Monday, 26 November 2012

One Day - Two Remarkable Games - Part One

On the final day of 1982-83 season there were two remarkable games which created headlines in their own contrasting way.  They concerned promotion and relegation and held implications for each losing side, which affected them for several years.

Saturday 14th May 1983

Derby County v Fulham

Fulham had not been seen in England’s top division since 1968.  Between 1971-80 they had been in the Second Division, until relegation at the end of 1979-80 season saw them lose patience with manager Bobby Campbell, after 4 years.  His replacement was Malcolm MacDonald.  

MacDonald was one of the most explosive centre-forwards in English football during the 70’s.  He started his career at Fulham when Bobby Robson signed him, but he later went onto enjoy successful careers with Newcastle and Arsenal.  He still holds the record for scoring 5 goals in an international match for England (v Cyprus, 1975), and these performances earned him the nickname ‘Supermac’.  Fulham was his first managerial appointment having recently finished his playing career.

Within two years MacDonald had returned them to Second Division football.  The following season saw Fulham blaze a trail in their bid for promotion back to the First Division.  Fulham were in financial difficulty and MacDonald made no secret of the fact he had assembled a competitive side without buying a player and had relied on youth players and free transfers.

Players such as Ray Houghton and Paul Parker began to make their mark under MacDonald.  They played alongside players such as Gerry Peyton (Republic of Ireland), Gordon Davies, Jeff Hopkins (both Wales), Kevin Lock and Tony Gale.

Tony Gale                                    Gordon Davies
 Paul Parker


By the beginning of February Fulham were 3rd, 3pts behind leaders, Wolves.  They were also 11pts ahead of Leicester City in 4th place.  But Fulham then started to wobble.  They won just 5 of next 15 games and lost 3 in a row, including losing at home to Leicester, 0-1. 
When they were beaten by Leicester, 0-1 through an Ian Wilson goal, the lead was down to just 2pts.  Leicester’s 15 game run from February was 8 wins, 6 draws 1 defeat and unbeaten in 14.  Their strike-force was two young players who went onto win many honours in the game, Gary Lineker and Alan Smith.
  Alan Smith                     Gary Lineker

Fulham would lose their next two matches, but Leicester could only draw theirs, which was enough to take them above The Cottagers on goal difference.

For Fulham’s final home match against Carlisle, MacDonald took the unusual step of addressing the crowd before the game through the public address system.  It seemed the pressure beginning to tell on Fulham as MacDonald called the game ‘the most important match in post-war history of Fulham Football Club’.  Fulham won 2-0.  Leicester also won at Oldham which set up a dramatic final day.


Leicester were at home to bottom club Burnley, and Fulham had to travel to Derby.  Derby County were under the guidance of Peter Taylor, who as assistant to Brian Clough, had guided the club to their first ever League Championship in 1972.  He was back at the club on his own, and trying to return them to their glory days.  He’d bought ex-Forest players, Kenny Burns and Archie Gemmill, along with installing Roy McFarland as his assistant.  McFarland was Derby’s captain in their title-winning season a decade before.

Mid January Derby were 9pts from safety at the bottom of the table, then 15 games unbeaten helped them climb away from the relegation zone before 2 defeats had them worrying about who was below them.  They approached the final game of the season needing a win to guarantee their safety.  A draw, and they may stay up on goal difference, but were they prepared to take the chance?

For Burnley, they too needed a win.  They had managed to put a mini-revival together with 1 defeat in their previous 7 matches, but they were staring down the barrel.  They had to travel to Filbert Street and try and come away with a win, not easy given Leicester were on a run of losing just 1 in their last 12 home games.

The drama was centred purely at The Baseball Ground.

The atmosphere at ground could be considered ‘poisonous’.  Clough used to use this to his advantage when he was manager of Derby, the fact that the proximity of the crowd could intimidate opponents.  Early on, Fulham striker Gordon Davies was bundled over in area but no penalty.  Davies didn’t really protest.  At the other end, Mike Brolly headed Emson’s cross and it looped onto crossbar and fell under Peyton’s legs.  He could easily have gone in but it didn’t.

During the first half, Fulham full-back Jeff Hopkins was booked for kicking Derby’s Bobby Davison in the ribs as he goes up for a header.  This immediately incensed the home crowd.  Fulham went close again when Davies seemed to be pushed in the area but his header was deflected for a corner.  The only other chance of note was when Derby winger Paul Emson took on Hopkins down the left and his cross just went over the bar onto the roof of the net.

No goals in either game by half-time and at this stage it was Leicester who were going up.  Leicester had been relegated from the First Division back in 1978 when Frank McLintock was in charge of a team who scored just 26 goals and only won 5 games all season.  They bounced back up as Second Division Champions in 1980, only to go straight back down again.  Players such as former Man Utd midfielder, Gerry Daly, former Partick striker, Jim Melrose, Kevin MacDonald (future double winner with Liverpool), Steve Lynex and Mark Wallington were combining with Smith and Lineker to put them on the brink of promotion once again.

Early in second half, Derby midfielder, Paul Hooks has a swing at Hopkins and Kenny Burns also steps in.  It starts to get a bit nasty and the crowd is whipped up further.  Neither side is able to make the breakthrough until 15 minutes to go, Emson’s right footed cross from the left found Mike Brolly on the far side of the area.  Brolly headed it back where he found Davison on penalty spot and he volleyed into roof of net.  Cue invasion of the pitch by the vociferous crowd.

The home fans started sing ‘staying up’.  As the game was moving into the final 10 minutes police horses were seen on the touchline, which appeared to be a bid to stem any trouble.  Gradually fans climb over advertising boards & stand on touchline.  Right behind Steve Cherry in the Derby goal fans are several rows deep around the net, almost encroaching over the line onto the pitch.  Davies has a chance when he heads straight into Cherry’s hands and fan walks on to pat the keeper on back.

In last couple of minutes, Houghton has a shot from outside the area and it is just tipped over by Cherry.  Again a pat on back from a fan.  Lewington went to take the corner and had to move fans out of way just so he could take the kick.  By now fans fill the touchline all the way round the pitch.  Terracing at one end of the ground is completely empty as fans are all around pitch.  It seemed that the police were helpless to be able to do anything about it, despite being in evidence in the ground.

In the final minutes the ball is out on the Fulham left wing. Robert Wilson runs down the wing, twists and turns Derby defender and then it suddenly kicked by one of the supporters.  Wilson stops, linesman flags but nothing is done about the fans.  Fulham players complain to the ref  who just decides to solve it all with a drop-ball.  The public address system is now calling for fans to retreat, but they’re not listening.

