Kit Interested #1 – Chelsea; Australia; Portugal; Porto; Ireland

Welcome to our newest feature here on PyroOnThePitch.com, with a series for the kit interested, by the kit interested, and containing interesting kit things (of the vintage variety of course). “Kit Interested” joins Retro Shirt Reviews, the Cold War Classic (over on MuseumOfJerseys.com) and Champagne Kit Campaigns in our regular explorations into the ‘fabric of football’, the appeal of which often results in small decreases in social media followers when certain folk realise that we are equally likely to focus on the grittier side of supporter culture history.

We wanted to stress the “interested” part (rather than all-knowing), as we are also keen to learn ourselves, as well as inform. That’s where you lot hopefully come in , as any feedback to fill us in on what we may not know is very welcome.

Tottenham Hotspur vs Chelsea, 26/08/1978:

A common complaint of many modern kit-fanatics is that of away and third strips being used in fixtures where they were historically not necessary, mainly – it is assumed – due to marketing reasons (often correctly so). At best, this is considered a callous disregard for the team’s proud traditional colours and at worst can actually create somewhat of a clash where none had existed before (Sheffield Wednesday vs Arsenal in 2015 being a prime example, graciously provided by MuseumOfJerseys since the modern game is not really our era of expertise).

Like many aspects of football, however, the tradition of seemingly inexplicable changes stretches back far longer than many might imagine – at least to 1978 when Tottenham Hotspur took on Chelsea in a Division One match. The white shirts of Spurs against the blue of their London rivals never caused an issue of course, but the navy shorts of the former against Chelsea’s continued blue, along with both sides’ white socks, did create a “lower-half clash”.

This had been negated in various ways in the past, such as the 1967 FA Cup final in which full blocks of white and blue were worn – one of three times Chelsea used the combination that season:

In the 70s, Chelsea then had the innovative idea to introduce an “alternate first-choice kit” to be worn against teams who had white socks, in which amber socks were used (distinct from the yellow socks of the yellow and blue away kit). But delightfully, instead of simply pairing the alternates with the rest strip, these were accompanied by shirts and shorts featuring amber trim, replacing all white from the regular kit (seen here against Real Madrid in the 1971 Cup Winners’ Cup final):

Tottenham took a similar approach when playing away in Stamford Bridge for the 71/72 League Cup semi-final 1st-leg, by donning white shirts, white shorts, and yellow socks. In doing so, they also removed the shorts clash, although this was less-concerning than the socks which covered an area more in-need of distinction for officials:

When Chelsea traveled to White Hart Lane at the end of the 74/75 season – for a game that would ultimately see them relegated to the Second Division – another set of alternate home socks were used; this time blue like the rest of the kit, but featuring predominantly red trim:

The socks were slightly odd, as the red used now was a reference to the away version, which had green in place of the blue as the primary colour but contained the same red/white ratio on the turnovers. This trim was to compliment the red shirts and white shorts of the away kit, but the colour was only to be found on a sliver of the crest as far as the regular first-choice elements went at the time.

Following a season back in an all-yellow away kit (with blue detailing), Chelsea combined their recent change-colourways by bringing in a yellow/green/yellow strip for 1978/79, with Umbro sleeve-taping retained from it’s debut the year before. Now back in Division One, the campaign started with the previous season’s home attire employed against Everton at the Bridge, and away to Wolves.

But for any internet kit nerds of the day, all eyes would be on the Tottenham vs Chelsea derby coming up next to see how the sock issue would be handled this time. When the teams emerged, traditionalist Chelsea fans who made the short journey over may have been upset to see their side in an away kit for, perhaps, the first time ever at White Hart Lane:

Without home-alternates this year, the idea of blue and white shirts and shorts with yellow and green socks may have been out of the question even for Chelsea, who had questionably (in a fashion sense) combined their home shorts with the red and green away kit at Millwall in 1977:

While the change may have seemed utterly illogical to some, it seems that using the full away kit was considered the easiest option to avoid any sort of clash entirely. Except to a significant portion of the audience watching highlights at home on TV, a new clash was very much in effect that was far worse than anything seen in the fixture before.

Commentator Brian Moore explains as the match kicks off:

And it’s Chelsea in a change strip of yellow shirts and green shorts, and yellow socks, who are attacking the goal to our right… We apologise if there’s something of a clash if you’re watching in black and white, Spurs in the slightly darker shorts and the slightly whiter shirts.

Maybe the amount of viewers effected was already negligible (we’d love to see some records for colour vs black and white TV licenses in the UK in 1978), but clearly there had been a significant oversight. For those who tuned in to watch on an older/cheaper set, we can see from converting a suitable screen shot to black and white that “something of a clash” was an understatement:

While it may have been unfair on some, the only eyes that really mattered were the ones witnessing and participating in the game live in colour, and to the players, officials and fans, there was a clear, if unusual, distinction. It would have been interesting to see if any of those in attendance that day were savvy enough to cop the potential problem the kit configuration would have without colour, and in fact many doubtlessly did realise when watching the game later on The Big Match.

Over the coming years, the black and white clash became less and less of an issue as technology advanced and prices of colour televisions lowered (although, surprisingly, 12,000 black and white TVs remained licensed in the UK as of 2014). But on a global scale, with the world’s varying degrees of ‘development’, the clash remained an important factor for FIFA and contributed to the the strict distinctions demanded (resulting in some memorable mash-ups) in World Cup matches for years to come.

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Greece vs Australia, 11/11/1980:

One kit trope that we love here at POTP, is when a team who aren’t usually known for it wear white shorts with their otherwise usual home colours. Two classic examples stem from the 1978 World Cup, when both Brazil and Spain (see last link above) were forced to swap their blue shorts for white due to clashes against Argentina and Sweden respectively.

In a similar way, we are also big fans of strips consisting of ‘colour/darker colour/white’ in terms of the shirt/shorts/socks. Australia sported this look to great effect at their debut World Cup in 1974 with yellow/green/white (seen vs West Germany below), while more notably wearing one of the most bizarre shirts of all time due to the fact that the double diamond of Umbro on the chest was accompanied by the three stripes of Adidas on the sleeves:

Several years later, Australia (now “fully-Umbro’d”) traveled to play Greece in November 1980, as part of a European tour that also included a game against England at St. Andrews, before a ‘club vs country’ affair with Leicester City. While the English match would be the main event, the Greeks themselves had just come off their first ever major tournament appearance at Euro 80, which they had followed with 0-1 World Cup qualifier defeat to Denmark.

As of that year, the “Socceroos” were still using their yellow/green/white format, as seen in another match against the English back in May (an Australian football centenary game in Sydney). But for the Greek encounter on November 11th in Athens, Australia reversed the shorts and socks colours to create a yellow/white/green strip, much to our satisfaction:

While not as crazy as the 1974 jersey, the Australian shirt by this time was still pleasingly odd in a perfectly Ozzie way. In the late 70s, Umbro had introduced a wordmark under their diamond logo, including on Australian kits. But uniquely (?) for the 80-82 iteration, the “umbro” now appeared on one side of the centralised crest, and the double diamond on the other.

