Month: April 2015

England on TV – Life Before the Red Button

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In the first of a series of nostalgic recollections of the experiences of millions watching England on television, we focus on when live coverage was a luxury rather than taken for granted. Without digital television available to offer multiple channels and sometimes for other reasons too, there were times when viewers couldn’t be assured of just sitting down and watching England’s full 90 minutes from their armchair…

You join us with John Barnes having just scored an amazing goal…

  

John Barnes celebrates possibly the greatest England goal you never saw live.

During the 1980s, there was an annoying trend for only the second half of some international matches to be broadcast live in the Uk. It happened a bit during the 1986 World Cup group stage (not for matches involving England) but probably the best remembered example came in June 1984. England travelled to Brazil for a friendly but the match would not be shown in its entirety. Instead, ITV would only broadcast the second half live as viewers were left to endure Surprise, Surprise instead of the first half action. 

As a result, one of the most famous goals England have ever scored was not seen live by almost all Englishmen (the exceptions being the lucky few in the stadium or in the ITV studio), as John Barnes went on his mazy run moments before the break and slotted home. There were plenty of instances of England matches being shown only as highlights rather than live (at some point most of us endured a Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads? struggle to avoid the score before highlights of an England match were shown) but viewers wouldn’t even get to enjoy the goal as if watching live. The programme began and Jim Rosenthal told viewers England had just gone 1-0 up thanks to John Barnes’ wondergoal before very brief first half highlights were shown after a bit of a delay. The second half saw Mark Hateley score to seal a 2-0 win but there were further problems to blight the broadcast (more on that in the next blog).

England’s friendly win in Greece in February 1989 left viewers having to wait for Neighbours to finish before they could see the second half live, but it wasn’t just friendlies not afforded the full 90 minute treatment when England went abroad. Their decisive final qualifier for Euro 92 away to Poland saw the BBC only join the action at half-time, with a similar situation existing for their World Cup qualifier in Norway in June 1993. And going back to the 1966 World Cup, ITV made the ill-fated decision to join some games England played while they were in progress – playing into the hands of the BBC who showed them in full.

Inconceivable now, but not seeing big matches in full was accepted by past generations. Any live football at all felt like a bonus.

The worst of both worlds

  
Denmark go through and ITV’s hopes of big viewing figures for the second half of England’s match against Luxembourg are gone.

In November 1983 England were clinging to the slim hope of making the Euro ’84 finals. They would almost certainly win their final match in Luxembourg, but they had to hope Denmark would fail to triumph in Greece a couple of hours earlier to be able to qualify. ITV seemed caught in two minds as to what to show. They wanted to be there for the moment England got through to the finals if it happened in Luxembourg, but they also knew the match in Greece was what would really decide their fate. They made a decision to show the last half hour of the Greece v Denmark match and then later join the action for Luxembourg against England at half-time. 

The trouble was, all they showed in the first match was Denmark seeing out their 2-0 win to seal qualification and end English hopes – with the second match now a dead rubber that England were in little mood for. Viewers again watched a game pretty much already settled when live coverage started, with England 2-0 up at half-time. To England’s credit they put on a professional showing to win 4-0 in difficult circumstances, but it felt like a non-event. ITV’s decision to show the climax to both matches had logic to it and would have worked fine if Denmark had failed to win in Greece, but it had backfired and left viewers feeling they hadn’t really seen any gripping action during the night.

A decade later, ITV’s rivals at the BBC would try a different approach during the final round of qualification matches – but again fail to please everybody…

We interrupt this programme to bring you Wales v Romania…

  

Millions more see Paul Bodin miss his penalty for Wales against Romania than would have done a few minutes earlier.

In November 1993, England were away to San Marino in their final World Cup qualifier. To put it simply, they had to win by a big score and hope the Netherlands lost in Poland at the same time to make the finals. It was a tall order and as the night wore on it became clear English hopes were over, as the Dutch enjoyed a 3-1 win to seal their place in the USA and ensure Graham Taylor’s side wouldn’t make it. 

