to go, thankfully after much protesting from George Young, Sammy Cox and several of their Rangers teammates who made the journey to Brazil last time pleaded with the board which caused Rangers to cancel their tour of North America and reluctantly allowed their players to go to Switzerland, much to relief of Beattie though it would be the least of his worries. It would turn out his worst enemies weren't the teams he was to face but rather the SFA themselves.

    While football was changing and despite the SFA actually making some effort to move with the times, there were still some ancient problems with them and the worst of this was the SFA still selecting the players as they had done for many years now and never giving Beattie any real power to choose the players he wanted, though amazingly this was not even the worst of it. With rules regarding of squads, FIFA had stated that any country at the World Cup could take up to eighteen players and Beattie might have thought he would be able to at least have a choice, but he was in a rude awakening when he found out that on the flight over to Switzerland, only thirteen members of the Scotland team would be on that flight, which meant no back up goalkeeper for heaven's sake, and the rest of the seats were taken up by many members of the SFA along with their wives who must've thought they were on a vacation and not a football event.


    View of the Scotland team for the tournament

    After much angry words between Beattie and the SFA, the remaining players would turn up right before the tournament kicked off though didn't have the benefit of getting trained up with the rest of the team who had made it, though it did cost some money to ship over the remaining Scottish players and it would be a frustrating lack of common sense from the SFA who could have avoided this mishap had they simply included them on that flight over instead of bringing their wives over.

    Even after a full squad was put in place and with the first group match with Austria about to take place, Beattie had been clashing heads with his superiors and it had come close at one point in the hotel lounge in Basel the night before that game in which it all nearly came to blows with Beattie and the SFA selectors over who was in charge of the team with only the Swiss staff, in their usual neutral fashion as one would expect from a stereotype Swiss, to watch the scene in bile fascination. It took Scotland captain George Young and several of the players to try and defuse the situation and hoping they wouldn't wreck the hotel and be forced out of their accommodation. A curious feature of the 1954 Scotland team was that unlike other nations who had all their players playing in their respected home country, the Scots were the only ones, and the first, to have some of their players coming from leagues outside of Scotland in which a handful of them played in the English top flight; something that rather unfortunately in the wake of the madness happening in the camp that no one really noticed.

    With all this drama happening, it was the last thing that Scotland would have wanted before their opening match and Austria were not a team to be taken lightly and for good reason. The Austrians had a fine footballing tradition of International football much like the Scots and its 'wunderteam' had finished 4th in 1934 and despite withdrawing from the 1950 event Austria were a star studded and hugely experienced side. One had to wonder what if they had turned up in Brazil four years ago and see how well they might have done then.


    Scotland vs Austria in their opening match
    With all games at the World Cup all starting at six o'clock in the afternoon on June 16th, Scotland and Austria locked horns to see who would come out on top. To perhaps no one's surprise however, Austria looked more in control compared to the Scots and despite some good play from the Scots, it would be certain that Austria would score first and that would be the case in the thirty-third minute when Probst hammered in the opener and Scotland were now on the backfoot already though there was one small ray of hope. For all the problems the SFA had unintentional caused for this Scotland team, they had listened wisely to use the lightweight kits and shoes which not help increase the performance of the players but the game itself was being played in the middle of a heatwave and had the team been playing in the traditional heavy cotton kits then who knows how bad things might have gotten.

    Scotland though had some players in that team who had experience out in Brazil and would help drive the team forward and shortly before the end of half time, Allan Brown would let fly a wicked volley in the forty second minute to cancel out Austria's lead and the small number of Scotland fans who had made the journey out to Switzerland celebrated while the largely Austrian crowd were left silent fearing that this Scotland team had awoken. Half time would come and go and the second half would see Scotland starting to assert more control on the game and they would be creating chances yet just could not find the back of the net.

    When the eighty third minute came around and the score still at 1-1, it looked a draw would be on the cards...that was until during that minute and from a corner kick, Willie Ormond would get his head onto the ball in the box and guided it into he bottom right of the net which would ultimately end up being the winning goal and not only had Scotland come back from a goal down to win a game for the first time, it had been against all the odds with all the drama behind the scenes. All Scotland now needed was a point and they would be through. Next up, Uruguay.


    Scotland vs Uruguay during their match in 1954
    Despite the victory, Beattie was still at odds with the SFA and had made no secret in which had they lost to Austria, he would have quit with his complaints being about the preparation and poor financial rewards for the players. All of this wasn't helpful as they prepared to face off the South Americans and World Champions. When the Uruguay players lined up against the Scots and noticed the suspiciously similar kit that was made much like their own and they say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but even this was taking the biscuit. Both teams had players had played each other on that day in Brazil and the Scots felt that this was something of a revenge match after the South Americans had defeated them and surely now if a fair world allowed it, Scotland would claim victory.

    Once again though the Uruguay were no push over and they were causing problems on the Scottish backline and surely a goal would happen, that is if Scotland didn't have John Anderson between the sticks. Anderson had been part of the few who who had been left behind and he was willing to show his worth and his appearance became hugely important for his team. Uruguay battered the Scots in the hunt for a goal and despite something like ten shots on target in that first half alone, Anderson stands firm as Scotland keep the score at 0-0 though they know how very lucky they've been being not able to attack. The second half begins with the Scots not attacking the Uruguayan defensive, but rather hold the ball and frustrate the South Americans as part of a new plan on how they've been unable to attack them. This plan seems to work as many noticed a growing frustrating with the Uruguayan players in seeing that they haven't had the chance to get a goal despite being by far the better team. Then a chance comes in which Doug Cowie passes the ball to Bobby Evans and then to Jimmy Davidson, the Scots start playing a passing game that was traditional to the Scottish game that many of their great-grandfathers would've adopted in their game's earliest days. This goes on for a while and the Swiss crowd get bored of this sort of play and so does the South Americans in which Julio Abbadie runs towards Jimmy Davidson, who has received the ball and tricks Abbadie by pulling a fake kick which makes the Uruguayan player to lose his footing and falling over.

    He has taking the bait and the Scots start playing a more faster game which catches the South Americans off guard and after some quick passing further into the Uruguayan half, Willie Ormond low cross the ball over to Doug Cowie who takes his chance by taking a blunt volley shot to fly past Julio Maceniras' fingertips and into the back on the net. After sixty seven minutes of play, the Scots have gone 1-0 up and the small traveling Scottish support in the stand celebrate wildly. On the touch line, Beattie simply gives the player a thumbs up as Copland is immediately swamped by his teammates congratulating him. The Uruguayans start to get more frustrated at going a goal down and try everything to get back into the game with some vicious tackles on the Scottish players and the game is halted a few times because of this. Beattie checks his watch many times hoping the game will finish and is horrified when the Scottish defence is blown open and Óscar Míguez scores an equaliser in the eighty eight minute and the South Americans celebrate their comeback...only for the referee to rule it out as it was apparently offside. The angry Uruguayans surround the Italian referee complaining that it was a goal but it remains 1-0 and the Scots are lucky to get by the skin of their teeth there.

    The final whistle blows and Scotland have finished the top of their group and into the Quarter-Final. The South Americans leave the pitch in disgust while the crowd applaud the Scottish players in their remarkable win over the World Champions. Later on to make matters worse for Uruguay, in the other group game with Austria and Czechoslovakia ended with the Austrians winning 5-0 and with them snatching the second spot in the group on goal difference and sending the World Champions out of the World Cup. Scotland would not only get their revenge but also top a World Cup group for the first time and little do they know who lies in wait in the knockout phase. Though trouble still lingers with Beattie and the SFA...

    1954 ALT 1.png

    Final results of Scotland's group at the 1954 World Cup

    Away from Scotland, the English were gearing up for their games and while in contrast the rather chaotic drama that happened behind the scenes, the English preparation was far more ordinally with no real drama to speak of with all the expected players to be counted for though there was a lot of pressure on the team to do well. After the farce of losing the United States and failing to get out of the group in the first round in 1950, many expected England to do far better here an with all that had been learnt from that last adventure in a World Cup. Their secret weapon? The lightweight kits and boots.

    First up for the English would be the Belgians and on paper one would think that it would be an easy one for England to win, that said in front of a crowd of over fourteen thousand on a hot sunny day in Basel, England got off to the worst possible start in when Anoul would score for Belgium after just five minutes of play at there might have been a sense England were about to face further embarrassment at the World Cup. It would be until the twenty-six minute when Broadis would score to get England back into the game before Lofthouse would add England's second just ten minutes later to complete the turn around and that score line would remain that way as half time appeared and surely England were on course to win.

    In the sixty-third minute, Broadis would score his second and England's third and surely there was no way back for Belgium but Coppens would get a goal back in the sixty seventh minute which caused some doubt in the English minds and this would prove to be fatal as a few minutes after that, Anoul would pop up again to score Belgium's third and complete the turn around for them in a truly mad game which after ninety minutes would end at 3-3 and move into extra-time.


    England vs Belgium in their opening match at the 1954 World Cup

    Within just a minute of extra time, it wouldn't take long until England scored the fourth goal thanks to Lofthouse and there would be another goal scored by another English the wrong net. Dickinson would blow the chance for England to win the match as the game would ultimately end with the score level at 4-4 with a point shared between the two sides and for England, it wasn't the start they wanted.

    Next up for England was the hosts Switzerland in Bern and a passionate crowd was there to cheer on the Swiss which also threaten to blow the myth of the Swiss being a gentle and neutral nation out of the water. The English were needing a win from the game to have any chance of going through and fortunately in a rather more comfortable game with the English, they would beat the hosts 2-0 thanks to goals from Mullen and Wilshaw to ultimately win the group and confine the hosts to a play-off with the Italians to fight it out to finish in second place though it would be a happier ending for the hosts as they smacked Italy into the ground 4-1.

    Nonetheless for England, they had won the group to qualify for the last eight and that along showed everyone that this was a vastly improved England that hadn't made a fool of themselves in Brazil like last time, then again despite coming out on top in the group there were still not feeling easy about things if that Belgium game was anything to go by letting a lead slip like that.

    1954 ALT 2.png

    Final results of England's group at the 1954 World Cup
    With both British sides having made it to the knockout stage for the first time in either of their history, there was a great deal of excitement of who might they both face though neither quite expected what the fixture was going to be that would have made much of the British public turn their heads when they heard the news...

    And so here we are in Switzerland and results are similar in the old TL though a few changes here and there and more to follow! Now, on to the fixture list for the last eight as it stands:
    West Germany vs Yugoslavia

    Austria vs Switzerland

    Hungary vs Brazil

    Scotland vs England
    Hmm, I wonder what game catches my eye... ;) Until then, please comment and see you later!
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    Chapter 3: Bragging Rights
  • Chapter 3
    Bragging Rights

    A day after Scotland's victory over Uruguay in their final group game, June 20th, one would have thought that were would happy celebrations in Basel's Grand Hotel, where the Scotland team was based, over the fact that not only had they beaten the World Champions but also had made the second round for the first time. Things however were more lukewarm to say the least. Scotland manager Andy Beattie would hope that the victory would help improve his image with the SFA members in which it had been well documented both in the camp and the handful of journalists following the team that the relationship between Beattie and the SFA was a hostile one over Beattie complaining about the various foolish and naïve handling of Scotland's preparations during this World Cup that was a bad as something akin to a local pub team.

    While in the wake of the victory things were indeed less hostile but nonetheless there was a sense of arrogance from the SFA committee in which whenever anything went right they took the credit and when it all went wrong, Beattie would end up being the scapegoat they could throw under the bus. It was starting to dawn on the poor manager as he sat in his hotel bedroom reading a newspaper that had been shipped over which mainly went into detail over their victory over the World Champions and also was talking about today's upcoming game with England and hosts Switzerland in which it stated a win for the Auld Enemy would see them also through to the last eight. Come to think of it as it was nearing into the evening, the game must have been played by now and with no knowledge of what was going on he did wonder how well England had done in their game.

    As he thought about more, Beattie began to feel a sense of jealously for his English counterpart, Walter Winterbottom, and felt that the FA were likely not given him as such as a hard time as he was getting and the Scotland manager began to reflect over the last few days which for anyone might have been enough to put anyone off football in terms of how the game was run. Times were changing yet the governors of the Scottish game seemed blind to this change that was coming down at them like a speeding train.

    Snapshot of Beattie in somewhat happier times prior to the World Cup

    Beattie sighs sadly as he puts the newspaper to one side before reaching over to his bedside desk to grab his cup of tea and drink it. He starts to wonder that even if he does by some incredible good fortune win the World Cup, he has the sense of dread that that good for nothing SFA committee will brag on about that it had been all down to them when truth be told they had been the problem to give Scotland a nearly ropey preparation. Most of the anger had been directed at SFA chairman George Graham in which four years ago, his own hubris had it not been for Scotland's victory over England at Hampden Park would had prevented Scotland playing in Brazil and who knows how history would have gone now.

    If the debacle of the SFA taking their wives over players needed to start at the World Cup, another argument was over the formation of how Scotland should line up to play and how the SFA were left unhappy at how Beattie had set them up to sit it out rather than attack despite Beattie's tactics helping Scotland to advance. The amount of meddling from that good for nothing select committee were enough to drive anyone mad and how Beattie had not lost his mind by now was a minor miracle.

    As he looked out of his window which has a wonderful view overlooking the city and the river Rhine, he begins to wonder what will happen after the World Cup is over. Even if Scotland go on to win it which no doubt would help give Beattie an stay of extension on the job, does he want to put up with more tomfoolery from the SFA or grin and bear it? Just then an excited knock is heard at the door and Beattie gets up to answer it.

    "Alright I'm coming," he groans as he opens the door, there he is greeted by Bobby Evans and George Young. The Celtic and Rangers defenders respectably are standing there in the doorway looking like kids at Christmas time yet Beattie seems unaware of what's happening. "What is it?"

    "Have you heard the news?" Evans asks excitedly.

    Beattie's eyebrows furrow in thought. "What news?"

    George Young answers the question for his manager. "The England result, they won 2-0 against Switzerland!"

    Beattie looked visibly confused; though he now knows the result of that match, he doesn't understand why his payers would be quite happy to see the English do well. "What's this got to do with us?"

    "Everything!" Evans exclaims. "They are in the Quarter-final, to face us!"

    "Also the game will be here in Basel!" Young adds, "we can beat them!"

    Beattie then realises the gravity of the situation. For the first time ever, Scotland and England will face each other not on British soil but here on the continent and in a World Cup knockout match in which the winner will play the Semi-Finals and will claim bragging rights like no other. With that said though, Beattie leads the two players into the room and they sit down on two chairs nearby the bed while the manager sits himself down on the bed.

    "Well, this is quite something," Beattie mutters as he nods his head, "what does everyone else think?"

    "What'd you think? They're all buzzing down there," Young explains though pauses as another thoughts dawns on him. "Did...did no one tell you sooner?"

    "The SFA you mean?" Beattie replied raising an eyebrow. "Nothing. Where are they anyway?"

    A pause follows between the two players until Evans speaks up. "They're all downsides on the dancefloor with their wives enjoying the moment...Oh no, I'm sorry."


    Evans (left) and Young (right) during some less troubled times with Scotland

    That does it. Beattie shouldn't really be surprised of not hearing anything from his bosses yet the vision in his mind of those arrogant buffoons, especially that George Graham, having a party with their wives, the ones the SFA selectors wanted to take instead of players, was the final straw for Beattie. He was silent for a while just nodding and then said those fateful words.

    "I quit. Can't stand those idiots, especially that George! I swear they're trying to ruin our chances in this World Cup, I've had it up to hear with them!"

    The two players were stunned at his resignation, though truth be told after seeing how strained things were between Beattie and the SFA, they should have all seen this coming a mile off; it had only been a matter of time until the manager finally threw the towel in. That said, the two Scotland players weren't going to let him go so easily mainly of who they would be facing in the Quarter-finals.

    "We understand sir," Young replied nodding sadly. "But you can't leave now, we've got a big game tomorrow against England. Can't leave now with that coming up so soon."

    Evans chimes in with, "Can't blame though for wanting to go though. Why did they only want to bring thirteen players for this trip while everyone other team had like twenty two players?"

    Beattie sighs. "They said it was 'money problems', all it was is that they thought it was the bright idea taking their wives, pet goldfish and mistresses with them thinking it'll be a wee summer jolly out in Switzerland, the dafties. Even after I convinced them to bring a full squad, they weren't happy at splashing out more money saying they have little money when you make a fair bit of bob from qualifying, so what are they playing at then? Oh God, you see why I don't want to deal with this."

    "Look, please just stay on for at least after this World Cup has ended, please," Young pleads to the manager.

    "Face it, we need you right now," Evans adds. "Like it or not, we need you for this game. If we lose wherever it's here, the Semi or even the final, then you can go. Just not now, we'll promise not to say anything to the rest of the team as if you went now they'd be chaos in the camp."

    Beattie sighs and looks round at the pleading looks of his players, as much as he hates the head honchos in the SFA, both Young and Evans are correct as in that he can't walk now with a game within a few days and that he can't leave the players hanging like this when they need a leader. The manager sighs and rubs his forehead in thought.

    "Alright, I'll stay for now," Beattie admits. "Just promise you won't tell anyone about this. For now, enjoy the evening."

    The two players leave on good terms and keep the promise as to not let the word get out to the rest of the team and the SFA and wouldn't be a few decades later as what transpired in that hotel room in Basel. In the meantime though many Scot were licking their lips at the prospect of facing England in a World Cup, the only one who perhaps wasn't so celebratory was Beatie himself in which his mind was running off in many directions. But in that hotel room almost immediately, Beattie started planning his tactics and formation for the England game, even if his methods would anger the SFA.

    June 26th 1954, a corridor of two teams line up as the prepare to head out to play a game of football. One team is dressed with white shirts, navy blue shorts and white socks, the other team is dressed in dark navy shirts with white shorts and socks; both types of kits and shoes just so happen to be different from what British sides would wear interestingly enough. They are England and Scotland respectably and are the oldest two footballing nations in the world. Although they have faced of each other many times before in the British Championship, this certain game isn't part of that and is in fact something of arguably greater importance.

    Andy Beattie, Scotland's first full time manager casts a glancing eye over at his English counterpart, Walter Winterbottom and the two men give each other a knowing smile at how they managed to get this far and how a quirk of fate has brought the two teams together.

    "Fancy seeing you here," Beattie says.

    "You too," Winterbottom replies. "You have to say this isn't like back home, this whole thing is truly something else."

    "Aye true," Beattie nods before going quiet again.

    He won't lie, but there is tension in that corridor as they all wait to head out onto the pitch. Of course these England/Scotland games have always been about build up and bragging rights being at stake, but the game in question is a knock out game. No second chances, just a one off were only one team can go through to the last four of the World Cup.

    The players especially know this, many of which are veterans of these sort of games, but know that at the end of the day, they'll either be heroes or villains by the time this game is over. Some of the players are jogging on the spot as they wait impatiently for Carl Erich Steiner, the Austria referee for this game, to lead the teams out. The nature of these games means that often players from the same club would be playing against each other and this game is no exception with Scottish Defender Tommy Docherty looking over at his Preston North End teammate Tom Finney and wonders to himself how'll they get on after this match is over when they return home to their club.

    Finally after what seems like ages, the referee motions the teams to come forward and move out onto the stadium and awaiting crowd.

    "Good luck," Tom Finney suddenly calls out to Docherty, who mutters his best wishes to his teammate as they walk out.

    As the teams step out into the open, they are greeted by a crowd of thirty thousand souls. A small crowd than what both teams are use to when either playing at Wembley or Hampden Park, but the thing is, this isn't either of those stadiums. The game itself isn't even be played anywhere in the British Isles but rather in the unlikely surroundings of the St. Jakob Stadium in Basel, Switzerland where the crowd isn't all waving Union flags, Scottish Saltires or Lion Ramparts but is rather filled with curious locals with some smatterings of the occasional British supporter scattered around in the crowd.


    Scotland and England players emerge from the tunnel to take on each other in Basel for their Quarter-final tie

    The day itself saw not just this Quarter-final but another taking place of being two sets of close boarder rivalry countries. The first being Switzerland vs. Austria over in Lausanne and the other one here in Basel being Scotland vs. England, though the latter was the one many in Britain was wanting to watch. Not only would this be the first encounter between the two nations away from the British Isles, but also the first true competitive encounter between then that wasn't related to the British Home Championship and one that FIFA and UEFA recognised, the later part being something that annoyed both teams that after playing against each other so many times that only now they'd even notice.

    That all said, the news of the encounter brought many folk to make the journey to Switzerland by either flying or driving the whole way and some even hitchhike their way across the continent to support their respected teams. However in the city of Basel, both sets of supporters have to quite literally support each other as they try to make their way through a strange land that is unknown to either supporter.

    Nonetheless, a large crowd inside the St Jakob Stadium made up of mostly Swiss with motley groups of English and Scottish supporters scattered around the stadium, with millions more back home listening nervously to their radios at what might happen, leads to a strange atmosphere and setting that neither team are familiar with. Carl Erich Steiner, the Austrian referee for this game, blows his whistle and Scotland start the game with the first kick off and the two teams begin to battle over who not only gets bragging rights, but a place in the Semi-final.

    The two teams have gotten use about wearing their lightweight kits and comfy footwear which not only leads to a very exciting opening few minutes in the game with the action going from end to end, but has proven to be useful as it is a balmy hot summer afternoon at temperatures in which the last thing you'd want to do is play football. But that's what you have to play through if you want to win the World Cup.

    For the English, they know they have to be careful as the Scots will want to win this, especially as for the Scots, the memories of the 4-2 home defeat by England in the Home Championship is still fresh in their minds and they'll want revenge. After ten minutes, the game remains goalless and the British press sitting in the press box begin to wonder who will break the deadlock with many of them keeping one eye on the game and the other in their notebooks writing down moments in the game, though the latter part has very little to report on for a while until the sixteenth minute when Tommy Docherty brings down his Preston teammate Tom Finney and the referee calls for a free kick for England. The two men look at each other knowing that pride is at stake and that anything to do at Preston North End is out of the window for now. Jimmy Dickinson takes the free kick and despite Dennis Wilshaw's best efforts, the ball goes past the post and out for a goal kick.

    The game carries on at a cautious pace with the Swiss crowd, after hearing from their British visitors of how special this game really is back home, are so far left unimpressed of how much of the game has started to lose it's spark from it's promising start. Both English and Scottish supporters start chanting to try and lift their players and get a goal and the mostly Swiss crowd are perhaps more interested in hearing the news as to what is going on with Switzerland's match with rivals Austria in which news filters through by the twenty first minute of the game that the Swiss have gone 3-0 up in that game and probably wished they'd gone to that game instead of this one.

    Both managers are seen with their arms crossed while both thinking of a plan to get something out of this game, it hasn't been a difficult start for both managers. The twenty eighth minute then has Doug Cowie, the hero in Scotland's last game, attempts to back pass the ball to Allan Brown waiting to catch it, however Cowie's pass is too slow and it is quickly caught by Roger Byrne and runs with it to get it out off the English half and attempts to take a long kick, however he is quickly caught by Scotland captain George Young who takes him out in a well timed tackle and kicks it back to Brown and volleys into the top right corner of the net out of Gil Merrick's clutches and putting the Scots up 1-0 and breaking the deadlock.


    Young as he helps give Scotland the lead

    The small Scottish entourage in the crowd, dressed with their tartan scarfs and tammy hats, celebrate wildly at getting ahead of their English rivals. Walter Winterbottom yells at his players to get back into the game while Andy Beattie yells out to keep it together. Despite going a goal down, the English don't lose confidence and immediately start to fight back and the Scottish players still look like they are already thinking of the Semi-final much to Beattie's annoyance.

    "Focus!" He cries out to them hoping they snap out of their trance.

    England start to torment the Scottish defensive and seven minutes after that first goal, Finney misses a great chance to get England level, but instead it is caught by the hands of Scottish Goalkeeper Fred Martin. After his goal kick the game becomes a Midfield battle with both teams trying to get a hold of the ball, Sammy Cox attempts to pass the ball to George Young to get it to safety but he miscalculates his kick and it flies off to his left and right into the path of Dickenson who goes on the run with it before taking a long kick with the ball and finding the feet of Finney and this time getting it right by scoring a screamer that makes the game 1-1 in the thirty second minute.

    The travelling English supporters are delighted with the response from their team and now the Swiss begin to see what their British visitors are on about with this certain game, though many Swiss are probably more interested in knowing what's going on in the other game with their team and Austria, that game by the fortieth minute as news gets round is that the Austrians are leading 5-4 in a crazy game.

    This game though has now started to light up and the travelling supporters feel grateful that the trip feels like it has been worth it and those listening back home on Radio will have to wonder what's happening. The forty-third minute approaches and England are awarded a corner kick which they quickly take, many of the players jump up trying to direct the ball in and one player does get it in the direction he wants being Ivor Broadis, who scored at Hampden Park not long ago, headers in the ball to make the score 2-1 for England, a truly amazing comeback to say the least though perhaps nowhere near the performance in that other Quarter-final.

    After some more pressing from the English forward line, the Austrian referee blows his whistle to end the first half as the players head off to the dressing rooms. Andy Beattie looks up at where the SFA selectors are and gives them a glare, they are like vultures waiting for an chance to pounce on him. He has to somehow turn this game around or else this'll be his last game as Scotland manager.

    The second half kicks off and the crowd hope for another exciting half and that's what they get. The Scots surprise the English by taking the game to them and seem to play the game with more purpose with the English now looking uncomfortable as the second half goes on and the Scottish start to push the English back and suddenly they find themselves with their backs against the wall.

    Scotland look like a team free from their shackles which is perhaps not a bad way of describing things as their lightweight boots are making the team play well and this would not have been possible if they they still had those heavy leather boots from years ago. An example of how many things were changing in the world of football if people liked it or not.

    Despite this good work after nearly ten minutes of the second half gone, England have just about held firm and Scotland have been unable to break the deadlock despite their pressing play. Copland then attempts a dummy shot over Brown which confuses the English defensive and volleys a shot into the top left corner and putting the Scots back into the game at 2-2 in the fifty-ninth minute.

    The Scottish supporters in the crowd celebrate though their cheers turn into cries of anguish when the goal is ruled offside by some Spanish linesman and boos ring out from them. The English know that they have been giving a let off and that moment for better or for worse depending on who you ask sparks England into attacking again and tables are soon turned with the Scots now finding themselves on the backfoot.


    The all British encounter in Switzerland
    The afternoon sun is now having an effect on both teams and many mistakes begin to happen with many bad touches happening and some truly woeful finishing from both teams to try and get a goal makes for a rather painful viewing experience for those in the crowd; probably a good example of why playing football in the middle of summer is not quite a good idea for the British sides in the World Cup.

    While listening across Great Britain would be told on radio of how thrilling the game was by the commenter for the BBC, those in the stadium would tell a different story of two teams who by the seventy-ninth minute looked weary, tired and for from being the masters of the game as the Swiss had been told; like that scene of the film The Wizard of Oz in which the great and all knowing wizard is revealed to be anything but just that.

