In The World Cup’s Finest we ask various individuals to delve into their own personal history of football’s quadrennial showpiece extravaganza, selecting a number of favourites as well as revealing what is their very first World Cup memory.
This afternoon’s World Cup memories come courtesy of Square in the Air Director Robin Hutchison, who talks of a German invasion of Derbyshire, the sublime skills of Diego Maradona and having a soft spot for the plucky underdog.
Favourite World Cup:
Franz Beckenbauer. Never saw him play, but Franz Beckenbauer. Drawing a veil over recent corruption allegations around the allocation of the World Cups to Russia and Qatar, that is. Absolute class on the pitch. He and the West Germany team stayed in the Peak District during the 1966 tournament because their early games were at Hillsborough and Villa Park. There was a lot of unease locally as it was only 20 years after the war and the Derbyshire Yeomanry took a hammering in North Africa and Italy. But they trained on the local public park and couldn’t have been friendlier. Humble lads and real ambassadors. Franz even went to a barn dance, I’m told.
Haiti and Zaire, 1974. Retrospectively, because I wasn’t born, I have a soft spot for Haiti and Zaire at the 1974 World Cup in West Germany. Both managed to concede 14 goals each in three group games, which is some going. The highlight was the Zaire full-back charging out of the wall, and hoofing the stationary ball into Row Z before the waiting Brazilians could take the free-kick. The first time I played men’s football our midfield enforcer (every team had one) asked the referee to hold his false teeth, before punching his opposite number unconscious into the mud of the centre circle. They’re both up there for me as special football moments.
Dennis Bergkamp (Netherlands v Argentina, 1998). Bergkamp against Argentina to win the Quarter Final against Argentina takes some beating. He’d been anonymous up until the point when Frank De Boer ale-housed the ball – though we are now contractually obliged to call it cultured Total Football – from one end of the pitch to the other. Bergkamp’s control was incredible, as was the flick inside milliseconds later to beat the full-back before again flicking it into the roof of the net past the despairing keeper. All in the 90th minute, as I recall.
England v Argentina, (1986). There have been so many as a Scot brought up in England with allegiances to both nations. Wait, no there haven’t! I don’t think it’s my favourite, but the Hand of God game is the most memorable. That man Maradona again had just beaten Derby County’s Peter Shilton with a piece of cheating beyond the comprehension of a ten-year-old, when four minutes later he produced a goal whose skill was beyond the comprehension of all of us. “At least we got the Belgrano,” my dad said, less than diplomatically.
Scotland, 1986. The navy-blue jersey with the clipped collar was great, but the white shorts with the blue band round the middle were a work of sartorial genius. I got the full kit, including the red socks, for Christmas that year and looked so much better in it than Gordon Strachan. Denmark’s shaded Hummel kit from the same group – that progressed a little further in the tournament – was pretty good too. Very 1980s.
First World Cup memory
25 June 1986 (Argentina v Belgium). A sunny summer’s evening in Derbyshire with a little bloke called Diego Maradona surrounded by what seemed like hundreds of legless Belgians. He was in Mexico; I was in Derbyshire. His second goal was sublime. I took an age drawing a picture of him at school the next day, complete with Puma football boots. I still have it. My dad says he was the best he’d ever seen – and he was one of 127,000 people who saw Alfredo Di Stefano and Ferenc Puskas destroy Eintracht Frankfurt at Hampden in 1960.
The World Cup’s Finest is to be a regular feature during the Russia World Cup, profiling a different individual each week day.