World Cup Memories

With the World Cup about to rescue football fans everywhere @Markthablue recalls previous finals and anticipates the Brazilian festa will top the lot

World Cup in Brazil

World Cup Memories – by @Markthablue

Despite England going into the World Cup with possibly the lowest expectation ever my hopes are high. And I have a sneaking feeling England could match Italia 90 in terms of success.

They wont win it but with a much-needed injection of youth and craft in the team – players new to the experience can attack the tournament without fear – England certainly have the quality to be dangerous opponents this summer.

After the 2010 horror showing, perhaps youthful exuberance and naivety could help England this time around. They certainly can’t do any worse than Fabio Capello’s pampered stars.

Mexico 86

The first World Cup I can remember was 1986. Having previously shown no interest in football things changed dramatically for myself and my twin brother Ben during this tournament.

I remember the buildup and how desperate we were to watch the games but due to being 6 years of age, my mum wasn’t entertaining any notion we could stay up and watch the football. We taped endless games.

Azteca: The Mexico 86 World Cup match ball
Azteca: The Mexico 86 World Cup match ball

No, the picture quality wasn’t great yet the thrill of developing this interest around football was never-ending. The whole World Cup seemed amazing to us; wall to wall games, all watched on a dodgy Granada video tape in the morning before school.

The feeling of excitement still hasn’t left as we edge closer to Brazil 2014.

England V Paraguay on June 18th 1986 was different. This was a 7pm kick off, and tuning into BBC because they didn’t have adverts me and Ben sat down to watch the game. England won 3-0 with Lineker, then of Everton, and Beardsley scoring to wrap up a comfortable second phase victory. This game was taped and replayed more often than a Dirty Dancing mix at a wedding.

Only our victory at Old Trafford last December can rival this Paraguay match for the amount of times I’ve repeatedly watched something. Martinez has brought back the child like enthusiasm for our club and long may it continue.

My mum had started dating my future stepfather at the time of our introduction to football and with the relationship just starting, my future step-dad was sleeping on the couch – or he may of just ran down beforehand to kid us – was awoken each morning around 7am by my brother and I replaying the Paraguay match.

This was the moment football and all its wonderful emotion engulfed me. The fire is raging worse than ever 28 years later.

England went out in the next round to the hand of God and a worldie from Maradona. The Mexican journey was over for England but  a football journey for me and my brother was only beginning. Just in time for Everton’s last title win. We weren’t glory hunters, honest.

Italia 90

After the introduction to football four years previously, Italia 90 arrived with huge excitement. Aside from England’s surprise performance, the 1990 World Cup as a whole was disappointing.

Teams were far to cautious and seemingly happy to kill 120 minutes with Moyes-esq semi final 2009 negativity.

There weren’t many goals. I’ll never forget Claudio Caniggia racing past about four Cameroon players as Argentina desperately searched for an equalizer against the Africans in the opening match. With a huge shock result looming, Caniggia’s threat was hysterically cut down by a tackle so bad it wouldn’t have looked out-of-place in a Tarantino movie.

Benjamin Massing taking one for the team with a waste high scythe on Caniggia who reacted equally hysterically by rolling around the turf like he was on fire. Argentina’s defence of their 86 triumph began disastrously.

They did however somehow make it to the final by playing horrible football including two penalty shootouts before eventually losing to  Germany 1-0. Yes you guessed it, to a penalty.

Andreas Brehme sealing Argentina’s fate in a shocking final that summed the whole tournament up.

I was 11 at the time. People were wearing Global Hypercolour t-shirts, trying to sweat so they changed colour. I think me and my brother watched every game, admittedly I didn’t know a great game of football from a bad one and looking back, Italia 90 was poor.

There were memorable moments – albeit few and far between – maybe none more so than Roberto Baggio’s goal against Czechoslovakia.

