We jump forward 28 years for the next part of our look at the history of the World Cup and the Tottenham effect. Its 1958 and the 6th World Cup was held in Sweden and its the first Finals to have international television coverage. Tottenham fans will have an interest in four of the competing nations as for the only time all four of the British sides qualify.
We discover the first Spurs captain of a competing team and the first Tottenham goal scorer at a Finals tournament. We also reveal how it benefited Tottenham back home. In this the first of a two part look at the tournament, we look at the campaigns of England and Wales.
All four of the British Associations qualified for Sweden. In previous tournaments the Home Internationals had been used as a qualifying competition. The English squad included Bobby Smith and Maurice Norman although neither would play in the tournament. Tottenham’s assistant manager, Bill Nicholson, joined the England coaching team. A great honour for him but also the opportunity to observe close up the training and playing methods of the best teams in the world. The opportunity to bring many new ideas back to Tottenham. The Welsh team included Mel Hopkins, Cliff Jones and Terry Medwin.
The Welsh had qualified for Sweden fortuitously. Having finished runners up behind Czechoslovakia in their group. The Asian and African countries had declined to play Israel so FIFA decided to draw one of the European runners up to meet Israel in a playoff for a place in the Finals. Wales were drawn and beat Israel twice. This indirectly was one of the early reasons that lead to Israel playing their football with UEFA.
Bill Nicholson’s role in the England camp was as defensive coach. The 0-0 draw with Brazil was the only time during this tournament that Brazil failed to score. In the previous five Final tournaments there had been no 0-0 draws. The England Brazil game was the first in Finals history. Strangely the second came only four days later between Wales and Sweden.
The Welsh like England drew all three of their group games, Hungary and Mexico both 1-1 and then with the hosts Sweden 0-0. They also needed a play-off game but they won theirs 2-1 against Hungary. The winning goal was scored by Terry Medwin and thus he became the first Tottenham player to do so in the Finals.
Mel Hopkins played in all five games. As did Cliff Jones who only had one cap before the tournament and became the youngest Tottenham player to play at the World Cup Finals. Alf Ramsey had held this distinction briefly before Eddie Baily took it from him during the 1950 tournament.
Meanwhile back in N17, Tottenham under Jimmy Anderson had finished third in the league. Bobby Smith scoring 36 goals to equal Ted Harpers record set in 1931. Smith also got two more in the FA Cup and yet England still did not play him.
On the next flight we explore the Irish and Scottish campaigns.
Images - Top - Fifa, 1 & 3 - THFC, 2 - Getty Images. Acknowledgements - flight 6.
About the author:
Keith Harrison, Nilgiris, TN
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