First published on The Suffolk Sports Forum on July 9th 2010
Some have dubbed it the greatest show on earth. I certainly haven’t. For some reason I struggled to get into this world cup. The usual hype about how England were going to come home with the cup. Rooney would win the golden boot and John Terry would stop being a cunt. None of it happened.
Why couldn’t I get into it? It’s probably a mixture of reasons with the biggest one being a classic case of been there and seen that. Let’s have a look at a few previous England disappointments. It started back in 1977. England had failed to qualify for Argentina but Scotland had. I don’t recall a great deal about the tournament except for the noise and colour of the crowds. Paper being ripped up and strewn across the pitch. Oh and Star Wars was out in the cinema. Scotland came home early and it’s a shame Ninky wasn’t Scottish back then. I could have taken the piss early doors.
This time more than any other time was the battle cry going into the ’82 competition. Surely we’d get it right? England won their group in fine style (P3 W3) but then went out in the second round after playing and drawing their 2 matches. Scotland yet again were there too. But this time they were home before the postcards. By my mid teens the world cup was in Mexico. Late nights and very early mornings if we wanted to enjoy the tournament. We lost to Portugal and drew with Morocco which meant that we’d need to beat Poland fairly convincingly to progress. The game started at 1am and I’d somehow managed to keep myself awake. Being 16 I’d either spent several hours playing with my cock or I’d possibly set the alarm to wake me.
Anyhow it was all good as the boy Lineker notched a first half hat-trick which was enough to go above them in the group and qualify for the second stage which saw another 3-0 win to set up a quarter final against Argentina. We should have won it. Fair do’s the cheating bastard Maradona scored THAT goal and also one of utter brilliance but why didn’t one of our defenders kick him into next week? We bottled it.
So home at the quarters with the only grain of comfort in being that Scotland finished rock bottom of their group!
1990 and the team that Bobby built. A loss in the semi-finals to the Germans only glossed over what was really a shoddy campaign. We drew with the Irish and the Dutch before a scrappy Mark Wright goal saw us limp to a 1-0 win over the might of Egypt. It took an extra time Platty goal to edge out Belgium in the second round before we were somewhat fortuitous against Cameroon.
But we’d made the semi-final and we were slight favourites to take revenge on the Germans. Oh dear. A good two hours later and we were out. Penalty misses from Waddle and Pearce along with an own goal from Parker plus Gazza’s tears made it an emotional night all round.
Do I not like 1994. Graham Taylor failed to get us to the US so we had to wait until France 1998 for the prat Hoddle to oversee yet another failure. We got through our group before embarking on another Argentinian episode. Becks got sent off and we lost on PKs. This time Batty was the culprit.
2002 and off to the far east. This meant beer and bacon rolls as some of our games were 7am kick offs. Argentina were in our group and a tiny bit of revenge was eked out as Beckham slotted home a penalty that never was to see us home 1-0 which basically saw us qualify over them. A second round win over Denmark set up a quarter against Brazil. Oh dear. Ronaldinhio’s lob. Off home early again. What made it worse was there was no Scotland to take the piss out of.
On to 2006 and off to Germany with Sven and the WAGs. But not for long. We did top our group and then beat Ecuador by the solitary goal before losing on penalties (again) to Portugal.
So as you can see our world cup adventures all tell a pretty similar tale. If we qualify we’ll get out of the group stages before losing to a better side either through a moment of madness or by penalties. As a footnote lets go back to the 1986 world cup and have a look at the squad. As well as being world cup failures a lot of the squad took failure into their managerial careers:-
Of the 22-man squad, 14 went on to enjoy managerial careers of varying, though consistently short, length. Peter Shilton, goalkeeper extraordinaire, manager non-descript, lasted just three years at Plymouth Argyle, in which time he all-but-ruined the club and left a very bitter taste in the mouths of supporters. And he was one of the stayers, with most of this duff lot lasting around the year mark.
Kenny Sansom was pretty feeble as Glenn Roeders assistant at Watford; Mark Hateley took just over one season to push Hull City to the brink of non-league football before he was given his marching orders; and Chris Waddle’s season at Burnley also ended with the Clarets touching relegation cloth.
Kerry Dixon put in a year at Doncaster and bothered Letchworth Town for a bit before managing both Hitchin Town and Dunstable. Ray Wilkins was pleased to get the nod from Fulham when he was sacked by QPR after a year but lightening really can strike in the same place twice and he was out on his ear after another 12 month-flailing. There are managers from this shabby group who were given the boot before they’d even paid the removal men and unpacked the winter wardrobe. Take a bow, John Barnes, who lasted eight months at Celtic before a 3-1 Scottish Cup defeat at the hands of Caledonian Thistle put the rubber stamp on his P45.
Meanwhile Terry Butcher, having put in a year at Coventry, was sacked just three months into the season at Sunderland, by which time he had managed to settle them nicely into 22nd. He went off to run a hotel called Obscurity in Scotland before resurfacing as manager of Motherwell, Sydney FC and Brentford. All with little or no success. But hats off to Terry Fenwick, who slogged for 12 whole games at Northampton Town before someone worked up the courage to tell him he was rubbish, and he’s not been seen anywhere near management since. And then there’s 1986 mis-managers Glen Hoddle and Peter Reid. Is there no end to the curse of the hand of God?
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