Friday, May 31, 2013

Eve of the World Cup 1978

By the eve of opening day, the wall charts and TV schedules were at the ready.

Group One                        Group Two
1. Argentina                      1. West Germany
2. Hungary                        2. Poland
3. France                          3. Mexico
4. Italy                              4. Tunisia

Group Three                     Group Four
1. Brazil                            1. Netherlands
2. Sweden                        2. Iran
3. Spain                            3. Peru
4. Austria                          4. Scotland

1 v 2 . 3 v 4 === 1 v 3 . 2 v 4 === 1 v 4 . 2 v 3

Second Round:
Group A: winners of Groups 1 and 3, runners up of Groups 2 and 4
Group B: winners of Groups 2 and 4, runners up of Groups 1 and 3

Third place play-off: runners-up of Group A v runners-up of Group B

Final: winners of Group A v winners of Group B

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Day-by-Day - The World Cup 1978

Just as you remember your first kiss or your first job, to while away the summer, here is a day-by-day account of the first World Cup that I can remember.

I was too young for 1974 but eagerly looked forward to the 1978 world cup in Argentina. At the time, the people of Argentina were captive under a military dictatorship, but when you are ten years old you don’t worry about such things. In fact, I can’t recall any of the news events of 1978 – apart from the football.

England's hopes had departed along with Don Revie in 1977. It would be four more years before I would see England kick off a world cup proper campaign.

Scotland had qualified and, which with hindsight seems an astonishing miscalculation, many thought they had a good chance. On paper they certainly had a strong squad – stronger than today’s Scotland team – but was it strong enough? In the build up Andy Cameron charted with one of the most famous world cup songs ‘Ally’s Army’ – ‘and we’ll really shake ‘em up, when we win the World Cup, as Scotland are the greatest football team.’

The draw had taken place earlier that year. Group 1 had Argentina against the triple Euro attack of Italy, France and Hungary. Of course the hosts were expected to qualify comfortably but the other spot was wide open. In Group 2, holders West Germany faced Poland, Mexico and Tunisia. Nothing much for the Germans to worry about there.

Group 3 had Brazil also facing three European teams in Spain, Sweden and Austria (whatever happened to Austria?) and Group 4 had the Jocks facing Holland, previously beaten finalists and one of the main favourites, with Peru and Iran making the numbers – or so we thought.

Ten European teams out of 16 – you can see why world cups were felt to be imbalanced.

The rules were four groups of four with the top two qualifying – and then, oddly, the eight teams would be sorted into two more groups of four with the winner of each group playing in the final and the runners-up would be in the third place play off (no semi-finals!) There would be 38 games in all.

For this account, special credit goes to the web site run by 'upthemaggies' of ITV Football - link to the right.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

FA Cup Final Day

FA Cup Final day was always a special day for TV football fans in the 1970s for a number of reasons. For example:
-It was the last day of the domestic football season. All league issues, promotion, relegation, were settled. (The only exception would be if a club had a European final afterwards). The game was a way for all of us to say goodbye to the season.
-It was a rare case of a game which was televised live – indeed the only live club game of the season.
-Playing at Wembley was a special treat for most players, and attending was a special treat for all fans. I remember my own excitement in 1985 going to watch Norwich in the League Cup Final.
-And of course the FA Cup is the world’s oldest football competition – a straight forward one-off knock out competition – lose and you are out – the only team that does not lose is the winners.
Television would help make the day very special. With only three channels, and two of them dominated to the day from mid-day through to after 5pm, it was a rough afternoon if you were not a football fan.
Coverage of the day would be a usual pattern – we would talk to the players at their hotels, have a further chat on their respective buses, another chin wag as they wander on the pitch in their new suits, specially designed for the occasion – there would be ‘The Road to Wembley’ features where we saw the highlights of the previous rounds (those games which had been televised of course) – and a usual panel of experts giving their thoughts, along with some celebrity guests such as Eric Morecambe and Elton John.
There will be specials of Football Focus and On The Ball, and Saint and Greavsie would each follow a team – I especially remember 1984 when Ian St John attached himself to the Everton team bravely wearing his red Liverpool shirt, while Londoner Greavsie would visit ‘our new borough’ in Watford.
ITV would slip in their usual other features – the wrestling, of course, and the racing – and BBC would feature shows such as ‘It’s A Cup Final Knockout’, ‘Cup Final Mastermind’ and, er, ‘Cup Final Jim’ll Fix it’. And sometimes the Women’s FA Cup Final would feature.
We’d see the teams come out, all line up to meet the guest of honour, sing Abide with Me, then kick off with a big cheer. Afterwards it would be ‘Meet The Winners’ – or not as in the case of 1970 and 1981-2-3. Replays are now of course something else that has changed.
Then all over by 5.30, time for tea, Doctor Who, and then, just in case you’ve not had enough of the box, Saturday evening telly – but that is another story!