Saturday, 3 July 2010

England v Brazil: World Cup 1970

For some, this game was, and remains, pure magic. An honest battle for the World Cup, in the qualifying stages, between the holders, England, and the traditional giants, Brazil.

For others, it is dated. It is history. A match that is not quite Stonehenge. But getting there.

The modern game is, by comparison, not only up to date, it is obviously much quicker and, far more skillfull. Although, I have heard that the modern match ball is much lighter these days. Perhaps, in order to accomadate some lass who has a pretention to "bend it like Beckham".

Most who have seen English Premiership games would concur with the latter view. But hold your horses. Let us ask a few questions first.

What is the best save ever?

Answer: A Gordon Banks save; stopping a Pele header and a certain goal.

The Match? England v Brazil, World Cup, 1970.

Second question. What is the best ever tackle?

Answer: Bobby Moore's perfect tackle on Jairzinho ending another Brazilian attack on goal.

The Match? England v Brazil, World Cup, 1970.

Who are amongst the top twenty players of all time?

Pele, Jairzinho, Bobby Moore, Bobby Charlton and Gordon Banks.

So, arguably, at least a quarter of the worlds best ever players were playing in one match.

The Match? England v Brazil, World Cup, 1970.

What about discipline. Theatrics. Spitting, fighting. Red cards. Bookings?

I cannot quite recall if anyone was booked. Possibly. But it looked every inch a game played in the right spirit. At the end of the match Pele and Moore exchanged shirts in mutual admiration. All could see that it was a display par excellence and an example of how the game ought to be played, without theatrics.

Sometimes, history does get it right. And, not all change is for the better.

Anyway, what was, The Match? England v Brazil, World Cup, 1970.

I watched this classic game, one evening, a few years ago, accompanied by two bottles of red wine. It was a delight to hear names such as Keith Newton, Terry Cooper, Uncle Tom Cobbly and all.

Shame we lost. If only chances had been taken. With a little less sun and a little more luck, we might have even won the damn thing. Again. Now wouldn't that have been something.

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