A History of England at the World Cup Finals

4 Jul

As anyone who watched their performance in the Brazil versus Chile match on ITV will know, the refereeing team of Howard Webb, Mike Mullarky and Darren Cann are the only remaining Englishmen left in the World Cup. Though Clive Tyldsey enthusiastically talked up the chances of the team taking charge of the World Cup Final it now appears more likely that they will officiate one of the semi-finals. I thought therefore that it would be interesting to take a look back at previous World Cups to see the impact Englishmen, or English-born people (not related to the England national side), have had on the World Cup.

The first World Cup took place in 1930, but it would be another twenty years before England and the other home nations felt the need to turn up. In that first tournament the United States reached the semi-finals, before losing 6-1 to Argentina. In their line-up were half a dozen Scots and George Moorhouse,  an English left back, born in Liverpool in 1901, who had played a couple of matches for Tranmere Rovers before emigrating to North America in the early 1920s.

Moorhouse was also part of the United States squad that travelled to Italy for the 1934 World Cup and captained the side as they lost 4-2 to the hosts. This World Cup was also the first to feature English managers. France had ex-Southampton player George Kimpton at the helm for their  campaign. Kempton spent much of the 1920s and 30s coaching clubs throughout Europe spending time in Poland, Czechoslovakia and France, even winning the French title in 1936 with Racing Club Paris.

Bob Glendennig, another Englishman, managed the Netherlands. Glendennig was originally from County Durham and played over a hundred games in the Football League for the likes of Barnsley, Bolton Wanderers and Accrington Stanley. Glendennig managed the Dutch for twenty-five years up until the outbreak of World War II. He wasn’t the first Englishman to manage the Netherlands with half a dozen or so fellow countrymen having taken the Dutch post before Glendennig took charge in 1925. Both the French and Dutch lost their first round matches 3-2 to Austria and Switzerland respectively.

France 1938 also saw a duo of Englishmen managing European sides at the World Cup. Glendennig was continuing in his role as manager of the Netherlands, whilst another low country Belgium had also opted for an Englishman by the name of Jack Butler. Interestingly Butler was born in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) to English parents and had played on the losing side of the 1927 Cup Final for Arsenal, presumably making him the first Asian born player to play in a FA Cup Final. In 1938 he found himself managing a Belgium side who had lost all their games in 1930 and 1934. He had been appointed Belgium manager after a successful stint in charge of the wonderfully named Royal Daring Club Molenbeek. Unfortunately for Taylor he couldn’t prevent the Belgians making an early exit as they lost 3-1 to hosts France. Taylor was to go on to manage in the Football League with Torquay United, Crystal Palace and Colchester United. Glendennig’s Netherlands lost their only match 3-0 to Czechoslovakia.

Owing to World War II it was to be another 12 years before the World Cup was held once more, and this was the tournament which saw England in the World Cup Finals for the very first time. The 1950 World Cup is famous (from an English point of view) for their 1-0 loss to the United States. Having been captained by an Englishman in 1934, in 1950 the States  were captained by a former Wrexham player born in Scotland named Ed McIlvenny. The United States had Lincoln-born Geoff Coombes on their roster for this tournament although he did not play a game. Not only was this the first World Cup to see England competing, it was also the first Finals to see English referees take the field with George Reader refereeing the “de-facto” World Cup Final between Uruguay and Brazil at the ripe age of 53. Arthur Ellis, another Englishman, was a linesman in the Final and on retirement was to move into television, acting as referee for popular British TV show It’s a Knockout.

The 1954 World Cup in Switzerland was another big tournament for English referees with FIFA choosing William Ling to officiate the final between Hungary and West Germany. Ling had refereed the two sides when they met in the group stages of the tournament and the Hungarians had run out convincing 8-3 winners, but the final would turn that score on its head with Germany defeating Hungary 3-2 in what would later be called The Miracle of Berne.

Sweden 1958 saw the return of an Englishman managing a side (other than England) in the form of the incredible George Raynor . Now, this career takes some beating so bear with me. Raynor began his playing career at the marvellously named Ellescar Bible Class before moving on to n0n-league Wombwell Town. He played for a couple of South Yorkshire’s league clubs, Sheffield United and Rotherham United as well as stints with Mansfield Town, and Bury before ending his playing career with Aldershot Town in 1939. During the Second World War Raynor was deployed to the Middle East, specifically Baghdad. Whilst there the innovative Raynor had apparently clubbed together a makeshift Iraqi international side.

It was his  footballing efforts in Iraq that brought him to the attention of Sweden in the early 50s on the recommendation of Stanley Rous. Raynor managed the national side for a few years, taking them to the last four in the ’50 World Cup before coaching a number of Swedish club sides. A move to Rome to lead Italian giants Lazio followed before he retook the reigns of Sweden once more. The 1958 finals were Sweden’s most successful of all time as they reached the final only to be defeated by Pele’s Brazil. Raynor is probably the second most succesful English international manager of all time, yet it’s likely no one has ever heard of him. What makes the story more fascinating (and verging on criminal) is that on his return from managing the World Cup Finalists he took over as manager of Skegness Town and worked at the local Butlins Holiday Camp.

