Saturday, 26 November 2016

545 World Cup 1982

First  viewed : 14  June  1982

The  World  Cup  Finals  came  round  again  in  the  summer  of  1982. This  time  it  was  in  Spain  so  the  matches  were  shown  at  a  decent  hour  for  UK  viewing. Therefore  I  saw  a  much  greater  proportion  of  them  compared  to  1978. The  number  of  teams  taking  part  had  been  expanded  from  16  to  24  so  it  was  a  bigger  tournament  all  round. For  us  in  Blighty,  it  started  a  day  late  as  neither  channel  deemed  it  politic  to  screen  the  opening  match,  where  the  Argies  as  holders  were  beaten  1-0  by  Belgium,  while  the  Falklands  conflict  was  still  in  progress. Luckily, none  of  the  home  nations  got  to  play

Ron  Greenwood's  England  had  managed  to  qualify  for  the  Finals  at  the  third  attempt   although  not  with  any great  honour, scraping  through  a  not  particularly  difficult  group  with  a couple  of  embarrassing defeats  along  the  way. The  2-1  defeat  in  Oslo  was  immortalised by  a Norwegian  commentator completely  losing  the  plot  and  invoking  the  ghosts  of  British  prime ministers  to  taunt  them about  the  defeat " Maggie  Thatcher ! Winston  Churchill ! Clement Attlee !... Your  boys  took  a hell  of  a  beating !" I  wasn't  really  behind  them  as  Peter  Barnes had  been  dropped  for  Arsenal dullard  Graham  Rix   and  the  baleful  influence  of   Arsenal coach  Don  Howe  was  making England  boring  to  watch.

England's  preparations  were  hampered  by  injuries  to  their  best  players,  Trevor  Brooking  and Kevin  Keegan. Both  were  in  the  squad  but  wouldn't  be fit  for  the  group  games. As  it  was  the team  got  off  to a  flyer  with  a  3-1  victory  over  France  with  Bryan  Robson ( in  his  only effective  World  Cup; he  came  to  the  net  two  as  a  crocked  passenger )  scoring  the  fastest  ever goal  in  the Finals. Thereafter  the  team  deflated  like  a  slow  puncture, winning  2-0  against Czechoslovakia  to  ensure  passage  to  the  next  round, 1-0 against  Kuwait  then  two  goalless draws  in  the  Second  Round  against  West  Germany  and  Spain. In  the  latter  game  Greenwood threw  on  Brooking  and  Keegan  with  25  minutes  to  go . The  latter  had  a  chance  with  a header  that  he  might  have  done  better  with  if  fully  fit  but  it  went  wide. England  were  out and  Keegan's  international  career  was  over.  Greenwood  retired  and  to  his  eternal  resentment Keegan  was  left  out  of  Bobby  Robson's  first  squad. It  was  genuinely  sad; Keegan  had  been England's  only  consistent  performer  in  the  dark  days  of  the  seventies  and  deserved  a  better finale.

Scotland  had  also  qualified  , for  their  third  Finals  in  a  row. Having  dismally  failed  to  get  out of  an  easy  group in  1978  they  could  hardly  complain  at  now  being  faced  with  a  very  daunting  group  including tournament  favourites  Brazil  and  the   highly-fancied  USSR. They  made  a  decent  fist  of  it  beating  minnows  New  Zealand  5-2  and  securing  a  battling  2-2   draw  with  the  Soviets. In  the  end  it  came  down  to  goalkeepers. While  Brazil  had  to  come  up  with  two  screamers  to  get  past  the  Asiatic-looking  Rinat  Dasayev  for  the  Soviets  in  a  tight  2-1  victory  , Scotland  had  amazingly  kept  faith  with  the   useless  Alan  Rough   who  duly  conceded  four  after  a  thunderbolt  from  defender  David  Narey  had  given  Scotland  an  unexpected  lead  against  the  Brazilians.  Once  again  Scotland  were  out  of  the  World  Cup  on  goal  difference.

For  good  measure  Northern  Ireland  had  also  qualified  ( at  the  expense  of  Sweden ) with  a squad  featuring  players  from  Cambridge  United, Linfield  and  Glentoran.  There  had  been speculation  that  manager  Billy  Bingham  might  find  a  place  in  the  squad  for  George  Best, now  36  but  still  playing  ( of  a  sort )  in  American  indoor  football. In  the  end  Bingham thought better  of  it . The  Irish  unexpectedly  qualified  from  their  group  after  a  heroic 1-0 win  against   Spain  with  ten  men   and  then  got  a  battling  draw  against  Austria  before  a  rapidly-improving  France  sent  them  home  with  a  thumping  4-1  win.

Many  football  writers, wanting  to  pick  a  side  they'd  actually  seen  in  action,  have  nominated  the  Brazilian  1982  team  as  the  best  side  not  to  actually  win  the  trophy.  I  disagree  ; that  honour  must  surely  go  to  the  Hungarians  in  1954  and  I  think  Holland  in  1974  also  have  a  better  claim. The  Brazilians  had  9  great  stars  like  Socrates, Falcao  and  Zico  but  they  also  had  a  carthorse  up  front  in  Serginho  and  a  very  suspect  keeper  in  Waldir  Peres. Nevertheless  they  avenged  their  controversial  elimination  by  arch-rivals  Argentina  in  1978  by  putting  the  holders  out  in  a  match  which  saw  Diego  Maradona  sent  off.  However  they  were  then put  to  the  sword  by  the  Italians'  Paolo  Rossi  who'd  misfired  in  1978  but  came  good  at  exactly  the right  time  four  years  later.

The  exit  of  the  Brazilians  was  entirely  fair  but  otherwise  the  tournament  was  marred  by  some  appalling  injustices. Spain  scraped  through  their  group  by  means  of  a  terrible  penalty  decision  in  their  match  against  Yugoslavia  who  were  caning  them  at  the  time  ( though  the  Yugoslavs  didn't  help  themselves  with  a  sulky  performance  against  Honduras  in  their  final  match ). That  was  nothing  compared  to  the  exit  of  the  Algerians. Picking  up  the  baton  from  neighbours  Tunisia  in  1978, they  produced  an  almighty  shock  by  defeating  West  Germany  in  their  opening  game. They  then  lost  to  Austria  but  still  had  an  excellent  chance  of  qualifying  against  already-eliminated  Chile. They  raced  to  a  3-0  lead  in  the  first  half  but  fatally  let  the  the  Chileans  get  a couple  of  goals  back  in  the  second. That  meant  that  instead  of  the  final  match   being  a  turkey  shoot  between  West  Germany  and  Austria  for  the other  place, both  teams  could  go  through  if  the  Germans  won  by  one  or  two  goals.

With  FIFA  having  failed  to  grasp  the  nettle  of   suspect  scorelines  after  the  Argentina-Peru  game  four  years  earlier, the  Germans  and  Austrians  staged  another  Anschluss  with  both  sides  passing  the  ball  around  aimlessly  to  eat  up  the  time  after  the  Germans  took  the  lead. Commentators  threw  their  microphones  down  and  both  sides  were  roundly  booed  by  their  own  supporters. The  Algerians  of  course  protested  but  FIFA allowed  the  result  to  stand. Ever  since  then  the  final   group  matches  in  tournaments  have  had  to  be  played  simultaneously  to  prevent  this  happening  again.

France  eliminated  the  Austrians  in  the  next  round  but  there  was  more  outrage  to  come  from  the  Germans  who  met  the  French  in  the  semi-finals. This  of  course  refers  to   the  shocking  foul  by  goalkeeper  Harald  Schumacher  on  France's  Patrick  Battiston  who'd  put  the  ball  past  him  before  the  keeper's  head-high  challenge  knocked  him  unconscious. How  the  referee   could  have  interpreted  it  as  anything  other  than  a  straight  red  card  is  unfathomable  with  the  ball  so  far  away from  the  point  of  impact . Even  if  the  collision  was  unavoidable  - and  it  wasn't - there  was  no  need  for  Schumacher's  feet  to  leave  the  ground.  The  match  was  an  absolute  cracker  finishing  3-3  with  the  Germans  winning  on  penalties  but  that  can't  assuage  the  obscenity  of  Schumacher  reamaining  on  the  pitch.

I  hated  the  Italians  for  their  negative  tactics  - they'd  bored  the  world  to  death  in  the  first  group  stage  with  three  draws - but  after  beating  Poland  ( who'd  provided  some  good  cheer  by  edging  out  their  Soviet  oppressors )  in  the  semis, they  simply  had  to  beat  the  Germans  for  the  good  of  the  tournament  and  they  did , 3-1. I  don't  think  I  bothered  watching  much  of  it.

Off  the  pitch  the  surprise  was  that  ITV  trounced  the  Beeb  in  its  coverage. They  not  only  had  the  better  theme  tune , they  also  had  a  secret  weapon  who  became  a  major  TV  star  overnight. Jimmy  Greaves  had  had  a  rough  time  since  his  controversial  exclusion  from  the World  Cup  Final  team  in  1966. Age  and  an  increasing  consumption  of  alcohol  robbed  him  of  his  sharpness  and  he  retired  from  the  professional  game  in  1971. He  then  descended  into  major  alcoholism, eventually  resuming  his  career  in  non-league  football  as  part  of  his  efforts  to  beat  the  booze. In  1980  he  began  working  as  a  pundit  on  ATV's  regional  highlights  show  but  the  World  Cup  panel  was  his  first  national  exposure. It  was  an  inspired  choice. His  witty  irreverence   and  relaxed  bloke-y  charm  made  the  build-ups  to  the  matches  unmissable  and  he  was  flooded  with  TV  work  of  all  kinds  thereafter. Eventually  he  became  a  bit  of  an  arsehole  but  in  1982  he  was  at  the  top  of  his  game.  


  1. Perhaps a clear sign of England's crap post-66 luck that they topped the first stage and got W Germany and Spain, while France got Northern Ireland and Austria. Robbo may have wished he'd missed those chances, it hindsight.

    I had a long conversation once with an Uncle about England's campaign in Spain. He was never convinced by Barnes (too inconsistent, and by 1982 his career had peaked after a disaster move to relegation-bound Leeds), but firmly believed Hoddle was criminally misused throughout, especially in the match vs Spain, where England had already lost Coppell to injury.

    As for the Scots, as crap as Rough was, the killer moment was surely vs USSR when, 2-1 up, Miller and Hansen blundered into each other, allowing the Soviet forward to nip in and score.

  2. No-that collision happened at 1-1 which was still not enough for Scotland to go through. Hansen's international career never seemed to recover from that.
    Yes - the Leeds move was a mistake. Allan Clarke's brain wave was to play him as a striker.
    To be fair to Greenwood, Hoddle didn't do much in the game against Kuwait

  3. My mistake re Scotland - but still a moment of high comedy from the Scots, of which they frequently pulled out during the WC. As for Hansen, Ferguson claims he left him out of the '86 squad as Stein had doubts about his commitment to Scotland (as in, too prone to pulling a sickie to keep himself fresh for Liverpool) and thus didn't pick him for Mexico. In response, if you believe Fergie, Dalglish pulled a strop and withdrew himself.

    Hoddle may not have done much vs Kuwait (though it was hardly a competitive game, from what I have seen of it, with England content to see it out after scoring), but you could argue Rix did little throughout, yet kept his place. I'd always argue Hoddle brought the creative slant missing due to Brooking and Keegan being crocked.

    Incidentally, Ron Atkinson claims he mused on buying Keegan in the summer of '82, but couldn't get the right deal, same as with Frank Worthington a few months prior. Both of which turned out to be good news for Norman Whiteside, of course.