[I truly feel old writing this] Baggio scored a wonderful solo goal full of balance, poise and composure that turned out to be the winner. A goal I feel is well within our own wonderfully talented Ross Barkley’s capability. If you’ve never seen Baggio’s goal, it’s well worth 50 seconds of You Tubing:

England v Cameroon and England V Germany in the quarter finals and semi final respectively are the two games that stand out.

I couldn’t believe England were going out to Cameroon. Having sat back on a 1-0 lead they allowed the opposition back in before going 2-1 down with the final whistle approaching.

Just as the nation was about to collectively hit the panic button, Mark Wright’s cushioned header found Lineker who charged towards goal before being taken out by defender Kunde. Stonewall penalty.

I couldn’t watch. Literally hiding behind the couch waiting to hear the commentator go mad. Duly granted as Lineker slotted home showing ice cool nerves in a moment of extreme pressure.

England went onto win 3-2 with another penalty from Lineker finishing off a move that involved a perfect through ball from Gascoigne.

And so onto Germany.

England’s World Cup was cruelly ended by Germany in the semi final. I still think they should have won that World Cup. Argentina were a woeful obstacle in the final but despite playing fantastically well and coming back with an equalizer from the deadly Lineker, yet again England could not get past Germany.

The flukiest free kick in history from Brehme had given the Germans the lead. His shot looping off a wall charging Paul Parker, before dropping from about 3,000 feet over the far too often susceptible Shilton to put England a goal down.

I don’t think its harsh to say, having been blessed to watch Big Nev in-goal for many years, Shilton was nowhere near the Everton legend’s standard.

Had Neville been English, they would have won the World Cup.

I remember Chris Waddle agonizingly hitting the post in extra time and the game going to penalties. I’m not going to go through it, we all know England cruelly lost with Waddle and Stuart Pearce horribly fluffing their lines just when it mattered the most.

Italia 90 was over and thanks to Graham Taylor and his fascination with capping players who weren’t up to it, Carlton Palmer, Andy Sinton, Geoff Thomas, Tony Dorigo etc. etc. England missed out on USA 94 and saved the nation a month of staying up till 4am to watch the match.

I feel sorry for today’s generation having to put up with Adrian ‘Working Lunch’ Chiles. The man has no audience connection, no humour nor warmth. Everything Des Lynam did have.

Des was easily the best presenter. He would make you feel like you had done him a favor by tuning in. Almost as if Des had made you a cuppa and ran you mum a bath as you settled down for the football. Soothing, cosy coverage that made you feel part of the action.

This maybe nostalgia affecting my memory but there seemed to be a lot more humour than today. The likes of Roy Keane, Lee Dixon and Gareth Southgate haven’t got a joke or light-hearted moment in them.

World Cup France 98: Stade de France
World Cup France 98: Stade de France

France 98

Summer 1998 arrived, all grown up, in college and wanting money. I got 2 jobs; working in a nightclub collecting glasses, and behind the bar at another pub. At a time when smoking was still lawful inside, I spent as much time coughing as I did watching the football.

England v Argentina was the standout game.

Starting my first shift in the pub, I wasn’t exactly paying attention to my boss as he explained how to operate the till while Owen picked the ball up, raced through a hopelessly exposed Argentine defence and smashed the ball home to put England 2-1 up in a frantic opening 16 minutes.

Naturally Argentina equalised through a clever free kick, as England left Zanetti free to slot home. A hectic first half ended with me no closer to finding out where the Southern Comfort was on the register.

In Extra time I remember collecting glasses and getting absolutely soaked by ale in one of my first ever ‘limbs’ moments outside of Goodison Park. Sol Campbell rose to head home from the corner and everyone went berserk including myself.

Not part of the job description I guess with my boss’ frown working overtime.

It was like The Oak on County Road when Saha scored 2 late goals to beat West Ham at Upton Park. Total train wreck scenes.

