Sorry the ongoing communication problems have caused major problems at my end. Publishing these last flights as they are ready to go. Hope the delay doesnt ruin your fun, rest of series will be files under trash!
There s a strange similarity to the stories of the first two Spurs players to play for England in the qualifiers. England did not enter the first three tournaments as they disagreed with FIFA over what payments could be made to amateur players. England rejoined FIFA after the Second World War. When they did enter for the 1950 competition FIFA ruled that the British Home Championship season of 1949/50 would double as the World Cup qualifying group for the 1950 competition. This meant England only played three games, two away and the last game would be 15th April. They then named the squad on 23rd May which flew on 19th June. Three players would join them in Brazil, two from a FA XI on tour in Canada and one who was on tour with Manchester United in the USA. Although two teams would qualify Scotland would only attend if they won the group. England won 4-1 in Cardiff and 9-2 at home to Northern Ireland. Scotland won both their games including an 8-2 win in Ireland. Therefore Scotland needed to win at home to England to finish top. At this point the first Tottenham player to represent England in the World Cup appeared, Alf Ramsey. He would later also become the first Tottenham man to appear in the finals. Ramsey and Bentley (Chelsea) were in fact the first players from London clubs to be chosen (1). England won 1-0 in front of more than 132,000 and the Scots stayed at home.
For 1954, the Home Championships were again used. Once again the first Tottenham player to appear was in the third game. This time it was Harry Clarke, for his only England cap. This was our only contribution as no Spurs player was chosen for the finals. Both teams had already qualified and England beat Scotland away 4-2. The England /Scotland games in both 1950 & 54 took place on the same day as a full Football League fixture list. Ramsey missed his only Tottenham game in 1950 as his team lost 1-2 at Sheffield United. Four years later Clarke missed his only game of the season as Spurs drew 2-2 at home with Blackpool. In the 1954 campaign Ron Burgess played for Wales and future Spur Danny Blanchflower played for Northern Ireland.
The 1958 competition saw them drawn with Denmark and the Republic of Ireland. Ted Ditchburn and Johnny Brooks both played in the first game a 5-2 win at Wolverhampton, over the Danes. This was the first time England had played Denmark at home. This game would also be the last caps for both players as Spurs men. Brooks would soon join Chelsea and Ditchburn was nearing the end of his career, he was 37 and first played for England 14 years earlier. England went into the last game away to Ireland just needing a draw and that’s what they got.
The group for the 1962 trophy started with a bang as England won 9-0 away to Luxemburg. Bobby Smith scored twice and became the first Tottenham player to score for England in the World Cup. Terry Medwin having been the first when he scored for Wales in 1958. In that game Chelsea’s Jimmy Greaves hit a hat trick. Smith played in the second game but was then injured and missed the rest of the group games. Luxemburg stunned Portugal by winning at home 4-2. Portugal then came to Wembley in the last game needing to win by five goals to overhaul the English and lost 2-0.
England were the hosts in 1966 and holders in 1970 so they did not play a qualifier again until the 1974 tournament. They were drawn with Poland and Wales. England started by winning in Wales and then only drawing at home with them. Mike England was the Welsh skipper and the away fixture saw Ray Clemence make his England debut, nine years before he joined Spurs. Wales then beat the Poles. Poland then won both their home games.
The last game of the group was at Wembley and England needed a win to qualify. Martin Chivers played in all four group games and Martin Peters the last two both against Poland. In the second game he was the captain, only the fifth Tottenham player to do so.
That last game didn’t just break English hearts it stunned them as they failed to qualify. Looking back the BBC commenter Barry Davies said last year "It was win or bust but I don't think anybody seriously thought England would fail," Davies added “This was still in the age when everybody felt we had an entitlement to be in the World Cup finals, and it was simply unthinkable that we wouldn't be there.”
Their goalie that night Jan Tomaszewski now stands in Polish folklore. That night he turned in what can be politely described as unorthodox performance, including saves with his head and backside. He was described by Brian Clough as a “Circus clown in gloves.” That game saw England register 36 shots, (Poland had 2). England had 26 corners, hit the woodwork twice and had four efforts cleared off the line. Tomaszewski said only last year "I have never watched the game again, but if you have a game like this, you always remember it in your heart. I can wake up in the middle of the night and remember every minute."
The Poland boss Kazimierz Gorski said to his team "Win against a weak team and there is no joy. You can play for 20 years and in 1,000 games and nobody will remember you. But tonight, in one game, against a team like England and at a place like this, you have the chance to put your names in the history books." As the teams came out the crowd called them animals, Tomaszewski recalled. "It was referring to our win in Chorzow. To be honest we had played very violently there." "I wasn't just afraid of England - I was terrified," Tomaszewski added. "They had beaten Austria 7-0 a month earlier and when I was in front of the royal box with the national anthems being played, I was just thinking 'I hope we are not the next Austria'."
In the opening minutes he broke five bones in his hand at the feet of Allan Clarke. England just could not score. At the start of the second half Poland actually took the lead, Norman Hunter managed to get his feet in a tangle and let their winger in. Still his shot should have been saved as it went under the diving Peter Shilton. Eight minutes later and Martin Peters burst into the box and went down. Penalty 1-1. Peters admitted later he went down rather easily. Clarke nearly scored the needed goal as Tomaszewski admitted later he didn’t save it, it just hit me. Late on Chivers was taken off in the dying moments, not his best performance for England. He had played in twelve consecutive international but this would be his last appearance for his country. The game was drawn and England would not go to the finals. It was the first time England had failed to win their qualifying group. Poland would come third in the finals. Ramsey the manager for 12 years would soon lose his job and the Clown, he became a politician.
Notes -1 - I’ve read that no Arsenal player was chosen until November 1972, but haven’t crossed checked each game to confirm.
Thanks to - FIFA, Englandonline, EnglandStats, The FA, THFC, BBC, Paul Peters, Bob Goodwin, Phil Sour,
The Ti mes, The Telegraph and The Daily Mirror. Top image - Englands 1982 bulldog.
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