Matthew Monk is a school teacher
from the UK who has the World Cup as one of his greatest passions. He will share his views about the past, present and future of
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A Tale of Two Countries - Part Two
In winning Group 4 of the 1982 World Cup, England
might have expected some respite in the second stage,
where FIFA was still keeping its mini-league system.
Before the finals Greenwood was hoping to be in this
position, and he was fully expecting to be facing
Austria and Spain at worst, or maybe even Chile and
Northern Ireland at best. Instead he got hosts Spain
and the current European Champions, mighty West
Germany. Yet again, more bad luck for England.
Still without a fully fit Robson and missing Brooking
and Keegan, Greenwood was resisting the clamour for
Glenn Hoddle to be brought into the team, preferring
to be cautious and rely on his defence that after all
had only conceded three solitary goals in the last
year. His side was also scoring goals - Mariner and
Francis had scored ten between them in the previous
Off the field England's fans were still finding
trouble wherever they went. Following the unexpected
success, thousands more fans boarded the 24-hour car
ferries from Portsmouth to Bilbao or made the two day
drive through France. The Spanish organisation
committee Mundiespaña simply could not cope with this
influx - hotel rooms were as expensive as gold and
access to tickets was barely controlled. Indeed many
found it easier to get one of the hotel rooms than it
was to get a ticket for their country's section of the
For the first time they also decided to segregate the
fans totally, and the police were given orders to
round up any stragglers. This gave them free reign to
pick off fans at will, and they duly did that,
becoming almost as feared as the razor and knife
wielding fascists roaming Madrid's parks and waste
ground after dark searching for England fans to
attack. Soon the England fans uniform of Union Jack
t-shirt and bulldog tattoo was joined by bloodstains.
In one attack a gang of fascists attacked three
England fans sleeping in a Madrid park, beating two to
a pulp and stabbing the other one several times.
With the police unable or unwilling to control their
own fans, the English swarmed together in huge groups,
thousands strong in some cases. Many still defiantly
carried the Basque flags they had picked up in Bilbao,
although to be caught with one of those opened you up
to attack from the police as well as the fascists.
These people were no innocents though. Far from it,
they knew exactly what they were doing. Fighting and
looking for trouble had been a part of fan culture in
England for over ten years. Just two years before a
European Championship match in Italy had had to be
stopped when tear gas fired by the police to stop
fighting drifted onto the pitch and affected the
Stupidly, the English FA had played up to these fans.
Their mascot for the finals was Bobby the Bulldog - an
evil, snarling, muscular, tattooed, fist-wielding
bulldog wearing an England shirt. It must be the
least friendly, most intimidating mascot ever devised.
And the English fans in Spain took it to heart. Even
today, twenty years later, you still see it tattooed
on the bodies of England fans deported from away games
after getting so drunk they become incapable of
controlling themselves. To wear it permanently on
your body became the mark of the hooligan. And as the
press magnified the exploits of this type of person
throughout the early 1980s it became a mark many
wanted. It gave them notoriety and fame. It made
them feared. In the same way Americans worshipped
Rambo, many young English men revelled in their
hooligan image and status. With it they could escape
their boring, monotonous lives on the dole or in dead
Even as the number of hooligan related incidents in
England started to dwindle as the 1980s went on,
violence followed England at home and abroad more and
more. It reached its peak in Düsseldorf in 1988 and
throughout Italy in 1990, but for many the tales
brought back from Spain started the whole ideal. And
it was an ideal; many hooligans lived out the whole
hooligan way of life at home and abroad until the
government belatedly cracked down on them after
Four days after defeating Kuwait, England met West
Germany at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, the huge
concrete bowl owned by Real Madrid. With near war
erupting on the streets between the English fans and
Spanish, most inside the stadium were supporting
Germany. Greenwood had managed to coax Robson back
into near fitness and the centre of midfield, but he
had lost much of his attacking verve and instead had
to anchor the defence. This would have been the
perfect chance to use Glenn Hoddle, especially for
Graham Rix who was not making the type of impact he
might have been expected to. Greenwood saw otherwise
and kept his defensive line-up. Of course Keegan and
Brooking were still injured.
With little trouble inside the stadium for the first
time, the game started with both sides deploying all
their defensive talent. West Germany had been many
people's favourites going into the World Cup - they
were European Champions again and coach Jupp Derwall
talked a very good game. Before their first match
against Algeria he had promised to jump into the sea
if Germany lost - they did and he quickly stopped
being so over confident. In fact the Germans had been
so poor so far that they had had to rely on a very
suspect 1:0 victory over Austria to see them through.