    Scotland despite now facing a very likely elimination with now less than ten minutes to go from the World Cup at the hands of England, they are awarded a free kick just thirty yards outside the penalty box and a chance to get back on level terms. Allan Brown stands over the ball ready to take it and with a blast on the referee's whistle, he sends it over to Cowie before he decides to take it himself to blast it at full power upwards past Merrick's clutches. But this does not turn out to be Scotland's day at all as though the ball does look set to go in, it clatters on the crossbar and bounces out and over for England to take a goal kick.

    This proves to be fatal for Scotland as before long and without getting another chance and with both teams now dead on their feet thanks to the blazing heat in Basel, the Austrian referee blows his whistle with the game ending in a 2-1 victory for England and it would be them to claim the bragging rights and move onwards to the last four. The small number of England fans in the stadium charge on to the pitch to celebrate with their heroes for reaching the Semi-finals for the first time as both players exchange pleasantries with good lucks and the hope to see each other soon at club level with both teams later standing to attention at the end of the game to hear God Save The Queen being played. The news though of the final score in the other Quarter-Final being a crazy 7-5 score for Austria over hosts Switzerland might have dampened the spirt of the Swiss crowd here though.

    The end of the game also has another somewhat downbeat ending for one Andy Beattie; he would follow on his word that if he lost he would resign and shortly after the match, he would announce this to the SFA. To show how things had gotten so strained between them is that the SFA had absolutely no trouble about him going, almost if they had been wanting this all along, with the entire resignation all happening in less than a minute.

    For being Scotland's first manager to take Scotland at a World Cup, he would though sadly be looked on as nothing more than mere footnote in Scottish football history though for Beattie he wouldn't mind this. Though his life wouldn't quite the same again after his Swiss adventure, he would later enjoying a more peaceful life in his semi-detached house in Huddersfield with no overbearing SFA breathing down his neck.

    Now all that was left in the tournament, as far as the British public was concerned, was England and Beattie may had wonder how England were going to perform in the last four...

    And that's that, England move onto the last four and here is the fixtures:
    West Germany vs Austria

    Hungary vs England
    So what'd you think and what else would you like to see in this TL that the old one didn't have? Always love to hear what you all have to say! :) Until then, catch you all later.
    Chapter 4: Another Rout
  • Chapter 4: Another Rout
    Prior to the 1950 World Cup, England might have thought that they were rightly the masters of the beautiful game and that nothing could stop them...that though would be brought to a shuddering halt when the English suffered defeats to Chile and one now infamous result against the United States. Both of these games were 1-0 losses and as bad as they were, they would end up being nothing in comparison as what was to follow England in 1953 when they face a Hungary team was was considered by many as the greatest team in the world at Wembley. What followed was a nasty shock for the English as they lost 6-3 with not only the English tactics for the game being considered out of date but also that the Hungarians had decided to use lightweight boots that both the FA and SFA had considered adopting following their experience in Brazil and this result would ultimately force the FA to go for it.

    To say England received a football teaching was pretty much an understatement, but they were wanting to lay down so easily after what happened and just a year later and prior to the start of this World Cup, England travelled to Hungary in the hope of avenging the defeat at Wembley. However with England still going with the same formation and with the FA foolishly thinking the heavy defeat was a one off, disaster was to follow England in Budapest in which they would suffer their heaviest defeat as they were destroyed 7-1 and in the wake of that defeat, it was finally accepted that English football was no more the best in the world and serious changes had to be made if they wanted to be on top again.

    Much of this failure weighed heavily on England's manager Walter Winterbottom who had the misfortune of overseeing those two horrendous defeats though he had felt he had been hamstrung by the FA in which though he was the manager he was often finding himself not able to put out the team he wanted as often the FA select committee would more often than not would try to increase their influence and he would never put out the team he wanted. This wasn't help that though many saw him as some upper class arrogant person that could never inspire the more working class England players, he was though very much aware of how far football was being developed on the continent and in South America and that England were in danger of being left behind if they didn't adapt.

    His warnings, as demonstrated in the two Hungarian defeats, were ignored and in some ways he felt vindicated of being of being proven right though it had come a rather humiliating cost. Nonetheless his main objective in this World Cup was to do better than what happened out in Brazil was a pretty low bar to begin with but so far it had been a successful run in Switzerland in which not only had they won the group they were in and had sent home the Scots in the Quarter-finals, a game in which the English would gain the bragging rights, to make it to the Semi-finals for the first time.


    Winterbottom and the players

    It was all looking good and Winterbottom might have suspected that many across England were delighted with the progress of how far they had come and now they were only one victory away from reaching the final which would be either Austria or West Germany; both teams that England felt they could defeat on paper. That was all well and good if not for one problem that would be standing in their way in Lausanne's Stade Olympique de la Pontaise, the problem was to to be that team again, Hungary. In day after England's victory over Scotland in the Quarter-Final, Winterbottom would find out the following day that Hungary would be their Semi-Final opponents following their defeat of Brazil in their respected Quarter-Final and it was fair to say that he, and perhaps millions more across the country, weren't looking forward to have to lock horns with Hungary once again with the trauma of that humiliating defeat in Budapest just over a month ago. Surely things could only get better?

    The bus journey to the stadium was quite a strange one as it wasn't like a joyful experience as if they were all on some holiday and not for some game in which England were just a game away from reaching the final but rather they all knew what they were up against as there were several in that England team that had been on the receiving end of both defeats and suffering a third at the hands of the Hungarians was the last thing they would want. Glancing out of the window, Winterbottom could see various groups of English supporters walking to the stadium with their Union Jack flags and there was a sense that many were going into this game with hope rather than expectation.

    It was fair to say that even the English press were not thinking that England could do it and for good reason not because of recent experience but that the Hungarians were clearly the favourites having gone through this World Cup so far unbeaten. With the likely thought that neither Austria or West Germany would be able to defeat either England or Hungary in the final whoever got there then is was considered that this game would be the real final. Who would win? All would be found out soon enough...

    Compared to the Quarter-final and the hot sunshine that day, the heavens had opened up and it was pouring down and all around the stadium, the crowds were trying their best to keep shelter either from umbrellas, rain jackets or anything they could use to keep dry. It wouldn't far off the mark for the England team if the bad weather was very much like the summer back home and it felt like an occasion weather wise similar to the British Home Championship; maybe that could work in the team's favour?

    From a blast from the referee's whistle, who just so happened to be a Welshman of all people, the game began and despite England now wearing the lightweight kits and boots worn by their Hungarian counterparts and having learnt much from the early encounters, the Hungarians are still the more powerful looking side who show no sign of letting England get any foothold in the match. It becomes clear from the start that England are hoping to try and nullify any Hungarian attack and soak up the pressure as the best they could do.

    At first it seems to be working and the small number of English supporters in the stadium find their voice are enjoying themselves and don't seem to care about the pouring rain. But all things come to an end and any plan the English had to try and get the better of the opponents goes off the rails early on when Zoltán Czibor fires in the opening goal to give Hungary the lead after just a mere thirteen minutes. No the start England would have wanted.


    Early encounters between England and Hungary in the Semi-Final
    Despite being 1-0 down, England do not buckle and despite this early set back, they keep to their game plan and are doing what they can to keep the Hungarians out from scoring what would be a second goal which everyone knows should that happen, England would be on the edge of elimination. For the next ten minutes or so after that opening goal, England have been forced into their own half with no way out as Hungary are determined to find the second goal and from the England bench, Winterbottom watches on with more hope than expectation as it becomes clear just how relentless this Hungarian team is and seem to show no sign of letting off.

    Towards the end of the first half, the game always becomes quite foul ridden in which one example happens in the thirty-third minute in which Hidegkuti has the ball and is rushing towards the box and is brought down by Billy Wright who stops yet another Hungarian attack yet at the cost of awarding Hungary a freekick. The following freekick is fired over the England wall but is saved by England keeper Gilbert Merrick quite easily and quickly lobs the ball up the field in which the ball is taken by Jimmy Dickinson and England are now on the counter and the English supporters start to make noise that they sense something is about to happen; it does.

    The thirty-sixth minute would finally turn the game on it's head in which from that counter, Dickinson threads the ball over towards Lofthouse in the centre of the field and quickly before any Hungarian defender can stop him, he blasts home a thirty yard rocket towards the Hungarian goal and stuns the favourites by putting England back on level terms and that becomes the moment in which England show their opponents that they aren't going to let Hungary roll them over like before and from the bench, Winterbottom can't help but leap up from the bench and celebrate not at the fact they have scored but at the fact that his game plan is working and the first half would end at 1-1 with perhaps England leaving the field the more happier of the two but all could still change for the second half...

    At the start of the second half, the weather has started to ease off but it is still not a nice day here in Lausanne and the wet pitch has made things quite eventful it must be said for both teams and it is unknown which side would like this weather more. The one thing that Winterbottom would remember from that had nothing to do with the game was something he saw up in the stands behind him in which was an FA committee member, a rather large fellow it must be said, who was tucking into a large slice of Victoria cake with a flask of tea along with it and, rather quite cruelly Winterbottom felt, some poor assistant was holding up up a black umbrella for the man as he gorged on his picnic.

    Something about that seemed to express a sense of either arrogance, foolishness, out of touch or all the above about how the FA seemed to treat the whole thing as a jolly boy's outing when in truth here was the England football team trying to win the World Cup for Queen and country. That itself would end up being the least of Winterbottom's concerns and it became clear that Hungary had been given a strong team talk at half time and this time were looking more stronger in this second half as they zipped the ball around the field with hardly an English player getting a foot on the ball.

    England try to sit back and defend as best they can but Hungary don't take long to cause England to go behind yet again in the forty-eighth minute comes around from a corner for Hungary and it seems to be a well trained move as Sándor Kocsis jumps higher than the other English players and headers it in to put them 2-1 lead. While to most neutrals, it seems that Hungary probably deserves the lead yet for the English contingent in that stadium, there are fears now this could get worse from losing a goal early on.


    Hungary getting the better of England during the start of the second half

    The poor English players can't seem to put their passing game into play as the Hungarians seem to stop any chance England seem to try out, they are looking like a team that is on the verge of collapse. This proves to be fatal as again, the men in maroon prove their dominance as after a brief strong defence from England trying to prevent a floor of goals from crashing into the Enlgish goals, Puskás attacks again in the fifty-seventh minute with the ball hitting the left hand goal post before it bounces into the back of the net and there is nothing that Merrick can do to keep it out.

    To their dismay, England are down 3-1 with much of the second half still yet to play and the small number of English supporters in the crowd are so gutted they can't seem to find the voice to jeer their team's performance, though truth be told, there was a sense that this English team was always going to be up against it no matter how good England were going to be on their day. England by the seventy-third minute begin to realise that this game is now out of their reach and fouls begin to happen more out of frustration but neither seems to help them in trying to stop this rampant Hungary side.

    Winterbottom from the bench can only sink back place his head in his hand at how everything has gone horribly wrong for his team and can only hope things don't get worse...they do though. The seventy-eighth minute would have Puskás strike home Hungary's fourth goal and that was surely the moment for any lingering hope England might had have for them to cause to shock to finally be snuffed out.


    England getting battered by Hungary with the score at 4-1

    Thankfully, there is some consolation for the English as Ivor Broadis would fire home a late goal in the eighty-first minute to make the score line look less embarrassing for England but it would prove to be the only good thing to come out for the English next to the final whistle which the final score ends with Hungary winning the game deservedly 4-2 and no one could argue that the better team won and will now move onwards to the final to face West Germany for a rematch of their Group stage match.

    Once again it is a third straight defeat for England against Hungary and while credit had to be given for the English for putting on a more developed performance that was nowhere near a disaster like the other two, it was still a sore one to take and as the small number of disappointed English supporters left the stadium, some had to wonder with how well England were defeated like that if they would ever see nation that brought football to the world would ever claim it's crown again?

    England though did have one contest to play in for this World Cup which was the Third-Place game with Austria, a game that several felt that England can surely at least end on a high with a victory there, especially after hearing that Austria were utterly destroyed by West Germany 6-1. That would end up being a big disappointment for all as from early on the first half, Austria took a shock lead and ended up playing for the most part of the defence as England tried and ultimately failed to find a goal and ended up losing 1-0 and if that wasn't kick in the teeth for the English then who knows what would be worse? The following day, England prepared to take a flight back home which curiously enough would be on the same day as the final.


    The England team as they prepare to leave the country

    The flight home however was delayed to leave and the England team would end up having to stay a few more hours which wasn't all that bad as in the airport they could listen on the many radios blaring around the place of the final taking place which would end up being a shocking result in which no expected at a plucky West Germany ended up defeating the much fancied Hungarians to lift the World Cup. There would be a sense among the players in which if they had defeated Hungary, would they had suffered the same humiliation as them in the final?

    On the other hand, the England's main hope was to try and do better than the disaster of their Brazilian adventure and in many was by not only getting out of the group stage but with a victory over the Scots and making it to the last four, one would say that the team had done just that and in truth they could build on this to go on the better things with now the aim likely was to try and reach the final for the next World Cup in four years time.

    It was also that day during their delayed departure in which Winterbottom would have a chance encounter with a Swiss businessman who was apparently going to be on the same flight back to London and much like everyone else had nothing else to do other than get to know each other until they would be able to board the flight. The Swiss man would end up saying that he felt some sympathy for the English team and the man would tell Winterbottom about flight safety being as he had a lot experience of being once involved in the aircraft industry. One crucial advice he'd give for any nervous flyer is to sit closer to the front rather than the back as the closer to the front you sat the better.

    This might all seem like a strange footnote in small tales evolving the England team but with hindsight proved to be utterly crucial in what would happen next a few years later. Winterbottom wouldn't exactly know how important the advice he learnt was to be but that is another story. England and Scotland would both play a part in the 1958 World Cup, but this time they wouldn't be the only British teams at that tournament...

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    Final results of the Knockout stage of the 1954 World Cup

    There we are, final update for 1954. Not the best update I've done but I wanted to get this up and things will get more exciting for 1958 as this is where the butterflies will really kick in. How'd you think the Home Nations will get on in 1958? Will they do better or worse than OTL and how different will results be here? Find out next time as we head to Sweden in 1958!
    Chapter 5: Out Of The Ashes - 1958 World Cup
  • Chapter 5
    Out Of The Ashes


    Four years after Switzerland hosted the tournament, the 1958 edition would take place in Sweden and once again there would be a British presence there. However, it wouldn't be restricted to just England and Scotland being the British representatives this time; as a matter of fact the British Championship for the 1957-58 season would not be used as a qualifying group and thus all four British teams would have to qualify via playing teams on the continent to book their place in Sweden. This was a sign to the rest of the world that the British teams had well and truly ended their isolation from the rest of the world as it were.

    Along with England and Scotland who qualified with ease, Northern Ireland and Wales would make their debut for the tournament with the Irish memorably defeated the Italians in qualification in Belfast to deny them a place in Sweden and they would become the smallest nation to qualify for a World Cup. Wales at first weren't so lucky as they ended up finishing second in their group behind Czechoslovakia and would have been made the only British team not to qualify if it weren't from an unlikely source in the form of Israel.

    Israel had something of a rough period to try and qualify in which at first they were drawn to play Turkey but the latter refused for political reasons and so they were drawn to play Sudan but they too refused for political reasons; the Suez crises still lingered in the minds of many, especially in those Arab countries. Israel would be thrown around to play either Uruguay or Italy and then finally Belgium, all of which refused to play them. So who would? FIFA would finally ask the Welsh if they were interested and with them desperate to qualify, they didn't need asking twice and over a two legged play off, Wales would beat Israel 4-0 on aggerate and would book their place to confirm for the first time all four British home nations to take part in a tournament.


    Programme of the second leg of the Play-Off between Wales and Israel

    With this exciting fact and with all teams considered to be decent to have a shot of glory, the British press machine would've been surely having a field day on proudly predicting that the World Cup would be heading back to the United Kingdom and show the world that Britain was king of football once again. Alas as the old saying goes, things can be all too good to be true and this would become apparent in the most tragic circumstances. On February 6th, tragedy struck the England team in Munich where the Manchester United team were on their way home from a European Cup tie when their plane crashed shortly after take off due to slush on the runway. Of the forty four that were there on that flight, twenty two would lose their lives either players, crew members and journalists. Matt Busby's team, a team that he had built raised to become a powerful football force over several years, was practically destroyed.

    For England, the consequences were devastating. They were weakened by the loss of two international players, Tommy Taylor and Roger Byrne, both of whom would have likely played a part in the 1958 World Cup had they lived. From this horror, there was one ray of hope from those who survived and who many hoped would play a part for England; Duncan Edwards. Although he was injured in the crash, he managed to survive his ordeal and was shaken by the ordeal and took the death of those, mainly his teammates, who died greatly. That said, his injuries would mean that he would end up missing the rest of the season for Manchester United, though would end taking part with the England team in Sweden despite many saying that he wasn't fully fit to play in the World Cup.

    His survival was by pure chance thanks to some words of advice from England manager Walter Winterbottom in which the England manager had mentioned to him that when the England team were about to leave Switzerland at the last World Cup, some of the players, as well as Winterbottom, weren't confident flyers but a Swiss businessman had mentioned that sitting at the front of the plane would be more safer than sitting at the back. Wherever or not this certain person knew how much this advice would proved to be crucial with hindsight, Edwards would take this advice whenever he flew and for that certain flight he would sit near the front while many of his teammates went to the back, a choice that was to have fatal consequences for them as several of those players would die. Edwards made it out but it was a terrible loss for him to deal with for many years to come.


    Edwards (on the ball) during less horrifying times in 1955 against Scotland

    But it wasn't England were affected by this; as a matter of fact the other Home Nations were affected by the crash. Scotland were rocked by it too as prior to the World Cup, Manchester United's manager Matt Busby had been appointed as the new Scotland head coach on a part time basis and was indeed the right man to guide Scotland to take part in the World Cup. The crash however had injured him and it was a worry that his injuries were that bad that Dawson Walker, the trainer for Scotland, would have to manage the team in Sweden. But spurred on by the determination by Edwards, Busby made a recovery with just days before the tournament would start, but like Edwards and the rest of the Manchester United players, he was shaken by the disaster.

    Northern Ireland's connection to the disaster was by Manchester United and Northern Ireland goalkeeper Harry Gregg who would be one of the lucky survivors from the crash. It would be well documented that Gregg would end up becoming a hero ('The hero of Munich' he would be called by some) that day as despite having injuries of his own, he would escape from where he was trapped in the cabin and would end up saving many from the wreckage which included several of his teammates. His goalkeeping efforts had been crucial in getting his country to qualify for their first tournament and few Northern Irish fans dread to think what might have been had things been different...

    Wales' connection to all of this may had not anyone of Welsh connection there for the disaster yet there was a cruel twist in which Wales' victory over Israel in the second leg would happen just a day before the disaster took place and this would affect their manager Jimmy Murphy who not was the Welsh manager but was also the assistant manager for Manchester United and with Busby being unable to manage due to his injuries, he would end up having to manage the team in his absence. There was a feeling Murphy would feel later on that things happen for a reason for had not Wales been made to play in that play-off which made him unable to join the United team for that flight then it was likely that Murphy would had suffered a terrible fate.

    The Welsh team on their arrival in Sweden prior to the start of the World Cup
    Regardless of who they were, all four home nations would end up being linked to the tragedy in a way that many never thought was possible and in some ways the timing of the World Cup couldn't have come at a better time for the country was still reeling from what had happened, what better way for a country to celebrate than to see these teams playing at a World Cup. Hopes had, much like a phoenix, had rose up from out of the ashes.

    Even before a ball had been kicked, there was to be some controversary over the seeding in which instead being sorted out by strength would instead be sorted out by geographic locations which the four pots would be divided with four teams each from Western Europe, Eastern Europe, United Kingdom and the Americas. This format was criticised by many, mostly by the Austrians who would end up being drawn with the strongest teams from the other pots. With that though, the 1958 World Cup would begin...

    Northern Ireland were drawn into a group that featured the world champions West Germany, a much fancied Argentina team who some felt had a chance to go all the way and a Czechoslovakian team who were always thought to be a difficult team to beat...that was until they suffered a 1-0 defeat to Northern Ireland in their opening match. Northern Ireland were on a high from that victory in which a result against Argentina would be more than enough to get them through who in turn had suffered a terrible 3-1 loss to the Germans in their opening match.

    Harry Gregg wouldn't be enough to keep his country safe from a battering from an angry Argentina team who spanked the plucky Irish 3-1 which meant now for them it was win or bust, Northern Ireland now had to simply defeat the World Champions in their final group game if they had any chance to go through. It would be a game in which Peter McParland would stun the Germans by scoring the opening goal after just eighteen minutes but the champions would end up getting a goal just minutes later though a McParland double would help the Northern Irish get in front once again and now all they had to do was hold on. Up step Harry Gregg.

    Gregg's heroics, with the memories of his fallen Manchester United teammates in his mind, spur him on to stop waves of attacks from the Germans and this is proven in the seventy-eighth minute when Uwe Seeler charged in with an almighty volley that looked so powerful it could've ripped the ball to shreds or send it into orbit. Gregg had noticed this and ran back to the goal line to try and stop the ball. Taking a chance, he decides to lunge forward and use his whole body as ballast to try and stop it from coming, many people in the stands, especially the traveling German support think it is a sure fire equaliser. The Northern Irish goalkeeper scrunches his fists up to punch the ball up and it hits his gloves (with the force of the impact running up through his arms) but the ball goes flying into the air resulting in a mad rush in the penalty box from Helmut Rahn and Seeler as they try to position themselves into place to take a header, but Gregg knows he can't let them ruin their moment of glory like this and jumps up high as he can to catch it, it feels like everything is going in slow motion...


    Northern Ireland vs West Germany in their final group match prior to kick off

    The two Germans also try to get in the way to try and stop him, but Gregg keeps his eye firmly on the ball not letting it out of his sight for one minute. It comes down and Gregg's fingertips gets a hold of it, but he loses his touch as he glances down seeing that the two German players have accidently ran into the side of him as the three men all take a tumble. Gregg now tries to get himself away from them as he see's that the ball is about to land past the goal line and makes quite literally a leap of faith as he makes a desperate attempt to grab the ball from getting anywhere, this time he does get his gloves on it and to make sure it won't slip, he tries to curl up when he lands. He makes though a brief glance to see how close he is to the goal line and see's he is only about three feet away, all he can do is close his eyes and pray...

    He didn't know how long he'd shut his eyes for, but when he came back to his senses he heard a cheer around the stadium and he was convinced that he and the ball had landed over the goal line and that he had ruined it. But when he opened his eyes, he saw that he was holding the ball just no more than a few feet away and the cheering was from the small Irish crowd and Swedish locals who were applauding his wonderful save. The game would become a battle in midfield with both teams trying to show their strength. The German supporters were booing angrily at their team and Gregg had to wonder if being World Champions was curse if it meant you would be lumbered with pressure for the rest of the game and the final minute was going at a snails pace and small bunch of Irish supporters who had made the journey over could barely watch as the tension was growing, Gregg would call over towards the bench asking at times how long had they got.

    He fears that he can't keep this up forever and fears that the Germans will get a goal back, but they don't. The referee blows his shrill whistle and the Swedish neutrals and Irish supporters celebrate Northern Ireland's outstanding 2-1 victory over West Germany which not only wins them the group and force the Germans into a play-off with the Czechs, but also book their place in the next round and Gregg walks slowly over to his celebrating teammates who quite can't honestly believe their luck. It proves that their victory over Italy in the qualifying rounds was no fluke. A crowd invade the pitch to surround him and lift him on their shoulders like a conquering hero, a young Swedish boy would then take a photo of that very moment of Gregg on the shoulders of his teammates that would become one of the most famous photos in Northern Ireland's football history. Question now was how far could this team go now?

    1958 ALT 1.png

    Final results of Northern Ireland's group at the 1958 World Cup

    After two appearances at the World Cup, it was fair to say that there had been a lot of experience for the Scotland players who all knew what to expect and with this combined with a mastermind of a manager such as Matt Busby taking charge of the team, one had to think that Scotland surely had what it took to try and win the World Cup. That said Busby's injuries had made things all touch and go if he would make it or not and though he would, it was all just a little bit too close for comfort and preparations were quite hampered some felt. They would be handed a group with Yugoslavia, France and Paraguay and Busby knew that a lot was expected from his team. However he would raise a few eyebrows when picking the squad for the World Cup in which Busby would include a young eighteen year player named Denis Law, who was playing for Huddersfield Town.

    It was more of a surprise when the young player would be in the team in Scotland's first group match against Yugoslavia and some wonder what made Busby think he was the player needed, however the Scotland manager felt there was good potential in the lad despite many fearing he would be thrown into the deep end. For this opening group game, the Scots would be playing in their away kit of white shirts, blue shorts and red socks and they would be playing in the Arosvallen stadium in Vasteras in front of a crowd of about 9,500. Scotland would end up going behind after five minutes and it wouldn't be until the second half in which Scotland would strike back to come back to win the game with that young Denis Law getting the winning goal and thus vindicating his position as being part of the team.

    Scotland's second match with Paraguay would end up being a madcap affair with Paraguay in which once again the Scots would lose a goal after less that five minutes though would come back with an equaliser which looked like they were one course to win, only for the South Americans to get back into the lead again right on the death of the first half and it looked like a defeat was on the cards. Scotland though fight back and score two goals without reply to snatch victory and surely book their place in the last eight.


    Scotland vs Yugoslavia in their opening match

    Scotland's final group match would end up being against the French who had managed a victory yet suffered a defeat and another of the latter would send Scotland to the top of the group but nonetheless as it stood both sides were going through, just a question as to who would finish where. In the end it would be a match in which Scotland were too tired to finish and ended up going 2-0 down in the first half alone and pretty much the match's fate seemed set.

    Scotland would come back with a goal shortly into the second half but even with the flair of Denis Law in the middle there, the game proved to be one step too far for all concern and France would come out as deserved victors to win the group while Scotland sneaked through right behind them on level points though the French would finish ahead on goal average; France's 7-3 thumping of Paraguay from before helping them out.

    Once more, Scotland were about to play knockout football once again and after their Quarter-Final disappointment from before, could they go one step better here? Busby would now have to try and work out to see what was possible and who they would be facing...

    1958 ALT 2.png

    Final results of Scotland's group at the 1958 World Cup

    Group 3 was considered to be the easiest group which may have been good for the host nation but so too for the Welsh on paper. However things would be problematic for the team even before they stepped foot on the plane to Sweden thanks to no small part to the antics of the FAW. In many ways which reflected the antics of the SFA prior to the 1954 World Cup, preparations for the tournament were laughably amateur in which some in the team and the many supporters for the national side felt could cost Wales dearly on the pitch and there had been many well documented stories during the qualification that had plagued the Welsh team throughout. Wales had no dull training base to call their own so instead the players would end up training at Hyde Park in London of all places and would often get chased off by the local park keepers, not knowing that these guys were trying to train to play a part in the upcoming World Cup.