The referee amazingly disallowed the goal for no apparent reason. Everyone now watching in disbelief as Argentina poured forward and with England players still celebrating Argentina nearly made it 3-2 but for an excellent recovery tackle from Darren Anderton. Sicknote had clocked in for once.

The game went to penalties with the inevitable conclusion.

I’ll never forget Brian Moore pressing Kevin Keegan on David Batty’s decisive spot kick – Keegan quickly answered yes to the question “do you back him to score” – quickly followed by Keegan’s muted “oh no!” in the background.

England were out and Evertonians had a season of Walter Smith to look forward too. Once again, thank you Roberto, you have done more than you will ever know.

Before the Argentina game I remember going to watch the England v South Africa test match at Old Trafford. It provided one of the most surreal experiences I’ve ever seen.

5,000+ fans walked out of the test match mid-way through the morning session to go to the back of the pavilion where the England v Denmark 2nd phase match was being shown.

The cricket purists were giving looks to kill as people a live sporting event en mass to go and watch one on the box. Albeit a 30ft high screen.

England won 3-0 with fans getting their cricket comeuppance by missing out on Alec Stewart’s century as England bravely fought out a draw from a losing position. Easily the best atmosphere I’ve ever felt in a Car Park.

Japan & Korea 02

The 2002 World cup in Japan/Korea was fantastic for me. The last great World Cup in my opinion.

Now aged 22 I was working for Wilkinson and after years of having earache off customers looking for lightbulbs, I’d managed to convince my boss to put me on nights so I could get my promotional work done. I was the buy 2 get 1 free guy.

My boss agreed to put me on 10-6 night shifts. This was heaven for me, all alone in a monster store, playing my own music over the tannoy, setting my own pace to work. I was like Arsenal, blistering start before fading badly around 4am.

I was working the same shifts as my brother and cousin who worked nights at Asda. The World Cup was perfect for this.

Finishing work at 6am and with the games starting at 6.30 if memory serves, we all headed straight down the pub. Finishing work and being able to go and watch the match and have a drink at that time fed the inner alcoholic in me but was simply brilliant.

We met up for the England v Nigeria and England v Brazil quarter-final amongst others. The games weren’t great but the occasions more than made up for them.

England went out disappointingly to Brazil in the quarter finals, in a game they failed to seize the moment in. Despite going a goal up.

The 2002 World cup had plenty of great games including a farcical Collina-esq brown envelope game as South Korea met Italy. A truly remarkable game that saw Byron Moreno of Ecuador, seemingly hell-bent on ensuring the Koreans went through, disallowing a perfectly fine Italian goal and controversially sending off Totti for diving.

As a result of this, South Korea won 2-1 on a golden goal from Ahn Jung-Hwan, who was later sacked – presumably Alan Partridge style – by his Italian club Perugia. For scoring the winning goal! comedy value through the roof.

The World cup had lots of goals but the standout memory of the tournament is walking around town bladdered at 11am. Trying to look composed on the street as the shoppers went about their business.

Coming home drunk at midday often on a weekday did nothing for my ex-wife. I was suffering daytime hangovers and spouse related earache in equal measure but the 2002 World Cup was fantastic.

Probably for the fact that I won £150 on the original Ronaldo being top scorer. I still can’t get over Ronaldo being 14/1 to be top scorer in the tournament given his goal scoring prowess.

Thankfully my marriage didn’t last but my love for football has remained constant!

Now, aged 34, the World Cup in Brazil has awoken the golden childhood memories once more. Thankfully my son wanted a sticker album and with wall-charts going up, the magical feeling of Mexico ’86 is back.

So lets enjoy the drama, goals, moments of despair and victory.

Wall to wall footy coverage is back and it never felt better!

Sin Miedo

Mark Ellis

Follow Mark Ellis On Twitter
Follow Mark Ellis On Twitter


Mark Ellis

34 year old Evertonian, BU Supporter, blogger, loving Roberto, busy with my beautiful son Kai who has made me & my fiancee Lyndsay's life complete.

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