Fulham keeper, Gerry Peyton then kicks ball down field and the ref blows for a free-kick, but the crowd are convinced it’s the final whistle.  There is another invasion and the whole pitch is covered, but there is still time left to play.  Apparently, there were still another 78 seconds left.  The players struggle to get off pitch, as Derby fans are ecstatic their team has avoided relegation.  For the Fulham fans, news came through of the result in the other game and their hopes were dashed.

Leicester drew 0-0 with Burnley and had looked as if they’d confirmed promotion.  It also looked like relegation for a Burnley team who included a young Lee Dixon, just making his way in the game.
Lee Dixon

The controversy soon began.  Fulham made an official complaint and appealed for the game to be replayed.  Manager MacDonald was particularly angry.  After the game, he said the Derby chairman ‘intimated he would be prepared to play a replay’.  He went onto say the referee had ‘stated 90 minutes hadn’t been completed’.  When asked why they didn’t try and get the ref to play the extra minutes, he replied ‘we couldn’t field 11 players if we’d come back out, Jeff Hopkins was badly assaulted, his shirt ripped off his back and he had been punched.  The lad was in total shock’.

So by that evening it was unclear who was going up.  The FA announced they would have an enquiry to look into the events at The Baseball Ground.  Ironically, the result had been irrelevant after Leicester’s draw and some even scoffed at the idea of them scoring 2 goals at the end of the game, but this was pre-1999 with Sheringham, Solskjaer etc.  What was certainly true is the impossible atmosphere the Fulham side had to endure in the final moments of the game and that some of the players were attacked as they left the pitch.

The following week the FA decided to uphold the Derby result and deny a replay, and so Leicester were promoted.  Fulham were unhappy about it and it’s not certain whether MacDonald ever got over it.  The following season they finished mid-table and MacDonald resigned, the team was broken up and finished bottom of the table in 1986 and by 1994 they were in the 4th tier of English football.  It wouldn’t be until 2001 when Fulham finally returned to England’s top division.


Leicester remained in the First Division until yet another relegation in 1987, but by then Smith had left for Arsenal and Lineker for Everton and then Barcelona, before returning to English football with Tottenham.

Looking back it seems inconceivable as to why the game wasn’t stopped until the crowd returned to the stands.  Also with such a visible police presence it seems odd why they were completely powerless to stop the invading fans.  But these were days when football authorities were scared of groups of supporters intent on causing trouble.  There was still plenty more pain for English football grounds to endure before the collective strength would force that kind of behaviour outside

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Benitez is Back - Fact!


He’s back.  The man who exposed the dubious link between The FA and Manchester United.  The man who delivered Liverpool’s 5th European Cup win.  The man who took Liverpool as close to a league title as they have ever got since 1990.  The man who never seemed to be given enough money for the players he wanted.

For many Liverpool fans, Benitez is a tactical genius who brought a touch of Iberian class to Anfield and attracted some very good players.  For others, he had his time, spent most of it complaining about everything and anything and, in amongst the stars, bought some fairly poor players.

Benitez first came to prominence when he won La Liga with Valencia twice in three years.  Since 2000 those two years are the only occasions a club other than Barcelona or Real Madrid have been crowned champions in Spain.

Ultimately, Benitez left the Mestalla, complaining of not getting the players he wanted.  Apparently, he gave the board a list of the players he required at the start of the season, but instead of the pacey full-back or box-to-box midfield player they went out and bought a lump-it-anywhere centre-back and someone to make the tea.

Liverpool had finally had enough of Gerard Houllier, whose illusion of actually making a difference to the players he had at his disposal finally unravelled, and Benitez was far and away the ideal match.  In 35 years of watching Liverpool, some of the finest players I have ever seen at Anfield, appeared during the Benitez-period.

Pepe Reina, Xabi Alonso, Fernando Torres and Javier Mascherano are some of the best players to have ever graced the Anfield turf.  Arguably they would never have joined the club if not for Benitez.  They were the sort of talent clubs like Manchester United and Arsenal were desperate for, and kept Liverpool competing in all competitions. 

Then came Istanbul.

Benitez built a reputation for being tactically astute and people like Mourinho were continually tested.  But he could also get it wrong.  Remember Burnley in the FA Cup?

Some of his signings were a little like that too.  Fernando Morientes had won 2 Spanish titles and 3 Champions League titles with Real Madrid and was another player who only joined the club due to Benitez.  But he flopped, rarely reproducing his best form.  Other players like Antonio Nunez, the make-weight in the Michael Owen deal, Andrea Dossena, Bolo Zenden just weren’t good enough.

Now, plenty of managers sign players who don’t reach the potential they showed at previous clubs and Jermaine Pennant and Mark Gonzalez were good examples of this.  Liverpool have certainly experienced that before and since, and so Benitez can hardly take all the blame.

But Benitez left Liverpool with some really good players such as Daniel Agger, Glen Johnson, Lucas and Dirk Kuyt.  In the end, though, his handling of Xabi Alonso was something few can forgive him for.  Allegedly Benitez had tried to sell the Spaniard in 2009 in an attempt to persuade Aston Villa to part with Gareth Barry.  Twelve months later Alonso was off to Real Madrid, and who could blame him.  To replace him Benitez paid £17m for Alberto Aquilani who went into the same box as Pennant and Gonzalez.  Performances suffered and the team was being broken up.  Mascherano was soon off, although he waited till Benitez left first.  In the end it just reached a sorry end.

That is the main reason why many Liverpool fans do not want Benitez back at Anfield.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed his time at Anfield and wish no ill on the man, but ‘that ship has sailed’ and it was time we all moved on.  With the ability of hindsight, you could argue Liverpool have been declining from 2008-2009 onwards, during that title-chasing season.

In 2009 Liverpool’s points total would’ve been enough to win the title in many previous Premier League seasons, but they were overhauled by a more experienced and determined Manchester United side.  But Liverpool should’ve pushed on from there, yet the cracks were beginning to appear even during that season, such as the Robbie Keane saga.

And so it is all that which shrouds the mind where Benitez is concerned.  Sure, we’d love the memories of two Champions League Finals, an FA Cup and a UEFA Super Cup again, but we’d be picking up from constant protestations of not being backed by the owners.

At Inter Milan things were much the same, and so his decision to take up the Chelsea job is a little odd.  He will never get on with Abramovich.  He will organise the team properly, though, something I was always dubious about Di Matteo’s ability to do.

This failure to get on with owners would be the main reason he’d never get on with the current purse-string holders at Liverpool.  They clearly want to run the club like they run their baseball team and having a man like Brendan Rodgers in place suits them just fine.  Rodgers is currently constructing a project and Liverpool is his ticket to the big time.  He’s not going anywhere until he can see this project bear fruit.  FSG are not going to sanction big money spent on unproven talent, if it disturbs the financial equilibrium they are trying to create at the club.  This would be in direct contradiction to what Benitez would want.