    Hardly inspirational, but that wasn't all for during that certain training exercises, the FAW committee members had forgotten to bring a football to train with and the team hadn't even made it to Sweden yet! When the team did make it to Scandinavia, things didn't get any better in which two members of the team forgot their passports, some forgot their training gear and the FAW had forget to bring out their training tops and had to borrow some from England and Scotland and finally although they were allowed to bring twenty-two players out for the World Cup as part with FIFA rules, but instead only eighteen players would be taken as the FAW wanted to save money but rather stupidly wanted to save space on the plane for the wives of of the FAW councillors.

    If this all sounded absurd and something from a Laurel and Hardy film then one would be forgiven to think that, but that was the case with those with FAW who treated the whole trip as some kind of a jolly and the poor Welsh players and their long suffering manager, Jimmy Murphy, had to wonder if his superiors were trying to deliberately make things difficult for him. Question was would this all affect the team going into their first match with the runners up of the last World Cup.


    John Charles during Wales' opening match with Hungary
    Despite all these problems, Wales would end up putting up a fairly decent showing by getting a draw with Hungary though it had to be said this was nothing like the Hungary team of the previous tournament and would end up finishing in third place. Wales would more or less book their place into the next round with a victory over Mexico though it was very nearly a draw in the eighty-ninth minute had the Mexicans scored. Nonetheless, Wales had recorded their first win of the World Cup.

    Wales' final group match would be with the host nation who had already booked their place with back-to-back wins over the two teams in the group and the game would be a question of who finished where in the knockout rounds. The game itself would end up being a dull 0-0 draw which while it pretty much sent both sides through to the next round.

    Wales were something of an oddball team to the rest of the world as not only did no one expect much from them, most possibly couldn't find out where Wales was on a map and if that wasn't annoying enough, rumours began to be heard among the squad that their exploits in Sweden weren't being reported much in the media back home. It that was true then one could only wonder how the Welsh players must have felt thinking about that, especially as they were about to play Brazil...

    1958 ALT 3.png

    Final results of Wales' group stage results at the 1958 World Cup

    The final group was pretty much without question the strongest group on the list as it would feature England, Brazil and the Soviet Union with the poor Austrians being the odd one out and ended up finishing bottom of the group. While Brazil were said to be the favourites, there was much to be expected from England though that was all before the horrible tragedy in Munich had ripped out much of England's future talent who would have been a shoe-in for the World Cup.

    Even for those who did get to go like Duncan Edwards, he would end up finding it frustrating that he would not play a part in England's first two group games and to add to this, both games with the Soviet Union and Brazil would end up being draws though the latter would become a little piece of history for the World Cup in which England vs Brazil would end up being the first 0-0 draw in a a World Cup. Edwards would have little to do other than to train hard to show that he was worthy of being part of the squad.

    To go through, England needed a win and a draw was not an attractive prospect as it would mean to play a gruelling play-off if that match ended with a draw. Standing in their way would be Austria and for this match, Walter Winterbottom would bite the bullet and finally play Edwards in the game and all hopes were pinned on that man to give England victory.


    England during their 2-2 draw with the USSR
    The match with Austria would not start off well for England as they would be left stunned when Austria scored first and despite England's best efforts, the Austrians would hold onto a 1-0 lead going into the break and much was noted of how unfit Edwards looked. Thankfully for the English a dramatic comeback would be on the cards in which England got a goal back thanks to Haynes before Austria scored again only for that lead to be cancelled out a few minutes later from Kevan in which in the end, Edwards would lit rip a rocket of a shot to give England's third and thus secured England a place in the last eight.

    It was not the comfortable victory England would have wanted and they had made it difficult for themselves though that didn't matter as Edwards had manage to turn it around and put England into the last eight and now all hopes looked good for England to make a good run at it as long as Edwards would not injury himself should they progress further in this tournament.

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    Final results of England's group stage results at the 1958 World Cup
    For the first time ever, all four of the Home Nations had all made it through and the British press would lap it all saying that surely there was a high chance that one of them would surely win the World Cup. That said there were another four teams left who all felt that they could have something to say about those British hopes of glory. Who would end going the furthest and maybe all the way...?

    And there we are with the latest chapters, a few butterflies have happened as you can see with one certain person coming out of the Munich air disaster and will play a part in this TL, plus some results have change which comes down to how British football is starting to adapt thanks to the skills from England and Scotland starting to trickle down. So here are the fixtures...
    Brazil vs Wales

    France vs West Germany

    Sweden vs England

    Northern Ireland vs Scotland
    So who will win? Plus I need some advice from some of you going into this TL later on which I didn't do before which I need to hear you out on these ideas...
    I have been thinking of including an all Irish team like that with the rugby team though if I do go down that path what year should it happen and what flag should they play under? Also anything else you like to see added that was never seen in the old TL? Just throwing ideas out there if you want something to say
    So then until then, catch you all later!
    Chapter 6: Unfair Numbers
  • Chapter 6
    Unfair Numbers

    One of the biggest criticism levelled at the existence of the Home Nations is that the United Kingdom has an unfair advantage of having four teams playing in a tournament instead of playing as one UK team. This is a thing due to the fact that the Home Nations have 'grandfather' rights of being founders of the game being recognised by FIFA and UEFA though the latter two have made no secret of seeing a UK team, this fact to this day is still brought up time and time again of unfair numbers and the idea of nations from inside a country playing in a tournament might give other unofficial football associations ideas of playing in a major tournament such as Catalonia in Spain in which the latter is dead set against. So when for the first time all four of them reached the last eight one can imagine the reaction from outside the UK might have been one of lukewarm feelings.

    In contrast, the British press on June 19th, the day of the Quarter-finals, were having a field day. On nearly every newspaper you could find (except for Wales oddly enough who were more interest in rugby news), all they could talk about was football, mostly about those four teams. With the fact that all four made it this far (the only Quarter-final not to see any British involvement would be between France and West Germany), many were proudly saying this was greatest moment in British football and showing that the United Kingdom was still a strong nation despite many on the outside saying that they were living in a bubble. If these things weren't enough, some papers and pundits back home proudly claimed that this time ten days from now, a British team will win the World Cup. It was probably a small mercy neither of the teams heard that last phase as the boastful claim did sound eerily familiar for what the Brazilian press had proudly stated in 1950 thinking that their team were already World Champions and the rest they say is history...

    That all be said, it was an achievement for them to all get this far, but each had a tough game to play. Wales would end up getting the favourites Brazil in a true 'David vs Goliath' clash though they were boosted with the fact that they had a certain John Charles fit and ready to take on the Brazilians. Scotland and Northern Ireland would both have the unique quirk of fate to being drawn together which regarded who won would in sure that at least one British team would be in the last four. Last but not least, England arguable had the easier tie with Sweden and while on paper some felt that England had this game in the bag, the Swedes were the hosts and had an entire nation behind them and that would probably make things difficult for the English.

    Indeed, one brave soul could think otherwise of their chances and could make a bold claim that neither British team would be in the semi-finals, let alone winning the final. But for most, the 19th June was to be a busy day from North to South in the country and across the Irish sea, many would find any television set they could find and an even larger number would listen to their radios in the hope that their teams would aim for glory.

    In the Ullevi stadium in Gothenburg, the Welsh team walked out alongside the Brazil as they prepared to lock horns. For those who had followed the Welsh team over the years, the only 'big' team they could ever hope to face, never mind try to beat, were England, so to see them walking out along the yellow shirt clad Brazilians who looked liked a team that came from another planet, it was a bizarre sight to say the least of how much the Welsh felt like they were a fish out of water.


    Brazil captain Bellini (left) and Welsh captain Bowen (right) before the game

    It wasn't much help for the lack of the few Welsh supporters in the ground who had made the trip to Gothenburg though the Welsh team would thank the Swedish locals supporting them as their brand of football did hearts of many. That said, there was a feeling that they would be up against it playing Brazil but with John Charles in their ranks, they might have a chance.

    The Austrian referee would blow his whistle to begin and the two teams began to play and almost from the get go, Brazil were clearly bossing the Welsh around and they find themselves camped inside their own box and it doesn't help that their defensive style of play is not helping matters as they can't quite deliver the ball up towards John Charles who is constantly being marked out by the Brazilian players. Clearly they had done their homework. After ten minutes of an early Brazilian storm, the Welsh slowly start to put their foot down and start to play a bit of football and it does look as though as there might be a game on here. They are of course not only British team on show that day...

    At the same time just south of that in Malmo was the all British affair of Scotland vs Northern Ireland. Unlike their Northern Irish counterparts, Scotland had the bad luck of having several of their players injured or at best, weakened following their game against the French in which the aftermath proved to be a nightmare scenario for manager Matt Busby. Some of these cases were of John Hewie and Jimmy Murray suffering from problems with their knees with Bobby Evans suffering from a groin strain, however the bitter blow for Busby was that in the France game, Denis Law suffered a bad injury on his leg and had to be taken off with ten minutes to go and in the days before subsitutes, Scotland were forced to play the rest of the game with ten men.

    The extent of Law's injury was discovered to be so bad that it meant even if Scotland were to get to the final, it was found out he'd be unable to play for the rest of the tournament and thus his World Cup came to an end which really stabbed a dagger through Busby's heart who had hopes that this young lad could go a long way. Busby would have to changed his line up to have Rangers forward Alex Scott to take Law's place though it does mean much chopping and changing of who is fit to play and with so many injuries to the squad, he wonders if lady luck is trying to play a cruel game with them.


    Scotland and Northern Ireland come out of the tunnel, note the pipe band which had been invited to take part in Sweden for pre-match entertainment

    In contrast to Busby, his Northern Irish counterpart Peter Docherty had very little to worry about in terms of injuries and had gone into this game quietly confident that they could do something in this game and give the Scots a bloody nose though history didn't seem to be on his plucky side however. For as long as Northern Ireland (or Ireland before the split) their record against the Scots had been poor with their last victory over them happening in 1955 and for many of his fellow countrymen, a win was long overdue which not only would get them one over the Scots, but prize of this tie would be a place in the last four.

    There was good reason for thinking this as if they could beat the World Champions, West Germany, then surely they could take care of the Scots with ease? The match opened in quite a flurry of end-to-end action in which as quickly in the sixth minute of the game, a linkup play from Cowie manages to escape through a back line of Northern Irish players in which he links up with Alex Scott up front who from ten yards outside the box ends up thumping the ball into the top left corner of the next and despite Harry Gregg's brave attempt at trying to keep it out and even getting a touch on it, it's not enough as the first goal of the day is scored by the Scots.

    At 1-0 up, it looks as though that it might once again one of those days but in a World Cup and in any game of football, it's never over until it's over...

    Meanwhile at the same time just over a hundred miles north at the moment Scotland had taken the lead, England were taking on hosts Sweden in Solna. While England were expected to win this game (at least according to a somewhat bias British press pack), the Swedes were giving the English a game by playing in what could be described as workman like football. It wasn't the prettiest type of football that anyone would've liked, but it had helped the host nation get this far in the World Cup though must be noted that the Swedes had gotten a fairly easy group that featured Wales, Mexico and Hungary, the latter team being no where near as good as the team that came close to winning the World Cup just four years ago; a dramatic fall from grace in every sense of the word.

    Still, with a nation behind them, the English would have to play the pantomime villains in this game and many of the players knew this, they also were aware that Sweden had many years of experience playing in the World Cup much more than either of the Home Nations had ever had dating back from the early days of the World Cup so just writing them off so dismishly would be utterly foolish to do so. That said England had to prove themselves that they could play and in the sixteenth minute of the game, Edwards went on the break with several Swedish players chasing him and knowing he was about to be caught out with them about to surround them, he crosses the ball over to Haynes and as soon as he can get the ball under control, he takes a shot to try and blast it into the roof of the net up it is in punched over the bar by Swedish keeper, Kalle Svensson, who helps keep the score at 0-0.


    Image of the Swedish team for the 1958 World Cup
    That save there is the first sign of the day that shows England that this match will not be a walkover as some claim it would be and that now that they have a game on their hands...

    After just over twenty minutes of the first half one, nothing really has happened in the game between Wales and Brazil in which nothing really had happened though the Welsh were more than happy to hold their own though it was in this game that the Welsh players saw a player that couldn't been much older than any teenager yet despite this the young player, whoever he was, was causing an awful lot of problems for Wales' defence and at times each of the players had to wonder who this kid was.

    The confusion and often struggles the team seem to suffer would though all be forgotten into the twenty-seventh minute and from what can be only described as against the run of play, David Bowen manages to outwit De Sordi before setting up a delicious cross towards John Charles who finds himself in the unlikely scene of good fortune in which the Brazilian defence is caught napping and after some further twists later, he lets fly a rocket of a volley into the back of the net to leave the South Americans stunned and even some of the crowd cheer for seeing the underdog go in front.

    The importance of Charles is there for all to see but instead of kicking on to try and look for a second goal, Brazil come at them like an angry beast and there is a sense among the Welsh players as they start to get pulled apart by the Brazilians that things might not end up the way they are hoping for, that said though throughout this first half, many eyes are all aimed at that young dark skinned teenager over who he is and if he has something to say in this game...

    Unaware of the turn of events that have taking place with the Brazilians, Northern Ireland have managed to Scots in making sure a second which they know if they did score now would leave Northern Ireland with a mountain to climb. Key to this is one Harry Gregg who is playing in the game of his life though he isn't the only one who is fighting for his country. The likes of Dick Keith, Willie Cunningham and Alf McMichael have been doing most of the lion's share of defender the goal and Greg has so far only done about two saves with most of the shots by the Scots crossing past the goal.


    Gregg keeping up his efforts in the game with the Scots

    In the thirty-fifth minute with a sense that the Scots might be looking rather frustrated of not adding to their lead, Wilbur Cush manages to deceive the Scots and strike home a goal in the bottom corner of the net. The mostly Swedish crowd who had taken the Irish to heart thanks to their plucky nature, celebrate the goal with the small number of Northern Irish supporters in the ground and the players surround Cush congratulating him, Gregg on his end of the pitch celebrates too and glances behind his goal seeing the tartan clad Scottish supporters looking unhappy at what's just happened.

    Gregg then looks over at the following scene in which several angry Scottish players are complaining to the Swiss referee trying to point out that the goal was offside though the referee is having none of it and is pointing back towards the centre of the pitch to begin play again in which after what feels like a few minutes, the Scottish players reluctantly accept and run back to begin play again..

    "It was clearly onside!" Gregg mutters in annoyance at this hold up and feels probably the same as many of his fellow countrymen, the referee blows his whistle and the men in green have to scramble to get back in position as the Scots start to invade the Irish half with Keith making a perfect tackle on Cowie and passing it up to Danny Blanchflower to try and make something out of it. It would seem that the tides were turning maybe...?


    Away from that match, England had been performing well right into the final few minutes of the first half yet despite all this and how Sweden look rather uncomfortable with the English showing their strength, they can't seem to find a breakthrough. It is a frustrating affair for England who feel that with how well they've played. Edwards knew he had to get something before half time as if it remained like this, it could give the Swedes a chance they could get something in the second half.

    "Come on lads we can't lose this!" Edwards cries out to the players and get's a bemused look from Billy Wright, who feels like the younger man is acting more like a captain than he is, no doubt he could see why many are saying he could be captain for England someday and with how much he is yelling at his teammates to get the ball up to him, something suddenly appears in Wright's mind that knowing that Edwards is still not fully fit, he has to make sure he doesn't injure himself...


    Edwards during the game with Sweden

    Nonetheless after more huffing and puffing, nothing happens in the first half which ends 0-0 and the Swedish supporters in the ground are delighted of how their team has held their own and it is a frustrated England team that walk off the field wondering how on earth their luck might change soon if they fail to get a goal. For the other Home Nations at the end of their respected first halves, Scotland and Northern Ireland are tied at 1-1 while perhaps the biggest shock so far is that Wales are still leading Brazil 1-0. What was to happen next now?

    From the start in their match with Scotland, Northern Ireland start the second half looking quite promising and the Scots by the fifty-fifth minute become more and more frustrated of not scoring to retake the lead and Matt Busby looks from the bench having a horrible feeling creeping up on him. A minute later, Jackie Scott is brought down on the very edge of the penalty box by Dave Mackay and the Irish players cry for a penalty, instead the Swiss referee points for a free kick to be taken right on the edge. Now was the moment. Tommy Casey will take this kick and he gives McParland a knowing nod at their plan they worked on in training. The whistle is blown to take the free kick and rather try and get over the defensive Scottish wall, Casey passes the ball over to McParland and catching the Scots off guard before McParland hammers home the goal that puts the Irish into a shock lead.

    Cue massive celebrations from the players and the Swedes in the crowd who are clearly far from being neutral here. On his end of the pitch, Gregg can't but jump up hanging onto the crossbar and punching his fist into the air in triumph.

    "Get in there!" He cries out, but it is unlikely anyone heard him as the cheering drowns out any sound. The small number of Scottish supporters, as well as the players, can only look dumbfounded at what has just happened and don't seem to have the voice to express their feelings at this point.

    Seeing what looks like their confidence being shattered, the Irish attack the Scottish defence and looks like it will shatter at times from the Scots lack of confidence. Casey attempts to get a shot on target but the keeper get's his hands on it and the ball goes out for a corner kick but alas it all counts for nothing. What more drama might follow next with much of the second half yet to play?

    Over in Gothenburg with Wales and Brazil, there had been a growing feeling that sooner or later that Brazil would finally break the stubborn Welsh defence sooner or later, and it finally give way into the 66th minute when that certain young teenager than had caught many admire glances would slot in a shot into the bottom left to bring Brazil level and curiously enough was the young man's first goal for his country. Now Wales had a game on their hands and the question was could they find a way to get back into the lead before Brazil could lay into them.


    The certain young Brazilian turning the Welsh defence inside out
    Amazingly enough just a few minutes later, Wales nearly make a response from Charles at the other end when in the sixty-ninth minute, he blasts home a rocket of a shot into the top left of the goal which is barely saved by Gilmar between the sticks. At this point Brazil are now flooding men forward and after that one great chance from Charles, Wales are on the backfoot again as Brazil go looking for the goal that would win the game for them. Surely it can't get any worse...?

    In the final minutes of England's game with Sweden with now just fifteen minutes to go, Sweden are now starting to see more of the ball and the crowd can sense that there is a chance for Sweden to win the game and disaster strikes when they start to attack the English defensive line and the tables seem turned with England manger, Winterbottom, shouting from the touchline to his players to get back in it when Edwards attempts to take the ball off Axbom in which he skids in to get the ball, but instead feels the full force of the Swede falling on top of him. While Axbom gets up, Edwards does not, Instead, he is clutching his leg in pain and the England doctor rushes on to see what can be done. The fear of his injuries from Munich have come back to haunt him.

    The moment they see a stretcher coming on and thus taking the injured Edwards away, England are now down to ten men and unlike future days of brining on a sub, that rule is never in place and England are forced to play with a man down. After that, England became a shadow of the team that they once were as the ten man team become weak against a resurging Sweden who now into the final ten minutes with the score at 0-0 decide to go for the kill and do so in the eighty-second minute when Agne Simonsson does an old one-two trick after running with the ball before volleying the goal into the back of the net to finally break the deadlock and ultimately dump England out of the World Cup.

    Cue massive celebrations from the Swedish supporters and looks of despair from the small number of England fans who have all made the journey to Sweden and can only feel glum about their bad luck. Though many would point out that Edwards' injury was a real turning point, truth be told, England were poor on the day and didn't do much to try and win the game and there would be a lot to think about until the next tournament would happen. With that, England's World Cup adventure was over, but they wouldn't be the only one leaving today...

    At the same time in which Sweden dumped England out of the World Cup, the game between Scotland and Northern Ireland had ended with the Irish recording a shock 2-1 victory over Scotland which dumped the much fancied Scots out of the tournament. Truth be told after that shock second goal from the Irish, Scotland's moral seemed to fall apart and while Northern Ireland struggled to find the back of the net, neither too did Scotland who in many ways just lost their bottle and thus their World Cup hopes ended on a downer.

    For Northern Ireland though, the celebrations are almost deafening as Cush, filled with adrenalin, runs like a mad man over to Tommy Docherty and the those on the bench to celebrate, with many of his teammates running towards him to celebrate. Gregg is filled with a delighted feeling that he has never felt before, not even with winning games with Manchester United. He looks over briefly to see a dishearten and broken Scottish team with some lying on their back and others sitting down all looking shocked at the situation with their captain trying to pull each of the players up to try and save their World Cup.


    Not quite the reaction you'd after you reach the last four of the World Cup...

    He also in that moment feels sorry for his Manchester United manager, Matt Busby, who he knows after the horrors of Munich wanted to do something special for his country but alas it all ended once again at the Quarter-Final stage. Some will say that's football but others might say that's just life, nonetheless unknown in that moment for the players, it turns out that upon reaching the last four of the World Cup for the first time, Northern Ireland become the smallest nation, with Uruguay a close second, to reach the Semi-Finals of the World Cup. The moment of victory becomes a bit crazier after the final whistle in which members of the crowd come running onto the pitch to congratulate the players, one photo taken would be of a young Swedish man running over to McParland and shaking his hand before raising it in the air like a winning boxer.

    While that Quarter-Final would see one British team through at least, albeit perhaps the last one anyone expected, not all the Quarter-Finals are over (France would lose to the Germans 3-2 in the other game) with one more game now heading into extra-time...

    Despite their brutal assault on the Welsh goal, Brazil can't find a winner in the regulated ninety minutes and now the game will be going into extra-time and while the Welsh players are all starting to look dead on their feet, their yellow shirted appointments are more than ready to get going and when the referee blows for extra-time, Brazil get off from where they started and Wales just look like a tired team in which John Charles has been isolated at the front in which neither of his teammates can get to him and he ends up making a cameo role in the period.

    That all said, there is one unlikely moment from Wales in which in one final burst of energy from Ivor Allchurch, who at this point has been invisible all this game due to not having much of a chance, finally has a moment of glory in which during the ninety-fifth minute he goes galloping through the Brazilian back line and lets rip a shot that has the ball curling towards the roof of the net some fifteen yards out and even the goalkeeper fails to get a hold of it and it is an open goal...until the ball clatters on the crossbar with such force that it causes it to rattle furiously and a glorious chance for Wales goes begging. Another inch lower and not only would that had gone in but maybe could have seen the Welsh win the game.

    Then if that's not bad enough, it all gets worse as perhaps to the surprise of no one who has watched the game unfold until now, Brazil would end getting the better of a now exhausted Welsh team in which that young lad comes back to haunt Wales in the ninety-ninth minute of extra-time in which a cheeky lob over Jack Kelsey, the Welsh keeper, finds the ball bobbling into the goal and thus giving Brazil a much deserved lead and much heartbreak for the Welsh which they cannot find a response for that goal and thus, Brazil come out on top to progress to the last four and dump the plucky Welsh out of the World Cup.


    That young man being embraced by his teammates in the net after netting the winner for Brazil
    The young Brazilian that had one his own knocked out the Welsh was a young seventeen year old by the name of Edson Arantes do Nascimento, however he would go on to have quite a big career after that in which the rest of the world would all know him by one name...Pelé. If getting knocked out a World Cup was not bad enough, when the Welsh team returned home, they would find out that despite much coverage in England and Scotland on the World Cup, hardly anyone knew about Wales' Scandinavian adventure in which many asked the team in they had been on a holiday.

    One could only imagine the reaction the stunned players had when they had been asked that question and had to wonder that if they had gone on to win the World Cup, would Wales be the only nation on Earth that would have no knowledge if their team had won the damn thing? It was of course only something that showed everyone of how much Wales was very much a rugby nation in all this time and seemed to care little for football.

    All in all, with three British teams dumped out of the tournament, it had proved to be something of a disappointing day for the UK as now all hopes were pinned on plucky little Northern Ireland to try and reach the final. Some say it was karma for the British having an unfair number of teams taking part and now they were down to just one team. No pressure indeed for the poor Irish...

    Finally back with an update this time we cover Wales in this and the great WI question if John Charles had been fit to play against Brazil for that game. Anyway here is the last four line up as it stands:
    Brazil vs West Germany

    Sweden vs Northern Ireland
    So for all you lovely people out there, what would like to see in this redux that old TL never had before? Until then, see you all next time!
    Chapter 7: Our Wee (Plucky) Nation
  • Chapter 7
    Our Wee (Plucky) Nation

    Just a few days ago when all four Home Nations managed to make to the last eight, there was quite a a degree of hope that three would make it to last four (Northern Ireland and Scotland were drawn together in their Quarter-final game) with the British media boasting that there would be a British World Cup winner for 1958. It was said however that they were likely suspecting either England or Scotland, or one or the other depending which side of the border you came from, would win though it would be something of an upset when both fail to progress. Only Wales' loss to Brazil seemed like the most correct prediction that they had; the most unlikely prediction that they all had was a Northern Ireland victory over Scotland and it was that which had happened. As they say, football is a funny old game.

    June 24th would see little Northern Ireland prepare to take on Sweden in which would be their first game taking on the Scandinavians and hosts in which the Ulstermen found themselves walking onto the field in Gothenburg to a charged atmosphere who were there to see the hosts make it to the final and send them packing. It was all a bit of a strange turn around in what the hosts thought of them as when they managed to defeat the Germans they were the country's favourite team outside their own due to their plucky nature and being the smallest nation to play at a World Cup.

    Northern Ireland's star goalkeeper Harry Gregg looked up towards the crowd and he could only see the odd Northern Ireland fan in the crowd being recognised dressed in all green and flying Union Jack flags, nonetheless the small handful that were here were still overwhelmed by the huge numbers of Swedes in the crowd. There were also a handful of British press men there to cover the game but they were English and understandably not exactly pleased that England weren't here and the rest had all been interested in covering the more exciting Semi-final between Brazil and West Germany which many felt would be of more interest to the wider world.


    The Northern Irish team prior to kick off
    As they were about to kick, Gregg couldn't help that with a nation of their size and how many most likely only expected them to just make up the numbers and no more, that they really shouldn't be here and being such a small nation they were quite out of place compared to their opponents and the likes of Brazil or the Germans. He also felt that his fellow Manchester United teammate Duncan Edwards and the rest of his England teammates probably deserved to be playing at this point; not that they were close pals of his but rather after all the horrors suffered at Munich that they deserved to get something from out of all this. Alas it seems the football Gods had decided to smile on the fortunes of the Northern Irish team.

    In those days, the advert of television was still very much off for most families so for many across Northern Ireland many would be sitting close to the radio either in bars or living rooms in the hope of hearing their wee plucky nation attempt to pull off a miracle. At about seven o'clock in the evening, the Hungarian referee blew his whistle
    and quickly the Swedes started quickly on the attack and thanks to the roaring support of a partisan home crowd, Sweden's World Cup experience came to the front and were making the Irish look very ordinary by all accounts. For the first two minutes, all that Northern Ireland could do was try and get the ball off Sweden and they find themselves nearly going a goal behind after just five minutes but Gregg would come to the rescue to bail out his teammates but he was far from happy that the team hadn't woken up yet.

