Thursday, January 3, 2013

1977: A Jubilee, A Mug and A Crossbar

On Saturday 4 June 1977, the nation was in a mood of celebration at the weekend of events to mark Her Majesty’s Silver Jubilee. The Queen had completed a quarter of a century on the throne and, as things economically in the UK were fairly bleak in 1977 with high inflation and regular strikes, the country decided to let their hair down for a party to take their minds off things. The exception that Saturday was with one nine-year-old boy from Manor Farm Primary School in Hazlemere, Bucks, who was feeling very gloomy indeed.

To commemorate the Jubilee, all school children were going to get a mug – with a picture of the Queen – as a souvenir. A lucky draw had been made for children to receive their mug personally from the mayor and, what do you know, my older sister was one of the names pulled out of the hat. So not only did she have to attend the afternoon’s presentation at a local school field, but the whole family had to go.

Now this date was not any old Saturday afternoon – many of you will remember the Home International Championships – and it was on that date that the highlight of the event was to take place – the live televised game (on both channels!) between England and the 'auld enemy' Scotland kicking off at 3pm in Wembley Stadium.

In those days the Scotland team were good – with players such as Gordon McQueen, Archie Gemmill and Kenny Dalglish – while England were wilting in the Don Revie era, having just lost to Wales at Wembley for the first time ever. The omens were good for a classic encounter. Alas, as John Motson announced the kick off, instead of being happily sat in front of the telly cheering on our boys, I stood patient but gloomy with dozens of other schoolkids in a queue waiting for a mug and wondering how the game was going.

By the time I had got home, word had spread that, not only had Scotland won 2-1, but the Tartan fans had torn Wembley Stadium to pieces brick-by-brick! A slight exaggeration, but the collapsing crossbar became the most memorable image of the day.

I have no idea what happened to my Jubilee mug – lost in the midst of times somewhere – but I do wonder if some, now elderly, Scottish fan still has his patch of Wembley turf in pride of place.

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