But for Benitez to return to Liverpool, he would be picking up where he left off and that’s not a pleasant thought.  It would be like Glen Hoddle back as manager of England.  England played some good football under Hoddle, and were very hard to beat, yet what he would be resuming from was the whole Eileen Drewery affair, disabled people, Gascoigne and his treatment of young stars such as Beckham and Owen.  How would Arsenal fans feel about having George Graham back?  They won two League titles under him and could certainly do with his abilty to organise a defence, but do they really want to return to that?  When Howard Kendall returned to Everton, blues fans expected a resumption of their mid-80’s dominance but it never materialised.

I really hope it works out for Benitez at Chelsea, but the current state of the club shows they are in need of re-building.  Mata, Hazard and Ramires are evidence this is in the process of working out and Benitez could certainly be the type of manager to really develop their game.  But can he attract the sort of improvements they need, if he is only a stop-gap?  Perhaps that won’t matter, as Chelsea proved at the end of last season what they are capable of through sheer team spirit.  Unfortunately, Di Matteo was wholly ill-equipped with the tactical nous required once that spirit had dissipated.

It will certainly be interesting to see Benitez back, alongside Ferguson, Moyes and Allardyce again.

Monday, 19 November 2012

One Crazy Game

Queen’s Park Rangers v Newcastle United

The date is 22nd September 1985.  The venue is Loftus Road and the infamous ‘plastic pitch’.  The visitors are Newcastle United.

Newcastle were promoted in 3rd place from Division Two the previous season.  That ended a period of 6 seasons out of England’s top division.  QPR themselves had only come back up a season earlier, when Newcastle missed out by just 3pts.

Newcastle had begun the season with 3 straight wins against Leicester (3-2), Sheffield Wednesday (2-1) and Aston Villa (3-0), before turning their form right around with 3 straight defeats, to Arsenal (0-2), Manchester United (0-5) and Everton (2-3). 

QPR had lost just once but it was a 0-5 thumping at Tottenham.  They’d drawn at Liverpool (1-1) and Watford (1-1) and won both home matches against West Brom (3-1) and Nottingham Forest (3-0).

QPR were now managed by Alan Mullery, after Terry Venables had taken up the Barcelona job during the summer of 1984.  They had future manager John Gregory in midfield and still had much of the side who lost in the FA Cup Final to Spurs in 1982.  Newcastle were managed by Jack Charlton, and included future manager, Glenn Roeder as well as future England stars, Peter Beardsley and Chris Waddle.

Charlton lined up his side with three centre-backs in an attempt to stem the flow of goals against them.



Neill      Fenwick            Wicks               Dawes

Micklewhite       Gregory             Fereday            Fillery

Bannister          Stainrod




Wharton            McCreery          MacDonald

Saunders                                                          Brown

Haddock           Roeder              Anderson



Three minutes in and a long kick from the keeper, finds Waddle on the left.  He skins Warren Neil, crosses to the far post where Neil MacDonald heads Newcastle into the lead


Most of the play by-passes the midfield as both teams try and beat the opposing defences.  Then QPR have a good shout for a penalty turned down as Bannister is pulled down in the area, but the referee waves it away and gives a free-kick to Newcastle as Bannister picked the ball up to appeal.

Rangers’ pressure gradually forced the visitors back and Carr was called upon to make a couple of important saves.  Then a long ball from the Newcastle defence was headed down by Waddle to MacDonald, who then put Waddle through and as the keeper came out, he coolly slotted it home.  18 minutes in and Newcastle were 2-up


By now Newcastle seemed in complete control and had dispensed with the long ball as QPR struggled to gain some sort of hold on the game.  Five minutes after the 2nd goal, Newcastle get a free-kick in the centre circle.  Glen Roeder floats it into the area where Neil fails to clear his header convincingly and it falls to Wharton on the edge of the area, who volleys it onto the near post.  Just to sum up QPR’s day so far, the ball falls kindly to the nearest player who is Waddle and he calmly slides the ball home for his 2nd goal in quick time.

Rangers tried to claim offside, but they just looked to have given up already.


Almost immediately, a long ball from the back is headed on by Stainrod to Bannister who lobs Carr in the Newcastle goal.  But the referee has already blown for a foul on Stainrod rather than play the advantage.  To say the home fans weren’t pleased was an understatement and their anger was further stoked when Carr easily dealt with the free-kick.

As the half reached a conclusion, QPR were really struggling to force a way through the Newcastle defence, whereas the visitors always seemed to have more space when coming forward.  During a Newcastle attack, they had a throw-in down near the QPR’s left-side corner flag.  The ball was half cleared but only to Waddle, on his own about 25yds out.  He controlled the ball, and in that languid style of his just curled a left-foot shot inside the far post, past the despairing Hucker.

Rangers had lost just 7 times in 63 games on their artificial turf, yet here they were 4 down at half-time.

QPR   0  -  4  NEWCASTLE

Somewhere in Rangers folklore they talk about a teamtalk Alan Mullery gave at half-time, and it came in this game.  Whatever he said had the desired affect as QPR were a completely different side in the second 45 minutes

As the second half kicks off, Rangers are immediately positive, forcing a dubious free-kick which culminated in a good save from Carr as they finally work the keeper.

Waddle continues to cause the home side problems, but then Hucker kicks downfield and Stainrod heads on for Bannister to try and chip the keeper, who just gets a hand to his shot.  Bannister’s momentum takes him on and as the ball drops, he is there to head the ball into the empty net.


Rangers seem to be really up for it now and the crowd has been lifted too.  Carr is forced to make a good save lowdown to his right to deny Wicks.

QPR are beginning to get time on the ball, something they just didn’t have in the first half and there then a really comical moment.  QPR are attacking down the right and there is so much more movement than they showed before.  A nice series of passes sees Micklewhite into the area, but Roeder forces him wide and the ball runs loose.  Suddenly, Haddock appears facing his own goal and attempts to blast the ball towards his corner flag, but it hits Wharton full in the face, and ricochets off past Carr for the home side’s 2nd goal


Not to be outdone, QPR almost score a more impressive own-goal themselves, as Wicks attempts a back-pass (allowed in those days) from the centre circle but meets the ball on the half volley and it loops up and almost beats Hucker, who just gets his fingers to tip it over as he back-peddles.

QPR then have another goal chalked off as Stainrod scores but the ref penalises them for some reason.  Even watching the coverage back it’s unclear what the infringement was, but I assume the ref knew.

But then with just over 15 minutes to go, John Gregory makes a run from deep and is not picked up.  Carr comes charging out of his goal and Gregory simply chips it over him and the comeback continues


QPR are completely dominant.  There are players moving in all positions, and even the long ball game isn’t working for Newcastle as a Rangers player always seems to be on the end of it. 