The host side, meanwhile, were in their change strip of white/blue/white, which had actually been used with black shorts at the Euros. The logo of ASICS can just about be seen…:

…but an advertising hoarding with the same logo displays the word “Tiger”:

This is because the company had originally started life in 1949 as the Japanese footware-firm ‘Onitsuka Tiger’ and had only rebranded to ASICS (an acronym for the Latin “anima sana in corpore sano” – “healthy soul in a healthy body”) in 1977, with the logo having first appeared on running shoes back in 1966. The ‘Tiger’ theme is still used by ASICS to this day when it comes to trainers, but evidentially it might also have applied to their tentative first steps into the football kit world in the early 80s.

Breaking down the kit choices side by side, it seems plausible that the reason for the Greeks not to wear their home blue shirts may have been because the Australian ‘keeper was also wearing blue (see below), and so the away shorts and socks were also used. Then, even though sock clashes wouldn’t have been considered a pressing issue in friendlies, the Australians changed to their alternative white shorts and green socks, perhaps to account for the aforementioned “black and white clash” which would have occurred on certain TVs (presumably a greater issue in poorer Greece than it was in the UK in 1978).

After a 3-3 draw, the boys from Down Under moved on to Britain for their match against an English side who, like Greece, would be in white/blue/white. Unlike with the Greeks though, this was England’s expectant first strip so perhaps yellow/white/green had been the Australians plan for the tour all along.

Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any visual evidence for the England game or what was worn. But this brilliant website does display an Australia away jersey that was apparently used against Leicester a few day later, suggesting that two full kits were more than likely brought with each element used as needed. Or was there just two jerseys?

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Portugal, 1990/91

We have one more example of white shorts being surprisingly inserted into an established national kit, but this time it would not be a forced mash-up – rather, a conscious change of style direction. The country in question is Portugal, who may have took inspiration from their Iberian cousins change at World Cup 78 and decided they wanted the look for themselves…twelve years later.

As we saw in the recently published Euro 84 Football Special Report, the Portuguese were an Adidas side had who worn the stunning diagonal-pinstripe “Chelsea” template at the tournament. By the end of 1989, Portugal were playing out their fruitless World Cup 90 qualifiers in the usual red/green/red home colours, now with a with a greater presence of white on a shirt that featured dual sleeve ‘flashes’ (seen below away to Brazil in a friendly), and an all-white away kit that kept the same jersey template in reverse, but with different-style shorts (seen away to Switzerland in a qualifier):

After a 0-0 draw away to Czechoslovakia in the change kit on November 15th, 1989, Portugal would not take to the field again until August 29th, 1990, when they would host now-World Champions West Germany in Lisbon for a friendly. A 1-1 draw was played out, but the 20,000 in attendance at the Estádio da Luz were lucky enough to witness the home side’s new change in kit direction:

The jersey from 1989 remained but the green shorts were gone, now replaced by a rarely seen design in white with red details to better matched the shirt. The “missing” green was transferred downwards, however, to the socks (with white Adidas branding), where red lost out:

The kit made it’s competitive debut away to Finland in a Euro 92 qualifier the following month, before a visit of the Dutch to Porto for another qualifier on October 17th, 1990. With the away side in white/orange/white, both teams engaged in dual Adidas ‘jacket-porn’ before the match with two outstanding anthem-tracksuit tops on show (some of which didn’t have a crest on the Portuguese side):

A friendly in January 1990 away to Spain provided the answer to a question on everybody’s minds: which shorts would be used with the away shirt? As mentioned, the white shirt that had been around since at least 89 had been used with it’s own pair of shorts originally, when the home pair were green. But with the new shorts seemingly matched specifically with the shirt template (which was the same for home and away), it makes sense that 1990 shorts were indeed retained:

These configurations were used in qualifiers in February against Greece, Malta (away) and Malta (home). But come the Autumn, for the return tie against the Finns (see below; and possibly a preceding friendly against Austria), a new kit was introduced that revived the old red/green/red system. A friendly away to Luxembourg in October, in which a new white/green/white away kit was used, confirmed that this experimental era was over:

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Porto vs Werder Bremen, 24/11/1993

Ditching the white shorts theme, but very much continuing with the Portuguese theme, Portugal are well known around these parts for their continued use of an Adidas trefoil shirt as late as December 1994 (seen below vs Lichtenstein, December 94; the same template that had debuted in it’s away version against Luxembourg in 91). This seems shockingly out of date when some nations, such as Ireland, were on their third generation of shirt past the trefoil (Equipment; World Cup 94; Umbro), and were most likely the last ‘major nation’ to do so (at least in Europe).

It seems that at club level, things weren’t TOO different either, as demonstrated by 92/93 Primeira Divisão champions Porto in their Champions League campaign of the following season. Also with Adidas, Porto started the competition wearing a ‘trefoiled- kit’ that used the same shorts-template as Portugal 90/91 (see above), as used against Feyenoord in the second round…:

…before moving onto a strange new shirt featuring just an ‘adidas’ wordmark, but with a miniature variation of the “Equipment” logo incorporated into the collar, as seen against Milan:

The away and third kits that year, however, were full on Adidas Equipment – the “post-World Cup qualifers style” that added corresponding lower sections the diagonal shoulder bars. While most sides used this template with a primary background colour and secondary bar colour, Porto ingeniously only coloured the outlines of the bars, effectively creating all-white and all-blue strips that wouldn’t cause an issue against the blue or white clad team that had triggered the switch in the first place.

Considering that, the situation that would occur when Werder Bremen arrived for that year’s Champions League group stage (which only came after a first and second round and led directly to semi-finals) was most peculiar. The main issue was that the Germans had seemingly only brought their home strip of white/green/white, which wouldn’t do against the white and blue stripes of the home team:

Perhaps the blue version of the bars template was not yet produced by this stage, but needing some sort of alternate attire Porto emerged in a top that was presumably a change shirt from the season before. It appeared to be the Adidas Equipment template used the likes of Spain and France that featured a total of six bars across the two shoulders, but, unlike those, the Porto version incredibly displayed a trefoil in the collar (which was also white, unlike the other versions) instead of the “triangle” (or, eventually, a lone wordmark in the case of the French, meaning that this template had seen all three Adidas logo varieties):

The unusual jersey proved good luck, whatever the case, as a 3-2 victory was secured while wearing it (or Porto were just better). A few months later in March 1994, when Anderlecht were the Portuguese champs’ opponents in the same group, again white was worn by the visitors. But by now, the “correct”, up-to-date shirt was available, and Porto played and won – en route to making it to the quarter-finals – in the same template as their opponents:

Funnily enough, the only consistent feature throughout was those old 1990-shorts from the home kit, which had been retained in the first-choice strip when the trefoil shirt was dropped. This meant that during Porto’s 93/94 season, the shorts had somehow ended-up paired with at least four different jerseys that they had never intended to be used with.

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Finally, for this bumper first of edition of Kit Interested, we turn to the Republic of Ireland, who’s 1992-1994 Adidas strips were recently highlighted in Campaign Kit Campaigns #4 and #5. In the latter of these, it was mentioned that after two World Cups the Irish had yet to lose a WC finals match in their home shirt, and equally yet to win a WC finals match in their away shirt.

