Flight 2 - 1950 - Spurs take part in the world cup and why India didn’t
In this occasional series leading up to this summers World Cup I thought I’d recall some of the incidents involving Spurs and our connections to the competition. As well as some of the strange incidents that have enriched the history of the World Cup. Where better to start than 1950 which had a major effect on Tottenham Hotspur and English football.
Tottenham’s first encounter with the Word Cup came in Brazil in 1950 (1) the first tournament after the Second World War. FIFA had offered places in the tournament to the top two teams in the preceding Home International Championship. Scotland declined to take part as they had finished second in the qualifying competition having previously said they would only go if they won. England as winners accepted taking part for the first time having previously declined an invitation to compete in 1938.
Tottenham had finished the English season as run away Second Division Champions and had four players in the England squad which was one of the favorites for the trophy. The Brazilian press labeled the English team the 'Kings of Football.’
Oh you wanted to know about India ! According to FIFA, India could of taken part in the Finals but they wanted to play barefooted and FIFA refused to give permission saying they had to wear boots. Thus India also declined to take part. Other sources have since claimed it that India’s decision was due to the costs involved. Either way, they did not compete.
FIFA did not like this idea but when Brazil suggested they would not host the competition otherwise FIFA backed down. The Draw was made with sixteen teams but then due to the withdrawals the competition when ahead with two groups of four, one of three and the fourth group only had two teams. England were badly prepared and disorganized for the competition. This experience I believe would help Spurs later as one of the Tottenham players in the squad was wing-half Bill Nicholson. He did not play in the competition but I believe his experience in seeing first hand how poorly prepared England were helped shape his managerial style later when Tottenham entered European competition .
A number of changes were made for the final game with Spain. Spurs Inside left Eddie Baily won his first cap in this game which was also lost 1-0. Thus England finishing second in the group were eliminated. The fourth Spur in the England party who also didn’t play was Ted Ditchburn (3).
It may seem strange now that instead of a knock out system in the final stages another round-robin group would decide the winner. This group included Uruguay who had not played any qualifying games and only one to reach the final four, beating Bolivia 8-0. In the final group Brazil beat Sweden 7-1 and Spain 6-1 with Uruguay drawing with Spain the hosts only needed a draw to win the competition.
The game was played in the newly built, Maracana, the biggest stadium in the world. An estimated crowd of 200,000 watched as Brazil took the lead before Uruguay fought back to win 2-1. It seemed unbelievable to the host nation that Uruguay had come from behind to record their triumph. The event even inspired the introduction of a new noun into the countries language, Maracanazo. This term is still used today to describe Brazil losing at home. Uruguay had not only caused a major upset but by beating the hosts they had won the trophy for the second time having been the first winners in 1930.On Flight 3 - Some memories from that tournament and just how England being unprepared helped Tottenham more than ten years later.
Thanks - FIFA, FA, England on line, THFC , THOS, The BBC, Daily Telegraph, The Times, Daily Mail. Stanley Matthews,
1. Connections - Brazil, part 2, 21/12/13
2. England return to Belo Horizonte in 2014 to face the mightily Costa Rica.
3. Ted Ditchburn - Talking Tottenham 2, 27/9/13.
About the author:
Keith Harrison, Nilgiris, TN
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