1970 - Bracelets and bellyaches

May 3, 2006
By Dominic Raynor
(Archive)

As world champions, England had no qualifying matches, and with Sir Alf Ramsey still at the helm the squad for the Mexico-hosted World Cup of 1970 went on a warm-up tour of South America.

EmpicsEngland captain Bobby Moore reflects on a troublesome 1970 World Cup.

Altitude trouble was immediately apparent 7,200 feet above sea level at the Azteca Stadium, the venue for the World Cup Final, when England struggled to a 0-0 draw against Mexico. However, two days later and 2,000 feet lower, England thumped Mexico 4-0 in Guadalajara.

That prompted Ramsey to once again revolutionise the national team when he appointed England's first full-time doctor, Neil Phillips. Phillips was ordered to find out all he could about the effects of altitude, heat and exertion in the South American climate.

As a result, England went to Mexico prepared - but problems were soon to hit England captain Bobby Moore.

After England had beaten Columbia 4-0 during a pre-tournament tour in Bogotá, he was accused of stealing an emerald bracelet from the Green Fire jewellery shop. However, after an investigation no charges were brought, and the affair seemed to be over as England headed to Ecuador to win 2-0.

En route to the following match, in Mexico City, the plane touched down again in Colombia - where Moore had been arrested for the alleged theft. The England captain was held under house arrest as the remainder of the team prepared for the opening match against Romania.

Four days before the clash, Moore was released and exonerated from any wrongdoing - but the incident had disrupted the whole England party as they prepared for a clash with Romania in Guadalajara, followed by group matches against Brazil and Czechoslovakia.

The game against Romania in the Estadio Jalisco was nothing to write home about as both teams adjusted to the sweltering conditions. But Hurst scored for England to match Brazil's 1-0 win over Czechoslovakia.

And the next game - against Brazil - proved to be a classic encounter. It was a closely-fought match in which England attacked a shaky Brazilian back four but, despite shots from all angles and Alan Ball hitting the crossbar, could not get the ball past goalkeeper Venerando Mielli Felix.

EmpicsBobby Charlton and Pele do battle in Mexico as the England bench look on.

At the other end Banks, probably the best keeper in the world at the time, made a save from a Pele header that many consider the greatest ever. Pele had started to turn away in celebration before Banks somehow dived low to his right to scoop the ball away from danger.

Moore was back to his best, with perfectly timed tackles and interceptions breaking up Brazilian attacks. But England couldn't halt Jairzinho forever, and the man who scored in every game Brazil played in the '70 tournament struck after 60 minutes to seal a 1-0 win.

The game was paid fitting tribute at its conclusion when Moore and Pele sought each other out to swap shirts as a mark of mutual respect. Pele later called Moore 'the greatest defender I ever played against'.

England's final group game was against Czechoslovakia, and a win would book Ramsey's side a place in the quarter-finals. Leeds United's Alan Clarke provided a 1-0 win from the penalty spot - and lined up a rematch of then 1966 World Cup final against West Germany.

En route to Leon to face the Germans, a bout of food poisoning hit the England squad. Bobby Charlton pulled through the bug in couple of days, and when Banks was struck down it was expected he would also make it. He didn't - and Ramsey told Peter 'the cat' Bonetti that he would be goalkeeper only hours before kick-off.

England played their best football of the tournament and took a 2-0 lead in the Estadio Guanajuato when Alan Mullery and Martin Peters finished off Keith Newton crosses. England looked comfortable and began to sit back - then Franz Beckenbaur punished them when his soft shot squeezed past Bonetti 20 minutes from the end.

With his side still in the driving seat, Ramsey strangely decided to replace Charlton with Colin Bell and goalscorer Peters for Norman Hunter.

Beckenbaur was delighted with the change - he'd been out of the game marking Charlton, and now Germany's most potent weapon was back in action. Yet England looked like holding on until, in the 82nd minute, Uwe Seeler scored with a back header to make it 2-2 and send the game into extra-time.

There were to be no heroics this time from England, despite Hurst having a seemingly legitimate goal ruled out, as the tournament's top scorer Gerd Muller made it 3-2 to Germany and knocked holders England out of the World Cup.

EmpicsAlan Ball throws his hands up in despair as West Germany score against England.

Brazil won the World Cup with a 4-1 victory over Italy, and it would be 12 long years before England returned to the tournament.

They failed to qualify for the 1974 World Cup in West Germany, and could only watch as Holland displayed their 'total football'. It was the end of Sir Alf Ramsey after 11 revolutionary years of service to England.

He achieved 69 wins and 27 draws in his 113 games at the helm, taking England to two World Cups and winning one of them.

Revie comes and goes

Successful Leeds United manager Don Revie was named as the new England boss in 1974, but he failed to qualify for Argentina '78 despite the emergence of new stars such as Kevin Keegan.

The young Keegan was a volatile striker, and his England career was never going to be straightforward. He walked out on the national side in 1975 - but returned after a heart-to-heart with the manager.

In midfield, West Ham's Trevor Brooking emerged along with Chelsea's Ray Wilkins, while goalkeepers Ray Clemence and Peter Shilton battled it out for the number one jersey.

England failed again in qualifying for the 1978 World Cup. Hopes were initially dented with a 2-0 defeat in Rome, but they won the return 2-0 thanks to goals from Brooking and Keegan.

Yet it was too little too late for Revie, who pre-empted his anticipated sacking. He had already negotiated a lucrative contract with the United Arab Emirates and resigned from his post with England.

West Ham manager Ron Greenwood stepped in as caretaker manager, taking over the reins full time in August 1977. His attacking style of football had the backing of public and players alike, and he made 22-year-old Nottingham Forest fullback Viv Anderson the first black player to represent England in a full international in November 1978.

The new man repaid the FA's faith in him by booking England a place at the World Cup finals in Spain 1982.

INTRO | 1950 | 1954 | 1958 | 1962 | 1966 | 1970 | 1982 | 1986 | 1990 | 1998 | 2002