    The next few minutes of the match would thankfully see the Irish managing to hold the ball much better and trying their best not for the men in yellow shirts trying to get the ball of them. The slowing down of the game managing to break the momentum the Swedes had early on and this plays into Northern Ireland's hands in which in the twenty-forth minute and to everyone's amazement, McParland decides to volley the ball towards the goal from thirty yards out and although the Swedish goalkeeper managed to get his hands to it, he couldn't hold it and he fumbled it and it went in for a goal than stuns the team and the home support.


    Scenes of joy after Northern Ireland take the lead

    Great celebrations for the men in green on the pitch and no doubt similar scenes being repeated back home if they were listening to the game live. Surely the unthinkable wasn't going to happen so easily, right? What happened next would akin to one of those moments in which what happens when you poke a dangerous animal in the eye and in this case, the Swedes went out in the attack to cause Northern Ireland problems. After that goal from Northern Ireland in which one would think things might go in favour of the underdog, the best chance on goal falls to the Swedes in the twenty-eighth minute when Simonsson blast home a ball which goes past the hands of Gregg yet ends up rattling on the crossbar to give the Irish a sigh of relief. Alas, that is only the best thing they are going to get.

    Although the Irish haven't troubled the Swedish goal since McParland's fluke of a goal, they are braving the storm. In the thirty-first minute, Blanchflower tries to pass the ball to Cush, however he slips forward and this leads for Borjesson to rush in in what looks like a split second and rush towards the penalty box, despite the presence of Keith and Cunnignham, the Swede chips it over the two defenders where Skoglund is waiting and Gregg tries to dive right at it, but he is unable to get it as the ball falls kindly to the Swede who thumps the ball home to put Sweden back on level terms and crowd roar with delight and the Irish now know that they have a game on their hands.

    It is not what they wanted and Gregg looks back and the ball sitting in the back of the net and wondering what will the half time team talk will be about now considering how well things started for them only for things go rather wrong now. Sweden have been the hardest team they've come across and it is starting to look like that most predictions on who will come out victorious are proving to be right. After the game starts again, Swden come attack again with the intention of not only keeping much of the ball away from the rather flustered Irish players, they intend to take the lead before half time is here.

    As a matter of fact, they almost do so from Borjesson who attempts to play one-on-one with Gregg but he ends up making a fool of himself as Gregg pulls of a good catch of the ball off the Swede's feet and takes some comfort in which he is doing his bit to keep his country in this game. Finally half time comes round and the two teams walk off with a range of emotions either happy, exhausted, confused and perhaps all of the above. The score might be 1-1 for the time being but it's very likely that it's not going to be like that forever...

    When the teams returned to the pitch, the Northern Irish team came out last in which they were greeted by the sight of a rather impatient looking Swedish team who clearly wanted to get the game started again. The half time team talk would end up planning out a formation change to tighten up the back which manager Peter Doherty felt was important given how easy Sweden were getting to the team mainly after the equaliser. When the second half does begin, things start off rather different in which rather than the Swedes coming right at them as what the Irish had planned for, they seem more interested in keeping the ball around the midfield and not going anywhere near the goal.

    There is some visible confusion from the men in green as they have no idea what is going on if this type of lay is part of some plan. Up until the fifty-fifth minute, nothing happens in the game until suddenly it all kicks off when a slip from Northern Irish captain Danny Blanchflower gives Gren the chance to snatch the ball from before charging down on the counter in which the crowd rises to their feet and roaring with delight before he crosses the ball into the box in which Hamrin gets his head onto the ball and fires it into the bottom left corner and looks set to put Sweden 2-1 in front...that is if they weren't dealing with Harry Gregg between the sticks.


    The man in question
    Even though they have failed to score there, even the Swedish fans can't help but applaud such an amazing save and little wonder why some are saying that Gregg could be in line to become the goalkeeper of the tournament. That said it must be said that little did any of the Irish contingent knew then is that the amazing save from Gregg would be the last thing that the team would get to celebrate that day.

    Things would start to go wrong for them rather ironically when things were looking up for them as in the sixty-third minute, Northern Ireland won a free kick in which Cush would attempt to fire it over the Swedish wall but failed to do so in which the ball went off the head of the Swedish players and before any of them knew what was happening, the ball was picked up by Gren who attempted to counter attack yet again down on the flank.

    This time with the Northern Irish defence now cut open with few men in green back there, the time had come to attack in which Gren went to cross towards Hamrin in which looks like a repeat of the previous attack and Gregg prepares to make sure nothing bad happens this time. However rather than go in for the kill, Hamrin decides to knock it back towards Gren in which utterly bamboozles Gregg who in his mindset of marking Hamrin has left one side of the goal gaping and what happens next is perhaps the simplest little tap in Gren knocks it to put the Swedes 2-1 up.


    Gunnar Gren, the man that will cause nightmares for Harry Gregg
    The Irish players are heartbroken for after all their hard work, their efforts came apart from such a simply little goal that someone's grandmother might have been able to score though from his goals, Gregg attempts to call out to his teammates that it's all down on him and they all did nothing wrong. The bad news for Northern Ireland is that if they want to score again, they will have to open up at the back to free men forward and that means the defence might be in for a battering.

    That goal from Sweden however has really set Sweden's tails up and now they are looking more comfortable by the time the game marches onwards to the final twenty minutes and the Irish can only hope that things don't get any worse. They do. The Northern Ireland team are getting more flustered and no more so than their defender Wille Cunningham who is not having a good day to say the least and in the seventy-second minute, he ends up making a stupid tackle on Gren but rather than swing the game in favour, the brutal challenge that it is only ends seeing the Hungarian referee sending him off for his troubles and now Northern Ireland are down to ten men.

    From between the sticks, Gregg can only watch in utter disbelief at what he is seeing as all planning that they had done has all gone to the wall and now it's looking likely that his team are on damage control and all they can do is not make things look worse. But sadly, there is no luck of the Irish today for what happens next. In the seventy-seventh minute, Sweden end up wrapping the game with a third and final goal in which Hamrin fires an absolute screamer from about forty yards out which at first looks like it's neer going to hit the target but yet somehow does and it causes the Swedish crowd to celebrate with joy that they are on course to the final while Harry Gregg ends up lying on his back and staring up the sky wondering how on Earth it has come to this.


    The expression that might tell you how much it hasn't gone well for Northern Ireland

    Eventually the ten men of Northern Ireland limp on towards the end of the game in which, mercifully, nothing happens and Sweden celebrates a handsome 3-1 victory and a place in the final to play Brazil. The score line might suggest that Northern Ireland were made to look ordinary but really things were level until the second in which it all went horribly wrong for them. With that, Northern Ireland's World Cup hopes were in tatters scattered across the field in Gothenburg and the UK's last representative was out.

    There was the solace of becoming the third best team in the world if they could beat the Germans in the bronze game, but alas the Germans would get their revenge on the plucky Irish as they utterly spanked them 3-0 and Northern Ireland's Swedish adventure ended on a downbeat note. When the team did return to Belfast, many in the team felt that they had let them down at how close they had come to make the final. Instead they were greeted to a hero's welcome for not only getting as far as they did but rather they had done better than the rest of the Home Nation teams.

    They would call their team as their 'Wee Plucky Nation' which in many ways best describe the adventure of 1958. With that, there was much hope that it wouldn't be long that not only Northern Ireland would be back at the World Cup, but also for one of the Home Nations would get their hands on the World Cup, question was who would it be? In four years time, the tournament would be held in Chile and all would be found out there...

    1958 ALT 5.png

    Final results of the 1958 World Cup Knockout Stage

    And here we are, Northern Ireland did their all but alas, it wasn't enough. Next update will cover the 1962 World Cup and this is where things will see things become different from the old TL and hopefully you are all liking this so far! Stay tuned as we head to South America in 1962! :)
    Chapter 8: It's A Bit Chile Out Here - 1962 World Cup
  • Chapter 8
    It's A Bit Chile Out Here


    Four years after Sweden hosted the tournament, 1962 would mark as the seventh year of the World Cup and this time it would be based in Chile and fourteen countries would be present...well, sixteen if you didn't mean the United Kingdom as a whole. Somewhat disappointedly, compared to all the British teams making it to the last World Cup, only three would make the big trip to South America; England, Scotland and Wales. It would be the Scots who were feeling confident in winning the World Cup as their efforts in wining that season's British Home Championship had seen them go undefeated, as well as defeating Czechoslovakia in that two legged play-off to qualify, and thus it wasn't hard to think about their chances if they could replicate such performances in the World Cup.

    However, England were feel shaky after having a disappointing Home Championship by coming third in their group and didn't feel good if they could go all the way and this wasn't help that their star man Duncan Edwards after his time at the last World Cup would end up making a move from Manchester United (who years later files showed that they needed the money) to Italy to play for Juventus a year ago. However despite being full of talent, his injuries did make him more weaker and he would suffer a mix bag and at the worst possible timing shortly before the World Cup began, he would suffer a groin strain which ruled him out of the World Cup and thus, England's creative forward thrust was pretty much ruined.

    Then there was the absence of Northern Ireland. There was some sadness that they had failed to make it to Chile after being place in a tough qualifying group including West Germany and Greece, the former would go on and qualify, and after their brave heroics at the last World Cup, they sadly wouldn't be able to make the trip to South America but there was some hope that it would only help spur them on for making the next World Cup.

    Finally for Wales, Jimmy Murphy stayed on as Wales manager, no doubt his impressive performances in Sweden had done more than enough to keep his job and he would repay the debt by achieving the remarkable task of beating Spain in a tight play-off which to some was considered a shock. Murphy though was happy that compared to the rather shambolic and well documented preparations that the Welsh team had suffered prior to the 1958 World Cup would not be repeated here and this time things were done more smoothly and right before the tournament happened, John Charles would end up leaving Juventus (teaming up with Edwards and being well aware of the problems with his teammate) and went back to England to play for Leeds United though it wouldn't last long there and he ended up returning to Italy to play for Roma.


    Welsh manager Jimmy Murphy

    Much like how the English and Scottish teams shared a transatlantic flight to Brazil for the 1950 World Cup, the English, Scottish and Welsh teams did the same for the trip to Chile and many locals were waiting for them at their airport to greet them and must of though that the concept of three teams sharing a flight over from the other side of the world all being very strange, but then again that probably was British football as a whole in the eyes of the world who couldn't understand why they needed four teams...

    But like the other nations competing, they all shared a win the World Cup and be champions of the world. When the draw had been set, England had been placed in Group 4 along with Argentina, Hungary and Bulgaria while Wales and Scotland would both end up in Group 3 along with Mexico and champions Brazil. Neither group being seen as easy by most however both teams hoped that their experience would help them get them out of the their respected groups, that said the all British derby in Group 3 was one that was going to attract most attention.

    The Scots had taken care of the Welsh in the British Home Championship the previous year in November beating them 2-0 so not many gave Wales a chance and there were even many boasting that this Scotland team that Matt Busby had put together was considered as not only one of the best Scotland teams ever assembled but maybe one that could go on and win the World Cup. The game itself would be a brutal affair which was not one of high class and with it being the winter in South America at that time, it did feel like a very British affair and neither side seemed to have it in them to win.


    Scotland vs Wales at the 1962 World Cup
    Despite a rather dull 0-0 result at half time which might have been red flags to an overconfident Scottish team that Wales weren't here to be rolled over, nothing really changed for them in the second half. A huge mistake. Scottish overconfidence would come back to bite them in the backside when from out of nowhere and with Wales having been on the backfoot for most of the game and didn't look like scoring until the last ten minutes, John Charles popped to give them the vital victory and stun the Scots. The worst possible start for the Scots and almost a miracle from the Welsh and both would end up having very different results going forward.

    For the Welsh, that victory was a sweet given how much they had gotten sick of hearing that Scotland were going to win the cup and given them a bloody nose like that, especially as they hadn't beaten them at that point for two years, it really was a satisfying conclusion. Wales would prove everyone that their victory over Scotland was no fluke and ended up humiliating Mexico 2-0 which helped them book their place in the next round before ending up getting battered by Brazil 3-0 in their final group match, the latter winning the group ahead of Wales. The news of Wales victories would be finally noticed by a mostly rugby obsessed public who began to hear that their football team wasn't that half bad after all.

    For Scotland, it was to a disaster. Despite in their second match gaining a respectably 0-0 draw with Brazil, it would all go horrible wrong for the Scots as even before they had kicked a ball for their final group game. The day after their draw with Brazil, the Scots heard the news about Wales beating Mexico which meant even if Scotland beat Mexico, they would end up being a point off from going through and thus their World Cup was pretty much over. Consequently, the final game with Mexico was pretty much a game to avoid the wooden spoon.

    Even with nothing to lose at this point, Scotland would end up getting destroyed by Mexico 3-1 in their final group game to finish bottom and ultimately out of the World Cup in the first round, the first time they had gone out in the first round at this point since 1950. On their return home, the team would end up getting a fierce reception when they returned home over what they felt was a humiliation for Scottish football and how this team that were considered to be one of the favourites ended up being nothing more than farce. Matt Busby would end up stepping down from the Scotland job and Ian McColl would take over with the promise to helping Scotland qualify for the next World Cup for 1966. For now though, there would be a lot to think about...

    1962 1.png

    Final results of Wales and Scotland's group at the 1962 World Cup

    While there was interest in what was going on in Scotland and Wales' group, it was fair to say most of the attention was on England's group though there was a degree of concern that the loss of Edwards not being in the squad because of his injury might hamper how England were going to do and this would indeed become a problem in their first game with Hungary in which while both sides were quite even, it would end up being a Hungary 2-1 victory and England were already off to the worst start and it would not get any easier with Argentina lying in wait for their second group match.

    Thankfully for England things ended up looking more better as England would end up turning over Argentina three goals to one though there was more to the game as the English weren't that happy by the play of the South Americans in which they claimed to be quite brutal and some even saying that if Edwards had been part of the team in his current condition then he might have dodged a bullet. Little did anyone know then that not only would this be far from the last time the two would play each other at any tournament but also for what was to come in the future.

    The final group game for England was, on paper at least, an easy victory for England but it wold end up being one of the more frustrating games England had to play a frustrating and poor game which ended 0-0 and there was much criticism that England in this form were never going to go anywhere. With that both they and Argentina ended up on level points and would have gone to a play-off match to decide who would go through but a new rule had been put in place to allow the team on better goal avarage to go through and here, England would be the lucky side here.


    England vs Argentina at the 1962 World Cup
    Though England had made it through, they had made heavy work of it and knew that they would have to do better for what was to come next and who knows if they were to go all the way as to what might happen next...? In the end, it was all a bit Chile.

    1962 5.png

    Final results of England group at the 1962 World Cup

    And finally here we are, the next update! This is were things start to change from the old TL but I hope you are all enjoying this all the same. Anyway here are the fixtures as they stand:
    Soviet Union vs Chile

    Brazil vs England

    West Germany vs Yugoslavia

    Hungary vs Wales
    So who will go for it then? Until then, catch you all later for the next update as we'll see how well Wales and England will do here...
    Chapter 9: Who Are The Welsh?
  • Chapter 9
    Who Are The Welsh?

    It is said that being Welsh in the world is perhaps the most difficult thing to say where you come from as while the English, Scots and Irish all have a decent amount of promoting their own national identity, the poor Welsh have never really had any luck given how long they have been part of England for much longer than that of either the Scots or Irish. Indeed, the only chance the Welsh could have a chance could promote their Welsh-ness would be either supporting their national rugby or football teams, though it was fair to say this mostly happened with the former throughout the years though the national football side of 1962 were hoping to try and promote who they were. Though sadly and perhaps to the surprise of no one, they weren't having much luck out in Chile.

    Prior to their Quarter-final tie with Hungary, the team are glad to have a four day break but knew that they couldn't rest on their laurels. The team would end up training on the beach overlooking the South Pacific Ocean and not only was this good for keeping them alert, but also warmed up his players to get use to the climate out here, in addition their training exercises would draw a crowd of curious locals as they were considered an unknown quantity and had no idea where Wales was. Perhaps the most well documented case of Wales being such an unknown nation to the rest of the world was one amusing moment that Welsh manager Jimmy Murphy and the players watched while at their stay at the hotel in which a FAW official was trying to point out Wales on a map of the world to bemused members of staff. However no matter how much he tried, the poor man couldn't win as they kept coming up with the same response.

    "¿te refieres a Inglaterra?" They would say, what that meant was 'you mean England?' The official sighed in defeat and walked away, despite the amusement it had caused for the team, and invariably helping them relax more, they couldn't help but feel sorry for the guy who had been trying so hard to promote Wales to the world.


    Though nothing to do with the 1982 World Cup, this poster from the last tournament shows the lack of a knowledge of Wales with their flag not being used

    "Was a good effort, sir," said Mel Charles.

    The poor man didn't reply and walked away flustered and frustrated at his efforts had been all for nothing and made a beeline towards a bar on the other end of the room talking loudly about how hopeless it was. Truthfully, no one could blame him; to these Chilean members of staff, the Welsh team might have been from the Planet Mars for all they knew and the players sitting around in the lounge area chatted among themselves about this fact

    "They'll know us eventually," Roy Vernon said. "Don't know when but I'm sure they will.

    Murphy smiled and looked at his players. "And I know the best way of doing winning the cup!"

    Several players laughed at this thinking it was a joke, but they all looked at the determined look on his face and saw he wasn't joking.

    " think we can do it?" John Charles asked in bewilderment. Surely his coach was seriously thinking that these bunch of guys were going to be capable of taking on the rest of the world?

    "I don't see why not," Murphy replied with confidence. "We qualified to win the World Cup, not to make up numbers as some of these other nations seem to do just like our Scottish chums. Don't tell me you're thinking of being one of them, right?"

    The players were all silent and didn't know how to reply, in all fairness, the thought of winning it had never really crossed their minds, they thought England would want it (they would be playing Brazil on the same day Wales would take on Hungary more and yet...

    "He's right," Ivor Allchurch uttered out. "Who knows, could be our last chance to play in a World Cup and lets be honest, if the English win it, we'll probably won't hear the end of it."

    Many of the teammates mutter in agreement, that had been something that hadn't thought it if England won it.

    "Alright then," Stuart Williams added. "Why the hell not?


    The day of the Quarter final game would arrive and Wales would take on Hungary in Rancagua. Murphy had stuck with his tried and tested team selection he had used in the last few group games but he wasn't thinking about the game but rather the press back home. When they returned from the World Cup in Sweden, it seemed like no one all over the Welsh Valleys seemed aware of their plucky heroics and the press seemed more keen on how the rugby team was getting on and the football team wasn't even given a mention in all their time they have been at this World Cup, never mind being even an afterthought. It had been a sad joke among the Welsh contingent in which had Wales won the World Cup in 1958, they would likely be the only nation that either didn't know about the victory. It just seemed like everything seemed to conspire against them.

    The players all knew this as well as the team bus rounded the corner as it approached the stadium, they all shared Murphy's frustrations of them not being regarded as such and made all the more worse with the London and even Cardiff based media focusing on England's game with Brazil with hardly any member of the press covering this game. Granted they all knew England had all the big stars surrounding it with it being such a big tie with Brazil at stake, but the Welsh seemed to get, at best, little more than a small article saying that they were lucky to get through and that the Scots should have been here instead. Why all this negative press from home?

    The bus finally stopped and the players starting to leave the bus as many curious locals ran up to the players trying to get autographs. Though the crowd quickly dispersed when they didn't seem to know who they were. Murphy and the rest of his players felt angry by this, who were they expecting? Italy? Brazil? West Germany? Still, he was sure that by the end of this tournament, hopefully everyone would know where Wales was...even if he knew that they wouldn't be playing the smartest of football.


    Allchurch's away Welsh kit for the Quarter-final game with Hungary on display many years later

    The start of the game would have Hungary proven to be quite a handful for Wales as the much experienced team passed the ball around the pitch. There was a small crowd here of just under twelve thousand which might've not sound that big, but in some way it did sort of worked for the players as it gave them a intimate, rather than hostile, feel which helped the Welsh players settle in more. However in the tenth minute, János Farkas managed to outwit Mel Hopkins before trying his hand at firing a long shot out towards the goal, only for Jack Kelsey to make a diving safe to his right and keeping it goalless.

    Although Murphy wasn't a superstitious person, he was convinced that the Welsh's away yellow kit which they had to wear in this match, due to the Hungarian team 'apparently' forgetting their changed kit, was bad luck. True, nothing terrible had happened to them in that kit, but after that Brazil game in which the Welsh were played off the park, there was something about yellow shirts that he found off putting in a strange way. He was so deep in thought when he didn't notice that the Welsh bench all leapt to their feet about to celebrate before groaning in despair, for in the seventeenth minute, Vernon had almost put Wales up in front though his shot ended up hitting the crossbar. The game had suddenly opened up and while Wales weren't playing silky football that wasn't going to win them any fans, it was working a treat for them at keeping the Hungarians at bay. He didn't know, but Murphy had a feeling the longer this went on that they could get something out of this game. Hungary was still a top class team, but they were no longer the skilful team that had come so close to winning the World Cup just eight years ago and had been on something on a decline since then.

    Then in the twenty-ninth minute, Barrie Jones ran down on the left flank of the pitch to cross the ball over to John Charles who had to leap higher over several Hungarian players to try and get his head on it. It connects with the ball and with just a few inches to space, the ball goes flying just under the bar and puts Wales a goal head to everyone's amazement. Murphy smiles at the players as they surround Charles and congratulate him on their unlikely lead, the Hungarians are stunned for not only were they losing but to a team that perhaps most of them couldn't tell on a map where the Welsh were from. The game carries on with the Welsh playing with their boring but practical style of football and keeping the Hungarians from trying to equaliser right up to the end of the first half when afterwards, many of the men in yellow look at each other in disbelieve then towards a large score board reading out 'Gales 1 - Hungría 0'.


    The Hungarian team prior to the start of the game with Wales

    Murphy's halftime team talk wasn't anything special; the message was just try and get another goal and keep it like that to make sure Hungary didn't get a goal back. The Welsh now start the second half looking more like on the offensive and even the mostly Chilean crowd were starting to cheer the Welsh for putting up quite a hearty performance and the Hungarians looked rather stumped at what was happening, it seemed like they didn't expect to be a goal down at this stage. They start throwing men forward to try and get a goal back, but end up fouling several Welsh players and tensions start flaring up when Ferenc Sipos brings down Cliff Jones for what is the third time in the game in the fifty-second minute and the two men get into a heated confrontation in which Nikolay Latyshev, the Russian referee, tried to break up the confrontation but wasn't helped with players from both sides trying to have their say on the matter.

    For about a minute it descends into a finger pointing match that ends with a whimper when the captain on either team doing their best to make sure the players returned to the game. Eventually the game restarted and Wales started to pass the ball around that was a far cry from the boring style of play Wales had been playing before. If only they had started like this before hand though it is starting to be seen that the Hungarians are not happy with how things are and are starting to make mistakes which only plays into the Welsh players' hands.

    "It's like watching Brazil," Murphy chuckled to one of the assistants in the dugout. It was then during the sixtieth minute that Vernon had the ball a few feet away from the penalty box with László Sárosi and Ernő Solymosi crowding around him, but somehow the Welsh forward pulled of a great move to deceive both Hungarian defenders and strike home the ball into the bottom left corner and putting Wales 2-0 up.

    The game has not gone the way most pundits, journalists and even most neutrals have expected as everyone in the stadium is gripped by a sense of the bizarre in this strange game. Just three minutes later, it gets worse for Hungary as Sipos, with the frustration getting to him, finds himself getting into yet another scuffle with Cliff Jones with Sipos pushing Jones over in what can be described as playground argument. The referee, having put up with the Hungarian player's antics for nearly the whole game, has had enough and orders Sipos off. Despite his and his teammates' protests, he has to walk off the field and soon, out of this World Cup.

    With Hungary down to ten men, Wales starting pushing them back with them almost going 3-0 up in the sixty eighth minute by Charles, but his kick just goes wide off the post and it is a let off for Hungary, but in the end, it doesn't really matter. The game ends 2-0 to Wales and the Chilean crowd applaud, stamp their feet and cheer the Welsh for their great underdog performance as Wales become the third British team to reach the Semi-final stage of the World Cup. Murphy let's the players celebrate their moment of glory while he shakes the hand of Lajos Baróti, the Hungarian head coach. After shaking his hand, Murphy now starts to wonder if they'll get a little bit more respect and more importantly, who will be their opponents in the Semi. But there is perhaps even better news when they get back to the hotel...

    As the team returned to the Hotel Miramar Caleta Abarca in Viña del Mar, they all wanted to know how the other results had gone and most importantly, who they would be playing. At the reception desk where there was radio being played of the results and the draw for the Semi-finals, only problem was that it was in Spanish and they had to use a translator to tell them the results. The translator, one of the hotel staff members told them, with great delight that Chile had gone through along with Yugoslavia.

    Then came the news that likely made all the Welsh team stunned yet joyful in which came the news that Brazil had dumped out England and given the lack of attention for the Welsh with the majority of the British press covering that game, there was a small sense of karma of after being left out that they had the last laugh. Much of that game is well documented in which while England took the lead, Brazil would end up coming from behind to win the game 3-1 and thus end England's hopes of winning the World Cup.

    Then another thought would dawn on all of them. With Scotland and now England both out, Wales were against all odds the last remaining British team left in the World Cup and now suddenly all eyes would be on them and now there was the question that many would be asking about the team the longer they remained in the World Cup...Who are the Welsh?

    At last, here we are, the next update and some changes from the old TL with more focus on Wales here. Anyway here are the semis as follows:
    Brazil vs Chile

    Wales vs Yugoslavia
    Hope you enjoyed the update and stay tuned for the next update, until then, catch you all later! :)
    Chapter 10: Some Respect
  • Chapter 10
    Some Respect

    For any nation during the World Cup, if a nation actually makes the last four one would expect that the press and media would go out to get the nation whipped up in a football frenzy and hope that their country would be on course that they would go all the way to play in the final. That is if you are from Wales. Ever since their victory over Hungary in Quarter-Finals, it had been reported that back home that Wales had been gripped by football fever and that the establishment of sport journalists and pundits were fearful that their beloved and preferred sport of rugby was endangered of being replaced as Wales' game if the football team were to go all the way. Even one such local Welsh sport column, which shall not be named, made the shocking claim that a defeat by Semi-Final opponents Yugoslavia would be a good thing for Wales.

    The shameless bias against the Welsh football team from their own media was there for all to see and to rub it in even further with England out following their defeat to Brazil, much of the British press had gone home with only a handful staying behind to cover Wales and there stories that so many had been invested in following England that many hadn't even noticed that Wales had been in the tournament, never mind the fact that the Welsh had gone further than the English. If all this didn't show that the entire world seemed to be conspiring against the Welsh football team then what would?

