I was SO angry after the disgraceful loss to Iceland last night that I picked up the cat, went outside and kicked it down the street and then drop kicked it over a bus shelter !!. Actually, and thankfully I don't have a cat !! I cried my eyes out, went across the road to FRYDAY'S and ordered an Icelandic cod and chips supper and came home, went to sleep and had a nightmare about kicking a cat .
"Some people are on the pitch,they think it's all over...well..it is now" was the shout of BBC commentator Kenneth Wolstenhome as fans ran onto the Wembley turf as Geoff Hurst scored his third goal as England beat West Germany in the 1966 World Cup Final.4-2.
Last night at the Stade de Nice on the French Riviera it really was all over for Roy Hodgson and The Three Lambs as yet again England is going home far too early. I was very young when I heard on the radio that England had lost 1-0 to USA in Belo Horizonte in 1950, their first World Cup after ignoring the 1930, 1934 and 1938 competitions.
In 1987 I sat next to Wilf Mannion, who played for England in Brazil, in Maracana Stadium, Rio de Janeiro, watching a local derby between Flamengo and Vasco da Gama. He was very old and scarred of the noise and the fireworks and hugged me tightly. After the match in the iconic Neimeyer designed hotel next to the Atlantic Ocean in Sao Coronado, I discussed that match with him and with former USA players that day, Harry Keough and Walter Bahr .Walter passed to Haitian born centre forward Joe Gaetjens who headed past goalkeeper Bert Willams at Estadio Independencia. 1-0 . Gaetjens later returned to Port au Prince and was murdered by the notorious Tonton Macoute.
In 1981 England visited Norway in a world cup qualifier in Ullevaal, Oslo 9th September, losing 2-1 . One of THE MOST memorable speeches was after the final whistle by veteran Norwegian commentator Bjorge Lillelien. although England topped the group and qualified for Spain 1982. with Manager Ron Greenwood, and Norway finished last. Norway's most famous player Tom Lund was in the line up and was a one club man with SK Lillestrom. Outsidet their Arason stadium is a statue of their former star,
" We are the best in the world. We have beaten England 2-1 in football !! It is completely unbelievable ! We have beaten England ! England, birthplace of giants. Lord Nelson, Lord Beaverbrook, Sir Winston Churchill, Sir Anthony Eden, Clement Atlee, Henry Cooper, Lady Diana- we have beaten them all. We have beaten them all. Maggie Thatcher can you hear me?... and much more. "
In 1993 England also lost 2-0 under the hapless manager Graham Taylor in Oslo and did not qualify for USA 1994.
On 12th February 2003 Australia beat England 3-1 at Upton Park, home of West Ham United. Another hapless coach Sven-Goram Eriksson made 11 changes at half-time. Fortunately it was only a friendly match.
In November 1953 Hungary made history by beating England 6-3 at Wembley Stadium, the home team's very first defeat on home soil by a team from outsside the British Isles. Puskas, Hideguti and others shocked the nation with their lightweight kit and revolutionary tactics. IT GOT WORSE. The following spring in the Nepstadion in Budapest The Magic Magyars won 7-1..and it could have been double figures.
At the 1966 World Cup I personally witnessed a major upset..but this time it did not include England, who went on to win the World Cup for the first and only occasion. With three mates we drove one hour to Ayresome Park, then home of Middlesborough. We warched the North Korean players leave their bus with one of their party sporting a new 8mm movie camera. We normally would have stood on the Kop behind one goal, but they had put in temporary seating and the cost was £1.00.and mostly empty. So, we went to the side opposite the main stand for 50 pence.( in fact I went to 9 matches from Opening bore-draw England 0 v Uruguay 0 to great seats near the Royal Box at the final for a TOTAL OF £10 FOR 9 MATCHES !!).
It was Pak Doo -Ik who scored the only goal for the Hermit Kingdom that knocked Italy out at the group stage. I had bought a very nice official World Cup badge with a red,whire and blue Union Jack with a golden Jules Rimet trophy in fine silk wire. I sewed in on my blazer, told my mates to wait for me and strolled down the players tunnel and straight into the North Korean dressing room and accepted a glass of what I think was rice wine and toasted the players.
My mates drove with me down the A1 back to Leeds, being passed by dozens of cars with fans with Italian flags on their 5 hour journey to London. The team flew home in the middle of the night from Newcastle to the small airport in Bologna instead of Rome or Milan, but were still pelted with rotten fruit by fans who found out.
A well travelled Scouse coaching mate of mine, Steve Darby, now in Vietnam, claimed yesterday that there will soon be a scramble for Icelandic coaching technical directors and coaches. WELL, we already have one at Highbury, home of forward thinking Fleetwood Town. Gretar Steinsson from the tiny fishing town of Siglufjordur is the 34 year old Technical Director, after injury forced an early retirement after 100 plus matches for Bolton Wanderers and also in Iceland, Young Boys, Bern and in Turkey, plus 42 times for Iceland..
Who will replace Hodgson? well... that's for another day !
WELL DONE ICELAND AND THEIR AMAZING FANS.