Into the final 10 minutes and under this pressure some magic from Peter Beardsley.  The ball is hoofed clear from Newcastle’s defence to the halfway line.  Wicks beats Waddle to it and as the ball bounces to the left of the centre-circle, Waddle makes a run forward as he sees it’s Beardsley who the ball has run to.  Beardsley looks up and plays a 30 yard ball into the vacant right-wing position where Waddle takes it down and dribbles into the area.  As the defender commits himself, Waddle jinks outside to the bye-line and squares the ball where Wharton scores a simple tap in.


Newcastle must’ve thought they’d finally won it, but straight from the kick-off, Rangers get a free-kick on the edge of the area.  Gregory plays it wide to Micklewhite who crosses to the far post and Steve Wicks gets up to head in for the home side


As Newcastle were desperate to run the clock down by lumping the ball into Rangers’ half, the home side were still pressing for a point they looked nowhere near deserving 45 minutes earlier.  Substitute Ian Stewart, played a through ball which Gregory dummied to allow Micklewhite to run onto into the area, and yet again this afternoon, Carr was chipped for the equaliser.


No one in the ground could really believe what they’d seen.  The Newcastle players looked utterly dejected, some QPR fans ran onto the pitch to celebrate with their heroes and all this just for 1pt.  A fantastic afternoon’s entertainment.

The reaction from both managers couldn’t have been more different.  Newcastle’s Jack Charlton was not pleased at all

"Saturdays game was a total embarrassment, absolutely diabolical. I have never seen anything like it in my 32 years in the game. I went mad at the players because there were times when they were going to give me a heart attack. They just stopped playing"

Big Jack obviously thought the problems went deeper than just the one game.

"There are so many things wrong at Newcastle it is incredible. People are asking me where I intend to start with the problems, but I just don't know. It will take years to put right. Some of the players couldn't even breathe in the second half. I don't know where they got their education from before, but, believe me they'll get it from me in the months to come."

QPR manager Alan Mullery added

"These kind of games are great for the fans but they give managers heart attacks. We needed a miracle in the second half and we got it"


QPR : Bannister, Wharton o.g., Gregory, Wicks, Micklewhite

NEWCASTLE: MacDonald, Waddle (3), Wharton

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Goals, Goals, Goals

29 goals were scored in the 8 Premier League games today.  Not bad, but nowhere near the record day for goals in England’s top division.

On the final Saturday of the inaugural Premier League season, 1992/93, 47 goals were scored in 9 matches.

The date is 8th May 1993 and all the issues of relegation and title have been decided, except one.

Manchester United had already been crowned champions, their first title for 26 years.  Middlesbrough and Nottingham Forest had already been relegated, prompting Forest manager, Brian Clough, to finally call it a day.  The last relegation spot was between Oldham Athletic and Crystal Palace.  Palace were 3pts and 2 goals better off than Oldham, but they had to travel to Highbury to meet Arsenal, who they hadn’t beaten since the days of Terry Venables, whereas Oldham were at home to Southampton, a side they hadn’t beaten in a league match since 1976.

Oldham had come up in 1991.  They finished 9pts clear of the drop in their first season, but this time they were staring The Championship right in the face.  Palace had come up in 1989, along with Chelsea and Manchester City.  They had finished mid-table each season since, but with Sheffield United putting in a late spurt, Palace had found themselves desperately clinging onto Premiership life.

Despite a 3pt cushion, Palace couldn’t really afford to lose.  A 1 goal defeat for them and a 1 goal win for Oldham would see both on a goal difference of -11.  Oldham had scored 9 goals more, so they would stay up.  Obviously, if Oldham only drew or lost, then Palace were safe.

Things started badly for Palace as old-boy, Ian Wright, put Arsenal in front after 9 minutes.  29 minutes in and Neil Pointon put Oldham in front and now Palace were in trouble.

But 5 minutes later, Matt Le Tissier equalised for Southampton and things swung back Palace’s way.  Right on half-time, though, Ian Olney put Oldham back in front and so at the halfway stage, Oldham were looking at safety, but a goal in either game could easily change things.

10 minutes after the break and Oldham striker, Andy Ritchie, gave the home side a precious 2-goal advantage as they now lead 3-1.  The Boundary Park crowd were going mad barely 10 minutes later when Gunnar Halle made it 4-1 after 64 minutes.

Still Palace couldn’t get the equaliser they needed, but Matt Le Tissier got a goal back for Southampton and there was hope,

Coming into the final 10 minutes and Palace still just needed a goal to stay up, unless Southampton could score two.

82 minutes in and Paul Dickov scored for Arsenal.  They now lead 2-0 and Palace needed help.  A minute later and Matt Le Tissier completed his hat-trick and now Oldham fans were begging for the final whistle.  There would be one more goal in these two matches, and agonisingly for Palace it was Kevin Campbell who scored Arsenal’s third and so Palace were down.  Oldham couldn’t believe their fortune.  They’d won their last 3 matches to secure their Premiership status, including wins over two top 6 sides, Aston Villa and Liverpool.  For Palace, they had picked up just 5pts in their final 5 games and that had ultimately lead to their downfall.

Oldham weren’t so lucky the following season, going down with Sheffield United and Swindon but they had contributed to some real final day drama, although the following season’s events were to overtake this one in the blood pressure stakes.

It was a remarkable day for goals with 6 of the 9 games producing at least 6 goals.  Liverpool were the day’s top scorers hitting Tottenham for 6.  Everton grabbed 5 at Manchester City with Sheffield United joining Oldham on 4, against Chelsea.

8th May 1993
final day_1993

17th November 2012 17 Nov 2012

I'm Dreaming of a Goalden Christmas

The recent League Cup ties have seen a shower of goals.  37 goals in the 8 matches.  This got me thinking about the record for goals on a single day in English football, well the First Division, anyway.  

Boxing Day 1963 and a full programme of league fixtures in the English First Division.  Over 290,000 people watched the 10 games on offer and few ever forgot the entertainment.  1963 was the height of the ‘cold war’ as the world was struggling to come to terms with the assassination American President, John F Kennedy.  The Christmas period was gripped by a cold snap but this didn’t deter people attending the Boxing Day football.

66 goals were scored that day, a record which still stands today.


West Ham   2 – 8   Blackburn Rovers  

Blackburn Rovers begun the day at the top of the table and they travelled to Upton Park to meet mid-table West Ham United.  Turning out for the home side that day were Mssrs Moore, Hurst and Peters, who would all go on to earn World Cup winners medals 3 summers later.  Blackburn were on an unbeaten run of 9 matches which had seen them overtake Liverpool at the top.  Fred Pickering and Andy McEvoy both scored hat-tricks for Rovers as they thumped West Ham, 8-2.