    Ironically, all this lack of respect from their own media had all managed to help fire up the Welsh team to get as far as they had done with their colourful manager Jimmy Murphy conducting this anger into helping them get this far and to his delight, it had all worked until now. Their opponents, Yugoslavia, were much like Hungary as in being no push over and were considered favourites to make the final and this wasn't the first time the two had faced with the Yugoslavs battering the Welsh 5-2 in a friendly in Belgrade back in 1953 and this followed in the following year in Cardiff in which Wales suffered a 3-1 loss to Yugoslavia. Given past records, it wasn't hard to see why many, even in some of the small British press team felt that everything was about to lead to yet another Welsh defeat.


    The Yugoslav team that would face Wales
    All of what was being said of Wales was used by Murphy, while they were in the hotel lobby room, to motivate his players and prove a point as he showed the British newspapers that had been sent from home for the players to read and not surprisingly, many of the players could only shake their disbelieve of what had been said, especially from the Welsh press. The crafty Welsh manager smiled as he saw his plan was working.

    "Look at this one!" David Ward called out to his teammates pointing to one of the Welsh papers. "It says that a defeat by Yugoslavia would be good for Wales, and it's from one of the Welsh papers!"

    "Absolute Nonsense!" Charles replied expressing his displeasure. "How many countries do you know in which your home media doesn't want you to do well?!"

    The Chilean hotel staff, who a good few were ear dropping and likely didn't speak or no any English, were likely confused as to why a team would be angry as to why a team was in a Semi-Final. If only they knew about what it was all about.

    "There's one here called Jerković and the Dragons!" Alan Harrington added as he lifted the Daily Mail paper up to show his teammates of a medieval caricature drawing of star Yugoslav player Dražan Jerković, in the foreground, on a horse holding a lance aiming at eleven dragons, representing the Welsh team and all having caricature faces of the players on the dragons with the World Cup trophy seen in the background with the dragons blocking it.

    The players were angered by this rather stupid drawing from the Daily Mail and didn't know if this was them showing their displeasure at the Welsh team or perhaps their own twisted way of supporting the team, nonetheless lthey were angry saying that the drawing was totally uncalled for, but Murphy heard a noise outside of a vehicle and could see through the window that their coach had arrived to take them to the stadium, he also had one last thing to say for his players as he cleared his throat to get their attention with one last thing to bring up for his players. "There is one way to let the anger out."

    They all looked at him wondering what he meant before he spoke again. "...Beat that lot, win the World Cup and make all those papers eat humble pie...simple."



    Estadio Sausalito in Viña del Mar, the venue of the Semi-Final between Wales and Yugoslavia
    As the two teams stood side by side in the tunnel (Wales back in their traditional red kit), many thoughts were going through their minds at the gravity of the situation. The team had only just realised if they could get past Yugoslavia, not only would they reach the final but would end up being the first British team to reach the final. Something that they could all brag about for the rest of their days. During this time, some of the players jogged on the spot, others placed their hands on their hips thinking of the situation that was to happen next, but most just wanted to get out and play.

    There is another factor about winning this game is that a victory in the Semi-Finals will bring the players a bonus of £400, a sum of money that is the same as a player's monthly wage at any big British football club. It would be certain that there was more than a likely chance that the thought of the money up for grabs hadn't gone through the players minds and the thoughts of what they might do with it.

    Just then the Swiss referee ordered the teams to come out of the tunnel and onto the field. "Good luck lads," John Charles called out to his teammates as they headed out on to the field and into the Chilean winter sunshine.

    Back home they would've been used to huge crowds in Cardiff for such a massive game like in the Home International, but when they went outside and looked around, they were all taken aback that the crowd in a stadium that could hold up to eighteen thousand, there was just over a measly five thousand souls scattered around the stadium, with even fewer Welsh supporters who were in the stands too.

    The Welsh team knew that due to the long distance, it was hard for much of their working class support make the long and expensive journey out here and thus the Welsh supporters in the ground were those either on holiday or had long since emigrated out here. That said even for the humble sized crowds that the team had been used to at this World Cup, it was a shock to them though they would later find out that most Chilean interest was in the other Semi-final in which the host nation was taken on Brazil for a place in the final at the same time thus why the ground seemed near empty.

    Regardless of what the teams might've thought of the crowd size, they had a game to do as Welsh captain, David Ward, met to shake hands by the centre circle and let the referee choose who was to start the kick off, it would go for Yugoslavia and shortly afterwards, the game began. From the start the Yugoslavs started to play their attacking style of play as the Welsh tried to stop any advance. Even in the opening minutes of the game, it was already starting to show to look like a good game and in all fairness, it was looking like the game wasn't going to be anything like the previous encounters which were rather one sided.

    In the thirteenth minute, Williams ran on the break with the hope to passing the ball to Charles, but instead the ball collided with Jusfufi and the ball went back going out for a throw in for Wales. For Murphy watching on from the bench, the game was going well and he looked up behind him seeing the commentators and noticed the chap doing the Welsh commentary for the BBC. What stood out for the Welsh manager was that he could see that the expression of the commentator was of a strange mix of fear, hope and unsettledness at how well Wales were performing. Clearly this gentleman was a rugby commenter and was not only someone who had bee dragged out here to Chile but was one of those rugby-biased guys who didn't want rugby to fall out of favour in the Valleys.


    Wales' secret weapon, John Charles
    "Ungrateful bastard," Murphy snorted before looking back at the game in which in the twenty seconded minute, Wales were awarded a corner kick, the first of the game no less given how rather open the match had been.

    Ward took it and a range of red shirts could be seen jumping up over those in blue shirts trying to get on to the ball. Out of all of them, Southampton player Stuart Williams headed the ball downwards which Yugoslav keeper Milutin Šoškić had no chance to get down to grab it and the ball headed down and bounced up hitting the roof of the net and putting Wales 1-0 up. A range of emotions went through the Welsh players as many of them couldn't believe it as they ran to embrace Williams as the English players could only look on stunned, expect for Šoškić who kicked the ball out of the net in frustration. To the Yugoslavs, this was not suppose to happen.

    However the game is far from over as rather than bury their heads in the ground, the Yugoslavs start pushing Wales back and the Welsh seem to make the mistake of holding back so early in the game as it only gives the Yugoslavs a chance to regroup and attack and it seems almost more than certain that this rather lacklustre style of play will come back to bite Wales and it it most certainly does in the thirty-third minute.

    After a brilliant move by Petar Radaković, he passes the ball over to Dragoslav Šekularac who tucks it in pass Welsh keeper Jack Kelsey who has no chance to getting a hand on it and now the game is all square. The atmosphere is a strange one too as with the crowd being so small, it feels like a cold Sunday amateur type of game one would play at a park rather than being a World Cup Semi-Final; a bizarre feeling all around.


    All touch and go with Wales struggling against

    From that goal, Yugoslavia began turning the screw on the Welsh and their attacking style of play towards the later period of the first half had pushed the Welsh back towards the goal with nearly all of them trying to defend from a relentless Yugoslavs. Thankfully for the Welsh and annoyingly for Yugoslavia, no more goals were scored as the referee blew his whistle for half time and the players walked off to an applause by the small Chilean crowd who had liked what they had seen and were grateful for taking their time to watch this game, though were perhaps more interested in how their own team was getting on.

    With a cold wind being blown off from the South Pacific, The Welsh players ran out last from the tunnel with the Yugoslavian team standing on the pitch waiting impatiently to get going again. In the changing room, Murphy had told his players that they just had another forty five minutes to get a goal and be in the final and if that happened, they'd be in the final. A somewhat optimistic view many will say, but a manager has to build up his players confidence that they can do it.

    However he wasn't pleased to see that Yugoslavia had not taken their foot off the gas and not only had they started off well, they were clearly determined to win this game no matter how much the desperate red wall of Welsh players tried to stop them. Like a row of waves, the Yugoslavs battered the Welsh and most neutrals would've argued that Yugoslavia looked to be deserving to be going in front with the way they played, but the Welsh stood firm...until the fifty-first minute when Šekularac scored his second which was a volley that went off the Welsh post and into the back of the net to put Yugoslavia in front that almost made them set for the final.

    Murphy had to hope his players wouldn't drop their heads as they trailed 2-1 and knew that it was Yugoslavia's to lose now. Oddly, Wales started to fight back which took their opponents off guard and suddenly it made everyone feel that another goal was in this game, question was which side would it be? Tackles happened, fouls as well, corners and even a penalty that Yugoslavia think they should've gotten was not given, it was turning into a nail biting game much more than what most expected. Certainly the small crowd who had turned up to watch the game were getting their money's worth.

    The game would then turn on it's head once again in which in the sixty-ninth minute, John Charles managed to find a hole in the Yugoslav defence, which by this point was starting to rattle now, and slotted a ball right through the gap up towards Allchurch who would then cross the ball over to Vernon who ended up thumping the ball that saw it roar past a stunned Šoškić that equalised for Wales. This game was turning into a mad one and Wales were not out of this by a long shot.


    Wales' hero,
    Allchurch, who helped score Wales' vital goal
    The Yugoslavian players show their frustration after losing their lead began to play quite rough with the Welsh for the remainder of the game with various tackles taking place and making it quite a difficult game for the Swiss referee. This tackling would end up being Yugoslavia's downfall as then in the eighty eighth minute, Wales were awarded a free kick just outside the Yugoslavia penalty box thanks to a rough tackle on Allchurch, who in turn would take the free kick. It was a tense moment in which he knew that could potentially be the most important kick in the history of Welsh football, the whistle blew and Allchurch took it...

    ...But it scrapped past the post, taking the white paint off as it did and would be a painful moment for Wales and one of relief for Yugoslavia. Finally after ninety minutes, the game ended and it would now go into extra time. Both managers joined their players on the field to discuss the plans on how to win the game for the next five minutes. However, both managers tactics to get the winning goal in extra time would prove to useless as neither side could score with both teams looking very cautious of not wanting to let something slip.

    Yugoslavia were relieved that they had a break to recover and plan ahead for extra-time and it seemed that they had gotten a right earful about how they were in danger of letting this slip and they did start to look more better like they did during the early part of the game though Wales seemed more than happy to defend their lines. There is one brutal moment in the ninety-ninth minute in which a coming together of Charles and Popovic happens in which the latter went in and pretty not only sent the Welshman flying but landing awkwardly and he doesn't get up for a time and looks to have injured himself. If cards had been in use at this point then Popovic would have been sent off but alas the game must go on though eyes are looking towards Charles and fear that he might be weaker now.

    Just a few minutes later in the one hundred and third minute of the game, Charles passes the ball up to Vernon who runs with the ball as he gets inside the Yugoslav box, many spectators start to rise up thinking a goal will be scored, but instead Yugoslavian defender Vladimir Durković makes a stupid tackle bringing Vernon down and every Welshman in that stadium or the many more who either watching on TV or listing on radio back home all cry for a penalty, and thankfully for them, the referee didn't need asking choice to point to the penalty spot for such a stupid move.

    Up step forward is Charles who despite not being quite what he once was following that brutal tackle, steps up to take perhaps the most important penalty in Welsh football history. He faces down the Yugoslav keeper Šoškić and the two men eye each other as they await for the referee to blow his whistle, when it blows, Charles fires it home right down the middle and sending the keeper the wrong way to put Wales 3-2 up in extra-time and suddenly a miracle is happening...Wales are so close to a World Cup final!


    The moment Wales take the lead in extra-time
    The rest of extra-time turns into one of the longest slogs every for any of the Welsh players and Yugoslavia are frantically trying to find a late goal to get them back into this game but alas Wales' dogged play is holding them back and from his bench, Murphy is nearly on his knees as the enormity of what he is about to pull of starts to dawn on him. The Welsh players are by this point utterly dead on their feet and look set for the taking, however so too are the Yugoslavs and after a frantic end in which had the Yugoslavs' frustrations boiling over in what might had been a brawl on the pitch had the referee not intervened, the final whistle blows and for a moment there is sheer disbelieve at what Wales have pulled off that none of their fellow Home Nations have done...they have become the first British side to reach a World Cup Final against all the odds!

    The aftermath proves to be crazy as several stunned yet delighted Chileans run onto the pitch to congratulate the victorious Welsh and Murphy would end up being carried upon the shoulders of his players like a hero. The man had now already assured himself of getting the freedom of his home village of Pentre in South Wales but God knows what might happen next if his lot of players can do something better in the Final...

    For now though, it seems that most of their home based media and press will have to show the Welsh some respect after all that has happened. Nothing like sweet, sweet karma for those who had doubted this Welsh team all along.

    And here we are! Wales are in the final (much like in the old TL) and yes, Brazil get there like in OTL and how are you all enjoying it now, quite happy I am of the small improvements I've made to this redux. Anyway, stay tuned for the final update of the 1962 WC in which a plucky Wales attempts to play pressure there! Until then, catch you all later!
    Chapter 11: That Damn Linesman
  • Chapter 11
    That Damn Linesman

    June 17th would mark the day for the 1962 World Cup final and it would be Brazil; their fellow group stage opponents, previous winners and heavy favourites that the Welsh would face off in Santiago's Estadio Nacional stadium that day. It was expected that nearly seventy thousand spectators would be cramped into the stadium and the huge size of the crowd is a contrast to the rather cosy and even rather humbling crowds that the Welsh team had enjoyed where sometimes during group games with hardly anyone watching them play, pelicans would be perched on the perimeter wall being more curious about a game rather than the average person here.

    Throughout this tournament, the British media Welsh had pretty much ignored the team and instead been focusing on England to do well. However following England's defeat to Brazil, the media had ended being aphetically following the team as they were the last remaining British side left and now with them in the final, they had been swarming the Welsh team from the moment they left their hotel and, in some ways, were trying to cover up their embarrassing bold predictions of an England victory.

    That said even with them finally getting reconnection, the support the media was given them was rather questionable in their approach. For example during a pre-match media conference with the British and some international press, Jimmy Murphy couldn't help but feel that the questions being ask about his team seemed rather negative as for example the questions ranged from 'How can you really defeat Brazil?', 'What chance do you have to win?' and perhaps the most damning one of all, 'Do you feel this final is a total mismatch?'

    Rare photo of Murphy being interviewed by the press prior to the final, his expression to the negative questions say it all

    Though the questions weren't biased, they were quite condescending to the Welsh who despite many thinking that many would love to support and find out more about what was clearly a wonderful underdog story, Murphy would along with the rest of his team would soon get the impression that Wales were not welcomed to be gracing a World Cup final though there was also, mainly from the English members of the press here, that a fairly understandable reason as to why the British press were quite lukewarm and even jealous to the Welsh was that their much beloved England team was not here and that not only had the Welsh become the first British side to reach a World Cup final but of the thought of them actually going on to win and become champions of the world it would be an embarrassing and nightmarish thought for the English. If that wasn't enough to fire up the Welsh players who picked up on these vibes then surely nothing would.

    Though to be to be fair to them, they were right about Brazil being heavy favourites to lift the cup for a second time despite Wales having a number of good and even arguably world class players in their own ranks, the thought of playing Brazil for the second time for a revenge rematch is somewhat diluted by the absence of their two most important players: Pelé, who has missed out on most of the World Cup due a groin strain, and Garrincha, who was dismissed in the Semi-final and has been suspended for the final. This news gives Murphy food for thought as they just might have a chance to rip the World Cup out of Brazil's hands, the thought of Wales becoming World Champions sounds absolutely crazy, but yet, here they were from perhaps turning the world on it's head.

    After that press conference in which he'd rather forget about, there was some happier news that Murphy had heard from home about what Wales' plucky run to the final had meant for the country. It was said that nearly everyone across Wales from north to south had been talking about the team from not just football supporters but everyone who didn't really think much of the game from young kids to the elderly and soon every member of the team had become a household name. It was now certain to anyone that was from Wales that there was indeed for to their little country than that of rugby, though they are only scratching the surface of what it means to people on the day of the final in which their hotel is flooded with letters from home in which the Welsh manager decides on a motivational plan for the team...


    Murphy on the phone to someone back in Wales hearing about the mania their run has done for the country

    The team soon leave on the bus to take them to the stadium and as the team bus approaches on it's final way destination, the players have been wondering the whole time while on the bus of how they'll cope from being use to be playing to small crowds of interested locals to a mammoth one here that was expected and one that would likely cheer on their South American neighbours against a nation that most in that stadium could not pinpoint on a map where Wales is. Everyone is rather quiet as this is a trip into the unknown that no British team has ever gotten this far and as the bus gets closer to the stadium, it slows to a crawl due to hundreds of Chilean locals cramming the streets on their way to the stadium while many try to catch a glimpse of the Welsh players, in which the team smile and wave at them.

    For the people of this poverty-stricken country, which is still recovering from the horrendous Valdivia earthquake of 1960, the World Cup has brought a much needed welcome of fun and excitement which is just what the people need to distract them from their daily struggles. Murphy wonders how everyone will watch the game on television at home as they came back home from the last tournament to a bemused Wales that had no idea of their heroics. Regardless, here they were about to play in the World Cup pressure there.

    Half an hour till kick off and in the Welsh dressing room, Murphy decides to leave the players to get on with their own business to get warmed up, though he is secretly feeling annoyed at the delay of not getting the Brazilian team sheet by now and is off to try and find someone who can tell him what's going on. A Chilean FA man witnesses Murphy walking down the corridor and scurries away with a look that seems to read 'I've nothing to do with this', that already gives the game away to Murphy that something is up and tries to find an English speaker. Among everyone the officials milling around the area outside the dressing rooms, he is surprised to face to face with none other than Manchester United manager, former Scotland boss and his assistant at the former, Matt Busby.

    "Busby?" Murphy asks dumbfounded, of all the people he had expected to meet out here, the last person was the Manchester United boss.

    "Weren't expecting me?" Busby replies with his hands in his pockets as a random member of some FA comes walking past them. "I heard you guys made it to the final and had to come out here to see history being made by my assistant. Must admit I'm a wee bit jealous you have done well and that you put Scotland out like that, but hey, that's life i suppose."

    The Welsh manager was dumbfounded and couldn't find the words what to say next. "Um...thank you, but, I was looking for a--"

    "Team sheet?" Busby interrupts. "Aye, I've not seen the actual team on paper're not going to like this." The former Scotland manager looked uncomfortable as he ended his sentence before glancing around to make sure no one was hearing them.

    "What's wrong with it?"

    "Garrincha is in the Brazil selection."

    There is a long silence from the two men as they stare at each other as the only sound of chatting is members from other FA members in the area. Finally, Murphy speaks. "What?! He sent off in the last game, he can't play in the final!"

    "Indeed," Busby agrees. "I can't find anyone from the Welsh FA here, only members from the other British FA's are here and I doubt any of them can help us. We can't go against FIFA for if we did decide to withdraw at this moment in protest, there would be a riot, our names would be dirty and I'm sure as hell they'd happily give the cup to Brazil."

    Murphy sighs sadly as he shakes his head. "Yeah...but imagine if it was happening the other way round, you'd think the Brazilians would take this lying down?"

    "No, I doubt they would," Busby replies. "But we can't complain, you have to get out there and win."


    Murphy and Busby in somewhat less corrupted and more simpler times

    As it would transpire, Busby and the other British FA's in attending the final to wish Wales well had all been informed that Garrincha would play and despite their horror at wanting FIFA to stop this from happening at such a blatant rule being broken and this was made worse when it was rumoured that the Brazilians had paid off FIFA members to allow Garrincha to play. The Home Nations were all given warnings that if they were to kick up a fuss about it, the British teams would face a ban from world football. In many ways and bottom line, FIFA had only gone out and blackmailed them and worst was that the four associations faced the prospect of losing their positions on FIFA's international board if they were to bring this up for the world to know about.

    It would be an infamous moment in history for the British to see some of the questionable work that the South Americans did for FIFA in all it's corrupted glory, ironically former SFA Secretary George Graham had not wanted Scotland to go to the 1950 World Cup because of some of the alleged stories from the South American countries being somewhat suspect. Though he failed in preventing Scotland from going, it seemed that his views on South America and what went on behind the scenes at FIFA were somewhat vindicated.

    Just eight minutes to go until they have to be out on the pitch, the Welsh players are all preparing final checks to make sure they are ready to head out and face their destiny. They have been spurred on with messages of support from Harold Macmillan and Henry Brooke, the Prime Minster and Secretary of state for Wales respectably, the Royal Family also gave a message of support to wish them well as too were the clubs that each of the players played with, Plaid Cymru not surprisingly also gave them an rather gushing letter of support hoping that their victory would put Wales on the World stage and eventually independence for that the players probably wisely kept their head down and didn't want to drag politics into football.

    There were other letters of support from a wide range of people from their families, friends, teammates, humble working class people right up to the upper class and each of the letters were all stuck up all along the dressing room walls and it was a comfort that there people out there looking out for them. It was just amazing to think that their own actions had really touched the hearts and captured the imagination of so many people.

    Just then the door opened and in stepped Murphy himself looking both frustrated over the obvious gripes he had discovered but was also looking determined and he stood there in the middle of the room silently until his players had stopped all their discussing with each other as they all turned to look up at their manager. Murphy stood there in the middle of the room with his hands in coat pockets and looked round at his players with a small smile.

    "Well then," he finally spoke, "You've done rather well to get this far and it seems everyone hasn't forgotten about us." He pointed out and the letters on the wall before carrying on. He had not told them one important and crucial bit of news until now. "But, I do bring some bad news, the Brazilians are cheating by bringing on that Garrincha, remember that he should've been suspended for the final? There is nothing we can do to stop that from happening."

    As he expected, the players in the dressing room started to let their feelings be known by angrily complaining about this stupid choice that had happened. "BUT!" Murphy barked to let himself be heard by his players. "They may win that battle, but the war isn't won, it's the final in which we'll show them the error of their cheating ways, beat them out there and ripped that cup from their cheating hands!"

    He paused impressively and looked over to David Ward sitting in the corner and from his large coat pocket, he threw over the captain's armband to the Cardiff City Midfielder. Ward stared at the armband and looked up at the manager before Murphey carried on speaking. "Go on Dai," he spoke to him by his Welsh name. "I want you to lead the boys out and to glory, for Wales..." He then clapped his hands together before he yelled, "COME ON!"


    The Welsh team to play in the 1962 Final

    This made his players roar with encouragement as they ran out of the room to head towards the tunnel, but not before each of them gave a random letter a little pat for luck as they left. It was time for heroes.


    From the subterranean dressing rooms and tunnel, the two teams emerge out into the sunshine to a roar of excitement from the seventy-thousand something souls waiting to see a historic football match. Some hundred or so photographers were there on the field taking many shots of the teams, but mostly of Brazil. The Welsh are not use to this attention and after they have their team photo taken, the photographers head straight towards the Brazilians, it is clear who everyone wants to win and the men in red are sadly not the star attraction, though it is highly unlikely that any of those photographers know about the dirty goings on with how Garrincha is starting in this game. As the Welsh players look into the crowd, they can just make out a few Welsh flags being flown from the stands and these brave individuals must have spent their family silver to pay for the long journey to South America in the hope of wanting to see history.

    David Ward and Brazilian captain Mauro Ramos meet in the circle with the referee and shake hands, though Ward is sure he can help his teammates make a huge upset and he can't help but feel that the more chilly conditions might be more suited to them rather than the Brazilians. With the referee blowing his shrill whistle, the 1962 FIFA World Cup final begins and it is a frantic and mad game with Wales' British style of attack play clashing with the Brazilian's slinky style of play making for an interesting contest and even after fourteen minutes, the crowd are enjoying their money's worth already. Then a minute later, Charles evades a flailing boot and nicks it to George Williams, on the edge of the Brazil eighteen-yard box.

    Allchurch darts into the penalty area, the ball on his left foot and only Djalma, the right-back, is in place to make a challenge, which he does, just as Allchurch lifts a flicked precise ball into the path of Vernon in which he thumps the ball past Brazilian keeper Gylmar dos Santos into the far corner of the net. As one, the stadium rise to acclaim an exceptional goal from an unlikely team. Yes, it was true and not some drunk fantasy, Wales are 1-0 up in the final against the World Champions! The Welsh have taken the game to the Brazilians and they have made their claim that they have a point to prove to the South American giants and one in the know might feel that karma is on the horizon.


    Brazil vs Wales during the 1962 Final

    However, like pulling on a sleeping animal's tail, the men in yellow strike back in fine fashion just two minutes later when Amarildo finds himself past Williams and outwits the Welsh defence to fire in a wonderful goal that helps the Brazilians draw level and the crowd roar in delight in which the Welsh can't help but feel that many are clearly backing Brazil. After that goal, the game carries on with both teams trying to find more of the ball than trying to find another goal in this and in one attempt in the twenty-fifth minute, Alan Harrington brings down Garrincha and the Welshman gives the Brazilin a dirty glare as Brazil are award a corner which in the end comes to nothing.

    It is clear that Garrincha is becoming a punching bag that the Welsh want to get into for him playing in this game and the resulting first half ends with some meaty challenges on the poor Brazilian in which tackling will be key to winning this match. After some poor shots on target and some cynical fouls, mostly by the Welsh in which the referee has a difficult game in keeping the game flowing, the first half ends 1-1 and both teams, as well as possibly the crowd, are breathless from such a exciting display. Who knows what the second half would bring...

    Disappointedly for the neutrals, the second half doesn't have the same flair of excitement as what the first half did with both teams playing more steady this time in a waiting game like attempt to try and pounce on the other team when that team is caught napping, then again it was always going to be hard to match the excitement of the first half no matter what. In the fifty-second minute, Vavá tries a neat little curl for a shot on goal, but instead it is caught by the hands of Kelsey, he himself has been having a hell of a game for his country and probably wonders what bonus the players might get if they win the final. They all got a handsome bonus for winning the Semi then God knows what rewards lie in wait should they do it.

    Alas, money is not on the mind on Murphy as he stands on the touchline with his arms crossed and watched the game unfold, credit to his players, they were pushing the Brazilians back and it seems that the world champions weren't expecting the firepower of the plucky Welsh. Then in the sixty-third minute, George Williams noticed a hole in the Brazilian defence and thought there was a chance to strike home with a volley. It all seems to go all slow motion then when to his, and everyone else's amazement, the ball hits the cross bar and bounces downward and land on the goal line when it seems that Wales have gone 2-1 up and Williams, filled with unbridle joy as he rushes over to celebrate with his teammates, however confusion follows with some of the Brazilian defenders, especially the keeper claim the ball didn't go over the line.

    The crowd grow visibly quiet as the Russian referee runs over towards, rather ironically, a Scottish lines man named Bobby Davidson who was the one nearest the goal and the two men conform with each other to decide if the goal should count. After what feels like an age of waiting, the two men end their talk and the referee points not at the centre circle, but for a goal kick! This causes many angry Welsh players to run up towards the referee to express their feelings at him and to make matters worse, years later when footage of the goal is looked again, it shows that the ball did cross the line and that Wales should've got the goal and were robbed of it. And for the Scottish linesman? Well, little was anyone to know at that time that this moment would mark as the start of an increased rivalry between the Welsh and the Scots.