After switching to Umbro following the USA edition, amazingly the Boys in Green’s only other World Cup appearance to date at Japan/Korea 2002 produced the same result after four matches. We thought a sort-of handy graph/timeline was in order show how this phenomenon of the “cursed away” jersey unfolded:

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YouTube Links:

Chelsea vs Tottenham Hotspur, 1967
Real Madrid vs Chelsea, 1971
Chelsea vs Tottenham Hotspur, 1972
Tottenham Hotspur vs Chelsea, 1975
Tottenham Hotspur vs Chelsea, 1978
Millwall vs Chelsea, 1977
West Germany vs Australia, 1974
Greece vs Australia, 1980
Brazil vs Portugal, 1989
Switzerland vs Portugal, 1989
Portugal vs Germany, 1990
Portugal vs Netherlands, 1990
Spain vs Portugal, 1991
Portugal vs Finland, 1991
Luxembourg vs Portugal, 1991
Portugal vs Lichtenstein, 1994
Porto vs Feyenoord, 1993
Porto vs Milan, 1994
Porto vs Werder Bremen, 1993
Porto vs Anderlecht, 1994
Ireland vs England, 1990
Ireland vs Egypt, 1990
Ireland vs Netherlands, 1990
Ireland vs Romania, 1990
Ireland vs Italy, 1990
Ireland vs Italy, 1994
Ireland vs Mexico, 1994
Ireland vs Norway, 1994
Ireland vs Netherlands, 1994
Ireland vs Cameroon, 2002
Ireland vs Germany, 2002

Ireland vs Saudi Arabia, 2002
Ireland vs Saudi Arabia, 2002

*****

 

 

Football Special Report #7: Euro 84

Our previous Football Special Report was the first to deviate from the original format of highlighting a specific interesting match and what it entailed (but that is currently a fanzine exclusive installment). Now, having continued to peer quizzically around the retro footballing world, we cast our gaze upon the Euros of 1984.

Background:

The 1980 European Championships in Italy had been the first to feature eight teams in the competition, rather than the four that had been involved since the inaugural 1960 edition. But, uniquely for an eight team format, 80 would only see the top placed team in each group progress, with the two runners-up granted the “honour” of a third place play-off.

West Germany defeated Belgium in the final in Rome to take their second championship in the last three Euros, after the Soviet Union, Spain, Italy and Czechoslovakia had also picked up continental wins in the 60s and 70s. The latest West German triumph, following their second World Cup victory in 1974 (with further runner-up spots at both a Euros and World Cup to their name), had consolidated their status as Europe’s top team, and the nation’s footballing administrators hoped to be rewarded by bringing the tournament to their country in 1984.


The West German squad celebrate on the pitch after winning the Euro 80 final against Belgium, 22/06/1980.

The only other nation to contest the bidding process was France, who had hosted the original competition in 1960. The 74 West German World Cup was perhaps too fresh in the memory of the UEFA Executive Committee, who unanimously voted for the French to hold the next European Championships in a December 1981 meeting (although Germany would not have too long to wait for their turn).

With the ball for Euro 84 now rolling, the next step was the qualifying draw in Paris in January 1982. France of course entered automatically as hosts, leaving 32 other European nations to make up seven groups of four and five where the top placed finishers would progress.

Played out between May 1982 and December 1983, the only group that proved particularly clearly cut for the eventual victors was Belgium’s Group 1. Entering a third European Championships, the Belgians had comfortably seen off Switzerland, East Germany and a poor last placed Scotland, with their only group loss coming to the Swiss after qualification had already be secured.


Belgium vs Scotland in the yet-to-be-infamous Heysel Stadium, 15/12/1982.

Group 2, conversely, came down to a last day decider between Portugal and the USSR in Lisbon. With Poland and Finland already out of the running, the Portuguese claimed a 1-0 win to leapfrog the Soviets into first, and in doing so made their first major finals since World Cup 66.

Group 3 started with a smoky affair in Copenhagen between Denmark and England where the points were shared. A further blip occurred for the the English when they drew 0-0 at home to Greece in March 83, before the Danes astonishingly took “all two points” (still awarded for a win instead of three at this time) in Wembley in September. 9-0 and 0-4 defeats of Luxembourg, as well as home and away victories over Hungary, were not enough for the unconvincing English, as a 0-2 win over Greece in November 83 sealed an exciting Denmark team’s qualification by a single point.

In Group 4, three-time tournament participants Yugoslavia proved too strong for the Welsh, Bulgarians and Norwegians, taking pole position with eight points to Wales’ seven. Similarly in Group 5, Romania impressively came out trumps over Sweden by a point, as supposed heavyweights Italy and Czechoslovakia disappointingly finishing third and fourth with Cyprus propping up the table.


The picturesque scene for Yugoslavia and Wales' Euro qualifier in Titograd (now Podgorica, capital of Montenegro) that would end in a 4-4 draw, 15/12/1982.

While Austria, Turkey and Albania made up the numbers, Northern Ireland looked set to qualify ahead of West Germany in Group 6 after a marvelous 0-1 upset in Hamburg in November, 1983, having already won on home soil in Belfast. The Germans still had to play Albania in Saarbrücken five days later, but the waiting North were on course to make it to their first ever Euros until the 79th minute when the home team finally went 2-1 up; both West Germany and Northern Ireland finished level on 11 points, but the former went through on goal difference.


Northern Ireland fans in Hamburg for their side's 0-1 Euro qualifier win away to West Germany, 16/11/1983.

The last group, Group 7, turned out to be a similar situation, as Netherlands and Spain emerged ahead of Ireland, Iceland, and group whipping boys Malta (although they did beat Iceland 2-1 in the first game of the group). But what was to come in the final round of fixtures proved the most intriguing situation in all the qualifiers.

Having lost only once (away to each other) in their games up to now, the Dutch and the Spanish went to into December 1983 level on eleven points, both with one last respective home game against Malta to come. It would effectively be a straight shoot out against the poor Maltese, to see who could amass the greater goal difference and advance.

First came the attempt of the Netherlands who ended up 5-0 winners in Rotterdam, delivering a final goal difference of +16. As Spain currently had +5, this meant an eleven goal victory was needed in Madrid five days later for the home side to qualify, but the Maltese goalkeeper brazenly and bizarrely claimed beforehand that the Spanish could not even score eleven goals past a team of children.

Spain missed a penalty minutes into the match, before going into the break only 3-1 up. To the delight of the crowd though, an amazing nine goals were scored after half time, with the last in the 84th minute making it 12-1 come the final whistle. The Spanish were through, but of course questions of bribery were instantly raised, along with sinister claims by two Maltese players of doping as “they (the Spanish players) had foam in their mouths and could not stop drinking water”.


The 12th goal in the 12-1 win over Malta that sent Spain to Euro 84, 21/12/1983.

Like the 78 World Cup final, the Dutch could perhaps feel hard done by and, after already missing out on Euro 80 and World Cup 82, they would have to wait another four years before they would finally return to the big time when they would at last win a trophy. Regardless, the eight finalists going to France had been decided, pleasingly with two debutante qualifiers (Portugal and Romania); two making their second appearance (Denmark and France); two making their third appearance (Belgium and Spain); and, you guessed it, two making their fourth appearance (Yugoslavia and West Germany).

The format for the upcoming tournament was again adapted, as the top two countries in each group would now thankfully progress to semi-finals before the final; equally thankfully, the rather useless third place play-off was dropped. The eight cities of Paris, Marseille, Lyon, Saint-Étienne, Lens, Nantes, Strasbourg were to host the matches, and a trim squad of twenty was to be brought by each qualifying nation.