The Battle of Santiago is almost certainly the most famous match of the 1962 World Cup. The hosts Chile beat Italy 2-0 in an ill-tempered match that saw English referee Ken Aston send off two Italians. David Coleman in his commentary of the match described it as: “the most stupid, appalling, disgusting and disgraceful exhibition of football, possibly in the history of the game.” Aston was to become an important figure in football following this World Cup as it was he who invented yellow and red cards – an idea he came up with after looking at traffic lights on Kensington High Street whilst driving home from a match.

The 1966 World Cup was held in England so surely that’s enough of an English link? Spare a thought however, for Ken Dagnall an English referee. He was due referee the Final had England not made it. Dagnall must have been the only grumpy Englishman on World Cup Final day of ’66.

The World Cups of the 1970s saw little English participation past the quarter-finals of 1970. Jack Taylor refereed his first World Cup in 1970 but it will be the World Cup Final of 1974 that he will forever be associated with. Taylor, the last Englishman to referee a World Cup Final, awarded two penalties in the first 33 minutes of the match between West Germany and the Netherlands. The first was awarded for a foul on Cruyff within 80 seconds of the kickoff, before West Germany had even touched the ball. The second was given for a trip on a German forward only half an hour later. West Germany were to go on to win the match 2-1. The 1978 World Cup in Argentina was the second in a row that England had not qualified for but hopes were high for their border rivals Scotland, including Aldershot-born Bruce Rioch who wore number 6 during the tournament.

The World Cup of 1982 saw England qualify for their first finals for twenty years. They were not the only side led by an Englishman though as former Exeter City player John Ashtead coached the New Zealand side playing in their first ever World Cup. New Zealand also featured many British born players  including the English-born Brian Turner, Dave Bright, Bobby Almond, Duncan Cole, Steve Woodin, Steve Sumner and Billy McClure. In fact both New Zealand’s goals in the 1982 finals were scored by English-born players (Woodin and Sumner) both against Scotland.

1986 was another good year for English refereeing with George Courtney taking charge of the Third Place Play-Off between France and Belgium a match which the French won 4-2 after extra-time. Aside from England themselves three of the sides in the 86 tournament featured English-born players. Scotland included Bury-born keeper Andy Goram, Northern Ireland included Shrewsbury-born fullback Bernard McNally and Canada had Carl Valentine amongst their ranks, a former Oldham Athletic striker born in Manchester.

Italia ’90 was to see the emergence of the Republic of Ireland on the world stage. Ireland included 14 English-born players in their squad: David O’Leary, Paul McGrath, Chris Morris, John Aldridge, Tony Cascarino, John Sheridan, David Kelly, John Byrne, Alan McLoughlin, Gerry Payton, Chris Hughton and pundit aces Mick McCarthy and Andy Townsend all played a part en route to the quarter-finals. In 1994, with England having failed to qualify for the World Cup, the collective energy of BBC and ITV was channelled into supporting the Irish side. This was helped by the further inclusion of English-born players such as Alan Kelly, Jason McAteer, Eddie McGoldrick, Phil Babb and Alan Kernaghan. English referee Philip Don was also at the tournament and he was awarded the quarter-final between Sweden and Romania, a match that was to end in a penalty shootout victory for Sweden.

World Cup 1998 was the year Jamaica arrived on the international stage and like Ireland their squad was made up of a decent percentage of English-born players. Fitzroy Simpson, Frank Sinclair, Darryl Powell, Paul Hall and a pre-ticket scandal Robbie Earle all travelled with the squad with the aforementioned Earle scoring Jamaica’s first ever World Cup Finals goal against Croatia. The Korea/Japan World Cup of 2002 featured Ireland once more, and like 1990 and 1994 Ireland featured English-born players, this time Gary Breen, David Connolly, Kevin Kilbane, Matt Holland, Dean Kiely, Lee Carsley, Clinton Morrison, Andy O’Brien and Steven Reid made up the Anglo section of the Irish squad.

World Cup 2006 featured quite a rarity, an English-born World Cup winner. Simone Perrotta, as we were to be reminded almost every time he touched the ball during the tournament, was born in Ashton-under-Lyme. English referee Graham Poll however did not have such a good World Cup, famously booking Josip Šimunić three times during the Croatia vs Australia group game.

The likes of the English refereeing team led by Howard Webb and English-born players Tim Brown, Dave Mulligan, Tommy Smith (all New Zealand) at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa are nothing new. The English have had a much larger impact on World Cups than merely 1966, The Hand of God, and a few penalty shoot-out defeats as I hope this article has shown.


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