A big day. Today we would know the finalists.
A choice of games at 5.45pm and we switched on to Holland v Italy on ITV. The Dutch had thrilled us with their football so far and by now much of the country were cheering them on. An entertaining game saw the Dutch come out on top 2-1 with Ernie Brandst scoring at each end and a cracker of a winner from Arie Haan. We rejoiced as Holland booked their place in the final.
It was a mighty surprise afterwards to hear that Austria had defeated West Germany 3-2 over on the BBC which meant the holders were going home and Italy had come second in the group to make the third place play off.
Overall Austria could be very satisfied with their 1978 campaign. In 1982, Austria was scandalously involved with West Germany in rigging a result to get both teams through the first group stage. Austria have qualified twice more for world cups without distinction, and have never qualified for the Euros, except in 2008 when the country co-hosted the event.
Whereas Group A’s final games were played at the same time, the Group B games were staggered (because of Argentina and their late kick offs). Although good for the viewer, this was hugely unfair to Brazil. Brazil v Poland at 8.45pm on ITV turned out to be a great game, Poland giving their all despite little chance of qualification. Brazil won 3-1.
So it was over to BBC for the question we all wanted to know. Could Argentina win by four goals to get to the final?
The answer was yes – a great atmosphere and one way traffic as Argentina demolished Peru 6-0. Of course there were suspicions – the Peru team that overwhelmed Scotland was just a memory, and the Peru goalkeeper, Quiroga, who we had last seen on the halfway line against Poland, was born in Argentina! After the tournament Argentina were very generous in foreign aid to Peru. All dodgy stuff, but when you are ten years old, you don’t care about that sort of thing.
Brazil went into the third place play-off, despite being the only team not to have lost a game. The host nation marched on. The final would be between two teams who had never won the cup before.
Group A: Holland 2-1 Italy
Brandts 49, Haan 76 - Brandts (og) 19
Group A: Austria 3-2 West Germany
Vogts (og) 59, Krankl 66, 87 - Rummenigge 18, Holzenbein 72
Group B: Brazil 3-1 Poland
Nelinho 13, Dinamite 58,72 – Lato 45
Group B: Argentina 6-0 Peru
Kempes 21, 49, Tarantini 43, Luque 50, 72, Houseman 67