The Panenka’s series ‘England’s Excuses’ kicks off with a look at how hot weather prevented The Three Lions from recouping the World Cup in 1970.
When it comes to the English it is true that we love to talk about the weather and when it comes to football it appears that climate conditions have a big impact on the fortunes of the national team. In terms of using the weather as an excuse for failure, World Cup 1970 in Mexico springs to mind.
In the tournament that produced ‘The Save of The Century,” as well as what is considered one of the greatest images of the game, when a certain No. 10 embraced the then England captain. The Three Lions were undoubtedly undone by the searing Guadalajara heat at the World Cup in 1970.
The defeat at the hands of the boys from Brazil caused England to finish second in their group setting up a Quarter-final grudge match against the old enemy, West Germany.A result which led to their downfall in the tournament.
Had it not been for the sun feverously glaring down on the men in white (or red) agaisnt Pele’s Brazil it’s perhaps obvious that England might’ve been able to avoid the 2-1 defeat to who were easily the best team the game had ever seen up to that point. And lets face it, if it wasn’t for the boiling temperatures Alan Mullery’s shot would have deflected in off the the heat-swollen crossbar instead of out and Jeff Astle would have got a thicker touch in the tap in he screwed wide.
The team containing Jairzinho and Carlos Alberto clearly had an unfair advantage. The heat is just the sort of conditions the Brazilian side needed to tip the scale in their favor to lift the trophy. As justification to that, it actually took until 2014 for a European team to win the tournament on South American soil.
Consequently Brazil topped the group with the win against England and met Peru in the quarter-final. England meanwhile set up a grudge match against West Germany who were determined to revenge the defeat in the 1996 World Cup final.
In the run-up to the game agaisnt Germany Alf Ramsey’s 1966 World Cup winners were dealt a lethal blow as goalkeeper Gordon Banks, the best in the world at the time, “keeled over” during a team talk. Some suggest it was food poisoning, some suggest sunstroke, whatever it was, the heat didn’t help.
Up stepped Peter Bonetti and with England racing to a commanding 2-0 lead it was the debutant who allowed a toe poke from the legendary Franz Beckenbauer to pass under his body to signal the beginning of England’s demise. German boss Helmut Schon brought on Jurgen Grabowski, who came on to “run the bollocks off Terry Cooper who was very tired,” recalled Alan Mullery to The Guardian.
Under the intense heat England scrambled for fresh legs by taking off Bobby Charlton for Colin Bell but were eventually powerless to stop the tie from going into extra-time before Germany ran out 3-2 winners after extra time thanks to a Gerd Muller volley.
If the game had been played in, oh, I don’t know Wembley, then extra-time with the scores ties at 2-2 after 90 minutes may have gone differently. Additionally there is no doubt that with a fit Gordon Banks England would have dispatched the eventual finalist Italy in the semis before reuniting to duel with Brazil in the Final and emerge victorious.