UEFA European Championships 1984

We cannot confirm, but presumably the final draw took place in Paris sometime between December 83 and January 84. The two groups created were:

Group 1

Belgium
Denmark
France
Yugoslavia

Group 2

Portugal
Romania
Spain
West Germany

One thing that jumps out about this tournament was some amazing synchronicity in scorelines between games played on the same day. Only one goal in each group would end up preventing identical scorelines in Group 1, and identical results in Group 2.

Another major feature was some of the revolutionary jerseys on show, with both France and Belgium in spectacular bespoke Adidas designs that were primed for retro-revivals in years to come. The Germans and Romanians used Adidas’s slightly more understated “Aberdeen” template, with Portugal and Yugoslavia rocking the mega-classy, diagonal pin-striped “Chelsea” variety. The only non-Adidas apparel was provided by recent converts Spain, now in Le Coq Sportif, along side the always welcome Hummel of Denmark.


France home, Belgium away, Portugal home.

Round 1:

The hosts kicked off the show taking on the Danes in a sold out Parc des Princes, Paris, on June 12th. The real talking point for us was the huge plume of smoke coming from outside the stadium at half time. Whether this was a controlled industrial blaze, or if something was seriously on fire is unknown (it was probably explained by the commentators but we don’t speak French):

A huge marching band also entertained the fans before the game and during the break:

As can be seen in the background, the visitors were well represented in the stands with some nice flags on show:

Not so nice, however, was the injury suffered by Danish striker Allan Simonsen, after a 50-50 challenge left him with a broken shin. Apparently the sound in the stadium was like “a branch breaking in a tree” as it occurred:

Despite a red-card for Frenchman Manual Amaros – for throwing the ball at/headbutting Jesper Olsen – a second half Platini goal gave the home side the win. The following day in the Lens’ intimdating Stade Félix-Bollaert, Belgium took on and beat Yugoslavia with a comfortable 2-0 win, as many fans with yellow hats looked on:

Group 2 was to commence on June 14th, first with the meeting of West Germany and Portugal in Strasbourg – a game notable as the scene for the only major hooligan disturbance during the final. Apparently a group of Germans were responsible for the incidents (we are unclear on what happened exactly), but were swiftly arrested and sent the short distance back across the border.

Of course when it came to hooligans, the main difference between Euro 80 and the other European Championships of the time (Euro 80, 88 and 92) was a lack of England, who’s presence would have almost certainly increased the rate of trouble by several hundred percent. The failure to qualify also meant that the ever-insular English decided against broadcasting most of the tournament live on TV, with only the Spanish-German match and final set to be shown in the UK as they happened.

In the match itself at Stade de la Meinau, the Portuguese managed to hold the cup holders to 0-0. As always, the Germans were well represented in the stands, as evident by their array of flags which included one banner in the German Empire colours:

The less political, but just as colourful, Portuguese savored their first summer back in action in nearly two decades, as well as celebrating a great result:

Later that evening in Saint-Étienne’s Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, Romania began their first ever major finals. Like Portugal earlier, they will have been satisfied to take a 1-1 draw from their encounter with another former champion in Spain, especially having come from behind:

Back to Group 1 and June 16th would see the first regional derby of the Cup, with France taking on Belgium in Nantes’ Stade de la Beaujoire. The teams emerged to show that France – led by a Platini who looked dead inside – were debuting their stunning change kit (as they were the “away” team in the tie), while the Belgians strangely wore what looked like Argentinian-inspired anthem jackets:

Once the jackets came off, the traveling team’s own home jersey was revealed for the first time in tournament, which was another masterpiece:

A match-fixing scandal involving Belgian clubs Standard Liege and Waterschei a few years earlier had left the Belgium without several key defenders, who were suspended. This weakness, as well as the host’s strength, was evident as the French booked their place in the semis with an embarrassing 5-0 defeat for the visitors, as a now smiling Platini bagged a hat-trick (pictures of fans are more interesting though):

Stade de Gerland in Lyon was the scene a couple of hours later for Denmark vs Yugoslavia and amazingly it would be another 5-0 scoreline, this time with the Danes taking the points. The heavy loss was not what you would expect of the “Brazil of Europe” (as the Balkan superstate were known with regards only to football) and, reflecting this, their manager Todor Veselinović was admitted to hospital after the game for stress and exhaustion.

The next day, Lens hosted a now “hooligan-free” German contingent for their game against Romania. Although the team were under-performing, the German supporters on the terraces more than made up for it with their banners:

In this “battle of the Aberdeen shirts”, the Romanians in their red change kit will have been hopeful for a repeat of their earlier match, as the sides went into the break at 1-1. But Rudi Voller’s second of the game after the break secured West Germany’s first win of the competition:

That evening, Marseille’s Stade Vélodrome – the largest stadium in the Championships with 55,000 capacity – saw it’s first use for the Iberian derby between Spain and Portugal. Unfortunately, less than half the ground was filled as only 24,464 watched another 1-1 draw.

On June 19th, Group 1 would conclude with simultaneous games in Saint-Étienne and Strasbourg. The French continued their championship form with a 3-2 win over the hapless Yugoslavs (although they had gone 0-1 up), as Platini bagged his second consecutive hat-trick – seven goals in only three games overall:

But continuing on from the manager’s health scare following the Belgium game, there would be more darkness for Yugoslavia at full time as the team doctor of all people suffered a heart attack on the pitch and later died in hospital. The cause of death may indeed have been the sudden appearance of a nightmarish chicken-man:

After what must have seemed like a cursed tournament, Veselinović unsurprisingly resigned as Yugoslavia coach as short time later. The other match between Denmark and Belgium, meanwhile, was a more exciting affair to see who would take second place in the group:

The Belgians were 2-0 up after 40 minutes, but one pulled back before the break followed by two in the second half gave the delirious Danes a famous 3-2 victory. And, for the second time in two Group 1 days, five goals had been scored in both games:

Nantes and Paris played host to last group matches on June 20th, with Portugal taking on Romania in Stade de Beaujoir. The game saw both sides in their away kits, with guards conspicuously standing on front of the stands:

Just about coming out on top both in the fashion stakes and on the pitch, the classy-kitted Portuguese were able to secure their place in the next stage with a 1-0 win:

But the big game was happening in the capital, as even the English watched on from home to see West Germany take on Spain. With the Spanish having only managed two points so far, the Germans looked set to progress until the 90th minute when goal scoring defender Antonio Maceda – who had found the net four times during qualifying – arrived in the box to head in a 1-0 winner:

Like the “miracle of Madrid” against Malta, once again the Spanish had somehow managed to progress, while the Germans would be following their hooligans with an early trip home:

Semi-finals:

On June 23rd, the Velodrome would at last be used to it’s potential as locals filled the stadium to capacity for the home nation’s semi against Portugal – ultimately the biggest crowd of the tournament. With the score at 1-1 after 90 minutes, extra-time was needed in which another two goals made it 2-2 with seconds to go:

Penalties looked assured, until that man Platini scored in the last minute of extra-time to deliver another 3-2 win. Absolute carnage of course ensues, and pyro:

The second semi-final in Lyon on the 24th proved an equally tight encounter between Denmark and Spain. The Danes went one-up early on through Bayern Munich’s Søren Lerby, but amazingly Maceda was again on hand to equalise in the 67th minute:

This time, after two hours of football, it did go all the way to a shoot-out. Unfortunately, Danmark’s star man Preben Elkjær was the only player to miss his spot-kick as the Spanish triumphed by five penalties to four, but his displays at the tournament earned him a transfer from Belgium club Lokeren to Italy’s Hellas Verona shortly afterwards.