They did not look capable of scoring, and while they
were now employing Uli Stielike as a sweeper behind
the defence, the way they had been ripped apart by
Algeria left few confident in their defensive
Partly because of the war going on outside the ground,
but mainly as a result of the defensive web being
weaved inside it and the stifling heat of a Madrid
summer night, the game turned into the most sterile
contest of the whole tournament. Neither side wanted
to give anything away. Just as Robson's injury was
hampering England, a pulled muscle stopped Karl-Heinz
Rummenigge from getting into the English box with his
usual threat. Little happened.
Time after time the Förster brothers stopped Francis
and Mariner, and at the other end the usually
threatening Manni Kaltz was stopped by the English
defence from unleashing any of his dangerous crosses.
After the game this was all Ron Greenwood could point
to when asked for his plus points. It says a lot
about the attitude of both teams that keeping a right
back in his own half was regarded as a major
accomplishment. Finally as the game entered its last
fifteen minutes, it sprang to life. Paul Breitner
started to make inroads into the English half, and
Pierre Littbarski livened up the Germans no end when
he was brought on. With only five minutes left first
Rummenigge hit the bar, then even closer, Bryan Robson
had a header tipped over by Harald Schumacher. But a
nil-nil draw satisfied both sides, both of who
expected to beat Spain.
Greenwood now had six days to get Brooking and Keegan
fit. Both were making some progress, with Keegan
nearer than Brooking. Keegan had missed so much
football he was completely out of touch and had little
form to speak of. Worse still it was now three years
since he had won the last of his two European
Footballer of the Year awards, and it was even longer
since his glory days with Liverpool. He had scored
only two goals for England since May 1980, and was
probably less of a threat than Francis and Mariner.
However he still had a big name, and as captain could
hardly be dropped. Opposition defences expected him
to play well, even when he did not - and that often
meant Francis or Mariner was left unmarked.
Brooking was probably more vital than Keegan. Also at
the end of a long England career, Brooking had been
playing his best football for a long time in the
previous three years, including scoring some vital
goals from midfield for his club and country. He
controlled the attacking element of the England team;
pulling strings and making the chances Keegan and
Francis thrived on. With him alongside Robson and
Wilkins at the heart of the midfield, room would be
available for Hoddle to be included. And if Hoddle
was still too mercurial, then Steve Coppell or Graham
Rix could be used properly instead. Brooking gave so
much extra to the England midfield. Unfortunately
there was no way he would be fit to play the whole
game against Spain - but Greenwood knew he would be
able to use him at some stage.
Back home the pressure was mounting on Greenwood. The
positive press he had received following the wins
against France and Czechoslovakia had come in the
immediate aftermath of the announcement of victory in
the Falklands. Now nearly a month had past, and most
of the troops were already back in Britain or on their
way home. The news agenda had moved on, and certainly
in the tabloid press the soap opera of the England
team was now the main news. Still there was always
the never ending violence going on in the streets to
keep the reporters happy.
The six days in between the Germany match and the
Spanish game had been a time where English fans tried
to keep a low profile. The Spanish police had taken
to using electric batons and cattle prods to beat
small groups of fans, especially those who had been
caught with Basque flags. In one incident on the day
of the Spanish game hundreds of English fans were
forced inside a bar while Guardia Civil reinforcements
were called up. Blockaded inside, the English had no
chance of escape.
As television cameras and an expectant Spanish crowd
gathered, the English were forced out to be beaten by
two lines of police. The beating carried on for
several minutes while the crowd cheered and did not
stop until each police officer was happy. Little was
changed by this utter brutality. The hardcore English
hooligans who had travelled to Spain in their hundreds
were long gone by this time, happy to fight in Bilbao
against the French, but too scared to go to Madrid.
Instead many ordinary fans - drunk, but otherwise
within the law - were assaulted by the police and
roaming gangs. This continued inside the Bernabéu -
Spanish fans were allowed to throw missiles into the
English section at will, while the Spanish police
repeatedly charged the fans foolhardy enough to have
gone to the game.
England could not have faced a tougher, more hostile
atmosphere if they had been playing in Buenos Aires.
In Argentina, England's progress so far had passed
unmentioned. But now the whole world was focussed on
this match. It was the last game of the whole second
stage, and would decide who played France in the
second semi final. As the Argentinean commentators
referred to England not by name but as 'the team in
white', England had real chance of progression.
