HOW England were cheated out of TWELVE World Cups.
See that lone star above the Three Lions crest?
Well, there would be 13 of those beauties, had it not been for one fiendish conspiracy after another during England’s ill-fated World Cup campaigns…
1950: England 0-1 USA
England were, in the opinion of all informed people, the King of Football. But they didn’t compete in the first three World Cups – and therefore didn’t win them – because of a dispute with FIFA about payments to amateur players. They finally joined the party in 1954, and went to their first tournament in confident mood, having recently thrashed Portugal 10-0 and Italy 4-0.
Whereupon they were dumped out by a scratch USA team, despite setting a world record for shots on target and hitting the woodwork. In this infamous game (which was widely assumed to be a misprint for 10-1) they had a goal disallowed for supposedly not crossing the line, a penalty disallowed, and then, to add insult to injury, conceded a goal scored by Joe Gaetjens – one of three ‘American’ players who was not even a US citizen, and had been recruited to the team just before the match.
1954: England 2-4 Uruguay
Uruguay’s crucial goal came from Juan Schiaffino, but the assist from Varela came from an illegal drop-kicked free-kick – which Austrian referee Steiner nevertheless allowed. No wonder the commentator sounds depressed…
1958: England 2-2 Soviet Union
The Munich air disaster robbed England of many of their best players (including the fantastic Duncan Edwards) and left Bobby Charlton on no fit state mentally. Then the Soviet Union set about crushing Tom Finney in the group stage.
‘The Russians kicked him out of the World Cup in that first game,’ defender Tommy Banks recalled. ‘He’d shown them how to play football when we played them in a friendly in Moscow before the finals and they knew he was the danger man. So they set out to clobber him every time he got the ball.’
England lost the play-off game against the Soviets 0-1, but got revenge at Wembley later that year, winning 5-0.
‘It never really occurred to me that I was playing in something special, going to the World Cup,’ added Banks. When he arrived home, a neighbour, unaware that there had been a World Cup, asked him if he had been on his holidays.
1962: Brazil 3-1 England
The powers that be cheated England by releasing a specially trained dog onto the pitch during the quarter-final against Brazil, targeting animal-lover Jimmy Greaves. It urinated on his shirt, which he had to wear for the rest of the game…
Here, Jimmy reminisces about the skullduggery…
1970: England 2-3 West Germany
As reigning champions – having won the trophy in London, where cheating is not allowed – England were public enemy number one in Central America. Crowds outside the hotel interrupted their sleep, and on the ever of their quarter-final someone managed to give Gordon Banks food poisoning – despite the fact that Alf Ramsey had brought a lorry load of dependable frozen Findus meals for the team to eat.
Halfway through the second half, with England coasting to victory at 2-0, a German player kicked the ball hard into Francis Lee’s ‘orchestra stalls’, leaving him doubled up in agony. (For some reason the commentator confuses him with Bobby Moore.) Instead of sportingly kicking the ball out, the Germans played on and scored. They then took advantage of substitute keeper Peter Bonetti by scoring two more. At the final whistle, the referee (who had failed to stop play) can be seen grinning from ear to ear. Mission accomplished.
1986: Argentina 2-1 England
Nothing more can be said, nor needs to be, about the ‘Hand of God’.
1993: England 2-2 Holland
These two qualifiers against the Dutch proved to be the downfall of the hapless Graham Taylor, who reminisces here about the home leg, in which Gazza was disgracefully elbowed in the face. The Dutch defender was of course shown a straight red by the ref, who was a few yards away.
Just kidding. The ref did nothing. Instead, he went on to award Holland a penalty for a foul committed outside the area, allowing them to nick a valuable point…
1993: Holland 2-0 England
It’s 0-0 and Platt is through on goal, only to be hauled down by Ronald Koeman in the area. Penalty to England and a red card for Koeman.
Just kidding. Free kick outside the area and a yellow for Koeman. After which, Holland break upfield and Koeman’s brother karate kicks Paul Parker. Straight red? Nope. Seconds later, Holland get a free kick which Ronald Koeman takes and Ince blocks. Ince booked and the ref awards Koeman (still miraculously on the pitch) a second go, which he famously ‘flips’ into the net…
1998: Argentina 2-2 England
Chamot handballs in the area. No penalty awarded. Beckham brushes Simeone’s leg and is sent off. Campbell’s ‘golden goal’ in extra time is disallowed because Alan Shearer simultaneously makes an honest, whole-hearted challenge on a nearby defender…
2010: England 2-4 Germany
England’s match-changing equaliser disallowed for being slightly less than the required two metres over the line. FIFA subsequently introduce goal-line technology four years too late…
2014: Watch this space…
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