Final:

Only 15 days after they had started the cup there, France returned to Paris for the final against Spain on June 27th. The media hyped an epic contest and of course all eyes were on Platini, who kicked off the game to a vintage cacophony of horns from the crowd:

Pockets of colourful Spanish also made themselves seen among the overwhelmingly home support:

The match turned out to be somewhat of an anti-climax for the neutral. At the break it was still 0-0, as we can see from the excellent graphics:

The French substitutes demonstrated some of the other beautiful gear that the team had, with an array of sweat-shirts based off the jersey (one not pictured was devoid of any insignia):

The home nation soon reveled as Platini did indeed fulfill his destiny of scoring in every game (9 overall, still a record) by giving France the lead on 57 minutes. Winger Bruno Bellone secured the trophy with a second goal on the 90th minute – the French had won their first ever piece of silverware at senior level:

With some exciting games, decent football, and a lack of major trouble, the tournament was deemed a resounding success. These would go on to be crucial factors in France’s bid to host the 98 World Cup, which would turn out to be scene as they next won a trophy in the exact same stadium – fittingly wearing a tribute shirt to the 84 design. But worryingly, unlike 1984, this time the English were coming.

*

Helpful ‘1980s Sports Blog’ post on Euro 84
Video links:
West Germany vs Belgium, 1980
Belgium vs Scotland, 1982
Yugoslavia vs Wales, 1982
West Germany vs Northern Ireland, 1983
Spain vs Malta, 1983
France vs Denmark, 1984
Belgium vs Yugoslavia, 1984
Portugal vs West Germany, 1984
Spain vs Romania, 1984
Belgium vs France, 1984
Denmark vs Yugoslavia, 1984
West Germany vs Romania, 1984
France vs Yugoslavia, 1984
Denmark vs Belgium, 1984
Romania vs Portugal, 1984
Spain vs West Germany, 1984
France vs Portugal, 1984
Spain vs Denmark, 1984
France vs Spain, 1984
France vs Spain, 1984

*****

Heroic Hang Jobs #6 (Gallery)

As the name suggests, this is the series where we pay homage to our favourite flag-hanging displays throughout the years, ranging from an entire end covered in colour to as little as one single banner. And of course, from any club or country. Click here for the all entries.

Catanzaro vs Bari, Serie B, 23/10/1988:

Bayern Munich vs Hamburger SV, Bundesliga, 24/04/1982:

SG Wattenscheid 09 vs Borussia Dortmund, DFB-Pokal 1st round, 11/08/1996:

East Germany vs Soviet Union, World Cup qualifier, 08/10/1989:

East Germany vs Soviet Union, World Cup qualifier, 08/10/1989:

Watford vs Chelsea, FA Cup 4th round, 01/02/1987:

Portugal vs Italy, World Cup qualifier, 24/02/1993:

Netherlands vs San Marino, World Cup qualifier, 24/03/1993:

Real Madrid vs Napoli, European Cup 1st round-1st leg, 16/09/1987 – Match played behind closed doors after crowd trouble at Real’s semi final with Bayern Munich the year before, but the banished home fans still make their presence felt through huge message-banners:
With public or without public…
“…The Real Madrid is unique.”

More time than ever…

“…Go Madrid!”

Scotland vs Faroe Islands, Euro qualifier, 14/10/1998:

Red Star Belgrade vs Portadown, Champions League 1st round-1st leg, 17/09/1991:

Portadown vs Red Star Belgrade, Champions League 1st round-2nd leg, 02/10/1991:

Sligo Rovers vs Club Brugge, Cup Winners’ Cup 2nd round-1st leg, 15/09/1994:

Sligo Rovers vs Club Brugge, Cup Winners’ Cup 2nd round-1st leg, 15/09/1994:

Mexico vs West Germany, World Cup quarter final, 21/06/1986:

Czechoslovakia vs Faroe Islands, World Cup qualifier, 23/09/1992:

*

YouTube links:
Catanzaro vs Bari 1988
Bayern Munich vs Hamburger SV 1982
SG Wattenscheid 09 vs Borussia Dortmund 1996
East Germany vs Soviet Union 1988
Watford vs Chelsea 1987
Portugal vs Italy 1993
Netherlands vs San Marino 1993
Real Madrid vs Napoli, 1987
Real Madrid vs Napoli, 1987
Scotland vs Faroe Islands, 1998
Red Star Belgrade vs Portadown 1991
Portadown vs Red Star Belgrade 1991
Portadown vs Red Star Belgrade 1991
Sligo Rovers vs Club Brugge 1994
Mexico vs West Germany 1986
Czechoslovakia vs Faroe Islands, 1992

*****

International Duty – Club Banners At National Team Games #8: Portugal Focus, plus more (Gallery)

Last time in International Duty, we took an in-depth, pictorial look at club sides represented in the stadiums of Euro 88. In this edition, we start with the banners of some of Portugal’s premier domestic supporters at national team games, before moving on to the more general selection that we are used to in this series.

Portugal vs Ireland, Euro qualifier, 07/10/2000
No Name Boys of Benfica:

Portugal vs Austria, Euro qualifier, 13/11/1994
Torcida Verde
of Sporting CP:

Portugal vs Netherlands, Euro qualifier, 17/10/1990
Súper Dragones
of FC Porto:

Ultra Boys of ?:

Portugal vs Latvia, Euro qualifier, 03/06/1995
SC Braga:

Portugal vs Italy, World Cup qualifier, 24/02/1993
SC Braga:

Portugal vs Czech Republic, Euro 96, 23/06/1996
Súper Dragones of FC Porto:

East Germany vs USSR, World Cup qualifier, 08/10/1989
Dynamo Dresden:

Ebersdorf:

Italy vs Finland, friendly, 27/05/1994
Brigate of Parma:

Ireland vs Latvia, Euro qualifier, 11/10/1995
Cliftonville FC:

Italy vs Algeria, friendly, 11/11/1989
Vigilantes
of Vicenza:

Netherlands vs West Germany, World Cup qualifier, 26/04/1989
SC Fortuna Köln:

SV Grün-Weiss:

Germany vs Ghana, friendly, 14/04/1993
VfB Stuttgart:

Brazil vs Latvia, friendly, 26/06/1999
OS Fanaticos
of Athletico Paranaense:

Ultras Do Atlético of Athletico Paranaense:

2nd Comando GB’s of Cruzeiro:

Mafia Azul of Cruzeiro:

*

YouTube Links:
Portugal vs Ireland
Portugal vs Austria
Portugal vs Netherlands
Portugal vs Latvia
Portugal vs Czech Rep.
East Germany vs USSR
Italy vs Finland
Ireland vs Latvia
Italy vs Algeria
Netherlands vs West Germany
Germany vs Ghana
Brazil vs Latvia

*****

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Football Is Supposed To Look Like #8 (Gallery)

Last time in WFISTLL, we zoomed in on the Belgian league scene of the late 80s and early 90s with a whirlwind of pics and gifs illustrating the gritty supporter culture present in that time and place. Now we return to our usual format of a selection of images that demonstrate what used to make football so interesting, in a variety of classic 20th century ways.

