Well dear readers it’s nearly upon us, the FIFA World Cup in Russia. Land of the persecuted and less than admirable human rights, but Sepp says it’s a fine country so it must be ok.
It’s fifty two years since the Three Lions won their only World Cup in 1966. I was six and I only remember little bits of the celebrations that followed England’s 4-2 win over West Germany at the old stadium, flags were everywhere and bottles of beer littered the street in the morning after.
Move four years forward and Banks of England made ‘that save’, we lost 1-0 to Brazil but it was a match that lives long in the memory for many. We went out to West Germany 3-2 in the Quarter Finals after England let a two goal lead slip through their fingers. Brazil beat Italy 4-1 in a never to be forgotten final.
1974, 1978 we missed out on the party so let’s forget about those. 1982 dressed in Admiral(still the best England shirts ever) they went to Spain but alas failed to produce and went out in the second group stage despite being unbeaten in the competition. Italy beat Germany 3-1 in the final.
1986 brought more agony for the men in white, the ‘Hand of God’ goal by Maradona was followed by what is still seen as the best goal in the World Cup Finals by the same player. Lineker pulled a goal back but England were out once again.
in 1990 was the backdrop to the most heartbreaking tournament in my lifetime, England started slowly with a draw with Big Jack’s Republic of Ireland team but despite horrendous press coverage, Bobby Robson’s band of brothers got through to another game with the Germany, a deflected shot beat Shilton but England fought back through Lineker to force extra time.
Waddle’s shot that came back off the post and Gazza missed the rebound by inches. Earlier in the game the Geordie had been booked, he knew he’d be out of the Final if the three lions got there but despite the tears he kept his head. Penalties, first three by both teams successful. Up stepped Stuart Pearce, he never missed for Forest but he did in this Semi Final, Waddle missed to and mine and England’s tear fell to the floor. Heartbreaking. Argentina won the final 3-1, but most reckoned that England would have triumphed if they had beat the Germans.
We missed 1994, so on to 1998 in France. England came second in their group, Rumania’s 2-1 win over England meant that Argentina would be England’s second round opponents. A ‘lively’ game saw Michael Owen announce himself to the world stage and David Beckham send off for a stupid retaliation on Simioni. The game ended 2-2 and it was penalties that again ended English hopes. This time Leeds legend David Batty missed the crucial penalty, Holland ended the Argentina dream of World Cup glory, Brazil then ended the hopes of the Dutch. The final saw France victorious in their own backyard, they beat Brazil 3-0.
In 2002 South Korea and Japan was the joint venue, England scrapped through their group but Beckham’s penalty put paid to Argentina, his penalty brought him some redemption for four years earlier. In the second round England brushed aside Denmark 3-0 to set up a Quarter Final with the might of Brazil, Ronaldinho’s long range shot flew over David Seaman’s head and once again England’s hopes were spent. Brazil beat Germany 2-0 to claim another World Cup.
The ‘golden generation’ were meant to bring home the ‘bacon’ from Germany. They topped their group winning two of the three games, Ecuador were beaten 1-0 to set up a Quarter Final with Portugal. Wayne Rooney saw red, a victim of Ronaldo histrionics and the match went to penalties after the game ended 0-0 after extra time. The Portuguese went through 3-1 on penalties and England were again on the plane before the Semi Final’s.
South Africa staged the World Cup in 2010, England once again squirmed through a easy group winning only once. Germany awaited and demolished English hopes, the 4-1 scoreline doesn’t tell the whole story. England’s Frank Lampard had a goal ruled out, but TV replays showed that the ball had crossed the line, it it had counted the result may have been different. Spain beat Germany 1-0 in the final.
Football went home(to Brazil!) in a tournament that English hopes were high, despite a very tough group. England failed to win a game and went out disappointingly at the first hurdle. Nobody will ever forget the host’s being hammered in the Semi Finals by Germany, the 7-1 win was the biggest defeat the hosts had ever suffered in the World Cup right on their own doorstep! Germany won the most uneventful final in living memory 1-0.
There you have it, from 1966 to 2014 England’s not so proud record at the World Cup. Maybe, just maybe it might be a little different at this year’s competition, but don’t hold your breath!
By Keith Ingham