The BBC were showing England’s match live, but during the second half – with the Three Lions leading 4-1 and both the match and hopes of qualification effectively dead – a decision was taken to switch to live coverage of of Wales against Romania from Cardiff. The winner-takes-all Welsh match was on a knife-edge at 1-1, with Terry Yorath’s side the last hope of a British team making the finals. VIewers saw Paul Bodin miss a penalty and Romania get a late winner to leave Wales missing out, but at the same time they missed the final three England goals in their 7-1 win

It basically boiled down to if your main concern was seeing if any British side could make the finals or you were solely concerned about England as to whether you were bothered about the sudden switch of match – evidently plenty fell into the latter camp judging by the BBC switchboard being jammed with complaints. Still, they had at least shown San Marino’s infamous goal in the opening seconds which would be easily the most memorable moment of the night! Those with Sky Sports could see the match in full and England would not be shown live on terrestrial television again until Euro ’96.

How the Beeb must have wished digital television and the red button came along many years earlier…

Where’s the England match?

All told, England fans generally have it better than any English club side when it comes to watching them on television, with pretty much every much televised live (or quite often in extended highlights form until recent times). But this means it has been more noticeable when the coverage has been either very limited or non-existent. 

  
The BBC bills live coverage of their Euro ’88 match with the USSR, but things would turn out differently…

One such example came in Euro ’88, where the BBC faced a dilemma over whether to show England or another fixture. The Three Lions’ final group match against the USSR had a few days earlier been unsurprisingly billed as the live match (see above pic), but two defeats put Bobby Robson’s side out before the fixture took place. In the same group Jack Charlton’s Republic of Ireland were up against the Netherlands in a decisive match for both sides at the same time, with the BBC changing plans and opting to show that instead – the under-pressure Robson probably wasn’t complaining as it meant English viewers watched just a few minutes of a dreadful performance in losing to the USSR, rather than having to sit through the entire debacle! The emergence of multiple channels for the BBC and ITV has thankfully removed such dilemmas for them in major tournaments in the present day – would ITV have switched to Italy against Uruguay at the 2014 World Cup instead of England’s dead rubber with Costa Rica if they still only operated only one channel?

ITV was off the air for three months in 1979 and that meant England’s home Euro ’80 qualifier against Denmark went unscreened, with other games having not been shown over the years for a variety of reasons including friendlies in Portugal in 1974 and in Brazil in 1977. Granada viewers missed out due to a strike when England met Czechoslovakia in the 1970 World Cup, while Central opted out of ITV’s live coverage of the Euro ’92 qualifier away to the Republic of Ireland so they could show coverage of the 50th anniversary commemorations of the Coventry Blitz in the Second World War. England’s trip to Australia in 1980 was not covered on these shores, with a three-match trip there in 1983 receiving better, but still fairly scant, coverage.

Since the early 1990s pretty much every England match has been shown live somewhere, although this hasn’t prevented complaints about subscription channels such as BSB, Sky Sports and Setanta holding the rights – there was plenty of debate on the latter having exclusive coverage of the 4-1 win for England away to Croatia in September 2008. 

The World Cup qualifier in Poland in May 1997 was controversially live only on the newly-launched Channel 5, which some parts of the country had problems receiving. Another qualifying match in Finland in October 2000 could only be seen on a pay-per-view channel, leading to Kevin Keegan speaking out on the issue and in October 2009 the trip to Ukraine was as close as we’ve come to a TV blackout in modern times – only being screened live on the internet. Things had certainly much changed from the days of Kenneth Wolstenholme!

In the next blog post on the subject, we will recall more frustrations for the TV viewer when England played – including dodgy camerawork and transmission problems blighting broadcasts.

Six of the Worst – England in April

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Having looked back at some of England’s best April days in the last blog post, it’s now time to be gluttons for punishment and recall six matches in the month which weren’t quite so enjoyable for a variety of reasons.

April 15, 1967, Scotland (h) 2-3 European Championship qualifier/Home International Championship

A match that will forever be fondly remembered in Scotland as the day they called themselves world champions, but one better best forgotten south of the border. England were World Cup winners and unbeaten since October 1965, but they were to infamously come unstuck with Jim Baxter inspiring his side to victory. The annual fixture had extra spice as the Home International Championships of 1966-67 and 1967-68 were doubling up as qualifying for the 1968 European Championship. It ended 3-2 to Scotland, in a contest that properly sprung to life in the closing stages with a goal rush. A first-half effort by Denis Law was all that separated the sides until Bobby Lennox struck 12 minutes from time to double Scotland’s advantage.