West Brom   4 – 4   Tottenham

Tottenham started the day in 2nd place, behind Blackburn on goal average (a method used to separate teams on the same points, before goal difference was used).  They travelled to the Hawthorns to meet West Brom, who sat in 10th place.  A crowd of over 37,000 watched an 8-goal thriller as Jimmy Greaves grabbed two goals in a 4-4 draw.  Cliff Jones and Bobby Smith also scored for Spurs with John Kaye, Clive Clarke, Micky Fudge and future England coach, Don Howe scoring for the Albion.

Liverpool   6 – 1   Stoke City

At Anfield in front of nearly 50,000, the biggest crowd of the day, 3rd place Liverpool take on Stoke City.  Ian St. John opening the scoring, but John Ritchie equalised to leave the game level at half-time.  In the second half, another future World Cup winner, Roger Hunt took over.  He scored 2 goals soon after the re-start, Alf Arrowsmith also scored to put the home side 4-1 up barely 10 minutes into the second period.  Hunt then rounded off the scoring with a further double to give him 4 for the day and Liverpool cruised to a 6-1 victory.

Fulham   10 – 1   Ipswich Town

The most remarkable result came at Craven Cottage.  In 1962 Ipswich Town won the First Division title for their one and only time.  They were managed by Alf Ramsey, but he had since moved onto manage England.  Ipswich were now languishing at the bottom of the table with just 9pts from 23 matches.  Boxing Day 1963 was certainly a day to forget for them.  Fulham ran out 10-1 winners.  Scottish international Graham Leggat scored 4 and Bobby Howfield scored 3.  Bobby Robson and Alan Mullery completed the scoring.  Leggat scored his hat-trick inside four minutes.

Burnley   6 – 1   Manchester United

Manchester United travelled to Turf Moor to meet Burnley.  United were lying 5th just 4pts behind the leaders.  Burnley were just 2pts back in 9th.  A United side consisting of Bobby Charlton, Paddy Crerand and Bill Foulkes were thrashed 6-1.  Andy Lochhead scored 4 for the Clarets with future United player, Willie Morgan, scoring the other two. 

Blackpool   1 – 5   Chelsea

Blackpool were languishing in the bottom three and were at home to mid-table Chelsea.   Terry Venables, who was to celebrate his 20th birthday 10 days later, opened the scoring.  Barry Bridges grabbed a brace as the visitors ran out comfortable 5-1 winners.

Sheffield Wednesday   3 – 0   Bolton

Both Sheffield clubs were in the top half of the table, with Wednesday having dropped just 3pts in their 11 home games at that point.  Second from bottom, Bolton, were the visitors to Hillsborough but they succumbed to 2 goals from Colin Dobson and another from Mark Pearson.  A 3-0 win had kept Wednesday in touch with the leaders.

Nottingham Forest   3 – 3   Sheffield United

Sheffield United travelled to the City Ground to meet a Forest side sat in mid-table.  Frank Wignall, Geoff Vowden and Ian Storey-Moore gave Forest a 3-0 lead and seemingly the points.  But United hit back with 2 goals from Mick Jones and 1 from Len Allchurch. 18 year old Jones, would go onto be part of the great Leeds side of the late 60’s and 70’s.

Wolves   3 – 3 Aston Villa

With many of the grounds full for the Boxing Day matches, Molineux was less than half full for a Midlands clash with Aston Villa.  Tony Hateley, Vic Crowe and Dave Poutney scored for Villa.  Hateley was later signed by Bill Shankly for Liverpool a few years later.

Leicester   2 – 0   Everton

Defending champions, Everton, were lying in 6th just 4pts behind Blackburn.  They travelled to Filbert Street to meet a Leicester side who were under-performing after their 4th place during Everton’s title season.  Ken Keyworth scored twice to give Leicester the points.  That Leicester side included another future World Cup winner, Gordon Banks and also Frank McLintock, who later won the double with Arsenal in 1971.

Quite a day.  10 matches, 66 goals, 5 hat-tricks, 3 players scoring 4 goals each.


There were a couple of high-scoring games in the lower divisions too, that day.  Manchester City beat Scunthorpe, 8-1.  In Division Three Watford and Walsall played out an exciting encounter with Watford winning, 5-3.

Back then, the return fixtures were played two days later and threw up some equally surprising results.  Only 37 goals were scored in the 10 fixtures but many teams managed to reverse heavy defeats from Boxing Day.

Having been thumped 2-8 by the leaders Blackburn, West Ham got their revenge with a 3-1 win.  Bottom club Ipswich had experienced the worst treatment losing 1-10 at Fulham.  But when they had the return at Portman Road, Ipswich prevailed 4-2.  Manchester United had been humbled 1-6 at Burnley, but turned things around to win 5-1 two days later in a game which saw George Best score his first goal for United.  Bolton had been easily beaten 0-3 by Sheffield Wednesday but then returned the compliment with a 3-0 win.

Liverpool went onto win the League with Bill Shankly’s first title.  It was their 6th League title but their first since 1947.  They won the League by 4pts from Manchester United, who had their best league finish since 1959.  Everton, champions 12 months earlier, finished 3rd.  In those days just 2 clubs were relegated and this time it was Bolton and Ipswich who experienced the drop.  For Ipswich this was a sorry episode for a club who had been League champions just 2 seasons earlier.  They’d won the League under the management of Alf Ramsey, but he was now England manager and they’d brought in former Newcastle goalscoring legend, Jackie Milburn was his replacement and the whole episode was a disaster.  Bottom of the table, conceding 121 goals and winning just 9 matches in a 42-game season, they were banished the English football’s second tier.  Milburn then left, never to return to management, and it took 4 years for the club to return to the First Division.


Friday, 16 November 2012

Swansea - The First Time Round


After their play-off win over Reading in 2011, taking them into the top flight for the first time since the early 80’s, I got to thinking about those times and thought I’d share the experiences.

I was interested in Swansea’s progress back at the end of the 70’s as John Toshack, an old Anfield favourite, had taken over there after leaving Liverpool.

Toshack took over as Player-Manager in March 1978.  After helping Liverpool to the League and European Cup Double in 1977, the emergence of players like Kenny Dalglish, David Johnson and David Fairclough, coupled with injuries, meant that Toshack was increasingly sidelined by Bob Paisley.  So he moved ‘back home’, having begun his career at Cardiff.

At the time, Swansea were in Division Four (League Two).  They won promotion that year, along with Watford.  These two then shared promotion again the following year, from Division Three.  After finishing 12th in Division Two, the Swans achieved promotion to the First Division the next season, finishing 3rd behind West Ham and Notts County (no play-offs back then).

Div 2_80-81
Toshack had compiled a team made up of promising youngsters and experienced ‘old pros’.  He’d made some ‘canny’ signings, concentrating on players who were desperate to either, make their name, or go out with one final hurrah.

