Thursday, May 11, 2006

World Cup Memories #1

Written by Smart

Welcome to the first in what could potentially be a series of just one.

Every four years, when the domestic season has finished, my focus of attention is diverted towards the World Cup finals. The anticipation. The drama. The smell(?). The World Cup Finals have it all, but we have to wait another month...

...and that’s when my mind takes a leisurely stroll down memory lane (although being an England supporter, misery lane may be more appropriate). Memories from my childhood come flooding back, and so I thought I would share some of them with you. The first one I have chosen is:

Spain 1982: Bryan Robson’s 27 second wonder

When Spain was chosen as the host nation for the 1982 World Cup the Spanish rejoiced. And so did the English. After years of bringing home 'Spanish donkeys' as gifts from holiday, it was time for the English to have their revenge – and take some donkeys to the Spanish.

It was Ron Greenwood who was given the task of picking the 22 donkeys that would be collectively known as 'The England Squad.' After several visits to Blackpool beach his squad was complete and amongst his selections were Graham 'Lock up yer Daughters' Rix, Bryan 'Bupa' Robson, Ray 'The Crab' Wilkins and Tony 'Woodcock' – which was a reflection on his performances in an England shirt, as well as his surname.

England's opening game of the '82 World Cup was against France. Platini. Tigana. Rocheteau. Such famous names were to face Englands might.

So as a boy of 11 years of age, I sat down to watch the game. With my Panini sticker album situated close by, and open on the French squad pages (mainly for reference purposes, but also to see if any of the player stickers that I had yet to collect were worth collecting) the game kicked off.

England were wearing a rather fetching red strip, which obviously dazzled the Frenchmen, as it was only a matter of seconds before England won a throw-in inside the French half. Steve Coppell took a long throw towards the penalty area and by a stroke of good fortune Terry Butcher a) heads it, and b) towards a team mate – an unmarked Bryan Robson - at the far post. With just the keeper to beat, Robson leaped athletically to volley the ball past the French keeper.

With just 27 seconds on the clock it is still one of the quickest ever goals at the World Cup finals, scored in a match that England went on to win 3-1.

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