In a hectic last seven minutes Jack Charlton (who bravely played through the pain barrier virtually all match, with no substitutions possible) and Geoff Hurst scored for England, but in between Jim McCalliog got Scotland’s third as they celebrated one of their most famous wins over the Auld Enemy. But England would have the last laugh by advancing to the last eight of the European finals with a 1-1 draw at Hampden Park the following February.

April 29, 1972, West Germany (h) 1-3 European Championship quarter final, first leg

 

No doubt about this one going on the list, the night England could feel themselves slipping from the elite and entering their years in the international wilderness. If their defeat to West Germany at the same stage of the World Cup two years earlier could be dismissed as a bit of bad fortune, there was no sense of injustice here as they were deservedly beaten 3-1. Bobby Moore uncharacteristically lost possession in the build-up to the opening West German goal by Uli Hoeness and it was to be a sobering Saturday night for Englishmen. Although Sir Alf Ramsey’s side pulled themselves back into it thanks to a Francis Lee goal, they were punished twice more in the closing minutes by the superb Gunter Netzer (pen) and Gerd Muller and left with a mountain to climb after their 3-1 defeat. Sir Alf fully accepted the Germans deserved their first Wembley win, but added: “We didn’t get hold of it until the second half. By then West Germany had all the confidence in the world because of the freedom we let them have in the first half.”

Unsurprisingly there was no turnaround in Berlin two weeks later, as the teams drew 0-0 and West Germany went on to win the competition.

April 3, 1974, Portugal (a) 0-0 Friendly

Nothing particularly awful about this result or England’s display, but the match marked an anti-climatic end to Sir Alf Ramsey’s reign in charge of England. He had avoided being axed immediately after they failed to qualify for the World Cup finals the previous October and set about a rebuilding exercise by fielding one of the least experienced England teams in history (there were six debutants and the third most capped player in the starting line-up was Malcolm Macdonald, who was making only his fifth appearance). This was at least partly due to an FA Cup semi-final replay and First Division matches on the same night depriving him of players such as Kevin Keegan, with that match also taking precedence over England’s trip to Portugal in terms of media coverage – the BBC show Sportsnight showed highlights of Liverpool’s win rather than the late-night match in Lisbon.

Several new caps acquitted themselves well including Trevor Brooking and Dave Watson, but giving them a taste of full international life would be Sir Alf’s last act. The man who led England to 1966 World Cup glory was dismissed little more than two weeks later, as he paid a belated price for not reaching the finals this time. One match with Portgual eight years earlier had been a true highlight of his career, but this one would be remembered only for sad reasons as he said farewell.

April 29, 1981, Romania (h) 0-0 World Cup qualifier
It still remains baffling how England managed to qualify for the 1982 World Cup, enduring several poor results along the way like this one. They were jeered off the field by a frustrated Wembley crowd and it could have been even worse after Ilie Balaci almost deceived Peter Shilton with a long-range header in the goalless draw. The display inevitably attracted criticism, including from Daily Express reporter Steve Curry who wrote: “It looks as if English players travelling to Spain next year will be doing so to spend time on the beaches rather than football fields.”

A few months later everyone thought he would be right after things got even worse with defeats for Ron Greenwood’s men in Switzerland and Norway, but they would make it – somehow!

April 29, 1987, Turkey (a) 0-0 European Championship qualifier
More woe on April 29th! Having won 8-0 on their previous visit to Turkey in 1984, there was expectation for England to enjoy another comfortable win as they took a 100% record in Euro ’88 qualifying to Izmir. But it was to be a frustrating afternoon, as Bobby Robson’s side struggled to make the breakthrough against an improved but limited Turkish side and were held to a 0-0 draw.

To make matters worse, there were problems with the transmission of the match as viewers back home were effectively left watching in black and white in the opening few minutes! “Well you’ve seen the apologies for the quality of the pictures this afternoon and may I apologise for the quality of the football you’ve been witnessing,” quipped BBC presenter Jimmy Hill at half-time. It didn’t get much better after the break, as Clive Allen was unable to carry his prolific club form into the international arena. It proved to be the one blemish for England in an excellent qualifying campaign.

