Tuesday, June 25, 2013

World Cup 1978 - Day Twenty-Five (& Last)

Sunday 25 June

As the coach arrived back into Hazlemere that Sunday afternoon, I grabbed my bag, sprinted down through Firs Close, across the busy Rose Avenue (minding the traffic, of course) and to my home in Firs View Road – it was world cup final day and I was not going to miss any of the atmosphere.

Much has been written about this game but from first to last I was enthralled by it all. The colourful spectacle in the stadium, the ticker tape parade that greeted the players, the delayed start over a Dutch player’s plaster cast, and at last the kick off at 7pm with the game shown live on both channels (we opted for ITV).

My sketchy memory is of a great game, end to end stuff, arguably the two most entertaining teams in the contest exchanging blows. Argentina leading through Kempes at half-time, but Holland coming right back in the second. A cracking headed goal by Nanninga late in the game equalising. Then suddenly, in the very last moments, Resenbrink shoots .. and hits the post!

Since that day I have read a number of times that, had the shot gone in, the ref would not have allowed it – he would have blown for a foul or offside or some reason. Well, we’ll never know.

Into extra-time, Argentina found a second wind, Kempes prodded the hosts in front to become the tournament’s top scorer, and then Bertoni made it 3-1 and sent the stadium into pure joy. That was it now – Argentina had won the world cup!

I had never seen such an exhibition of colour at a football ground – remember the drab English football stadiums of the 1970s – and had enjoyed the whole event. Commentators spoke ruefully about the lack of great games, the way the schedules were placed in the hosts’ advantage, the poor showing from Scotland – but we had also seen Argentina’s coming of age as a great team – Ardiles and Villa were soon to arrive at Spurs in a day when foreign players were very rare in England – and some cracking goals from Holland, retaining their title from 1974 as the world’s most entertaining team.

Now the contest was over and time for bed as it was back to school in the morning, although the summer holidays were not far away. Seven weeks before the start of the domestic season, two years to the next summer tournament, and four years to the next World Cup in Spain, in which I hoped to see England take part.

Day-by-day, the World Cup of 1978 was one to remember.

World Cup Final
Argentina 3-1 Holland
Kempes 37, 105, Bertoni 115 – Nanninga 82

Top scorers
Kempes (Argentina) 6 goals
Resenbrink (Holland) 5 goals
Cubillas (Peru)
Luque (Argentina) 4 goals
Krankl (Austria)

Thanks and acknowledgements to 'upthemaggies' and the following page.


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