Superb away jersey, Northern Ireland vs Republic of Ireland, World Cup qualifier, 14/09/1988:

Umbrella crowd, fence, classic hoarding and graphics, Chile vs Yugoslavia, Under-20 World Cup (hosted by Chile), 10/10/1987:

Raised stands and large entrance-way with row of people, Turkey vs West Germany, European Championships qualifier, 24/04/1983:

Snow-patch pitch, East Germany vs Scotland, European Championships qualifier, 16/11/1983:

Competing anthem bands (although the lot on the right look like children in comparison?) and angular team line-ups, West Germany vs Netherlands, World Cup 74 final, 07/07/1974:

Confetti pitch, Internazionale Milano vs AS Roma, Serie A, 24/03/1988:

Arabic Marlboro advert, Zaire vs Zambia, African Cup of Nations 74 (hosted by Egypt), 12/03/1974:

Amazing old-old school end with supporters on roof, Portugal vs Italy, friendly, 15/04/1928:

Rain plus no roof equals many, many umbrellas, Czechoslovakia vs Netherlands, European Championships 76 semi-final (hosted by Yugoslavia, match in Zagreb), 16/06/1976:

Classic graphics, USSR vs Netherlands, friendly, 28/03/1990:

*****

 

Politics On The Pitch #3: World Cup 1950 Qualifying

To be honest, the following episode of Politics On The Pitch was originally intended as a Football Special Report. But as politics, war, and global history are so intertwined in the 1950 World Cup qualifiers, it seemed more than appropriate to transfer the post to Politics On The Pitch. One of the main tenants of this time was the inability of many teams to actually travel to the World Cup in Brazil, whether they had qualified of not. This was of course in large part due to the proximity of the World War 2, who’s shadow from 5 years before still loomed large and had left many nations in poverty.

Background:

One of the great things about mid-20th century tournaments was the random stuff like extra unscheduled play-off games as tie breakers; groups of four instead of a final game; and coin-tosses to decide things. But the first three FIFA World Cups were actually fairly straight forward affairs: four groups of 3 with the winners progressing to the semi-finals in 1930, and straight knock-out tournaments of 16 teams in ’34 and ’38 (eventually 15 in the latter after the the withdrawal of Austria due to the “Anschluss” with Germany).

Thankfully, the introduction of World Cup qualifiers for the ’34 edition onwards did provide some classic old-school chaos. As this was in the days before regional federations such as UEFA, all potential World Cup candidates were divided into 12 groups based on location. The pre-WW2 system was marked by:

  • The frequent withdrawal of participating nations.
  • Groups of mostly two or three teams, arranged by region rather than drawn.
  • Host nation Italy forced to qualify for their own tournament in 1934.
  • Automatic ’34 qualification for Czechoslovakia from a group of two as a result the Polish government’s denial of visas for their own team to travel.
  • ’38 qualifiers Group 1 containing four teams while the rest contained two or three.
  • The abandonment of games if teams had already mathematically qualified/could not qualify.
  • No British teams, who were currently on boycott of FIFA.
  • Egypt being the only African nation competing in either campaign, as most were not yet independent.
  • Participation of historical states such as pre-Soviet Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia, the Irish Free State, the Second Spanish Republic (withdrawn by the ’38 qualifiers due to the Spanish Civil War), Palestine-British Mandate (made of Jewish and British players), Dutch Guiana and Dutch East Indies.

For no apparent reason, FIFA decided to take a break for the next two would-be tournaments. But with the World Cup set to return in 1950, new qualifiers were scheduled for ’49 and ’50. Some big countries would compete for the first time, while others disappeared. A world which had been ravaged and changed by World War 2 (economically and politically if not physically and emotionally) was entering a new era, and so with it came a new era for the tournament, and more importantly for us, it’s preliminary rounds.

***

The 1950 World Cup Qualifiers

Info:

  • The 12-Group system of the pre-WW2 years was reduced to 10.

  • Groups 1-6 were to be of (mostly) European composition, with Groups 7-9 for the Americas and Group 10 for Asia.

  • Groups were arranged roughly by region, not drawn, with mostly different qualifying rules for each.

  • Two points were awarded for a victory rather than three.

  • 14 qualifying spots were available, with both Brazil (upcoming hosts) and Italy (champions in 1938) qualifying automatically to make 16.

  • West Germany, East Germay and Japan – still occupied after World War 2 – were not permitted to take part.

  • Eastern Block states such Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia and Hungary refused to take part.

  • No African teams were participating; the only currently independent African states were Egypt, Ethiopia, South Africa, and Liberia.

  • Other notable countries to not take part included Canada, Australia, New Zealand and China.

  • The first game of qualifying (Sweden vs Ireland) was played on 02/06/1949, and the last game (Scotland vs England) on 15/04/1950, just over two months before the World Cup kicked-off.

*

Group 1

England
Scotland
Wales
Ireland-UK

***For the purposes of continuity, we shall refer to the team now known as Northern Ireland as “Ireland-UK”, but at the time of 1950 qualifiers it was just “Ireland”. We will come back to this later, but for some in-depth information regarding why, check back to the Northern Ireland section of Politics On The Pitch #2.***

This campaign was the first that saw the appearance of the the UK sides in FIFA competition. All had been members of FIFA since near the beginning of the century (England-1905, Scotland and Wales-1910, Ireland-UK-1911), but tension was already evident following a brief period of withdrawal (1920-1924) in protest at the continued inclusion of the Central Powers following World War 1.

A “permanent” split from FIFA was to come for the four federations in 1928, as a result of the new FIFA law requiring football associations to pay compensation to their athletes who played at the upcoming Olympics football tournament. But time heals all wounds, rules change and stubborn people die. Some combination of these meant that the UK nations rejoined FIFA in 1946, perhaps now craving more global competition in the absence of the recently completed World War 2.

Two qualification spots were up for grabs, and since the groups weren’t randomly selected, Group 1 could also double as the 1949/50 British Home Nations tournament; an ingenious practice that would return for the 1954 qualifiers. The combination was dropped following the introduction of non-local qualifying groups for 1958, but it was delightfully revived for Euro 1968 when that competition went to a group based qualification system, incorporating both the 66/67 and 67/68 Home Nations tournaments.

With each team to play each other once, Ireland-UK vs Scotland kicked off the group in Belfast on October 1st with a classic old school scoreline of 2-8 to the visitors. This would have been the highest scoring game in the entire global qualifiers, except for the fact that England then beat Ireland-UK 9-2 at home the following month on front of nearly 70,000 fans in Manchester. Crowd shots displayed the alarmingly dangerous density of the audience, doubtless desperate for any entertainment in this post-War rebuilding era.


Disturbingly packed terrace at Maine Road for England vs Ireland-UK, November 1949.

As Wales didn’t fare much better than Ireland-UK – only scoring one goal in their three games – England traveled to Scotland on April 15th, 1950 with both sides assured of qualification following two wins each,  but with top-spot and the Home Nations championship yet to decide. A nauseating 133,300 spectators compressed into Glasgow’s Hampden Park, with footage showing one of (presumably) many fans who had to be stretchered away from the crush. Men in traditional dress playing saxophones, along with dancing girls (reminiscent of a Nazi Youth rally) also entertained the masses.


One fan is stretched away from the Hampden crush at Scotland vs England, April 1950..

Pre-match entertainment.

A 1-0 away win secured the honours for England, now destined for their first ever World Cup appearance. Scotland in the second qualifying position could have joined them, but declined the opportunity, apparently as they had vowed only to travel if they had won the Home Nations. As we shall see, it would be a reoccurring theme.