April 28, 1993, Netherlands (h) 2-2 World Cup qualifier

 

This was just minutes away from surely making it into the Six of the Best list, but instead Graham Taylor was left reflecting afterwards on “the biggest disappointment of my career”. Norway’s blistering start to the group had put pressure on both England and the Dutch, meaning their head to head meetings could be decisive in who went to the finals in the USA. Taylor’s side started superbly, with John Barnes scoring a free-kick and David Platt doubling the lead. Although a well executed goal from Dennis Bergkamp pulled the Netherlands back into the match before the break and Paul Gascoigne sustained a facial injury thanks to Jan Wouters’ elbow, it looked like England would hold out for a win until the closing stages. Des Walker was uncharacteristically caught for pace and adjudged to have pulled Marc Overmars back in the area (he had first grabbed his shirt outside the box), with Peter van Vossen scoring from the spot.

“We were lucky – England were the better team,” said a relieved Dutch manager Dick Advocaat after the 2-2 draw. As we all know, Taylor would have more reason to curse the Dutch before the qualifying campaign was over.

Six of the Best – England in April

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Although no longer usually a month when England are in action, April was traditionally quite a busy time internationally with the Three Lions frequently playing at least one match then. Let’s look back at six of England’s best April games from the past 50 years.

April 2, 1966 Scotland (a) 4-3 Home International Championship

Just under four months before England’s greatest day, they made the trip to Hampden Park in the Home International Championship. It ended in a cracking  4-3 win for England as Geoff Hurst, Roger Hunt (2) and Bobby Charlton all found the net in front of more than 123,000 fans. The result ended a poor recent record for England against their old rivals and their attacking display gave hope for the forthcoming World Cup finals (amid concern about defensive frailty having conceded three). Scotland would gain revenge 12 months later by famously winning 3-2 at Wembley.

April 3, 1968 Spain (h) 1-0 European Nations Cup quarter-finals

Bobby Charlton takes a bow after scoring the winner against Spain.

Two years on from their World Cup glory, England were again going in pursuit of silverware as they were paired with Spain in the quarter-finals of the European Nations Cup. The first leg was played at a packed Wembley, with a well-taken Bobby Charlton goal in the closing stages proving decisive for England in their all-white strip. Earlier Martin Peters had controversially had a goal ruled out on a night when England really should have won more comfortably. But they would also win the second leg to advance to the semi-finals held in Italy. Having also overcome them in Euro ’96, Spain remain the only nation England have defeated in the Euro quarter-finals.

April 21, 1970 Northern Ireland (h) 31 Home International Championship

Not so much a classic match as a celebration of Bobby Charlton’s 100th cap, in an era when it was rare for anyone to reach that feat. He was handed the captaincy for the night and scored in a 3-1 win on a much-criticised Wembley pitch, as Sir Alf Ramsey’s men continued their preparations for the World Cup in Mexico. Martin Peters and Geoff Hurst also scored for England, with Charlton’s Manchester United team-mate George Best replying for Northern Ireland. “I am delighted for Bobby – he has achieved a truly great feat,” said Sir Alf afterwards.

April 16, 1975 Cyprus (h) 5-0 European Championship Qualifier 

Supermaccelebrates one of his five goals during the 5-0 win over Cyprus.

A big win for England at home to Cyprus was not unexpected, but it was a significant night. Malcolm Macdonald generally struggled to find the same potency for England as he did at club level, but that wasn’t the case in this match as he scored all five goals as England won 5-0. Don Revie’s side had beaten world champions West Germany in a friendly the previous month and they looked confident as they continually found Macdonald in space to head home. It was the first time since the war a player had scored five times in a match for England, but not everyone was in awe of his achievement. In the Daily Express, reporter David Miller wrote:  “This was Third Division stuff in international terms. Let us keep the champagne for the moment when the English bull does the same against Argentina, Brazil or Holland.”

And sadly such pessimism bore fruit – Macdonald never scored again for his country and England failed to qualify for the European Championship.

April 25, 1990 Czechoslovakia (h) 4-2 Friendly

Celebration time for Paul Gascoigne and Steve Bull against Czechoslovakia in 1990.

The night that changed Paul Gascoigne’s England career and really the start of ‘Gazzamania’ that would sweep the country in the coming months. Almost exactly a year after scoring his first international goal against Albania, Gascoigne was picked to start an international for only the second time as Czechoslovakia visited Wembley. Many saw it as his audition to claim a place in the World Cup squad and, if so, he grabbed it with both hands. Gascoigne shone and rounded off the scoring in an entertaining 4-2 win in front of just 21,342, with Steve Bull (2) and Stuart Pearce also on target. Bobby Robson stopped short of saying Gascoigne would definitely be in the World Cup squad, but dropped a pretty big hint by saying he “passed every test that was set him”.