Alan Curtis, an ex-Leeds United player, proved to be an inspired buy. 
He fitted the mold of many a classy player in the 70’s when he would play as a midfielder-cum-striker.  He bought two Yugoslav internationals, in an era when foreign players were as rare as David N’Gog goals.  Ante Rajkovic and Dzemal Hadziabdic, gave John Motson extra homework to do.


He did well to plunder the Liverpool squad to bring in players who were surplus to requirements at Anfield, but who could do a job at The Vetch Field.

Ray Kennedy, Ian Callaghan and Tommy Smith, all of whom had also played in the ‘Double’ side of ’77. Callaghan and Smith joined Swansea with Toshack in 1978, with Kennedy joining during the 81-82 season.  


Unfortunately, Swans fans never saw Kennedy at this best as the onset of Parkinson’s Disease started to kick-in once he joined them.  Colin Irwin became the club’s record signing in 1981.  Irwin had never been a regular at Anfield and Alan Hansen’s emergence meant he needed to seek employment elsewhere. But it was the signing Bob Latchford from Everton, that worked out best in the opening day of the 1981-82 season.  Latchford had finished as First Division top scorer in 1977-78, with 30 goals.  


He earned the first of 12 England caps that year when Ron Greenwood selected him for a crucial World Cup qualifier against Italy.  His last cap was in 1979, and as his England career had come to an end, so did his Everton career.  Toshack considered him an ideal man for his First Division newbies.  Latchford was one of two Everton signings during the summer of ’81, as goalkeeper Dai Davies joined too.

Two other men who would play an important role during that season were Robbie and Leighton James.  Leighton had spent two spells at Burnley, as well as First Division appearances at Derby and QPR, and by the time he arrived at The Vetch, he was approaching 30 and had been a Welsh international for almost 10 years.  For Robbie, Swansea was his first professional club, having joined in 1973.  He had performed well during their rise to the top.  This season was his pinnacle, as he finished top scorer with 14 goals.

Leighton James Robbie James
Leighton James   Robbie James

Along with these were players like Tommy Craig, who’d had plenty of experience at Aston Villa, Newcastle and Sheffield Wednesday and John Mahoney (Middlesbro and Stoke City), and they were the elder statesmen of the club.

Jeremy Charles

Decent young hopefuls were players like Jeremy Charles, Dean Saunders (1982 was his first season in professional football) and Ian Walsh, who had been part of the Crystal Palace ‘Team of the Eighties’.

29th August 1981

This was the opening day of the season and newly promoted Swansea were at home to Leeds United.  23,489 packed into Swansea’s home ground of Vetch Field to watch their heroes play against a side containing international players such as Trevor Cherry, Eddie and Frank Gray, Peter Barnes, Derek Parlane and Arthur Graham.

The day began well for the home side as Jeremy Charles gave them the lead, before Parlane equalised for Leeds.  1-1 at half-time and then the Swans went mad in the 2nd half, as Latchford grabbed a hat-trick and then a good goal from Alan Curtis. 

See for yourself in this video

Swansea then travelled to Brighton, who’d just managed to stave off relegation the previous season, and won 2-1.  So two games in and Swansea were top of the league!  They soon came down to earth when Ron Atkinson’s West Brom hammered them 4-1.

A 3-2 win at home over fellow newboys Notts County, was followed by a 0-1 defeat at Old Trafford, but it was Swansea’s home form that was most impressive.  They played host to Tottenham and Sunderland and won both games, 2-1 and 2-0.  An October trip to Anfield saw them gain a creditable 2-2 draw.  This was a particularly poignant match as 4 days earlier had seen the death of Bill Shankly.  Swansea took a shock 2-0 lead before Liverpool needed 2 penalties to level the game, although one of them was distinctly dubious. 

Swansea were sitting 3rd in the table, 1pt behind leaders Ipswich and Arsenal were the next visitors to The Vetch and they succumbed to a 2-0 defeat.

The Swans then beat Stoke away, 2-1.  A trip to Highfield Road saw them lose 1-3 to Coventry, before a 0-0 draw at home to Wolves became their first home match where they failed to score.

Still lying 3rd, November saw them visit leaders Ipswich.  This proved to be one of their finest performances as they ran out 3-2 winners.  This was followed by a disappointing 0-4 defeat at Maine Road against Man City.  This began an inconsistent period of the Swans.  They picked up 5pts from 8 games (2pts for a win), including their first home defeat to Nottingham Forest.  This run also included the return trip to Leeds who gained revenge for their opening day spanking, as they won 2-0.

Then came the visit of Manchester United to The Vetch.

Here is the video for this game.

The Swans were now in 7th, 7pts behind leaders Ipswich.

At the beginning of February, Liverpool were the visitors and with several ex-Liverpool players in the squad, Swansea were keen to do well.  They did better than they might have expected, picking up a 2-0 win.  This began a run of 6 games without conceding as they did the double over Arsenal, winning 2-0 at Highbury.  This run had seen them climb back up to 2nd in the table after 30 matches and the end of March saw them welcome leaders Ipswich to the Vetch.  This time Ipswich got their revenge and won 2-1.  They then lost at home to West Ham, 0-1, 3 days later.  This was then followed by wins over West Brom (3-1), Southampton (1-0) and Man City (2-0), before 3 successive defeats to Birmingham (1-2), Everton (1-3) and Tottenham (1-2) saw them slip to 5th in the table.

They seem to run out of steam as they picked up just 2pts from their final 6 matches, although the win was a 2-0 one at Forest.  Swansea finished 6th in the end and this was very impressive performance for a side in the top flight for the first time in their history.  They will forever remember wins over Liverpool, the eventual Champions, Nottingham Forest, the European Cup holders, Aston Villa, who would go on to win the European Cup that year, Manchester United, who finished 3rd and Ipswich, who finished 2nd and won the UEFA Cup that season.

The 1982-83 season saw Swansea play in Europe as a result of their Welsh Cup win.  How it’s possible for a club to play in the English First Division and also compete in both English and Welsh Cups is beyond me, but who am I to question?

Swansea saw off Sporting Braga in the qualifying round, 3-1 on aggregate and then came up against Maltese club, Sliema Wanderers.  The first leg was at home and The Swans scored a record, 12-0.  They thumped a further 5 goals in the 2nd leg before going out to Paris Saint-Germain in the next round.

Swansea began the league season with 2 wins and a draw from their opening fixtures, before they lost the next four, including 1-4 at Stoke and 0-3 at home to Liverpool.  The magic seemed to be slipping although they beat Tottenham at home 2-0.  They were now shipping goals and that’s never a good sign, as Everton came to the Vetch and won 3-0.