    Some time after the Brazilians express relief of Wales' chalked off goal
    Some of the crowd, that did quite clearly see the ball cross the line let out a roar of disapproval at the decision and feel sorry for the Welsh. No doubt many back home in Wales watching it on television would've been shouting abuse for such a stupid choice with some stories of many angry Welshman putting their foot through television screens or some even throwing them from upstairs widows. The cries of 'That Damn Linesman!' would become almost a popular saying for Welsh football in years to come because of it.

    From that moment onwards, Brazil start attacking more and Wales are pushed back, with their heads down with many feeling aggrieved that lady luck seemed to be conspiring against the Welsh. The Brazilians keep pushing them back trying to find a goal, but the red wall of the Welsh won't let any goals go in. The game is becoming a truly tense for all concern with the score still at 1-1 with the game slowly becoming a more bad tempered affair with fouls flying in and the game stop and starting. Finally in the seventy-eighth minute, Vavá finds himself through the Welsh defence and with a cheeky chip over Kelsey, making him fall on his back, Brazil now go 2-1 up and after that, there are no more goals scored.

    Brazil are champions for the second time in a row and the Welsh players are all gutted either lying on the field or in sense of disbelieve. That 'ghost goal' being a turning point in the game and one that many Welsh football fan will look back with anger that they were cheated out of winning the World Cup and how things might have been all so different if it had been counted. Then again considering the lack of media attention the Welsh first got, then rather patronising coverage they did get and ultimately hard done by cheating before the game and with that goal that never was, it wasn't hard to feel that life had been made difficult for Wales throughout this tournament and that this sad ending for them was pretty much written for them.


    The Victorious (or cheating if you ask the Welsh) Brazilian side of 1962 after beating Wales
    The Brazilian players also act rather arrogant of hardly any of them wishing them any commiserations of getting this far and even the press men who have stormed onto the pitch seem to ignore to ask the Welsh team about anything as if they aren't even there to begin with. The Welsh players stand back watching the Brazilian players take turns to lift the trophy, there is a feeling among the Welsh players that it should be them holding that cup but that fate screwed them over.

    Despite what happened, Jimmy Murphy, emotional after what has happened, heads out on the field to comfort his players and orders them to gather round in a huddle. He lifts their spirits that they can be proud at what they have done and they know that this experience will only help this group of players even more for the next world cup in England in four years time, and one that the other British teams will want to do well too but tells them that no matter what happens next, they can boast that Wales were the first to get this far and nothing can take that away from them. After that though as Murphy walks away with his hands in his pockets, he looks up at the Chilean sky and reflects over what he has done, but fears that this might've been his last chance for glory for Wales.

    Things though turn around for Wales as they would return home as heroes for their plucky underdog nature, even winning the BBC Sports Team of the Year for 1962. Although Wales may not had won the World Cup that year, it would be Roy Vernon that thanks to his four goals would see him win the joint award for the top goal scorers along with several during that World Cup. His efforts would end up with him making a transfer to Italy in which he would return to the national side as the finished article ready to help Wales qualify for the 1964 European Championship. Things with the benefit of hindsight, would prove that things would get better for Wales but for now, the Welsh' South American adventure had come to an end after so much hardships along the way.

    1962 6.png

    Final results of the Knockout Stage of the 1962 World Cup

    And there we are, 1962 is here and gone. Hope you enjoyed this update and now we move onwards to 1966 and there will be a few changes that will differ from the old TL which will be done after further studying and think that they'll benefit more to improve this TL more. Anyway until then, see you next time for 1966 in which London's calling...
    Chapter 12: A Forgotten Trip - 1964 European Championship
  • Chapter 12:
    A Forgotten Trip


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

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

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


    Henri Delaunay, the father of the Euros

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

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

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


    The famous Bernabéu stadium in which Wales would play Spain in

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

    Euro 1964 (1).png

    Final results of Euro 1964

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

    1966 ALT 2.png

    Final results of Northern Ireland group at the 1966 World Cup

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

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

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


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

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

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

    1966 ALT 1.png

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

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

    Portugal vs. North Korea

    West Germany vs Uruguay

    Scotland vs. Hungary
    So how will the last eight play out? There will be some changes here and there so stay tuned for the next update! Until then, hope you are enjoying this and hopefully I'll be seeing you all later!
    Chapter 14: Baxter's Jolly Boys Outing
  • Chapter 14
    Baxter's Jolly Boys Outing

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

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

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


    Scotland manager Ian McColl

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


    Jimmy Johnstone during the Quarter-Final tie with Hungary

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    Some of the small number of German supporters in the ground

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

    Anyway next update will be ofc, well, ya know. Anyway until then, stay tuned for the final for 1966, catch you all later!
    Chapter 16: The Match Of The Century
  • Chapter 16
    The Match Of The Century

    For anyone living that in Britain on July 30th 1966, it would be one of those great all time 'where were you?' moments and for good reason. That day would be the day of the 1966 World Cup final but it would far from being any old final that was for sure. It wasn't just down to the fact that it was being played at Wembley stadium, some claiming it as the cathedral of football, but it was down to the fact the two oldest footballing nations in the world, England and Scotland, would have a date with destiny to become World Champions. For many, unless you lived outside of the British Isles, it was the dream final that everyone had wanted the moment Scotland had beaten Italy that night in Glasgow which confirmed their place at the World Cup and to perhaps to no one's surprise, the British press had gone into overdrive declaring it as the greatest day in the history of British football and pretty much all the newspapers having their front page headline claiming it was 'The match of the century'. Pretty much nobody could avoid it; even if you didn't care for football, this special occasion was not just an important event in the history of British football or sport, but actually British history that would stand alongside other famous moments in the country's history such as VE Day and the Queen's Coronation. Though Wembley was one of the biggest stadiums in the country, even it's vast sized was pretty much overfilled being full to rafters with ninety-nine thousand souls inside all waiting to see history (though some unofficial claims that one hundred thousand could've been in Wembley that day). Wembley had not seen such huge crowds ever since the White Horse Final of 1923, though thankfully there was no spillage of spectators overflowing onto the pitch. Such was the huge demand for tickets that the SFA even proposed the idea of moving the final to Hampden Park, a stadium with double the capacity that Wembley had, to cope with the expected crowds but FIFA insisted on having it at Wembley as always planned.

    Regardless though, a ticket for the final was the hottest thing in town and everyone that was everyone all headed for Wembley with the usual huge numbers of tartan clad Scottish supporters making the traditional trip to Wembley though clearly this event was far greater than all that had happened before, but also people across England came from the likes of Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle and Birmingham just to name a few. Without question it was to be the biggest game between the two countries that they'd ever known and they knew that it'll be dreams for one team and nightmares for the other. Some of the players like Baxter and Johnstone for Scotland had a restless night knowing that the tension to lose this game was too great and that they'd either return to Scotland as heroes or enemies and the latter was scary in which the worst case might be that depending on how bad they lost then they might not be even allowed back into the country. The Scotland team had ended up staying at Homestead Court in Welwyn Garden City and early morning on the day of the final when the team were having breakfast, there was indeed more than a strong chance that at least one of the players were thinking of past games they remembered watching or playing in; many had grown up remember the famous 5-1 victory over England which many called the greatest game Scotland had with England though the same who had grown up with that game would end up having a horror story of their own when they played England in 1961 and were battered 9-3 by the English and the likes of Denis Law who was in that game, the mental scars of that game had not healed. That all said the last game between the two teams just a few months before at Hampden in the Home Championship had ended in a thrilling game which England won 4-3 and if the final was going to be like that then surely the world was in for a huge treat. But anything could happen in this mad fixture and who knows what lay in store for them.

    The same sort of jitters could have also been said for England as Duncan Edwards, who had been chosen by manager Alf Ramsay to be captain for the team for this game, as he sat there having breakfast with his teammates at Hendon Hall Hotel in North London, it was only dawning on himself that he would potentially become the first England captain to lift the World Cup and what the after effects might be for all of them if they were to win today. Then again, while many had the English down as favourites and having the benefit of a home advantage, it hadn't been a World Cup that they had set the world alight. They had started off with a pretty dire 0-0 draw with Uruguay before recording two 2-0 victories over Mexico and France and even then those win hadn't exactly got everyone on their feet despite winning the group. The Knockout Stage had been quite a mad affair too with the Quarter-Final tie with Argentina being a bad tempered affair in which despite that Argentina team being one of the more talented teams in that World Cup, they had ended up sacrificing disrupting England with a spate of petty fouls. Their captain, Antonio Rattin, arrogantly challenged just about every decision that the referee made and was waving his arms around like a traffic policeman. Eventually he'd be sent off for his troubles and England would win 1-0 in what was in truth a sorry state of affairs that would leave a bad taste in the mouth of many in Argentina who called the game a robbery. England would end up playing the much fancied Portugal in the last four and there was the pressure of not only trying to get to the final but also the fact that the day before had seen Scotland make it to the final and that England didn't want to miss out on the final and the game itself would be a real classic of a game in which England just about edged it winning 2-1


    The England team having breakfast just before the final
    The England captain looked over at his teammates and he suddenly remembered many years ago of that horrible night in Munich six years ago in which a team of quite a number of English players who were all sure fire bets to play in the World Cup that Summer were killed. For Edwards, it had always been one of regret as to think what might have been if the accident hadn't happened, it had always been thought that by now the England team would have won the World Cup by now and much of the Busby Babes would have been the linchpin to take England to the promised land. It had been a long time but now they had finally made it to a final though ideally it would have been a lovely thought it all the English players on that flight had been here today though in reality, only he and Bobby Charlton were the only players from that flight who would be in the final today. An emotional thought, but there was no time for softness right now, not when there was a World Cup to take.

    Ever since the last World Cup, he would end up leaving Manchester United to play in Italy for Juventus and he would remember the utter dismay that followed in the country when Scotland of all teams prevented the Italians from qualifying for the World Cup this year. Strangely enough when England reached the final, Edwards had gotten a letter from some of his Juventus teammates in which they wished him well in the final and made so secret that they wanted the English to win in what they saw as revenge against the Scots. It was quite a strange situation; here Edwards would be leading the team out to win for Queen and country and which has pressure in of itself, yet now he was getting pressure from the Italians wanting England to beat Scotland. How was one to describe all this? In the late morning, the two team buses had made their own ways to Wembley and all along the route, there was always the sight of a supporter heading for the stadium and when they got closer to Wembley, the surrounding area was a washed with colour and sound with perhaps the most noticeable thing in which a bagpiper on one street corner was playing Scotland the Brave while on another street corner, a busker with a guitar was playing There Will Always Be An England; no prizes as to guess who those two were supporting.

    Many that day all have their stories about the day and the build up to it, but when both teams hit the dressing rooms and were resplendent in the national colours of their home countries, it was then that it had finally occured to them of what this meant for the whole country on both sides of the border. The tunnel saw both teams giving each other insults at each other, the fact they most of them were teammates at other clubs such as Law, Charlton and Stiles for Manchester United, were thrown out of the window as they prepared for battle, the rest just simply ghosted any teammate they knew at club level. Alas, insults alone aren't enough to win a final when it came time to walk out onto the famous hallow turf at Wembley. As the teams walked out, they were greeted by a deafening roar that might have been heard from all over London and also there was the sight of Union flags, English St George Crosses, Lion Ramparts and Scottish Saltires flapping wildly in the air which it some ways looked more like medieval flags being hung out for war, then again perhaps this was war? Whatever the reason, it was time for one set of eleven players to become heroes.


    The teams walk out for the 1966 World Cup final with many Scotland and a few England fans in the background
    With a blast on the Swiss referee's whistle, perhaps the one of the few neutrals in Wembley that day, the final began and Scotland went all guns blazing on an England team that looked sluggish and seemed taken aback by the whole occasion. After about five minutes, Baxter attempted to fire a shot on goal from twenty yards out but it was knocked over by Banks in goal who did barely enough to deny the Scots the opening goal. For the English supporters in Wembley, it was a wary situation they weren't comfortable by. For the Scotland players who have been use to see Wembley taken over by their fans for the England games, they were stunned to see that there is a large amount of England fans in the ground too, it would appear after all these years of Scotland fans taking over Wembley after all these years, the English have finally struck back to show that they mean business in taking back their hope. With nearly an estimated forty millions people watching the game across the UK on TV alone (a record for British television at that time) not to mention an extra 400 million world wide watching the game too to see this legendary fixture take place, it seems that the eyes of the world have looked upon Wembley for something big to happen.

    The first ten minutes of the match has Scotland clearly the better team in terms of chances and look more determined to deny their arch rivals glory on home soil. That said it is nothing but frantic play from both sides goes back and forward with the Queen, sitting in the royal box along with the rest of the Royal Family, looking on expressionless. Will her loyalties lie with Windsor or Balmoral or is she one of the rare neutrals in the ground? The Tartan Army are chanting for their team throughout the game and they expect that surely all this play will make a difference and thankfully, it does. In the twelve minute, Jim Baxter outwits Bobby Charlton and takes the ball up the pitch for Denis Law to run into the penalty box before slamming it past Banks' hands which does a slight spin in the air from the impact before it twirls downwards into the back of the net and put Scotland ahead in the final and worthy lead by all accounts.

    The roar from the Scottish supporters on the terraces is incredible; another to perhaps rock Wembley to it's foundations no less. Scottish flags are quickly brought out and are seen flapping all around the ground and no doubt great celebrations have already started at home, McCall though despite feeling delighted that they have the early breakthrough remains expressionless and knowns that it is still a long way to go yet and that there is no chance in hell that the English will lay down that easy for the Scots. He glances over towards Alf Ramsay who not so long ago was sitting with a thoughtful looking before suddenly he is up on his feet and is barking at his players to get back in the game and not let this slip by. Sure enough, England respond to his calls and in bizarre quirk of fate, that opening goal was what was needing for the men in white to start taking the game to Scotland and now they begin pushing the Scots back. With this new attacking style of play it is the English support that now start to find their voice as they can sense something is on the cards...

    The moment after Law helps give Scotland the lead in the final

    John Greig, Billy Bremner and the rest of the Scottish backline who not so long ago had very little to do up until that opening goal are starting to feel the strain of the strong English attack and it is clear that England are going to score and sure enough in the eighteenth minute of the game, Duncan Edwards slips up a pass to Charlton who runs forward with the ball into the penalty box and he has Bremner tailing him if he doesn't shoot now then his attack will come to nothing. With that he slams it home past the outstretch arms of Bobby Fergusson into the bottom left and thus, a roar from the English half in the ground erupts to greet the goal that ties the game and now and the England fans show their Scottish counterparts that they can celebrate too, if not better, than the Scots when it comes to celebrating a goal. Alf Ramsay punches a fist in the air to celebrate with many of his fellow countrymen and all that pressing has paid off and no one will deny that England deserved that goal. Now what could they do?

    From the twentieth minute onwards, the first half is shaping up to be the great clash that many were hoping and, in some case, were expecting it to be. The equaliser from England has clearly shaken off any any fears the English had before seem to be playing with a whole lot more freedom that before which the Scots seem unable to match. Nonetheless and the game goes at quite a madcap rate with only a bad challenge by Moore on Baxter and Scotland are awarded a free kick in the twenty-eighth minute and Baxter, now considered the free kick specialised, steps up to take it. However his hit is greeted to sound of sarcastic cheers from the England fans for sadly for his freekick is an utter waste as he sends it flying over the English wall and way past the goals in which Gordon Banks had very little to do other than watch the bad freekick. Clearly this would be a moment that Baxter would not want to be reminded anytime soon.

    Nonetheless it is wonderful game of football which is turning out to be a brilliant advert to the world of British football and the fact that is players at club level having to play each other at international level gives the tie a little bit more of an edge which given the large amount of Scottish players playing the English leagues stands for reason. So much back and forward action is taking place which is only adding the spectacle and so much so that it is when the referee blows his whistle for half time is it somewhat of a disappointment in which no one wanted such an exciting first half of football to end. That said, perhaps the fans are needing to catch their breath and as the players leave for the Wembley tunnel, some take the chance to look up at the big scoreboard reading 'England 1 - Scotland 1' and who knows just what might happen for the second half. Would there be a winner sorted out or will it go to extra-time? Given the nature of this fixtures, the answer was that anything could happen.


    Charlton scores the equaliser for England


    The half time team talk from both managers is coincidently pretty much the same. Both are saying to their player words along the lines of, 'Imagine if that lot win it? we'd never hear the end of it!' Either way, neither want to lose and whoever does will likely never let this down; Denis Law had even planned for whatever happened after this game to go to a golf resort for a free days and escape from it all. From then when the second half begins, is just like the first in which both teams are playing on level terms with each other; the cream has certainly arisen to the top with the talent on show and showing that both sides deserve to be in the final. Briefly there is a lull period in the game in which nothing of note happens up until the sixty-third minute in which Baxter, still smarting after that rotten freekick, tries his luck again with another set piece and vows to make this one a whole lot better. He sends the ball right past the English defence and Banks and Wembley suddenly becomes like a vacuum as the breath of everyone there is sucked out all of who are watching the ball looking like it is going in, but to his dismay, the ball ends up crashing on the crossbar and a glorious chance to retake the lead for the Scots is gone.

    A good thing video footage didn't show the reaction of Baxter and many of his teammates as well as those with the England team would all see Baxter crying out frustrated words of profanity that to put it mildly wouldn't be quite suitable for a family audience. With Scotland missing a glorious chance, England have woken up knowing that any time they switch off then that will only encourage Scotland to come forward to attack and thus they start playing the ball around and with the help of the English supporters in the ground. McCall has one eye on his watch knowing that time is running out and that any chance Scotland can get mustn't be wasted as sooner or later, England will pay them out. No one knows but for some reason the longer the second half goes on is that Scotland seem to look like they are lacking belief with all that pressing from England possibly having an affect on them with Duncan Edwards having a real effect to nullify any Scottish attack.

    Eventually the game rolls into the eighty-first minute and for many it seems as though the game has gone so fast that even those who have been watching the and not taking their eyes off it and stunned when they look at their watches at the time, whoever scores next surely is the winner. In that moment, Bremner tries to bring Charlton down, but the Englishmen quickly passes it up towards Edwards before then he crosses it up over towards Martin Peters who volleys the ball before it even hits the ground and slams the ball past Fergusson that sends England 2-1 up on Scotland and Wembley erupts in what is actually the completion of a turnaround that England have comeback from. Denis Law's opening goal is all but cancelled out and the look of despair and frustration. Now in a bad position and with little time to go, Scotland now have to risk it to press the English in the hopes that they could at least take the game into extra-time.


    The happy English half at Wembley enjoying the moment England take the lead
    Bizarrely in a twist of fate that echoed that in which Scotland's opening goal woke up the English, the reverse would happen after Peters' goal which now saw Scotland going out to risk it in the hopes that they can get something in the final ten minutes and the previously joyful English were now looking worried at what might lie in store. The game now on knife edge with McCall and Stein yelling out commands at their players to not give up and throw everything they have at the English and the game becomes a nerve shredder as Scotland start pushing England back. It is anyone's guess as to what will happen now and in the eighty-ninth minute, Scotland are awarded a free kick and it's right outside the penalty box. Surely a chance?

    All eyes turn towards Baxter as he steps up to take the free kick and this time he knows he has to get it right, after two poor kicks, surely he has to get this right and the many thousand Scotland fans all wait with baited breathes hoping for a miracle. The whistle blows and Baxter fires the ball, however he messes up the power he puts into the kick and the ball ends up cannoning off an England defending and thus Scotland's last chance to take the game to extra-time is gone. The celebrations from the English supporters is now reaching fever pitch knowing they are so close to victory but in all the madness, few have not noticed what is happening down on the field. Alan Ball manages to get on the ball after it lands and before anyone can react, he fires it up the field where Edwards races up with it to go on a lighting fast counter attack. I that moment BBC commentator Kenneth Wolstenholme recalls the last few moment of the game as Edwards finds himself close to the box with some supporters trying to get on the field to celebrate.

    "And here comes Edwards. He's got... some people are on the pitch, they think it's all over..." Then he strikes it home to seal it for England and complete Scotland's misery. "It is now! It's three!"

    From then on, that'll end the game and with a blast on the referee's whistle, England are 3-1 victors and are the new World Champions. Wembley is awash with sound and likely the whole country from Land's End to Berwick is celebrating. The Scottish players are heartbroken and it is only when some of the English players come up to swap shirts can they cheer up and in the cold light of day of the following day might be able to reflect on how far they have come and how they have done far better than any Scottish team before, in some ways, they never really lost in terms how well they did.

    McCall and Stein know that they have done all of Scotland proud by getting here and while perhaps they have to admit that the better team won on the day, he knows that it'll probably won't be long until Scotland return to another final. For now, its England's moment of glory as Edwards, with tears in his eyes remembering the Munich disaster, raises the World Cup in the air with one hand and in the other, he points to the sky as if he is saying this is far his fallen teammates.


    Law and Charlton swap shirts after the final whistle
    Knighthoods, OBE's and much cash bonuses for the England team followed and all those players would end up being household names. The Scottish team, despite fears of not being allowed into the country again if they lost the final, they were greeted to a heroes welcome when they returned to Glasgow which did confused the players of why they were getting such love on the back of losing a final.

    Whatever the reason, the 1966 final had been a wonderful game for everyone to see by the time the World Cup would return, it would be in a new decade but in the meantime, it wouldn't be long until the two auld enemies would meet again in two games that would have more than bragging rights at stake...

    1966 ALT 3.png

    Final results of the Knockout Stage of the 1966 World Cup

    And there we, 1966 and all that. Hope you enjoyed the update as next up we move to Italy for Euro 1968. What will happen out there may you ask? Until then, catch you later!
    Chapter 17: The Slaves Were Treated Better Than This - 1968 European Championship
  • Chapter 17
    The Slaves Were Treated Better Than This


    Two years later after the World Cup was held in England and said nation would go on to reach the promise land beating Scotland in the final, another football tournament would begin in Italy and this was to be the third European Championship. For the first time, all of the UK's four Home Nations would take part in it though it wasn't quite a normal qualification run which was more of a case of being closer to home in more ways than one. Much like with the 1950 and 1954 World Cups, the 1967 and 1968 British Home Championships would both double up as the qualifying rounds to save fixture congestion as suggested by UEFA, though unlike those World Cups in which the winners and runners-up would go through, only the group winners would be able to progress this time round and this was to make an already competitive and passionate fixture list in the British Sporting calendar even more dramatic. Right from the start, many expected that England or Scotland would be the most likely ones that would be looking to battling it out though in 1967, it was to be a truly memorable one for the Scots as despite suffering heartache of losing the final to their arch rivals, that year had seen a remarkable degree of football progress for Scotland. To put it mildly, 1967 had arguably been without question Scottish football's finest hour in which at club level, Kilmarnock would reach the Semi-final of that season's Fair City Cup were they would fall to Leeds United, however it was the efforts of the Old Firm that had everyone talking as both Celtic and Rangers would win the European Cup and Cup Winner's Cup respectably. The fact that three clubs from Scotland could've been in a final that season was amazing and while Old Firm fans would argue which trophy was more important in the grand scheme of things, the fact that two clubs from the same city had won European silverware that year was astounding and helped put Scotland on the footballing map in ways that had never really be thought possible. One would have assumed that Scotland hadn't really lost the World Cup in 1966, though speaking of which, they would have the last laugh over England in 1967.

    In the final game of the 1967 Home Championship, and halfway point in the qualifying rounds, Scotland would get their revenge on England by beating them 3-2 at Wembley in a result that many North of the Border of a certain age will remember fondly as will those of a similar age south of the Border will think about 1966. Interesting up at that point, it was the first game as World Champions that England had lost to someone and the cheeky Scotland fans in an attempt to rub it into the English decided to use the rules of Boxing in which when a Champion is defeated, the victor is claimed World Champion and thus the Tartan Army would call themselves Unofficial World Champions. Oddly enough however that this was to inspire the rules of Unofficial World Champion to become a thing but that is another story. However it was a victory that was important than just bragging rights in which put them in a good position to make it for the European Championship for the summer of 1968. England and Scotland would battle it in a winner takes all decider at Hampden where England just needed a draw to go through while Scotland had to win if either wanted to make the trip to European Championship. With a large crowd of over one hundred and thirty-four thousand watching that game (a record for a European qualifier that still stands), it looked like with England drawing 1-1 that they'd make it at the expense of the Scots. However it would be a dramatic eighty-seventh minute goal by Denis Law that would defeat England and and have Scotland qualify instead of England. This achievement probably was more important for Scotland in some ways as they had the last laugh over the World Champions to prove that their victory at Wembley was no fluke. The destination was to be another football mad country like Scotland being Italy.

    While the Scotland team was delighted and their many thousands of tartan clad supporters were looking forward for a balmy summer holiday in Italy, however despite winning the group, they had to play a two legged play-off Quarter-final which would be against Spain. A 1-0 victory in the first leg at Hampden Park placed the Scots in a good place as they moved to Spain to take them on in Madrid for the second leg in which Scotland ran out as 2-1 victors and thus, it was onwards to Italy. The Scots may have imagine soaking up the hot Italian sun and admiring the place with friendly people to boot, though they would soon find out that when they arrived in Italy, they'd probably wished they hadn't gotten here in the first place. From the moment they arrived at the airport in Florence, the team was shocked to be greeted by several angry locals who for some reason seemed to be out for Scotland more so than the other qualified teams however it turn out for very good reasons. The 1966 World Cup would see the absence of one certain team from the tournament which turned out to be Italy and the team that had prevented them from qualifying would be none other than Scotland of all teams. With this anger of being denied a place in England that summer, the Italians had never forgiven the Scots from stopping the Azzurri for making the World Cup in the qualifying rounds and they were clearly out there to cause trouble. However some of the Celtic players traveling to Italy felt things could've been worse if they had landed in Milan as some fans of a certain team that they had defeated in 1967 would have been there and no doubt would've wanted to have a meeting with those players...Jock Stein, acting as assistant manager, is only well aware of this rather scary fact knowing he can be a moving target to some.


    Scotland vs England at Hampden Park during the final qualifying match in 1968

    With all this bad blood hanging in the air, the team, staff and all the SFA officials would thankfully make their base away from the city of Florence and would feel at peace in the calm surroundings of the Italian countryside. However, it would only act as a reprieve before they would start their first game at this tournament with Yugoslavia. Speaking of staff, there would be a new manager in charge of taking the Scotland team. Despite taking the Scotland team to a final and pretty much covering himself in glory that no other Scotland manager had done before, Ian McColl would leave the job a year later after the final and the person to take the thankless role would be none other than Bobby Brown. Having only managed St Johnstone from 1958 to 1967, taking the Scotland job was going to a huge job though he would end up being the first full-time manager of the Scotland team and it would be him that would be behind that famous victory over England at Wembley in 1967 that pretty much cemented himself as the man to take Scotland forward; question was could he really go one step better?