April 2, 2003 Turkey (h) European Championship Qualifier

It was clear from the moment this group kicked off it would be between England and Turkey for top spot, with their dominance in other fixtures meaning their head to head record was likely to be decisive. That proved to be the case, with this memorable meeting at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light putting England in the driving seat. At 17, Wayne Rooney was handed his first England start and he played his part in a 2-0 win courtesy of goals in the closing stages from Darius Vassell and David Beckham (penalty). A goalless draw in the return match took Engkand through to Euro 2004, preserving their proud record of having never conceded a goal to Turkey.

England’s Qualifying Campaigns – Euro ’88: Peaking Too Soon

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In the latest look back at past England qualifying campaigns for major tournaments, we recall their road to the 1988 European Championship in West Germany. Bobby Robson’s side looked awesome at times in sealing their place and ended with a tremendous qualifying record. What a shame that form wasn’t carried over into the finals tournament…

After the drama and controvery of Mexico ’86, England could look forward to the rest of the 1980s with hope with a relatively young squad. Unlike after the previous World Cup, this time around virtually all the squad would stay in contention for a place and there would be few changes in personnel as thoughts turned to seeking to reach West Germany. Ray Wilkins would soon see time called on his England career, but he was still involved as the qualifying campaign got under way.

England’s very presence in the qualifying campaign had initially been in doubt, with it feared the ban on English clubs in Europe would spread to the national team. But in October 1985 they were given the green light by UEFA to participate. Having failed to reach Euro ’84 (albeit after losing out to an excellent Denmark side), the minimum requirement would be to get through this time. But by now the fear of what English hooligans would do on foreign soil was such that when a qualifying draw was made attention was as much about avoiding serious trouble as having an easy ride on the field.

Draw Delight

Bobby Robson was on a skiing holiday when the draw was made on Valentine’s Day 1986, but he could barely hide his pleasure at being in a group with Yugoslavia, Northern Ireland and Turkey – teams they would be expected to finish above and where trouble would hopefully be avoided. “Overall I am delighted that we will be able to concentrate on our football,” said Robson.

Both Northern Ireland and Turkey had been in England’s qualifying group for Mexico ’86, with neither managing to score against them and the Turks conceding 13 goals in the two games. The Northern Irish had enjoyed an excellent decade so far, but Billy Bingham faced a rebuilding exercise with players such as Pat Jennings having bowed out and limited quality available to replace them. Probably the biggest threat to England’s place in the finals came from Yugoslavia, who had failed to qualify for the World Cup in Mexico but had made it to Spain ’82 and France ’84. Only the top team would progress.

A strong start

England’s first match of the 1986-87 season brought a 1-0 friendly defeat to Sweden but the serious stuff begian a month later as Northern Ireland came to Wembley for the opening qualifier. There was a clearer gulf between the sides than in the World Cup qualifying campaign and far less public interest, as just over 35,000 were there to see it. Billy Bingham had rather oddly chosen to get married on the day of the game, before seeing his side lose 3-0. Now playing for Barcelona, World Cup top scorer Gary Lineker scored twice including a delicious chip to leave manager Robson proclaiming he was the best striker in the world. Given the form he was in, it was hard to argue with that claim at this point.

  
A month later, England made it two home wins out of two as Yugoslavia visited Wembley. Despite having to field a makeshift defence with goalkeeper Chris Woods earning a rare cap in a competitive match and Gary Mabbutt back in the side after a three-year absence, England emerged triumphant in a physical contest. Mabbutt scored a superb header before Viv Anderson completed the 2-0 win, in a match beat remembered for Glenn Hoddle having his head bandaged after a clash of heads with Steve Hodge. It hadn’t been easy, but England had made a superb start to the campaign. 

However, Bobby Robson was left to defend the reputation of his side after they were labelled “too aggressive” by opposite number Ivica Osim, who was angry after his player Semir Tuce sustained a suspected broken leg. “We were hard and competitive, but never malicious or brutal,” retorted Robson, who would now have a three-month break before leading his side into battle again.
Friendly Fire

  

England started 1987 with a memorable 4-2 friendly win away to Spain in Madrid, with Lineker scoring all four and Arsenal defender Tony Adams becoming the first player born after the 1966 World Cup to win a full England cap. It made for a happy 54th birthday for Bobby Robson, who had turned things round from a tough start in the job.

