Archives » World Cup

Roger Hunt

And so another name from that small number of Englishmen to grace a World Cup final, Roger Hunt, has finally left the pitch.

His 244 league goals remain Liverpool’s best ever. Only Ian Rush has scored more goals for the club overall. Hunt also scored 18 times for England in 34 appearances – including three in the group stages in 1966. When Jimmy Greaves was fit again for the final it seemed it might be Hunt who would make way for him but manager Alf Ramsey decided to stick with Hunt and Geoff Hurst. By raising his arms and turning away Hunt looked in no doubt that Hurst’s shot off the bar had crossed the line for his controversial strike in extra-time that in effect won the game.

That Liverpool supporters called him Sir Roger shows the esteem and affection in which he was held.

Roger Hunt: 20/7/1938 – 27/8/2021. So it goes.

Gerd Müller

Sadly Gerdy Müller, one of the best strikers I’ve seen play football, (never in person though, though only on television,) has died.

With Bayern Munich and the West German national team he won every competition going. He scored 51 times in 31 appearances for TSV 1861 Nördlingen before joining Bayern (then not in the West German top flight!) for whom he bagged 566 goals in 607 games and an incredible 68 in 62 appearances for his country. That record speaks for itself. Despite not looking like a typical footballer, squat and a bit ungainly looking, he had great pace over short distances and a quick mind for the chance to shoot at goal. He was so good he was nicknamed Der Bomber. He finishe dhis career in the US at Fort Lauderdale Strikers, again averaging more than a goal a game.

In those days chances of seeing a player of a foreign club were few and far between – possibly highlights of a European tie involving them and a Scottish or English club or just, maybe, the final of the European Cup. Even European championship games weren’t routinely on domestic TV.

So it was in World Cups where these exotic foreign stars were revealed to us.

In the 1970 World Cup in Mexico Gerdy got a singleton and two hat-tricks in the group stages to set up their quarter-final against England.

I didn’t see that game live (I was young and foolish) but I heard the early score.

When I got home – not knowing the result – I said to my dad, “England 2-0 up?” A nod.

“2-2 full-time?” (hopefully.) “Yes.”

“3-2 Germany after extra time? “Yes.”

“Gerdy Müller?” “Yes.”

Maybe it was wishful thinking (even in 1970 Scots had got fed up with 1966 and all that) but somehow I knew what the outcome would be and that Der Bomber would make the difference.

Mind you, if I had watched the game maybe I would have been less sanguine. By all acounts (or is that English acounts?) England were bossing it till Alf Ramsey took off Bobby Charlton to save his legs for the semi. Then Franz Beckenbauer took over the midfield. Whatever, poor Peter Bonetti, stand-in keeper after Gordon Banks caught a stomach bug, got the blame. West Germany lost that extra time thriller of a semi 4-3 to Italy, but Gerdy scored twice.

Four years later it was a different story. (England didnae make it cause they didnae qualify. Oh sorry, that line came four years later.) Gerdy scored only once in the first group stage but got two in the second, helping West Germany to the final where they played the Netherlands, Johan Cruyff and all.

Their brand of football made Holland most neutrals’ favoured side and they even took the lead from a penalty in their first attack. But after another penalty evened things out Gerdy scored the winner in a home World Cup for West Germany, forever sealing his legacy.

Gerhard (Gerd) Müller: 3/11/1945 – 15/8/2021. So it goes.

Ian St John

So now it’s Ian St John who has died.

Having made his name at Motherwell he became an integral part of the first great Liverpool team of my lifetime, the first Shankly-managed one, and also played what now seems a paltry 21 games for Scotland, scoring nine goals for the national side, including two in that great sliding-doors match, the play-off with Czechoslovakia for the right to go to the World Cup in Chile in 1962. Scotland were ahead with a few minutes to go but lost a goal before the final whistle then two more in extra-time. Czechoslovakia went on to reach the World Cup final. What if indeed.

St John’s great years as a player were a bit before my time but I do remember the possibly apocryphal story of a Church billboard in Liverpool asking, “What would you do if Jesus came to Liverpool?” to which some wag had added below, “Move St John to inside-left.”