    When it came time for their Semi-Final tie with Yugoslavia, the team would leave their hotel on the outskirts of Florence and head towards the stadium. That said despite what many would think of it being a joyful time of potentially being just a game away from yet another final, the bus journey would actually be a silent and even somewhat a sombre affair. It harsh welcome the team had gotten when they stepped foot of the plane had shaken the Scots and things were no better today when the team bus entered the city and the closer they got to the ground there would be several Italian locals there waiting for them...all wanting to make life hell for the team. Scotland manager Bobby Brown peered from his window and saw some of the crowd crying out insults at them and he could only shake his head in disbelief. He knew that there was nothing wrong about some people getting passionate about football, but these Italians were clearly taking it too far for having it in for the Scots all because they had denied Italy a place at the World Cup, England in contrast were rather humble in defeat after Scotland denied them a place here in Italy.

    Even though by this point in the day with it nearing eight o'clock in the evening, it seemed that the city had a feeling of being in the middle of a party as just a couple of hours ago in the other Semi-Final between Italy and the Soviet Union, the hosts had won to book their place in the final so it wasn't quite a surprise that the locals had a lot to celebrate about though the only ones not getting into the swing of things were the Scots. As their bus journey to the Stadio Comunale was getting nearer, things seemed to be getting more uncomfortable as by now they were being greeted with some unpleasant scenes as their bus was being attacked with rotten fruit being pelted at them and some more insults was equally being thrown at them. It did feel like that the bus itself was pretty much the only line of defence that was protecting the Scots from the wrath of the locals. They were unsure if their Yugoslavian opponents were getting the same treatment, but they did clearly feel like that they were the enemy here.


    Portrait of the Scotland team prior to be flying out to Italy

    "It feels like ancient Roman times," Dave Smith spoke up at last to break the long silence that had been with them the journey from their hotel to here

    "How'd ye mean?" Bobby Lennox asked with a raised eyebrow just a rotten tomato splattered against his window, making him flinch in surprise.

    "I's like the Gladiators and slaves bein' sent aff tae fight in the arena," Smith answered. "But I bet ye that the slaves were treated better than's bloody horrible this."

    Several of the players and staff mutter in agreement but Denis Law, always with something to say, out of character of him says nothing. He hasn't been thinking about their current situation, but looking back just a month ago were he helped a Manchester United team to European glory at Wembley and had fulfilled what he'd had set out to do with the team when he joined. As good as it was, he still felt that he would only feel like he had fulfilled himself as a player if he won silverware for his country. It had been a painful thought of how close they had been to winning the World Cup two years ago and in his own ideal world, winning the World Cup against England at Wembley would have been his dream done there and then and he would have possibly ended up retiring from International duty.

    Alas fate had smiled on England that day but it had also given Law and his teammates a second chance at glory here in Italy. The team itself, packed with players who had won European glory at club level, were said to be a far better side than what they were before and there was a feeling and strong motivation that this time they weren't going to let this chance runaway from them. There was another fear for Law as he looked outside the window of an angry mob as his thoughts darted back to his time playing in Italy for Torino in 1961, who had gone with fellow countryman Joe Baker, in what would be to him a very mixed time at best for him. Though he had been left impressed by how far ahead the Italians were in the likes of fitness, training and sports science in compared to any team in Britain, his season long time in Italy had been an unhappy one with him saying that the football he had to play was joyless being overly defensive and had been the victim of being man marked by opposing players.

    His unhappy time in Italy came to a rather sorry end in which though he was, much to his delight, being sold to Manchester United, a few days later he would find out he would be sold off to Juventus due to apparently a small print in his contract and was going if he liked it or not. Law had no intention of staying in Italy and promptly took a flight back to his native Aberdeen and went to sign for Manchester United as he hoped for in 1962 and thus, the Scotsman never looked back though the bitterness of his time in Italy still stung him as he looked at the angry crowd. To put it mildly, if anyone in that Scotland team had a reason to get back at the Italians for what was going on then it was without question Law himself and standing in front of them was Yugoslavia...


    Portrait of Denis Law during his time at Torino


    As the game starts, there is a sizable crowd of just over twenty one thousand souls and it is quite clear that not many of them are hear to support the Scots but to make life hellish for them. There is about an estimate of just under a thousand Scotland fans dotted around the ground waving a Saltire or lion rampart flag or wearing a tartan hat or scarf, but they are completely overshadowed by the mostly Italian crowd here The poor Yugoslavians didn't fair much better with only a handful of their own supporters here in the ground too who look more like government agents of some description. The Scots are playing in their change kit of all white and it hasn't been used since that dreadful game with North Korea in the last World Cup with some Scottish supporters saying that kit is a jinx for them, not to mention it does resembled rather closely an England kit. Sadly for them with no other alternate kit that can be used, they have to go along with it.

    From the get go, the game is not a pleasant one as with it being in the middle of the Italian summer, the conditions are very humid for the Scotland players and even though by this point in the game with the time being nearly half past nine in the evening, the past day's heat is still here and the stadium has collected it like a caldron and that only adds to the problems that the team has. In contrast, Yugoslavia have absolutely no problems with this as clearly they are more use to playing in these conditions as they attack the Scottish penalty box with the men in all white being pinned back and barely can get out of their own half. It is not a good thing for the plucky Scotland fans here in the ground as it is only until the fifth minute that something happens for Scotland in which Laws get a break on the counter, against the run of play at this point, and blasts it towards goal, though the shot is an utterly woeful effort that see's the ball flying way over the bar and into the crowd behind the goal.

    Then not long after that dreadful effort in the eighth minute, Yugoslavia strike back with Pavlović dancing around a clearly bewildered Scotland backline to hit with a wonderful effort on target in which Scotland keeper Ronnie Simpson has to come out to make a brilliant save as he sends it over the bar and out for a corner kick for the Yugoslavs. Neither any Scotland player is abled to clear the corner in which Simpson has to act the hero again to deny Vahidin Musemić a header on target in which he ends up Simpson keeping both hands on it to make sure that Yugoslavia can't turn it into a set piece. After ten minutes of play, Yugoslavia are clearly the better side with the Scots looking so passive and out of it; it seems that everyone that as conspired to hinder the Scots since they landed in Italy is come home to roost. Something has to be done in which the assistant coach can't stand what he is seeing.

    "What the hell are you playing at?!" Stein cries out from the bench. "We're better than this. Start playing!"

    Bobby Brown is quite surprised at see Stein take command like that, despite his reluctance for the Scotland job, he is acting like a truly great international manager and that is not including the work he has done for Celtic. Yugoslavia keep on pressing though in the fourteenth minute, a counter attack from Osim is cut out from Billy Bremner who lobs it up the field to find a Scotland player and it does become a little bit more positive from a Scottish perspective that they are not being passive as before and now the hope is can they find a way to more up the field with poor old Denis Law having been nothing more than a spectator being isolated from the rest of his teammates as hardly any of them can thread the ball up towards him.


    Yugoslavia, Scotland's opponents in the Semi-Finals

    Then in the seventeenth minute, Dave Smith gets around Holcer and quickly blasts it up towards Law who finally starts to look him he is clicking into gear and many of his teammates he'll do the work from here, but instead he is brought down by Fazlagić in a brutal tackle and a free kick is awarded to Scotland. Willie Henderson is up to take it and when the whistle is blown, he sends it up into the penalty box where a scrabble of bodies from both teams try to get on to it and the one player the ball falls to is Charlie Cooke who manages to get his head on it and looks like he is about to break the deadlock. Incredibly though, his efforts are saved by Pantelić who knocks the ball flying upwards before landing on the roof of the net. Cooke places his hands over his mouth knowing how close he was to scoring and the Scotland bench can only look on with dismay of how close they were too. Nonetheless though the positive to take from this is that the team is starting to get better in comparison to the shambles that started the match.

    From that effort though, Scotland have a corner and Law is the one to get a head on it, though much like with Cooke, the attempt is no better and it is stopped by Fazlagić who leaps to grab the ball before kicking it up the field and out from their half to get it away from the Scots. As the twenty-fifth minute approaches, no goals have been scored and despite that purple patch of the Scots starting to create chances, they have failed to make the most of it and now the Scots are starting to look rattled once again with on one occasion being Pat Stanton foolishly giving the ball away and right in the path of a charging Yugoslavian player before it has to be cleared by John Greig. Slowly the game creeps along into the thirty minute mark and it is becoming quite clear that Scotland by this point have no chance to score in this half and from the bench watching this, Bobby Brown and Jock Stein both know that a serious team talk is needed if they are to get anywhere in this game and the best they can do is keep out the Yugoslavians from scoring so they can come with an alternate plan and already Stein takes out a notepad to write out what looks like the team talk for halftime.

    As Stein does that, Brown looks behind him and can see the chants of the Italian crowd giving their all to make it difficult for the Scots such as jeering anytime a Scottish player gets a foot on the ball and their actions are probably making a difference in making the Scots have any sort of chance they can get from this game. He then looks back at the players and can only feel sympathy for them, they are not the team that did well in 1966 and it dawns on him that they are playing as if they have a ball and chain attached to their legs and that they need something to break them from this mindset. A lot of heaving and huffing takes place with Yugoslavia pushing forward and clearly the team that should be ahead with some of the chances they have had in this match, then in the forty second minute, a wonderful chance for Džajić to score in the eighteen yard box goes amiss when the ball scraps past the left hand post were it is so close the paintwork must've gone off, that attempt sums up just how rocky things have been for Scotland in this game. Eventually the half time whistle goes much to the relief of the Scottish players on the field who are needing this more than they'll admit with the score still the same as when the match started. Both teams leave the field with the Italians above the tunnel giving the Scottish players grief as they leave such as showing them rude gestures and shouting out insults in Italian. Brown and Stein look at each other and know a lot of work needs to be done before the second half begins.


    Bobby Brown, on the left, taken sometime prior to the trip to Italy

    For the first time that day since they left their hotel, the Scots finally find some peace in the dressing room with only the muffled sounds of the Italian crowd can heard outside. The players are exhausted, sweaty and need this brief rest bite to recover, but as they are chatting to each other about the game and how it has been for them, Jock Stein clears his throat for attention. The team all look at Stein and Brown and see that neither of the two men are happy of how things have been going.

    "What the hell are we playing at?!" Stein scolds the players. "We're probably the best bloody team in the world to give away chances! How many have they had now? Ten, twenty, a hundred? It's naw good enough lads, and dinnae give me that excuse that the crowd are givin' ye hell, you should all be use tae that with the clubs you play at, especially the Glasgow boys here." He looks over at the Old Firm players and pauses to glare at them; those said Glasgow boys all have their heads down as if they've been told off by their Dad.

    "We're goin' tae have to change the shape around," Bobby Brown then adds. "I think our 4-4-2 formation is doing more harm than good. Me and Stein agree that we're goin' tae have tae play 4-2-1-3 to get as much attackin' force as we can to break 'em doon." The players look at each other with surprised looks at what has been said then all look at the white board with Brown and Stein rubbing out the formation they had previous sketched out for the game and both begin to draw the chosen formation and gives details of who will be playing where. After going over the plan, Brown looks back at the players and then says the following. "Follow that plan, if that disnae work then nothin' will!"

    When the Scotland players return to the field, the Yugoslavians are already out by the time the Scots run out and they are keen to get the game started, the crowd too are ready to make things hard for the Scots. It seems that no one wants Scotland to win this damn match for heaven's sake! As the game starts, Bobby Brown mobs his forehead with sweat that has developed before crossing his arms and hoping that his tactics will work. Privately, he isn't sure himself that they will but now there is no turning back and it is down to the players to see if they can make it all work. Thankfully for him and anyone else who is Scottish, things are looking good early on in the second half as the Scots start to play as a unit and start pressing forward. In the fifty-fifth minute, Willie Henderson is attempting to get the ball up to the attacking front three of Lennox, Law and Johnstone, but Paunović brings him down with an elbow to the face that is a blatant foul.

    It is unclear if that elbow was deliberate or not, but it lets out a cry of protests from the Scottish players on the field, those on the bench and the Scottish fans up on the terraces. The referee then awards Scotland a free kick with a good few feet outside from the penalty box with Johnstone going up to take it. He blasts the ball over the wall and into the box but Pantelić makes a great attempt at saving it to keep the score still at 0-0. Clearly now despite the score still at deadlock, there is a game now forming here and the question is who will be the team that will finally break the deadlock? The answer for that happens in the Sixty-ninth minute as after making a clean tackle, Bremner punts forward the ball to Denis Law who runs like a bat out of hell into the penalty box and despite the calls from the two other Scottish attackers folloing him closely to give them the assistant, he decides to go it along and he volleys the ball towards goal where the ball hits the top corner of the post before heading downwards where the Yugoslav keeper dives to his left to try to grab it, instead he fails to to get it and the ball just narrowly crosses the line in what turns out to be a messy goal. A messy but glorious goal for Scotland!


    Though not from the game, this image from sometime prior to the match shows Billy Bremner playing in the all white Scotland away kit

    The new formation has worked and the Italians who had been giving the Scots grief all throughout this game go silent at what has happened. Then after the shock vanishes, the mostly italian crowd start letting out jeers and whistles in anger. The game becomes more scrappy then on with some dangerous tackles taking place and the Spanish referee, José María Ortiz de Mendíbil, being quite relaxed about the game in what seems like his way of moving the game flowing as best as possible. It is poor stuff from the officials, likely he humid conditions maybe playing a part in all this? In the seventieth-first minute, Scotland should have be awarded a penalty after Lennox is brought down in the box, but the referee to perhaps everyone's shock doesn't think it is a foul in the box and instead gives the confused and bewildered Celtic player a tongue-lashing over what he claims is a dive. In the days before red and yellow cards were a thing, this might have been looked on a yellow card. Whatever the reason, the Scots have been denied a stonewall penalty and the Yugoslavs have been let off the hook here.

    "That bloody muppet," Stein mutters angrily at seeing the referee's actions while Brown can only shake his head in disbelieve, it only enforces the growing feeling like the forces of nature are all out to stop Scotland from getting anywhere despite having the lead here with less that twenty minutes to go. In the preceding ten minutes, Scotland seemed to have by this point shaken off that ball and chain that was holding them back and are now looking for a second goal with perhaps the best attempt coming from Bobby Lennox in the eighty-third minute who blasts it at goal towards the right but the ball ends up hitting the post and out for a goal kick. If only it had gone slightly more towards the left...

    As the game enters the final ten minutes. Scotland are still leading 1-0 but Yugoslavia are far from out of this and are out to cause trouble for the Scots; the game by now is so evenly matched despite the score line that anything can happen. Law for the most part has been quite quiet for most of the second half despite his goal but he is not wanting to lay down so easily as they just need something extra to kill this game off. In the eighty-seventh minute, just right after a brilliant attempt by Džajić on the other end of the field to equalise, their best effort of this second half no less, Law decides to take matters in his own hands when he closes in on towards the penalty box. He has players from in blue swarming around him and decides to pull of a little party piece he learnt and rather than volley the ball, he chips it up over the defence and the ball goes spinning into the air and the keeper tries to get his position right to stop the ball, but instead the ball comes close to him and goes right past his fingertips where he can only look back in dismay to see the ball bobbing into for his second goal of the game. A really bizarre goal, a bizarre goal for Scotland and surely the winner now.

    They are now surely there and the last moments of the game and this marred with some unpleasant scenes as the Yugoslavians knowing that the game is surely up for them, start showing their frustrations and begin to lash them out on the Scots with one moment in the last minute of the game with Bremner going down and getting into a shouting match between him and Blagoje Paunović, eventually the match ends in a minor scuffle between the two players before it seems everyone gets involved to the point when to looks like a riot is about to follow. The referee just manages to regain control just to let the game last for a few more seconds before finally blowing his shrill whistle for full time with Scotland coming out as 2-0 victors and into their second final. Despite this great achievement, their victory is not well received by the mainly Italian crowd as storms of booing from the stands follows and the players make a quick getaway down the tunnel to escape from an impending riot and sadly there would be well documented reports of some of the Scotland fans who had made it here to Florence would end up being attacked in the streets after the game. This was to cause anger back home in which Evelyn Shuckburgh, the British ambassador to Italy at that time, would call for strong action to be taken and for those Scottish fans heading for the final to be safe, a task more easier said than done.

    Away from this though and in the safety of the dressing room as they await for the crowds to die down and for transport to arrive, the Scottish players and backroom staff are celebrating of getting into another final in quick succession, but it is Bobby Brown who despite the happy mood in that room remains the one who is concerned that after how badly the locals have treated them, it happens to be Italy they will face and will no doubt expect a harsh reception to their arrival for the final in Rome. Indeed they are the last team that Scotland would want to face. The next few days will be a tense one for him as soon his team will be making their way to the Eternal City in the hopes that they would be the ones to leave Rome as eternal heroes for Scotland. No pressure indeed.

    And here we are, 1968 and Scotland are in Italy in which they are in for a rough ride out there! As some of you know your history, Scotland came very close to reaching Euro 1968 and giving the talent Scotland had at that time it is possible that they would have made it for that year and who knows what might have happened for the team out there in Italy. Next update will be the final and please give me replies on how you are liking this story and if you what are you liking better here in contrast to the old TL and what would you like to see going forward here? Until then, catch you all later!
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    Chapter 18: The Italian (Tartan) Job
  • Chapter 18
    The Italian (Tartan) Job

    For a time, many among Scotland fans, nothing could top July 30th 1966 in terms of how far Scotland had gone in a tournament by making it to a final even though they would end up losing it; surely that was a one off? Well, in terms of reaching another final, the Tartan Army wouldn't have to wait long as only two years later on June 8th, the Scotland team would play in their first European Championship final against the hosts Italy. When the pre-match press conference took place prior to the final, one question was asked by the journalists to Bobby Brown about one question; could this Scotland team beat the Italians in their own backyard? Brown had been blunt at stated that the team had learnt from the past final at Wembley and it was all a matter to see if all work for them despite the overwhelming odds that were stacked in the Italians' favour. The British media, while still clearly in favour of reporting on England, had now thrown their weight behind the Scotland team and to Brown, any support would do. The game would be broadcast live on the BBC with it being quite a very late kick off at quarter past ten in the evening British Summer Time (quarter past nine in Italy of course) which meant many across Scotland would be staying up that evening either watching on TV or closely listening to their radio sets hoping for it all to go well. England manager Sir Alf Ramsay, acting a pundit on the BBC, told the media that he was certain the Scots will be more up for it after their World Cup heartache and much like how he predicted England would win the 1966 World Cup as far back as 1962 when he first got the job, he had predicted since the Yugoslavia Semi-Final that Scotland would be victorious in Rome.

    That all sounded good but despite goodwill being sent out for the Scots, the players would find the trip to the Eternal City a very daunting one as they find out when their bus approaches the final mile before the stadium to find out many Italian men trying give the Scots grieve. As some of the players and SFA staff feared, the locals aren't happy that the Scots have gotten this far and will soon lock horns with the Italians in their own backyard; a defeat by these Scottish upstarts seems almost unthinkable by many in Rome and across Italy despite the fact this Scotland was packed with a few good players who had won European silverware and had all helped get Scotland a major final, something that the Italian team had failed to do two years ago. Regardless of this, the Scottish players can only look outside their window to see the odd traveling Scotland fan, decked out with the usual tartan hat and scarf and sweating in the boiling Italians heat, waving to them as the bus past by but most of the crowd were either at best lukewarm to their arrival or at the very worst looked out to get the players.

    The players are all silent which includes Denis Law as he only knows too well just how serious football is for Italy. Having played in this country, he had gotten to know just how dangerous rivalry among clubs could be, no more so than here in Rome which while Law didn't play for either Roma or Lazio, the stories he had been told about how fans would die for their club from Rome's now infamous stabbing problem, it made his club run cold. Many of his countrymen would say that the Old Firm was perhaps the most dangerous football fixture on Earth but Law would now only roll his eyes whenever he heard that for here in Italy, any football derby here made the Old Firm look like nothing more than a playground argument. It's funny how much seeing something in a different country can change someone's mindset.


    John Greig, the Rangers captain who would captain Scotland in the final for Euro 1968

    It would be of course Denis Law that would break the long and awkward silence saying, "I don't know about you lads, but it seems to me that somebody disnae seem tae fancy us."

    A few chuckles can be heard, a nice way to break the tension, and then Bremner speaks up as he notices one shirtless Italian glaring up at Denis Law and starts making rude gestures at him. "Aye, and I bet that Italian laddie pointing at ye seems to fancy ye."

    Law tries to argue back at the Leeds United player but his calls are drowned out by the laughter from the rest of those on the bus. Bobby Brown smiles, he supposed that anything, no matter how lewd things might be said by the players such as that, will do to keep them calm before a final. Thanks to that little outburst the team seem to relax more and start chatting with each other as if they are a bunch of excited children on the way to visit Disneyland. Then again, playing here at this famous stadium being the Stadio Olimpico could be Disneyland in terms of being one of the most famous football venues that as a footballer you want to play at with it being up there with the likes of Wembley, Hampden and the Maracanã just to name a few.

    With all that said as the imposing structure of the stadium in the evening sun became more clearer for the Scottish players from looking from their windows, an impressive stadium it was but it was all beginning to set in to some of the players as what this was all about. Could Scotland really do it in Italy's own backyard? It must be said that despite the feeling of the Italians hellbent on revenge, they had technically already achieve this in the reverse leg of qualification in the return leg in Naples when Scotland were beaten 3-0 even though by then the game was a dead rubber. Regardless with how many though who would come out on top, there is only one way of knowing and now there was no turning back for any of them.

    From the moment the Scottish players walk out onto the field in the hot and humid evening in Rome dressed in their all white away kit (curiously Euro 1968 would be the only tournament in which Scotland played in only their away kit as all teams they played were in blue), it doesn't take a genius to see how the hostile atmosphere is a dangerous one for the Scots. If the atmosphere in Florence had been hostile, then it nothing for what the Stadio Olimpico is like as some of the players look towards the packed crowd being overwhelmingly full of expected and passionate Italian supporters all chanting out 'I-ta-lia! I-ta-lia! I-ta-lia!'. There is a feeling among many that the Italian team are out with a point to prove to make it up to their fans after failing to miss out on the World Cup to not only punish the team that stopped them from qualifying but also win silverware in their own backyard, a classic case of killing two birds with one stone. That said, it must be known that Italy didn't really win to get to the final, rather they actually managed to get here in perhaps the most bizarre way possible all thanks to a coin toss.

    In the other Semi-Final with Italy taking on the Soviet Union, that game ended 0-0 after extra-time and rather than go to a replay as what had been planned for the final this evening if there was no winner, that match was all been decided on the flip of a coin in which Italian captain Giacinto Facchetti guessed correctly. Had things gone differently then it would have been the Russians that Scotland would face in Rome but alas it seemed fate was smiling on the Italians but this fact had been something that Scotland manager Bobby Brown had brought up to his players telling that Italy didn't really win and that they were damn lucky to get here compared to the Scots who did it the right way. It was unknown if any of the players took this fact to heart but it was an interesting point of view if one thought about it more. As the Scotland players line up following the long walk from the tunnel, they can't help but notice the number of over thousand or so Scottish supporters in one corner of the ground trying to be heard and waving their Lion Rampant flags in the air, but they themselves are getting quite a bit of stick from the Italian supporters nearby them who who the look of wanting no Scottish person either fan or player in this stadium.

    Then again such treatment is really not that much of a surprise anymore for the Scots in the few days they have been in Italy. Scotland captain John Greig can't believe how rough it's been for them and the hostile nature is like something that is enough to make any brave man shudder and to add to the madcap situation when the teams were lining up in the tunnel, the sound of firecrackers were heard constantly and it was to Greig at least getting more ridiculous. There was nothing wrong about supporting a team with much passion but these Italians were taking it way too far for his liking. Still, they have a job to do and it some ways, it's good that they have another chance to play in a final just shortly after just two years. To win the trophy here and become European champions would be better than beating England at Wembley and calling themselves unofficial World Champions. Once the referee's whistle is blown, the team are off and way to take on Italy.


    The Italian team pose for their team photo just before the 1968 final with Scotland
    The early moments of the game see Italy pressing forward and looking for the early goal and it seems that they are playing like the team that has not only a point to prove but rather a million ones to say the least. Nonetheless while the Scots are pushed back, they show great character but not letting the Italians get through. This goes on for about eleven minutes when they against the run of play, Law threads the ball up towards Johnstone who is unmarked and looks like he could score a goal with pretty much no Italian around him as they were all in the Scotland half trying to flood the Scottish defensive area. However, Johnstone becomes too cocky and tries to act smart with Italian keeper Dino Zoff as he looks to chip the ball over, but he loses his balance from his run falls on his side, much to the delight of the Italian crowd and Castano rushes in to get it away and lob it up the field. Johnstone looks up and see's looks of frustration and anger from his teammates and the Scotland bench, especially Bobby Brown who looks like he'll give him some very harsh words after this first half is over unless they can get something from this.

    Thankfully for Johnstone, his blushes are spared as the game becomes a battle in midfield with both sets of players trying to outwit each other. After just over twenty minutes the Scots have settled in the game and the Italian crowd's anger now aims towards their own players who think they should be ahead, but their lack of experience of missing out on the last World Cup is starting to show as the Azzurri attempt to find an opening goal. Brown and Stein have kept the 4-2-1-3 formation that helped them win the game with Yugoslavia and it right now it is helping the team go forward. That said in the twenty-eighth minute, Italy win a corner and there is a major scramble in the box as players from both sides attempt to try and get a head on and the ball would fall kindly at the head of Luigi Riva who hammered it home past the hands of Ronnie Simpson who he, and the rest of his teammates could only watch the ball smash into back of the net and the stadium erupts with joy as Italy have taken what is quite in all honesty a deserved lead and it seems that Italy's revenge is looking to be close to reality.

    If the stadium wasn't already an unfriendly place for the Scots then it truly becomes hell on Earth for the now sweating and humid Scots who now have to try and get something back if they want to avoid humiliation and pain like that of the Gladiators of centuries ago. Unlike Hampden Park and Wembley in which the Scotland team could always be sure of a huge backing of their own supporters packing out a stadium in their thousands, there is hardly any of that there and a thought had come to each of them in which the thoughts went back to the many games they played at Wembley against England in which the Tartan Army would more than often take over the stadium far more than the English support and making it their own. They had to wonder if this was how it felt like. But there was no time for thoughts as Italy kept attacking and had no intention to just hang on to a 1-0 lead.