April Fool’s Day brought a 2-0 win over Northern Ireland in Belfast to preserve the 100% qualifying record, with Bryan Robson and Chris Waddle scoring. The month ended with another qualifier and the first disappointment, as England looked uninspiring away to Turkey. England had won 8-0 on their previous visit in 1984 but this time around they couldn’t manage one goal, as the hosts achieved a moral victory.  Clive Allen had been in prolific form for Tottenham Hotspur with almost 50 goals to his name during the season and he earned an England recall. But a disallowed effort was as close as he or anyone else would come to getting on the scoresheet in the goalless draw. To make things worse, Yugoslavia won in Northern Ireland on the same day to keep the pressure on. 

Pearce and Webb Join the Party

Mercifully there was no long-distance end of season tour in 1987, with England drawing Rous Cup matches with Brazil and Scotland as Stuart Pearce emerged as a a good rival for Kenny Sansom’s left back spot.

After a break of more than three months, England returned to action with a friendly trip to West Germany. The Euro ’88 hosts laid down a warning for the finals with a 3-1 win as the Three Lions again had a bout of ‘Septemberitis’ and started the season with a loss. The night was most notable for substitute Neil Webb becoming the 1,000th player to win an England cap. Almost inevitably not all the headlines concerned matters on the field, with reports of hooligans fighting on the streets of Dusseldorf doing nothing for the nation’s reputation while the European club ban remained in place.

Stuffing the Turkey

  

In October England’s qualifying campaign resumed as Turkey visited Wembley. Determined to avoid a repeat of the frustration in the away game, England went at their opponents from the off and led 2-0 within 10 minutes. They refused to take their foot off the gas and ended up repeating their 8-0 win over the Turks in 1984. Gary Lineker netted a hat-trick, with John Barnes (2), Bryan Robson, Peter Beardsley and Neil Webb also on target in the rout. Barnes and Beardsley had moved to Liverpool in the summer and were helping their new club romp towards the league title in style, with that swagger and confidence seeming to be successfully carried through into the England set-up. 

It had been a great night, but was tinged with disappointment as Yugoslavia beat Northern Ireland 3-0 to leave England still not certain of their finals place. It would now boil down to their final match in the group – their toughest-looking one away to the Yugoslavs on November 11. If England won or drew they would definitely qualify, but if they lost then they would be left clinging to the slim hope that Turkey could get a result against Yugoslavia in the final match in the group.

A perfect 25 minutes

ITV showed England’s match in Yugoslavia live on a Wednesday afternoon and those lucky viewers who were home in time from school or work watched in amazement as Bobby Robson’s men ran riot. There would have been an understandable temptation to keep it tight and settle for a draw, but Robson called it right by getting his side to go for the kill from the off. In the opening 25 minutes Peter Beardsley, John Barnes, Bryan Robson and Tony Adams all found the net to put England 4-0 up on a filthy day of weather in Belgrade. In a match containing similarities with England’s 3-0 win over Poland in the previous year’s World Cup the contest was settled by half-time, with the one disappointment being Yugoslavia ending the Three Lions’ perfect record of clean sheets in the group with a late consolation. 

But the 4-1 victory was a great cause for celebration back home, as England atoned for missing out four years earlier by making it in style this time. “I had to pinch myself when the third and fourth goals in,” said a delighted Bobby Robson afterwards. The manager had gone into the game knowing he could have lost his job had England failed to make it, now there was expectation the competition could be won. Since that defeat by Denmark in September 1983, England were unbeaten in qualifying matches which was a good measure of their consistency.

Having qualified with a record of five wins and a draw from six matches and a record of 19 goals scored and one conceded, there was a belief England could go on and lift their first major silverware since 1966. They had looked awesome and full of confidence when thrashing Turkey and Yugoslavia. But typically the euphoria didn’t last long. Within a couple of days of qualification being secured, newspaper stories suggested England could be withdrawn from the tournament if the hooligans struck again. And just six days after the Yugoslavia match, key defender Terry Butcher suffered an injury playing for Rangers that would rule him out of Euro ’88.

It was the start of a slow descent from heroes to zeroes for England, that would see their potency in qualifying evaporate and the tournament prove a nightmare for Bobby Robson…