ENGLAND QUALIFY

***

Group 2

Turkey
Syria
Austria

Now you can see why we said Groups 1-6 were “mostly” European, as here we have what is basically the Middle Eastern qualifying section, plus Austria of course. The rules of this group, as well as Groups 3 and 4, were that the lesser two sides would play each other home and away in a First Round, before the winner would play the seeded team in the same way with a qualifying spot up for grabs.

Both Turkey and Syria were competing for the first time. Turkey had been set to take part in the 1934 qualifiers in Group 12, along with Egypt and Palestine-British Mandate, but had withdrawn before playing a game. Syria, meanwhile, had itself been a French Mandate until 1946 and were set to play their debut match as an independent state in the qualifiers.

In the first of many vintage Cold War black-ops moves, an American led military coup had overthrown the democratically elected Syrian government in  March, 1949. But eight months later, the country’s new authoritarian overlords will have been disappointed as their nation’s footballing representatives slumped to a 7-0 debut defeat at the hands of their Turkish neighbours to the north. Perhaps because the result was now a foregone conclusion – or due to the utter shame doubtlessly emanating from the generals – Syria withdrew before the return leg could be played, leaving Turkey to advance.


Players and officials at the end of Turkey's 7-0 defeat of Syria.

Turkey and Austria shared a history of their own, as the Ottoman Turks had been at the gates of Vienna more than once in the post-Middle Ages. This was probably not on the mind’s of their country’s footballers hundreds of years later, but even still the Austrians also withdrew before the games could be played.

Turkey thus qualified automatically for their first World Cup. Or that is they would have, if not for the fact that they TOO then withdraw. The Syrians were no doubt asking why the Turks couldn’t have just done this in the first place before humiliating them out of the competition.

NO QUALIFIER

***

Group 3

Yugoslavia
Israel
France

Here we have a group that doesn’t even pretend to be geographically logical, but would actually perhaps look like the beginning of a modern UEFA qualifying group if not for the fact that Yugoslavia doesn’t exist any more. France were World Cup veterans having competed at all three previous tournaments, with Yugoslavia also making an appearance as one of the few other European representatives at Uruguay 1930, and now becoming the first Socialist state in the continent to take part.

Like Syria, Israel was a newly sovereign post-WW2 nation having been created in 1948. The Israeli  national team debuted against the USA later that year, but can trace it’s footballing lineage back to the aforementioned Palestine-British Mandate who competed in the ’34 and ’38 qualifiers. Like in later years, it maybe made more sense not to place the Irealis in a group with some of their more hostile neighbors, with this perhaps explaining why Austria were in Group 2 instead of this group, and vice-versa for Israel.

The first round took place over August and September, 1949, and the obvious gulf in quality seen in Group 1 and 2 continued as Yugoslavia beat Israel 6-0 in Belgrade and 5-2 in Tel-Aviv. The Yugoslav’s following games against France in October would prove more evenly balanced as both games ended 1-1, and since this was not a modern two-legged affair (sensible tie-breaking mini-games such as extra-time and penalties were distant future dreams at this point, and players in the ’40s would have undoubtedly been too unfit to play another half an hour anyway), the only solution was for the two sides to play each other yet again in a play-off on neutral ground.


Unique stadium, Israel vs Yugoslavia.

Italian news reel reviewing France vs Yugoslavia with crowd in the background.

The deciding game took place in Florence in December, with Yugoslavia finally running out 3-2 winners and qualifying for their second World Cup. Classically, after all that, France were also offered a place in the finals but declined, rendering the previous 270 minutes of football utterly pointless.

YUGOSLAVIA QUALIFY

***

Group 4

Switzerland
Luxembourg
Belgium

Group 4 makes a little more sense geographically speaking, with the epic clash of central-west Europe’s richest, smallest, neutralist countries with long names in the first round. Compared to Groups 1-3 we finally get a bit of normality here, as all three countries had existed for some time before the qualifiers and would continue to exist to the present day.

On the pitch there was nothing too surprising either, as the Swiss picked up a 5-2 result at home in Zurich in June, 1949. Their advancement was sealed with a 3-2 win in Luxembourg, capital city of Luxembourg, in October. A nice, solid and dependable group so far, very relaxing compared to earlier. I have a good feeling that nothing can possibly go wrong.

But of course things would not be complete without a good-old withdrawal, and we get just that before another ball can be touched. Belgium had taken part in the first three World Cups, but the streak was broken through this self-imposed expulsion, graciously leaving Switzerland to qualify for their third successive tournament.

SWITZERLAND QUALIFY

***

Group 5

Sweden
Ireland
Finland

Group 5 was set to be a refreshingly straight-forward affair, comprising of a straight round robin of home and away matches between the three teams and the resulting top side qualifying for the World Cup. While Norway had competed in the 1938 qualifiers, there was no sign of them here, leaving Ireland to take what presumably would have been their spot in the token Nordic group (Denmark and Iceland had yet to take part).

“But wait” you exclaim, “another Ireland!?” Yes, here we have our second Ireland of the qualifying system. Of course this team is now referred to as the Republic of Ireland, but at this stage they were just known as “Ireland”, same as Ireland-UK  from Group 1. Ireland-UK – as the successor team of the “original Ireland” that had competed while Ireland was still fully under British rule – were still calling themselves “Ireland”, and in-fact selected players from all over the island, despite only claiming league jurisdiction over Northern Ireland.

Amazingly, some players who represented Ireland in Group 5 ALSO played for Ireland-UK in Group 1 (Ireland had also previously capped Ireland-UK capped players). Both teams also wore green shirts with near identical shamrock themed crests, adding to the uniquely confusing situation.

Anyway, back to the group, and as mentioned earlier Sweden defeated Ireland in the first game of the entire qualifying system with a 3-1 win in Stockholm in June. They followed this up with an 8-1 trouncing of Finland in October, this time in Malmö to shake things up. Ireland had also beaten the Finns 3-0 in Dublin in September, and the return fixture, eight days after the 8-1 game, saw a 1-1 draw in Helsinki.

At this point, the poor old Finns (for whom we harbour a particular affinity) saw the writing on the wall and in typically logical fashion withdrew from the group instead of facing their final, meaningless group game (and in doing so conserved energy as well as avoiding another possible thrashing on home soil). This left Ireland’s home game against Sweden in November as a virtual play-off to get to the World Cup, even though Finland’s premature exit meant Ireland would have played an extra game than Sweden. The Swedes ran out 3-1 winners, qualifying for their third successive World Cup having finished fourth at France ’38.


More pack terraces at Ireland vs Sweden in Dalymount Park.

Ireland would have to wait another 40 years to make it to the finals but this need not have been the case as, in the wake of all the withdrawals, they were in fact invited to take part anyway by FIFA. But off course money doesn’t grow on trees, especially in economically struggling, post-“Emergency” Ireland (as WW2 was known there) and the offer was turned down due to the traveling costs. This really raises the question: what was point in attempting to qualify in the first place, or were they just not thinking that far ahead?

SWEDEN QUALIFY

***

Group 6

Spain
Portugal

With their internal political issues well and truly resolved, a new Spain returned following their absence for 1938. Like the ’34 qualifiers they were placed in the “Iberian Group” with Portugal, with FIFA clearly deeming that one of the two simply needed to be at the World Cup.