    Riva, the goal scorer who opened the scoring in the final
    Scotland were chasing shadows and anyone looking at it from a neutral view would say that Italy was more than a stick on for not only winning the final but to utterly humiliate the Scots with more goals that would make the 1966 final loss look rather tame in comparison. That all said after thirty-five minutes of relentless Italian pressure and some rather dirty play acting from the Italians, the most notable being a challenge made by Billy Bremner on Mazzola who went on to roll around holding his leg as if it were broken even though it was one of Bremner's more 'safe' challenges and the look on the Scottish player's face at seeing this performance was one of disbelief and even more so when after the referee had finished his words of warning to Bremner, Mazzola suddenly got up again as if nothing had happened. It would have been funny for the Scots if they weren't in a losing position and the only one of the team not really surprised by all this play acting is Denis Law who only knows too well that here in Italy these sort of things are used to more often than not to help win games.

    Speaking of Law however, the talented Scotland striker becomes the one player in the team who hasn't given up all hope for his team as in the thirty-seventh minute, Law attempts to run down on the counter with Rosato chasing him down and Law has to make the cross over towards Bobby Lennox on his left who gets a connection onto the ball with a diving header however Italian keeper Zoff makes a quickfire reaction to deny the shock Scottish equaliser. It might not seem like much but make no mistake as Scotland are far from out of it and if they can prevent Italy from scoring another goal then who knows? That said the five minutes of the first half are proving to be a nail biter being suddenly end-to-end action right smack bang on the fortieth minute, Ferrini is brought down by Doug Fraser just right outside the penalty box and the referee orders for a free kick to be taken. The Italians sense a second goal is near and as Domenghini steps up to take it, the volume inside the stadium increases as he takes it. The ball looks like it curl into the goal, but a dive to the right by Ronnie Simpson stops it from putting the Italians up. A groan follows from the crowd and cheer can be heard from the small number of Scottish supporters in the ground cheering their team on and perhaps the sound of one collected sigh of relief might have been heard across Scotland that night.

    The game is certainly proving to be a touch and go game with many wondering where the goals will start coming in and who will take them, then just three minutes later after that Italian freekick, Willie Johnston manages to get passed a number of Italian defenders as he runs into the penalty box, but yet more are waiting for him and knowing that he can't do this himself, he makes the right call by threading the ball up towards Denis Law who is crying out to get the ball. Denis Law then with two other Italian defenders looking like they want to knock his head off than get the ball from it, makes a thunderous shot towards the bottom left in which Zoff dives into that direction however he can only get his fingertips onto the ball in which the ball is diverted off his hands and bounces it's way into the roof of the net. Against the run of play, Denis Law has dragged Scotland level against the hosts.


    Live broadcast of the final, note Scotland playing in their all white away kit
    Apart from the sound of the cheering thousand or so Scotland fans here in Rome, a deafening silence follows around the ground in reaction over that shock Scottish goal and now suddenly the feeling is there that there is a game on and one Italy have failed to make their dominance count. From the Scotland bench, Bobby Brown is delighted as too is Jock Stein who would get flashbacks just over a year ago in which Celtic had come from behind to beat Inter Milan to lift the European Cup, was lighting going to strike twice with yet another Italian team, this time the national side? When the crowd get their voice back, it is a set of jeers and there is a commotion with several Italian players surrounding the Swiss referee Gottfried Dienst (funnily enough the same referee Scotland had in their final with England) complaining that the Scottish goal was offside but the referees waves for the Italians to get back to the centre circle to get ready to kick off again.

    The Italians both on and off the field are not happy as that goal from Scotland was not suppose to happen and as game nears the end of the first half, the Scots turn out to be more in control and jeers and whistles can be heard every time a Scottish player gets a hold the ball, most jeers seem to be aimed at Denis Law for obvious reason and the Italian players are becoming more frustrated by all this. This goes on with Scotland keeping Italy at bay until the whistle for the first half is heard and it is greeted by a storm of jeering and whistles from the home supporters who show their displeasure by throwing various rotten fruit at the players as they leave to go down the tunnel. This stuns the Scottish side who, despite some dirty tricks the Italian players have been trying to throw at them all game, they can't help but feel a little bit sympathetic for them and the pressure they must be under to deliver. With the game evenly tied, anything can happen in the second half and it is needed for the Scots to rally round and try make that goal mean something going forward...

    Once the second half begins, the Azzurri start trying to boss the game around like how they did it at the start of the game by playing some fancy footwork which does bamboozles the Scots for as early as in the forty-ninth minute, Anastasi makes a wonderful shot on target but only the hands of Simpson stop it from going in. Speaking of which, the Celtic goalkeeper playing for Scotland here in Rome has had to make a number of saves throughout the game and by the time the fifty-eighth minute comes round, he's had to make eleven great saves just in this half alone in compared to the two saves that his Italian counterpart has had to make in this second half so which just describes it in nutshell of how determined Italy were out to win it. The Scots are clearly riding on their luck and in all fairness, the Italians should have scored by now and their fans are demanding it.

    It can only be said though that the climate is really starting to get to the Scots in which playing football in the humid and baking heat in the height of summer in Italy does seem like a foolishly thing to do at least for Bobby Brown's opinion. He knew about how the team had struggled in the 3-0 defeat in 1965 in Naples when even though it was winter when they played, the humid conditions were still there in which the stories he heard from those who were there was that by the time the first half was over, the team were already dead on their feet and couldn't bare the thought of playing yet another forty-five minutes. It was now worse as here they were to play in even more humid conditions and there was the added pressure that this was a final with all of Europe watching it live.

    Despite everything that the Italians throw at the Scots, Brown's advice for them was just to keep their shape and to the plan in which the longer the Italians couldn't score then the more chance there was of getting something out of the second half. Scotland soak up waves of pressure and by the sixty-ninth minute, the Italians seem frustrated that they can't seem to add anything and this is the moment for Scotland to make their move. After seeing some of the Italians fancy footwork, Law decides to try out some himself and to the amazement of the crowd, he starts playing a game of keepie-up's much like what Baxter did with England at Wembley the previous year. This angers the Italians with cries of jeers and whistles being showered down from the terraces who think the plucky Scot is making a fool of them and Lodetti charges at him, but Law quickly crosses the ball up towards Dave Smith who doesn't try anything fancy but instead sends the ball up to Jimmy Johnstone who in turn doesn't want to make a blunder and makes amends by cross the ball to Law who has ran up the field and slides in put the ball into a one way direction towards goal past the legs of Zoff. It might not be the most powerful shot nor is it the best goal ever scored, but Law's second goal of the match is a vital goal that completes the turn around that sends Scotland 2-1 up in the final and the players celebrate knowing that they nearly there at glory.


    Rare photo of Bremner attempting a bicycle kick in the final
    The Italian crowd are silenced once again; in some ways Law takes pride in the stunned reaction as with the fact he has scored twice against the Italians, it is a bit of personal revenge himself given the miserable time he had in Italy a few years ago so one can understand what this means to him. If the reaction of the Italian crowd wasn't scary enough then it becomes like something you'd see from a South American country as the crowd's utter contempt for the Scots becomes more vicious as bits of garbage and half eaten food start to being thrown from the stands if a Scotland player is nearby the edge of pitch. However, what none of that nearly seventy-thousand strong Italian crowd would like to admit is the realisation that final, or rather their final is lost and those Scots that had put misery on them from not only preventing them for qualifying for the World Cup but are about to heap more misery on them with what is looking to be a humiliating loss at home.

    With one would expect from a home team being beaten in a final, the game becomes more nasty as the Italian players start making vicious fouls on the Scottish players to the point when it looks like they could break more than a few bones; a full all out brawl on the field is not exactly out of the realms of fantasy given how things are going on here. In the seventy-third minute, Guarneri makes a dangerous tackle on Charlie Cooke who hits the deck with an almighty crash and to the shock of his teammates, the Chelsea midfielder doesn't get up and looks to be in great pain as he riles on the grounds clutching his leg. This angers Bremner who charges at the Italian Centre Back for revenge looking like he is about to perform a Glasgow Kiss on Guarneri and this causes an almighty uproar with both teams who gather round the poor Swiss referee for action to be taking and the Italian police are making worried looks with each other at the crowd with the fear that a riot is about to break out at any moment. The whole thing is looking like a powder keg waiting to go off.

    After about two minutes of arguing, finger pointing and playground shoves being applied by both teams, the referee after much tired reasoning that any Swiss man can give, the game resumes but it has rattled the Scots that makes start to lose their heads in many ways despite hanging on to that 2-1 lead. After a scrappy period of some rough play, Domenghini is brought down outside the box by Bremner and the referee, who has warned the fiery Scot from his charge earlier, has now little choice but to force him to leave the field and reduces Scotland to ten men, much to the great delight of the crowd here in Rome who roar in delight as if a goal for Italy has been scored. As the Leeds United player walks off, gaining the rather unwanted title of the first player to be sent off in a European Championship final, he is greeted by Italian fans near the tunnel as they begin to mock him and taking great delight at his misfortune. Then things look seemed get worse for Scotland as Domenghini takes a wonderful free kick that looks set to be going in but to the horror of many Italians, the ball bounces off the crossbar and out for a goal kick. Any inch lower and the ball would have gone in for an Italian goal, the Scots are hanging on for dear life with a man down.


    View of the stadium during the final
    The final ten minutes become a thrilling and tense game that if you are a Scot, you can't bare to watch with Italy being now the team very much on the up and with the Italian supporters screaming at their players to not lose concentration and get that second goal that would take this game to extra-time. The Scots have no chance to get another goal either in these closing minutes or with extra-time to play, the latter being a dreaded thought as with how tired the Scottish players are, there is no chance in hell that they can do anything now and that they would be a sitting target for the hosts. The only thing they can do is try to waste time by passing the ball around and hoping no Italian player will get it. Slowly the game seems to move with the crowd screaming out for a goal that they need to avoid losing and for the Scottish players, it's hard to know if the clock is moving or if it has stopped.

    Five minutes then to go now, despite still hanging onto that 2-1 lead, the Scottish players are all but under the cosh with them now being pushed back and trying all they can to hold on even if means just trying to run the clock down which of course doesn't go down well with the Italians and from the bench, Bobby Brown and Jock Stein can only look on with their hearts racing knowing how damn close they are to victory yet things can all turn out to be very cruel as it can be for the Scots. Whistles are heard from all around the ground as time slowly ticks by and one can only wonder what everyone watching the game back in Scotland are feeling at that moment; most likely hiding behind the couch or perhaps take the dog out for a late evening walk. Domenghini tries another attempt on goal in the eighty-eighth minute with a wonderful volley that Simpson knocks over the bar to go out for a corner kick and Italy waste no time to take it. Once the corner kick is taken, the ball is grabbed out of the air by the Scottish keeper who kicks it out of the Scottish half and hopes that'll be his last effort in this game, Simpson falls to his knees and prays that they can do this. The final few minutes tick by and then with the crowd growing more and more hysterical that it's all about to end in tears and no one knows what to do, up until that is until a certain whistle is hear...the final whistle!

    The Italian players drop to their knees in despair, some openly weeping at how this has happened and the huge crowd of mostly Italians are stunned into silence at what happened with no doubt a few tears being shed too. What has happened is this...Rome is stunned, Italy is stunned, all of Europe is stunned...Scotland are champions of Europe! Law is in tears and is embraced by Johnstone who knows that Law missed out on the European Cup final with Manchester United not so long ago due to an injury and had to watch his teammates enjoy their moment of glory. Now he has glory of his own and it's so much sweeter than anything he could've imagined. Even the Rangers and Celtic players who have tasted European glory before with their clubs can never describe what a feeling this really is of taking their country to glory.

    Prior to collecting the trophy, an SFA official made the request that should Scotland win the final, they have to be wearing their familiar dark blue jerseys for the cameras and their happy looking kit man hands out their familiar dark blue jerseys for their moment of glory as it comes to collect the trophy. Despite all this, Bobby Brown and Jock Stein know that they have to be respectful for the hosts despite the treatment they've received by not overdoing it with the celebrations. Most of the crowd have left for the exit with all the Scottish supporters here celebrating like crazy with some invading the pitch to congratulate their heroes but soon it is time for the players go up to collect the trophy and Jock Stein notices the British press crew who had been so happy with England winning in 1966 are showing what could be even more appreciation for the Scot's triumph in the Eternal City.

    Once Greig lifts the cup and his teammates celebrate, from Gretna Green to John O'Groats, the whole of Scotland parties like never seen since VE day and while there hadn't been a day when an Englishman would remind the Scots of that day in 1966, there now wouldn't be a day that would go by too when a Scotsman would remind the English of that night in Rome in 1968 when Scotland, the nation that invented international football all the way back in 1872, became champions of Europe. When the team returned at Glasgow airport, thousands came out to welcome them home and for two months after that famous final, no talked about anything other than football and the hurt of 1966 had vanished. Speaking of which, the Scots would turn their attention to Mexico in two years time and a chance to have another shot at the World Cup and this time to try and pry it off from England's hands. For some who would remember how badly things went for England and Scotland in Brazil in 1950, the aim for the British to reclaim their crown as the kings of football and finally been achieved with one Home Nation a world champion and the other now a European champion. In some ways if football was to all but end here then the story for the British would have a happy ending here, but alas a new decade was on the horizon and only then came the new pressure of trying to defend their glory from everyone else...

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    Final results of the Knockout Stage of Euro 1968

    Scotland, champions of Europe 1968! It has always been said that the Scotland team of the late '60's and early '70's was the best team Scotland ever had and many will say that had they qualified at all during that time then it's not far out the realms of possibility that they might have gotten something. Anyway next we now move into more familiar WC territory for many of you readers out there as Mexico 1970 is next and I hope you are still enjoying this and what would you like to see in this redux that was never done in the original TL. I'm all for hearing different ways of how to improve things so please let me know!

    Until then, catch you all later as we're all off for the big trip to Mexico!

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    Chapter 19: The Big Trip To Mexico - 1970 World Cup
  • Chapter 19
    The Big Trip To Mexico


    The year is now 1970; the swinging Sixties are all but over and a new decade approaches along with the ninth World Cup to be held in Mexico. It is a first World Cup for more reasons than one could imagine, one of these is the obvious fact that this World Cup to be hosted in North America as apposed to the tournament being held in Europe or South America and there is a great deal of excitement surrounding it when the teams start coming in from all over the World, well, technically Europe and the Americas. Even in the small space of time that there have been between now and the last World Cup, there has been improvement in satellite technology and one of these is that fact that all games can now be broadcasted live on television to almost everywhere in the world in contrast to have to wait to hear how their team had gotten on. Finally, there is also one finally important detail about this World Cup which is important and that is the fact that for television audiences is that all games would be broadcasted in colour for the first time and the vibrant colours of a Mexican summer would be vastly different to the rather soulless black and white footage from England years ago. Speaking of which, the England team were far from a soulless team going into this World Cup

    In terms of British football, the end of the last decade could not have gone better in which Britain could happily claim that it has a World and European Champion and thus have regained their perch of being the old masters of football and showing the world that they meant business. The truth of the matter is that it is two separate teams that are World and European champion who both only made it to their first final during the last World Cup and the other team here in the mix is only making their third time at the World Cup; these teams are England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Sadly for those wanting all four British teams there, Wales missed out on qualification thanks to have the horrible luck being in brutal qualification group with Italy and East Germany, the latter would end up qualifying for Mexico. It was disappointing that Wales couldn't make it to Mexico themselves considering that they qualified for the last two World Cups, it is interesting to think what might've been had they made it.

    England, as World Champions, had the benefit of having an automatic spot at the World Cup due to being World Champions while Scotland and Northern Ireland had to qualify like others. Northern Ireland, dragged and kicked by a force of nature known as George Best, managed to get past the Soviet Union in qualification while Scotland shocked everyone by preventing West Germany from making it to this World Cup, though it must be said that the were a far better team than at the last World Cup and were a European Champion to boot so much of those words about the team were there for good reason. Following their success in Italy two years ago, the players had all gone down in nearly every Scottish home as a household names however one mustn't forget their manager, now knighted as Sir Bobby Brown following their victory in Italy had played his part in helping to get his team this far and had sealed his fate for many of his countrymen to dub him as Scotland's greatest ever manager as what Sir Alf Ramsay was for England (the latter also being knighted as his team achieved glory in 1966.)


    Sir Bobby Brown (left) walking alongside Sir Alf Ramsay (right), two of British football's greatest mangers at international level

    While much was said about the two champion teams from north and south of the border, not much was ever much given to Northern Ireland despite having the world class talents of a certain George Best over the fact that not many expected much from them and in some cruel way, the press and media all might have had a point for if it weren't for Best then Northern Ireland might not have been here for the great Mexican jamboree. That all said, following their appearance at the 1966 World Cup the team had gained experience and now had a new manager in the dug out, Billy Bingham, to lead them for chances of glory and George Best was seen as the prized secret weapon that was going to help lead them all the way.

    When the draw was made, the three British teams would soon find out who the teams they would be playing; Northern Ireland would be placed in Group 1 along with hosts Mexico, who'd they play in the open match of this World Cup, alongside with Belgium and El Salvador which was considered not a bad draw for them. England on the other hand were placed in with former two times champions Brazil along with Romania and Czechoslovakia which was looked on as a tough group and finally there were the Scots who would be placed in Group 4 with Peru, Bulgaria and Morocco which was seen as a very good group for them.

    The Scots and Irish thought that while they might've had the best sort of groups that they hoped for, England looked as though like they had drawn the short straw, but then again, football is a funny game so who's to say things were going to go the way they could do. However, on their transatlantic flight out to North America taking a whole six weeks before the tournament kicked off, they don't go straight to Mexico but rather make a landing in Florida in the United States where the three teams make a strange appearance at NASA's Cape Canaveral. They aren't preparing to become astronauts to fly out to the Moon on the Apollo space missions, but the trip to the Cape is more of a psychological exercise as well as a physical one to get the teams use to the hotter climate when playing in Mexico.


    George Best (left) sometime during training in Florida prior to the start of the 1970 World Cup

    Another factor of taking the trip to the United States over than the training was to get away from the intense media attention the squads were receiving everyone else, true they are somewhat known Stateside but are really next to nobodies out there and this is in some ways a refreshing change for them. That is until they get there in which word gets around among many British expats living in Florida that the English, Scottish and Northern Irish teams and soon NASA finds itself swarmed by a motley group of British expats wanting to see their national sides traning together in what is quite a once in a lifetime opportunity. That all said, the trip to NASA does receive some attention with squad members meeting up with some of the Apollo astronauts with some scenes such as The England squad meeting up the astronauts of the Apollo 13 mission and hearing how they survived their well documented and harrowing ordeal, the Scottish squad meet up with the first man to walk on the Moon, Neil Armstrong, a man of Scottish descent who tells the Scotland team to, "knock 'em dead, boys" while out there in Mexico.

    However, it is one amusing bit of film taking during that time in Florida that is well remembered by all in which involves the Northern Irish squad and fellow NASA astronauts all watching George Best trying to teach Alan Shepard, the first American in Space and the commander of the upcoming Apollo 14 Moon mission, to play a game of keepie-up's and not having the best of luck trying to match the skill of Best. Despite this the two men from very different backgrounds and everyone watching look like they're having fun with a remarked comment by Sheppard later on asking how Best would like to try, "that fancy skill on the Moon?" Best would later say that his meeting with Sheppard would be one of the more thrilling moments in his life and remarks saying that he must have been the only footballer to ever nutmeg a Moonwalker.

    After this, the trip/training exercise ends with the teams getting a tour around the NASA and seeing the large Saturn V rockets getting ready for future missions. Regardless of what some might think of this trip as nothing more than a PR stunt put on by the British Government in the hope of extending relations between the United Kingdom and Untied States, the trip to Florida has been of great help for the squads to help get them all acclimatised to the humid and hot conditions that await them as they head southwards to Mexico.


    The England team training at Cape Kennedy shortly before leaving for the World Cup with various British expats living in Florida watching on
    However, even before either team kicks a ball, there is a rather bizarre mix bag that follows them and no more so than Bobby Moore in which when the England team made a brief stop in Columbia to play a friendly though it would become infamous for the whole Bogotá Bracelet affair in which Moore was detained in Columbia for four days for allegedly stealing a bracelet though thankfully for him and England, he would be released ready in time to play in the World Cup though the Mexican press didn't seem to hold them in high regards and make the calls of calling them a team of 'drunks and thieves'. The other sad thing was that with football now more into the psyche of the British public like never before, politics had gotten involved in which Harold Wilson's Labour Government would use the timing of what they hoped would be a successful tournament for the Home Nations, mainly of course with England, would help give them a boost in winning the general election that was to take place in June during the middle of the World Cup.

    Some people didn't take too kindly to bring football into politics in which the biggest critic would be Scotland manager Sir Bobby Brown who would argue about this though few didn't think it wouldn't add up to much, though incredibly, it was heard by the Government and thus the 1970 General Election was pushed back for an early July date to take place way after the World Cup had ended. It's unknown why this sudden change of plans though it is widely speculated that with Brown's newly create aura and standing among much of the Scottish public, Labour didn't want to lose any Scottish votes if they went against his words, so Wilson and his government quietly shifted the date further back. Did it help? That remains to be seen...

    If all of this wasn't mad enough, there was one more final strange event taking place just before the World Cup would begin that the three Home Nations teams would be roped into a publicity shoot which would involve another British visitor to Mexico which was none other than LNER A3 class steam locomotive 4472 Flying Scotsman which just at the start of it's 1970 second tour leg of it's United States and Canada (Having starting from Slaton, Texas), it was decided that while on it's way to the West Coast of the United States, the promoters would take the locomotive to make a brief detour towards Mexico City for was officially as part of a goodwill tour to extend friendship in Anglo/Mexican relations and business, unofficially though it was seen as a rather shameless PR stunt to stand alongside the UK's football teams. After this the tour would carry on on what would be an ill-fated trip of North America but that is another story. With all that said though, it was time for the World Cup to begin with Northern Ireland having the honour to take part in the opening match of the 1970 World Cup...

    Playing in front a huge crowd of over one hundred thousand in the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, Northern Ireland line up to play the hosts Mexico. A lot of attention was on Best to see if he can put those skills to good use to help his country to victory as what he could do for Manchester United, however there is some serious looks on the faces of the squad as they know how much it means for Northern Ireland as just last August, the country which gripped by a serious of riots from both sides of the Protestant and Catholic divide and since then there had been many unfortunate and tragic scenes that had come out of Northern Ireland which had done much to give the impression to the rest of the world of Northern Ireland being a dangerous place. The one thing that had been a feel good story that had been a much needed shot in the arm for optimism had been that their team had qualified for the World Cup in Mexico and although neither of the players wanted to mix sport with politics as well as their own religious views, they knew that on that fact they would have to keep their heads down and hoped that playing and perhaps going all the way in this World Cup would help unite their troubled little country. With their game being broadcast live back home by the BBC, Northern Ireland start of the opening group match with Mexico, and the large crowd is there supporting the hosts.

    That match however would be pretty much the moment in which George Best would announce himself to the World in which what happened in the thirty-eighth minute would go down in history as one of the greatest World Cup goals ever scored. From inside the Irish half, he nicks the ball of the feet of Vantolrá and made a mad dash with the ball with many Mexican players trying to stop him but the cunning Irish Left Winger knows what he's doing as he nears the eighteen yard box, BBC commentator Kenneth Wolstenholme has been on the edge of his seat as he witnesses Best's one man run saying the following: "He's got the ball, he's now heading down the left field and...the Mexicans players are trying to stop but he's going all by himself a-and he's getting close out there...!" Then with a stadium and many Northern Irish viewers back home all on the edge watching this wonderful bit of football, Best fires it home past Mexican keeper Ignacio Calderon to put his team 1-0 up. "He's done it! YES! That is a truly magnificent goal, without question one of the greatest you'll ever see!" Wolstenholme is practically bouncing on his seat from the sheer joy he's just witnessed and no doubt many back home would be doing the same. Best has opened this World Cup without question with one of the finest goals every seen and the Mexican crowd, rises to their feet as one to applaud an amazing bit of football by George Best.

    It was a goal that would inspire many a young boy wanting to play football, one of them being a certain young Argentine boy who would go on to make quite a name for himself in years to come, but he would always say that George Best was his hero. Nonetheless in that game, Northern Ireland would defeat the host nation 1-0 and would end up going on an unbeaten run also beating Belgium and El Salvador to win the group and put themselves in a good position going forward in this World Cup, a vast contrast to the rather sad and controversial way they exited the last World Cup but certainly there were no nerves here and with George Best dragging this team forward (who would bag another three goals in the group stage alone) then who knows what they might be able to do...?

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    Final results of Northern Ireland's Group at the 1970 World Cup

    For the 1966 Runners-up and current European Champions, Scotland have come into this World Cup with more than a point to prove; they have come to rip the World Cup off the hands of the Auld Enemy and crown themselves as the champions of the World. Sounds crazy? Not really considering that this was a Scotland that was in many was an improvement on even the one four years ago. Their first game would be against Morocco though it's fair to say that things nearly went off the rails early on when the African side took a shock lead and the fears of yet another North Korean debacle looks like to be repeated. However this is a different Scotland team and they would end up coming to turn the game around and win 2-1. As good as this was to get them going, some weren't really that impressed with the performance however Scotland would answer all critics in their second group match when they would put on perhaps one of their greatest World Cup performances in which they would crush Bulgaria 5-2 which more or less booked their passage through in which Denis Law would end up scoring a hattrick in that game.

    The final group gate would be against Peru who themselves had won their first two group games that booked their place and thus the game itself would become a battle on who would finish on top. In the end, Scotland would run out as the winners in a 3-1 bashing of the Peruvians in a result that proved to everyone that this a Scotland team that was not to be messed with and was out to show the world what they could do. Also at that same time, it was the first time a Scotland team had won all three of their group games which just went to show of how much the Scotland football team had changed ever since that rather ill-fated adventure in Brazil nearly twenty years ago when they ended up leaving after just two games.

    With the news that England had also made it into the last eight from their tough group, all three Home Nations were through though it must be noticed that both the Scots and Irish took some great delight that they had managed to win their groups in contrast to England who could only finish up as runners-up behind a much fancied Brazilian team that had caught many people's attention and honestly a neutral couldn't really blame England to lose to that sort of team who were very different to one that flopped in their World Cup defence in the last tournament. Nonetheless, with three British teams though, who was to say that any of them could go out there and defy the odds to prove to the world that British football was still king? It wouldn't be long to find out...

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    Final results of Scotland's group at the 1970 World Cup

    And here we in Mexico for the 1970 WC, said by many as their favourite tournament, hmm, I wonder why...? So yes, England's group stage games are pretty much the same as OTL with Scotland taking the place of West Germany's place and same results with Northern Ireland manging to win their group with victory over Mexico in the opening game. Quite similar to the old TL but there are a few tweaks here and there but keep an eye out on more changes plus this is were we branch out to things outside football that are changing as you might have noticed here. Anyway as always, the final eight:
    Northern Ireland vs Uruguay

    Italy vs Mexico

    Brazil vs Peru

    Scotland vs England
    So then, who will win and by what score line? Hope you enjoyed this update and stay tuned as more fun and frolics in Mexico is yet to follow! Until then, catch you all later!