To reach that semi final against a team they had
already comprehensively beaten England had to beat
Spain 2:0. This was because West Germany had beaten
Spain 2:1. Spain were thus out, and had little to
play for, except their pride in front of a worldwide
television audience. Many Spanish people wanted to
desperately stop the English advancing because of all
the violence that had accompanied their fans. More
than this though they also wanted to strike a blow for
Latin brotherhood after the Falklands and could not
stomach the idea of England winning through. So the
Spanish simply shut up shop, and defended.
England had lost Steve Coppell before the game to
another injury, but instead of playing Hoddle or even
risking Brooking, Greenwood elected to start with Tony
Woodcock up front in a three-man-attack. As usual
the defence held very firm - Don Howe had worked
wonders in organising them in a short space of time.
This was to backfire for England in the long term, as
he was called on time and again by subsequent managers
Bobby Robson and Graham Taylor to solve their
problems. His ideas worked in 1982 (as they had in
for Arsenal in the early 1970s) but they became
exposed more than once as the 1980s and 1990s wore on.
Back in the Bernabéu, England were making heavy
weather of the game. Spain started very nervously and
Luis Arconada in goal looked particularly shaky as he
had throughout the tournament. England had little to
offer though, chances came and went, and with the
Spanish crowd happy for their team to take a nil-nil
draw Greenwood only had one card left to play. With
half an hour left he turned to Keegan and Brooking.
Brooking's impact was immediate. He found space were
no one else had, and quickly made a chance for
himself. Turning inside the area he unleashed a
powerful shot that looked to have broken the deadlock
- until Luis Arconada pushed it away at the last
moment with his only good save of the whole
tournament. Still England had chances. Robson -
freed by Brooking's added impetus - floated a good
ball into Keegan's path. Keegan leapt unhindered on
the back post, and made a good firm connection with
the ball - it flashed agonisingly wide with Arconada
spectating. England were out of time, and were going
out of the World Cup.
Spain themselves could have won the game near the end,
but they barely deserved to, and it ended all square
at 0:0. England had two points from two draws, Spain
one point. Above them both were West Germany with
three points, and they went on to the Sevilla semi
final against France. England had remained unbeaten,
had conceded only one goal, while scoring six, but
were still going home. Strangely they were not the
first team to go out of the World Cup undefeated,
Scotland in 1974, Brazil in 1978 and Cameroon in the
earlier rounds of 1982 beating them to it.
Unlike those other teams though England had only
conceded one goal, and had started off looking like
world-beaters before drifting limply out of the
tournament. And they could not even cite bribery, as
the Brazilians had been able to do in 1978.
It was all so anti-climatic. Instead of retuning to
celebrations (as would happen if the same thing
happened today) England went home with minimal fuss,
and the team quickly broke up. Mick Mills (who had
captained the team from right back in the absence of
Keegan), Trevor Brooking and Kevin Keegan never played
for England again. Soon after Steve Coppell picked up
his career ending injury and disappeared from the
squad as well. In the space of two years only Peter
Shilton, Kenny Sansom, Terry Butcher, Glenn Hoddle,
Bryan Robson and Ray Wilkins of the squad of 22 that
went to Spain still played for England - and by the
time England next met the Germans at the World Cup in
1990 only Shilton, Butcher and Robson were left. Even
then only Shilton played the whole game. Almost all
have stayed in the game somewhere, either as coaches
or media pundits. Keegan and Hoddle have even had a
chance at being England manager themselves.
Perhaps because new manager Bobby Robson changed the
team so much, so quickly, their achievements were
lost. Similarly the two sterile games they played in
Madrid did not help to make them fondly remembered.
The sheer unrelenting level of violence surrounding
England at España 82 does not help either. Within
three years English clubs were banned from European
competition following the Heysel disaster, and
uncontrollable violence in England led in part to the
move to bringing in all seater stadia which itself
kicked off the money-go-round of the Premiership. In
these sanitised days of family entertainment, the dark
days of the late 1970s and early 1980s are never
discussed - they are certainly never looked back on
Nonetheless, in becoming only the second English team
to return home from the World Cup undefeated they have
a place in history all to themselves. After the
tournament FIFA scrapped the mini-league system and
re-introduced the knock out matches. So if an England
team ever manages to come home from the World Cup
undefeated again it will mean they will do so as World
Champions. It is unlikely we will ever see anything
like the English journey through Spain again.
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