In the previous version, Spain had breezed through with a 9-0 win at home propelling victory. This time Franco’s men didn’t score quite as many, but a 5-1 win in Madrid in April 1950 did basically the same job. Portugal at the time were in the midst of their own fascist dictatorship, or “corporatist authoritarian regime”, and they welcomed their peninsular pals to Lisbon eight days later. A 2-2 draw was played out allowing Spain to reach the finals as expected with little fuss.


Spain score the first of 5 goals against Portugal, on front of  a huge crowd.

Spain score the first in the 2-2 draw away to Portugal, in a ground devoid of side stand.

That is except for the fact that Portugal, of course, were then also invited to play at the World Cup, as a replacement for Turkey. And of course they declined, meaning all six European groups contained some sort of withdrawal or declination to play. This left FIFA throwing their hands up and shouting “Why do I even bother!” before bursting into tears, and then finally saying “fine then”, deciding to just leave the World Cup short of teams instead of inviting anyone else, dashing any last Luxembourgian hopes in the process.

SPAIN QUALIFY

***

Group 7

Bolivia
  Chile
Argentina

After the mess that was Europe, we now come to the Americas where things are always calmer and more settled. The three teams were set to play home and away, with the top two progressing to the final. Would a nice competitive group, played to completion with the winners going through and the losers definitively not going through, be too much to ask?

The answer is yes, as 1930 finalists Argentina withdrew leaving Bolivia and Chile (also both present in 1930) free to qualify automatically without a single second of football being played. Obviously their scheduled games to be played against each other were cancelled, as they would have been utterly fucking pointless.

BOLIVIA AND CHILE QUALIFY

***

Group 8

Uruguay
Paraguay
Ecuador
Peru

The intuitive among you (as well as those who look at nature and society in a deeper way and notice patterns) may well have already guessed the outcome of this group. And sure enough, Ecuador and Peru withdrew from the group faster than you can say “unstable puppet government propped up by the CIA”. They really could not wait to withdraw.

1930 champions Uruguay had boycotted the previous two tournaments, first in 1934 as an act of retribution against the European teams who had refused to travel to their home tournament in 1930, then along with Argentina in anger at FIFA’s decision to stage World Cup 1938 again in Europe rather then a return to South America. Paraguay had also made their only previous appearance in 1930. Both qualified again without a ball being kicked.

URUGUAY AND PARAGUAY QUALIFY

***

Group 9

USA
Mexico
Cuba

As with the British Home Nations tournament of Group 1, Group 9 also doubled as the 1949 North American Football Confederation Championship; the last time that competition would be played until 1990. However, unlike the Home Nations, all the matches would be played in a host nation – in this case Mexico – and all take place over the month of September 1949, more in lieu with a traditional tournament. The teams would play each other twice with the top two advancing to the World Cup, as well of course as North American Football Confederation Championship glory to the country on top.

The group was like the ill-fated Group 7 in that all teams had previously played at World Cups. Mexico had been statistically the worst team in their only appearance to date in 1930. The US had also taken part, both then and in ’34 where they replaced Mexico as poorest performing participant.

A pre-Castro Cuba can boast not just a finals appearance, but an oft-forgotten World Cup quarter final to their name in 1938. This is slightly less impressive when you remember that they only had to win one game to make the quater-finals, but slightly more impressive again by the fact that they drew 3-3 with Romania after extra time and then beat them 2-0 in a replay. However, the 8-0 drubbing received at the hands of Sweden in the quarter final itself does slightly take the shine off things.

Things didn’t go so well for Cuba this time though, as their only point of the Group came from a 1-1 draw with the US. The return game saw the Americans run out 5-2 winners. But the top side had not been in doubt since day one when hosts Mexico had destroyed the USA 6-0, and proceeded to put the same number past them when the sides would meet again while conceding their only two goals of the campaign. Comfortable 2-0 and 3-0 wins against Cuba, including on the last day of the group, gave Mexico the NAFC crown and qualification, along with the USA in second.

And there it is, finally after nine groups we have found one that was actually played to completion, and with the agreed upon rules adhered to through to the end. The real miracle here is the the Cuban revolution thankfully held off for a few years, for if it had happened in 1949 it would have undoubtedly disrupted the group.

MEXICO AND USA QUALIFY

***

Group 10

Burma
Indonesia
Philippines
India

Group 10 contained the only Asian side to have previously made a World Cup appearance in Indonesia, who played at the 1938 finals in their previous form of the Dutch East Indies. This feat is again made less impressive by the fact that they only reached said finals due the withdrawal (surprise, surprise) of their one opponent Japan. Tragically, after coming all the way to Europe for the World Cup, they were promptly beaten 6-0 by Hungary and sent straight home. Still, their name is in the history books. Well, their name when it was a different name.

India, meanwhile, had played their first game while still a British possession in 1938, and in 1948 had made their first appearance as an independent state. The Philippines had been around a surprisingly long time in comparison, with their first international dating back to 1913, but had not previously had the chance to qualify for a World Cup. Burma went into the qualifiers yet to take part in an international fixture of any sort.

And unfortunately this would remain the case, as wouldn’t you just know it, Burma, Indonesia and the Philippines all withdrew before the group drew could even take place. This left India to qualify by default in the one available spot, and you wouldn’t have it any other way, would you?

Except there is one last twist in the tale as India, true to these qualifiers to the very end, gave one final withdrawal. They powerfully withdrew from their default position of World Cup qualifier, amazingly with a view to prepare for the next Olympic games instead, proving that the World Cup was not exactly the global phenomenon it is today.

The infamous rumored reason had been that FIFA would not allow India to play barefoot at the World Cup, which seems too “sexy” of a story to be true and with more than a hint of racism. But while it apparently did not have a baring on their decision to pull out, they had in fact played barefoot to great effect at the 1948 Olympics, and would do so again at the 1952 edition.

NO QUALIFIER

***

Total Qualified Teams (13):

Bolivia

Brazil

Chile

England

Italy

Mexico

Paraguay

Spain

Sweden

Switzerland

United States

Uruguay

Yugoslavia

*

And there we have it, qualifying done and dusted. Out of the 32 teams that entered, 11 out of the originally intended 14 qualified to join the hosts and champions, 15 either withdrew during qualifying or declined an invitation to the finals, and 9 didn’t play a game at all. Fair to say a roaring success as far as this time period goes. As for the actual 1950 World Cup, well you’ll just have to Google that for now, as it’s a story for another day (we mean that rhetorically, there are currently no plans for us to cover the 1950 World Cup).

*****

 

What Football Is Supposed To Look Like #5 (Gallery)

We are back with another visually delicious gallery of the interesting sights and general old school greatness, that that at one point made football magic.

Classic post-communist/pre-modern ground with fence, Lithuania vs Italy, European Championships Qualifier, 1995:

Random mid-match pyro, Italy vs Portugal, World Cup Qualifier, 1993:

Plethora of reporters and other individuals at pitchside, Chile vs Uruguay, Copa America, 1983:

Classic graphics and sparsely covered terraces, Norway vs Denmark, friendly, 1986:

“…anyhow have a Winfield” and running track, Australia vs Israel, World Cup Qualifier, 1985:

“DAILY POST”, Wales vs Czechoslovakia, World Cup Qualifier, 1977:

“FALK”. Classic graphics, hoardings and stadium, Austria vs Brazil, friendly, 1973:

Communist-era athletics bowl, classic “R” graphic, sparsely covered terraces and seemingly recorded through a spy camera, Poland vs Greece, friendly, 1978: