This summer of course marks the 50th anniversary of a truly great event – by that I mean the release of the album ‘Revolver’ by the Beatles. The Tay Road Bridge also opened that summer as did Glasgow’s Abbotsinch Airport. Oh all right then, and our best chums England won the FIFA World Cup by beating the former British, French and American sectors of a divided Germany by THREE goals to two.
The fiftieth anniversary [and associated celebrations] of England’s triumph now loom large on the horizon, however as I was but seven years old when they won the World Cup I don’t remember a thing about it. My earliest football match memories came ten months later in May 1967 when Celtic and Rangers played in the finals of the European Champions’ Clubs Cup and the European Cup Winners Cup. Sadly, I therefore have no recollection either of Scotland beating England 3-2 at Wembley in April 1967 and declaring ourselves unofficial World Champions.
Looking back at 1966 with a little help from my programme collection and it is interesting to see that on 2nd April that year Scotland ‘did their bit’ to help England prepare by ‘allowing’ the visitors to win 4-3 win at Hampden in the British Championship decider in front of an incredible crowd of 123,052. Celtic defender Tommy Gemmell made his international debut that day whilst clubmate Jinky Johnstone scored two of his four Scotland goals. The Lawman got the other one.
The match programme for the ‘British Final’ lists the pre-match entertainment which comprised massed Pipes and Drums, the Ayr Majorettes, a display by the Glasgow Keep-fit Movement and two track events- which included a one mile invitation race featuring Lachie Stewart and Ian McCafferty who would go on to win Gold and Silver medals for Scotland at the 1970 Commonwealth Games [10,000 and 5,000 metres] in Edinburgh. We don’t really need that perimeter track at Hampden now though, do we?
Scotland ’s usual tormentor, Jimmy Greaves, was not listed although Manchester United winger John Connelly played, both against Scotland and in the opening match of the World Cup Finals against Uruquay – his 20th and final game for England . Connelly was one of four England players to play in the tournament but not in the final itself. Connelly, along with all other squad players would eventually receive a World Cup winners medal in 2009 from the then Prime Minister [and Raith Rovers supporter] Gordon Brown.
In June 1966, Scotland then ‘helped-out’ two other World Cup hopefuls in the shape of games against Portugal and Brazil on two consecutive Saturday evenings [kick-off 7.30pm ]. Portugal would ultimately lose to England in the Semi-finals before beating the USSR to take third place. Defending Champions Brazil would fail to get beyond the group stages however, for although they defeated Bulgaria at Goodison Park, Liverpool they also lost to both Hungary and Portugal at the same stadium.
With regards to the Portugal game only 23,321 were in attendance to witness Eusebio and co win the game thanks to a goal from Jose Torres whilst Scotland gave debut caps to Willie Bell of Leeds United and Leicester City’s John Sinclair. According to the programme, the pre-match entertainment was to include the latter stages of the SFA Youth Final and both finalists’ starting elevens were duly listed and included Hamish McAlpine who would go on to attain cult status at Tannadice as well as 5 Scotland under-21 caps.
For the programme against Brazil there were no player pen-pics but some photographs, of Rildo, Dudu, Belini and Gerson plus one of Pele strumming an acoustic guitar!I thought the SFA President’s notes a tad disappointing. On the one hand he bemoans that ‘‘Teams very much inferior to Scotland have reached the World Cup Finals’’ whilst on the other hand he cowers ‘‘It is too much to hope that Scotland will win against Brazil .’’Arrogance AND an inferiority complex – that’s a neat trick.
As for the actual game – the first-ever meeting between the two sides- 74,933 saw Celtic’s Stevie Chalmers give Scotland the lead in the FIRST minute before a goal by Servilio in the 16th minute ensured that honours finished even. Celtic’s John Clark and Peter Cormack of Hibs made their Scotland debuts that evening.
Returning to the programme and again the twenty-two players who would contest the SFA Youth Final were listed along with an explanation that the previous week the match had been postponed due to heavy rain and the desire to have the pitch in good order for the international match itself. It may have been a lovely evening the night the World Champions came to town but I’m not convinced that subjecting the playing surface to a Youth Cup Final just before a match involving illustrious guests such as Portugal or Brazil was such a good idea in the first place. I’d love to know what the Groundsman’s thoughts on the matter were!
Anyway, both Brazil and Portugal subsequently headed south to Lancashire apparently none the worse for their visits to Hampden Park, and the 1966 World Cup finals duly kicked-off on Monday 11th July. The rest, as many of us north of the border would say, is both history and purgatory.
PS Spare a thought for people like Kevin Donnelly and Scott Kelly who live and work ‘behind enemy lines’ so to speak and who will get the full media brunt of Euro-overload and the 50th anniversary hoo-ha. Share the pain if it helps, comrades – we’re here for you
Good article Robert. Two things of note John Sinclair was generally known as Jackie Sinclair rather than John. John McHugh of Clyde on the back of his 1971/72 A&BC card is listed as “holding a degree as a Bachelor of Science and works in Edinburgh as a computer planner”. Can’t too many football players who can say that; a computer planner in 1971!