27 June 2010 – Day 17
So can I give up the day job and become a football pundit? Yesterday, I went for Uruguay and Ghana. In the afternoon kick-off, Uruguay did me proud and came through the 90 minutes in the rain at the less than full Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium. As with so many of this tournaments games it featured another goalkeeping masterclass from the respective custodians. In the evening game, Ghana came through in extra-time with a peach of a winner. 100% record so far!
Who gets the nod for me today? Obviously England and though it pains me to say it – Argentina.
Today though there is only one thing on my mind. England against Germany, a fixture that we all know is “the one”. We’ve all got memories. It’s special to me as it was the first time I’d been to Wembley and the first time I’d watched England. It was a school trip and as a football mad 13 year old back in March 1975 I was just beside myself with excitement. I can still remember the coach journey and eventually getting to Wembley Way and seeing the Twin Towers gleaming under floodlights for the first time. I was stunned by how magnificent the Towers looked. Stadiums are just so much more atmospheric and magical for evening kick-offs. In Wembley’s case though, the darkness did much to hide the decaying old ground.
England’s line-up that night was as follows:
Clemence R (Liverpool), Withworth S (Leicester City), Gillard I (QPR), Bell C (Manchester City), Watson D (Sunderland), Todd C (Derby County), Ball A (Arsenal) – Captain, Channon M (Southampton), MacDonald M (Newcastle United), Hudson A (Stoke City), Keegan K (Liverpool).
The West Germans had a strong looking line-up which included Sepp Maier, Berti Vogts, Franz Beckenbauer, Rainer Bonhof, Bernd Cullmann, Bernd Holzenbein and Jupp Heynckes.
England were in experimental mode under Don Revie with this game marking the debut of Alan Hudson, Steve Whitworth and Ian Gillard. Alan Ball was captaining England for the first time. On a wet night and with a pitch that quickly cut up (sound familiar?), England got stuck into West Germany and went ahead through a deflected Colin Bell shot. One nil at half time. England continued to press in the second half and were rewarded with a second from Malcolm McDonald, a trademark header.
My first game at Wembley ended 2-0; England beating the World Champions. International football? Nothing to it. England World Cup Winners 1978 was a certainty!
The rest as they say is history………..