After his retirement I remember a TV competition to find a new commentator for televised football matches in the run-up to the 1970 World Cup. The competitors were anonymous before the voting. However I knew I recognised one of the voices but couldn’t place it. Then came the reveal of the runner-up (who I now see but hadn’t remembered till looking it up actually tied with the winner) – Ian St John. The winner was a Welshman named Idwal Robling who apparently did go on to commentate on games for Match of the Day (never broadcast at the time in Scotland so I never heard any of them) and later mostly for Welsh games.

But it was as co-presenter of Saint and Greavsie, an ITV equivalent of the Football Focus of today but with a more light-hearted approach (and which was broadcast in Scotland) that St John was more familiar to my generation. The banter between St John and the other presenter Jimmy Greaves was always good-natured and entertaining.

John (Ian) St John: 7/6/1938 – 1/3/2021. So it goes.

The Doc

So 2020 continued to be a miserable sod right till the end, when it took Tommy Docherty away from us.

The Doc was probably most famous for being manager of Manchester Uinted though he had previous spells at Chelsea and other clubs, plus as Scotland manager. After Man U he managed seven more clubs.

His senior playing career began at Celtic but he could not displace Parkhead legend Bobby Evans from the team and moved south to Preston North End and later Chelsea.

He played for Scotland 25 times including in the 1954 World Cup (but we’ll swiftly draw a veil over the 7-0 defeat to Uruguay – I read once of a player’s recollection that the Scotland team were in heavy woollen jerseys as if playing in winter rather than the heat of a Swiss summer and were shod in big old-fashioned boots – with the Uruguayans in more modern footwear he described as like slippers in comparison. We were lucky it was only seven was the verdict.)

It was as a manager that The Doc made the most impact, taking over a very declined Man United and not able to turn the club’s fortunes round till after a relegation but leading them to a swift – one season – return to the top flight and then to an FA Cup win against Liverpool (denying that club what would have been a first ever treble by any English side.) Who knows what might have transpired if The Doc had not had an affair with the wife of the club’s physio Laurie Brown and as a consequence got the sack? (I note from the obituaries that Docherty was still married to Mary Brown when he died.)

Despite plying his trade mostly in England Docherty, like most of his ilk, remained a proud Scot.

There was a tale told – I think it was of Joe Donnelly, Dumbarton’s perennial substitute in the 1971-1972 season (only one sub allowed in those days and that for injury) that the player had once been involved in an altercation with an English team mate who had called him a “Scottish b*****d.” Docherty, as their manager, took them into his office, got them to settle the matter reasonably amicably then let the Englishman leave the room. Whereon he immediately turned to Donnelly and said, “You didn’t hit him hard enough.”

A character, then.

Thomas Henderson (Tommy) Docherty (The Doc): 24/4/1928 – 31/12/2020. So it goes.

Paolo Rossi

I’m sad to note the death of Paolo Rossi, who was in effect the prototypical Italian striker, arguably the best ever such.

There is an argument to be made about whether one man can be said to have won a World Cup for his country, the usual example given being Diego Maradona.

However it is almost certain that without Paolo Rossi, Italy would not have won the World Cup in 1982. His contribution to that success was profound – and indispensible.

He had only recently come back from a two year ban resulting from the Totonero betting scandal (in which he said he was unjustly implicated,) and had endured, as did his team-mates to be fair, a non-descript start to the 1982 tournament. But his hat-trick buried an extremely talented Brazil side in what was effectively a knock-out game in the second phase in one of the best-ever World Cup matches. Was there ever such a snapper-up of unconsidered trifles as in his third in that game?

Italy 3-2 Brazil:-

Rossi then scored the two goals which defeated Poland in the semi-final and set Italy on their way to the Cup with the first in the final against West Germany – a goal which he said most exemplified his style in anticipating where the ball would be before the defender could react in time.

Six goals, the Golden Boot, and Golden Ball for most valuable player, with the 1982 Ballon D’Or added in for good measure.

All six goals:-

In his career he had multiple Italian domestic trophies, and all but the EUFA Cup in European competition. One of the greats.

Paolo Rossi: 23/9/1956 – 9/12/2020. So it goes.

2022 World Cup Qualifying

Gosh, it comes round again.