By the end of November, defeats to Arsenal (1-2) and Ipswich (1-3) saw The Swans in 14th.  Their 2-0 win over newly promoted Luton at the beginning of December proved the last time they win till midway through January when they beat Notts County.  During that time Arsenal did the double over them.  That win over Notts County was their only win during a 13-game period as both Watford and Brighton came to the Vetch and won.

By the time the Swans finally won at home to Man City, 4-1 in March, they were 4th from bottom and out of the relegation zone only on goal difference.  They remained unbeaten for the next 3 matches before West Ham came to Wales and walked away with a 5-1 win.  That result seemed to provide some weird sort of symmetry considering Swansea’s win over Leeds at the beginning of the previous season.

Swansea had been handed an almost impossible run-in, as 4 of their final 7 matches were against teams in the top 5, with their final 3 games against sides in the top 6.  They picked up draws against Stoke (1-1) and Ipswich (1-1) at home, and then beat Aston Villa 2-1 at The Vetch.  But by the time they travelled to Old Trafford, they were bottom of the table and relegated.  They lost that game 1-2 and then were beaten at home 0-3 by Nottingham Forest on the final day.

And then the dream was over.  A bit reminiscent of Ipswich in 2001 and 2002, Reading in 2007 and 2008, as an impressive first season in the top division was followed by a disappointing 2nd season and eventual relegation.

It has taken a long time for the 2nd coming, and Swansea have had to endure a winding-up order in 1985 and finally relegation back to where they came from, Division Four, in 1986.  It had been a rollercoaster ride few will ever forget. 

Can they make it more permanent this time round?

Argentina's Coach

Alejandro Sabella

Alex Sabella

You may be wondering why I’m writing about this bloke.  Well, English football fans of a certain age will know him better as Alex Sabella.

Sabella was one of the initial wave of foreign players who graced these shores when it was still unusual to see overseas players in our league.

The revolution seemed to really kick in just after the 1978 World Cup in Argentina.  I don’t remember the 1974 tournament, but from what I gather the ’78 one had more games televised and suddenly players from all over the world were given a shop window for a wider audience.

Argentina won that trophy in 1978 and within weeks, defender Alberto Tarantini had been signed by Birmingham City.  Tottenham then snapped up Ossie Ardiles, one of Argentina’s creative forces in midfield.  During the transfer talks, Ardiles asked Spurs manager, Keith Burkinshaw if he was interested in signing his friend too.  So along came Ricardo Villa, and those two are etched into Tottenham history.

But the signing of Sabella seemed to be one of the most ambitious.  Mainly because it was not a First Division side who signed him, it was Sheffield United, then a Second Division (Championship) club.

United had tried to sign a teenager from Argentina called Diego Maradona, but Argentinos Juniors wouldn’t accept the £400,000 that was offered.  So Blades manager, Harry Haslam, turned his attention to Sabella and bought him for £160,000 in July 1978 from River Plate

Due to the rarity of foreign players in the English league, guys like Sabella soon became favourites with the home supporters.  Sabella may have lacked pace, but he more than made up for that with his ball skills.  Kids these days learn tricks with the ball almost before they can walk, yet back then our game was ignorant to all that, so anyone who could do a little more than just a few ‘keepy-uppies’ was labelled a genius.

Sadly for Sabella he was far too good for the standard of football that surrounded him.  United were relegated to the Third Division that season.  They then agreed to sell the Argentine to Sunderland, who were still a Second Division club, but Sabella refused to go.  He wanted First Division football and then moved to Leeds United for £400,000.

He’d played 78 times for Sheffield United scoring 8 goals, but he was less successful at Elland Road making just 23 appearances for Leeds and scoring just twice.

In 1982 he moved back to his homeland to Estudiantes and continued his professional career up to 1989, where he finished up at Irapuato in Mexico.

Since his playing days, Sabella has joined up with 1978 World Cup winning captain, Daniel Passarella.  He was Passarella’s right-hand man at Parma, Moneterrey (Mexico) and Corinthians.  They have also been in charge of Uruguay and the Argentine national side.

Now Sabella is in sole charge after Argentina’s early exit from the 2011 Copa America.

His first task was to name Messi as Argentina’s new captain.

Sabella, by no means a success in England, was certainly one of the pioneers, paving the way for players like Thijssen and Muhren at Ipswich, Ivan Golac at Southampton and Johnny Metgod at Nottingham Forest.  These players had more success at their clubs, but it took people like Tarantini, Sabella and Marangoni (Sunderland) to open the door for English clubs to accept foreign talent.

So for those who think there are far too many foreign players in the English league, you probably have people like Sabella to blame for that.

The 100 Club

On Wednesday, Steven Gerrard captained England in their friendly against Sweden.  In doing so, he became the 6th member of an exclusive club – players who have won 100 caps for England.

Gerrard made his debut at Wembley against Ukraine in May 2000.  This was the final home game before the team headed off for the European Championships in Belgium & Netherlands.  England had arranged two back-to-back friendlies at Wembley, against Brazil and Ukraine.  Gerrard’s performance against Ukraine was enough to see him make the trip to the Euros where he just made one appearance, as a substitute against Germany for Michael Owen.

Here is a breakdown of the other members of the club

Peter Shilton – 125 caps

Debut : v East Germany, Wembley, Friendly, 25th November 1970, 3-1
Tournaments : (5) - 1980 European Championships, 1982 World Cup, 1986 World Cup, 1988 European Championships, 1990 World Cup
100th Cap : v Netherlands, Dusseldorf, European Championships, 15th June 1988, 1-3
Last Cap : v Italy, Bari, World Cup Third Place Play-off, 7th July 1990, 1-2
Time to 100 caps : 19 years, 224 days

Shilton made his debut as a 21 year old in England’s first international since going out of the 1970 World Cup to West Germany.  During that game Chelsea goalkeeper, Peter Bonetti, was drafted in at the last moment to replace Gordon Banks who was ill.  England lost 2-3, having been 2-0 up and seemingly in control.  Bonetti received much criticism for that performance and so it was obvious that Alf Ramsey would want to try out alternatives.  It was the first time East Germany had played at Wembley and they were 2-0 down in the opening 20 minutes.  But then Eberhard Vogel scored to become the first player to beat Shilton in an England shirt.  In the same team that night were four members of England’s World Cup winning side of 1966, Bobby Moore, Martin Peters, Geoff Hurst and Alan Ball.

His 100th appearance was one to forget.  At the European Championships in West Germany, England had been embarrassed by Republic of Ireland in their first match and were now up against one of the favourites, Netherlands.  England lost all three matches during that tournament, although the Dutch game was probably their best performance of the three.  Marco Van Basten scored a hat-trick that day.

Shilton’s final appearance for his country was in England’s final game of the 1990 World Cup when they played Italy to see who would finish third and fourth.  England lost 1-2 to finish 4th, their best performance since they won the trophy in 1966.

