Having explored the campaigns of England and Wales, on this our second trip to the 1958 Finals, we turn our attention to the Scotland and Northern Ireland sides.
Scotland did not have any Tottenham players in their number. However Dave Mackay from Hearts and Bill Brown, Dundee, were and each would join the Spurs within a year. While Danny Blanchflower led the Northern Ireland side.
Scotland drew with Yugoslavia and lost their next two games so were eliminated at the group stage. Brown and Mackay were brought into the side for this last game, a 1-2 defeat to France. This would be Bill’s first cap and he would go on to become the countries most capped keeper.
Danny Blanchflower had been captain of the Northern Ireland team since 1955 and became, the first Tottenham player to captain a team in a World Cup Finals. Danny Blanchflower played in all five of his countries games. As they beat Czechoslovakia, lost to Argentina and drew with Germany. Although by his own admission he did not have the best of games in the first two, his leadership was vital to the team. As we saw on the last flight goal difference was not considered and they also required a play off, with the Czech side. This went to extra time before they won 2-1. Then just two days later they met France in the Quarter-Finals and lost.
When Ireland’s list only contained half that number FIFA took them to task. Ireland s defence was that they did not have 40 players. Danny is pictured above with his brother Jackie, also a member of the Irish team until the injuries he received in the Munich air crash, prior to the competition, would end his career.
It was in fact the small squad, the fatigue and injuries that would be Ireland's worse enemy. When they qualified for the Quarter-Finals, they had a 200 mile coach trip lasting ten hours to get to the game just two days after their previous match. Whilst a lot of the local Swedish population supported them very few Irish fans had made the trip, and those that did came by car and motorbike.
Danny was one of the key people that developed the teams tactic’s. This included new ideas, like the short corner and believe it or not having a wall for free kicks, prior to this you just marked your man. Asked during the competition Danny what was the secret of the Irish success. He answered “We try to get the Equalizer before they score”.
The big bonus for Tottenham was both Nicholson and Blanchflower watched the other teams and looked at how they played and trained. They brought lots of ideas back to the Cheshunt training ground, which helped make Tottenham’s training so innovative. Such as center halves going up for corners, this was unheard of at the time.
The Brazilians had prepared well for the tournament and had toured Europe for three months prior to the competition. They used an extensive backroom team which included a psychologist. They also played a brand new system, it was called 4-2-4.
What is a World Cup without a controversy, throughout their games the Swedes had cheerleaders performing along the touchline, much to the annoyance of their opponents.
Thanks Flights five and six, - FIFA, The FA, The Scottish FA, Welsh FA, England on Line, THFC, THOS, The Times, The Telegraph, BBC, Football Facts, The Guardian, Dave Bowler - Danny Blanchflower, The biography of a visionary. Northern Ireland FA, Images - top - Fifa, 1- THFC, 3- Cortis,
About the author:
Keith Harrison, Nilgiris, TN
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