The draw for the European qualification round for the 2022 World Cup (to be held in Qatar) was made today.

Scotland’s fate could have been worse I suppose – we managed to avoid holders France, world ranked no 1 Belgium and also Spain, England, Germany, Italy and Portugal, nemeses in previous qualification campaigns, but Denmark, Austria and Israel (yet again drawn in a group with Scotland) are no mugs; and I always get the fear over games against countries like the Faroe Islands and Moldova.

Our last two games were 1-0 defeats too let’s not forget, but I’ll give the team a pass on those as they were hungover (in the nicest sense I hasten to add) from managing to reach the Euro finals.

Jack Charlton

So, with the passing of Jack Charlton, another of that select group, English footballers to have won a World Cup, has gone.

Not the most cultured of players, unlike his brother Bobby, Jack was said to have thought when he learned of his England call-up that they’d picked the wrong Charlton. His position at centre-half though, has not historically been the preserve of the cultured. In his club career at Leeds United he had big shoes to fill, taking over from the Gentle Giant, John Charles, after his transfer to Juventus. In all he appeared for Leeds 629 times – a club record unlikely to be surpassed.

As a manager I remember him leading Middlesbrough to promotion to the top flight before spells at Sheffield Wednesday and Newcastle United but it was as manager of the Republic of Ireland international team that he made his greatest mark, taking them to a World Cup quarter-final in 1990. Four years later they had a famous 1-0 win over Italy (who went on to reach the final) in New York.

John (Jack) Charlton: 8/5/1935 – 10/7/2020. So it goes.

Modern Architecture, St Petersburg

The view from the MS Magellan’s bow in dock at St Petersburg. New building construction with bridge behind:

A Bridge in St Petersburg

The view towards the city. Flats. We were told most Russians live in flats. All sorts of folks in similar flats in the same block. Only the insides would let you know how well off anyone is:-

Flats, St Petersburg

Gazprom Tower:-

Gazprom Tower, St Petersburg

This breaks the height restriction on buidlngs in St Petersburg. They let it go because it was way out of town and, well, Gazprom. Closer view:-

Gazprom Tower, St Petersburg

Krestovsky Stadium, or Zenit Arena, home of Zenit St Petersburg FC. This was a venue for games at the 2018 Football World Cup. Modern bridge in front with cruise terminal building in foreground:-

Bridge and St Petersburg Stadium

This was the nearest thing I saw in St Petersburg to an Art Deco building:-

A Decoish Building, St Petersburg

Peter the Great statue, photographed through coach windows so the statue is difficult to make out; a modern building behind.

Peter the Great Statue, in St Petersburg

St Petersburg (iii)

A touch of the new (and temporary) and the old.

Fifa 2018 World Cup fan park:-

FIFA, World Cup 2018 Fan Zone, St Petersburg

Reverse of fan park + canal and bridge:-

A Canal in St Petersburg + FIFA World Cup Fan Zone

Main road aspect:-

St Petersburg, FIFA World Cup Fan Zone

Contrast that with this typically Russian building right beside the fan park:-

Building Opposite Church on the Spilled Blood, St Petersburg

But just over the road from that:-

Church on the Spilled Blood, St Petersburg

The stunning Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood:-

St Petersburg, Church on the Spilled Blood

The church’s peculiar name arises because it was built as a memorial over the spot where Tsar Alexander II had been assassinated. Unfortunately it was swathed in scaffolding last May.

Church on the Spilled Blood, St Petersburg, from Field of Mars:-

Church on the Spilled Blood, St Petersburg From Field of Mars

Martin Peters

The football player who was “ten years ahead of his time” (at least according to Alf Ramsey) and one of a select few – English footballers to have won a World Cup – has died.

Had Wolfgang Weber not scored for Germany in the last minute of normal time Martin Peters would have been known as the man who won that World Cup as it was he who put England into the lead in the 78th minute.

As it was, Ramsey told his players, “You’ve won it once. Now you’ll have to go out there and win it again,” but it was team mate Geoff Hurst who grabbed the late glory.

All in all Peters had not a bad footballing CV.

Martin Stanford Peters: 8/11/1943 – 21/12/2019. So it goes.

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