Shilton could well have won more caps had he not had to compete against Ray Clemence for the England shirt during the ‘70’s and early ‘80’s.

David Beckham – 115 caps

Debut : v Moldova, Kishinev, World Cup Qualifying, 1st September 1996, 3-0
Tournaments : (5) - 1998 World Cup, 2000 European Championships, 2002 World Cup, 2004 European Championships, 2006 World Cup
100th Cap : v France, Paris, Friendly, 26th March 2008,  0-1
Last Cap : v Belarus, Wembley, World Cup Qualifier, 14th October 2009, 3-0
Time to 100 caps : 13 years, 43 days

David Beckham made his debut for England in Glen Hoddle’s first international as England manager.  He replaced Terry Venables after England’s impressive performance in Euro ’96.  Beckham had broken through to the Manchester United side in 1995.  He was one of two players making their debuts that day, the other Andy Hinchcliffe of Everton.

He scored his first goal for England with a free-kick against Colombia during France ’98 World Cup.  The next match, against Argentina, would make him famous (or infamous).

When England crashed out on penalties to Portugal in the European Championships in 2006, it looked as if Beckham had made his last appearance in an England shirt.  Steve McLaren had continually overlooked him when he was in charge, but new manager Fabio Capello brought the influential Beckham back.  He made his 100th appearance in a friendly in March 2008 in the Stade de France in Paris, when he was an LA Galaxy player.  England lost 0-1 in a game which was seen as Capello’s first real test as England manager

Beckham’s last outing for his country was when he came on as a sub in a World Cup qualifier against Belarus in 2009.  Beckham was used increasingly as a sub by Capello as 10 of his last 12 caps were earned when coming off the bench.  There was much speculation as to whether Capello would take Beckham to South Africa for the Finals, but it never materialised.

Bobby Moore – 108 caps

Debut : v Peru, Lima, Friendly, 20th May 1962, Friendly 4-0
Tournaments : (4) - 1962 World Cup, 1966 World Cup, 1968 European Championships, 1970 World Cup
100th Cap : v Scotland, Hampden Park, Friendly, 14th February 1973,  5-0
Last Cap : v Italy, Wembley, Friendly, 14th November 1973, 0-1
Time to 100 caps : 11 years, 178 days

One of the most famous players to wear the England shirt and still the only England captain to lift a major international trophy.  He made his debut at the age of 21, in a friendly against Peru in 1962 in a game used as build-up for the 1962 World Cup in Chile.  Moore had been chosen in the squad for the finals, despite not having played for his country.  But he went onto play in every match of that tournament as England reached the Quarter-Finals.  Four years later he was captain as England hosted and won the 1966 tournament.

His 100th cap was in a friendly against Scotland arranged to mark the centenary of the SFA.  On a snow-covered pitch, England ran riot with goals from Allan Clarke (2), Martin Chivers, Mick Channon and an own goal from Peter Lorimer.

His final game was a friendly at Wembley against Italy when a much changed side lost 0-1.  The scorer that day was one Fabio Capello.

During his 108 appearances for England only lost 18 matches.  He captained England in 90 of those matches.

Bobby Charlton – 106 caps

Debut : v Scotland, Hampden Park, Home International Championships, 19th April 1958, 4-0
Tournaments : (4) – 1962 World Cup, 1966 World Cup, 1968 European Championships, 1970 World Cup
100th Cap : v Northern Ireland, Wembley, Home International Championships, 21st April 1970, 3-1
Last Cap : v West Germany, Guadalajara, World Cup Quarter-Final, 14th June 1970, 2-3
Time to 100 caps : 12 years, 56 days

Charlton was selected for England for the first time in April 1958, just over two months after he had survived the horrific Munich air disaster.  He scored as well as England beat Scotland, 4-0.  Alongside him that day were two of England’s greats, Billy Wright and Tom Finney.  Lining up against him was future Manchester United manager, Tommy Docherty.

His 100th cap was earned against Northern Ireland again in the Home International Championship.  He scored in this one too, as did Martin Peters and Geoff Hurst.  The Irish goal was scored by Charlton’s United team mate, George Best.

Two months later Charlton was seen in an England shirt for the last time in the World Cup Quarter-Final in Mexico 1970.  That game was infamous for England being 2-0 up early in the second half and manager, Alf Ramsey, substituted Charlton who was finding the heat difficult to cope with.  This released Beckenbauer from his marking duties and he was able to influence West Germany to go on and win the game.  It was a sad way for a loyal servant to end his career, but his goal scoring record, 49, still stands.

Billy Wright – 105 caps

Debut : v Northern Ireland, Windsor Park, Home International Championships, 28th September 1946, 7-2
Tournaments : (3) – 1950 World Cup, 1954 World Cup, 1958 World Cup
100th Cap : v Scotland, Wembley, Home International Championships, 11th  April 1959, 1-0
Last Cap : v USA, Wrigley Stadium, Friendly, 28th May 1959, 8-1
Time to 100 caps : 12 years, 242 days

Billy Wright holds the record jointly with Bobby Moore for captaining his country on 90 occasions.  He made his debut in England’s first post-war international when they met Northern Ireland in Belfast in the Home International Championships.  England won 7-2 with Middlesbrough’s Wilf Mannion scoring a hat-trick.

His 100th cap was earned in the same competition against Scotland at Wembley in 1959.  He was the first player to reach 100 caps for England and the game was won thanks to a goal from future 100 club member, Bobby Charlton.  At the end of the game Wright was given a standing ovation and carried off the pitch by his team-mates.

His final match was a friendly in Chicago against USA.  Wright had played in the side who were humbled in one of England’s worst ever defeats when USA beat them 1-0 in the 1950 World Cup.  England won this match, 8-1 thanks to a hat-trick from Bobby Charlton and a double from Ron Flowers.  Wright had also played in England’s 6-3 beating of the same opponents, six years previously, but neither result could completely dispel the memory of that day in Belo Horizonte.

Steven Gerrard – 100 caps

Debut : v Ukraine, Wembley, Friendly, 31st May 2000 2-0
Tournaments : (5) – 2000 European Championships,  2004 European Championships, 2006 World Cup, 2010 World Cup, 2012 European Championships
100th Cap : v Sweden, Stockholm, Friendly, 14th November 2012,
Time to 100 caps : 12 years, 140 days

If Ashley Cole is picked for England’s game in San Marino next March, he will also join the 100 club.  Whether Frank Lampard receives the 7 more caps he needs to join them too, remains to be seen, but 6 members, and possibly a 7th, is a long way behind USA who has 11 players with more than 100 caps.  Cobi Jones (164) and Landon Donovan (144).are the most capped

But they have got a long way to go to catch the most capped international footballer, Ahmed Hassan who has played for Egypt 184 times between December 1995 and June 2012.  Hassan is still playing and so could well improve on that record